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Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame Paperback – April 6, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Daniel Okrent Once again, typical James: informative, insightful, amusing, and utterly persuasive. It will, I should add, be absolutely infuriating to the remaining baseball Luddites who don't realize what a genius Bill James is.
Richard Corliss Time For 452 sizzling pages, the game's premier stats solon and most passionate fan stir-fries the old debate about who does and doesn't deserve to be [in the Hall of Fame].
Dan Gutman Newsday Let's just let Bill James decide who belongs in the Hall of Fame. He's proven that he knows more about baseball than anybody in the whole world....
Top Customer Reviews
A book about the Hall of Fame, with its unending controversies over just who is truly deserving of entry and who is not, is ideal grist for the analytical mind of James. He covers many controversies, two of which surround Dodger pitcher Don Drysdale and Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto. Drysdale had been voted into the Hall by the time James wrote his book while Rizzuto was elected just as James was completing his final chapter. The evaluations of both players were so thorough that James concluded his analysis of Drysdale by covering the tall right-hander's performance in pennant stretch drives of the Dodgers as well as in the twelve games James deemed the most crucial of his career excluding World Series performances. Rizzuto's Hall of Fame worthiness was ultimately evaluated by a statistically microscopic comparison of the Yankee star with his counterpart New York contemporary at shortstop, Pee Wee Reese of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In addition to comparing and contrasting players both in and out of the Hall, James also delves into the politics of Cooperstown. He decries the period of the fifties and sixties for what he deems less than deserving choices made by the Veterans Committee.Read more ›
Bill James, in a very entertaining style, will show you how some of the game's greatest players have been overlooked for the game's highest honor, while lesser men have been awarded. He will show you the passion of those who promote a certain player for election, while also demonstrating how illogical many can be as they argue for their favorites. He shows the inconsistency of the various voting bodies, the chronyism, the politics, and most other aspects of the long history of the Hall of Fame's process for determining the game's greatest players. It is a subject not often outlined in this depth, and James does a splendid job with it.
There are some flaws. James, as he often does, contradicts his own previously stated views on some players, and does so without explanation, which can be maddening to anyone who has read most of his work. He also has the unnecessary habit of insulting people for no real reason. As a man who can write so well and express his views in such detail and with such clarity, it doesn't appear to be necessary, when citing an example of one fan's opinion about Mickey Lolich, to answer this question:
"Am I the only baseball fan who feels that statistics provide, at best, a meager measure of a player's worth?"
with this answer:
"Well, no, Mr. Miedlar, actually, there are an amazing number of idiots in the world."
Stooping to that level is entertaining at times, but it also serves to convince the reader that James is a bit full of himself, and a bit of a bully to boot.Read more ›
This 1995 examination of how the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N. Y. selects and rejects various players to enshrine offers plenty of statistics and analysis, along with James' signature style, erudite and witty yet accessible. The premise is that the Hall of Fame has let in several players beneath the standard it should uphold, which James points out with detailed analyses of several inductees as well as non-inductees often mentioned as worthy.
"It is tempting to say that had it all not happened so quickly, more thought might have gone into designing a process that would provide consistently defensible results," he writes. "It is tempting, but Hamilton and Jefferson were dead and probably not baseball fans anyway."
Problems as James sees them include fuzzy logic (e. g. taking one inductee as an example why a non-inductee with similar stats should be admitted) and spur-of-the-moment sentiment. James' biggest bone is with the Hall of Fame's safety net for second chances, the Veterans Committee, where a few older men meet to agree on players worthy of induction whom the main induction body, the Baseball Writers Association of America, passed over. As James sees it, too often the Veterans Committee has worked as a back door for players who don't merit the honor but either had friends on the Veterans Committee or else blinding sentiment on their side.
The inductee of the moment when this was published was Phil Rizzuto, the great Yankee shortstop and longtime announcer known as "Scooter.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed the book as a baseball junkie, but there were times when it was even a little too stat heavy for me. I did love the history of the HoF personally. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mark S. Randles
Loaded with facts, logical arguments, and counter-arguments from various perspectives, and some very clever dry humor to boot. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Pete Birmingham
Great book, but I docked it one point for the title. The original title,"The Politics of Glory," was perfect.Published on August 2, 2014 by Capybara12
Yes, it's a pretty long book, and very thorough as well. Bill James' argues both sides of an issue so well, you'll find yourself agreeing with everything he says until he comes to... Read morePublished on December 29, 2013 by Jesse "Bottom Reviewer" Radin
I enjoyed this book as I do most of Bill's work. I especially like that he agrees with me that Ken Boyer belongs in the Hall.Published on December 11, 2013 by Bear Brinkman
I have always been intrigued by Bill James. He is most likely the premier baseball scholar of all time. Read morePublished on April 5, 2011 by Patrick M. Carroll
Serious students of the grand old game and its magic are by now well familiar with the name Bill James. Read morePublished on February 5, 2011 by Leo Anderson