Historical Dictionary of Baseball

Historical Dictionary of Baseball

by Lyle Spatz

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Dating back to 1869 as an organized professional sport, the game of baseball is not only the oldest professional sport in North America, but also symbolizes much more. Walt Whitman described it as “our game, the American game,” and George Will compared calling baseball “just a game” to the Grand Canyon being “just a hole.” Countless


Dating back to 1869 as an organized professional sport, the game of baseball is not only the oldest professional sport in North America, but also symbolizes much more. Walt Whitman described it as “our game, the American game,” and George Will compared calling baseball “just a game” to the Grand Canyon being “just a hole.” Countless others have called baseball “the most elegant game,” and to those who have played it, it’s life.

The Historical Dictionary of Baseball is primarily devoted to the major leagues it also includes entries on the minor leagues, the Negro Leagues, women’s baseball, baseball in various other countries, and other non-major league related topics. It traces baseball, in general, and these topics individually, from their beginnings up to the present. This is done through a chronology, an introductory essay, appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 900 cross-referenced entries on the roles of the players on the field—batters, pitchers, fielders—as well as non-playing personnel—general managers, managers, coaches, and umpires. There are also entries for individual teams and leagues, stadiums and ballparks, the role of the draft and reserve clause, and baseball’s rules, and statistical categories. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about the sport of baseball.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Ohost, Overdrive, MyiLibrary, EBL, & Questia REFFor the past three decades, Spatz (chairman, Soc. for American Baseball Research Records Committee) has written prolifically on a variety of baseball topics. In this volume of 900 cross-referenced entries, he emphasizes the American major leagues but also includes several citations to the minor leagues, Negro Leagues, women's baseball, college baseball, baseball in other countries, and other non-major-league-related topics. He covers the subjects he feels are most important, such as Hall of Fame members, others not in the Hall who had a significant impact on the game, teams, stadiums, rules, awards, fielding positions, and major statistical categories. Entries range in length from a few sentences to more than a page. Other features are an explanatory listing of acronyms and abbreviations, a chronology, an introductory essay, and 12 appendixes of statistical lists. The book concludes with an extensive (46-page) bibliography. Although the work differs in approach and scope from other well-regarded publications on the sport, such as The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Encyclopedia of Baseball Statistics, and The Baseball Encyclopedia, it contains an abundance of information on a broad range of topics and deftly fills the need for a single-volume general overview of the nation's pastime and its history. VERDICT An informative resource for students, beginning researchers, and anyone wanting a basic introduction to baseball in the United States and elsewhere.—Rob Tench, Perry Lib., Old Dominion Univ.
This general history of baseball opens with a chronology from the eighteenth century to the 2012 season, and then moves to an introductory essay for an in-depth overview. The dictionary portion features more than 900 cross-referenced entries covering people (players, managers, coaches, umpires); teams (the author notes that any team that has ever had major-league status is included as well as prominent teams from the Negro Leagues); and places (stadiums and ballparks). Twelve appendixes cover various statistics, and an extensive bibliography rounds out the work. This is a good (albeit plain) book for anyone wanting to know more about baseball and is recommended for circulating collections as well.
This excellent reference work by independent scholar Spatz is focused on, though not limited to, Major League baseball. It covers players, off-the-field personnel, ballparks, leagues, teams, organizations, terminology, rules, awards, and baseball-playing countries. Biographical entries, the largest category, are limited to members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, plus a few probable Hall of Famers and other significant contributors to the game. Also included are a brief introductory essay, a chronology (1791-2012), and an extensive bibliography. Twelve short appendixes list the results of the World Series (1903-2012), College World Series winners (1947-2012), and career leaders in selected statistical categories (e.g., batting average, runs scored, and games pitched). Other more specialized resources offer broader coverage of baseball topics, e.g., Paul Dickson's The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, edited by Skip McAfee, on terminology; Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella's The Biographical History of Baseball for biographical information; and Baseball-reference.com for regularly updated statistics. Nevertheless, Spatz's detailed dictionary provides easy access to a wealth of information, and will be of value to anyone interested in baseball's rich history. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers.
Reference Reviews
Historical Dictionary of Baseball is a comprehensive reference work of all things baseball and includes noteworthy players, teams, rules, owners, leagues, and more. A volume in the ongoing Historical Dictionaries of Sports series, the work is designed as 'the perfect starting point for anyone doing research'. The book aptly fits the definition. The work comprises an editor’s foreword, brief preface, four pages of acronyms and abbreviations, a 22 page chronology, a lengthy introduction, an A to Z dictionary, 12 appendices, and an extensive bibliography. The heart of the 500 plus pages is the 24 chapters representing each letter of the alphabet, except X and Z. Historical Dictionary of Baseball is a commendable and well-done work of interest to school, public, and other libraries serving a clientele interested in athletes and sports. ... Historical Dictionary of Baseball is a very solid reference work.
American Reference Books Annual
To the casual fan names such as Babe Ruth and terms like no-hitter are part of the language of baseball. For those more interested and experienced, this 11th volume in Scarecrow's new historical sports dictionaries is a welcome addition to reference literature. Arranged in alphabetic order, more than 900 names, places, terms, organizations, leagues and conferences, teams and schools, and events chronicle the history of the game. Included are players, teams, and the game's rules and statistical categories. Both players and nonplayers (e.g., general managers, coaches, umpires) are given biographical entries. An interesting chronology and introduction precede the well-written entries and 12 appendixes trace professional and college baseball, World Series results, and statistical information (e.g., career leaders in games played, batting average, home runs, games pitched). Cross-references in bold lead the user to other relevant entries. Nearly 40 pages of bibliography conclude this useful ready-reference book.

Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Historical Dictionaries of Sports
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
3 MB

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Meet the Author

Lyle Spatz is the chairman of SABR's Baseball Records Committee. He is the author of three books of baseball history, co-author of another, and has contributed chapters to several more. His articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, other newspapers, and numerous baseball magazines. He has taught baseball history to Elderhostel groups and also presented papers at the Babe Ruth Conference at Hofstra University and at the Jackie Robinson Conference at Long Island University.

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