Friday, July 12, 2019

Books: On Baseball Trivia & History

Photo by Jason Schott.

The baseball season is approaching the second half of the season, making it a perfect time to brush up on some trivia and learn more about the history of the game.

Three books will help illuminate America's pastime: Incredible Baseball Trivia by Daivd Nemec; The Baseball Maniac's Almanac, edited by Bert Randolph Sugar with Ken Samelson; and Incredible Baseball Stats by Kevin Reavy and Ryan Spaeder.

Incredible Baseball Trivia: More Than 200 Hardball Questions For The Thinking Fan
By David Nemec; foreword by Scott Flatow
Sports Publishing; paperback; $14.99

Match wits with the father of baseball trivia, David Nemec, a ten-time national champion as he presents more than 200 baseball stumpers that are artfully designed to test the depth of the reader’s knowledge about the game since 1871.
Every era of baseball history is represented from Cap Anson to Mike Trout, Cy Young to Clayton Kershaw, Ty Cobb to Jose Altuve, Babe Ruth to Giancarlo Stanton, and here are some of the questions you will find:
• Who is the most recent major leaguer to compile 100 or more hits, 20 or more complete games, and 20 or more decisions in the same season? No, the answer is not who you think!
• Who is the only pitcher to hurl a minimum of 5,000 career innings and surrender fewer hits per 9 innings than Walter Johnson?
• What team had a record of 52–62 when the strike shut down the 1994 season but was on track to qualify for postseason play with the lowest winning percentage ever by a division or league first-place finisher?

Each question is followed by a string of clues fleshing out a portrait of the player or team involved with each one leading the reader progressively closer to the answer and offering tasty and little-known observations about its subject as well as the answer. This book is the ultimate test for knowledgeable baseball fans.
David Nemec has won numerous SABR national baseball trivia contests. He is the author of The Great Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Major League Baseball, The Beer and Whisky League, 20th Century Baseball Chronicles, Early Dreams, Major League Baseball Profiles: 1871-1900, and many other works on baseball.

The Baseball Maniac's Almanac: The Absolutely, Positively, and Without Question Greatest Book of Facts, Figures, and Astonishing Lists Ever Compiled
By Bert Randolph Sugar, with Ken Samelson
Sports Publishing; paperback, 456 pages; $16.99

An addictive read that is sure to spark conversation wherever baseball is spoken, this updated 5th Edition of The Baseball Maniac’s Almanac is part reference, part trivia, part brain teaser, and absolutely the most unusual and thorough compendium of baseball stats and facts ever assembled—all verified for accuracy by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In its pages, renowned sportswriter Bert Randolph Sugar - who established himself as one of the world's foremost sports historians before he passed away in 2012 - presents thousands of fascinating lists, tables, data, and stimulating facts.
Inside, you’ll find out the highest batting averages not to win batting titles; home-run leaders by state of birth; players on last-place teams leading the league in RBIs, by season; most triples by position, season; winners of two “legs” of triple crown since last winner; oldest pitchers with losing record, leading league in ERA; career pitching leaders under six feet tall; managers replaced wile team was in first place; Hall of Famers whose sons played in the majors; layers with palindromic surnames, and so many more fun facts.
This books is more than just a collection of facts or records. It is a book that will give you endless fun that will astound you.

Incredible Baseball Stats: The Coolest, Strangest Stats and Facts in Baseball History
By Kevin Reavy and Ryan Spaeder; forewords by Wade Boggs and Lance McCullers
Sports Publishing; paperback, 360 pages; $17.99

Uncover the stories behind the baseball numbers in this newly updated version of the landmark book.
As America's pastime since the mid-1800s, baseball offers the sights, sounds, and even smells that are deeply entrenched in our culture. But for some, the experience can be less sensory. Some, such as Ryan Spaeder and Kevin Reavy, live for baseball statistics. Stats give the game historical context and measurables for past, present, and predictive analysis.
Incredible Baseball Stats helps tell unique baseball stories, showcasing extraordinary stats and facts in baseball history, through the 2018 season.
For example, in 2015, the Nationals’ Bryce Harper broke out in a major way. He batted .330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs en route to his first MVP Award. It was his fourth MLB season, but he was still younger than NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant. He became the youngest player to lead the league in both on-base percentage and homers in the same season since Ty Cobb in 1909.
Reavy and Spaeder have scoured the records for untold tales and gave a new look to familiar ones with added statistical insights, in order to create this complete picture of baseball in this book you will treasure.
Incredible Baseball Stats goes team-by-team, giving you everything you ever wanted to know about your team, such as these stats on the Yankees:
32.9%: The percentage of all World Series games through 2018 (225 of 684) in which the Yankees have been participants.
4: The number of seasons Lou Gehrig had at least 15 triples, 15 homers, and 100 walks. Every other player in history who achieved this mark did so twice. Both were Yankees - Babe Ruth in 1921 and Charlie Keller in 1940.
55: Times Yankees shortstop Frank Crosetti was hit by a pitch from 1932-38, most in the American League. With just under half as many during the same period, Lou Gehrig (27 HBP) was second in the AL. A study on the effects of concussions in 2010 left open the possibility that Lou Gehrig may not have actually had "Lou Gehrig's Disease" (ALS) when he died in 1941. Instead, frequent beanballs to the head (pre-helmet era) may have mimicked ALS symptoms.
14.7%: Percentage of Lou Gehrig's 102 career stolen bases that were steals of home (15).
.350/.470/.640: In a season with at least 700 plate appearances, only Lou Gehrig has slashed this high. And he did it four times.

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