Cover Image: The Baseball 100

The Baseball 100

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Member Reviews

Beautifully written full of the stories that make baseball so wonderful, I love this book! Even with only reading a bit of it, I bought it for my husband, a serious "student of the game." He had heard of all but two of the 100 and knew something about 95% of the players, even fairly obscure ones.

Every single essay is a unique story. Yes, you'll learn about each player's career and why they are great. One essay might cover the player's childhood, another might focus on his record, and a third might compare the player to similar players. Each chapter is full of anecdotes, important stats, an imbued with a deep love of the game and its history.
Did I mention I love this book?
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It took me a very long time to read this book, and I think this is the first time I’ve ever made that statement and meant it as a compliment.

The Baseball 100, to me, is best read a few players per day, in small snippets, so that each individual entry can be appreciated and ruminated upon without one blurring into the next.

Posnanski has done an exceptional job of showcasing his 100 ball players via a blend of gentle justification for their inclusion and delightful and fascinating insights into their lives and careers. 

I work in sports media and am a very dedicated baseball history enthusiast, and I still learned a lot from what I found in The Baseball 100. At the other end of the spectrum, the book is also an approachable collection of information for those who might be enthusiastic but little-educated on the topic of Major League Baseball. 

What a delight to read, and a treasure to reference again and again in the future. Recommending to all of my colleagues and fellow baseball enthusiasts.
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Given this title, this work sounds like yet another "best of" or "greatest" list.  While yes, it may be considered to be such, this one is very different than most other lists of the best players of a sport.  Joe Posnanski took the best characteristics of similar books and added some twists of his own to make this list one for every baseball fan.
The best feature to me is his numbering.  No, #1 does not necessarily mean it's the person who he believes is the most important person in baseball or the "best."  There are various reasons why he assigns some numbers.  Some are based on the uniform number worn.  Some are because that person is synonymous with the number – such as Joe DiMaggio coming in this book at #56.  Not because he's the 56th most important person listed but because for baseball history, 56 is the first number people think of with DiMaggio. 
The volume is quite big at over 800 pages, which means there is more just basic information – which is true for every person listed.  It is not a book to read in one sitting but instead one to keep on the shelf or cloud and pull it out every now and then to enjoy learning or re-learning about some of the greatest people in baseball history. 
I wish to thank Avid Reader Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I love baseball history.

As an athletic late bloomer, my initial love of baseball came from its stories. Now, those stories came in different forms. Some were told through first-hand accounts and memories. Others were told through numbers. Both were fascinating to a clumsy kid who loved the game a bit more than it loved him back.

And yet, as much as I love baseball history … Joe Posnanski loves it more.

Posnanski’s new book is “The Baseball 100,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like – a compendium of essays, a list of the greatest players in the long history of the sport, ranked according to the opinions and whims of one man. The book was born of an ongoing feature at the sports website The Athletic, where the first versions of these essays ran.

It’s a wonderful collection of snapshots, purely distilled amalgams of both kinds of stories – memories and numbers – delivered with the unique aw-shucks humility and elevated dad humor of Joe Posnanski. His reverence for the game, his sheer unadulterated love for it, runs through every one of these 100 pieces. From inner circle Hall of Famers to names that might not be as familiar to the casual fan, Posnanski counts us down through the greatest of all time.

From the man at 100 (Ichiro Suzuki) all the way to number one, Posnanski offers up wonderfully readable distillations of what makes each one of these players such a special part of the history of the game.

Now, it should be noted that Posnanski makes particular effort to ensure that those who never got the opportunity to perform in the major leagues get their due. Scattered throughout the list are players who made their names in the Negro Leagues, men who were denied their place in the game by the prejudices of the past.

For the record, I will not be spoiling his number one pick. However, to give the curious a sense of what’s coming however, I will give you his top 10 in alphabetical order. Please note that this absolutely IS NOT the official order of things – in fact, not one of these players is in the place he occupies on the list:

Henry Aaron, Barry Bonds, Oscar Charleston, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Satchel Paige, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.

That’s a who’s who of some of the greatest talents in the history of the sport, to be sure. And every one of these essays is alive and breathing, crackling with the boundless energy generated by Posnanski’s love of the game … but that is true of ALL the essays in this collection. All 100 of them, playing out over nearly 900 phenomenal pages.

