Books: The Boys Of Summer

Out Of The Park

It's only May, but many teams in the competition-starved majors are already out of it. Here's a way to compensate: read a baseball book. It's always been the most literary of sports and this season has produced fine volumes for the coffee table:

One Hundred Years: New York Yankees ($50) It might pain us to say anything nice about the Microsoft of baseball. But this richly illustrated celebration of a century of success is a home run. Catch the essay by Robert Creamer on the legacy of Babe Ruth.

For the Love of the Cubs ($16.95) Then there are the un-Yankees. The adorable Cubbies of Chicago last won a pennant during the Truman administration. This modest book, in A-Z verse, makes a virtue of the shortcomings.

Classic Baseball ($35) From Yogi to Casey, Ted to Sandy, this is a collection of 160 photographs, some iconic, from the great Walter Iooss Jr. of Sports Illustrated.

100 Years of the World Series ($19.95) A solid history, though the photos aren't as impressive as Iooss's. Nice touch: all the box scores in the appendix.

The Perfect Game ($29.95) Watercolors, lithographs and more--this is an offbeat look at baseball history, published in conjunction with a show at the American Folk Art Museum in Manhattan (opening June 17).