Stoler: The great American book: “The Baseball Encyclopedia”

From SABR member Mark Stoler at Things Have Changed on June 28, 2016:

I can still remember seeing it for the first time.  It was during the mid-1970s at the Worcester (MA) County Courthouse Law Library.  I may have been there to study for the bar exam or for law school or doing research for on my first job; I can’t remember precisely why, but can distinctly remember seeing the book. I was a bit restless and walking around randomly looking around the library when I first saw it, a dark covered, large, hard-bound book that I had not known existed:

The Baseball Encyclopedia from Macmillan Publishing Company

I brought it over to where I’d been sitting and promptly lost myself in it, along with any sense of time.  It was a revelation and ended my law studies for the day .  As a kid, I’d always been fascinated by baseball statistics and history.  The problem was the only stats on the current season could be found once a week in the Sunday New York Times, while for history you had to rely on books, like the one my Dad gave me (around 1960) on the careers of Hall of Fame players, which had a basic summary of career stats. 

I could open The Baseball Encyclopedia, to any page and have multiple story lines laid out in front of me.  You could follow the game season to season, going back all the way to the National Association in 1871, read about the all-time leaders in pitching, batting and fielding and, most importantly of all look at the career and season records for everyone who’d played major league baseball. I can still remember one of the first players I looked up – Gavvy Cravath, who’d always fascinated me because of his name and that he’d been considered one of the great sluggers before Babe Ruth’s arrival.

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Originally published: June 29, 2016. Last Updated: June 29, 2016.