The Baseball 100 - book cover
Encyclopedias & Subject Guides
  • Publisher : Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
  • Published : 28 Sep 2021
  • Pages : 880
  • ISBN-10 : 1982180587
  • ISBN-13 : 9781982180584
  • Language : English

The Baseball 100


"An instant sports classic." -New York Post * "Stellar." -The Wall Street Journal * "A true masterwork…880 pages of sheer baseball bliss." -BookPage (starred review) * "This is a remarkable achievement." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A magnum opus from acclaimed baseball writer Joe Posnanski, The Baseball 100 is an audacious, singular, and masterly book that took a lifetime to write. The entire story of baseball rings through a countdown of the 100 greatest players in history, with a foreword by George Will.

Longer than Moby-Dick and nearly as ambitious,​The Baseball 100 is a one-of-a-kind work by award-winning sportswriter and lifelong student of the game Joe Posnanski that tells the story of the sport through the remarkable lives of its 100 greatest players. In the book's introduction, Pulitzer Prize–winning commentator George F. Will marvels, "Posnanski must already have lived more than 200 years. How else could he have acquired such a stock of illuminating facts and entertaining stories about the rich history of this endlessly fascinating sport?"

Baseball's legends come alive in these pages, which are not merely rankings but vibrant profiles of the game's all-time greats. Posnanski dives into the biographies of iconic Hall of Famers, unfairly forgotten All-Stars, talents of today, and more. He doesn't rely just on records and statistics-he lovingly retraces players' origins, illuminates their characters, and places their accomplishments in the context of baseball's past and present. Just how good a pitcher is Clayton Kershaw in the twenty-first- century game compared to Greg Maddux dueling with the juiced hitters of the nineties? How do the career and influence of Hank Aaron compare to Babe Ruth's? Which player in the top ten most deserves to be resurrected from history?

No compendium of baseball's legendary geniuses could be complete without the players of the segregated Negro Leagues, men whose extraordinary careers were largely overlooked by sportswriters at the time and unjustly lost to history. Posnanski writes about the efforts of former Negro Leaguers to restore sidelined Black athletes to their due honor, and draws upon the deep troves of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and extensive interviews with the likes of Buck O'Neil to illuminate the accomplishments of players such as pitchers Satchel Paige and Smokey Joe Williams; outfielders Oscar Charleston, Monte Irvin, and Cool Papa Bell; first baseman Buck Leonard; shortstop Pop Lloyd; catcher Josh Gibson; and many, many more.

The Baseball 100 treats readers to the whole rich pageant of baseball history in a single volume. Chapter by chapter, Posnanski invites readers to examine common lore with brand-new eyes and learn stories that have long gone unheard. The epic and often emotional reading experience mirrors Posnanski's personal odyssey to capture the history and glory of baseball like no one else, fueled by his boundless love for the sport.

Engrossing, surprising, and heartfelt, The Baseball 100 is a magisterial tribute to the game of baseball and the stars who have played it.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Baseball 100 and Joe Posnanski

"I love baseball, I know baseball, and this book is baseball. It's the whole story of baseball told through the 100 greatest players of all time . . . But what really makes me say, 'Give this to the baseball people in your life,' is that it's a book that, when you read it, you fall in love with the game all over again. . . . Every sport needs great players, but it also needs great writers, and Joe Posnanski has done something great for the game of baseball with this book."
-Tony Dokoupil, CBS This Morning

"Stellar . . . Always fun . . . A book for the moment but also for the bookshelf of the future, an old friend that will bring back old times and old arguments again and again. . . . The rankings were all made by Mr. Posnanski, who is contemporary sports writing's biggest star. He writes with grace and wit, combining an old-time sense of style with the mountains of numbers and factoids and observations that can be found on the internet."
-Leigh Montville, The Wall Street Journal

"Posnanski knocks it out of the park with this fascinating deep dive into the careers of those he considers baseball's 100 greatest players. . . . Will surprise even devoted followers of the sport . . . This is a remarkable achievement."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Major League Baseball fans, you just won the lottery. . . . Posnanski presents 880 pages of sheer baseball bliss . . . It's a true masterwork, and his writing is so good that it's likely to engross even those who know nothing about the sport."
-BookPage (starred review)

"Posnanski skillfully weaves statistics into the narrative without spilling into geekdom, and he searches baseball history for his candidate pool while combing the records for just the right datum or quote. . . . Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game."
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Posnanski offers manna for baseball geeks with his selection of the 100 all-time greatest baseball players, melding the sabermetrics chops of a Bill James with the eloquence and droll humor of a Roger Angell. . . . . Posnanski also nobly, and rightly, casts a wide net, embracing Japanese legends Ichiro Suzuki and Sadaharu Oh, and, more important, long-neglected Negro leagues players, such as Oscar Charleston. . . . Most important, these selections will bring to the mind's eye of any baseball fan a vision of how singularly great each of these athletes have played-or, in the case of the old-timers, might have played-the game. Recommended."

"You can quibble with some of Joe P...

Readers Top Reviews

1EyedManMurray Miski
I read this via The Athletic website, but wanted something to read again when my Internet/electricity have probs. I also pay JP directly per year, for his Substack. He has written about golf; I despise, tennis; rarely like, the NFL Top 100; my ADHD hates football & soccer. What I am trying to say is that I only pay 3 Substackers now, but Joe is the best; if I can only afford 1, he's it. Even when I don't like what he does, he paints a great picture, & I am on board.
T. Christopher Bond
Every great player’s dad is demanding. Every great player worked until their hands bled. You know what? So did a lot of mediocre players. What they did ON the field made them great. Or at least made them material for a book.
21 Truck
I was not much aware of Joe Posnanski before buying this book, but it's an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable read. You may not agree with Posnanski's selections of the 100 greatest baseball players of all time, but he writes their stories in such a way as to make a great case for their inclusion in this elite group while educating and entertaining the reader. I particularly appreciate that he took a big picture view of the career of a ball player - much more demanding than simply looking for Gold Glovers, Triple Crown and Cy Young Award winners - and included athletes who were wonderful players, but came 'this close' again and again to winning an award or title that would have recognized and immortalized their prowess that season. Posnanski seems to have an affinity for players who labored in the shadow of a flashier, more successful teammate and who shunned the limelight in favor of just playing a game they loved. It makes for more compelling reading than the simple recitation of stats of the players at the top of each category. He clearly appreciates players whose humanity and personality made them the favorites of fans and sportswriters and he's unafraid to call out the handful of egotistic jerks who played the game. Posnanski is a terrific writer - technically proficient, readable and not above poking fun at himself. Baseball is a game in love with statistics and Posnanski is able to geek out on stats without getting too far into the weeds. The book is great fun and a terrific read. Get it!
A fantastic book. It's refreshing to read a baseball book that is so well written. He devotes 5 - 10 pages to each player, and doesn't regurgitate stats from Oh, he refers to statistics, for example the five lowest draft picks to make the Hall of Fame were Nolan Ryan 12th round, Jim Thome 13th round, Ryne Sandberg 20th round, John Smoltz 22nd round and Mike Piazza 62nd round. It's the stories, stories about the players, stories about the game and stories about history that make this book so good. More than once while reading this book, I've turned to my wife (who knows nothing about sports) and read her a paragraph or two, that really have nothing to do with baseball but with life. I found this book to be very informative, entertaining and at times very touching. It's an easy to read book that I think you'll really appreciate and enjoy.
You can find sports rankings anywhere. This book is so much more than that. A collection of stories from the vast history of baseball that touches the good and bad from the last 120 years. I'd give it more stars if I could.

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