The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract Summary

James Tucker

The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Bill James approaches baseball with the intellectual passion of a scientist who hates to see his subject misunderstood. He is already very well known among baseball enthusiasts for his annual publication, THE BILL JAMES BASEBALL ABSTRACT, and, in this volume, he has applied the same methods of analysis and scholarship to the entire history of the game.

The first part of the book is a decade-by-decade history from the 1870’s to the 1980’s, offering the usual vital statistics with James’s incisive interpretations of their significance, plus an entertaining series of sidelights such as “Best Language,” “Heaviest Player,” “New Strategies,” and “Ugliest Player” and such examples of James’s dry wit as the “Clint Hartung Award” and a section on births and deaths, “Checking In/Checking Out.”

The section of the book presents, in the form of some very elaborate charts, one per page, the culmination of James’s refinements of all the statistical material that has been gathered on about two hundred of the greatest players in the history of the game. There is no interpretive text here, only lists, categories, and other crucial material that a baseball enthusiast might use for all the kinds of comparisons and arguments that enliven the hot-stove league, and for the exploration and reflection that give the game an extra dimension for the real aficionado.