In 2011's Baseball Detective: Unraveling the Mystery of the Batting Order, David H. Martinez delves into the subject of how to construct the perfect bIn 2011's Baseball Detective: Unraveling the Mystery of the Batting Order, David H. Martinez delves into the subject of how to construct the perfect batting order by reviewing six previous studies on the subject. The survey of the field is a reasonably good introduction on the subject for those who have not previously investigated the topic, but Martinez offers no new insights, and also fails to include a major recent study on batting order, limiting the effectiveness of the introduction to those new to the topic, while missing important information for those who are more familiar.
The six studies Martinez recaps are reputable and from major names in the field of sabermetrics. In that, he succeeds. However, there's no mention of the study of batting order that Tango, Lichtman, and Dolphin included as a chapter in 2007's The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. I highly recommend The Book's discussion of the topic (as well as the volume as a whole), and to see it absent here seriously undermine's Martinez's attempt to cover the topic.
Overall, Baseball Detective isn't bad, but it just falls short of what it could be in not including anything original or in even including such a major recent study of the batting order topic as The Book in its discussion. If you've never thought much about batting order, Baseball Detective will be useful to you, but if you're already sabermetrically inclined and have read about the topic before, you can safely skip Baseball Detective....more
I am a huge baseball fan, and really appreciate the history of the game. I've watched Ken Burns' Baseball probably a half-dozen times. As such, I'm thI am a huge baseball fan, and really appreciate the history of the game. I've watched Ken Burns' Baseball probably a half-dozen times. As such, I'm the exact target audience for Lawrence S. Ritter's book, The Glory of Their Times: The Story Of The Early Days Of Baseball Told By The Men Who Played It. This book was absolutely fantastic, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with any interest at all in baseball. Even if you aren't currently interested in the game's history, you will be by the time you finish The Glory of Their Times.
Originally published in 1966 including interviews with 22 players from the early 20th century, and expanded in 1984 with an additional four player interviews, Ritter sets out to capture the memories of the earliest players of the game for the ages, and does so brilliantly. The book consists of a chapter for each player interviewed, and Ritter lets the player tell their own story in their own way. It's absolutely fascinating to hear these players echoing through the decades and describing the way they played the game, their careers, their teammates, their managers, the business of baseball, and even the fans of the day as seen from the player's view.
One of the aspects of the book that I enjoyed most is that many of the players discuss the same events or players, including each other, and it's great getting different takes on all of that. You'll hear all about what the players of the day, including his teammates, thought of Merkle's Boner, or what it was like to play with or against Ty Cobb, or what manager John McGraw was like to play for. By the time you finish the book, you'll feel like you've gotten to know all these other players just as well as the men interviewed, who range from Hall of Famers like Sam Crawford or Paul Waner to a career utility player like Specs Torporcer.
Baseball fans who, like me, have enjoyed Ken Burns' Baseball documentary should read this book. In fact, I re-watched Baseball (once again) only a couple months before reading The Glory of Their Times, and I recognized many of the stories and quotes from the early episodes of Baseball as having come straight from these interviews. So, if you enjoyed those, there's a lot more like that here for you.
Another part of the book that is well done is the inclusion of many, many photographs. Ritter gives the reader pictures of all the interviewees and many of the people they talk about, and the pictures are included in the text when relevant, instead of in a glossy insert in the middle of the book, so they're very effective in helping the reader visualize the events being described.
I highly recommend The Glory of Their Times. It's a magnificent book that does a wondrous job of drawing the reader into the early days of baseball....more