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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

Winner of the CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year

“An instant sports classic.” (New York Post)
“Stellar.” (The Wall Street Journal)
“A true masterwork…880 pages of sheer baseball bliss.” (BookPage, starred review)
“This is a remarkable achievement.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

A magnum opus from acclaimed baseball writer Joe Posnanski, The Baseball 100 is an audacious, singular, and masterly book that took a lifetime to write. The entire story of baseball rings through a countdown of the 100 greatest players in history, with a foreword by George Will.

Longer than Moby-Dick and nearly as ambitious,​The Baseball 100 is a one-of-a-kind work by award-winning sportswriter and lifelong student of the game Joe Posnanski that tells the story of the sport through the remarkable lives of its 100 greatest players. In the book’s introduction, Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator George F. Will marvels, “Posnanski must already have lived more than 200 years. How else could he have acquired such a stock of illuminating facts and entertaining stories about the rich history of this endlessly fascinating sport?”

Baseball’s legends come alive in this book, which are not merely rankings but vibrant profiles of the game’s all-time greats. Posnanski dives into the biographies of iconic Hall of Famers, unfairly forgotten All-Stars, talents of today, and more. He doesn’t rely just on records and statistics - he lovingly retraces players’ origins, illuminates their characters, and places their accomplishments in the context of baseball’s past and present. Just how good a pitcher is Clayton Kershaw in the 21st-century game compared to Greg Maddux dueling with the juiced hitters of the '90s? How do the career and influence of Hank Aaron compare to Babe Ruth’s? Which player in the top 10 most deserves to be resurrected from history?

No compendium of baseball’s legendary geniuses could be complete without the players of the segregated Negro Leagues, men whose extraordinary careers were largely overlooked by sportswriters at the time and unjustly lost to history. Posnanski writes about the efforts of former Negro Leaguers to restore sidelined Black athletes to their due honor, and draws upon the deep troves of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and extensive interviews with the likes of Buck O’Neil to illuminate the accomplishments of players such as pitchers Satchel Paige and Smokey Joe Williams; outfielders Oscar Charleston, Monte Irvin, and Cool Papa Bell; first baseman Buck Leonard; shortstop Pop Lloyd; catcher Josh Gibson; and many, many more.

The Baseball 100 treats listeners to the whole rich pageant of baseball history in a single volume. Chapter by chapter, Posnanski invites listeners to examine common lore with brand-new eyes and learn stories that have long gone unheard. The epic and often emotional listening experience mirrors Posnanski’s personal odyssey to capture the history and glory of baseball like no one else, fueled by his boundless love for the sport.

Engrossing, surprising, and heartfelt, The Baseball 100 is a magisterial tribute to the game of baseball and the stars who have played it.

©2021 Introduction copyright ©2021 George F. Will. Copyright ©2021 The Athletic Media Company. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about The Baseball 100

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A Comprehensive And Loving Remanence of Baseball

This book is a love letter to baseball, and it’s many characters along the years. Kinda like a Ken Burns documentary that examines the back of each baseball card. Each of the 100 players examined gets a essay that gives you the essence of you that player was, what he did, and his importance to the game. Stats are given to buttress the argument for the position where each player lands on the list, but are not leaned on as to not bore the listener. Great for the old baseball card collector in me.

2 people found this helpful

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Great start but disappointing finish

Getting this book just for the Satchel Paige chapter is worth the price. Loved all the stories, but the final chapters were not of the same caliber. Expected more on #1 and #2.

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Excellent

I’ve listened and read a number of books on baseball history and this is one of the best. Great storytelling!

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A truly wonderful experience

Joe Posnanski delivers great tales and insight into some of baseball biggest and best figures

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Self-indulgently Loving Tome on Baseball’s Best Players

Joe Posnanski has generated a compelling 300,000+ word compilation of stories and reflections about the “greatest” 100 players in the history of Major League Baseball and the Negro leagues (plus, incongruously, Japan’s Sadaharu Oh). The book ranks, in reverse order, about 0.5 percent of the men who played the game at the highest level open to them. One could fuss about some of the author’s inclusions and exclusions. Further, as he admits freely, the absolute numerical rankings are inescapably arbitrary - some were chosen based on a player’s uniform number or the year in which he played in a memorable World Series. However, the book is less an alignment of players on a normalized scale of baseball greatness, an impossible task even with modern Sabermetrics, than a vehicle to reflect on the sport’s sweeping history.

I most enjoyed the chapters on legendary Black players whose best years or entire careers elapsed before Jackie Robinson began MLB’s painfully slow integration. Posnanski struggles more in writing about stars who benefited from PEDs during baseball’s steroid era. Barry Bonds, for example, is placed above Hank Aaron but below Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, a ranking likely to satisfy neither those who believe PED use was irrelevant nor those who would consign the offenders to perpetual baseball Purgatory. Similarly, it’s disconcerting to see the admitted gambler Pete Rose included in a top 100 list (at #60), while Shoeless Joe Jackson is nowhere to be found.

While the author seems proud of churning out such an immense work, I thought often of the Emperor’s criticism of a Mozart opera in the film Amadeus — “Too many notes!” Posnanski frequently indulges in digressions and tables of obscure statistics (particularly painful in a book-on-tape). A tough editor might have curbed these excesses and made this a better read. I found the final two chapters (spoiler alert - on Babe Ruth and Willie Mays) disappointingly rambling and unfocused, as if the exhausted author was groping vainly for final profundities about baseball in American life. Even so, overall this book is a treat for any lifelong lover of the game.

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Phenomenal

One of the best books I e ever listened to. Posnanski’s writing style is very immersive, and the narrator does a fantastic job telling each story

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One of the best Baseball books out there

I loved listening to this book. It made me feel like a kid again. Hearing stories about the all-time greats and learning history along the way. This is a must read for any and all baseball fans.

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An Audible Slog

I am a baseball fan. I admire the legends that Joe Posnanski has listed in his book.

The methodology that Joe used to rank the players is arbitrary and up for debate which is a fun way to approach this book.

It is NOT an easy book to listen to….I wish I had purchased a hard copy to go over some of the statistical rationale he used for his choices.

The book narrator didn’t know how to pronounce some of the legendary names and it drove me crazy. Nap Lajoe…Bill Veeck and Buzzie Bavasi prime examples…..

Save the 20+ hours of listening…buy the hard copy book.

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A must for any baseball fan.

This book is required reading (or listening) for any fan of the game. It’s incredibly well thought out and argued. The vocal performance is top notch as well. I could listen to a Baseball 1000 list if the author wrote one.

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One of the best baseball books ever

Thank you for writing such an amazing book. Enjoyed every second of it. I am sitting here fingers crossed that it is turned into a documentary with video clips and pictures.