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Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame? Baseball, Cooperstown, and the Politics of Glory

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  972 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Arguing about the merits of players is the baseball fan's second favorite pastime and every year the Hall of Fame elections spark heated controversy. In a book that's sure to thrill--and infuriate--countless fans, Bill James takes a hard look at the Hall, probing its history, its politics and, most of all, its decisions.
Paperback, 464 pages
Published April 6th 1995 by Free Press (first published May 2nd 1994)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  972 ratings  ·  29 reviews


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Doreen Petersen
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
Being a baseball fanatic I absolutely loved this book. It is well worth checking out.
Robert
Jul 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this during my brief interest in sabermetrics. Bill James is the king of this hobby. He makes convincing cases for his arguments, although I did not agree with all of them.

James argued convincingly against the Veterans Committee, which is the old boys club of the Hall. This is how favored players who are not qualified get in through the back door.

A fun and interesting read. If you need barstool arguing fodder, give it a read.
Randal
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball, nonfiction
Not James' liveliest book, it is still as persuasive and as painstakingly researched as anything James writes.
His forte is less statistics than the ability to put statistics into context. So the next time you hear somebody advocate for a bum like, say, Jack Morris, who has a couple of gaudy stats but no legitimate claim to the Hall of Fame, you can be prepared to discuss the matter intelligently.
Or you can skip the background reading and just say, "Oh yeah, sez you," a whole bunch.
Bill
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
His best work, IMHO. His explanation of the process by which players make the HOF (as opposed to who deserves it) is eye opening. It was a revelation to discover that the sports writers almost NEVER enshrine some one undeserving... but the "old timers committee" (or it's equivalent) does so frequently.
Brian
Dec 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
A fairly interesting book about baseball's hall of fame. James's writing style is easy and conversational, but it gets bogged down talking about archane issues of the Hall's past. James focuses on two players - Phil Rizzuto and Don Drysdale - and disects their Hall of Fame credentials ad nauseam. For someone who has read his Baseball abstracts and other works, this is a mild disappointment.
Craig
Mar 01, 2020 added it
Picked this up on a whim at a used book sale and am damn glad I only paid a dollar. It's obviously out of date (James bites down HARD on "Pete Rose got a raw deal!" just a few years before Pete admitted to everything), but also, James, for all his rep as a SABREmetrician...offers a lot of oddly subjective criteria. There's also a big focus on players before, say, the Cobb/Ruth era, and that's just something I struggle to care about (maybe that's my failing).

On the other hand, I did enjoy the ch
...more
Marshaferz
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
Bill James is a national treasure. This book is really dense (witness how long it took me to get through it) and more than 20 years out of date, but absolutely fascinating. It helps that James is a good writer. The analysis of players against each other and against objective standards is impressively detailed and interesting. He spares no love for the Veterans Committee, and his view has only been borne out with their increased influence in the past 25+ years. This book will keep you interested ...more
Collin
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is quite outdated, but still has a lot of good discussion and ideas in it.
Nicholas Bobbitt
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
James may have good ideas, but he's not a good writer.
Groucho
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Whatever happened to the Hall of Fame? According to Bill James, not much. Essentially, the Hall of Fame is the same as it ever was--a foggy, undefined collection of players, many whom deserve recognition, and many whom coasted in due to politics, cronyism, or the simple fact that they outlived their better contemporaries (I'm lookin' at you, Rizzuto!)

Bill James always comes off as a bit of a pedantic dick, but it works here, as he truly knows what he's talking about, and he has the knowledge to
...more
Josh
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, non-fiction
An interesting analysis of the Baseball Hall of Fame and how it works (or doesn't work, in many cases). There's some terrific historical pieces here on how the institution functions and came to be in its present form. Some of the material is a bit dated now, but most of it is very strong, combining strong data analysis with a sense for how the game is played in a readable and pleasing format that makes it more compelling.

