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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

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,904 ratings  ·  292 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
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Pantheon (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,904 ratings  ·  292 reviews

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Start your review of The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime
Mark Mitchell
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
This book is so far "inside baseball" that by the time you've finished reading it you've penetrated through the cowhide, made your way through a tangle of yarn, and bored into the cork center.

Chapter after chapter provide a detailed guide to the unwritten rules of player etiquette -- everything from not stealing in blowouts to taking a pitch when a pitcher has given up back-to-back home runs to what happens to players who don't participate in a bench-clearing brawl. The appropriate punishment f
Steve Bennett
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball
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
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it
The Baseball Codes is an anecdotal catalog of the mostly unwritten do's and don'ts of professional baseball. The author provides a well detailed reciting of historical events throughout the years in baseball of the many entertaining personalities that have played the game.

While it is an entertaining recounting of these unwritten rules, most of these "baseball codes" are well known by the more serious baseball fans and won't come as too much of a surprise.

One interesting aspect of the book is h
there may not be crying in baseball but there sure are a lot of Feelings.
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
My first encounter with THE BASEBALL CODES came on a long drive on I-90 in Minnesota, listening to what was undoubtedly a pre-taped interview with the author during a Twins rain delay. The interview was entertaining enough to prompt me to read this book. It's been a long haul. There are interesting tidbits in THE BASEBALL CODES, but it would have been better suited to an article, and not even a NEW YORKER or THE ATLANTIC length piece.

One dilemma Turbow faces is the amorphous state of his subject
Kevin Hogg
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book shows a ton of research, and the list of interview subjects in the acknowledgements section backs this up both in sheer volume and by including some of baseball's all-time greats. While some reviews criticize the book's premise, as baseball has no written "code," I think that actually makes this book more valuable. It contains the insights from those who have enforced the code (and had the code enforced against them) for many years--a true insider's account.

As you can see, I gave the b
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars
This was fun and interesting and you don't have to be a rabid baseball fan to understand or enjoy it. I'm a casual baseball fan at best and I liked this book. It was good to read the stories about some of the players who's names I knew.

Some of the 'unwritten' rules were things I already knew about but others were rather obscure. The authors interviewed many players and had many stories to tell. Some were funny. In the chapter about cheating and stealing signs this one made me laugh out
Jay Hinman
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Easily the best book about baseball I’ve read in a decade - and I’ve read a few. Lively, funny and exceptionally well-written.
John Spiller
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Based on glowing praise from someone whose taste I trust, I picked up this book and then could hardly put it down. And I'm not a big baseball fan. "The Baseball Codes" is a fascinating exploration of the ethos of baseball as contained in the vague "codes" that are used to enforce respect among players. Turbow does a masterful job of illustrating not only the codes, but also their nuanced exceptions. This is a good companion piece to "The Lords of the Game" which explored the history of the clash ...more
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, baseball
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
Apr 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
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
May 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Chris Collier
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Pretty fun read. Don’t necessarily agree that all the Codes should remain forever. Some need to die.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: franklin-library
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
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball-nf
The authors conclusion, summarized - The unwritten rules of baseball primarily exist to promote respect for other players, the team, and the game itself, and the most common enforcement of those rules were the bean ball and the kangaroo court fine. Both these rules and their enforcements are fading away because players are more focused on their paychecks.

That conclusion was from the end of the book. Before that, the authors offer anecdotes - and nothing but anecdotes - for 250 pages. Other than
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
John-Michael Pahlavan
Tedious, but decent. Anyone who finishes Turnbow's 'Unwritten Rules' manifesto will come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for America's pastime. ...more
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended during a forum thread about the recent Fernando Tatis Jr. "fiasco", where Tatis Jr. dared to swing at a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded and the Padres having a comfortable (but not insurmountable) lead over the Rangers. Many people, including myself, were mystified as to why the Rangers decided to whine about Tatis violating the "unwritten rules" of the game. Now, after reading the book, I'm even less sympathetic to the Rangers than I was before (I'm a Jays fan, so my s ...more
Ken Heard
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We all knew about the 1951 NY Giants stealing signs during their chase and eventual capturing of National League-leading Brooklyn Dodgers by using telescopes, lights and relayed signals. But Turbow shows many, many more instances of complex schemes teams used to know what pitches were coming, including the burial of a buzzer beneath first base years ago.

