While hockey seems to be front and center when it comes to sports romance nowadays, baseball has also been having quite the field day over the past several years. America’s pastime for well over a century, the game is one of very few whose season opens and closes in the same calendar year. This allows for some great summer shenanigans on and off the field.
As far as team sports go, baseball is a weird one. Different types of players whose strengths lie in different positions means there are a lot of varying body types and personality types. The time spent playing defense versus offense leads to what feels like a lot of sitting or standing around, not particularly communicating with your fellow players unless a play is being made — or you’re on the bench. But the time spent outside the game, whether at practice, spring training, or other gatherings amongst teammates, leads to the same type of camaraderie that might be built in the close quarters and constant motion of other types of sport.
Either way, there’s a lot that can go on when it comes to baseball players and the people around them — including fans. Players might run into someone on the road who they can’t stop thinking about, or explore a relationship with someone who is part of the organization. They might get advice about a relationship at home from their teammates, or the other way around. There are so many options to the way baseball players’ career and home life might intermix in a romance novel, and it’s lots of fun to explore them. Some are more Basebally(™) than others, so you can choose how much you want to interact with the sport as you read.
Of course, we have to address the biggest issue when it comes to baseball romance (all sports romance) (all romance) and how it reflects and doesn’t reflect real life. While Major League Baseball in 2023 is just under 60 percent white, romance featuring baseball players features a significantly higher number of white players written by white authors. I tried to pull as many books by BIPOC authors as I could find, and I probably didn’t find them all. Even then, it was like pulling teeth to come up with multiple romances by authors of color without including multiple books from the same author. As it stands, there are probably more queer, Jewish MLB players on this list than there are Black ones; and while the most recent demographics lists indicate that just seven percent of MLB players are Black, we should be able to dream a little bigger. Right?
So here’s a list of books that can help you get started or explore further in the baseball romance world.
Unwritten Rules by KD Casey
I’m just going to come right off the bat and say this and the subsequent books in this series are some of my favorite books about baseball, and some of my favorite books in general. (And this would be the case even if KD and I didn’t go back over two decades.) In the inaugural book of the series, we meet Zach, a hard-of-hearing catcher who has more anxiety than a chihuahua in an elephant stampede. When he was paired up with fellow catcher Eugenio in spring training several years ago, the pair couldn’t help but be drawn to each other. But circumstances and Zach’s anxiety about being outed tore them apart. Now, they’re playing together again. This is the only book in the series that’s from a single point of view, and while some people aren’t fans, I absolutely adored it.
Also, when I talk about Basebally(™) books? This is the one.
The Locker Room by Meghan Quinn
Initially, I was going to include the second book in this series simply because I found the setup more interesting, but I guess if you’re going to pick up a new adult, college-set baseball romance series, you should start at the beginning. The baseball players at Brentwood think their locker room is special: if you have a romp against the lockers with someone, they’ll end up being the person you marry. (I don’t make the rules, I just tell you the story.) Knox doesn’t particularly believe in that, but he’s willing to try it out with the girl he thinks is the one.
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
This was one of the first Marriage In Trouble romances I remember picking up. The titular book club is made up of various types, many of them athletes — including Gavin, a second baseman for the local pro team. After finding out his wife has always faked it in bed, he finds himself on the other end of a divorce request thanks to Not Taking Things Well. At the invitation of a teammate, he becomes the newest member of a group that reads romance novels in order to learn how to…well, better please his spouse. In extreme contrast to Unwritten Rules, this one does not lean heavily into the baseballiness.
The Changeup by Nicole Falls
This book doesn’t focus on an MLB player, but is therefore much, much cooler: the main character plays for the National Women’s Team. Geffri hasn’t been playing much baseball in her adulthood but ends up being offered the chance of a lifetime. And then…there’s Noah. He’s a sports blogger who’s a bit skeptical about just how talented she is. When he challenges her to a competition, all bets are off. And the sparks in every interaction between them slowly shift from sparks of anger to something else.
