The book: “The New Baseball Bible: Notes, Nuggets, Lists and Legends from Our National Pasttime”
The author: Dan Schlossberg (preface by Alan Schwarz, forward by Jay Johnstone)
The vital statistics: Sports Publishing LLC, 424 pages, $17.99, released March 7
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes & Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website, or the writers’ website
The pitch: Refresh, and resend.
Some may remember this as it was published in 2002 as “The Baseball Almanac: Big Bodacious Book of Baseball,” but it is actually a cut-and-
paste collection of items that once came out as “The Baseball Catalog” in 1980, a Book of the Month Club alternative.
That was when something of this immense size and substance could have a more profound effect for a kid growing up in a much less media-cluttered existence.
As Schlossberg writes in the introduction, this edition “was not just written; it was assembled like a giant jigsaw puzzle.”
Mostly, it’s nostalgia for those in the same sort of way as it was ripping open a pack of baseball cards and reading as much as they could between national NBC Game of the Week telecasts.
This was the media — an oversized mishmash of history, quirkiness and stats to inhale.
This “is meant to be a book of memories,” Schlossberg adds. “Pretty enough to reside on a coffee table, it is also practical enough to leave in the bathroom.”
No apps. No digital enhancing. No timing out.
What else can make good on that promise?
Constructed in a way that makes it almost feel as if you’re reading a reproduced old Sears catalogue, but freshened up with info over the last decade-plus that give it currency, the publishers and Schlossberg (who lists four of his previously published baseball books in this bibliography) have done the readers right on this one.
It stays true to the organized collection of photos, illustrations, three-to-four paragraph flashcard lessons, as well as mishmash of typefaces, fonts, cheesy graphics and what appear sometimes to be stuff taken with an old Polaroid.
Those with some sentimentality will page through it and discover new things about the game. Those with kids still in the Wonder Year stages may even take to it with some attention that doesn’t demand a lot of time.
= Page 80: “When the Louisville Slugger Museum posted a highway billboard bragging of ‘more old bats than an needlepoint convention,’ the Embroiders Guild of America complained. The group, also located in Louisville, has 20,000 members, some as old as 100.”
= Page 101: “Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax on the St. Louis AstroTurf: ‘I know one thing. I was one of those guys who pitched without a cup. I wouldn’t do it on this stuff.’”
= Page 160: “The reason Connie Mack preferred a business suit to a baseball uniform was his penchant for screaming at players after games. By letting players shower and dress alone, the longtime manager imposed a personal cooling-off period.”
= Page 229: “In 1911, American League president Ban Johnson suggested the identity of scorers be kept secret so they could not be influenced by players to change their decisions. Chicago of the National League employed a mysterious ‘E.G. Green’ as scorer from 1882 to 1891. Only team president A.G. Spaulding knew that Mrs. Elisa Green Williams, mother of team treasurer C.G. Williams, was scoring the games.”
= Page 364: “Twelve of the 30 players who reached 3,000 hits never won a batting crown. They are Craig Biggio, Lou Brock, Eddie Collins, Rickey Henderson, Derek Jeter, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Cal Ripken Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount.”
Shall we continue?