Today, the Major League Baseball season gets underway with the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals playing the Miami Marlins in the Florida team’s new ballpark. The Washington Nationals start their season Thursday with a game in Chicago against the Cubs.

To get you in the mood for the season, here are some baseball books that bring out all the excitement and beauty of the game: the thwack of the bat, the smell of a freshly mowed infield and a ball that is going, going . . . gone!

The Super Sluggers: Rainmaker by Kevin Markey. Age 8 and up. $15.99.

The Super Sluggers books are always filled with humor, ad­ven­ture and excitement. In the newest novel, it’s the Rambletown Rounders’ last season playing together and they’re the defending champs, which should mean that they’re riding high. But the Rounders’ ace pitcher is trying to learn to throw the forkball, a pitch no kid should be using. Plus, the spring and summer is unusually wet, so many of their games have been rained out. The team’s rafting trip seems like just what everybody needs to take their minds off pitching and weather woes. That is, until a flash flood and a ghost story come into the picture.

King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige by Wes Tooke. Age 8 and up. $15.99.

Twelve-year-old Nick is on his way to becoming a real baseball star. It’s the 1930s, and he is the boy with the golden arm. But then he gets sick with a disease called polio, which affects his muscles. Many of the adults around Nick, including his dad, think that Nick’s dreams of baseball are over. Then Nick gets the chance to work out with Satchel Paige, who is probably the best pitcher in baseball. But Paige, like Nick, knows about the need to overcome obstacles. You see, Paige is black, and because of that he’s not allowed to play in the major leagues.

There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Livedby Matt Tavares. Age 6 and up. $16.99.

Kids will especially like that this wonderful picture book (Tavares wrote the words and drew the pictures) spends a lot of time talking about the childhood of the famous Boston Red Sox slugger. As a boy, more than anything in the world Ted Williams wanted to play baseball. But he did more than dream. He was teased on the playground because he was skinny. So Williams worked out to build his muscles (doing push-ups on his fingertips) and he ate a lot (including lots of soda, probably not a good idea) to gain weight. And he practiced his swing using a rolled-up newspaper! How Williams grew up to be “the greatest hitter who ever lived” is an exciting and inspiring story.

Pinch Hitby Tim Green. Age 8 and up. $16.99

Have you ever thought about trading places with somebody and living his life? That’s just what happens in this story of two boys, Trevor and Sam. Trevor is a movie star who dreams of playing baseball. Sam is a really talented baseball player who dreams of helping his dad become a successful writer for movies. When the boys meet accidentally, it seems as if it could be fun and harmless for them to swap identities. But if it all went according to plan, that wouldn’t make a very good book, would it?

— Tracy Grant