And before you dismiss this book as the misty-eyed mutterings of a man remembering the glory of their times, you should bear in mind that Posnanski happily mutters about some players who are currently active. His are eyes of equal opportunity misting, his definition of greatness leaving room for the players of today as well as those from days gone by.

(I won’t tell you who those current players are either, though you can probably guess most of them.)

Posnanski readily acknowledges the inherent subjectivity of a list like this one; there are many ways to measure baseball greatness, and while he avails himself of many such measures, he’s also not above using the list to engage with a larger point.

So it is that Joe DiMaggio sits at 56, the same number as his remarkable longstanding hit streak, and the great Jackie Robinson is number 42, the uniform number that now has been retired by every major league team in recognition of the man’s iconic status. Does that mean that these are the spots where Posnanski has them actually ranked? Not so much, but he can’t resist a little symbolism, and besides, what’s the point of making this kind of list if you aren’t going to have a little fun?

And that, more than anything, is what makes this book great – it’s fun. Sometimes, we get a by-the-stats breakdown of a player’s greatness. Other times, anecdotal evidence of legendary status. We’re walked through some of the game’s iconic numbers – 56, 4,256, 511, .406, 2,632, 755 – and shown how even when the significance of those numbers changes, we still remember them. We also get some of the myths behind the men – the booming power and blazing speed and brilliant arms of those who never saw the big leagues. Yes, there’s Ruth and Aaron and Williams, but there’s also Pop Lloyd and Bullet Rogan and Sadaharu Oh – names that aren’t as ingrained in the popular consciousness, but that are just as integral to the history of the game. All of them brought to vivid life by Posnanski, whose combination of passion and intelligence make him the perfect writer to embark on such a massive project. Just a remarkable project.

I was always going to dig “The Baseball 100.” I’ve been enamored of baseball history for going on 40 years and I’ve been an admirer of Posnanski’s work for close to half that time. I’m fully in the bag for this one. It’s a wonderful exploration of one man’s thoughts on the greatest of all time. But here’s the thing – it’s ALSO a fantastic entry point for those just starting to engage with the sport’s past greats. Each of these essays provides a delightful combination of deep-dive wonkiness and straightforward celebratory joy – a perfect combination for anyone who loves baseball.

It’s a cliché to say this, but clichés exist for a reason – “The Baseball 100” is an absolute home run.
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This 800+ page book is a massive yet accessible attempt to profile 100 of the greatest players of America's pastime, from the dead ball era of the 19th century to the superstars of the modern game.  There are few things that baseball fans enjoy more than comparing and ranking great hitters, fielders and pitchers from the vast history of the sports, and Posnanski does not fail to provide his own subjective list, backed by both statistical information and insights into the personalities of the 100 players he chose.  Like all such lists, the exact rankings themselves are not as important as the spotlight shown on not just some of the most famous players in the game, but also on players who have long faded into obscurity.  The author works hard to include players from the Negro Leagues and from the pre-Ruthian era who deserve to have their feats remembered.  

Well-written and insightful, this is not a book to be read at one sitting, but rather to be skimmed and dived into by fans wanting to learn more about the stars of their sport.  Whether or not you agree with Posnanski's ratings, you will be intrigued by his skillful discussions of the great players of the game and why they deserve to be remembered..  Recommended for baseball fans and a worthy addition to the sports section of libraries.
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This is an outstanding body of work that I thoroughly enjoyed as a baseball fan. I have enjoyed previous works by Posnanski and the premise of ranking and writing about the top 100 baseball players of all time was right up my alley so I was very excited for this read. It did not disappoint and I would definitely recommend to any baseball fan. There will always be debates about who was the greatest ever in all sports, but where this book really shines is in the absolute wealth of information provided about each of the 100 players contained in this volume.One of my favorite things about the history of baseball is the stories, especially about those lesser known players who were kept out of the major leagues or predated television broadcasts, and this book is full of them. While I don't agree with all of Posnanski's rankings (and some players are ranked in various positions for other reasons than a true ranking), the writing was great and the justification was always provided.
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Joe Posnanski is a writer who sits in the middle of the venn diagram for "Stats Guy" and "Traditionalist" in baseball writing. Instead of pitting one against the other, he often uses the stories and history that traditionalists love to explain some of the statistics from baseball's past. On the flip side, he also uses some stats to illuminate or poke holes in some of the stories from the past. Through it all, you can see the absolute love that Posnanski has for the game. I grew up with Posnanski and Jason Whitlock being the two main columnists for my hometown paper (The Kansas City Star). I grew to love Posnanski's writing, as his sentimental streak was balanced with a desire to have the facts and clarity about things. While he was in KC, he had the Royals to write about, and the Royals at that time were atrocious. Like, three 100 loss seasons in a span of four years atrocious. However, where most writers could become cynical and worn out with all the losing, Posnanski managed to keep an upbeat look at the game, and to recognize that yes, the Royals were terrible, but they really provided a great amount of comedy.

