Unbreakable: The 25 Most Unapproachable Records in Baseball by James R. Baehler (2014)
Unbreakable: The 25 Most Unapproachable Records in Baseball
by James R. Baehler
Sports Publishing, 2014
Baseball is a game of numbers, and the historical importance of statistics to baseball fans is unparalleled in sports. Author James R. Baehler explores twenty-five records that he believes may never be matched in Unbreakable: The 25 Most Unapproachable Records in Baseball. Baehler focuses on those records that were achieved since 1900, citing the way the game has changed as the reason to exclude Cy Young’s 511 wins among other feats from the discussion.
Readers will find discussions of twenty players who hold twenty-four distinct records in this book, from Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson to Steve Carlton and Rickey Henderson. A small number of non-Hall of Famers are also examined, such as Eddie Gaedel (shortest player in history) and Harvey Haddix (most perfect innings pitched in a single game). The twenty-fifth record the author looks at is the futility of the Chicago Cubs, with their 106-plus years without a World Championship.
Baehler is not content to simply list these twenty-five records and write about them, though. He delves into many interesting stories that have nothing to do with the records under consideration, like Babe Ruth’s difficulty when facing pitcher Hub Pruett, and briefly ponders other off-topic questions, such as Dave Kingman’s worthiness of the Hall of Fame.
He further makes no secret of his disdain for artificial statistics achieved through chemical enhancement. When discussing Hack Wilson’s record of most runs batted in during a single season, Baehler writes, “This baseball fan gives no credence to the records of McGwire and Sosa….Hack Wilson still holds the National League record for home runs in a single season achieved without the assistance of performance enhancing drugs, the only record that matters.”
Unbreakable is a fairly quick read, relying more on traditional statistics that the advanced metrics often cited today by younger sportswriters. Baseball fans with an interest in the history of the game should find it very interesting, and will no doubt be entertained by Baehler’s anecdotes and common sense style of writing.