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

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,535 Ratings  ·  260 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
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball, non-fiction
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
Mark Mitchell
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
there may not be crying in baseball but there sure are a lot of Feelings.
John Johnson
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Katherine Wade-easley
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful insight into America's pastime. Appreciated the well-organized look at how players have shown respect (and disrespect) to the game and to each other over the years. Tons of great stories to share with fellow fans too!
John O'reilly
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written and entertaining survey of baseball's intricate and often silly side -- the code of baseball is usually twisted to fit the partisan interests of the person invoking it. Lots of entertaining anecdotes if you're a baseball fan.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting but very dry as it is story after story of locker room talk. Wore on me about 1/4 of the way through
Chris Giovagnoni
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best baseball book I’ve read to date.
Lifespicer Tapps
This was an incredibly written book, although it kind of made me feel differently about the game in a bit of a negative way. I learned a lot, and it gave me a new point of view in the baseball world.
Daniel Mount
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: random
The topic is quite interesting but the gratuitous profanity keeps it from being as enjoyable as it could have been.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice detail about the intricacies of America's past time.
This is becoming rapidly a view of what used to make baseball special. So it's fun and interesting. But it's largely not reflective of the game in 2018 and that's a bit sad.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
Highly entertaining book about how the codes of baseball etiquette have changed over the years. Excellent quotes, especially Dick Williams talking about what's acceptable on a baseball diamond:
"Anything short of murder".

It's an interesting read, but the game really needs self-policing to come back; the likes of Cespedes, Puig and Marcus Stroman need Gibson and Drysdale to straighten them out.
Nov 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alex Lennon
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
Maybe this is like Ball Four--that in our much more transparent age today, a lot of what was newsworthy at publication now seems like old news with ESPN, twitter, etc. The stories are funny and am sure this would be very worthwhile for younger fans or those learning the game, but as a hardcore baseball fan, I don't feel like I learned a lot about the unwritten rules.
Jason Pugh
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a huge baseball fan this is one of the best books on the subject I have ever read. So many amazing stories, I will need to read it again, and I'm looking forward to it. Well done!
Alex Rivas
Funny and quick read, a book exposing some of the hidden and secrete codes in baseball.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
The baseball codes are a mixture of hyper masculinity, hazing, and "this is what I went through so you have to do it, too." I was both fascinated and appalled as I read this book. I love watching the game, and playing recreational softball, but I would never want to be a part of the clubhouse culture.
May 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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