You will buy this book. You MUST buy this book.

Which book? Why, The Hall of Nearly Great, of course. I’ll tell you below why you will and must buy this book, but first let’s learn about what it is you’ll be buying.

This grand e-book is officially out today and features 42 of the best baseball writers around (folks like Joe Posnanski, Craig Calcaterra, Rob Neyer, Jonah Keri, and Josh Wilker) covering the careers of numerous great but not all-time great players. It’s published by Sky Kalkman & Marc Normandin.

Taken straight from the book’s website:

The Hall of Nearly Great is an ebook meant to celebrate the careers of those who are not celebrated. It’s not a book meant to reopen arguments about who does and does not deserve Hall of Fame enshrinement. Rather, it remembers those who, failing entrance into Cooperstown, may unfairly be lost to history. It’s for the players we grew up rooting for, the ones whose best years led to flags and memories that will fly together forever. Players like David Cone, Will Clark, Dwight Evans, Norm Cash, Kenny Lofton, Brad Radke, and many others.

The book totals more than 97,000 words about 42 players, meaning that each guy gets several pages. Here are a few snippets to read as you get out your wallet:

Steve Goldman, on Don Mattingly:

“Having hit only one home run in his first 99 plate appearances of 1984 and just five in the first 417 plate appearances of his major-league career going back to 1982, Mattingly homered in three consecutive games against the Indians and was off, knocking 22 balls over the fence over the remainder of the season. In September, someone asked Berra if Mattingly had exceeded his expectations, and the manager replied with a basic Yogiism: ‘I’d say he’s done more than that'”

King Kaufman, on Ron Cey:

“I’m on the phone with Ron Cey and he’s not getting why I think he’s a vastly underrated player.

‘There has to be a basis behind it,’ he’s saying, ‘so why do you feel that way? And then maybe I can respond to it.’

I’m a little hung up. I hadn’t expected to have to defend this idea. I’d figured if I were ever going to find a friend for the thought that Ron Cey, the squat, power-hitting third baseman for the longest-running infield in baseball history, has not gotten his historical due, that friend would answer the phone when I called Ron Cey’s house.

I can’t go with ‘Well, when’s the last time you heard anyone talk about Ron Cey?’ because he’s Ron Cey. He probably hears about Ron Cey all the time.”

Tommy Bennett on Fred McGriff:

“Over his career, McGriff played for six different teams in 19 seasons. He played baseball at the highest level. He was five times an All-Star, three times a Silver Slugger recipient, and six times a top-ten MVP finisher. His visage graced some of the most coveted Donruss baseball cards of his era: Rated Rookie, Diamond King, and Triple Play Nicknames. But despite his accomplishments, cable-television notoriety, and Super Star nickname, every bio of the Crime Dog ever written, no matter how short, will note that he hit 493 home runs, just seven shy of excellence.”

These are just a few short bits drawn from a long volume covering lots of wonderful players. Some of the stories involve interviews, while most involve statistics (the authors are, for the most part, sabermetrically-inclined.)

Now, here’s why you need to buy this book:

1. First and foremost, it’s awesome. It’s got a lot of different writing styles (all good) and shines a lot of light on players who don’t appear nearly as brightly as they once did.

2. This project was funded by, a crowdsourcing mechanism that supports great projects. I paid for my copy of the book already, on the day that Sky first launched the Kickstarter drive. This sort of model just makes tons of sense, and I really want to see Sky and his team succeed, and succeed wonderfully. Rather than some crusty old publisher in a dusty office deciding whether this book should get written, we (the baseball public) decided, gave the group the money they needed to make it happen, and now get to reap the benefits. Let’s help make this program a massive success so that we can get more like it.

3. Yes, High Heat Stats is an affiliate promoter for The Hall of Nearly Great, so if you buy a copy of the book using any of the links on this page, we get a small piece of the action. That means you’re supporting the authors, supporting your favorite blog, and, oh yeah, GETTING AN AWESOME BOOK.

