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The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 9, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 128 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nearly as long as baseball has existed in its current form, so too have unofficial rules that professional players have strictly adhered to. Yet as Turnbow demonstrates in this highly entertaining read, every rule of the code has certain variations. Most casual baseball fans are keenly aware of many topics that Turnbow broaches, and some are universally agreed upon—hitters admiring home runs is severely frowned on, as is arguing with one's manager in public view and being caught stealing signs. But other rules are less cut-and-dried. On the subject of retaliating for a teammate being hit by a pitch: some believe the pitcher should be plunked in his next at-bat, while others say it should be a player with corresponding talent to the hit batter. Turnbow has an example for nearly every conceivable situation, and with quotes from dozens of former major league players, managers, and broadcasters, the reader can better understand the actions that can set off even the most even-tempered ball player. It's a comprehensive, sometimes hilarious guide to perhaps a misunderstood aspect of our national pastime, and will come in handy should one ever be involved in a beanball war. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

Turbow and Duca have filled a void with this entertaining, revealing survey of the varied, sometimes inscrutable unwritten rules that govern the way baseball is played by the pros. The authors add a lot of flavoring here by naming names and instances, both long past and more recent. Great stuff on how and when to retaliate, how to slide, how to give way to a relief pitcher, talking (or not) during a no-hitter, whether to join an on-field brawl (no question, you join in), and the ethics of cheating (former Orioles manager Earl Weaver once told struggling pitcher Ross Grimsley during a game: “If you know how to cheat, this would be a good time to start”). The authors—both write on baseball for various publications, and Duca is an official scorekeeper for major league baseball—lament a certain unraveling of baseball’s codes, due to changes in the game itself, while insisting that they’re still essentially intact. For committed fans who want to dig deeper. --Alan Moores

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375424695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375424694
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #414,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Professional baseball has a long tradition self-governing its participants to abide by some convoluted "Code" of behavior, which for the most part, is understood and followed; no questions asked. However, things can get out of hand rather quickly when opposing teams have a difference of opinion in interpreting that "Code"; that's when the fun begins.

Jason Turbow and Michel Duca have compiled an extensive array of "Code Violations" throughout baseball history, and how everything played out between the warring factions; often, peace never quite gets restored, and fueds fester for many bitter seasons. Usually, when some unwritten protocol viotation pops up, peace is eventually restored; quite often the offending party's own teammates dole out the prescribed corrective action, and the problem never rears its ugly head again.

For any fan of the game who finds this kind of stuff fascinating, this book is filled with enough anecdotes to entertain and amuse, from start to finish. It gives a wonderful perspective on what you'll never find in the boxscores; however, it's as much a part of the game as anything that goes into the official record books; and in many cases, its impact has shortened some careers, while adding a colorful piece of folklore for others.

It's the perfect book to get any fan of the game riled up for a new season. Now you know there's much more to the game than the hits, runs and errors taking place between the lines; there's much, much more.
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Format: Hardcover
I have always loved to watch baseball, but I'm going to love it even more this season, thanks to the insight I've gained from reading this colorful, entertaining book. "The Baseball Codes" assembles a dizzying array of stories, from the recent past and from long ago, spelling out all the different unwritten rules of the game.

Like any reviewer, I can't help but share some of the delicious stories from this delectable book:

* Mike Krukow, throwing at brushback specialist Joaquin Andujar in 1984, and missing him -- twice -- only to rush the plate "in a rare instance of the reverse mound-charge." Krukow, incredibly, was not ejected, and considered one more attempt, but feared another miss. He instead struck Andujar out - and Andujar fell apart on the mound, securing a Giants win. "We exposed his macho," Krukow said. "It was great."

* Phil Garner, who emerges as one of my favorite characters, doesn't subscribe to the rule that you don't steal bases with a big lead. While I appreciate the gentlemanly sentiment behind this rule, I also view it as ridiculous - these guys are clearly not gentlemen (witness chapters on beanballs), and they are trying to win games. Why should they stop trying? "I'm not going to go home at night thinking I shut a ballgame down and let you guys back in it to win it," Garner told old-school Sparky Anderson.

* Nolan Ryan - who emerges as a real villain, in my opinion, for his head-hunting tactics - learned the "bow-tie" pitch from Satchel Paige, meaning the art of throwing a fastball right by a player's neck. He's lucky he never killed anybody. He'd throw at guys just because he was mad they bunted on him. He knocked down Lenny Dykstra in the 1986 NLCS, both for bunting and for what he saw as excessive cheering after a hit.
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Format: Hardcover
Anyone who was raised with a love of baseball... when the grass was still real... when baseball was still truly America's pastime... and was governed by "THE UNWRITTEN RULES... or CODES" as much if not more than the actual written rules... will love this book. Anyone that was raised when much of the grass was ASTRO Turf... but was lucky enough to have a prior generation's lover of baseball teach them the way a professional really played AND RESPECTED this great game... will love this book. This is a true unveiling of what really went on between the lines... in the clubhouse... and away from the field. The great game of baseball had its own unwritten laws... and thus the players and managers were able to police themselves... when the official rule book didn't provide proper justice. When should one team throw a bean ball at the other to reciprocate for a hit batsman? Who should be hit by a retaliatory pitch... the offending pitcher?... the hitter who watched too long as his ball flew out of the park?... the hitter who "hot-dogged" around the bases?... the guy who slid too hard into a base?... the batter who took too long getting into the batter's box?... the batter who walked in front of the catcher?... the player who was stealing signals? The questions and situations are almost endless... and almost all of these questions are answered in this book. When there's a fight on the field which members of the team should join in?... Should any of the team not engage? What type of cheating is ok? Spitballs?... Scuffed balls?... Pine tar/Vaseline/slippery elm?... Corked bats?

How long should a *PAYBACK-GRUDGE* be carried and still be acted upon. In one such case fireball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson waited for fifteen years AFTER HIS RETIREMENT to hit a batter he felt he owed...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I brought the book with me to Camelback Ranch near Phoenix AZ where I watched a number of Dodger spring training games. I live about 7 hours drive away in So. CA. As my 23 yr. old son was driving, I commented to him, and quite sincerely, "I've learned more about the game of baseball in the first 48 pages of this book than I learned in my whole life." May I mention that I'm in my 60's and watched the Dodgers play at the LA Coliseum before they even built Dodger Stadium. I consider[ed] myself a student of the game. I was wrong, not to mention naive. There are three chapters that more or less deal with the cheating that goes on in the game, from corked bats, doctored balls to stealing signs. What's more interesting is the seeming acceptance of anything you can "get away with" in the game. That's why the atmosphere was so conducive to the steroid era. My advice to fellow baseball fans: buy it, borrow it or "steal" it (if you can get away with it).
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