Notes on The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski

Joe Posnanski, who is one of the best writers about baseball I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a ton), serialized a countdown of his 100 greatest baseball players in The Athletic this past spring. I’ve been meaning to share here the great Phil Niekro story he tells about Niekro’s 300th victory but boiling it down to a reasonable length was a challenge I wasn’t up for.

Here is the whole thing in one book, released yesterday. The publisher describes it as “Longer than Moby-Dick and nearly as ambitious.” Of course I preordered it. The only hesitation was whether I wanted the physical book (I did) or would settle for the ebook for practical reasons (I did; practicality won out this time, which is an odd thing for me to say about myself).

Notes to come. I especially encourage you to wait for #83. Phil Niekro. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Notes on The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski

  1. Notes on the introduction by George Will.

    This is emphatically not just a compilation of what is called, by the intellectually careless, “baseball trivia.” Leave aside the fact, which it is, that nothing in baseball is trivial. This book is, however, chock-full of fascinating facts.

    It’s a short intro that kind of celebrates three things: Posnanski’s incredible depth of knowledge, baseball’s being an amazing game rich with amazing facts (such as Tris Speaker, a center fielder, made six unassisted double plays!), and the unfair way history has treated players in the Negro Leagues, several of which Posnanski includes in this book.

    Notes on the introduction by Joe Posnanski:

    This book contains almost 300,000 words, just about all of them originally written over a 100-day stretch when this series first appeared on the web pages of The Athletic. I lived this book twenty-four hours a day during those weeks, writing, reading, learning, dreaming baseball. But, really, my entire baseball-loving life led to this book.

    Posnanski, when he put together the original series in advance of the 2021 baseball season, pretty much wrote most of this enormous book in 100 days, one profile a day for 100 days straight. That’s pretty incredible.

  2. #100: Ichiro Suzuki

    Posnanski expounds on the word unique, which means the only one of its kind, and how writers, including sports writers like him, misuse the word, when they really mean “rare,” “special,” or “distinct.”

    Then he says unique really does describe Suzuki.

    When the first season was done, Ichiro had done exactly what he did in Japan. He led the league in hitting at .350. He also led the league in hits and stolen bases. He won his first Gold Glove. He became the second player in baseball history voted Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. And he led the Seattle Mariners to a 116-win season, tied with the 1906 Cubs for the greatest regular season in baseball history.

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