#11: Weaver on Strategy
by Earl Weaver with Terry Pluto
There are surprisingly few managing manifestos written by Hall-of-Fame managers. Perhaps it's because managers are paranoid about sharing secrets. This makes some sense, since it's not uncommon for a "retired" manager to become un-retired. So we should treasure what we have here: a guide to managerial strategy by one of the greatest. Weaver goes through everything, from how to run a Spring Training camp to how to argue with an umpire (he had some experience in that area).
I'm a bit biased here in that Weaver's views on managing are consistent with what modern performance analysis has told us. When Bill James came along in the 70's, or when Moneyball came along in the 00's, most baseball traditionalists said that these were impractical ideas thought up by outsiders and robots who didn't know the first thing about inside baseball. Of course, if those nay-sayers had done their homework (homework is for robots!), they would have realized that many of the theories these new statistical tools were telling us weren't new at all. Not only that, but some of their top champions, including Earl Weaver, were as "inside" baseball as you can be.
Weaver famously believed in pitching, defense and the three-run homer. More specifically, though, he liked players who could take a walk (Weaver's Orioles always drew their walks) and hit home runs (Weaver loved the homer in an era when it was falling out of style). He didn't reject incomplete players or those with a glaring weakness; he focused on what they could do and used an innovative approach to get as much as he could from each member of his roster. Also, Weaver wasn't afraid of the unorthodox (keeping the four-man rotation) or the downright heretical (he hated the hit-and-run and thought too much bunting was counter-productive). Any coach, fan, or analyst would do well to listen to what Earl has to say. Especially if you are a manager, whether it's in the Little League or the Major Leagues.
#10: Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams
by Robert Peterson
This book was first published in 1970, and yet it's still the best book I've come across to introduce new audiences to the Negro Leagues. Peterson effectively covers the main points of interest in the history of all-black baseball, from the injustices faced by "Fleet" Walker to the great energy and acumen of Andrew "Rube" Foster, to the amazing feats of Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, "Pop" Lloyd and Oscar Charleston.
There has been a great deal of research done in recent years to fill the historical gaps in Peterson's book. Our anecdotal and statistical knowledge has helped flesh out the existing knowledge of many unjustly forgotten stars. Even so, the books that have been released in the years since haven't surpassed Peterson's work in offering such a valuable and accessible view of this unheralded portion of baseball history.