Wolff/Samelson: Whatever happened to The Baseball Encyclopedia?

From Rick Wolff and SABR member Ken Samelson at Baseball America on August 15, 2019:

For those of a certain age, The Baseball Encyclopedia was THE book that every baseball fan had to have. As thick as a Manhattan telephone book (remember phone books?), The Baseball Encyclopedia should be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Except that The Baseball Encyclopedia is no more. It’s gone.

Most baseball fans who grew up with the 3,000 page book, which was updated generally every three years, can tell you stories of how they would look up a particular ballplayer’s statistics, and then would become enchanted and mesmerized by the unusual names and nicknames of the individuals listed on the pages. The stat lines and bio lines were straightforward and simple — this was long before the invention of abstract analytics such as WHIP or WAR — and the lines were easy to read.  Readers were left to their own imaginations as to how a ballplayer got his nickname. You’d wonder why a 19th century ballplayer would be named “The Freshest Man on Earth” (Arlie Latham) or “Death to Flying Things” (Bob Ferguson).

Ken Samelson and I had the distinct privilege and pleasure to have worked on three editions of The Baseball Encyclopedia together. We took on this editorial task with extreme respect and the utmost responsibility as we knew that all baseball fans everywhere viewed the book as the Bible of the National Pastime.

Read the full article here: https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/whatever-happened-to-the-baseball-encyclopedia/

Originally published: August 15, 2019. Last Updated: August 15, 2019.