The actor Alan Young passed away at the age of 96 on Thursday.

Baseball connection?

Several of the Dodgers, including Sandy Koufax, John Roseboro, Willie Davis, and Moose Skowron appeared as themselves, as well as the voice of Vin Scully.

 

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NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on with the show…

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way,” which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main.

  1. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51FLABT1EJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team, by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller. (A review from The Hardball Times.)
  2. The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, by Jeff Passan
  3. I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies: Inside the Game We All Love, by Tim Kurkjian (Here’s my review on Bookreporter.com and the “Bookshelf Conversation” with the author.)
  4. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  5. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen (paperback)
  6. If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers: Stories from the Milwaukee Brewers Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box, by Bill Schroeder
  7. The Last Innocents: The Collision of the Turbulent Sixties and the Los Angeles Dodgers, by Michael Leahy *
  8. The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life, by Matheny with Jerry Jenkins
  9. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood
  10. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman
  • Indicates debut on this list

The anecdote used to go that the three teams written about most were the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, and the Chicago Cubs. Makes sense; they are among the oldest teams in the game. But add to the list the Dodgers, whether in the Brooklyn of Los Angeles incarnations. Fans of the Ebbetts Field crew are like the greatest generation in that they’re beginning to dwindle so books about the days of Jackie, Pee Wee and Oisk are similarly fading while the newer titles now consider the LA teams of the6 0s and 70s.

Three baseball titles are included in The New York Times‘ sports list for May. Two aren’t much of a surprise: The Arm (No. 4) and Ron Darling’s Mets memoir (No. 7). The other, however, is pretty stunning: I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson, as told to Alfred Duckett. I can only surmise the increased/renewed interest stems from the recent Ken Burn’s documentary on the iconic ballplayer/civil rights hero. The book, ninth on the Times‘ list, was released shortly after Robinson died in 1972. The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season, by Barry Svrluga, comes in at number 19.

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Today: 494,010; last week: 1,111,362. Woo-hoo! Thanks! At this rate, 501 should be number one very shortly. FYI, I have queried University of Nebraska Press to see if there’s interest in a revised edition in the not too distant future, given that a number of excellent titles have been published in the intervening years.

If you have read 501, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page; it’s never too late. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.

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There has to be something going on on Jeopardy. How else to explain the high number of clues regarding baseball over the past several weeks. It seems like there is at least one reference per week. Sometimes an entire category is devoted to some aspect of the national pastime as in this from last night’s “Power Players” extravaganza:

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Revised to include my oversight in omitting the Bad News Bears TV show.

While baseball and TV go great together, episodic series about the national have never done well. None of the attempts have lasted more than one season.

Ball Four. Based on Jim Bouton’s seminal book and starring the author as aversion of himself. Five episodes in 1976.

 

Bay City Blues. 1983, from the folks who brought you Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue, starring Dennis Franz, Micheal Nouri, Bernie Casey, et al. Eight episodes.

 

A League of Their Own. 1993 show based on the hit movie by Penny Marshall. Starring Cary Lowell (Law and Order) in the Dotty Henson role played by Geena Davis with Megan Cavanagh and Tracy Reiner reprising their roles as Marla Hooch and Betty “Spaghetti” Horn. Six episodes.

 

Back in the Game, a truly terrible show from 2013 about a former star softball player who takes over as coach of her son’s little league team. A Full of stereotypes and cliches and a totally unconvincing athletic job by the lead and a phone-it-in performance by James Caan who played the gruff but lovable grandpa. How this managed to last a whole 13 episodes, I don’t know. From the trailer: “Terry Gannon is one tough mother, but life has thrown her a curve,” and “I’m gonna take you so deep, you’re gonna be making me breakfast, baby.” What??? That makes no sense. Was that supposed to pass for sexual innuendo? Fail.