4. By my quick count, the book has at least a handful of women authors. These are folks like Wendy Thurm, Cee Angi, and Emma Span: experienced writers who have more business contributing to a book like this than I do. Until the day comes when talent alone dictates who gets opportunities, I will always go out of my way to support hard-working people who are under-represented in their profession. I’d buy this book if it contained only the pieces written by women.

5. Ready for the kicker? THE BOOK COSTS ONLY TWELVE DOLLARS. Yeah, $12. So that’s less than 30 cents for each essay. You’ve read this far. Buy it now.

61 thoughts on “You will buy this book. You MUST buy this book.

  1. 1
    Andy says:

    By the way, loyal readers, you can really help the cause of the book (and this blog) by emailing your friends and colleagues the link to this page.

  2. 2
    JSE says:

    I see a list of the authors, but before I purchase, I want to see a list of the players!

    • 3
      Andy says:

      Fair enough. Here is the full list of contents:

      Lankford, Ray MARC NORMANDIN
      Murphy, Dale JOE POSNANSKI
      Bonds, Bobby WENDY THURM
      Smith, Lonnie JON BOIS
      Cash, Norm MATTHEW KORY
      Hernandez, Keith DAVID ROTH
      Downing, Brian SAM MILLER
      Viola, Frank THE COMMON MAN
      Davis, Eric CRAIG FEHRMAN
      Messersmith, Andy JEFF PASSAN
      Martinez, Dennis JONAH KERI
      Valenzuela, Fernando ERIC NUSBAUM
      Shocker, Urban OWEN GOOD
      Mattingly, Don STEVEN GOLDMAN
      Smith, Reggie JON WEISMAN
      Olerud, John TED BERG
      Lofton, Kenny CEE ANGI
      Clark, Will GRANT BRISBEE
      Williams, Bernie BEN LINDBERGH
      Nettles, Graig CLIFF CORCORAN
      Ventura, Robin JON SCIAMBI
      Porter, Darrell WILL LEITCH
      Alou, Moises R.J. ANDERSON
      Cicotte, Eddie ROB NEYER
      Bell, Buddy JASON PARKS
      Belle, Albert JONATHAN BERNHARDT
      Dykstra, Lenny EMMA SPAN
      Cey, Ron KING KAUFMAN
      Grich, Bobby DAVID BROWN
      Phillips, Tony JASON WOJCIECHOWSKI
      Allen, Dick CARSON CISTULLI
      Saberhagen, Bret MARC NORMANDIN
      McGriff, Fred TOMMY BENNETT
      Radke, Brad BILL PARKER
      Trammell, Alan CRAIG CALCATERRA
      Knoblauch, Chuck CECILIA TAN
      Tiant, Luis JOSH WILKER
      Caruthers, Bob OLD HOSS RADBOURN
      Greer, Rusty CRAIG BROWN
      Cone, David JAY JAFFE
      Evans, Dwight DAVID RAPOSA
      Burks, Ellis CHAD FINN

      • 4
        Mark Harris says:

        Brad Radke? Rusty Greer? Larry Hisle? Darrell Porter? Lenny Dykstra? No thanks.

        • 5
          Andy says:

          If that’s how you feel, it may mean that you do actually need to read the book.

        • 17
          John Autin says:

          You were expecting, maybe, Author Wiggen and Piney Woods?

        • 27
          Jimbo says:

          Yeah those look like odd choices to me too. How about Larry Walker? I guess he still has a chance at enshrinement but I doubt it happens. Andres Galaragga?

          • 28
            Jimbo says:

            Look forward to reading it though, even if you did forget to put Jose Lima in.

        • 52
          GrandyMan says:

          Rusty Greer had a short career compared to everyone else on the list, but he was something to watch when he was healthy. As a kid, he was my favorite opposing player because of his all-out style and red hair.

