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The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Etiquette, Conventional Wisdom, and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pastime Hardcover – March 24, 2009


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The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Etiquette, Conventional Wisdom, and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pastime + Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks + The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061561053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061561054
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Dickson has written eight bat and ball books (one on softball, seven on baseball) and is working on the third edition of his Dickson Baseball Dictionary, as well as a new work, The Unwritten Rules of Baseball. He also writes narrative 20th century American history and compiles word books. He lives in Garrett Park, Maryland, with his wife, Nancy.


More About the Author

Paul Dickson is the author of more than 45 nonfiction books and hundreds of magazine articles. Although he has written on a variety of subjects from ice cream to kite flying to electronic warfare, he now concentrates on writing about the American language, baseball and 20th century history. His most recent titles include Drunk: The Definitive Drinker's Dictionary, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Sputnik: The Shock of the Century and Slang: A Topical Dictionary of Americanisms.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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A fun easy read.
K. Donnelly
If you have ever watched baseball you will hear announcers refer to the unwritten rules that are part of the game.
Everett R.
He is a huge baseball fan and he has really enjoyed reading it!
Heartland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on June 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I belong to the church of baseball, along with Annie Savoy. If you don't know this comment, and even if you do, this book is for you. The dean of baseball lexicographers and a superb writer overall, Paul Dickson, has given us in "The Unwritten Rules of Baseball" a wonderful meditation on all of the rules that are not written down anywhere but are just as real and inviolate as any in the official baseball rule book. Why does the team not speak to a pitcher in the middle of a no-hitter? Why does a player on one team get hit by a pitcher after one of the pitcher's teammates had been hit by a pitch? Why do both benches empty whenever there is a brawl between two players on the field? Why is there no crying in baseball? Dickson's thoroughly enjoyable account will answer all of these questions and many more.

As he works through these unwritten rules, divided up as rules for players, rules for managing, rules for umpires, rules for official scorers, and rules for fans, Dickson offers insightful and sometimes humorous anecdotes about the application of these unwritten rules. Most of them, of course, are common sense, such as fans not throwing anything on the field except opposing team home run balls. Some of them are based on superstition and custom such as rule "1.4.2. Ballplayers have routines that are to be honored and not interrupted" (p. 37). Others are nothing more than good manners: "1.1.1. A player's locker is off limits to everyone save for the man whose name appears on it" (p. 27). Still others are recent additions based on nostalgia as in "7.2.0. New ballparks: Baseball should be played outside on real grass in a stadium designed strictly for baseball" (p. 148).
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A. Wirkmaa on May 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
1). It's fun.

Dickson's latest foray into the national pastime looks at baseball's conventions and traditions (many of which are decidedly quirky) and its "culture" (far from straight and sober in so many ways), and in doing so reveals the underlying charm and seductiveness of baseball.

At the same time,

2). It's full of the wisdom that can only come from experience.

Dickson doesn't just string a bunch of bon mots you might overhear hanging around a sports bar and call it a book: far from it. Rather, he has exhaustively researched and gathered a staggering amount of insights and acumen from a virtual army of individuals with immeasurable experience in and understanding of baseball (from Yogi Berra to Don Zimmer, and all points in between).

Furthermore,

3). It's sharp, energetic and witty.

Some have said that a good sense of humor is a sign of intelligence. If that's so, Dickson is one smart guy, and he shows it with this book. Moreover, it's also obvious that many - if not most - of the players, coaches, managers and assorted baseball people quoted in the book have something more than air between their ears as well.

In short, no one who buys and reads this book will ever feel any remorse or regret in having made the investment of money and time to do so. It delivers what the title promises, in spades, and - like all the many other books that Dickson has penned over his long and prolific career - it's altogether sound, rock solid in its execution, and simply delightful in every respect.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By William B. Mead on April 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Wonder why noone mentions the term "no hitter" while one is underway? What determines who-sits-where in the dugout? What an umpire is supposed to never do, and what a player can and cannot say to an ump? How Ty Cobb still influences baseball conduct? Dickson's delightful book answers these questions and hundreds more, with anecdotes and quotes to keep you learning and laughing. Perfect read, perfect gift.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Everett R. on June 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Dickson is able to write about baseball in a way like no other. His love of the game and his great humor comes through in this book.

If you have ever watched baseball you will hear announcers refer to the unwritten rules that are part of the game. Rabid fans know many of them, while the casual one knows some of them. They are all pretty much here.

So the next time you see a player raising the ire of an announcer, or players on the other team, for things like trying to get on base via a bunt at the improper time, reach for this book and not your copy of Emily Post.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Reid Mccormick on March 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My entire childhood was dedicated to baseball. I spent hours at practice, hours in the backyard with the pitch back, and hours in front of the television watching ESPN. It was my life. Unfortunately, like most kids, I had to grow up and realize the dream of being the starting catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers had faded away. But the love of the game did not die.

It is the minute details, the small intricacies, the strange oddities, the weird obscurities, and so on that make baseball a beautiful game. There are countless documentaries, books, and memoirs about baseball because they are countless aspects to the game.

I did not expect a lot from this book. I knew it was going to be a lot of overused and tired anecdotes I have already heard. I was hoping for some newer insights from modern broadcasters, writers, and players. Unfortunately, the book is exactly what I feared. I feel like ninety percent of this book was written by Joe Garagiola, since the majority of this book quotes or references Garagiola's Baseball is a Funny Game.

The biggest takeaway from this book: find Joe Garagiola's book.
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