The BNB, TV edition, came hot on the heels of the hit movie in 1973 and lasted a whopping 26 episodes. Guess you have to strike while the iron is hot. It featured Jack Warden as the Walter Matthau role of Buttermaker, Corey Feldman as Regi Tower,  and Meeno Peluce as Lucas Tanner. HT to Facebook friend Rob Bellamy for the note.

The only one that seemed to sustain was HBO’s crude Eastbound and Down, about a John Rocker-type redneck who couldn’t keep out of his own way. Warning: Clip is NSFW.

 

But could this be the baseball series that finally makes a go of it?

 

Pitch has the imprimatur of Major League Baseball (I wonder how they decided that the San Diego Padres would have the honor of being the first to take this on?) and the production values are obviously high. But can this sustain as an entire series, rather than a one-shot movie? In fact, IMDB actually lists Pitch as a TV movie, not a series. It’s hard to tell from the trailer: does all the action take place in one episode, or over the course of the run? If the former, well, what else are you going to say? Obviously there will be logistical problems. How will they handle the locker room? This seems to be contemporary, i.e., not set in the distant future where gender issues might no longer be a thing. Romance between Baker and a teammates? An opponent? A front office employee? Will here be the lunkhead who insists she must be gay because, sports?

The most recognizable (to me) names in the cast include Dan Lauria, who played Kevin Arnold’s dad in The Wonder Years; Ali Larter (Heroes); Kylie Bunbury (Under the Dome, a “so bad it’s good” stinker); and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Saved by the Bell, NYPD Blue, etc.).

As the saying goes, stay tuned.

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http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51F1uhOrdQL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgTim Kurkjian was one of the first interviews I did for the Bookshelf in its current iteration. (I’m still surprised, after all these years all these years later, that someone on that level would bother with a relatively low level blog such as this, and that’s not humble bragging.)

Over the years I’ve found Kurkjian very approachable in his work. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, which I think is a reason the people in the game find him so easy to deal with. We spoke recently about how the game and his job have changed in the intervening years since his previous treatise, Is This a Great Game or What?

Here’s my review of his new title on Bookreporter.com.

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http://www.bookreporter.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/book_main/covers/1250077931.jpgBy Tim Kurkjian via Bookreporter.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on with the show…

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way,” which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main.

  1. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51yaptbyp8L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies: Inside the Game We All Love, by Tim Kurkjian(Look for my review on Bookreporter.com beginning tonight and a “Bookshelf Conversation” with the author on Monday.)
  2. The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team, by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller. (A review from The Hardball Times. Lindbergh will be the featured guest at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse on Thursday, May 12, at 7 p.m.)
  3. The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, by Jeff Passan
  4. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  5. The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life, by Matheny with Jerry Jenkins
  6. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman
  7. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood
  8. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen (paperback)
  9. Is This a Great Game, or What?: From A-Rod’s Heart to Zim’s Head–My 25 Years in Baseball, by Tim Kurkjian
  10. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen (hardcover)

Kurkjian’s latest tops the list this morning while his previous baseball title pops up again. He also did the text for America’s Game, one of those celebratory projects that came out at the turn of the century.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51NxyVhGJ6L._SX375_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThree baseball titles are included in The New York Times‘ sports list for May. Two aren’t much of a surprise: The Arm (No. 4) and Ron Darling’s Mets memoir (No. 7). The other, however, is pretty stunning: I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson, as told to Alfred Duckett. I can only surmise the increased/renewed interest stems from the recent Ken Burn’s documentary on the iconic ballplayer/civil rights hero. The book, ninth on the Times‘ list, was released shortly after Robinson died in 1972. The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season, by Barry Svrluga, comes in at number 19.

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Today: 1,111,362; last week: 1,095,555. Ugh, a million, again and sliding. The Mendoza Line of Amazon rankings.

If you have read 501, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page; it’s never too late. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.

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http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51RJ28CBXSL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgEditor’s note: It’s always great to be able to provide a guest column. This one comes from Thomas Danielson, a freelance writer who has loved baseball ever since he went to his first live game at Fenway Park. It’s especially timely given the previous entry on the Bookshelf.

