This week, we just have links to some of the best baseball writing (and a GIF) of the year 2014. Lots of them. While many of them had previously been linked to from either here or on my personal blog, the Baseball Continuum, some of them are new. Some of them I knew about when they were published, others I found while doing an end-of-year look through various sites and other people’s lists. I also made sure to include some bloggers and writers who aren’t as well known, for example there are some in here that were suggested on Twitter.
Some of these are included because they are beautifully written. Some of them are included just because they have an interesting subject. Many of them of are both.
These are in no particular order, so feel free to favorite this and come back every now and then to go back to any you missed, perhaps while yelling: “CURSE YOU DAN GLICKMAN FOR TAKING AWAY MY FREE TIME!”
Still, check these out:
Tom Verducci’s Madison Bumgarner Sportsman of the Year Profile: If Madison Bumgarner didn’t actually exist, nobody would believe many of the things in this article. He dated a girl who had the same name as him! He and his wife saved a baby bunny from the stomach of a dead rattlesnake and nurtured it back to health! Seriously!
Erik Malinowski’s “Pitchman: How Tom Emanski Changed The Sport of Baseball – And Then Disappeared”: Best known for those endless commercials and the back-to-back-to-back AAU titles, Tom Emanski is now a recluse, but that didn’t stop Erik Malinowski from writing this brilliant article on him, as well as how his videos came to be so ubiquitous and continue to have an impact.
Greg Hanlon’s “The Many Crimes of Mel Hall”: The disturbing tale of the former Yankee outfielder…and pedophilic sexual predator. Not a happy story at all.
Michael McKnight’s “The Split”: A tale that cuts between Donnie Moore’s final days, and the ALCS game that he is most famous for. Sad but riveting.
Kathy Dobie’s “The Undefeated Champions of Defeat City”: Camden, New Jersey has 173 more drug markets than it does supermarkets. It has a murder rate almost 17 times the national average. The number of people living below the poverty lines is over twice the national average. This GQ article is about Camden’s Little League and its best teams.
Peter Morris and Stefan Fatsis on “Baseball’s Secret Pioneer”: In 1879, a man named William Edward White played a single game for Providence. He was born of a white man and a mixed-race slave, and considered himself and spent his life living as a white man. Which leads to the question: Can Will White be considered the first African-American Major Leaguer if he and the society of the time considered him Caucasian?
Jeremy Collins’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Greg Maddux”: Collins weaves together memories of Maddux and a long-lost friend into this great longform for SBNation.
Joe Posnanski’s “Vanguard After The Revolution”: Posnanski is, in my opinion, perhaps the best sports writer in the world today, and also one of the most versatile. Here he is in an article about Bill James, his work, and how he has some regrets on the new world order it has helped bring about.
Joe Posnanski’s “The Artist With 3000 Hits”: And here he is on Tony Gwynn.
Joe Posnanski’s “Even in Familiar Surroundings, All-Star Game Nervy for Perkins”: And finally on Glen Perkins. Note that he begins this article with a shoutout to my stomping grounds of Rochester, thus guaranteeing it a spot. It’s still a good article overall, of course.
Old Hoss Radbourn’s “The World’s Series Preview” is funny even all these months after the series is finished.
Jim Buzinski’s “MLB Umpire Dale Scott Comes Out as Gay in Quietest Way Possible”: Dale Scott became the first openly gay referee/umpire in North American major league sports this year, and this was the article that brought that to everyone’s attention…because, as the title alludes to, he did it where nobody initially noticed.
An installment of Rocco DeMaro’s Notes About Baseball…in which he asks baseball players the eternal question of whether a hot dog is a sandwich. It’s a Twitter thing. Don’t ask.
David Johnson’s “I Was Tony Gwynn’s Bat Boy”: Exactly what it says on the tin.
W.M. Akers’ “Visitors To Hell: How Two Minor Leaguers Earned Their Medals Of Honor”: Also exactly what it says on the tin.
