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Top of the Order: 25 Writers Pick Their Favorite Baseball Player of All Time Paperback – April 6, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


Library Journal, 2/1/10
“Leading off this impressive lineup of fiction and nonfiction writers, journalists, musicians, etc., is W.P. Kinsella with a vivid foreword reminding baseball fans why they love the sport. Then the all-star contributors present their favorite ball player…On many occasions, the writer’s explanation for his or her choice tells us much about the writer’s own youth and subsequent career choices—thus the ultimate charm of this collection is how it tells us something about ourselves as well as our heroes.”

Booklist, 4/1/10
“The profiles run the gamut from serious to whimsical; virtually all expose an element of baseball’s quirky, often irrational fandom. Great fun for fans, who will be inspired to examine their own fond feelings for that over-the-hill middle reliever on the downside of a mediocre career.”, 3/21/10
“A wonderful addition to the baseball library…Twenty-five beautifully written, memory-evoking and all around gripping reminiscences of the players that have touched our lives…Features a diverse array of contributors…The selections of the writers is at times obvious and at other times idiosyncratic but that is one of the reasons Top of the Order is so special…The contributors to Top of the Order have been inspired to deliver some of the finest sports writing that I have read in recent years—and often from contributors who would not be considered ‘sports writers.’ Not just because the writing is beautiful, but because it resonates powerfully with the reader; it is as if the writers and the reader share a common past and common memories—the common ground of being fans of the sport…Each of the selections will evoke memories in the true baseball fan.”

Boston Globe “A Reading Life” column, 4/4/10
“’Favorite,’ unlike ‘greatest,’ covers a multitude of sins and allows for personal reflection which is what this book…is all about.”

New York Post “Required Reading” column, 4/4/10
“A delightful reminder of why we love baseball. Top of the Order gets to players’ quirks—what makes them individuals in a team game.”

Louisville Courier-Journal, 4/3/10 and Newark Star-Ledger, 4/4/10
“Some writers chose the greats: Roger Kahn, a great himself, actually manages to find something new to say about Jackie Robinson. Some selections are quirky: actor and screenwriter Michael Ian Black chooses former Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson, inspired by a visit Mookie made to Black's hometown of Hillsboro, N.J., when Black was 11…Others, like editor Sean Manning's own choice, Michael Jordan—yes, that Michael Jordan, the great basketball player and mediocre minor leaguer—are so out of left field as to inspire awe.”

Deseret News, 4/3/10
“An entertaining collection of writings that baseball fans will thoroughly enjoy.”, April 2010
“Fun reading…Between its covers you will find some unusual choices among the writers who include singers, comedians and film critics. Their enthusiasm for those whom they think are the best players of a game is contagious and reveals why baseball continues to hold a place in the heart for many Americans.”

Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf blog, 4/1/10
“There’s an eclectic group of contributors here…Some essays cover foreign players and some aren’t even real. Some are Hall of Famers, while others aren’t exactly household names and one didn’t even make it as a pro. But these players have one thing in common: for whatever reason, they were someone’s favorite. The heart wants what the heart wants; there’s not always a logical explanation.”

Corduroy Books website, 4/6/10

“It’s a hell of a book, funny and fast…Are there misses? Reader, please: I’m not gonna subject you to a baseball metaphor or anything (not every hit can be a homer; not every game can be a winner, etc. until blech), but yes, there are misses. More often, however, there’s that great, great moment, that best term from both baseball and books: connect. There’s contact made.”

Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review, April 2010
Top of the Order differentiates itself from the standard yearly crop of baseball biographies and statistical treatises by being a collection of essays…[A] wide range of contributing authors.”

Heeb magazine
Top of the Order is the early favorite for our Best Book of 5770.”, 4/21/10
“Some of the players chosen are surprising, some not, but the real fun of Top of the Order comes from reading how and why these particular players were chosen…There is something in Top of the Order for everyone, even non-fans of the game.”, April 2010
“If you’re looking to gear up for the season, try Top of the Order, a nice collection of essays on favorite players…It’s a lot of fun to learn a little about each of the favorites and why that particular player strikes a chord with the writer. Each essay is a nice bite-size piece of history in a sport that is nothing if not rich in history…The Top of the Order writers deliver the goods…Overall, Top of the Order is a good book for any baseball fan, casual or die-hard. There’s a little something in it for everybody.”

