* Bookshelf Review: The Underground Baseball Encyclopedia

Ron KaplanContributor IMay 6, 2010

Baseball Stuff You Never Needed to Know and Can Certainly Live Without, by Robert Schnakenberg. Triumph, 2010.

Schnakenberg takes his love for pop culture (anti-culture?) and puts a national pastime spin on it in this little faux-reference volume.

The connection between PC and baseball has been handled in more serious veins by Jonathan Fraser Light in The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball (McFarland, 1997), and  Edward S. Reilley’s Baseball: An Encyclopedia of Pop Culture (ABC-CLIO, 2000).

But Schnakenberg — author of such titles as The Encyclopedia Shatnerica and Distory: A Treasury of Historical Insults — brings his energy and wit to bear on baseball in a most irreverent manner.

As he writes in the introduction, “This is an attempt to create a baseball encyclopedia out of all the stuff that’s typically not covered in baseball encyclopedias.”Mission accomplished. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of some of the key book, movie, and TV connections (You go, Bugs Bunny! Give ‘em that “pachydermous percussion pitch”!) as well as less-than-household names such as notorious racists Jake Powell and Ben Chapman, and “dinosaur-denier” Carl Everett and Steve Carlton, a Hall-of-Famer who turned out to be a general loon. The author also did some serious digging to find a way link Jack Kerouac (he invented his own fantasy game), actor Michael Clarke Duncan, and cookie mogul Mrs. Fields to the game. I could have used a few more like this and a lot less mascot/vendor tributes.

writers referenced
TV shows referenced
Ball Four The Babe Ruth Story
The Bronx ZooThe Baseball Bunch
Game of ShadowsThe Brady Bunch
JuicedBull Durham
MoneyballFear Strikes Out
Bill JamesThe George Michael Sports Machine
Buzz BissingerHappy Felton’s Knothole Gang
Peter GammonsHome Run Derby
George F. WillKiner’s Korner
Jim BoutonMajor League
Mr. Ed
The Natural
Pride of the Yankees
The Simpsons
This Week in Baseball

Who knows, maybe in a revised edition there might be an entry for Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf?

But then again, I believe in dinosaurs.

As you can see from the table, there are several references for baseball on regular TV shows. Here are a couple for the next edition: