Matthew Silverman and Kasey Ignarski - Cubs by the Numbers: A Complete Team History of the Chicago Cubs by Uniform Number
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Cubs by the Numbers || "The only Cubs book that counts!"
Written: Feb 23, 2011
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:A 'crawl-down-memory-lane' for the long-time fan. Interesting stories behind the numbers.
Cons:Many baseball card pics. I hope they spend the money for color pics next time.
The Bottom Line: A fun and valuable read for any true Chicago Cubs fan. You will meet old friends/heroes and learn more about players you never knew or long ago forgot about.
Numbers are the 'life force' of baseball. From the 'up or down' outcome of a single at-bat through a player's line in the game's box-score to a hoped for mid-season hot streak ...or an unwanted slump ...the numbers inexorably forge a season that fulfills the promise of spring training ...or the numbers deliver the cold reality of an empty post-season, for player and team.
The numbers of a season document the winners and losers, on the field and in the standings. Most Valuable players, MVPs, and World Series champions are measured against the same scale as are under-performing rookies, fading 'old-timers', and cellar-dwelling ball clubs.
There are other numbers that also define baseball. Those are the numbers on the back of the uniforms. From the retired (for all of MLB) number 42 worn by Jackie Robinson to the number given to the most hapless September call-up.
Cubs by the Numbers is an exploration of the history of the Chicago Cubs, driven by the numbers worn by the players, coaches, and managers. Some numbers stand out: #10 -Santo, #14 -Banks, #23 -Sandberg, #26 -Williams, #31 -Jenkins and -Maddux. While other numbers were never worn, worn ignobly, or worn all but anonymously.
Veteran Chicago sports observer Al Yellon, long-time Cubs fan and website owner Kasey Ignarski, and sports author Matthew Silverman combine their knowledge, writing skills, and passion for 'all things Cubs' to create a fun and valuable guide to every Cubs uniform number.
From the introduction of uniform numbers in the early twentieth century to their widespread use by the early 1930s, uniform numbers were slow to catch on in major league baseball. Since the Cubs joined the crowd in the early 1930s more than 1300 individuals have worn a numbered Cubs uniform.
Cubs by the Numbers shares, in numerical order, the tales of the individuals who put on each number. Each player or coach that wore the number is listed in chronological order followed by the players and their stories the authors were "most anxious to tell."
Some names need no 'memory-jog', as those mentioned earlier. Others are featured as the ' Most Obscure Cub to Wear # XX ', players that only the die-hard fan would know or remember.
On the face of it, this might sound like a dumb idea. But as executed here it is wonderfully done. There are endless stories shared here. Thirteen hundred-plus individuals have worn a numbered Cubs uniform ...there must be that many and more stories told here.
There are tales of success, tales of abject failure, tales of woeful trades and unfulfilled expectations. Some stories span decades; many more span a year or two, some mere days/games ...even a single game. You would think it might all begin to run together after a few chapters. But the book does an excellent job of introducing and sharing stories and 'tales of the day' in many varied ways.
The Bottom Line
There is a common theme that runs through much of the book. Anyone who has been a Cubs fan for more than a season surely recognizes the theme of ' wait until next year..!! ' So many players with so much expected of them. So many teams, a few with surprising successes ...most with almost-expected failures. The latter defines the life of a Cubs fan I suppose.
If you are a Cubs fan this really is a fun and valuable read. Some of the stories will fill you with joy, some will make you bang your head in remembered frustration. The vast majority of them will simply steel your nerve for enduring yet another long season of rooting for your Cubbies, do or die. Perhaps 2011 really will be 'next year'..!!
Certified 'lean-n-mean' review
Reviews of other Cubs-related books/DVDs...
• What It Means to Be a Cub || a life many only dream of living...
• Cubs Forever
• This Old Cub
• The Cubs Fan's Guide to Happiness
• Forever Loyal: A Salute to the Cubs Fans and Their Field
Links to my other baseball-related reviews...
• 'Baseball and diamond dust reviews'
• The Heckler || ' Life as sports fans in Chicago '
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