The Heart of the Order by Thomas Boswell
One of those "lyrical writers," of the ilk of Roger Angell and Red Smith, Boswell is one of those guys who just knows how to put a paragraph together. This book collects many of his best from the period 1984-1988, as baseball goes through upheavals of greats and dynasties.
The writings are not chronological, but rather are grouped by themes: Heroes includes profiles of Joe DiMaggio, Ozzie Smith, and Brooks Robinson. Hubris includes two humorous pieces. The Heart of the Order looks at various players in short pieces, grouped by position--DH, Carl Yastrzemski, LF Pedro Guerrero, as so on. Five Octobers excerpts Boswell's writings on the postseasons of the five-year period, in a very effective style. Managing (Life) looks at Earl Weaver, Dick Howser and Sparky Anderson. Inside the Inside are pieces on the "inside" game. The Flame of Fame looks at Reggie Jackson, Steve Carlton and Don Sutton, Pete Rose, Dwight Gooden, and Roger Maris. Changing Times, The End, and Afterword all refer, in one way or another, to how the game has changed, and how it hasn't.
Boswell is one of the finest writers who writes about baseball, and his work is part of what has made it fashionable for the "intelligentsia" to be baseball fans. This is both good and bad, but reading Boswell is always a pleasure.