:
Baseball:
The Biographical
Encyclopedia
Edited by David Pietrusza, Matt Silverman, and Michael Gershman
Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia
From Amazon.com

Baseball wonks rejoice! Baseball: The
Biographical Encyclopedia
is here with
information about the men behind the
magic numbers 755, 70, 56, 1.12, and
4,256. This weighty tome presents 2,000
capsule biographies of players, Negro
Leaguers, umpires, executives, minor
leaguers, owners, and broadcasters. All
the big names—Aaron to Zisk—are
included in this treasure trove, as are some
lesser-known figures such as D.L. Adams
(who has a pretty strong claim as "the
father of baseball"), Bill Klem ("the Babe
Ruth of umpires"), Branch Rickey (who
signed Jackie Robinson to the major
leagues), and Charles "Victory" Faust (the
New York Giants' good luck charm and
occasional pitcher, with no wins, losses,
saves, walks, or strikeouts, and an ERA of
4.50, in two innings pitched). Each entry
includes cumulative statistics, dates and
places of birth and death, and a picture of
the subject. The descriptions are warm, if
not effusive, celebrating the achievements
of the game's greats as well as highlighting
the positive contributions of some less
fondly remembered by history. Fred
Merkle, for example, best known for the
"Merkle Boner," is described as a fine
player who performed well in six World
Series. An excellent addition to any
baseball fan's library, destined to be
shelved alongside
Total Baseball: The
Official Encyclopedia of Major League
Baseball
.                   
                                         â€”M. Stein
DAVID PIETRUSZA is co-author of
Total Baseball: The Official
Encyclopedia of Major League
Baseball
and has served as editor-in-
chief of Total Sports and president of
the Society for American Baseball
Research (SABR). He is the author of
several baseball books, including
Judge and Jury: The Life and Times
of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis
,
winner of the CASEY Award as best
baseball book of 1998, and co-edited
The Total Baseball Catalog.

MATTHEW SILVERMAN served as a
senior editor for Total Sports. He co-
edited
Total Baseball: The Official
Encyclopedia of Major League
Baseball
and Total Football and six
Total Football offshoots, namely
Total Cowboys, Total Packers,
Total Steelers, Total 49ers, Total
Quarterbacks
, and Total Super
Bowl
. Formerly an editor at Variety,
he edited
Total Mets.

MICHAEL GERSHMAN is co-author
of
Total Baseball: The Official
Encyclopedia of Major League
Baseball
and author of ten baseball
books including
Diamonds: The
Evolution of the Ballpark
, winner of
the CASEY Award as best baseball
book of 1993. Editor-in-chief of the
biographical component of Microsoftâ
€™s
Complete Baseball CD-ROM,
he founded the Total Sports company
with John Thorn. He passed away in
January 2000.
From USA Today Baseball Weekly

Two thousand personalities are featured in
Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia
(Total/ Sports Illustrated: $49.95).  As you
would expect every person enshrined in the
Hall of Fame is covered, along with anyone
who ever won a batting, home run or pitching
title, or any other significant year-end award.
Top stars of the Negro leagues and minors
who never even reached the bigs also appear.

But what really gives this massive reference
source its fizz are many of the other selectionsâ
€” executives, broadcasters, one-shot-
wonders and cultural pioneers who made
contributions to the game's history. For a
book intended primarily as a reference guide,
much of the writing surpasses standard
academic exposition. Journeyman slugger
Steve Bilko is described as a man built like "a
packing crate for farm machinery" We learn
how average players with terrific nicknames
earned their monikers: Hollis "Sloppy Thurston
was actually the most nattily attired pitcher of
his era. And size wasn't the reason why Bill
Skowron was known as Moose. As a
youngster, neighborhood kids insisted the
future Yankees first baseman bore an uncanny
resemblance to Italian dictator Benito
Mussolini.

Management adversaries Donald Fehr and
Scott Boras are granted lengthy bios, as well
as media figures Jerome Holtzman, Vin Scully
and pioneer TV director Harry Coyle.

Within the biographical summaries are
delicious nuggets: Steve Yeager is test pilot
Chuck Yeager's nephew; Mario Mendoza's
lifetime batting average was above the â
€œMendoza Line"; and catcher Bo Diaz was
killed when he was struck by lightning while
installing a satellite dish.

—
USA Today Baseball Weekly, June 14,
2000
From The Village Voice

Together with Total Baseball, the
statistical encyclopedia, this book
comprises the standard baseball kit to
be taken to a desert island—in fact,
taken together, they practically weigh
as much as an island (
Total Baseball
comes in at 2538 pages). It would be
quicker to list those who aren't in here
than those who are, except that I
haven't found anyone yet who isn't.
Every Hall of Famer, of course, and
every important baseball executive and
commissioner, but also Eddie Gaedel
(the midget with the 1.000 on-base
percentage), Jack Norworth (who
wrote the lyrics to guess what song),
and the greatest of all baseball fiction
writers, Ring Lardner.

This volume is clearly not meant to be
digested in one or even a few sittings.
It's the type of work that rewards
simply opening it to any old page.
Here's an excerpt from the Roberto
Clemente entry, flipped to at random:
"To deal with his physical problems,
Clemente relied on a Puerto Rican
chiropractor, Arturo Garcia, who 'rubs
on a potent orange ointment called
Atomic Balm, "cauterizes" tendons with
a black plastic cylinder that emits
crackling blue sparks, and heats aching
muscles with a small infrared lamp.'
Several times Clemente infuriated
Pirates management by shunning
medical experts in Pittsburgh, instead
relying on Dr. Garcia and his methods."

And Jackie Jensen: "Unable to control
his panic at airports he jumped the
team on April 29, 1961, and hired a
nightclub hypnotist to help him with his
problem. The hypnotist later theorized
that the fear of flying was 'merely a
subterfuge. Jackie needed the fear as
an excuse to get home and patch up his
marriage.' "

I don't want to overstate the case, but
it's possible that the last time so much
essential information was gathered in
one volume was
The Decline and Fall
of the Roman Empire
.
—Allen Barra
"Pleasantly presented and written . . . it
belongs . . . on all comprehensive baseball
reference shelves."
—Library Journal