The Politics of Glory by Bill James: a review

“The Politics of Glory” was reissued as “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame.”

This is both a history of the Baseball Hall of Fame and an examination of the apparent standards used by the voting populaces, with a lot of asides. The history is solid, and covers both the institutional side (how the Hall and museum came to be built, maintained, and ruled) and the election of the players (and others) who are honored there.

James uses a variety of methods to determine the “value” of the players, and ultimately concludes:

  • The Hall has no actual standards.
  • The BBWA (the baseball writers) has consistently done better than the various Veterans’ Committees, however composed.
  • It’s been too late to “fix” the Hall (whatever you mean by that) since either 1946 or 1949, depending on how you ask the question.

Much discussion about Phil Rizzuto and Don Drysdale, here, and considerable information about George Davis. Other individual players are discussed in less detail, though some are quite vividly portrayed.

This book’s methods (and, more generally, methodology) have largely been adopted by other analysts. The rating systems defined here are displayed on the Baseball-Reference player pages, which has led to their widespread adoption in the baseball analysis community.

Great book. Badly needs an update to cover the past 15 years.


This review was originally published on LibraryThing.