Tucson Citizen, 4/14/10
“The essays chosen for this collection help define what it means to be beset by that strange, incurable condition known as baseball fandom. This isn’t just a book about RBIs or out-of-the-park homeruns but rather a tribute to the pitchers, catchers, and sluggers who connected with the hearts of their fans.”

Asbury Park Press, 5/2/10
“You may—or you may not—know all of the 25 writers here, but if you're a fan of America's pastime, you're undoubtedly familiar with the names of the famed players.”

Largehearted Boy, 4/29/10
“Baseball fans build their own personal relationship with the game and its players, and these relationships are portrayed exceptionally well in Top of the Order…Sean Manning has brought together a stellar group of writers, journalists, musicians, and entertainers, and each shares a story of a ballplayer who has touched their life.”

Farther off the Wall, 4/14/10
“There's only 25 who made this first one. We'd love to see another 25 write their essays next year, and 25 more the year after.”, 5/6/10
“Devoted baseball fans will surely have their favorite players—and Top of the Order gives readers a chance to compare their picks with those of 25 writers...These 25 writers, making 25 choices, offer readers far more than 25 chances to argue, debate, agree, complain and then, hopefully, return to real-life pursuits.”, 5/12/10
“The concept of Top of the Order is a good one…[An] eclectic roster of writers.”

ForeWord, 5/20/10
“Manning has assembled an eclectic group…All these different ‘flavors’ merely add to the enjoyment and will no doubt make the reader reflect on his or her own off-beat favorite.”

AmericanProfile, 6/6/10
“Essays ranging from whimsical to weighty. The delicious diversity of the voices and the choices makes this a home run for baseball fans of all ages and affiliations, pop-culture junkies and anyone else who has ever fallen under the spell of America’s favorite summertime sport.”

Roanoke Times, 6/6/10
“The choices are surprising, and the essayists’ reasons for loving them are delightful…You won’t read about Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio in this book. But you’ll discover that even players who never won a World Series ring somehow managed to win a place in some fan’s heart.”, 6/9/10

“Some surprising inclusions.”

Asbury Park Press, 6/13/10
“The contributors—not all sports writers—and the players they have chosen constitute an eclectic gathering…The well-told stories—fun in some cases and moving in others—illustrate once again the literary potential of the team sport that is most absorbed in the triumphs and failures of the individual player.”
Oxford American, 8/3/10
“The majority of entries…are illuminating…A bonus in a collection of this sort is the unplanned way in which the views of authors converse or even debate one another…Stellar writers…What I got from this book was how unfair our feelings of both love and hate can be—there can be poor reasoning behind both. I also got from this book the quiet and self-reflection that wise writing can lead to.”
Acadiana LifeStyle, November 2010
“Baseball fans will…find a lot to enjoy.”, 11/11/10
“Sean Manning does a great job as editor pulling together some very fine writers to contribute some really excellent short essays on baseball players and what it all means to the writers as fans…This book [is] in the upper tier of sportswriting ant...

About the Author

Sean Manning is the editor of the nonfiction anthologies The Show I’ll Never Forget and Rock and Roll Cage Match. He lives in New York.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1 edition (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306818558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306818554
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,141,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sean Manning is the author of the memoir "The Things That Need Doing" and editor of five critically-acclaimed anthologies: "The Show I'll Never Forget: 50 Writers Relive Their Most Memorable Concertgoing Experience"; "Rock and Roll Cage Match: Music's Greatest Rivalries, Decided"; "Top of the Order: 25 Writers Pick Their Favorite Baseball Player of All-Time"; "Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book"; and "Come Here Often?: 53 Writers Raise a Glass to Their Favorite Bar." He has contributed to Playboy, The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, Deadspin, New York Press, BlackBook, The Awl, The Millions and The Brooklyn Rail and is a frequent guest commentator on WNYC's "Soundcheck." He also edits the book jacket-design blog Talking Covers. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sam Sattler on April 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
Maybe it is because the season is so long, some 162 games stretching over a full six months during which a baseball fan can live and die with his team for three or four hours at least five days a week. Maybe it is because the game attracts the kind of sports fan who loves nothing better than immersing himself in the detailed statistics and history of the game. Whatever the cause, there is just something special about the long-term bond between a baseball fan and his favorite players and team that other sports do not quite seem able to match.

