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Baseball's Other All-Stars: The Greatest Players from the Negro Leagues, the Japanese Leagues, the Mexican League, and the Pre-1960 Winter Leagues in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic Paperback – March 1, 2000
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"[A] fine book...provocative...will enchant general readers interested in baseball history." --Choice
"Fascinating." --Public Library Quarterly
"A gem, a mother lode of material hitherto unavailable to baseball fans." --not even on the Internet"--Nine
About the Author
William F. McNeil is a long-time baseball historian and the author of numerous books on the game. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), he is the recipient of five Robert Peterson awards for increasing the public's awareness of the Negro Leagues. He lives in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Top customer reviews
But you be the judge. Here are some of the comments readers made about Bjarkman's book 'Smoke'.
Reader #1 - "An Almendares Blue pitcher in red on the cover shows the kind of problems that are in this book. Lennox Pearson's picture is identified as Panchon Herrera and Jose Valdivielsos as Asdrubal Baro. Tito Fuentes an outfielder? This book can misinform the uninformed; the pictures and the paper are good".
Reader #2 - "There are countless errors of fact in the statistics and many of the players are incorrectly identified".
Reader #3 - "The book is plagued with mistakes about Cuban history and culture. (There are) many historical errors that detract from the book's value. I am frankly embarrassed that this book may be quoted and used to write others".
Bjarkman, in replying to his critics, said, "Yes, there are a small handful of typographical flaws in this book as in every other". Apparently, typos and minor flaws are acceptable in Bjarkman's books but not in others. Actually, most books contain some typos and minor flaws, and technical books that contain thousands of names are more susceptible. But, more important is whether or not the book contains information that makes it a valuable research tool. I believe 'Baseball's Other All Stars' has important statistics that contribute to our knowledge of the game, and that can be used to predict how a player will perform from one league to another.
My book contains 27 tables and statistics, and formulas that let the reader predict what a player from the Japanese Leagues might hit in the major leagues. I should point out that the conversion formulas for estimating league to league comparisons were developed one full year before Ichiro Suzuki ever played his first game for the Seattle Mariners. And the prediction was right on target. The figures below show Ichiro's actual Japanese League career statistics for every 550 at-bats, compared to the major league prediction I made for him in 2000, and his actual major league statistics through 2004.
Ichiro's actual Japanese League stats 550AB, 18HR, .359BA
My major league prediction for Ichiro 550AB 8HR .337BA
Ichiro's actual ML statistics thru 2004 550AB 7HR .339BA
I think that's uncany predicting. Bjarkman doesn't like my methodology, but all I can say is, what works, works. And Bjarkman certainly doesn't have anything better. My conversion formula has since been confirmed by other Japanese League players in the major leagues, including Hideki Matsui, Kazuo Matsui, and Tadahito Iguchi.
If you would like to read a book with empty rhetoric, there are several I can recommend. But if you are interested in learning more facts about the most important baseball leagues around the world, and if you would like to be able to estimate how Japanese League players, or former Negro league players like Josh Gibson, might hit in the major leagues, then 'Baseball's Other All-Stars' is the book you need. Peter Bjarkman has a copy, and I am sure he will use it many times for research over the years.
It is in this later area that this book falls apart, since its creditability is totally undercut by numerous (dozens and dozens!) of historical errors, typographical errors, and editorial sloppiness. I only offer a small sample here. Player names are regularly given incorrectly, including major leaguers (Ed Rommell, Ed Roush, Juan Pizzaro, Rafael Palmero, Ricky Henderson, Mickey Owens, Earl Combs, etc.) and Latin leaguers (again Pizzaro for Pizarro, Mexican league boss Jorge Pascual, Pedro Formenthal, Bienvenido Jiminez, Raphael Almeida, Andres Gallaraga, Adolpho Luque, Eusatquio Pedroso, etc.). Names of Latin teams and locales are badly mangled (Estraelles Orientals for Estrellas Orientales, Remidios for Remedios, Vera Cruz for Veracruz and Almedares for Almendares, to cite but a handful). There are incorrect descriptions of ballplayers that suggest this author is unfamiliar with their actual careers and talents. Cuban legend Alejando Oms was in fact a lefty and not a righthanded slugger, Orestes Destrada is a Cuban and not American native, 1970s-80s Cuban slugger Lazaro Junco was a lefty and not righty, as was Cuban pitching ace Jorge Luis Valdes of the same era. And most regrettably, there are inexuseable errors in the facts about Latin American baseball history. Jud Wilson was an American and not a Cuban ballplayer; it is NOT true that Bombin Pedroso's Cuban League career stats are not available; the pre-1959 Cuban League went by various names over the years, but it was never called the Cuban Winter League; baseball was NOT first introduced to Cuba in 1866 by US sailors in Matanzas; Mike Gonzalez broke into the big leagues with the Boston Braves and not the Red Sox; Mickey Mahler was a US and not a Dominican pitcher; Pop Lloyd did NOT play 27 seasons in Cuba; the first recorded game in Havana was not in 1866; Fidel Castro rose to power in 1959 not 1960, and more importantly he did not end pro ball on the island until after the 1961 season, not in 1960; the Detroit Tigers team visiting Cuba in 1909 were not world champions; the 1908 Cincinnati Reds were not the first major leaguers to visit Cuba. And Cuba is certainly not "a tiny island nation" but one of the largest islands in the world!
To top it all off, the area of Latin America where baseball thrives is the Caribbean and not the CARRIBEAN. With such careless attention to details by both the book's editors and author, how can we take very seriously the rest of the detailed evaluations of ballplayers presented. The concept of this book may have been admirable, but the execution seems to harm as much as it helps the case for the lost leagues and stars the book features.