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Who's on Worst?: The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddest Goats and Other Antiheroes in Baseball History Hardcover – March 26, 2013


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Who's on Worst?: The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddest Goats and Other Antiheroes in Baseball History + Inside the Baseball Hall of Fame
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (March 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385536127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385536127
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Q&A with Filip Bondy

Q. Why do readers want to know who the worst baseball players were?

A. Baseball is a game of failure, in its own way. Even the greatest batters fail two out of three times at the plate. Sometimes the stories about misbehaving, or blowing a big game with an epic blunder, are at least as entertaining as tales of heroics. And they've been told less often.

It's fun, I hope, for readers to reacquaint themselves with the follies of contemporary players, of earnest athletes stinking out the joint. And then there are stories about players from bygone eras who may not be remembered at all, and might just appear a little crazy (like Crazy Schmit!).

Q. What drew you to this topic in the first place?

A. An editor at Random House, Bill Thomas, was looking for an author who might be interested in having some fun with this concept book. I didn't have to think about it long. I have to confess that I've always enjoyed writing more about the struggling athletes of my generation than about the seamless careers of successful individuals. There's more meat and gristle to the guys who were not always blessed with great talent or good fortune. Some of these players -- like Bob Uecker and Dick Stuart -- have reveled in their own mediocrity, which only makes them more lovable.

Q. Who is the worst player you've ever seen in person?

A. I'd definitely say Marvelous Marv Throneberry. I was about 10 years old when the Amazin' Mets were invented in 1962, and Throneberry embodied both the charm and ineptitude of that 122-loss team. He was this big, galumphing guy who just couldn't quite bend down to grab those grounders. But he also did really dumb things on the base paths. In the book, I write about how he missed both first and second bases before reaching third on a triple. You don't see that very often.

Q. How do bad players manage to survive in Major League Baseball?

A. It's important to remember these are, after all, very good baseball players. Even today, in the era of expansion, there are only about 750 roster spots open and there are hundreds of millions of people in this world who want them. So these guys must have something going for them. Many of the players in my book are one- or two-skill players who desperately lacked a third or fourth. Maybe they could hit and run, but they couldn't field. Before the invention of the DH, some really good hitters were forced to field positions they were unable to handle. Some great fielders, like the catcher Bill Bergen, couldn't hit to save his life. And then there are guys who can slug the baseball, like Dave Kingman, but misbehave in an uncivilized manner.

Q. Are there any truly terrible players who didn't make it into the book?

A. Oh, there are plenty. The only thing I don't like about writing books is the lead time. Months after I finished the book, many players sank to new depths, too late, and were left out. A few players included in the book -- like Adam Dunn and Barry Zito -- had decent comeback seasons and might have dropped in the worst rankings if I had the time to change them. Alex Rodriguez is now, certainly, one of the most overpaid Yankees of all time. When I wrote the book, however, his hip was still functional and I left him out of that chapter. Maybe for the paperback edition…

From Booklist

This book has a most unappealing title. And it calls forth many of baseball’s usual suspects. The game’s greatest goats? Bill Buckner and Ralph Branca—duh. And some inclusions are questionable: Barry Zito and Adam Dunn, the two “most overpaid” players outside the Bronx, actually had redemptive comebacks in 2012. But who can resist reading that Dickie Noles was traded for himself (he was the “player to be named later”) or that starting pitcher Kei Igawa cost the Yankees nearly $10 million per win, or that pitcher Gaylord Perry, in the words of Bondy, “was to the spitball what Mozart was to the opera?” Hardcore fans will pore over this compendium of futility and folly perpetrated between the lines during the past century or so. --Alan Moores

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Customer Reviews

This is a fun book and an easy read.
S. D. Johnson
Despite being a book about the worst in baseball the book looks at most of the players in a good light since for many their careers had many highlights as well.
scesq
This book is generally about people that made their mark in other ways, providing the negative contrast that makes the good players look even better.
Charles Ashbacher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The subtitle is "The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddest Goats and Other Antiheroes."

The first chapter focuses on the "Mendoza Line," featuring some of the worst hitters in baseball history. And Mario Mendoza is only rated as the 5th worst hitter! Bill Bergen is listed as worst, Ray Oyler as second worst, and the redoubtable Bob Uecker as third worst.

Second chapter? Worst fielders. At the top (or is that the bottom?) is Dr. Strangeglove, Dick Stuart. While a fine hitter, a fine fielder Stuart was not. The Mets' Marvelous Marv Throneberry is number 4 on this list of ill repute. Chapter 3 explores the poorest pitchers. Herm Wehmier and Todd van Poppel are at the top of the list. . . . Chapter 6. Cheaters! Number 1, not surprisingly, is Gaylord Perry, whose spitball took him to the Hall of Faqme. Classic cheater? John McGraw!