 * * * * *

In 2004, baseball analyst Buster Olney published an outstanding book called The Last Night Of The Yankee Dynasty: The Game, The Team, And The Cost Of Greatness. It was about the winding down of the Yankees’ exceptional run of success from 1996 to 2001, during which they won four World Series titles, and came very close to winning all six that took place in that span.

More than anything else, Olney’s book is an exploration of what made the late-’90s and early-’00s Yankees so good. However, the concept that it was the end of a dynasty was what really made the whole story dramatic. Many baseball fans (and even Yankee haters) dismiss the idea that the Yankees’ dynasty ever really comes to an end. The team has had hot and cold stretches over the decades but never seems to fade away completely.

Yet I might go the other way with this discussion and suggest that the Yankees’ World Series loss in 2001 ended not only that particular sub-dynasty in the Bronx, but baseball dynasties in general. And I believe we have to look no further than winning percentages for evidence that the likelihood of another genuine MLB dynasty is low.

It may be the simplest measure of a team’s success, but the winning percentage of a league leader or World Series champion can be pretty telling as to the level of parity in the overall game. For instance, one analysis of baseball betting strategies noted that in 2014 the Angels led the regular season with a .605 winning percentage, which to many who don’t follow the sport would seem low. A modern day baseball fan, however, knows that .600 is actually a fairly exceptional mark for a season’s worth of work given the level of competition.

I bring this up not to suggest that .600 or above is by any means rare — a handful of teams knock on that door each season — but rather to illustrate the way in which winning percentage measures parity. And when we consider that same idea with regard to some of baseball history’s most undeniable dynasties, the idea begins to take shape that increased parity (and even number of teams in general) may actually be killing off the notion that a team can dominate the sport for years on end.

We’ll begin with the late’40s and early’50s Yankees, who won five World Championships in a row (specifically between 1949 and 1953). Those teams’ winning percentages were .630 (1949), .636 (1950), .636 (1951), .617 (1952), and .656 (1953) for an average of .635 over the five-year span. By modern standards that’s unheard of dominance. It’s also worth noting that in this span there were only 16 teams in the MLB, meaning a heavyweight had fewer contenders to deal with.

The next genuine dynasty (though the term is always subjective) was probably the 1972-74 Oakland Athletics, who won three World Series titles in a row. Those A’s had winning percentages of .600 (1972), .580 (1973), and .556 (1974) for an average of .579 over the three seasons. For a team to be so successful as to win three straight titles, yet boast a winning percentage over .050 lower than that of the previous “dynasty” suggests far greater competition all those years later. There were also simply more teams to contend with, as the MLB had expanded to 24 teams during this stretch in the ’70s.

Next we come to the late-’90s/early-’00s Yankees Olney wrote about. In the four years in which that team won the World Series, their winning percentages were .568 (1996), .704 (1998), .605 (1999), and .537 (2000). That makes for a .604 average, which breaks the trend of dynasty winning percentages declining over time. However, I’d argue that the 1998 season can be omitted as an outlier. Some still argue that these Yankees were the best team to ever take the field, and the 114 wins and .704 winning percentage they posted were nearly unprecedented. It skews things a bit, but excluding the absurd 1998 numbers, the dynasty’s winning percentage was an average of .570 – slightly lower than that of the ’70s A’s. Again, the indication is that competition was tougher, and there were more teams (28 in 1996 and the modern count of 30 by the end of this run of championships).

Some would say that was the last run worth considering, though there’s some debate as to whether or not the 2010s Giants were a dynasty. They had a bizarre pattern, winning every other year for five seasons. But for reference, the trend of declining winning percentages continued with these title teams as well. Specifically, they were .568 (2010), .580 (2012), and .543 (2014), for a .564 average.