        • 59

          Agreed with Mark. If “Hall of the Nearly Great” implies just one step below Hall of Fame, several players need to be voted out of the book.

          Ray Lankford? And, I’m a lifelong Cards fan.

          Also agreed with Jimbo about a few other names that should be in.

      • 8
        Jim Bouldin says:

        Sounds like a great concept, and that’s a list of pretty damn good players obviously. Would seem to be well worth it to me, but then I don’t think much of the whole HOF concept to begin with. My problem is that, like so many other good things, I have no time to read it. Thanks for the heads up on this Andy–one of the reasons why this is such a great site.

      • 46
        Nash Bruce says:

        I’m sold. Wondering, though, how up-to-date is it? Does it talk about Nails getting sent to prison?

        • 47
          Andy says:

          Yes. The essays were all written in the last few months and the Dykstra one is up to date from the last few weeks. Includes his prison sentencing as well as his comments on it.

          • 48
            Nash Bruce says:

            Wow. Bought it, going to e-mail for confirmation now.

          • 49
            Nash Bruce says:

            Uffda. Went to the piece on Dykstra right away…..too late, too buzzed, to check out any other players tonight, but for twelve bucks….damn 😀

            (meaning that I don’t spend fifty bucks on books!)

  3. 6
    JSE says:

    It says something about the Orioles, how many of these folks played for the Orioles, but aren’t primarily identified with the Orioles: Belle, Lonnie Smith, Valenzuela, Will Clark, Eric Davis, Dwight Evans…. and I would say Grich and Martinez as well, though they have slightly better cases for Oriole-identification.

    • 53
      kds says:

      Note that almost all you list are from the bad years after 1983. Though some where there with Davey Johnson in ’96 and ’97. Most of the rent-a-players were after the “Oriole Way” was gone.

  4. 7
    Joey Bartz says:

    Alan Trammell before Lou Whitaker? I just hope this means that Lou is going to the Hall, eventually. Can’t wait to read the book, I’m a huge fan of the project from reading the excerpts.

    • 9
      Jim Bouldin says:

      I’d bet a secondary list will be springing up here over the next couple of days, and given the knowledge of some of the folks here, there’s no reason why the discussions on all those players can’t be as good as what you’ll find in the book. You have to draw the line somewhere.

    • 50
      Nash Bruce says:

      @Joey: it is good stuff!!

  5. 10
    Sky says:

    Hey all, just wanted to clarify about the player list. It is NOT a ranking of the best guys not in the HoF or the players “most deserving” of articles. Clearly some are better than others and clearly many names that fit in between these names are not included.

    This book is not about drawing another imaginary line in order to define the greatness of an insiders’ club by excluding others. The book IS about 43 players who are deserving of our remembrance and have great stories to tell. We celebrate them without taking a stance on others, as much as that is possible. (Not that it isn’t fun to debate if X is better than Y — I definitely think it is.)

    (Also, I love that Andy brought up points #2-4 above; those were important parts of the project for me.)

    • 11
      Andy says:

      Thanks for clarifying that. I should also tell folks that the book is my no means full of detailed stats, closely comparing or ranking players. It’s really good players chosen by the authors, with their cases of why they were really good but perhaps not remembered as such. It’s not (in most cases) an argument as to why a player should be in the HOF.

      • 51
        Nash Bruce says:

        For me, baseball is more about the stories, than the numbers…..I know that on a sabermetric-oriented site, this idea might seem out of place to a few people, but to me, the numbers serve to add color to the stories, moreso than the other way around….
        Good book, from what I’ve read so far 😀

    • 12
      Ed says:

      Okay but then maybe the books needs a different title. Rusty Greer in the “Hall of Nearly Great”??? Sorry but I don’t see that at all.

      • 23
        Sky says:

        Perhaps you’re right. There are 5 words in the title and over 97,000 in the book. Each person can choose which ones they focus on.

