Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball” as Want to Read:
Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  5,613 ratings  ·  172 reviews
#1 New York Times Bestseller

"A delightful look at all the little things that make major league baseball a subtle spectacle." —Seattle Times

In his classic tribute to America's pastime, political commentator, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and lifelong sports enthusiast George F. Will travels from the baseball field to the dugout to the locker room to get to the roo
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published 1990)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Men at Work, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Men at Work

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,613 ratings  ·  172 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: games, americana, baseball
There’s a lot of stuff goes on.
Tony LaRussa

This is a TOP TEN book in my baseball library.
Availability. 2010 edition, paperback, Kindle.
Use. READ [EH]


This book, published more than twenty-five years ago (1990) by a noted columnist (but not a sports columnist) is a classic description of how baseball is played. (The author is noted for his conservative political and social commentary in his syndicated column. I'm not holding that against him.

George Will is a polishe
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally seen on my book blog

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.

Before I dive into the review of the book, I should mention that this is not a book for someone that isn’t already an active fan of baseball. This is not a book to read if you are trying to learn about baseball. You will get utterly confused by the baseball language in the book and will probably drop it. I had to read it slower than I would normally so I could take time to pi
Brad Lyerla
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
I meant to read MEN AT WORK 20 years ago, but got around to it only recently. It is excellent notwithstanding that it shows a tiny bit of age. Will is a conservative pundit of great influence today. But back when this book was written in the late 80s, he was widely regarded as the most influential journalist in America. Political journalism then was still a dignified craft. It caught me by surprise when Will published a major baseball book in 1990.

If you have read any of Will’s stuff, then you
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sport
Men at Work is a brilliant distillation of the insights of several brilliant Baseball Men who Work very well indeed.
As one might expect of the estimable Mr. Will, Men At Work is faintly scholarly in tone - but do not let that put you off - if the mechanics of baseball is of interest, this book is for you.

An Example: Tony La Russa outlines nine basic ways to run the double steal - and the defense's proper response to them all. I had no idea! We didn't get this in Little League (on the other hand
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love baseball, or want to know why it holds the imagination of a country
Shelves: baseball
A wonderful book full of vignettes. Stories of respect and love. In baseball there are no idle moments.

"There is a myth of the "natural athlete" whose effortless excellence is a kind of spontaneous blooming. That myth is false and pernicious. It dilutes the emulative value of superior performers. It does so by discounting the extent to which character counts in sport. The myth is especially damaging to blacks. Sport has become an especially important arena of excellence-and a realm of upward mo
Oct 27, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
I borrowed it from a friend and slowed down immediately. I found it while cleaning one day and decided I needed to finish it. My goal was to finish it during playoffs and the World Series. I made it!
This book is 45% statistics, 45% technical, and 10% history of baseball. As a baseball fan who just enjoys the game for the game itself, I bogged down with all the stats and technical stuff. I enjoyed a small section of the book and now know why the NY Yankees uniforms have stripes and where the 7th
Anup Sinha
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a treat for me, even thirty years after George Will wrote it. It is meant for the diehard baseball fan who is at least a fan since the 1980s. The profiles of the four people are very interesting and definitely lends insight into the game, or at least the game at the time. But it’s all the backstories and the detail that really make it.

In the beginning I was slowed down by George Will’s formal writing style but after it while it flowed and it was welcome.
Joe Wentzler
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Baseball is really cool. Learning history about baseball is cool. Checking the stats is really cool. Overall, this book sounds good to read.
Aug 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Intelligent baseball fans
George Will's book on baseball was quite obviously the blueprint for Michael Lewis' later effort, Moneyball.

The two books compare like so: If chess is a simple game of complicated moves and checkers is a complicated game of simple moves, Men at Work is a complicated book about a simple game while Moneyball is a simple book about a complicated game.

