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The BILL JAMES GUIDE TO BASEBALL MANAGERS: From 1870 to Today Hardcover – May 14, 1997

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

James has built a career on finding the art and wisdom in baseball's numbers. Here he answers--in words as well as the numbers to back them up--everything you've ever wanted to know about dugout skippers, from the game's dinosaur days in the 1870s right up to today. Dividing his book into decade stretches, James examines the best managers of each time period, analyzing their contributions, detailing their styles, pointing out quirks, dissecting strengths and weaknesses, and comparing them with others. Along the way, he adds some fascinating essays--on the Dodger farm system, for example, the influence of Ned Hanlon, and the worst single managerial job of all time. Like all of James's work, it's filled with charts and statistics that open doors to both the managerial mind and baseball's inner workings. --Jeff Silverman, Sports editor

From Library Journal

The manager's job is to organize the work of all the team members, and anyone whose job is to manage will readily recognize the delights and frustrations of looking after "the boys of summer." Prolific baseball writer James has compiled a who's who of baseball managers from 1870 to the present day, organized by decade. Each section is essentially a snapshot featuring the most successful managers with profiles, statistics, and detailed explanations as to why each stands out from the rest. A delightful collection that will satisfy baseball fans of all ages.?Larry Little, Penticton P.L., British Columbia
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (May 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684806983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684806983
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Without a doubt, Bill James is THE man who can best shed light on those forgotten heroes of yesteryear and today along with focusing on what or who are the greats.

By tackling the subject of mgrs. he's added another feather in his cap regarding baseball history. The book is simply chock full of astute observations, great stats, and even better off-the-wall stories.

The way the book is laid out also does not overwhelm you because it covers the entire history of the game. James breaks it down by decade and gives you a good feel for the eras and the managers who made them.

I can hardly wait to see what James tackles next.
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Format: Hardcover
There are a few other books that deal exclusively

with baseball managers and I've read most of them.

None deal with the subject as objectively or with as

much detail and enthusiasm as Bill James' new offering. Besides the

celebrated managers of baseball history such as Stengel,

McGraw, Mack and others, there are great pieces on lesser

known managers such as Bill McKechnie, Fred Haney, Spencer

Abbot and Billy Southworth. James also details a few objective

ways to discuss and evaluate a manager's accomplishments.

The book maps out the trends of various managerial strategies

such as the sacrifice bunt and the use of a bullpen. Anyone who

loves baseball will find this book hard to put down. And it'll make

you think. As James says "managers are fascinating people" and this

book makes for many hours of fascinating reading.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the kind of book a reader picks up to gather a story or two to include in some type of presentation or as a book used for casual reading. As a cover to cover read, it becomes tedious due of its language and lack of a clearly defined structure. The author has broken down the chapters into decades starting with the 1870s and continuing up to the 1990s. Based upon this structure, I expected each chapter to describe the game of baseball and how the manager of the time dealt with his team during that period of time. Maybe I would read some sort of clear profile of what management was like and how the crowds responded to the game maybe what went into the manager’s thinking on and off the field. Maybe I would see a comparison between management approaches for direct comparison. I can’t say this didn’t happen, but not consistently and not within a structure that was easy for the reader to absorb. In each chapter, except for the 1990s, he gives a short synopsis of his opinion of the typical manager. He calls it a ‘Snapshot’. There is then a portrait of one or two managers he considers representative of that decade although he never really says why they are included to the exception of all others. The strength of the portrait is in the author answering a set of his fixed questions common to each of the manager profiles. The reader is then able to compare one manager to another using the common questions as a guide. If the author would have stuck to this format, the book would have in my opinion been more effective. However, he introduces several essays that although interesting often do not apply to what might be considered a ‘guide’ to baseball managers.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gentlemen;

This book is a detailed survey of all the top managers in baseball. It is a very good book on baseball history and the patterns of the managers.
I like it,

David O Karickhoff
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Books about managers are hard to come by and this one fits the bill rather nicely. Interesting analysis on the managers only made me want to read more of the same on a larger group of managers (Billy Martin for example). A very good read as usual from Mr James.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James is usually excellent and this book is no exception. He goes through a large number of great/good managers: Mack, McGraw, Lasorda, Herzog, etc. He rates the best managers of each decade; I don't always agree with his conclusions but it's intelligent and interesting throughout.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Admittedly a Bill James fan, I found this book to be only mildly interesting. It was surprising how many mistakes were in the book as well, i.e. typographical errors, misspellings, wrong words, etc. Whoever edited this book needs to find another career. All in all though, it just did not hold my interest as a baseball fan.
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Format: Hardcover
How exciting can a book about managers really be? I am a huge fan of the Bill James Historical Abstract and I like a lot of James' other work (What Happened to the Hall of Fame, etc). So I was willing to give this book a try. 4 stars is probably generous - 3.5 would be better - but James does as good a job as can be expected given the material he has to work with. I really am a huge baseball fan but I found this to be a bit dry at times.

The format is similar to the Historical Abstract - it has the "Decade in a box" feature which provides some common data about each decade. Interspersed with the decade boxes are articles about managers and other happenings from the decade.

James profiles about 20-25 managers in much greater detail - examining their tendencies, their styles and the players who played for them. The manager profiles are definitely the best part of the book.

James does attempt to come up with a rating system for managers, which is pretty good. He also attempts to come up with what he thinks would be a useful statistical record for managers. This book was written in the mid-90s, and the proposed stats are almost a mirror image of what Baseball Prospectus manager profiles each year. Give James a point there if they really are working from his template.

If you want to learn more about baseball history from a different perspective, this is a great book to check out. I just wish that James had covered more managers in detail, since that was the best section of the book. Maybe someday we'll get an updated paperback version that includes Joe Torre and some of the more interesting old-time managers.
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