I have a confession. I am a voracious reader. No matter how busy my schedule gets, or how much I have going on in a day, when I get into bed at night I need to read at least a chapter of something. Non-fiction, romance, finance books, you name it and it’s sitting on my bookshelf. Baseball books, though, are a particular weakness of mine, I can’t resist them. I have an entire five-shelf unit in my office dedicated solely to baseball books, and surprising no one, quite a few of them have a Cubs theme.
With the offseason upon us, it seems like a good time to pick up a book or two while we wait for pitchers and catchers to report in February. And with the holiday season just around the corner, you might spot a gift idea on this list (even if it’s a gift to yourself).
All images and blurbs courtesy of Amazon, but none of the links are affiliate links. We don’t make any money off of this.
With inside access and reporting, Sports Illustrated senior baseball writer and FOX Sports analyst Tom Verducci reveals how Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon built, led, and inspired the Chicago Cubs team that broke the longest championship drought in sports, chronicling their epic journey to become World Series champions.
It took 108 years, but it really happened. The Chicago Cubs are once again World Series champions.
How did a team composed of unknown, young players and supposedly washed-up veterans come together to break the Curse of the Billy Goat? Tom Verducci, twice named National Sportswriter of the Year and co-writer of The Yankee Years with Joe Torre, will have full access to team president Theo Epstein, manager Joe Maddon, and the players to tell the story of the Cubs’ transformation from perennial underachievers to the best team in baseball.
Beginning with Epstein’s first year with the team in 2011, Verducci will show how Epstein went beyond “Moneyball” thinking to turn around the franchise. Leading the organization with a manual called “The Cubs Way,” he focused on the mental side of the game as much as the physical, emphasizing chemistry as well as statistics.
To accomplish his goal, Epstein needed manager Joe Maddon, an eccentric innovator, as his counterweight on the Cubs’ bench. A man who encourages themed road trips and late-arrival game days to loosen up his team, Maddon mixed New Age thinking with Old School leadership to help his players find their edge.
The Cubs Way takes readers behind the scenes, chronicling how key players like Rizzo, Russell, Lester, and Arrieta were deftly brought into the organization by Epstein and coached by Maddon to outperform expectations. Together, Epstein and Maddon proved that clubhouse culture is as important as on-base-percentage, and that intangible components like personality, vibe, and positive energy are necessary for a team to perform to their fullest potential.
Verducci chronicles the playoff run that culminated in an instant classic Game Seven. He takes a broader look at the history of baseball in Chicago and the almost supernatural element to the team’s repeated loses that kept fans suffering, but also served to strengthen their loyalty.
The Cubs Way is a celebration of an iconic team and its journey to a World Championship that fans and readers will cherish for years to come.
The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse — Rich Cohen
The New York Times bestselling author of Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football “knocks it out of the park” (Vanity Fair) in this captivating blend of sports reportage and memoir, exploring the history of the 2016 World Series champions, the Chicago Cubs.
Now A New York Times Bestseller
When Rich Cohen was eight years old, his father took him to see a Cubs game. On the way out of the park, his father asked him to make a promise. “Promise me you will never be a Cubs fan. The Cubs do not win,” he explained, “and because of that, a Cubs fan will have a diminished life determined by low expectations. That team will screw up your life.”
Cohen became not just a Cubs fan but one of the biggest Cubs fans in the world. In this book, he captures the story of the team, its players and crazy days. Billy Sunday and Ernie Banks, Three Finger Brown and Ryne Sandberg, Bill Buckner, the Bartman Ball, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo―the early dominance followed by a 107 year trek across the wilderness. It’s all here, in The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse―not just what happened, but what it felt like and what it meant.
Featuring extensive interviews with players, owners, and coaches, this mix of memoir, reporting, history, and baseball theology―forty years in the making―has never been written because it never could be. Only with the 2016 World Series can the true arc of the story finally be understood.
The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Cubs: A Decade-by-Decade History — Chicago Tribune Staff
The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Cubs is a decade-by-decade look at one of baseball’s most beloved if hard-luck teams, starting with the franchise’s beginnings in 1876 as the Chicago White Stockings and ending with the triumphant 2016 World Series championship.
For more than a century, the Chicago Tribune has documented every Cubs season through original reporting, photography, and box scores. For the first time, this mountain of Cubs history has been mined and curated by the paper’s sports department into a single one-of-a-kind volume. Each era in Cubs history includes its own timeline, profiles of key players and coaches, and feature stories that highlight it all, from the heavy hitters to the no-hitters to the one-hit wonders.
