One of the best parts of baseball – at least as far as I’m concerned – is the stories. The anecdotes, legends, and tall tales that define the game add a richness to the history of the game, that otherwise would be just numbers and play-by-play recaps.
But what do you do if those stories aren’t 100% accurate?
I was initially won over by the introduction, where Neyer advises you why you shouldn’t buy or read the book. If you want to keep the legends and stories of baseball as they are in your mind, don’t read it. It will definitely spoil, or at least take some of the luster off some of baseball’s best stories.
But – that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read the book…there’s lots of stories that you probably have never heard, especially if you’re to the younger side or new to the game. Most of the stories come from before 1980 – which is interesting in itself…since that is when information about baseball started changing due to the widespread availability of information, the dawn of the Internet and changes in record keeping which made the numbers of the game much more valuable and sought after.
In a way – Neyer highlights a deficiency of the modern game – the lack of great stories. It certainly doesn’t seem like many great legends are talked about from the current era – and I think it’s due to the availability of numbers and facts that we have today. It’s kind of a shame if you ask me. People will still talk about seeing great moments of the game – the McGwire/Sosa home run chase, Bonds breaking the single season and career marks, Ichiro breaking the single-season hits record and so on, but the legend factor doesn’t seem to be as prevalent.
The book wins points thanks to short chapters that make it easy to pick up and put down, and each story is really its own, so you don’t necessarily need to read them in order or have the most recent one fresh in your head to appreciate the rest of the book.
I think this will definitely appeal to the older fan who has memories of the stories that Neyer dissects; however without a desire to learn about baseball’s history, the younger fan may not be as into the book.
I don’t think it’s a must-add to the book shelf, but if you enjoy debunking myths and legends, you’ll definitely get a good read out of Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Legends.
What do you think? Post your comments!