Treasures from the Vault


A couple of years ago I did a Facebook feature on old baseball yearbooks. I’d like to try something now along the same lines. Old baseball stuff, that for whatever reasons never got thrown out. And we will start with the best first.

The Original Encyclopedia of Baseball. Published in 1951 by Hy Turkin and S.C. Thompson. My father gave it to me, probably for Christmas. On the first page you can still see, written in pencil in my father’s hand, “This book belongs to Billy Lewers.”

By today’s standards, the Turkin-Thompson work is primitive. But at the time, it was special. The first book of its kind ever. An entry for every player who ever played in the major leagues with his position, number of games played, and either batting average (for non-pitchers) or won-lost record (for pitchers).

In the section on minor leagues, it lists all the minor leagues currently (1950) in existence along with their cities. There were 58 of them. There are also “Playing Hints.” For example “How to Play Shortstop” by Honus Wagner. Also was included was the “Org Chart” for the 1950 New York Yankees.

As the years went by, other more sophisticated baseball encyclopedias were produced. There was the Ronald Encyclopedia of Baseball, The McMillan Baseball Encyclopedia, The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, and Total Baseball. They were all great and I purchased them all. Of course, everything they had and so much more is available today on the internet. But The Turkin-Thompson was the first and as a child I spent many, many happy hours pouring over its pages.


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