Pros: Lots of pictures, easy to read text. Good choice for a young baseball-fan reader.
Cons: Not intended as the definitive word on 'best ever'. Minimal interest/value for well-read fan.
Len Berman spent his adult life 'doing the sports' on TV newscasts. For thirty-some years he was immersed in the big city sports scenes of Boston and New York City. I suppose his lengthy, high-profile career lends gravitas to his accumulated knowledge and experience, allowing him to ponder who The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time are. Whether the results should be taken seriously or sent to the showers is another matter.
It is important to remember this is a book for kids, ages 9 and up according to one source. Color, 'flash', simple-to-read text are all important. Number-crunching, statistical analysis, 'sabermetrics' are all best left to other baseball volumes.
As if to drive this point home Berman grabs some of his buddies to help him very 'unscientifically' select the best major league baseball players of all time. Ex-Yankee outfielder Bernie Williams, "long-time major league executive Roland Hemond", and a few media buddies are included. With all due respect ...not exactly the "blue ribbon panel" Berman declares them to be.
Any book picking 'the best of...' anything is going to draw some criticism from those who see their favorites passed over. Perhaps the most glaring omission here is Roberto Clemente. Others would argue Barry Bonds should be included ...despite his 'baggage'. Sandy Koufax is another name many would support.
The player included that I would easily cut from the roster would be Alex Rodriguez. Methinks the 'blue ribbon panel' is unduly influenced by present day familiarity.
The players selected are (apparently) presented in random order, though Babe Ruth does draw the final entry. There are lots of action photos, lots of colorful borders, lots of 'knock-out' boxes with info about the game, its players, special achievements, trivia info, etc.. There are colorful gewgaw ribbons ("Triple Crown Winner") and medallions ("300 Wins Club", "3,000 Hits Club", etc.) sprinkled throughout the book.
The text for each player follows him from boyhood through his MLB career. There are a lot of anecdotal 'game stories' and other notable feats accomplished by the player.
Double-spacing the text should make it easier for a younger reader to follow. The sentence length and structure are kept pretty simple...
"Bob was tagged with the loss in Game 2, but he came back strong in Game 5. He struck out 13 and pitched a ten-inning complete game for the win. Game 7 was even more remarkable. Bob pitched on just two days' rest, but he beat the Yankees again, and the Cards won their first championship in 18 years. Bob was named World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP)."
The Bottom Line
This is not a book to read to find the definitive list of the greatest ballplayers ever ...despite the lofty claims of the title. The adult reader will find little to bolster their next bar stool discussion of 'the best ever'.
The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time will be a good choice for a young baseball fan and 'early' reader who may not be familiar with many of the all-time MLB greats. Even if it might unduly reinforce their 'young' opinion of how great A-Rod is.
This review is submitted (serendipitously so) on the day when MLB honors the career and legacy of Jackie Robinson, a player rightfully included in this book.
Certified 'lean-n-mean' review.
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