Switch Hitter by E.M. Lindsey
This book starts a little…violently. We meet Pietro at one of his worst moments when he has just had his teeth knocked out by Thierry — security and friend to Pietro’s boyfriend. Jump forward a few years, and Pietro has new teeth and is doing pretty well for himself as a ball player. But he has a different problem: he can’t cook to save his life. And that’s not hyperbole. His ADHD manifests in such a way that one thing he can’t do (among many others) is find time and focus to prepare a meal. Thierry, after having been shot on the job and abandoned by his best friend, is a chef. And the only man who has answered Pietro’s ad for a personal chef. Guess they’re going to have to get along.
And on the baseball scale? Relatively Basebally.
Wild Pitch by Cat Giraldo
So you want to read about the first woman player in the MLB? Who falls for her catcher? And both of them are bi?? And she’s a domme??? And he subs for her????
There is also baseball in this book!
Heart of the Game by Rachel Spangler
Rachel Spangler approaches the game a little differently in this book. While neither of the protagonists are baseball players, the game plays heavily in the events of the story. Sarah has worked her way up to being a full-time sports writer, and baseball is her game. When she meets Molly and her two sons at a game, she’s instantly drawn to them. But Molly has experienced abandonment before and doesn’t want it for herself or her kids. The four of them could become something like a family if Sarah doesn’t let baseball get in her way.
Someone on Goodreads says the third character in this book is baseball, and if that’s the amount of baseballiness you want in your book, this is the one for you.
Where the Pieces Fall by Blue Saffire
This book is different in that it is both a campus and MLB book, spanning a number of years with the central couple. At six-foot-seven, Caleb has the height and the talent to be a major player in the major leagues. He’s working on that goal with his twin brother Cameron. And when he almost takes Nicole out running across the quad, he thinks he’s found everything he needs. But he’s got some other elements of his personal life to deal with, and getting Nicole to be a part of his life is only the first thing. FYI: this book includes a main character with autism.
Scoring With Him by Lauren Blakely
This is the first in a series that follows a single couple through their relationship and their careers in professional baseball. (There’s also a prequel novella, bringing it to four total books.) Grant is a rookie who has a major crush on his new teammate, shortstop Declan. The two end up paired up during spring training and wind up in a friends with benefits situation. (They are both openly gay, by the way.) But what’s this? Feelings? Oh no.
(Side note: Lauren Blakely and KD Casey also have a pair of novellas they wrote together called the Dirty Players series, in which people from both of their individual series might make appearances. Start with Dirty Slide).
The Game Changer by Aurora Paige (July 18)
If you shipped Dr. Sharon with anyone on the Richmond team, this book might be for you. Celine is the team psychologist for the Chicago Angels and loves her work. She even loves working with hotheaded playboy Alaric King, whose mandatory sessions with her he’s obviously delighted to attend. He knows there’s something different about her immediately, but she is not willing to put her career on the line for a player — and definitely not one on the team she works for.
Changing the Game by Jaci Burton
This is an older book, but definitely one of the ones that is just as memorable for the little moments as it is for the big things. This is the second book in the Play By Play series, which is 18 books and features athletes across several sports, including football, baseball, and hockey. Changing the Game introduces us to Liz and Gavin, a sports agent and baseball player, respectively. In the first book of the series, The Perfect Play, Liz did something pretty terrible and Gavin left the agency, and now Liz must do what she can to get him back. But the agreement they come to isn’t what either expected, especially when Feelings start to get in the way.
This one has some baseball play happening on page, but it’s not extremely basebally.
Fake Love by Jocelyne Soto
This book has an adorable and hilarious fake dating setup, but it’s also about someone recovering from addiction. Just a heads up. Maddox has just gotten out of rehab and is on his way to join his new baseball team when he has an amazing night with Jen after meeting her in a coffee shop. So when he’s encouraged to find a fake girlfriend to boost his image, Jen is the first person he thinks of.
