Three Books to Read Regarding Home Run Kings

There’s been a lot of hoopla surrounding some guy in San Francisco chasing the number 755 (which means very little, by the way). Something about a “Home Run King”.

For anyone interested in reading about the Home Run Kings, I implore you to read the following books, in this specific order:

1. Sadaharu Oh!: A Zen Way of Baseball

This is a wonderful, insightful book written by the REAL homerun king (858 career homers) — Sadaharu Oh — as well as an overview of Japanese baseball in the 1960s-1970s. After you read this book, you are guaranteed to have a newfound appreciation for Japanese ballplayers, and Oh in particular. The guy was, and remains, a class act — the kind of ballplayer you’d want your kids to look up to and emulate. The only drawback to this book is that it is very difficult to locate and buy. If you follow the above link, it’ll take you to Amazon, where there are about a dozen available. If they’re gone by the time you read this, you may have a better shot obtaining it through a second-hand shop.

2. I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story

This is the autobiography of the American Home Run King, Henry Aaron. Like Oh’s account, this book will open your eyes to a greater respect for the man who would pass Babe Ruth. And if you do as I say and read these books in order, you may find it fascinating that both Aaron and Oh share common traits — specifically, respect and care for others, selflessness, an immense respect for the game of baseball, high moral standards, the way they dealt with racism and prejudice (you didn’t know Oh was half-Chinese? that was a major issue in Japan back then), how each reacted to adversity, and the fact that both are considered class acts and icons of their sport.

3. Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports

You had to know this was coming. Though “Game of Shadows” is a book about several athletes, and focuses on BALCO, there is quite a bit of interesting information regarding Barry Bonds — the guy currently chasing Henry Aaron for the United States homerun record. If you didn’t read this, you should. If after reading this, you think Barry Bonds didn’t use steroids, then hold your breath, because eventually the sand surrounding your head will seep into your lungs and kill you.

I would have suggested Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero, but haven’t read it yet. It’s by Jeff Pearlman, who wrote Bad Guys Won — a book I did read, and found gripping. Somehow I get the feeling that after reading Love Me, Hate Me, I won’t get the same fuzzy feeling about Bonds that I did after the previously mentioned autobiographies by Aaron and Oh.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. […] the blog in recognition of Bonds’ home run pursuit, a trio of reviews on books about Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Sadaharu Oh, who still holds the professional home run […]