Paraphrasing a great line from a TV show from long ago (I know forget which one, might have been M*A*S*H), i I were stranded on a dessert island and could only have one book, it would be the dictionary, because it has all the other books in it.
That’s kind of the way I feel about Top of the Order: 25 Writers Pick Their Favorite Baseball Player of All Time, edited by Sean Manning (Da Capo). There’s an eclectic group of contributors here, many of whom don’t even cover sports in their “day job.” The roster of writers include Roger Kahn on Jackie Robinson and Jonathan Eig on Lou Gehrig; Pat Jordan on Tom Seaver; Stefan Fatsis on Bobby Murcer; former Major Leaguer Doug Glanville on Garry Maddox, and many more. Some essays cover foreign players (Robert Whiting on Yutaka Enatsu) and some aren’t even real (film critic Carrie Rickey on Crash Davis. Some are Hall of Famers, while others aren’t exactly household names (King Kaufman on Neifi Perez and Esquire Managzine’s Scott Raab on Tony Horton) and one didn’t even make it as a pro (Jim Bouton on Steve Dembroski). But these players have one thing in common: for whatever reason, they were someone’s favorite. The heart wants what the heart wants; there’s not always a logical explanation.
Manning, whose essay profiles NBA legend/failed minor leaguer Michael Jordan, took a few minutes to chat with The Bookshelf about the process of selection, editing, and the joy of putting this jigsaw puzzle together.
Hear it here: