The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime
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The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,287 ratings  ·  182 reviews
Everyone knows that baseball is a game of intricate regulations, but it turns out to be even more complicated than we realize. What truly governs the Major League game is a set of unwritten rules, some of which are openly discussed (don’t steal a base with a big lead late in the game), and some of which only a minority of players are even aware of (don’t cross between the...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Anchor (first published 2010)
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Steve Bennett
This is a quick, fun read. I have never understood the unwritten codes of baseball and I guess I still don't. But they exist nonetheless. The book at length discusses my least favorite unwritten code--that when a team has a lead that the other team thinks is "too much" the winning team should stop trying. As a recent player on an adult softball team that regulary lost games by scores like 35-4 and 28-3, I can kind of empathize. But I still don't really support the unwritten rule. The book discus...more
jeremy
baseball, perhaps more than any other sport, can appear deceptively simple to the outsider or casual fan. it is, however, a richly nuanced game governed for more than a century as much by the written rulebook as by a constantly evolving tacit philosophy referred to as "the code." the code concerns itself with nearly every aspect of the game and can be considered baseball's moral compass, in place to engender loyalty not only to one's teammates, but also to the game itself.

the baseball codes, wri...more
Jay
Fun stories, but there's a lot of them, and they start to run together after a while. I most liked the practical jokes section for the anecdotes and the sign stealing section for the shear institutionalized cheating it described. Makes you wonder about what home field advantage really means. This is told as the code of the players, from back in history, but it made me wonder whether the baseball owners also were behind some of these "codes". For instance, not piling on runs when ahead provided f...more
Stuart
I happen to love baseball and I like the "inner game." I'll sit up close and watch the infield make slight adjustments for every batter, the expression on the face of the pitcher as he watches the signs, etc. At face value, I should love a book like this, but the reality is that this book is boring and probably makes the casual reader think that if these stories are as good as it gets, there is no need to ever attend a ballgame.

This is a hodge-podge of a book organized around the basic "unwritte...more
Rich
An entertaining and often insightful glance into baseball's sometimes ambiguous moral universe. While some of the codes--never talking to a pitcher during a no-hitter, what happens in the clubhouse STAYS in the clubhouse--are still firmly in place and rarely disputed, others, like when stealing becomes a matter of rubbing it in or when it's appropriate to give a hitter a "bowtie" with an inside fastball are constantly up for debate. Players from those in the HOF to the many dusted off from the s...more
Nathan
One of the things I love about baseball is the subculture that has grown up within and around it. That subculture is the raw material of this book. Both the well-known "codes" as well as the more obscure traditions are covered, from not mentioning a no-hitter in progress, to the finer points of clubhouse etiquette. Supplemented with generous amounts of player interviews, this book feels like a day-in-the-life tour of a major leaguer as much as anything. There is a slightly distracting tendency t...more
Ed
Jul 27, 2011 Ed rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: baseball fans
Recommended to Ed by: new book in library
Top-story baseball book, ranking up there with Ball Four. Jason Turbow looks at the cheating, pranks, rookie hazing, kangaroo courts, and the whole shebang. He uses lots of MLB players and relates their anecdotes. What I got from the book was baseball is played a certain right way, and "THE CODE" is what makes it the great game it is. I recognized many of the names like my all-time favorite pitcher, Dick Bosman, and the casual fan might not enjoy the detailed narrative as much as I did. Lots of...more
Karlene
This is the probably the best non-fiction baseball book I have ever read. As a twenty-something year old playing baseball, I was familiar with a few of these Baseball Codes like never saying the words "no-hitter" or rookie hazing rituals, but there were a lot of surprises in there!

There were a lot of Baseball Codes that I've encountered playing the game that I've never really thought twice about, like when is it appropriate in a game to bunt, or when a team should stop stacking up runs against a...more
Jeff
This will be listed as one of the best baseball books I have ever read. Jason Turbow and Michael Duca have certainly done their research and homework. And the list of people that they interviewed for this book spans at least two solid pages in the back of the book.

