Light reading for diehard Red Sox Nation

By Kate MacDonald

Flickr: Tape
Flickr: Tape

April is back again – the month baseball fans nationwide have been looking forward to as they endure the cold, bitter winter months. April is the month in which baseball fans have the most optimism because most teams look promising and there are still over 100 games left in the season if teams don’t start off perfectly.

April is also the greatest month for fans to educate themselves on the history, intricacies and players of the nation’s favorite pastime. It’s an ideal time for Red Sox Nation, in particular, to pick up at least one of the hundreds of books written about the team that suffered so much pain for 86 long, hard years.

While many Sox fans are preoccupied with the current players and controversies, it’s important that they know what the team had to go through to get to their present form. It’s good that enthusiasts have a plethora of well-written accounts to sift through.

Here, in no particular order, are some must-read books for any Sox fan to enjoy.

“100 Things Red Sox Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die,” Nick Cafardo

While this book is more about the “know” than the “do,” there’s enough interesting information and stories to keep any baseball fan occupied for days. It covers the history of the Sox evenly, talking about the dream team of 1967, the origins of the Jimmy Fund and Dennis Eckersley (one of the most unknown, yet best pitchers the Sox ever had on their roster), among other events. If fans pick up just one book, this one should probably be it.

“Jerry Remy’s Red Sox Heroes: The RemDawg’s All-Time Favorite Red Sox, Great Moments, and Top Teams” – Jerry Remy

Anyone who’s ever listened to a Sox game on television or on the radio in the Boston area could probably pick Remy’s, affectionately known as RemDawg, voice out of a crowd. Always equipped with Sox knowledge and witty quips on air, Remy took to the pen and paper to express his opinion, sharing who he thinks are the best 44 Sox players of all time.

Behind the Green Monster: Red Sox Myths, Legends, and Lore” – Bill Ballou

Ballou reveals relatively unknown facts about the Red Sox and Fenway Park, information that any Red Sox fan would find wildly interesting. For example, the Sox are the only team who still play ball in a park built before World War I, Johnny Pesky never actually hit a ball off the “Pesky Pole” and maybe Bill Buckner wasn’t completely to blame for that awful 1986 game (why wasn’t his backup, Dave Stapleton, ever called up?).

101 Reasons to Love the Red Sox” – David Green

The only problem with Green’s book is that it’s a little short and doesn’t go too in-depth with the reasons as to why everyone should love the Sox. But he does cover a lot of bases, from the early 20th century World Series wins to the more recent league dominations. Pictures definitely add to the draw of this text.

“Emperors and Idiots: The Hundred Year Rivalry Between the Yankees and Red Sox, From the Very Beginning to the End of the Curse” – Mike Vaccaro

The most notable thing about this book is the picture on the cover the infamous shot of Pedro Martinez grabbing the 72-year-old Don Zimmer by the head and throwing him to the ground. Opening the cover, both Sox and Yankee fans are treated to a colorful history of the world-famous rivalry, following it from Babe Ruth’s trade in 1918 to 2004, when the curse was reversed. Citizens of both Red Sox Nation and the Evil Empire would enjoy this book; it would be one of the very few things they’d be able to agree on.

Because hundreds of books have been written about the Sox, it’s hard to choose the best. Honorable mentions include: Stewart O’Nan and Stephen King’s “Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season,” David Halberstam’s “Summer of ‘49” and Steve Goldman’s “Mind Game: How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart, Won a World Series, and Created a New Blueprint for Winning.”

Countless autobiographies and biographies of the best players, from Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky to Mike Lowell and David Ortiz, find their place on multiple “best of” lists concerning the Red Sox.

There are very few aspects about the Red Sox that wouldn’t interest even the most fair weather fans. Even in their off years, something happens that stays in the minds of fans. From their epic losses to their unbelievable comebacks, the Boston Red Sox are always exciting to watch, and very often, even more exciting to read about.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]