George Will, as a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist at the Washington Post, is arguably opinion's most authoritative voice; wherever a person falls alo
Feb 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is quite literally “inside baseball”. In in-depth interviews with Tony LaRussa, Orel Hershiser, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. the author, conservative columnist George F. Will, uncovers details of managing, pitching, hitting and fielding respectively. As can be deduced from the aforementioned list of names this book is now almost a quarter of a century old. It captures major league baseball on the cusp of the steroid era. The chapter on Tony LaRussa, written when he was manager of the ...more
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Actually paperback, not ebook, fwiw.) George Will says he set out to write the book about baseball that he had tried unsuccessfully to find, and he presents us with a remarkable collection of baseball statistics and anecdotes, filtered through the unique perspectives of an outstanding manager (Tony La Russa), hitter (Tony Gwynn), fielder (Cal Ripken, Jr.), and pitcher (Orel Hershiser). Only occasionally does his wonderful writing lapse into dry laundry lists of stats. The unifying theme is that ...more
Dick Peterson
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
George Will is generally considered to be somewhat of a stuffed shirt. He is a well respected columnist and journalist, good enough to possess a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. To many it is surprising that such a serious conservative voice in the noise we call politics is a devoted fan of America’s Pastime. There are two dimensions that are evident in George Will, lover of baseball … the kid who fell for the game and the passionate student of its mechanics, nuances, strategies, and numbers. Even ...more
Tom Gase
Sep 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book and can't believe I hadn't read this book years ago since it has sections on three of my some of my favorite players of all time in Cal Ripken, Tony Gywnn and Orel Hershiser. The section on Tony LaRussa is also very interesting. Really took me back to the 1988 and 89 seasons when both the Dodgers and A's were very good. I recommend this book to only the die-hard baseball fans, and not fans of the history of the game. This is a book on how the game is played. Good stuff. ...more
Oliver Bateman
Oct 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A serene, magisterial work that, far from aging into irrelevance, has become a timeless classic. Will anticipates Moneyball with his understanding of statistics, but he blends this knowledge with masterful literary skill and a great appreciation for the work that the four men he profiled (as well as the countless others he interviewed) do. Men at Work is on a par with Roger Angell's best offerings--and is perhaps better still, given its narrative coherence. ...more
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, non-fiction
Ninety percent of people who call themselves baseball fans would think that this book is too detailed, but I loved it.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It’s probably unfair to review a book 30 years after it is written, but I had long been interested in reading Will’s examination of the craft of baseball. Alas, while baseball may be a timeless sport, Will’s book is very much a book of its time, and it is very dated in 2019.

The concept was clever. Examine the principal elements of baseball, managerial strategy, pitching, hitting and fielding, by a close study of some of baseball’s finest - Tony LaRussa, Tony Gwynn, Orel Hershiser, and Cal Ripken
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is a well-known columnist who is also an opinionated intellectual. Here he presents a fan's thorough, researched, intelligent, detailed, fond look at his favorite sport: baseball.

Will divides the book into four main chapters, bookended by an Introduction and a Conclusion:

1. The Manager
2. The Pitcher
3. The Batter
4. The Defense

Each chapter consists of a series of in-depth interviews with a role model for the respective subject, interspersed with historical facts, statistics, quotable qu
Dec 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
FINALLY. I don’t remember when I got it or when I started it, but I finished it. This is a throwback now to a time when I was wedged in between my baseball card collecting days and the end of my playing days. AstroTurf still existed as did the Coliseum style parks before the retro era parks hit full force and the steroid era came and “went”. Sabrmetrics were in its infancy as statistics were still being rendered for hitting in terms of runs, HRs and BA and pitchers were still being measured via ...more
This was the first book about baseball I ever owned. A pretty big book for an 11 year old girl who had just discovered the game in 1989. It was time to reread it, and while enjoyable, it hasn't aged well - like many sports books in general.

The premise is great, an in depth look at 4 aspects of baseball told through the eyes of 4 key players. Managing (Tony La Russa), hitting (Tony Gwyn), pitching (Orel Hershiser), and Defense (Cal Ripken Jr). And while the information about how they prepare, and
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Baseball Fans
Finally finished. I started and stopped this book so many times. I like George Will when I watched him on the political shows. He is, however, very high brow and feels the need to show it based on his word choice. Don't get me wrong, I learned a lot of new words but the book could have read more smoothly. Additionally, the writing is very ADD when trying to make points. The stats are nice but could have been used in a more flowing manner.

May not be the best first (or second) book to read on base
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1991, this is now a ‘vintage’ book on baseball so it was no surprise that by the end of it I realized I was so to speak watching a “classic game” on rebroadcast. My first real baseball experience was the first game of a Sunday doubleheader between the visiting Milwaukee Braves and my hometown St Louis Cardinals in 1957 – my first, and only, live major league baseball experience with my Dad. This means that I recognized many of the players referenced during George Will’s exposition o ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well-written salute to baseball and the men who play it. The forward added in 2009 was one of the best aspects of the book.

The biggest problem with the book, at least for me, was that it was written during the 1988 and 1989 seasons. Nearly three decades have passed and the game has changed, so some of it seems quite dated. But baseball has its timeless aspects and and indeed aspects of the game itself have not changed. For a good snapshot of a time period, and also with wonderful and inte
Pierre Lauzon
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book from my shelf to assuage the delay of the 2020 baseball season.

