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Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball Hardcover – March 30, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Hardcover, March 30, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Once the upstart reference for fans, Total Baseball, now in its sixth edition, has evolved into the official encyclopedia of Major League Baseball. It's not hard to see why. Like its older cousin, the Baseball Encyclopedia, it is a mammoth volume filled with yearly results, awards, detailed postseason and all-star accounts, and the complete career statistics of every major-league player through 1998. But while the Encyclopedia has basically remained a book of numbers, Total Baseball crams in hundreds of pages of words: there are essays on everything baseball. The lineup covers the bases from the traditional (team histories, baseball reporting, and the 400 best players) to the marvelously esoteric (baseball families, baseball movies, and women and baseball).

Sadly, some terrific veteran pieces--poet Donald Hall's provocative analysis of the national significance of "Casey at the Bat," an essay on baseball and the law, an account of Jackie Robinson's signing, and a comprehensive chronicle of rule and scoring changes--have been retired, so don't banish your Fifth Edition to left field. Happily, their replacements are equally all-star: a Robert Creamer essay on Casey Stengel, greater coverage of the game outside the United States, a thorough Bartlett's of baseball quotations, and Warner Fuselle's engaging history of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and other noted arias. Finally, a caveat: the player statistics are crammed in so tightly you'll wish Total Baseball included a magnifying glass. Still, squinting is a small price to pay for so Ruthian a chunk of baseball heaven. --Jeff Silverman --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Baseball is on a roll, and here is the latest edition of this standard reference source to document such recent highlights as the Mark McGwire^-Sammy Sosa home-run race of 1998. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball
  • Hardcover: 2600 pages
  • Publisher: Total Sports; 7 Sub edition (March 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930844018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930844018
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.8 x 2.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a vital book if one is a serious baseball fan. It has all the key (and not so key) stats from every season of big league ball. It also has team histories, greatest player profiles, and an overview of the game's history by John Thorn. So yes, I recommend this. However....
The editors made a decision to revert to the 1876 and 1887 scoring methods. (In 1876 walks were outs; In 1887, they were hits). So Tip O'Neill is now listed as having the best batting average ever (.492 in 1887).
While I disagree, I could respect the decision if it were consistent. However, the editors themselves can't even agree. In the Braves' team history, it says that Hugh Duffy's .440 mark in 1894 is the best average ever. This completely contradicts the book's listing of all-time top averages.
Furthermore, saves did not become a stat until 1969, so if Thorn & Co. were serious about going with how things were scored in a certain year, there would be no saves listed before that season.
Finally, if it is revealed that batting averages from a given year were in error, the correct totals are listed instead. But (and this is just plain nuts), if the correct totals result in a change to the batting champion, they list the person with the lower average first! For instance, for the year of the Cobb/Lajoie controversy, it lists the batting leaders as:
Cobb .383
Lajoie .384
Total Baseball recognizes that Paul Hines led the NL in average, home runs and RBI the same year. Yet it refuses to list him as a Triple Crown winner because that year it was erroneously believed he did not lead the league in average! Such silliness is not in keeping with an otherwise excellent reference.
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Format: Hardcover
The complete baseball reference tool. More than just stats are in this book. From ballparks, to all-star games to umpires, it's all in there. It may be a bit too big to travel with at times, but there is a lot in there.
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By A Customer on April 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
After visiting the Total Baseball website, and reading glowing reviews by others who read the book, I was hopeful that Total Baseball would be the end-all of statistical tomes. I was completely disappointed. Fielding statistics are almost non-existant. Hitting and pitching stats are pared down to a bare minimum of the common ones. The web site carries more thorough batting and pitching stats for free. I guess now that Total Baseball is the official book of Major League Baseball, they decided to do away with the effort that got them there in the first place. This wouldn't be the first time people got lazy once they figured they were all that. I was so disgusted that I returned the book. I wish they would put the complete batting, pitching, and fielding stats on a CD and sell it, and get rid of this annoying piece of weight training equipment. At least put a handle on it for easier carrying!
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Format: Hardcover
This is without a doubt the best baseball reference book you can buy until the next edition is published. It's got the statistics of every player from every season from 1871 to 2000, as well as a number of excellent essays about the history of the game and those who played it. Those essays are enjoyable and informative, as are the world series and playoff accounts and the awards register, but the real triumph of the tome is the player register, pitcher register, annual record, and all-time leaders sections. This is where the hot stove beauty of baseball meets its ultimate argument settler. And even given its ultimate status, there remain some arguments that evolve from its numbers. Did Cap Anson win the NL's batting title in 1887 with his .421 average (counting walks as hits), or did Sam Thompson have the NL's best batting average at .472 (not counting walks as hits). As of this edition, John Thorn and Pete Palmer say that Anson won the batting title and had the best batting average. In all previous editions they stated that Thompson deserved these honours. Their argument in this edition is that Anson won the batting title fairly by the rules of the day and that it is not for us to take away this crown retroactively. In this they are correct, but they have gone too far. While Anson cannot justifiably be stripped of his batting title, it is obvious that the NL's best batting average in 1887 belonged to Sam Thompson. Similarly, while Abner Dalrymple may have won the NL's batting title by the rules of the day in 1878 with his .354 average, it is obvious that Paul Hines had the higher batting average at .358. Dalrymple cannot have his title stripped from him, but we should acknowledge that Hines had the higher batting average.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
"Total Baseball" is fantastic, pure and simple. It does have its short-comings, of course (for example, I agree that full, basic fielding statistics are a necessity, especially since the authors' fielding runs statistic is very flawed; it would also be great if the book had a catalog of trades, like the "Encyclopedia" has had), but it more than makes up for these minor faults with some of the best statistics available and almost 300 pages devoted to original history, analysis and opinion. This book helps settle old arguments, but it never fails to incite new (but always more informed) feuds as well. New hall-of-fame caliber players (just look at Cupid Childs's stellar career!) make themselves known to the reader, and inspire further investigation into the history of the game: Why has Childs been overlooked? How did he turn the still evolving rules of the 1890s to his advantage?) This is truly a Bible, and, along with fresh "Baseball Prospectus" editions in the years that intervene between new editions, makes up the cornerstone of my baseball library.
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