Jesse Katz’s “Escape from Cuba: Yasiel Puig’s Untold Journey to the Dodgers”: Puig may well be the most written-about ballplayer in the game today, and this is one of the best on his escape.
Bruce Markusen’s “The Short, Wild Life of the Inter-American League”: In the 1970s there was a league made up of six teams in five countries. A fascinating look at a little-known part of baseball history.
Craig Calcaterra’s “Baseball is dying? Nonsense: The Case for Baseball’s Vitality”: The definitive case on how anybody who thinks that a certain billion-dollar industry that has a larger attendance than all other major sports combined is “dying” is dead wrong.
James Wagner on the Dominican major leaguer food network: An interesting look at how some MLB players are able to get good Dominican food, even when they are not in cities with large Dominican populations. It’s a case of helping their fellow countrymen out.
Howard Megdal’s “Here’s Hoping Mo’ne Davis Opens Doors for Our Daughters”: Howard Megdal’s column for USA Today on bringing his daughter to a baseball class, Mo’ne Davis, and future possibilities.
It is a little-known rule that all lookbacks must include something about Jose Altuve. Actually, I just made that up. But, still…Altuve! So, here’s something Emma Span wrote on him.
Christine Van Dusen’s “Foul Territory”: I’ve been hit by a foul ball. I know somebody who once had to get surgery because they were hit by a foul ball. Foul balls are dangerous. This article is about just how dangerous they can be and how little time somebody has to react, and everything connected to those facts.
Dirk Hayhurst’s “Minor League Manhood”: A look at the ugly sexual depravity of the low minors. Not a happy story.
Chris Jones’ “A Long Journey To Spring”: Mike Jirschele spent 36 years in the Minors as a player or coach before finally making it to the big leagues as a coach for the Royals this past year. And that’s just part of the story.
Tim Anderson’s “Dave Edlund: King of McCovey Cove”: Tim Anderson is an aspiring journalist and a “ball hawk” who roams Camden Yards in search of baseballs of the decidedly “fair” variety (see: home runs). Here’s an article he wrote on another ball hawk: “McCovey Cove Dave”, who has caught 24 balls hit into the drink outside AT&T Park.
Juan Arangure Jr.’s “’I Don’t Want to Think That He’s Dead’: A Trip to the Home Barrio of Oscar Taveras”: Juan Arangure is a mainstay of “Wisdom and Links”, as he does great work on baseball in Latin America and the Caribbean. Here’s one of his best works this past year, in which he went to Oscar Taveras’ hometown shortly after his death.
Nick Diunte’s “Jean-Pierre Roy, Former Brooklyn Dodgers Pitcher and Master Storyteller Dies at 94”: Partly an obituary and partly a retelling of an earlier interview, this is an interesting article on a Quebecois ballplayer who was a teammate of Jackie Robinson and an early commentator for the Montreal Expos.
Tom Verducci’s “Exit Stage Center”: Verducci’s “Exit Interview” with one Derek Sanderson Jeter.
Thomas Boswell on Greg Maddux: Included, if for nothing else, then for its final few paragraphs, about what Maddux learned from his blackjack-dealing father.
Michael Clair’s “I ate 18 tacos at the Fresno Grizzlies’ Taco Truck Throwdown. You will probably believe what happened next”: Friend of the Baseball Continuum Michael Clair went corporate this year, all-but-abandoning “Old Time Family Baseball” for MLB.com’s Cut4. Thankfully, he still does wacky stuff like this.
The Best Things In Life are Andrelton Simmons GIFs.
Here’s one right here:
Self-Promotion of The Year: I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but the best thing I wrote this year for the Baseball Continuum was a review/summary of the Korean/Chinese “Gorilla Plays Baseball” flick, Mr. Go. At the very least, it was the most fun to do.
Finally, something from Christmas Day: John W. Miller on Ugandan Baseball.
And so, there you have it: Some of the best baseball links of the year. So, on behalf of the Hall of Very Good, the Baseball Continuum and myself… Happy New Year!