The League of Outsider Baseball by Gary Cieradkowski (2015)
The League of Outsider Baseball
by Gary Cieradkowski
Gary Cieradkowski is well known as the creator of the Infinite Baseball Card Set blog, and now many of his illustrations are available in hardback form in The League of Outsider Baseball. Subtitled “An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes,” readers will find little-told stories of some of the game’s most famous stars, such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, and Roberto Clemente, as well as the players that have faded from modern memories, such as Pete Reiser, Russ Van Atta, and Jimmy Lyston. As a Reds fan, I paid special attention to the pages dedicated to Ryan Freel, Willard Hershberger, Harlan Pyle, and Kitty Burke.
There are seven categories in the book: Bush Leaguers, featuring stories of the all-time greats before they were great; Could-Have-Beens, telling of players that never reached their full potential because of tragedy; International Game, showing the game outside the United States; Bad Guys, with an excellent run-down of the players implicated in the 1919 Black Sox scandal; People’s Game, featuring people who were famous in other arenas of life like George Bush and Frank Sinatra; Race Game, showing some of the best players that were barred from the majors like Josh Gibson; and Odd Balls, “the characters that make the game’s history so rich and interesting.”
Each entry is beautifully illustrated and brings the history of baseball to life for the reader. Cieradkowski set out “to create the book I always wanted to find in the bookstore,” but he ended up with a book that anyone would be happy to find. The League of Outsider Baseball is not only one of the best baseball books of 2015, it is one of the best non-fiction books of 2015. Highly recommended for fan’s of our national pastime, and anyone else who just likes to read interesting stories about interesting people.