The Baseball 100 (Paperback)
The perfect gift for the person who loves baseball, lists, statistics, and passionate writing about all of the above. Posnanski’s list of the 100 best baseball players in history is his love letter to the game and starting point for debate between fans. As he notes in the introduction, the specific numbers within the top 100 might not have anything to do with the player’s ranking in the game but may be related to something else (Joe DiMaggio is ranked at #56 due to his famous hitting streak). This is not a book to be read in any particular order (I first looked for my favorite players and then went back to fill in the gaps) but it is a terrific recounting of the history of the game.— From tom
“An instant sports classic.” —New York Post * “Stellar.” —The Wall Street Journal * “A true masterwork…880 pages of sheer baseball bliss.” —BookPage (starred review) * “This is a remarkable achievement.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A magnum opus from acclaimed baseball writer Joe Posnanski, The Baseball 100 is an audacious, singular, and masterly book that took a lifetime to write. The entire story of baseball rings through a countdown of the 100 greatest players in history, with a foreword by George Will.
Longer than Moby-Dick and nearly as ambitious, The Baseball 100 is a one-of-a-kind work by award-winning sportswriter and lifelong student of the game Joe Posnanski. In the book’s introduction, Pulitzer Prize–winning commentator George F. Will marvels, “Posnanski must already have lived more than two hundred years. How else could he have acquired such a stock of illuminating facts and entertaining stories about the rich history of this endlessly fascinating sport?”
Baseball’s legends come alive in these pages, which are not merely rankings but vibrant profiles of the game’s all-time greats. Posnanski dives into the biographies of iconic Hall of Famers, unfairly forgotten All-Stars, talents of today, and more. He doesn’t rely just on records and statistics—he lovingly retraces players’ origins, illuminates their characters, and places their accomplishments in the context of baseball’s past and present. Just how good a pitcher is Clayton Kershaw in the 21st-century game compared to Greg Maddux dueling with the juiced hitters of the nineties? How do the career and influence of Hank Aaron compare to Babe Ruth’s? Which player in the top ten most deserves to be resurrected from history?
No compendium of baseball’s legendary geniuses could be complete without the players of the segregated Negro Leagues, men whose extraordinary careers were largely overlooked by sportswriters at the time and unjustly lost to history. Posnanski writes about the efforts of former Negro Leaguers to restore sidelined Black athletes to their due honor and draws upon the deep troves of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and extensive interviews with the likes of Buck O’Neil to illuminate the accomplishments of players such as pitchers Satchel Paige and Smokey Joe Williams; outfielders Oscar Charleston, Monte Irvin, and Cool Papa Bell; first baseman Buck Leonard; shortstop Pop Lloyd; catcher Josh Gibson; and many, many more.
The Baseball 100 treats readers to the whole rich pageant of baseball history in a single volume. Engrossing, surprising, and heartfelt, it is a magisterial tribute to the game of baseball and the stars who have played it.
“I love baseball, I know baseball, and this book is baseball. It’s the whole story of baseball told through the 100 greatest players of all time . . . But what really makes me say, 'Give this to the baseball people in your life,' is that it’s a book that, when you read it, you fall in love with the game all over again. . . . Every sport needs great players, but it also needs great writers, and Joe Posnanski has done something great for the game of baseball with this book.”
—Tony Dokoupil, CBS This Morning
“Stellar . . . Always fun . . . A book for the moment but also for the bookshelf of the future, an old friend that will bring back old times and old arguments again and again. . . . The rankings were all made by Mr. Posnanski, who is contemporary sports writing’s biggest star. He writes with grace and wit, combining an old-time sense of style with the mountains of numbers and factoids and observations that can be found on the internet.”
—Leigh Montville, The Wall Street Journal
“Posnanski knocks it out of the park with this fascinating deep dive into the careers of those he considers baseball’s 100 greatest players. . . . Will surprise even devoted followers of the sport . . . This is a remarkable achievement.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Major League Baseball fans, you just won the lottery. . . . Posnanski presents 880 pages of sheer baseball bliss . . . It’s a true masterwork, and his writing is so good that it’s likely to engross even those who know nothing about the sport.”
—BookPage (starred review)
“Posnanski skillfully weaves statistics into the narrative without spilling into geekdom, and he searches baseball history for his candidate pool while combing the records for just the right datum or quote. . . . Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Posnanski offers manna for baseball geeks with his selection of the 100 all-time greatest baseball players, melding the sabermetrics chops of a Bill James with the eloquence and droll humor of a Roger Angell. . . . . Posnanski also nobly, and rightly, casts a wide net, embracing Japanese legends Ichiro Suzuki and Sadaharu Oh, and, more important, long-neglected Negro leagues players, such as Oscar Charleston. . . . Most important, these selections will bring to the mind’s eye of any baseball fan a vision of how singularly great each of these athletes have played—or, in the case of the old-timers, might have played—the game. Recommended.”
“You can quibble with some of Joe Posnanski's judgements. And so what? That's always been part of the fun for baseball fans. And Posnanski on Baseball has always been fun. . . . This book is a baseball feast that can be consumed in small bites or large gulps. Either way, it's a book we fans will return to often. To spark or settle debates, sure. But especially for the endless pleasure of the history of our greatest game as delivered by one of its finest chroniclers.”
"Posnanski is an outstanding journalist, arguably the best pure long-form sportswriter in the land."
"Joe Posnanski is a terrific writer."
"One of the best sportswriters in America."