Now, in the scheme of greater baseball analysis, judging teams by winning percentage is an exceedingly simple approach. Yet it illustrates the point quite well. A team with a winning percentage closer to .500 is by definition having a harder time distancing itself from the pack. And over the decades we’ve seen even some of the most successful teams slowly descending toward that mark. Where a dynastic run in the ’40s and ’50s meant a .635 winning percentage, that number seems almost ludicrous today. That isn’t to say individual teams can’t reach or exceed it by any means. But the idea of a club staying at that kind of level for multiple seasons in a short span seems less likely with each passing year. And that in turn makes the idea of another dynasty seem far-fetched.

For that reason, it may just be that Olney’s Last Night Of The Yankee Dynasty may truly have been the last night of MLB dynasties, period.

 

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Baseball has always had supreme rulers. The New York Yankees, with 27 world championships, are generally acknowledged as baseball’s most dynastic franchise, beginning with their rush to greatness in the early 1920s. Even teams more known for their ineptitude — the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs — once dominated the national pastime. But are baseball dynasties dead?

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/26/1927NYYankees5.jpg

A quartet of sportswriters will participate in “Reign Men,” a debate of baseball’s greatest dynasties, at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center on Sunday, May 22, at 2 p.m. The Museum is located on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls.

The panelists include:

Baseball historian, author, and former Yankees PR director Marty Appel will moderate the discussion.

Admission is $6, $4 for students, and free for Museum members. Each author’s most recent book will also be available for purchase. For more information, contact david.yogi@montclair.edu or 973-655-6891.

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Funny, just the other day I received a copy of Dingers: The 101 Most Memorable Home Runs in Baseball History. I suggest the authors immediately revise the book to include this…

Those of you who have been reading this blog or the Baseball Bookshelf know I hate hyperbole. The use of word’s like “greatest” or “Best” or phrases like “changed the game forever” drive me nuts.

But in this case, I would agree.

In case you’re unfamiliar with him, Bartolo Colon, a 43-year-old pitcher for the NY Mets, is the kind of guy who makes every fan say, “Look at him. I can do what he does.” Colon — who is listed at 5’11” and 285 pounds — looks like Jabba the Hut in baseball clothes.

http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BlH7msoCIAAcpea.jpg:medium

But here’s no denying his talents on the mound. You don’t get to pitch this long without skilzzzz. Colon recently passed Pedro Martinez on the list for career wins by a pitcher from the Dominican Republic. He is a three-time All Star and won the A.L. Cy Young Award in 2005. And he’s amazingly agile “for a big guy.”

One thing Colon is not is a hitter. He sports a lifetime batting average of .092 (21-228) but it’s not for lack of trying. He takes some of the most entertaining swings in the game. As Ron Darling says in the video below, there aren’t many guys who get cheers for hitting a foul ball.

But then there was this on Saturday:

Is there anyone who isn’t smiling about this? I love Gary Cohen losing his damned mind on the radio call. And he’s right: This was one of the greatest moments in the history of the game. I’m just waiting for Weird Al Yankovic to come out with “The Legend of Bartolo.”

Understandably, there has been a lot written about this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence:

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http://ww1.hdnux.com/photos/12/06/76/2650024/6/1024x1024.jpgCongrats to Arnold Hano, recently elected to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals, the national organization’s equivalent to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Don Newcombe and Bo Jackson will join Hano for this year’s “induction.” They will be formally enshrined in a public ceremony on Sunday, July 17, at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library.

Of the fifty eligible candidates on the 2016 ballot, Newcombe received the highest voting percentage, being named on 42% of the ballots returned.  Following Newcombe were Jackson with 38% and Hano with 26%.  Runners-up in this year’s election included Chet Brewer (25.3%), Charlie Brown (24.7%), Charlie Finley (24.7%), Bob Costas (24%), and Rocky Colavito (23.3%).

http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/sites/default/files/field/image/scan0015.jpgElected in his first year on the ballot, Hano, born in 1922, is a prolific writer and social activist.  Few baseball books have weathered the decades better than his A Day In The Bleachers, an eyewitness account of Game One of the 1954 World Series. He had recently left a job as editor for a firm that produced fiction and was determined to make his mark as a journalist.