Even though most baseball fans have a favorite all time player, they might find it difficult to explain their choices to other fans because not everyone makes the obvious choice. It would be too easy if everyone chose Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds (unlikely, these days) or one of the game's great pitchers. Choosing a favorite player is a personal thing and many fans choose their favorites as much for what they do off the field as for how those players have affected the record books.

In "Top of the Order," published just in time for the 2010 baseball season, twenty-five journalists, novelists, former players, and entertainers offer short pieces about their own favorite players and how they made those choices. Some of the players chosen are surprising, some not, but the real fun of "Top of the Order "comes from reading how and why these particular players were chosen. Among the more expected choices are players like Tom Seaver, Lou Gehrig, Albert Pujols, Jackie Robinson and Mariano Rivera. But among the twenty-five favorites are also players like Steve Dembowski, Michael Jordan, Mookie Wilson, Neifi Perez and fictional catcher Crash Davis.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kruthoffer on August 25, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well worth the $10 for the Kindle edition. Well-written and often humorous profiles of a variety of ballplayers, many of whom are favorites of mine, too. The couple I did not know well were among the best-written pieces that had me doing more research the player. A must for baseball lovers who enjoy good writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Larry Underwood on June 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
Choosing your favorite baseball player of all-time is an interesting assignment. The choice often boils down to some subjective criterion which may or may not correlate to the player's skill levels on the field. Maybe he went out of his way to give you his autograph when he easily could've ignored you among the rest of the gaggle of kids clamoring for that priceless souvenir; or maybe he delivered some big hit in the clutch when you were rooting extra hard for him to come through.

Maybe you liked the way he hustled, or maybe you liked the way he kicked the water cooler in defeat. Whatever the reasons, we all have them for deciding our own "personal number one", and nobody can convince us that our choice is a lame one. Such is the case with an assortment of sports writers and miscellaneous characters from the game of baseball - twenty-five to be exact - and they wrote a series of essays (edited by Sean Manning) explaining why they like a certain player - past, present, or even fictitious. There are no rules here; just an interesting array of thoughts on some of the players who have toiled in big league uniforms, and stand alone as that person's all-time favorite.

Some of the choices seem logical - from Lou Gehrig to Albert Pujols; and from Jackie Robinson to Brooks Robinson - while others seem nearly bizarre - from Steve Dembowski to Michael Jordan (as a baseball player?); and from Garry Templeton to Crash Davis (Kevin Costner's quirky character in "Bull Durham").

Each essay which tries to explain that particular person's selection is at times humorous; at times poignant; at times illogical; at times perfectly rational. Without a doubt, the reader will come away knowing that there are as many reasons as there are seasons; and the reasons make for an interesting perspective for any fan of the game to enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ronald D. Bruner Jr. on June 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
#1... I am a HUGE baseball fan. i collect cards, autographs, memorabilia, and anything to do with baseball history. Its my lifelong passion and especially baseball history itself, because of the characters who play the game. Most stories have been rehashed a bazillion times, but these stories go somewhere completely different... first off, most of the authors are acquaintances of the players they write about, so they have anecdotes and unheard, inside stories, including good ol swear words (which I think enhance the book), but to make a long story short, if you like obscure and in your face baseball facts, knowledge and personal stories, this is on of the best books ever on the subject. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Humble Reader VINE VOICE on August 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
All types of writers talk about their personal favorite baseball player....which produces a diverse group of players too! The chapters ranged from informative to inspiring, nostalgic and even damn funny. It is not something you would necessarily need in your permanent library, but it is what my title says....light, fun summer time baseball reading. A great gift for a baseball fan in your life too.
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