      • 24
        Andy says:

        Ed, I highly respect you due to your many fine contributions to this site, but doesn’t the fact that you question whether Rusty Greer deserves inclusion suggest that you should check out what the author has to say about him? If it were so obvious, then the book wouldn’t be worth writing. Instead, these authors have selected many less-obvious candidates.

        • 32
          Ed says:

          Andy – Unfortunately I don’t read baseball books (or any sports books). Not sure why since I obviously love baseball and I definitely love to read. But I think the only baseball books I’ve ever read are Sparky Lyle’s The Bronx Zoo and Bill James’ Baseball Abstracts (which I didn’t read so much as devour). Anyway, I think the title is just a bit misleading/confusing which is why people are reacting the way they are.

      • 26
        birtelcom says:

        Rusty G.: Undoubtedly, the best Texas Rangers left fielder ever, and probably the second best (behind Jose Cruz) in the history of MLB in the state of Texas. Clearly eligible for the “Hall of Good Players About Whom An Interesting Essay Can Be Written and Who Inspired a Good Baseball Writer to Write One” (sometimes the most technically accurate title is not the most marketable).

  6. 13
    Abbott says:

    I was excited when I saw a picture of an actual book. Sadly, I don’t have any e-reading devices.

  7. 16
    Brent says:

    Sounds awesome. The great thing about “The Glory of Their Times” was that it didn’t just repeat the same stories about the Greatest players of the early 20th century, but also focused on guys who would fit in well in this book, like Smokey Joe Wood and Hans Lobert. I will be reading this with interest.

  8. 18
    Andy says:

    I must be a poor salesman. I am disappointed on how few sales we’ve achieved so far…

    • 19
      Jim Bouldin says:

      Andy if it makes you feel any better, I bought so many books over the years that I was going to read but never did, that I finally realized I probably ought not to do that any more. Nevertheless, I may still buy this one anyway–old habits die hard and all that. I like the concept very much.

    • 36
      Hartvig says:

      I’ll be buying it as soon as I can figure out where my Kindle is. I prefer books over e-readers and e-readers over the computer for anything longer than a newspaper article. I’m fairly certain that I can down load it to my computer and from there to my Kindle but I’d rather just cut out the middle man. So don’t give up hope yet. I think that people keep trickling “in” over time.

      A friend of my cousin wrote an incredible book that sold only via e-books. In spite of over 100 reviews- all 5 star except for 7 that were 4 star and the vast majority from people he did not know like me- it still took him over 4 months to crack into the top 1000 in Amazon e-book sales.

    • 37
      John Autin says:

      Andy, I think you made a great sales pitch. But web users — even, perhaps, some of our community — have been spoiled by “free” content. I’m always surprised by how many don’t subscribe to the Play Index.

      I’d much rather pay market rate for what I read online than have to look at ads — and deal with how they slow page loads and leave evil little tracking cookies on my computer. I’ve pleaded with Sean Foreman to make a subscription, ad-free version of B-R. But the prevailing web model is too entrenched.

      And then, money’s tight for a lot of folks these days. I probably shouldn’t spend twelve bucks for yet another baseball book … but I will. 🙂

      • 39
        Hartvig says:

        John- I’m one of those who doesn’t subscribe to the Play Index but only because I don’t think that I would use it. I do however sponsor a few pages to pay my share and I’d guess that there are at least a few others among us that do likewise.

        And that reminds me that my sponsorship of Floyd Stromme’s page lapsed a while ago and I need to re-up!

    • 54
      Hub Kid says:

      This makes me pretty boring, but I am near broke, and waiting a bit to be sure I can afford the $12. It does look pretty awesome, though.

      Incidentally, are sales doing any better after a few more days?

      • 55
        Andy says:

        Sales are good. Congrats to Sky & Marc for getting a big positive response, too.

        Waiting to decide if you can afford it doesn’t sound boring to me…sounds responsible.

