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The Sizzler: George Sisler, Baseball's Forgotten Great Hardcover – November 22, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Some outstanding baseball players are lauded with praise, while others are vilified. But some, like George "The Sizzler" Sisler, are simply forgotten. Sisler (1893–1973) made his name as a phenomenal hitter and first baseman playing for the now-defunct St. Louis Browns from 1915 to 1927. He was a versatile player: a skilled pitcher, a fearsome hitter (.340 lifetime average, batting over .400 twice) and, later, an excellent first baseman, the first to be inducted into the Hall of Fame (1939). Afterward, he moved into management and scouted (and gave batting training to) Jackie Robinson. So why is he barely known today? As Huhn demonstrates, Sisler was a quiet and gentlemanly Christian Scientist averse to bragging, with a quiet home life essentially free of scandal. Sisler's astonishing numbers were apparently not enough to ensure he'd be known to posterity outside of the realm of stats hounds. Unfortunately, Huhn, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, is hardly the guy to bring Sisler to light, as his recounting of the man's life is far from thrilling. Huhn dutifully hits all the major moments of Sisler's life but without much punch, ladling dollops of historical context without much rhyme or reason. The result is an unexceptional book about an exceptional athlete. 34 photos.
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"...Huhn gives Sisler the treatment that he deserves over the course of nearly 300 pages. I highly recommend Huhn's bio for baseball fans, especially those with an interest in the early years of the modern era." --Daniel Solzman, Red Bird Rants

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Product Details

  • Series: SPORTS & AMERICAN CULTURE (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri; y First edition edition (November 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826215556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826215550
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #598,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rick Huhn writes about baseball, particularly the Deadball Era (1900-1919), from his home in Westerville, Ohio, where he resides with his wife Marcia. The retired attorney's current book is The Chalmers Race: Ty Cobb, Napoleon Lajoie, and the Controversial 1910 Batting Title That Became a National Obsession (Nebraska, 2014). His previous contributions to baseball history are The Sizzler: George Sisler, Baseball's Forgotten Great (Missouri, 2004) and Eddie Collins: A Baseball Biography (McFarland, 2008). The latter was a finalist for the 2008 Larry Ritter Award, a prize awarded annually by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) to the author of the year's best book about the Deadball Era.

In addition to his full length books, Rick has contributed articles to baseball journals and historical magazines, as well as been interviewed on numerous radio and television shows. Recently the lifetime Cleveland Indians fan served as an associate editor for and contributed an article to Pitching to a Pennant: The 1954 Cleveland Indians (Nebraska, 2014).

Rick is an active member of SABR. He is a founding member and one of the coordinators for the Hank Gowdy Columbus (OH) Chapter of the organization. He received his undergraduate degree from Ohio University (Athens) and his law degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law (Columbus). His law career spanned over 30 years and included an active litigation practice.

Check out for more information about Rick and his writing.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By on December 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to believe it took so long for a full length bio of Sisler to finally come to print, but Huhn came through superbly with this effort. It's true that there's not a tremendous amount of insight or stunning revelations on Sisler's personal life, but that's not Huhn's fault. Indeed, that absence in itself is a major theme of the book, as Huhn makes a convincing argument that the same quiet, focused demeanor that made Sisler such a tremendous athlete is also what prompted a relative lack of interest in him after his career ended. As Huhn relates, there is also unfortunately not a tremendous amount of information available on the more personal aspects of Sisler's remarkable life, again partly because of his reserved nature.

This book will be boring for you only if you want some juicy social drama, or are expecting something like ESPN's "Behind the Glory." Cobb didn't frollick with hookers like Ruth or beat up hecklers like Cobb, but reading about his overlooked career remains just as captivating as the many rehashed accounts of more flamboyant stars of that era.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Brookner on July 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Players like George Sisler seem finally to be getting their due in the baseball bio realm. Sisler was a great star who was a quiet person, and who never played in New York. He thus missed out on the publicity machines that have made much lesser players famous.

Rick Huhn serves us well by giving us an unusually balanced baseball bio. Unusual in that he tells us the on-field, and the private stories of the man, as well as they are likely to be told. Sisler left private memoirs which his family made available to the author. These give the insight that most baseball biographers either don't have, or don't bother to try to access.

Huhn does get a number of baseball facts confused: players names, stats, scores, historical firsts. Strangely, he makes the same error twice, calling Dolf Luque in 1930 a "pitching prospect", and Joe Black in 1954 a "Dodger prospect." These star pitchers were both in their waning years at these points in time. On the whole, though, the research is thorough.

Huhn could try to avoid hackneyed phrases in his writing style. In one case he misses out on opportunity to turn a too-worn expression into something humorous and meaningful, while recounting a fine anecdote. On June 10, 1922, Carl Mays of the Yanks accused St. Louis of trying to hit him with pitches (Mays himself threw "the pitch that killed" two years earlier). The umpire averted a brawl, and then "adding insult to injury, [the St.Louis Browns owner]'s left cheek required stitches when [he] was struck by a foul ball..." Surely this was rather "adding injury to insult."

You won't go wrong with this book. More entertaining bios like this one are needed.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jeremiah Fulkes on December 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Rick Huhn's biography of George Sisler makes its case for a reaasessment of this relatively unheralded superstar of the 1920's. Huhn also exposes a flaw in our assessment of athletic accomplishment that is even more relevant in our age of self-aggrandizing sports heroes. It's a variation on the problem that Steibeck described so well in Cannery Row: "The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness,honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second." In Sisler, Huhn finds a successful man of admirable traits, a nice guy who finished first in many respects, yet whose legacy suffers when held up against flashier, more self-promoting peers (Hornsby, Cobb). Huhn persuaded me that, with Sisler as a prime example, our notion of sports heroism needs to be more thoughtful and inclusive. I also liked how Huhn uses the second half of Sisler's career, as a scout and batting coach, to reinforce his player's image as a tireless student of and selfless contributor to the game. There is a lot for the true baseball fan to enjoy in this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Winslow Bunny on June 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
George Sisler, the subject of Rick Huhn's book, "The Sizzler," is yet another of the classic ballplayers of the early 20th century, admired during his career, acknowledged for his achievements during and after his career, slowly forgotten over the years and without a biography until recently. Huhn has stepped in to correct that oversight in Sisler's case, and it is a welcome addition to the baseball greats section of the library.

George Sisler, as Huhn stressed, was not a colorful player: he kept a low profile and let his playing do the talking. There were few incidents in his life where he made waves: signing a professional contract while underage, and the resulting fight for his services helping to lead to the end of the National Commission; his tenure as manager of the St. Louis Browns, his transfer to the Senators in the late 1920s; his sinus infection and the resulting difficulties with Browns management in 1923; but most importantly, his hitting and fielding with the Browns during his greatest years. His record for hits in a season was untouched for 84 years, and his two years with averages over .400 are impressive, even for the time in which he played. He finished second to Ruth in home runs one year, and his Runs Created between 1915 and 1922 surpassed Ruth by over 100. That he was not exactly the same player after sitting out 1923 is a disappointment, but he was certainly honored in his time, named by Ty Cobb in his all-time team as first baseman.

Huhn has provided us with a fine biography of a deserving player, a stand-out performer in his time, and all time.
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