The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics

Front Cover
Macmillan, Jul 21, 2004 - Sports & Recreation - 270 pages
32 Reviews
Most baseball fans, players and even team executives assume that the National Pastime's infatuation with statistics is simply a byproduct of the information age, a phenomenon that blossomed only after the arrival of Bill James and computers in the 1980s. They couldn't be more wrong.

In this unprecedented new book, Alan Schwarz - whom bestselling Moneyball author Michael Lewis calls "one of today's best baseball journalists" - provides the first-ever history of baseball statistics, showing how baseball and its numbers have been inseparable ever since the pastime's birth in 1845. He tells the history of this obsession through the lives of the people who felt it most: Henry Chadwick, the 19th-century writer who invented the first box score and harped endlessly about which statistics mattered and which did not; Allan Roth, Branch Rickey's right-hand numbers man with the late-1940s Brooklyn Dodgers; Earnshaw Cook, a scientist and Manhattan Project veteran who retired to pursue inventing the perfect baseball statistic; John Dewan, a former Strat-O-Matic maven who built STATS Inc. into a multimillion-dollar powerhouse for statistics over the Internet; and dozens more.

Almost every baseball fan for 150 years has been drawn to the game by its statistics, whether through newspaper box scores, the backs of Topps baseball cards, The Baseball Encyclopedia, or fantasy leagues. Today's most ardent stat scientists, known as "sabermetricians," spend hundreds of hours coming up with new ways to capture the game in numbers, and engage in holy wars over which statistics are best. Some of these men - and women -- are even being hired by major league teams to bring an understanding of statistics to a sport that for so long shunned it.

Taken together, Schwarz paints a history not just of baseball statistics, but of the soul of the sport itself. The Numbers Game will be an invaluable part of any fan's library and go down as one of the sport's classic books.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
6
4 stars
16
3 stars
9
2 stars
0
1 star
1

Review: The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics

User Review  - HBalikov - Goodreads

My this game has changed, and the numbers have driven most of the changes. Schwarz may be writing primarily for the fan who digs deep, but he tells and engaging story about the relationship between ... Read full review

Review: The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics

User Review  - Nick Gleason - Goodreads

I really loved this book. I enjoyed it cover to cover. Just a few things kept it from a 5-star review. First, sometimes it felt like the author was trying to be funny and clever, rather than just ... Read full review

Contents

Bless Them Father
1
The Second Generation
22
The Sultans of Stats
43
Darwins of the Diamond
67
Big Mac
92
Bill James
111
From Field to Front Office
133
All the Record Books Are Wrong
155
The Arms Dealer Goes to War
173
Luck and Where to Find It
195
The March of OnBase Percentage
215
In God We Trust All Others Must Have Data
234
Acknowledgments
255
Index
257
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2004)

Alan Schwarz is an investigative reporter for The New York Times and the author of The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics and Once Upon a Game: Baseball's Greatest Memories.

He was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for his reporting on the effect of concussions in sports, which was credited with improving safety policies both among athletes and the military.

Before joining the Times in 2007, Schwarz was known primarily as the Senior Writer of Baseball America magazine, a columnist for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to dozens of national publications.

Read other articles by Alan Schwarz.

Bibliographic information