That's just one of the dozens of anecdotes found in The Baseball Codes that makes this a fun read. And cheating is only one portion. There's the
Brent Soderstrum
Mar 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I like a book with good baseball stories and this is certainly one of them. Maybe I enjoyed it so much since it is now Spring Training and I haven't had baseball that counts since October. Also, 2020 wasn't a full year of the sport.

This book sets out what the unwritten rules of baseball are and what happens when those unwritten rules are violated. I thought the Conclusion at the end of the book was right on in that with the modernization of baseball and the changes in the rules, baseball is movi
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a baseball nut and one fascinated by the subtle nuances of the game, I am so glad that I chose this book to read at the end of this school year. While baseball may seem to be complicated enough to fans, Turbow takes an inside look at the so-called "unwritten rules" that govern the sport. From when players shouldn't steal, to intimidation tactics, to gamesmanship, to sign stealing, to proper no-hitter and fighting etiquette, I found myself fascinated by all that was said. It was very entertain ...more
Scott Martin
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
(Audiobook) This work attempts to explain in documented form the so-called “unwritten” rules of baseball and why they exist. Mainly through a well-researched/well-interviewed series of stories from baseball players from many eras, Turbow offers the reader insight into the reasonings and actions from such things as when to and when not to steal a base, how to deal with “showing up” other players from the perspectives of the hitter and the pitcher, what is “acceptable” and “unacceptable” cheating, ...more
John Johnson
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
The 'code' is a set of unwritten rules baseball players play by and enforce on the field. Most of the 'rules' are really about good sportsmanship. Pitchers are the primary enforcers, hitting batters to retaliate for infractions. Sometimes runners will be the enforcers, punishing vulnerable infielders with a hard slide.

This book goes into great detail about those rules, but that's not why I read it. I read it because inside there are many examples of times the rules were enforced. I loved reading
Aug 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports-books
If you're a serious fan of baseball then I think this book will be great entertainment for the stories which are humorous and instructive. If you're a more casual fan, then it will provide some background for baseball's increasingly anachronistic unwritten rules. As the authors note in the afterword, these unwritten rules are changing and disappearing, probably for the overall good of the game. While teaching a batter not to showboat by throwing at them was once the way that ballplayers policed ...more
Bryan Whitehead
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
Many baseball fans focus on particular aspects of the game. Some follow particular players. Some root for teams. Personally, I like the strategy. For example, I'd much rather see a game live than on television, because if I'm actually there then I can watch the shifts and signs and other tactical stuff. Thus I really enjoyed this book. The authors provide priceless insight into the "unwritten rules" of the sport, the somewhat amorphous codes that define what players can and can't do. Now I'm fin ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Be clear, the 5 stars apply if you are a fan of baseball - or even a fan of sports in general - if not, this may not be your read. I, however, enjoyed it and was surprised at how much I did. It had a bit of a dry start, but once the book got rolling, it was a fun ride through some memorable baseball names - and moments - and a great look at behind the scenes plays that make the game that much more interesting. There is even an opportunity to discuss sports, cheating and how the game has changed ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Yay! First review!! Anyway, any die-hard baseball fan should check this book out. Most people believe baseball is simply hit the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball, but really, there's much more to the game. This book describes in excellent detail the ""much more."" Players have an unwritten code of conduct that is abided by and enforced by the players. Break one of these rules and you might just get hit by a fastball during your next at-bat. The book includes excellent stories of code infract ...more
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