And of course, you can’t talk about the Cubs without talking about Wrigley Field. In this book, readers will find a complete history of that most sacred of American stadiums, where Hack Wilson batted in 191 runs—still the major-league record—in 1930, where Sammy Sosa earned the moniker “Slammin’ Sammy,” and where fans congregated, even when the team was on the road, throughout its scintillating championship run.
The award-winning journalists, photographers, and editors of the Chicago Tribune have produced a comprehensive collector’s item that every Cubs fan will love.
Murphy’s Ticket — Brad Herzog
[Ashley’s note: including a kids’ book might seem silly, but I’m a sucker for good art and a cute story, and this just looks so sweet]
For 108 years, fans of Chicago Cubs baseball suffered every playofff season, with mishap after mishap each being traced back to 1945 when a friendly goat was kicked out of a World Series game. But the 2016 season felt different. Would this finally be the year that the Billy Goat Curse was reversed? Author Brad Herzog tells the story of the curse’s origin and follows the Cubs right through that fateful November night in 2016 when the Cubbies could finally fly the “W.”
On October 12, 2011, Theo Epstein became the new Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations, flipping a switch on the lovable-loser franchise and initiating a plan to accomplish in Chicago what he’d succeeded in as general manager of the Boston Red Sox: ending a World Series drought. It would require a complete team tear-down and turnover, a new farm system foundation of young talent which Epstein and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer gradually added to with gutsy trades and timely signings. After years of rebuilding, Epstein’s crystalline vision has been unquestionably realized in the form of one of the most exciting and talented teams in baseball, led by heavyweights like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant as well as visionaries like manager Joe Maddon. In The Plan, David Kaplan of CSN Chicago and ESPN Radio goes behind the scenes with the Cubs and their front office, walking the steps of their captivating rise to becoming 2016 World Series champions. Featuring exclusive interviews with Epstein, owner Tom Ricketts, and other team insiders, this is the definitive account of a new era on the North Side.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
USA TODAY BESTSELLER
Packed with “compelling inside stories” (Chicago Tribune), Teammate is the inspiring memoir from “Grandpa Rossy,” the veteran catcher who became the heart and soul of the 2016 Chicago Cubs championship team.
In 2016 the Cubs snapped a 108-year curse, winning the World Series in a history-making, seven-game series against the Cleveland Indians. Of the many storylines to Chicago’s fairytale season, one stood out: the late-career renaissance of David Ross, the 39-year-old catcher who had played back-up for 13 of his 15 pro seasons.
Beyond Ross’s remarkably strong play, he became the ultimate positive force in the Cubs locker room, mentoring and motivating his fellow players, some of them nearly twenty years his junior. Thanks to Cubs Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, “Grandpa Rossy” became a social media sensation. No one, however, could have predicted that Ross’s home run in his final career at bat would help seal the Cubs championship.
Now, in Teammate, Ross shares the inspiring story of his life in baseball, framed by the events of that unforgettable November night.
[Ashley’s note: Al didn’t ask me to include this, but writing a book is HARD work, and doing it on top of running a website is even harder. Grab this one if you haven’t already.]
No doubt, you’ve heard about the Cubs’ decades-long run of futility. They hadn’t won a pennant in seventy-one years or a World Series in a record 108 years. To the frustration of Cubs fans everywhere, the team often missed chances with soul-crushing defeats.
But after a complete teardown that resulted in a 100-loss season in 2012, Theo Epstein and his baseball staff reversed that with the Cubs of 2016, a team that was not only supremely talented, but cared nothing for all the media narratives of losing. They did things during the regular season that no Cubs club had done in more than a century, including earning the most wins for the franchise since 1910. The club went on to defeat the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League playoffs before beating the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series.
Anthony Rizzo, MVP candidate Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, manager Joe Maddon, and fan favorites like Javier Baez and David Ross are the heroes of the 2016 Cubs’ story. Told by Al Yellon, managing editor of SB Nation’s Bleed Cubbie Blue, A Season to Remember chronicles not only the 2016 Cubs’ rise to the top of the baseball heap, but the team’s—and the fans’—long journey to get there.
So there you go, a good stack of Cubs-themed reads to keep you busy in between qualifying offers and free agent signing news. Enjoy!