Men at Work is an excellent treatise on baseball as a craft, in much the same way as writing, painting, and woodcarving can be considered crafts. George Will goes through baseball through four lenses: The manager as exemplified by Tony LaRussa, the pitcher as exemplified by Orel Herscheiser, the batter as exemplified by Tony Gwynn, and the defense as exemplified by Cal Ripkin, Jr.

The book was copyrighted in 1990, a
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A nice, warm tribute to America's favorite pastime. There are some great tidbits of baseball trivia and some fun stories about the game's history, but a lot of the book is a behind-the-scenes look at how each different baseball discipline approaches the game. Will talks to a manager (Tony La Russa), a pitcher (Orel Hershiser), a hitter (Tony Gwynn), and a strong defender (Cal Ripken, Jr) about all the tiny details they have mastered to be the tops of their particular crafts.

A fun read for anyone
Sean Carrigan
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thirty years after it was written, this book’s intention still resonates with those who have had a lifelong affair with baseball. Focusing on the intense attention to detail of some of the games best from the late ‘80s, Will exposes the minutia that the casual observer of the game overlooks.

At times, the writing resembles an at bat. You get the feeling that you know what’s coming, even though there are a lot of lines that miss the plate. Today’s fan, too often seen spectating their iPhone rath
Michael Migliaccio
Every baseball fan should read this, even if- especially if- they're too young to have watched the game back in the late 80's, which is when Will wrote this book. At it's best, baseball is a sport of remarkably subtle yet important nuances. Will breaks it down into managing, pitching, defense, running, and batting, having followed a representative of each category's best for an entire season.

The book challenges perceptions about the importance of strikeouts for a pitcher, and the role that homer
May 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is book is excellent. To say it’s a great baseball book (which it is), is to sell it short. Will is able to get to the essence of baseball, what makes it great and what it’s best practitioners possess. In the process he highlights the value of hard work, study, and the joy of doing something well. This work has aged extremely well and should be in the library of every baseball fan. I did find that, for me at least, it’s a book that cannot be read during the offseason. It must be read in the ...more
Barry Eye
Enhanced my appreciation for the complexity of baseball, which I think was its goal. However, the narrative was fragmented and meandering, and there was too much emphasis on statistics and historical figures in the sport. This seems particularly true given that the more you understand baseball, the more you realize that records and comparisons across players - and certainly across time - are really not all that meaningful.
Peter Hanson
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing is excellent, with good insight and history on managing, pitching, hitting and fielding. There are lots of good stories and anecdotes, with some serious philosophical discussions about the designated hitter, aluminum bats, high salaries. Sometimes there's more detail than I wanted. Overall this is one of the best sports books I've read. ...more
Ryan Decker
Good baseball book that, even though it was published nearly 30 ears ago, still largely holds true today.

Reason I didn’t rate this book higher is that it jumped around more than I would’ve liked, sometime veering off from the four “main characters” for a lengthy period of time.

Overall, though, definitely a good book
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager
  • Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
  • Summer of '49
  • The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
  • The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship
  • Ball Four
  • Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy
  • October 1964
  • Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series
  • Now I Can Die in Peace: How ESPN's Sports Guy Found Salvation, with a Little Help from Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank and the 2004
  • Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero
  • The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It
  • When Pride Still Mattered: A Life Of Vince Lombardi
  • The Yankee Years
  • Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong
  • The Breaks of the Game
  • The Bullpen Gospels: A Non-Prospect's Pursuit of the Major Leagues and the Meaning of Life
  • The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood
See similar books…
See top shelves…
George Frederick Will is an American newspaper columnist, journalist, and author. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winner best known for his conservative commentary on politics. By the mid 1980s the Wall Street Journal reported he was "perhaps the most powerful journalist in America," in a league with Walter Lippmann (1899–1975).

Will served as an editor for National Review from 1972 to 1978. He joined the W

News & Interviews

Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
7 likes · 0 comments
“Sport, they said, is morally serious because mankind’s noblest aim is the loving contemplation of worthy things, such as beauty and courage. By witnessing physical grace, the soul comes to understand and love beauty. Seeing people compete courageously and fairly helps emancipate the individual by educating his passions.” 2 likes
“A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry. A society in which the capacity for warm appreciation of excellence atrophies will find that its capacity for excellence diminishes. Happiness, too, diminishes as the appreciation of excellence diminishes. That is no small loss, least of all to a nation in which the pursuit of happiness was endorsed in the founding moment.” 1 likes
More quotes…