I bring up his writing about the Royals because "The Baseball 100" deals with the complete opposite end of the spectrum. These are the best players in baseball history (and I specifically choose the word baseball, and not MLB). Originally written as a series of posts on his blog, and then transferred over to The Athletic as a series of expanded essays, they've made their final arrival in book form. Posnanski's grasp of baseball history is truly astounding. The stories that he tells in the book, in addition to all of the statistics he had to research, had to take a lifetime of sportswriting to collect. Posnanski doesn't shy away from the nastier side of the players, but he also finds a way to recognize that "these are grown men, these are heroes" (to quote a song by The Baseball Project).

The rankings in the book are both serious and silly. There are some that are clearly arbitrary, such as DiMaggio ending up at 56 (for obvious reasons) and Mike Trout ending up at 27 (to match his uniform number). At the end, the rankings do end up mattering, but I found myself caring less about where someone was ranked, and more curious as to where Posnanski would take their story. The book, while long, doesn't feel that way because the chapters on each player are short and contained. I sat down and read it straight through, but it doesn't need to be that way at all. Rather, this is a book to flip through and land upon pages over the years. Even though I got a digital ARC, I'm still going to purchase hard copy, I loved it that much.
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One of the best sports books of all time. The size is no doubt going to intimidate readers. But, it’s readable due to it’s bite size/manageable chapters (read a few players each day) and that it’s beautifully we’ll written. I loved reading along with my husband. Can’t wait to take this to a game and read while he watched. Ha!
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Joe Posanski ranks the 100 most significant baseball players in history. I hesitate to say 100 best because Posnanski makes no bones about this being his objective list, and the rankings from 100 to 1 don't always coincide with who is statistically the better player. Whether it's a recent MLB star or a lesser known talent from the Negro Leagues, no entry is a dry encyclopedia bio--these are humanistic introductions to why these players belong and why you should know their names. This book might be best enjoyed reading piecemeal as you keep it on your nightstand for a few weeks rather than powering through from cover to cover.
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What an incredible read, the whole history of baseball encapsulated in one very thick volume detailing a subjective author's view of the top 100 players in baseball history.

Some were mere names to me others very well known but they all came to life given his excellent prose style and the stat used to illustrate their genius.

A book to dip into rather than read cover to cover but a must, essential read for all baseball lovers.
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I am not the hard core baseball fan that this is directed at, but found the read quite enjoyable. And it's over 800 pages! Dont underestimate this feat. I learned a lot about baseball, history, and the people who played with lots of fun stories. The stats are there, but never long enough to make my eyes glaze over enough to put the book down. Posnanski is a big proponent of WAR and sabrmetrics, but doesnt bog down the writing or eliminate the personal (asterisk to Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds' home run comparison).

The things that kept it from 5 stars for me:

Posnanski tries to be socially conscious, as I would expect from someone who writes about the Negro Leagues. I applaud his attempts and he does include many poignant examples. But he just misses some things, especially where it comes to the media or himself. He talks about Yogi Berra and his depiction in the media, but Bob Gibson's allusions to the media's contribution to his perception as fierce and angry gets completely dismissed. Despite Posnanski describing the intimidating pitching of other (white) players while not extending that to who they are as a person, he contradicts Gibson's calling out of the discrepancy. This comes up in another way in his piece about Joe Morgan. The last paragraph of that article, about the author's traffic stop, is incongruous and performative on Posnanski's part. Also, I'm still confused on the goal of his argument for Oscar Charleston's placement and why it should make me angry, especially when so many "rankings" seemed random, based on Posnanski's personal history/age, and many many uniform numbers.

