Treasures of the Baseball Hall of Fame: The Official Companion to the Collection at Cooperstown

Treasures of the Baseball Hall of Fame: The Official Companion to the Collection at Cooperstown


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375501432
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/01/1998
Pages: 237
Product dimensions: 9.36(w) x 11.77(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

JOHN THORN wrote his first baseball book twenty-five years ago.  Since then he has written and edited a great many more, among them The Hidden Game of Baseball, The Game for All America, and The Armchair Book of Baseball  With statistician Pete Palmer, he created the official encyclopedia of the game, Total Baseball, now in its fifth edition.  He was senior creative consultant to the Ken Burns film Baseball.

John Thorn is the publisher of Total Sports, a cross-platform sports-information company.  He lives in Kingston, New York.


Before the live chat, John Thorn agreed to answer some of our questions.

Q:  What are your thoughts on this year's Hall of Fame inductee Don Sutton and his five-year wait?

A:  It's hard to deny a spot in the Hall of Fame to any pitcher with 300 wins to his credit. The 300-win mark will become increasingly rare, what with five-man rotations and an increasing number of no-decision games as starters are pulled from games earlier and earlier, even when they are effective. Sutton's detractors have pointed to his lack of dominance in any particular season, but his longevity weighed heavily in his favor, as it did for Phil Niekro and may well do, one day, for Tommy John and Jim Kaat.

Q:  Do you think this year's Yankees team (61-20 at the All-Star break) is the best of the decade?

A:  Well, the Yanks are the best team for half a season in this decade. Let's wait to anoint them as the best of the decade until the season is over...and maybe until the decade is over. Writers and fans like superlatives, but this exercise can become pretty silly. At this writing, the Yanks are 64-20, matching the best record after 84 games of the 1902 Pirates, a team few of us recall because their victory pace slowed somewhat in the last months of the season.

Q:  What do you think about baseball expansion? Do you think it is diluting the pitching in baseball?

A:  Thirty-two teams is a natural number at which to slow expansion, because it will permit four leagues (or divisions) of eight teams each, or eight divisions of four teams each. Enhanced and extended postseason competition is good for the game, I believe, and the diluted quality of play is a temporary phenomenon. After all, in the 1920s, the supposed golden age of baseball, we were drawing on a population base in the U.S. of maybe 80 million, and neither African Americans nor Latin Americans, to any great extent, were permitted to play in the majors. Today the talent pool is much broader, the average level of play is far superior, and only statistical parity with earlier eras suggests equality or, perhaps, diminution of quality. Babe Ruth faced worse pitchers in 1927 than Mark McGwire or Ken Griffey do in 1998.

Q:  What was your favorite Hall of Fame acceptance speech? Is there any one speech that struck a personal chord with you? Why?

A:  Oh, I guess it would be Harmon Killebrew's speech, in which he told of his mother's scolding him and his playmates for ripping up the grass in the backyard with their ballplaying, and his father reprimanding her with these words: "We're raising kids, not raising grass." And Ted Williams's speech in 1966 was probably the most resonant for baseball fans and the Hall itself, with his advocacy of admitting the pre-Jackie Robinson black stars to the Hall so as not to double the injustice of the color bar.

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