The Baseball Trivia Book to End All Baseball Trivia Books

Feb 24, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Interesting trivia presented in an unusual, friendly manner.

Cons:The big 'Con' ? It's dated. But probably not terribly so. . .

The Bottom Line: Baseball fans will recognize the irreverence, spontaneity, fun that Sugar brings to this book. Exactly as Bill Veeck might bring to baseball trivia over draws of beer in a pub.


"This book is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Bill Veeck, who taught us all that baseball was what it was originally meant to be: Fun."

Dedication of The Baseball Trivia Book to End All Baseball Trivia Books

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The Baseball Trivia Book to End All Baseball Trivia Books (hereafter to be known as: 'TBTBTEABTB', for one obvious reason) by Bert Randolph Sugar is an attempt to be a 'different' kind of baseball trivia book.

Not full of "not-so-cute gimmick" questions. Sugar cites an example in another book:
Q:  "Who is the only person to play for the NY Knicks, Brooklyn Dodgers, and the NY Rangers?"
A:  "Gladys Gooding, of course. She was the organist."

Not full of "aged-in-the-woods questions" like:
Q:  "Who was the only man to pinch-hit for Ted Williams?"
A:  "Carroll Hardy."

Sugar meets his goal by giving us a warm, literate, engaging collection of tales about ordinary men who found themselves—by chance or effort—in situations the rest of us remember as trivia.

Divided into nine chapters, the format mimics that of a baseball game. The line-up follows for those of you scoring at home:

 — Contents —
  Introduction
  Chapters
    1  The Players
    2  The Batters
    3  The Pitchers
    4  The Hall of Fame
    5  The World Series
    6  The All Star Game
    7  The 7th Inning Stretch
    8  The Managers
    9  The Teams



Framing his introduction in the friendly confines of Runyon's Saloon on East 50th Street in New York City, Sugar relishes, in a wandering bar-stool-conversation style, the "sense of humor and fun. . .that baseball trivia possesses in abundance. Properly constructed, baseball trivia is rococo. It begs for fanciful curved forms and ornamentation, not a dreaded straight line that can best be described as question and answer."

Believe me. Sugar does not know the "straight line" through a question. Let alone, to an answer. This is not your typical 'Question' | Answer 1 / Answer 2 / Answer 3 / 'would you pick one already! :tap::tap::tap:' trivia book.

Instead, Sugar weaves a story through each question and answer. He does not make you guess. He does not hint at the answer. He does not rush you to 'Answer already!' Sugar simply weaves a narrative story around a particular feat or ignobility. Something that ensnared one or two or several players or teams in a common occurrence. Until another more fortunate (or equally star-crossed) manages to meet or exceed their mark. These stories are sometimes direct and to the point. But most wander around as a good conversation over a brew or two might. Before reaching the story's end point, with you left mumbling 'Damn, I didn't know that!'

The various chapters cover specific areas related to the game of major league baseball. There are questions relating to players, teams, managers, cities, championships, etc.. The questions range in time from the origin of pro baseball in the 1800s to the date of publication of the book.

There are just a few tables or lists in the book. These are always related to a specific trivia question discussion. For instance, there is list of home run leaders by last name initial. Reggie Jackson leads all hitters with last names beginning with 'J'. He has 530 life-time home runs. Is he still the 'J' leader 15-plus years later? I think so. But the book may be out of date.

TBTBTEABTB contains no pictures. This is a book of word pictures. Scenes and players and moments re-created and frozen at a point in time. Thawed and brought back to life as you read. Pictures would only detract from the power of the words and the stories and players they bring to life.


 — What's bad about this book? —

With a copyright date of 1986, some of the 'answers' in TBTBTEABTB are surely incomplete or (gasp!) wrong by this date. I am not enough of a 'triviot' to know how many might now be found wanting. I certainly would not bet the house on the answers in this book.

A simple index of player and team names would have added some value to the book. It would be useful, for example, to quickly find all references to the St. Louis Browns or to Pete Rose. That feature would work against his narrative style however. It is not really a reference book anyway. So its absence means little to the reader's enjoyment.


 — The Bottom Line —

The dedication of The Baseball Trivia Book to End All Baseball Trivia Books (which leads this review) harkens the spirit of Bill Veeck. Even the casual fan of baseball will recognize the irreverence, spontaneity, and fun that Bert Randolph Sugar brings to this book. Exactly as Bill Veeck might bring to a conversation about this book over a round of draws in a pub.



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"Just the facts, ma'am"

Title: The Baseball Trivia Book to End All Baseball Trivia Books
Author: Bert Randolph Sugar
Publisher: Freundlich Books
Copyright: 1986, Bert Randolph Sugar
Pages: 208
ISBN #: 0-88191-039-2
Ages recommended: Teen - Adult


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