Baseball Library Satiates Fans’ Taste for Trivia

By: Charles Bowen

In America, baseball is more than a sport. It’s a metaphor, a model for how we like to see ourselves. Forever young. Forever strong and smart. Forever summer.

Fans’ passion for the American game is best illustrated in their loving obsession with stats and trivia, the more obscure the better:

* Who played the most games for the New York Yankees, Lou Gehrig or Yogi Berra? (Of the two, it was Lou, but Mickey Mantle beat them both, putting in time in more than 2,400 games.)

* Who was the only player to have won the Rookie of the Year, the MVP, and the Cy Young Award? (The great Brooklyn Dodger Don Newcombe, who also was the first outstanding African-American pitcher in major league history.)

* Has anyone ever hit four homers in a single game? (Yes, four home runs in one game is the record, and a dozen players have done it in the history of the majors, including Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, and Gil Hodges.)

* What pitcher had the most strikeouts in a World Series game? (Bob Gibson, with 17.)

* Who was the last Cub to hit 40 home runs in a season before Sammy Sosa? (You have to go back 13 years, to Ryne Sandberg, who hit exactly 40 in 1990.)

* What pitcher holds the record for the most consecutive strikeouts? (The Mets’ Tom Seaver struck out 10 consecutive Padres on April 22, 1970.)

And it goes on and on. A site on the Web can be your resource for all kinds of baseball related stats, facts, figures, and biographies. Visit The Baseball Library (http://pubdim.net/baseballlibrary), where a busy front page provides links to sections on players, teams, baseball chronology, history, books, and more.

While the site offers some searchablity, much of its massive database is accessible through simple alphabetized lists. For instance, click on the “Ballplayers” option at the top of any page to reach lists that start with Hank Aaron and end with Dutch Zwilling. For each, the site displays given names and nicknames, birthdates, a list of the teams played on, career statistics and highlights and, for major players, a full-text biography, as well as links to books and articles about the player and his place in the baseball chronology.

The “Teams” option provides alphabetized lists of the teams in the National and American leagues as well as the old Federal League. Beside each team is a drop-down menu enabling you to select a year. For each year, the site provides rosters of players with hyperlinks to their individual files as well as extensive highlights of events for that team in that year, as well as complete game summaries.

Other considerations for using the Baseball Library in your writing and editing:

1. Two large references originally published as books form the core of BaseballLibrary.com. The Ballplayers, edited by Mike Shatzkin, has more than 6,000 biographies and 800,000 words in its book form which is available in an Idea Logical Press two-volume paperback edition. The book was originally published in 1990 and is complete through the 1989 season. The Baseball Chronology, edited by James Charlton, a day-by-day account of baseball history, was published in book form in 1991. They say they will update and enhance the chronology to cover the last decade of baseball history. In addition to these two major works, BaseballLibrary.com also includes a host of baseball history features that have been produced over the past few years by the Idea Logical Co. for Sportsline.

2. Need a refresher on a particular rule of professional baseball? Scroll any page in the site and watch the navigation bar at the left. Toward the bottom is a drop-down menu that provides rules of play and equipment.

3. You also can get a daily shot of baseball history and stats directly via e-mail by signing up for the site’s newsletter. The daily material is packed with links to baseball features, memories, and profiles culled from more than 40 newspapers around the country.

You can read the last 20 “Reporter’s Digital How-to” columns on our index page. Subscribers may access previous columns from our archives.

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