Any true baseball fan knows that there are dozens, if not hundreds of these "unwritten rules" in the game of baseball. Some are not actually covered in this book, such as not running on the pitcher's mound while running across the fie...more
zumiee
Baseball's so-called "unwritten rules" are examined here, with a subtle mixture of seriousness and humor. There are lots of great baseball stories in this book, and baseball fans everywhere will find much to enjoy here.
Linda
The snow swirled and the wind howled as I finished up this inside look at how the Boys of Summer play their game then and now. "The Baseball Code..." is written by two reporters who cover the Bay Area teams. That means they spend most of the year inside these circles, however they also talk to players from plenty of other teams past and present.

The Code for those who don't follow baseball (and why don't you, it's the best sport to my mind plus the weather tends to be better all season long) are...more
Mick
Having what some may consider an unnatural affinity for the Atlanta Braves (hey, growing up in Iowa in the 70's & 80's with the beginning of cable TV, we had two choices: the Cubs or the Braves. I think I made the correct choice...), I was thoroughly pleased to see them represented prominently in this fascinating take on Major League Baseball. In fact, they were involved in what many to believe the fiercest brawl in baseball history (against the SD Padres) back in the early 80's, which gets...more
Hilary
I wouldn't say this one features any great writing, but it's still an entertaining read, full of funny, interesting baseball anecdotes. The 'codes' covered here range from sign stealing shenanigans to the etiquette of bunting for a base hit late in a game where your team is getting no-hit. I loved one story about the scorekeeper at Wrigley overhearing a Cubbie (not knowing who he was) joking about his weight; the scorekeeper proceeded to enact his revenge for the rest of the season, by scoring m...more
Scott
This was a light, enjoyable but also enlightening look at the unwritten rules that pervade Major League Baseball. I have watched baseball for most of my life, but even I am sometimes confused about why some of the rules exist and why they're adhered to so closely by so many players. In that sense, this book was pretty eye-opening, and I now feel that I have a much stronger understanding of the Code. It's essential to understand the history of the game and how these unwritten rules evolved, which...more
Les
(Reader response drivel--not much of an actual review)

A well-written explanation of the codes and unwritten rules of major league baseball and their evolution over the history of the game. Bottom line: respect your fellow players, the coaches, the umpires, and the game itself. Show disrespect to anyone of these and you will receive retaliation. I consider myself a peaceful person, but somehow became happily blood thirsty and enjoyed these tales of revenge. Because it is a game, maybe?

I had to hu...more
Ashley
I am a big baseball fan and I had really high hopes for this book when I first picked it up. I thought to myself, “Any book about my favorite sport has to be fantastic!” but I was wrong. Initially I found it rather disappointing and I found it very hard to get in to because it is very basic and doesn’t really get in to the “meat and potatoes” of baseball.

I found myself thinking, “I already know this!” and I kept wanting something more from the book; I wanted to learn something I didn’t already k...more
Kristen
The book on the "unwritten" rules of baseball is a fun, easy read. It is split into four sections and I found some sections I really liked and some I just skimmed.

The first section is on the field and covers things like when to slide, when to steal, running into the catcher, etc. I found most of this I had already known just from listening to announcers who were formerly players (here in AZ Bob Brenley and Mark Grace, both interviewed for this book, have been broadcasters who give a good view in...more
Matt
A fun, quick summer read about major league baseball culture.

Turbow interviewed a whole lot of former and current big leaguers to put together this very solid overview of everything from the etiquette of hitting a batter to the hazing of rookies to the acceptance of cheating. Frequently we read about a pitcher getting caught with a foreign substance on his glove or a hitter getting criticized for trying to break up a no-hitter by bunting. This book is probably the most complete reference to date...more
Jeremy
The First Rule of the Code is don't talk about the Code. The Second Rule of the Code is don't talk about the Code...at least that seems to be the case as the author tries to patchwork together disparate anecdotes and "drinkin' stories" of the idiosyncrasies of America's pasttime. The major takeaway from the book is that baseball has changed-- it's not the same game it was a generation ago, as evidenced by the focus on stories from the past of adherence to a shifting, vague, and often contradicto...more
Tommy
I learned a lot about the unspoken rules of Major League Baseball from this book. You might think of "The Code" as hallowed etiquette understood amongst most players in The Show. It's about knowing when not to show up the other team, knowing how to appropriately intimidate another player, when to throw at a batter, what you can and cannot say to a manager or veteran player. It's understanding how and when to cheat, and honoring superstitions. It's knowing how much you can intentionally hurt a co...more
Hilary
Turbow and Dura take readers behind the scenes of the Great American Pastime and explain the unwritten rules of baseball through dozens of anecdotes from the earliest days of baseball through contemporary games. While some of the tenets -- “never talk to a pitcher during a no-hitter” and “what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse” -- are familiar to baseball fans, others will be new to most readers.

