The Ultimate Baseball Book

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When THE ULTIMATE BASEBALL BOOK was first published in 1979, it came close to living up to the promise of its title. A lavishly illustrated oversized volume that offered a season-by-season summary of major-league baseball history, the book was about as good a survey of the professional game as had ever been produced. Editors and authors Daniel Okrent and Harris Lewine had done a terrific job of blending David Nemec’s historical overview with colorful essays by celebrity writers such as Tom Wicker and Roy Blount, Jr., and the result was a detailed yet readable overview, a literate fan’s delight.

The revised edition of THE ULTIMATE BASEBALL BOOK is in some ways even better. The book is at last available in paperback, at a greatly reduced price, and the new edition has been updated to cover the 1980’s.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the study of baseball has progressed so rapidly in the last decade as to leave the original version of THE ULTIMATE BASEBALL BOOK trailing far behind—and the new edition does little to close the gap. In the 1980’s, a new generation of researchers and analysts advanced the discussion of baseball history light years beyond where it stood at the start of the decade; the revision of Okrent and Lewine’s book, though, almost wholly fails to reflect these advances in knowledge.

Most disappointing is the revised book’s failure to acknowledge the revolutionary findings of baseball...

(The entire section is 480 words.)