Macmillan

Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia

From the beginnings of baseball history people have been obsessed with team and individual statistics. Henry Chadwick invented the box score, others added their own twists until you have what is currently something like a glut of information. There was the Spaulding Guide and the Reach Guide for the early part of the 20th Century. Even magazines like the Sporting News and Baseball Digest could be stat heavy. But for comprehensive stats all in one place you might have to do a lot of research.

In the late 1960s that all changed. the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia hit the market and there they were, the statistical information all in one place for every player who’d ever stepped out on a diamond. It was new, it was exhaustive, it was admittedly incomplete, it was occasionally wrong, but it was available for every fan (provided you had the money and the muscle power to lift the thing) to read over to his (or her) heart’s content.

I ran across my first copy in the university library where I was teaching. I checked it out, fell in love with it, and spent more time than I should copying out information. The 1996 version (pictured above) became a household treasure (I still have it) when my wife and son pooled their money and bought it for me for a holiday gift. I always thought it was a gift of love. My son, on the other hand, was a rabid Twins fan and I always thought he went along with purchasing it  in a case of enlightened self-interest (he used to look it over quite a bit). Whatever the motivation, I still have it and still use it sometimes when I just want to browse.

I saw they were still available to purchase. Amazon had one for $12, which surprised me. I hope each of you has occasion to use one, just so you can say you did. When I go, the book goes to my wife. I hope she’ll pass it along to my son so he can continue to enjoy using it sometimes, and maybe think back to a good time he had going over it with the old man.

Now, go get a book on baseball and read it.

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9 Responses to “Macmillan”

  1. glen715 Says:

    I used to read it in the public library. I was fascinated by it.

    • glen715 Says:

      I used to read it and I couldn’t put it down. For it’s time, it was something that was pretty revolutionary. Those were in the days when kids had to ride their bike well over two miles to get to the Baldwin Public Library (unless they lived right down the street, like my friends John, Tom, and Paul Studiner did) to find out any information or to do research. Nowadays, the spoiled brat kids just have to look on their computers at the internet to find the same information. Anyway, it’s a heavy book, allright, and one time the Baseball Encyclopedia fell off the table while I was reading it and landed on my foot. I was about 11 years old at the time. I couldn’t walk, and the librarian called an ambulance, which took me to Nassau County Medical Center over in East Meadow. To this day, I walk with a slight limp because of that book breaking my foot in 1972, so I just explain to people who ask that it’s an old “baseball-related injury.” People are pretty impressed by athletic injuries.

      Glen

  2. Kevin Graham Says:

    Coincidentally, that is the exact same edition I have V.

  3. rjkitch13 Says:

    The book that gave me my love of statistics was called Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball in the soft cover. The version I had must have been read by me thousands of times. My webpage I’m doing is a tribute to the knowledge I got from that book.

  4. Miller Says:

    I have a copy from the 1970s (I believe), one of my prized possessions.

  5. Jackie, The Baseball Bloggess Says:

    Yesterday, an old friend gave me one of the best birthday gifts ever … his 1988 copy … that had been passed down to him years ago from someone else. I was so touched (although, he had wrapped it up in Boston Red Sox gift wrap which made me grimace).

    As I paged through it last night, I found all sorts of old baseball clippings from the NYTimes tucked within its pages.

    My friend Jay said, “You can find all this on the internet now, but it’s not the same a paging through it and finding something new you didn’t expect to find.”

    Exactly!

    I thought of your post and knew I had to come and tell you how lucky I am … and how special it is to be given a book that has already been loved well by two other baseball fans.

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