From Publishers Weekly
Sports journalist Schwarz brings to the fore this intelligent, smartly researched and often hilarious look at the use of statistics in baseball, which Schwarz definitively shows to "date back to the game's earliest days in the 19th century." It will delight any fan who memorizes the numbers on the back of trading cards or pores over newspaper box scores. The book's success is rooted in its focus on the people "obsessed with baseball's statistics ever since the box score started it all in 1845," rather than being about the statistics themselves. The reader is presented with enthusiastic but unvarnished looks at such key figures as Henry Chadwick, whose love for numbers led to his inventing the box score grid that remains, Schwarz shows, "virtually unchanged to this day"; Allan Roth, the numbers man hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers who was as important to the team's success as its famed GM Branch Rickey; and the all-but-forgotten work of George Lindsey, one of the first people to apply statistical analysis to weigh various baseball strategies. Delivered in a delightfully breezy and confident style, this volume also serves as an excellent alternate or parallel history of the sport, as we see how the statistics influenced the game itself—such as the banning of the spitball—as much as they were used to detail individual games.
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One of the most engrossing histories of baseball ever. (From the Foreword by Peter Gammons)
See all Editorial Reviews
A romp . . . Schwarz merrily keeps ratcheting up the book's wows-per-page average. (The Washington Post)
The pastime behind the national pastime . . . a very human look at generations of baseball fanatics. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
A riveting history of the search for new baseball knowledge. (Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball)
The language of baseball is statistics, and Alan Schwarz gives us an unprecedented look at one of the world's great romance languages. Schwarz deftly illuminates the history and relevance of baseball statistics and is at the tops of his game introducing the people behind the numbers. (Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated)
Alan Schwarz makes statistics as interesting as games and the people who play them. Who knew that numbers could have such personality? (Sally Jenkins, author of Funny Cide and the bestselling It's Not About the Bike)
One of the very best baseball journalists working today, (Schwarz) has written a wonderful history that will appeal even to those with no particular interest in the game . . . Remarkable. (The New York Observer)
An enormously entertaining and engrossing book that should be read by everyone. (The Seattle Times)
An essential book for any baseball library, one that simultaneously makes for breezy reading and holds up as an essential piece of research. (The Chicago Sports Review)
What sounds potentially dry -- a stat freak family tree -- is instead a lush landscape of eccentric scientists, pack-rat alcoholics, back-stabbing partners and a minimum-wage night watchman whose essays created a sensation (perhaps you've heard of Bill James). (The San Jose Mercury News)
Reads like a whodunit . . . with a season-full of heretofore under-reported facts, nuances and stories. (Long Beach Press-Telegram)
Intelligent, smartly researched and often hilarious. (Publishers Weekly)
Alan Schwarz turns the numbers of baseball into musical notes. He makes you understand them, he makes you care about them, and in the end, he makes you share his passion for them. (Mike Lupica, New York Daily News)