  9. 20

    Hey, those of you who have already criticized the book (content, title, etc.) before actually reading it, please back off a little. As someone who has written a book, and is about to self-publish for the first time, I can tell you this:

    1. It is a ton of work.
    2. It is a sickening feeling to know you are going to be critiqued by strangers, most of whom have no idea how hard you worked or how much you have personally invested in the project.
    3. It is a ton of work.

    • 21
      Andy says:

      Blogging is like this, of course, but at a much lower level.

      The criticisms from people here just indicate to me that they need to read the book.

    • 22
      Jim Bouldin says:

      What Voomo said. Good research–which all nonfiction work entails–is a great deal of work, far more than those who don’t do it realize.

    • 25
      Mike L says:

      Hey, I’m going to second and third that. I bought it. Just spent a few minutes with it. Nice graphics, different outlook on players we don’t always think about. Less than the price of a couple of beers at the ballpark, and I’ve got something fun to read on the train. It’s hard work to write, to research, to present, and to stick your neck out there and let others critique you. Kudos to those who do.

    • 38
      Hartvig says:

      Voomo- When you do publish, please let us know even if it’s not a baseball book. I’d still be interested in reading it.

      • 45

        Well, its not a baseball book. But there is some baseball talk. Travel adventure. And at one point the narrator is picked up hitchhiking by an old fella wearing a game-worn Gene Brabender Pilots’ cap. And that may have actually happened.

  10. 29
    PP says:

    Offhand, I’d add Darrel Evans. Lenny D, huh? How about Pinson? Are we all sure Dewey isn’t a HOFer? Better than Rice and other HOFers IMO, though probably not better than Dick Allen. Concepcion wqas close, no? Is it the assumption that Boyer was a great player and not a near great?

    • 30
      Andy says:

      Again, the book is not supposed to be the players closest to the HOF without getting in. It’s shining a light on underappreciated players.

  11. 34
    Mike L says:

    I have to say, having just read the first 50 pages on the train, that people who read this blog will enjoy the book. Not every piece is of the same quality but every writer shares our passion for the game. This isn’t a rehash of a Tim Raines argument. It’s texture and detail you don’t get in the ordinary course. I suggrst people should stop fussing around the edges and give it a shot.

  12. 35
    Dalton M says:

    Psyched to download a copy when I get home. This is right up my alley.

  13. 40
    vincent says:

    You had me at “Graig Nettles.” Will this ever be available as a hard copy?

    • 41
      Andy says:

      I don’t think there are any specific plans for that but I’ll ask the folks in charge.

    • 42
      Sky says:

      No specific plans, as Andy said. After the work involved in launching the ebook dissipates I’d like to look into it, though.

      In other words, don’t expect one soon. 😉

    • 56
      Hub Kid says:

      I second Vincent’s request for publishing a hard copy. great idea, although I know that it is probably not feasible unless the e-book sells like hotcakes.

  14. 44
    MikeD says:

    Great idea. When it comes to the written word, in some ways it’s better to be either the clearly great or the simply good. The near greats get a great deal of attention, but usually what’s written about them is why they shouldn’t be in the HOF, or where they come up short. It’s too bad since these players are among the very best ever, and in essense it is their existance and their exclusion from the HOF which gives the Hall meaning. The HOF rests on the shoulders of these nearly great players.

    So when’s the paperback version coming out. Did I mention I’m a Luddite when it comes to books? : -)

    • 57
      MikeD says:

      Updating myself, I have purchased the ebook. I am now printing out all 193 pages and have the ability to bind it so I can read it in bed. See, even book Luddites have solutions for the dastardly modern world.

  15. 58
    Arsen says:

    I’d love to read it. When will there be a physical edition? I’m not really interested in reading books on the computer. I’m on the computer all day at work. As a Phils fan I’m interested in Dykstra, Smith and of course Allen. He was a great, great player in his prime.

  16. 61
    Jose says:

    I am having a difficult time trying to purchase. Is there anyway to still buy?

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