This first appeared as 100 articles, and you can tell. (If you read it straight through, try a game where something happens every time he says  breathtaking.) There is some editing to put things together, but there could have been more. 

Overall, I'd highly recommend this to baseball fans. Expect lots of lively conversation and nostalgia. 

Thank you to Joe Posnanski, Avid Reader Press, and Netgalley for an advance ecopy of the book in exchange for an honest opinion.
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This book will cause fanatic baseball fans to have fits over the course of the winter (when I expect most will read it). The author lists is 100 greatest players of all time using “objective” stats and metrics to justify the listing and its order, but in the end it is still very subjective. There will be a great deal of discussion on who is on the list and who is not along with the 1 to 100 order. Overall, this will be a good book for every hardcore fan of baseball.

I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my nonfiction book review blog.
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4.5 stars rounded up

Joe Posnanski wrote a 100 article series counting down his top 100 baseball players of all-time. This isn't a countdown, as the author states some players were assigned a number based on jersey number or a number significant to that player. He also promises there are players ranked who folks may seem are too high or too low and he is right. Tony Gwynn is far better than his number 95 ranking.

Posnanski's writing style is conversational. Like he's talking to you over the beverage of your choice. He is never condescending and I liked that he explains many of the stats he cites for the novice fans, or those who are inexperienced in sabrmetrics. 

Further, I also liked that this list is top PLAYERS of all-time and not just Major League players, meaning there are players included who played in the Negro Leagues before Jackie Robinson integrated baseball in 1947. Also, there are two different articles on the ever polarizing Barry Bonds. One for fans who love him and another for those who don't. 

 My only complaints are that this could use some editing. The word breathless was used so many times, I lost count. Also, there was a lot of over romanticizing that could have been cut out. I understand and most definitely share Posnanski's passion for baseball, as I am a baseball historian myself. However, it made it a slog to get through at times. 

Overall, this book is a brick at over 800 pages, but its actually a pretty quick read for the most part. I would recommend this for hard core and new fans alike.

Thank you to Avid Reader Press, author Joe Posnanski, and NetGalley for gifting me a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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A fun read for any baseball fan looking for a bit of nostalgia. The rankings are probably not in the order that you have them, but that is one of the aspects that make rankings fun - the debate. Each player's chapter is a quick read, and is not just a rehashing of their career, but rather a a mix of their on the field excellence and some personal stories and/or quirks that will help humanize each player a bit more for the reader.
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Loved this book! Baseball and statistics go hand in hand. Joe Posnanski uniquely adds humanity and soul to 100 of the greatest baseball legends. We’ve heard of all of the players in the book, but there are so many interesting anecdotes, that we learn about these players in a new way.  Rich with history spanning generations, this is a book not just for baseball fans. 
**Huge thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I love lists. I particularly love lists when the creator states up front that the list is not so much a best of ranking but a  list with a rough hierarchy but also some whimsy (DiMaggio at number 56 for obvious reasons having nothing to do with actual ranking is the example he cites in his introduction). As such, The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski should theoretically elicit no argument. Yeah, right, this is baseball and everything is open to argument. And that is the joy of lists, baseball, and especially lists about baseball.

This is no mere list however. Each entry is a mini biography of sorts, highlighting the player and his accomplishments. These are fascinating little sketches and that makes the reader understand, if not appreciate, each player that much more. 

Like any lifelong baseball fan I have a lot of opinions about who is here and who isn't, where the ones here are ranked, and what constitutes greatness. Yet even when I disagree with something Posnanski asserts I also acknowledge that his rationale does. indeed, make sense for what he is doing. This is his list and I appreciate the opportunity to see the list and I truly enjoyed reading about the characters that populated baseball over the years.

I would highly recommend this to any baseball fan. Some chapters will bring back memories, some will be little history lessons, but all of them will be a fun and informative trip into a player's life and career.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy. Really a book compiled of daily essays that Joe posted to The Athletic in 2020. Every one is extensively researched and well-written. One can quibble (or agree) with Joe’s rankings, but there is no question of his qualifications as a baseball writer. Very well done!
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