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Outsider Baseball: The Weird World of Hardball on the Fringe, 1876–1950 Hardcover – March 1, 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Scott has amazing things to reveal to us about the game we love—a game we thought we were pretty knowledgable about, until now...Simkus’ book is a major step in rediscovering the talents and accomplishments of an entire class of ball players ignored and forgotten until now. This book will inspire further histories and fuel many a Hot Stove League debate. Outside Baseball is a great story, a collection of amazing, previously unknown statistics, and a first peak at a whole new universe of baseball." —Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine

"This book is a total joy to read, and is breezy despite the focu on stats. Simkus clearly loves his subject and it shows. If you have any interest in old-time baseball at all, run, don't walk, to get this book..." —The Book Stew


“A must-read for anyone with more than a passing interest in the national pastime. This careful, provocative examination of baseball’s history and mystery challenges much of the conventional wisdom surrounding the sport, forcing us to see the game in a different light.” —Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times

"Simkus is at his best when presenting the wild and wacky leagues and players. He respects the game and its statistics, but he also strikes a balance with his breezy prose that number geeks and casual fans should find appealing." —The Tampa Tribune

“The obsessive author takes you into the world of semipro teams, independent clubs, minor league sides and barnstorming outfits. Think you know the history of the game? Simkus will open your eyes to whole new worlds.” —Newsday

"...the amount of research he's done—not to mention his number-crunching—is heroic. Just for that, Outisder Basebell deserves to be read by every baseball history junkie." —ChicagoReader.com

About the Author

Scott Simkus is the founder and editor of the Outsider Baseball Bulletin. He is the winner of a research award from the Society of American Baseball Research for his work on the Negro League Database.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (March 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1613748167
  • ISBN-13: 978-1613748169
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #809,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I think I might like the history of baseball more than the game itself. Since finishing Jackie Robinson's memoir My Own Story and then starting the latest book by Hayhurst, I picked up this book without realizing what an engaging and fast read it would be! I loved learning about all the hidden gems of "Outsider Baseball". I didn't mind the diversity of topics that the author touched upon, but rather enjoyed the light nature of it all. I recommend it!
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is Scott Simkus at his best. It's his best writing, which is saying a lot. It's his best research, which is saying more. I admire people who continually do their best work, topping previous bests with ever-more ambitious achievements. For this owner of hundreds of baseball books, Outsider Baseball will have a place on my shelf both for its story-telling and its reference data. Starting with his breakthrough research that drove Strat-O-Matic's impressive Negro League set of statistically accurate player cards and continuing with his online Outsider Baseball project, Simkus has established himself as a top-shelf researcher who discovers hidden gems in baseball history. This book establishes Simkus as a top-shelf baseball writer, too, with equally entertaining and informative pieces on players and teams who should be known to more of us. I recommend this to anyone who loves baseball and to anyone who finds a good read both relaxing and nourishing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even if you are not a baseball fan, the stories of hardships and tribulations of ball players are very interesting. Mr. Simkus wrote about the good and bad players both on the field and off in the early years. Easy read, well written.
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Format: Hardcover
This book gets an A for content. If you’re interested in baseball history, you MUST read it. You’ve heard of the Negro Leagues. This has a lot about them. In particular, Simkus has a way of calibrating the quality of their play relative to MLB play.

Now: imagine there’s the equivalent of another Negro Leagues or two out there that you barely knew existed. In the first half of the twentieth century, the semipro Brooklyn Bushwicks used to draw more people than a lot of MLB teams. There are semipro players who could have had big careers in MLB, but the modest pay in this era wasn’t enough of an inducement to get them to leave the Pacific Coast League, or to have to give up a lucrative day job in their home town selling insurance, say.

There are more offshoots and undercards than just blackball, semipro baseball, and the high minors, but you get the idea. Maybe you didn’t know that Babe Ruth actually hit 1,031 home runs in his career, counting all the exhibitions and barnstorming. The off-the-books game gets it statistical due here, as much as is possible, and it’s all fascinating.

Simkus has a go at estimating old-timers’ pitching speeds. There used to be some interest in the longest distance someone could throw a ball, and he has a way to translate that to speed. (He comes upon his algorithm a bit casually and I’m no physicist.) Unfortunately Walter Johnson isn’t in the data base, but (outfielder) Rocky Colavito and Satchel Paige are. Also Babe Didrickson. This last prompts some deconstruction of an exhibition where she struck out Ruth and Gehrig, who (spoiler alert) weren’t really trying. Still, she threw 70mph in 1931, which is what a good high school pitcher throws.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My grandfather (born 1886) told me many stories about local and minor league baseball, some around his brother who played professional and semi-professional ball for forty years, but this book explained it all to me. The resemblance between professional baseball now and a hundred years ago is mostly that they have always used wooden bats. This book is a must for any hardcore baseball fan.
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Format: Hardcover
Scott Simkus is a fine writer and baseball fans will enjoy this witty and well researched book. Scott covers the early days of baseball, the Negro Leagues, the birth of the National League and the birth of the American League, the Minors, Jackie Mitchell, the House of David, Luke Easter and much more.
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Format: Hardcover
When I read about, and purchased, this book, I wanted to like it in the worst way. I enjoy the history of baseball and looked at this as a way to gain more insight to elements of the game about which I was not as well versed. Unfortunately, the author couldn't settle on a small handful of good subjects and tried to throw as much a the wall as he could. In my opinion, very little of it stuck.

In what I had hoped would be the highlight of the book, the author attempted to devise a scheme to measure teams of different generations and assign them a score so they can be compared. I was very anxious to read this passage and hoped he had accomplished his goal. Instead, he devised an utterly archaic system of an almost unbelievably random nature. Goal…unaccomplished.

I really wish this book could have come through for me in the way I had hoped. I will continue to explore for more books that feed my hunger for baseball history. This book, unfortunately, is going to be returned.
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