Call it serendipity, call it fate, call it plain old dumb luck – Hano was in the right place at the right time to document one of the greatest plays in baseball history, the celebrated over-the-shoulder catch by Willie Mays of Vic Wertz’s titanic centerfield blast.  The book became a model for first-person reporting on baseball games, its unique point of view revolutionizing the staid sports journalism of the day.

The popular and critical success of A Day in the Bleachers catapulted Hano into the highest ranks of freelance journalism; his byline soon became ubiquitous in periodicals such as Sport, Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, and both the New York and Los Angeles Times.

He also published biographies on athletes Mays, Sandy Koufax, Roberto Clemente, Muhammad Ali, and others, and was a regular contributor to baseball annuals.  His career climaxed in 1964 when he was named 1963’s Magazine Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and received the 1963 Sidney Hillman Memorial Award in magazine journalism for a muckraking study of the miserable conditions faced by immigrant farm workers in California’s Central Valley.

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.2431856.1447291451!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_400/baseball9n-3-web.jpgHano moved to Laguna Beach, California in 1955, where he still makes his home.  He is the subject of the 2015 documentary HANO! A Life in the Bleachers by filmmaker Jon Leonoudakis.  His description of “The Catch” is still referenced, cited, and reprinted in whole or in part, thrilling a new generation of baseball fans and aspiring sportswriters.

Newcombe, Jackson, and Hano will join 51 other baseball luminaries who have been inducted into the Shrine of the Eternals since elections began in 1999, including Jim Abbott, Dick Allen, Roger Angell, Emmett Ashford, Moe Berg, Sy Berger, Yogi Berra, Steve Bilko, Ila Borders, Jim Bouton, Jim Brosnan, Bill Buckner, Glenn Burke, Roberto Clemente, Steve Dalkowski, Dizzy Dean, Rod Dedeaux, Jim Eisenreich, Dock Ellis, Eddie Feigner, Mark Fidrych, Curt Flood, Ted Giannoulas, Josh Gibson, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Pete Gray, William “Dummy” Hoy, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill James, Dr. Frank Jobe, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Roger Maris, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Manny Mota, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, Jackie Robinson, Rachel Robinson, Lester Rodney, Pete Rose, Casey Stengel, Luis Tiant, Fernando Valenzuela, Bill Veeck, Jr., Maury Wills, Kenichi Zenimura, and Don Zimmer.

The 2016 voting breakdown:

  • Don Newcombe – 42.0%
  • Bo Jackson – 38.0%
  • Arnold Hano – 26.0%
  • Chet Brewer – 25.3%
  • Charlie Brown – 24.7%
  • Charlie Finley – 24.7%
  • Bob Costas – 24.0%
  • Rocky Colavito – 23.3%
  • Luke Easter – 22.7%
  • Charles M. Conlon – 21.3%
  • J.R. Richard – 21.3%
  • Effa Manley – 20.7%
  • Nancy Faust – 19.3%
  • Ernie Harwell – 19.3%
  • Hideo Nomo – 19.3%
  • Pete Reiser – 19.3%
  • Jose Canseco – 18.7%
  • Lisa Fernandez – 18.7%
  • Mamie Johnson – 18.7%
  • Dr. Mike Marshall – 18.7%
  • Bert Campaneris – 18.0%
  • Denny McLain – 17.3%
  • Rube Foster – 16.0%
  • Fred Merkle – 16.0%
  • Annie Savoy – 16.0%
  • Ted Kluszewski – 15.3%
  • Tug McGraw – 14.7%
  • Bing Russell – 14.7%
  • Rube Waddell – 14.7%
  • Reuben Berman – 14.0%
  • Joe Pepitone – 14.0%
  • Rusty Staub – 14.0%
  • Margaret Donahue – 13.3%
  • Phil Pote – 13.3%
  • Vic Power – 13.3%
  • Charley Pride – 13.3%
  • John Young – 13.3%
  • Octavius V. Catto – 12.0%
  • Daniel Okrent – 12.0%
  • Steve Wilstein – 12.0%
  • Dave Parker – 11.3%
  • Chris Von der Ahe – 11.3%
  • Mike Hessman – 10.7%
  • Dan Quisenberry – 10.7%
  • John Montgomery Ward – 10.0%
  • Wayne Doba – 7.3%
  • Isabel Alvarez – 6.7%
  • Emilio Cordova – 6.7%
  • Billy Scripture – 4.0%
  • Dr. David Tracy – 0.7%