And so on. Each of the players gets a page or two, and reliving the careers and misadventures of players is a lot of fun.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Personne VINE VOICE on March 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In the introduction to this compendium, Filip Bondy points out that even the worst major leaguer is a better player than any of the rest of us. So in many ways we're about to look at the worst of the best. This is true, but it won't stop the bleacher bum or the talk-show caller.

While there are a few examples from earlier ages of baseball (Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson make guest appearances), the clock really starts in the 1970s. That coincides with my own real interest in the game, and doubtless with that of many potential readers. I saw a lot of these players at work, both at the ballpark and on the tube. The book is divided into sections on worst hitter, worst manager, worst runner, worst player with the best streak and so on. There's really not much of a narrative here: within each arbitrary section every player has a page or two to shine. You can pick it up, read a couple of pages and put it down without missing any greater experience. For me, it was a chance to touch base with players I remembered but had lost track of. Whatever happened to Todd Van Poppel, or Dave Kingman, or Tommie Aaron? There are still players in the game who are in the book. I would expect that Filip Bondy will be nervously looking over his shoulder when he visits some cities.

The newly-minted fan will be totally at sea here. This book is for the reader with hundreds of games already under the belt. For those readers, there is mild amusement to be found. This is a book for the guest bedroom, to be picked up and enjoyed in small doses.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Esther Schindler TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My mother once asked me what they call the person who graduates last in the class from medical school. "I don't know," I replied. She answered: "Doctor."

Everyone who makes it to the major leagues is excellent, at least in comparison to you and me. They have skills that we lack, such as stellar hand-eye coordination, sprinting speed, and the ability to choose really good walk-up music. Even the worst of them is _a baseball player_ in a way that we cannot aspire to. But with all the attention given to the tippy-top-best, there are stories to be told about the people who are, well, not in danger of a trip to Cooperstown.

So when Amazon Vine offered me this book, described as "a hilarious celebration of the worst in baseball history: The boneheads, cheats, jerks and losers who make the grand old game so fun" I had to say Yes. I'm so very glad I did. This is a wonderful book full of things to make you giggle, read something out loud to your spouse ("Hey honey did you know that...?"), and occasionally sigh (because some of the failures are tragic).

Chapters are devoted to the worst hitters of all time; the worst fielders; the worst pitchers. Filip Bondy had to separate "overpaid" into two chapters, "Most overpaid Yankees" and "...outside the Bronx." Then there are the outliers: the biggest cheaters; the oddest ballplayers; the greatest goats; worst teammates; pathetic juiceheads (even steroids didn't help); the luckiest players; sons & brothers who didn't cut it; worst managers; lousiest ballplayers turned geniuses; worst owners.

If you followed the game since childhood, you probably know SOME of the people that Bondy writes about. "Biggest goats" has to include Bill Buckner, after all. But I am sure you don't know all these stories, or all of the background.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tom Reagan VINE VOICE on November 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a fairly entertaining book of mishaps of plays and careers in the MLB. All of the big "bloopers" I know, offhand, I was able to find - but it wasn't easy: The biggest thing missing in this book is an index. This is not a novel - it's not meant to be read from front to back - it's mainly a reference book, so not having an index to look up a player, coach, or other person who may or may not be in the book is a HUGE flaw.

If you love reading about baseball history, particularly the dark or embarrassing times (and don't need an index to easily find a person's name), then give this book a shot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Chambers HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on April 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Professional baseball has been played in this country for well over a century, so there must be thousands of memorable stories associated with the game. Author Filip Bondy has collected several dozen of those stories, each one involving players, managers, or owners who exemplified mediocrity, bad behavior, or sheer stupidity, and in doing so, left a lasting legacy to the game.

As a longtime baseball fan who went to my first game in 1952 (Atlanta Crackers v. Birmingham Barons), I've heard or read a number of these stories, but it was fun reading them again, especially with the "rest of the story" material that followed up many of the stories. The book included some fascinating tidbits of baseball lore, such as:

* Pitcher Dickie Noles was once traded for himself.
* Third baseman Butch Hobson was a star quarterback for Bear Bryant's Alabama Crimson Tide, but couldn't get the ball from third to first without throwing it in the stands way too often.
* The two players who committed three errors on one play.
* Joe Niekro used to autograph emery boards for fans (only a baseball fan would understand why!).
* How the spitball originated - and why.
* Why a base-running mistake by Fred Merkle in 1908 was so controversial that the entire game was replayed.
* Gus Weyhing and the Great Pigeon Theft of 1892.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Who's on Worst, and I think any serious baseball fan would get a kick out the book.
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