25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Timeby Len Berman
Discover the greatest baseball players of all time!
Len Berman hosts the popular Spanning the World segments on NBC's Today show. He is a former sports anchor at WNBC New York/ He has won eight local Emmy Awards and has been voted New York Sportscaster of the Year six times. His daily Top 5 email is featured in The Huffington Post and is received by/b>… See more details below
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Discover the greatest baseball players of all time!
Len Berman hosts the popular Spanning the World segments on NBC's Today show. He is a former sports anchor at WNBC New York/ He has won eight local Emmy Awards and has been voted New York Sportscaster of the Year six times. His daily Top 5 email is featured in The Huffington Post and is received by thousands around the country.
"Emmy Awardwinning sportscaster Berman offers a lively and informative collection of baseball greats, past to present... Conversational prose, abundant photos, and exciting accounts of particular plays keep the tone upbeat and engaging...Berman's knowledge and enthusiasm is evident, and this will likely provoke discussion among young fans, who may come away inspired to compile their own lists of greats." - Booklist
"The book features a bright, colorful layout, with several pages devoted to each star. It is less stats and more biography. Fun and informative, the book tries to cover all the bases in sparking young fans' interest." - St. Louis Jewish Light
"This can serve as a springboard for discussion and allowing students to create their own top twenty-five list." - VOYA
"Explore the stories behind baseball's biggest stars." - Sports Illustrated For Kids
"A fantastic book for baseball lovers of all ages." - Bourne Enterprise
"Berman's lively title should win a wide audience of fans young and old." - School Library Journal
Len Berman's "The Greatest Moments in Sports" and "The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time" (Sourcebooks, $16.99, 136 pages, coffee table size) are two for your sports bookshelf. Penned by one of the most affable and informed sportscasters of all time, the two tomes terrifically tell tales of players and moments that hold special places in sports history. For browsing, for research, for reading - these titles have what it takes.
In no particular order and using no set criteria for his selections, veteran sportscaster Berman pays tribute to an arbitrary gallery of baseball stars—all familiar names and, except for the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, retired from play for decades. Repeatedly taking the stance that statistics are just numbers but then reeling off batting averages, home-run totals, wins (for pitchers) and other data as evidence of greatness, he offers career highlights in a folksy narrative surrounded by photos, side comments and baseball-card–style notes in side boxes. Readers had best come to this with some prior knowledge, since he casually drops terms like "slugging percentage," "dead ball era" and "barnstorming" without explanation and also presents a notably superficial picture of baseball's history—placing the sport's "first half-century" almost entirely in the 1900s, for instance, and condescendingly noting that Jackie Robinson's skill led Branch Rickey to decide that he "was worthy of becoming the first black player to play in the majors." The awesome feats of Ruth, Mantle, the Gibsons Bob and Josh, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and the rest are always worth a recap—but this one's strictly minor league. (Nonfiction. 10-12)
Read an Excerpt
So I thought this was going to be easy. Who can't pick the 25 greatest baseball players of all time? I immediately wrote down my list. It totaled 31. Uh-oh. And that list of 31 left out some of my favorite all-time players, like Tom Seaver and Jim Palmer.
Then it struck me. I couldn't do this by myself. So I recruited a special "Blue Ribbon Panel" to help me decide-and they couldn't agree on 25 either. So I tallied up all the votes, and the top 25 made it.
There are still some major omissions. Yankee catcher Yogi Berra may have won 10 World Series and three Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, but he didn't make the cut. And neither did fellow Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, despite his record seven no-hitters. Sandy Koufax was one of the all-time great pitchers, and Mariano Rivera may be the best reliever ever, but neither of them made it either. That's how tough this was.
So out of thousands of major leaguers, we have somehow whittled the list down to 25. They are the greatest of the great. See if you agree.
My Blue Ribbon Panel
My Blue Ribbon Panel consists of former players, a long-time baseball executive, and various members of the media.
- Four-time World Series champion, Yankee center fielder Bernie Williams
- Three-time All-Star pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s and 1950s, Ralph Branca
- Long-time major league executive Roland Hemond
- Emmy and Peabody Awardwinning journalist Frank Deford
- Red Sox fanatic, television/film critic, and author Jeffrey Lyons
- Radio talk-show host extraordinaire Chris "Mad Dog" Russo
- Emmy Awardwinning producer of This Week in Baseball Steve Fortunato
And special thanks to Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson for his guidance on this project.
Forty different players received votes, and only 11 players were unanimous choices. Panelist Bernie Williams was partial to the players of his era. He voted for pitcher Pedro Martinez, saying, "The best I ever faced. In his prime...three un-hittable pitches." Ralph Branca said, "Pretty tough to leave out some of the great players. Can't we make it 30? It still would be tough to choose."
And that's the fun of it. How do you compare players from different eras? You really can't. But somehow we got it down to 25. And at the end of the book, you'll get your chance to vote for your favorites.
So here we go. Play ball!
BEFORE YOU GET STARTED, HERE ARE SOME BASEBALL ABBREVIATIONS EVERY FAN SHOULD KNOW!
1B = First Base
2B = Second Base/Doubles
3B = Third Base/Triples
AB = At Bats
AL = American League
AVG = Batting Average
BA = Batting Average
C = Catcher
E = Errors
ERA = Earned Run Average
G = Games Played
H = Hits
HR = Home Runs
K = Strikeouts
L = Losses
MLB = Major League Baseball
MVP = Most Valuable Player
NL = National League
OF = Outfield
P = Pitcher
R = Runs
RBI = Runs Batted In
SS = Shortstop
W = Wins
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