Author dares the impossible with “The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time”

By Cate Marquis, Special to the Jewish Light

Is there a surer way to start a lively debate, dare we say argument, in a true baseball city than to list the 25 best baseball players of all time?

Author Len Berman must have no fear, for that is just what the former NBC TV sportscaster, whom many know from his “Spanning the World” sports blooper reels on the “Today” show, has done with “The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time,” (Sourcebooks Jaberwocky, $16.99).


No doubt there will be arguments about the chosen 25 and who is – and is not — on the list. Berman is scheduled to account for himself, or at least to discuss his book, at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16.

By the way, the book is not a weighty tome stuffed with stats for the adult fanatic. Rather, its colorful, chatty, large-format style makes it perfect for its target audience: tweens. Filled with pictures, facts and tidbits on some of baseball’s greatest, it is a nice introduction to some of the sport’s greats. And while the exact list may prompt debate, many on the list are indisputable.

The fact that this is a splendid children’s book may dampen the desire to argue the picks, or the potential outrage at exclusions. Or it may spark family discussions and initiate the next generation of fans into this fine tradition, too.

“25 Greatest” is Berman’s second children’s book, the first being “The Greatest Moments in Sports.”

Of course, the list of 25 greats includes some of the most significant and famous names in baseball such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson and Cy Young, along with Cardinals greats Stan Musial, Bob Gibson and Rogers Hornsby,

Berman and a panel of baseball experts came up with the 25. They included journalist Frank Deford; “This Week In Baseball” producer Steve Fortunato; baseball players Bernie Williams and Ralph Branca; major league executive Roland Hemond; radio talk-show host Chris Russo and “Red Sox fanatic” and film critic, Jeffrey Lyons.

The introduction details how the list was determined but also includes mention of a few other ball players who were edged out.

“The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time” anticipates the arguments and includes a web address where readers can go to vote for their own picks for baseball greats

The book features a bright, colorful layout, with several pages devoted to each star. It is less stats and more biography. Fun and informative, the book tries to cover all the bases in sparking young fans’ interest.