Pitch Please by Lani Lynn Vale
This is the first book in the punderific series magically titled There’s No Crying In Baseball. (The second book is Quit Your Pitchin’ and the third is Listen, Pitch. I’m sorry, I just love a good pun and also love a good movie reference. In Pitch Please, we meet Hancock Peters, a gruff and grumpy baseball player of the best sort. And then we meet Sway Coffman. The team’s new athletic trainer. The team’s new woman athletic trainer. The team’s new fat, woman athletic trainer. Hancock never stood a chance.
On and Off the Field by Anastasia Dean
Let’s take this list on down to high school! Ofelia flees to Texas after being left at the altar. Taking up the job of both English teacher and cheerleading coach, she’s sure she’s got her hands full. But Ex-pro baseball player Maverick seems to have taken it upon himself to make her life much more difficult. The two butt heads at every opportunity, but a need to share gym time to make their teams the best of each of their worlds leads to more time together…and what? Is that? Chemistry?
The Third Baseman by Lulu Moore
Okay so here’s a fun premise: A second chance romance in which a top player agrees to play for a team if they also hire the One That Got Away. Jupiter and Marnie were It in high school, but Jupiter broke both their hearts to go play in the major leagues. Now, he’s determined to win her back, and having them in the same city, working for the same organization, has to get him at least to a starting line, right?
Calling It by Jen Doyle
I have a soft spot for books with librarians, and I also have a soft spot for semi-violent meet cutes (please see I Think I Might Love You). Nate needs to get away and decides to go off on a family visit, including popping into his sister’s apartment unannounced. He never expected to see a baseball bat in a situation off the field, but he’ll take the danger if it means getting to know Dorie, the person wielding the bat. One encounter leads to another and another, but this isn’t supposed to last forever, just until Nate had to go back for Spring Training.
Holiday Home Run by Priscilla Oliveras
Did you know Priscilla Oliveras wrote a baseball book?! Okay, so this is more baseball-adjacent, but it still very much has baseball vibes. Julia is in Chicago for an internship and is happy to be away from her family in Puerto Rico. There’s a lot of baseball in her family, and the last thing she wants is to get involved with an ex-baseball player, but Ben might just turn her around when he volunteers to work her event. Sure, this is a holiday-themed book, but you can totally read it anytime you want.
Caught Looking by Aven Ellis
I am incredibly proud of myself for not only knowing that this title references a baseball term, but for knowing what that term means! This is the fourth book in a series but seems like one of the most interesting of them, so I decided to buck tradition. After star pitcher Chase pretends to be McKenna’s boyfriend in front of her ex-boyfriend, they wonder if they can keep up the charade for their own benefits. But they agree to specific rules: they’re operating on a timeline, and nobody is allowed to fall in love.
Playing The Rookie by Rachelle Alaya
Jessica is an intern and Jay is a rookie. Both reeling from breakups, the pair look to each other for a whirlwind week of dates, sex, and no feelings. But what happens when those feelings start to intrude on their lives? This is a prequel novella in the Men of Spring Baseball series, which technically starts with Playing Without Rules. You want some drama? That one is a doozy.
Anything but Minor by Kate Stewart
Regardless of the title, the main character of this book does indeed play minor league baseball. Rafe missed his chance to play in the majors and is now playing local ball in Charleston, South Carolina, where he meets Alice. Alice has moved to Charleston to start a new life and to rock a cool ass job as a pilot and flight instructor. They see each other from afar at first, and then closer up, but both of them are focused on their careers and don’t have time for a relationship.
There is a lot of baseball you can explore, probably including a few books by Black authors who wrote for Harlequin’s Kimani line before they closed it in 2016. If you want more sports romances in general, you can definitely find a lot about them here, including sports romances that aren’t steeped in white supremacy culture.