Entertaining, insightful, and engaging, this well-researched and comprehensive survey r...more
Crysta
I love sports, in general, and baseball in particular. I grew up watching the game, at the Richmond Diamond for minor league battles, on TV at home and in college, and in some of my favorite stadiums (Three Rivers, Camden, and good ol' Safeco). I was sure I would love this book. But, unfortunately, four chapters in I realized that the secret codes of baseball are all about perpetrating violence on the other teams, or avenging the violence perpetrated on your own teammate with other forms of viol...more
Linda
So I've wrapped up another baseball season by finishing another baseball book, one I first picked up out of curiosity, mostly expecting it to be an entertaining look at the game from another angle beyond the rules and the stats. It is that, but rather than being a mere diversion The Baseball Codes has provided an essential stage in my baseball education. Learning about the unwritten rules, their evolution over time, and the history of their practice and their breach, does as much to help underst...more
Chuck
Oct 06, 2011 Chuck rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chuck by: Ed Lynskey
This would be a difficult book to read unless you are a die hard baseball fan. The inner workings of the clubhouse, the unwritten rules of baseball behavior are not only explained, but are done with a love of the game and a sense of humor that had me regularly laughing out loud. My wife suspected that I was reading a Larry the cable man novel. Turbow obviously conducted hundreds of interviews to resource this book which covers a period from the late 1900's through the present day. The real benef...more
Ben Zajdel
Jason Turbow does a great job of detailing the inner-culture of professional baseball with his book The Baseball Codes. A great book for baseball lovers or the casual fan, The Baseball Codes tries to explain why major leaguers act the way they do.
A majority of the book focuses on beanballs. Why do pitchers throw them? What is the code for retaliation? What warrents being thrown at? Turbow also discusses sign stealing, bench-clearing brawls, clubhouse rules, and general baseball etiquette.
Packed...more
Lisa
The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime alternately entertained, educated and enraged me. I love that authors Jason Turbow and Michael Duca were not afraid to name names. They told some great stories about some of the great rivalries in baseball — not just between teams, but between players. They explain the rules — the unwritten codes that players learn in the dugout and in the clubhouse. Some of these rules are black and...more
Bethany Miller
3.5 stars

In The Baseball Codes, author Jason Turbow explains the unwritten rules of baseball using examples from the early days of baseball through the modern era. He shares engaging stories that illustrate the rules for the reader and describes the consequences of players and teams who neglect to follow the rules. Fans of baseball will be familiar with some parts of the code such as the rule prohibiting other players from talking to the pitcher when he’s throwing a no hitter, but other rules su...more
Mark
I thought this would be a bit more historical and less anecdotal. I was hoping for background to this "code" and even researching some of the lesser known rules.

It wasn't good the first 3/4 of the book but it got overly sanctimonious when, for whatever reason, the authors go into this righteous indignation of why baseball "isn't as good as it used to be" rhetoric. The author cites several reasons including money and this quote:

"The overall respect for the game has declined. The only thing that...more
Meg
A book for fans. The appeal is in the excellent amount of examples and anecdotes that the authors have pulled together. The research and interviews must have been exhaustive, or at least they feel like they are; it's hard of course to be definitive about an unwritten rule but they do a pretty good job backing up all of their theses. Eventually the rules kind of blend together in one big mush labeled Respect the Game; Expect Retaliation if You Don't. But the specifics are catnip and I read a coup...more
Anne
I grew up as a Cardinals fan, in a family of Cardinals fans. Now, my husband and sons constantly play, talk and watch baseball from Spring Training through the World Series. They've even been known to watch the occasional historical game on the Sports History network during the off season. My problem is that I've never quite understood the occasional brawl or the pitch that intentionally hits the batter. So, when I saw this book, I thought I might finally "get it".

If Turbow knows what he's talki...more
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