Q: I am interested in purchasing a current (or most recent) copy of “The Baseball Encyclopedia.” I visited Barnes & Noble, but they were unable to help. The last I could find was 1996.
C.J., of O’Fallon
A: Sad to say but requests like yours won’t get you to first base these days. I, too, like the feel of paper between my fingers, but we dinosaurs have been pretty much sent to the showers by the Internet.
So it is with the classic baseball encyclopedia of which you inquire. The first edition of the Macmillan’s baseball statistics bible came out in 1969 and sold an astounding 100,000 copies despite its $25 price tag (that’s $175 today). Now, however, those (including me) who need a quick stat or player’s bio simply go tappity-tap-tap on their computers and the answer comes up in a flash. As a result, the 1996 edition you found was the 10th and final edition, according to Robert Berring, who lamented its demise in an article for the Society for American Baseball Research.
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ESPN tried to carry on the tradition, but it appears that its fifth and final edition came out in 2008. There’s just no demand for them anymore, but if you want something a decade out of date, let me know and I’ll order it for you. (You can also get information for all current and former baseball players at https://www.baseball-reference.com/)