cover image The Baseball 100

The Baseball 100

Joe Posnanski. Avid Reader, $40 (848p) ISBN 978-1-982180-58-4

Sportswriter Posnanski (The Soul of Baseball) knocks it out of the park with this fascinating deep dive into the careers of those he considers baseball’s 100 greatest players. By including players from every era, as well as athletes only allowed to compete in the Negro League, Posnanski ably presents the sport’s sweeping history through captivating character studies. As his introduction notes, the order of the players he includes is not a ranking; instead, he links player portraits to a significant number, as in using 56 for Joe DiMaggio, owner of the record-setting 56-consecutive-game hitting streak. Posnanski isn’t afraid to court controversy, even going to bat for some players—including pitchers Max Scherzer and Curt Schilling—who aren’t yet in baseball’s Hall of Fame. The best sections will surprise even devoted followers of the sport, such as his profile of the obscure Bullet Rogan, a Negro Leaguer who played in the 1920s and whom Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel called “the best all-around player in the world.” Detailed statistical analysis is balanced by moving personal stories, as with Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk, whose best was never good enough for his demanding father. Sure to inspire heated debate, this is a remarkable achievement. Agent: David Vigliano, Vigliano Assoc. (Sept.)