Thanks to Larry Sweitzer for taking a page in my notebook today.
By the Numbers
Statistics and little known facts are a part of life for an avid baseball fan like me. As the most statistical of sports, baseball’s long and storied history lends itself to be remembered—condensed and reduced to a palatable set of memorable numbers. Leonard Koppett wrote: “Statistics are the lifeblood of baseball.” – A Thinking Man’s Guide to Baseball (1967)
A single stat can become synonymous with a player’s name. Cal Ripken will forever be connected to the number 2,632. You can hardly discuss the great Joe Dimaggio without the number 56 coming up. The number 7 has a special meaning to Nolan Ryan’s pitching career.
Sometimes numbers define a player’s career. Some would say that stats, more than anything, determine entry into the Hall of Fame. Others would disagree, saying statistics could never define a player—or the game itself. A set of numbers couldn’t possibly tell the whole story. Toby Harrah may have put it best when he said: “They both (bikinis & statistics) show a lot, but not everything.”
Other times they are simply a way to compare one player or team to another from different eras. For fans, they can be a fun and interesting part of any baseball conversation.
Some stats are indeed records—a number by which all players are measured—past, present, and future. Many are still attainable, but others will never be broken. They almost always have an interesting story behind them. And that’s why I love them.
The main character of my new book, Freddie, is a Boston Red Sox fan. He knows the history of the franchise like the back of his hand. He knows all of the important dates related to the team and all the significant facts, numbers, and stats. Yes, there’s a part of me in him. I’m a rabid baseball fan just like him. So, I got to thinking … What would the stats be on my book?
The Ghost, the Eggheads, and Babe Ruth’s Piano by the numbers:
Months to write first draft: 16
Letters in title: 36
Word count – first draft: 63,068
Word count – finished book: 57,800
Number of pages: 180
Number of chapters: 32
Number of chapters one page in length: 2
Year the book takes place: 2004
Reading level age group: 12-18
Number of vampires in book: 0
Okay, that last one was just for fun.
In case you’re wondering:
2,632 is the number of consecutive games Cal Ripken Jr. played in, spanning over seventeen seasons, from May 30, 1982 to September 20, 1998.
56 is the number of consecutive games that Joe Dimaggio hit safely in.
7 is the number of no-hitters that Nolan Ryan pitched during his career.
Larry Sweitzer is a writer, musician, and avid baseball fan. He was born and raised in western Maryland and now lives in Virginia with his wife and two daughters. The Ghost, the Eggheads, and Babe Ruth’s Piano is his first novel. You can visit his website at www.larrysweitzer.com.