Bill James is at the top of the SABR-metrician pantheon, and there's a goo
...more
Adrian
Apr 04, 2015 added it
I first read this book twenty years ago. Just as entertaining a read today. James, a clever statistician, analyses the history of the baseball Hall of Fame how this peculiar institution and its voting patterns have developed and what should be done to correct them. None of which, it must be said, have been adopted. He challenges a number of players who have been voted in and answers questions about many who are frequently brought up as worthy of induction. His statistical comparison of players i ...more
Gary Geiger
This is a good book that is marred by the fact that it has changed the way we view baseball history in a deletrious matter. It looks at Hall of Fame cases for various players using traditional stats (Had this book come out more recently, James might have used more advanced stat) and qualititative measures like the Keltner List. I think of the Keltner List as a guide, not something to be slavishly followed, but it is a good way to look at a players career.

Unfortunately, since this book has come o
...more
Socraticgadfly
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
A good intro to James' sabermetric thoughts as they impact the Hall of Fame.

Though he says early on that this is NOT a book about who should be in or out, it's clear that he thought Phil Rizzuto (written before his induction shouldn't be in), Dick Allen shouldn't be in, and Don Drysdale should be out, among others.

And, was Sandy Koufax's late career brilliance in part not only leaving Ebbetts Field, but then leaving the L.A. Coliseum and its short left field for spacious Dodger Stadium and it's
...more
Ricardo Miro-Maldonado
Jul 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
Was really disappointed with this book, so much so I stopped on chapter 9. As a lover of ALL things Baseball I thought this would be a good read, but it's just Bill James nagging about how the Hall of Fame is corrupt and doesn't take into consideration all of his requirements. He's better off just making a magazine with all the comparable stats than turning it into a book. Did not enjoy this at all.
J.f.
Sep 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports-books
Do you ever wonder why Babe Ruth, the most popular player of all time, only garnered 95% of the Hall of Fame vote (instead of 100%)? Or why a hitter as poor as Rabbit Maranville is in the Hall? Bill James walks us through a history of the Hall of Fame and its voting processes, while also presenting unique James-ian ways of quantifying just what a baseball Hall of Famer is supposed to be.
Dennis
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Really only suited for baseball history geeks, but it does include lines like "It's enormously difficult to get to Cooperstown (NY) seven months of the year, and Marco Polo couldn't get there during the other five."
Jorge
Jun 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
Si quieres un completo analisis del Salon de la Fama del Beisbol, este es tu libro. Bill James nos da su opinion de quienes estan y de quienes deberian estar en este Olympo del Beisbol. Un libro muy analitico del Salon. Excelente.
Steven Belanger
Jul 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very similar to the abstract, and not much in here I didn't already know, but compulsively readable, as always. Should've put the Rice HOF rant here rather than in his newest Abstract review...Oh, well...
Josh
Jul 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Not his best.
Jim
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
A good look at how the Baseball Hall of Fame works and its history; also looks at who should and should not be in it and why. Interesting; though much info is now outdated still worth reading.
Eric
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: baseball fans
Another must-read for students of the game.
James
Dec 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Students of baseball history will be fascinated by this.
Thomas Nahigian
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My favorite baseball writer discusses the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Patrick Coffey
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great piece of baseball research as well as the history of baseball and the fiasco that has been the history of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Matthew
Jun 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Wow, I wish this book was better. Oh well, it is still Bill James. And I love him.
The Mongoose
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
For those who care about baseball, reason and posterity, this is the perfect tragedy.
Chris Dean
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Softcover version of the James' book "Politics of Glory," presumably to address the 1994 election of Phil Rizzuto to the HOF.
Shawn
rated it it was ok
Aug 02, 2015
dien lanh uy tin
rated it it was amazing
Jun 17, 2019
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George William “Bill” James (born October 5, 1949, in Holton, Kansas) is a baseball writer, historian, and statistician whose work has been widely influential. Since 1977, James has written more than two dozen books devoted to baseball history and statistics. His approach, which he termed sabermetrics in reference to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), scientifically analyzes and st ...more

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