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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061561053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061561054
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,158 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.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
63%
4 star
16%
3 star
22%
2 star
0%
1 star
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See all 32 customer reviews
This is a must read for baseball fans and those who enjoy the history of the game.
honest Abe
If you have ever watched baseball you will hear announcers refer to the unwritten rules that are part of the game.
Everett R.
Come back 3-4 days later and start reading somewhere else...it's just all very cool.
Carol Wolf

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Bigelow on June 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My wife is Canadian, which means many of her friends are Canadian, and I've been trying to explain to them for years how similar the great sport of baseball is to their beloved hockey insofar as the code of conduct beyond the official rules to which players adhere is a deeply-layered set of tradition and justice based in an abiding respect for the game. I'd compare how hockey stars get protection via their team enforcers much like pitchers are obligated to protect their best hitters by plunking the other team when appropriate. Or I'd draw an analogy between the silly, but reverent superstitions like not shaving during the Stanley Cup run and making no mention of a no-hitter in progress. Some of it would make sense to them, while other stuff would fly right over their toques.

Then it occurred to me: As much as I love hockey, I don't know that any sport could have as much unwritten etiquette as baseball simply because of its pace and longevity as a mostly unchanged game over the past hundred years.

I really wasn't sure how I could convey that to my Canucks, but this book is probably a good start. Though it won't lead anyone by the hand through the sport (I'll still have to explain some of the nuances and plays referred to), I feel like I could give it to any of them to read and understand how much more there is going on than simply what they're seeing on the field. Now, I'm not one to keep score at games, but I do try to keep a close eye on the little things not reported on the Jumbotron. I'm hoping that even reading some of this collected wisdom will help my wife and her friends draw more from the game than drunken idiots slapping beach balls or instigating 'the wave' could ever see.
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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.

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The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Etiquette, Conventional Wisdom, and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pastime
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