Book details

The Numbers Game

Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics

Author: Alan Schwarz; Foreword by Peter Gammons

The Numbers Game

The Numbers Game


About This Book

The Numbers Game is the first-ever history of baseball statistics - the keeping of them, the study of them, the people who devised them, the cultural phenomenon of them, from 1845...

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Book Details

The Numbers Game is the first-ever history of baseball statistics - the keeping of them, the study of them, the people who devised them, the cultural phenomenon of them, from 1845 until today.

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.

Imprint Publisher

St. Martin's Griffin



In The News

“One of the most engrossing histories of baseball ever.” —From the Foreword by Peter Gammons

“A romp . . . Schwarz merrily keeps ratcheting up the book's wows-per-page average.” —The Washington Post

“The pastime behind the national pastime . . . a very human look at generations of baseball fanatics.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

“A riveting history of the search for new baseball knowledge.” —Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball

“The language of baseball is statistics, and Alan Schwarz gives us an unprecedented look at one of the world's great romance languages. Schwarz deftly illuminates the history and relevance of baseball statistics and is at the tops of his game introducing the people behind the numbers.” —Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated

“Alan Schwarz makes statistics as interesting as games and the people who play them. Who knew that numbers could have such personality?” —Sally Jenkins, author of Funny Cide and the bestselling It's Not About the Bike

“One of the very best baseball journalists working today, (Schwarz) has written a wonderful history that will appeal even to those with no particular interest in the game . . . Remarkable.” —The New York Observer

“An enormously entertaining and engrossing book that should be read by everyone.” —The Seattle Times

“An essential book for any baseball library, one that simultaneously makes for breezy reading and holds up as an essential piece of research.” —The Chicago Sports Review

“What sounds potentially dry -- a stat freak family tree -- is instead a lush landscape of eccentric scientists, pack-rat alcoholics, back-stabbing partners and a minimum-wage night watchman whose essays created a sensation (perhaps you've heard of Bill James).” —The San Jose Mercury News

“Reads like a whodunit . . . with a season-full of heretofore under-reported facts, nuances and stories.” —Long Beach Press-Telegram

“Intelligent, smartly researched and often hilarious.” —Publishers Weekly

“Alan Schwarz turns the numbers of baseball into musical notes. He makes you understand them, he makes you care about them, and in the end, he makes you share his passion for them.” —Mike Lupica, New York Daily News

About the Creators

The Numbers Game

The Numbers Game