Who’s Who (and other things about baseball)…

1912 - First Edition

1912 – First Edition

It’s out! The 100th Who’s Who in Baseball has been released. All’s right with the world for another year.

It’s quite a boring book, but for some reason they do one every year and, yes, people buy it. Thousands and thousands of people buy it. Well, by people I mean those kind of people. Yes, they buy it. Swear by it. Worship it even.

One reviewer at an online bookseller said, “Finally! Now the baseball season can begin!” Another said, “My husband waits for this every year.” (I wonder what else he waits for?). And another wrote: “I enjoy just randomly flipping through the pages and seeing which player I might look at.” Now that’s a good way to spend an afternoon! Need some of that in your life? Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0910692351/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_X9ldvb1Y6CS6S (you’re welcome).

Of course, I have my own take on it and one of the Who’s Who in Baseball‘s editorial quirks. You see, during the famous (really?) dead-ball era which dates from 1901 (the founding of the American League, of course), to 1920 (when the spit-ball was banned – seriously), something is missing. Guess what they didn’t keep track of in all the statistics of the Who’s Who in Baseball stat-fest? Home runs. That’s what they didn’t have a column for. But guess who started playing in 1914 (through 1935) in the midst of the home-run-less dead-ball ear? Go ahead, guess. Yep, you’re right – George Herman (Babe) Ruth. Mr. 714 home runs himself.

And even after the end of the dead-ball era, and the explosion (pun intended) of long-ball (versus small-ball) baseball, the Who’s Who in Baseball still didn’t include a column for home runs until 1939. As if they didn’t count, or the editorial board decided, for the good of the game, this silly long-ball thing was a just a phase, or even, a perversion of baseball’s purity. Not even Babe Ruth’s 714 long-balls could change their minds. Amazing, just amazing when you think about it.

Who’s Who in Baseball

It’s the one hundredth year of Who’s Who in Baseball
and that makes a very small percentage of people happy,
the standard collection of players’ stats, minor and major
amassed for those who want nothing better to do
than live inside baseball and find meaning missing in life;
but this is not a complaint of escapism, or balk at a game,
no, just a way of seeing what hasn’t or won’t be seen
like the missing column for ‘Home Runs’ during the famous
dead-ball era when Babe Ruth hit his hundreds but the
Who’s Who didn’t track silly things like that because,
well, there weren’t that many to track (except Ruth’s)
as if they didn’t happen, or if they did, weren’t important
and it’s easy to imagine some missing columns in life
where so many shined but without notoriety, loved
without being loved, or just as likely failed famously
and went unnoticed because they were uncared for,
and no one was keeping those statistics, keeping track,
willing to remember, and that might be a mercy.

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