 

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NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on with the show…

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way,” which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main.

  1. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51F1uhOrdQL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team, by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller. (A review from The Hardball Times. Lindbergh will be the featured guest at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse on Thursday, May 12, at 7 p.m.)
  2. The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, by Jeff Passan
  3. I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies: Inside the Game We All Love, by Tim Kurkjian *
  4. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman
  5. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  6. Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life, by Ron Darling and Daniel Paisner. (My review on Bookreporter.com)
  7. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen (The paperback version is also on the Amazon best-seller list but I’m not including it on this here because redundant. Domus mea, praecepta mea.)
  8. The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life, by Matheny with Jerry Jenkins
  9. Incredible Baseball Stats: The Coolest, Strangest Stats and Facts in Baseball History, by Kevin Reavy and Ryan Spader
  10. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood

It’s been almost a decade since ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian published Is This a Great Game, or What?: From A-Rod’s Heart to Zim’s Head–My 25 Years in Baseball. Times certainly have changed. Look for my review on Bookreporter.com coming soon as well as a Bookshelf Conversation with the author himself.

As of this writing, the New York Times‘ sports list for May isn’t up. On the April list: Mariano Rivera’s The Closer comes in at #13. If you’re interested, as I am, in how they decide these things, click on the link at the bottom of the list’s page. And they still haven’t offered an baseball book reviews.

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Today: 1,095,555; last week: 1,020,093. Ugh, a million. The Mendoza Line of Amazon rankings.

If you have read 501, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page; it’s never too late. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.

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Baseball Best-Sellers, April 29, 2016

2015 title

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on […]

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Author event: Joe, you can still make us proud

2015 title

Hard to believe it’s been 40 years since Joe Pepitone came out with his version of Ball Four with Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud, co-written with Berry Stainback. I remember getting this when it first came out as a selection of the short-lived Sports Illustrated Book Club. It was re-issued last year as a […]

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The Bookshelf Review: Game 7, 1986

2016 title

  Via Bookreporter.com.       Be sociable, share the Bookshelf! Tweet

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The Bookshelf Conversation: Howard Megdal

2016 title

Full disclosure: Howard Megdal and I go back a fair piece. I did a story on him when he published The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball’s Chosen Players and we’ve kept in touch over the years. In a sense, I consider him my “rabbi,” the consigliere type as opposed to  than something […]

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30 for 30 (baseball books), Week 3

2016 title

Recapping Tom Hoffarth’s entertaining and educational series: April 1: The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, by Jeff Passan April 2: Baseball Field Guide: An In-Depth Illustrated Guide to the Complete Rules of Baseball, by   Dan Formosa and Paul Hamburger April 3: The Cardinals Way: How One Team […]

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Baseball Best-Sellers, April 22, 2016

2016 title

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on […]

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Art event: Vincent Scilla

Annoucements

Should have posted this earlier, but the opening reception is tonight and Scilla will be a the featured speaker at an event on May 5 at the Italian American Museum in Manhattan. Be sociable, share the Bookshelf! Tweet

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I’m blue over Green and Red

"Annuals"

Overlooked this from a couple of months ago. From “Sports Money” on Forbes.com, dated March 3, 2016: Major League Baseball has discontinued publishing the Green and Red Books, two media guides that provided scores of data on teams for a given season, plus historical information. According to the article by Maury Brown, the powers that […]

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