University of Nebraska Press scores with baseball lineup

· 5 min read

University of Nebraska Press scores with baseball lineup

University of Nebraska Press books about baseball sitting around home plate at Haymarket Park.
Craig Chandler | University Communication
The University of Nebraska Press' award-winning baseball catalog includes a rich array of topics — from deep dives into team history and player/coach biographies to explorations of various leagues and how the game has impacted American culture.

Mirroring the dominance of the New York Yankees’ infamous “Murderers’ Row” of the 1920s, the University of Nebraska Press has grown into a powerhouse of baseball book publishing.

From regularly earning national awards — sometimes breaking out brooms to sweep annual honors — the University of Nebraska Press’ catalog of books on the national pastime serves as an important resource for fans and researchers seeking dives into baseball history.

“The University of Nebraska Press is at or near the top of any list of publishers doing significant baseball books,” said Rosemary Sekora, publicity manager for UNP. “And the really cool part is the breadth of topics. We cover all sorts of baseball history — from the Negro Leagues to Phillies teams in the 1970s. We also have memoirs from players, coaches and umpires.

“You can truly find something for anyone on our list.”

In the past decade, UNP books have claimed the Society for American Baseball Research’s annual Seymour Medal — a top national award for a book on baseball history or biography — six times. That includes loading the bases with three UNP publications named 2022 finalists and knocking it out of the park when Steven Treder’s biography on New York/San Francisco Giants owner Horace Stoneham earned the Seymour award.

“SABR is home to the foremost group of baseball researchers and historians in the country,” said Rob Taylor, UNP’s senior acquisitions editor in charge of sports. “When they recognize your books, you know you’ve published something important to those who know baseball history.

“And, we’ve been lucky enough to have our books win quite a few of their awards.”

The University of Nebraska Press’ baseball expertise began in the 1990s when then-director Dan Ross reprinted several books dropped by trade publishers. The success of those books — which included Ty Cobb’s autobiography “My Life in Baseball” — helped build a new list in baseball history. By the 2000s, UNP was publishing original baseball books and cementing its national reputation.

Along with books, UNP publishes Nine: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture and distributes SABR’s Baseball Research Journal. Both publications feature statistical studies and in-depth examinations of baseball, play on the field, related business trends, and societal and cultural implications of the game.

“Success in baseball started a trend to expand into other areas of sports history,” Taylor said. “We started receiving more submissions related to other sports, which led to us growing that part of our catalog.

“We’ve since become known as a publisher not just for books about baseball, but sports in general and related areas.”

Today, Taylor receives a few hundred sports-related submissions each year. Of those, an average of 20 are published, with as many as eight to 10 focused on baseball.

The overall success of UNP’s sports catalog rests on its status as a nonprofit publisher, allowing it to take chances on authors and topics larger trade publishers may overlook.

“For us, it’s not just if a book will sell well,” Taylor said. “Rather, it’s a consideration on if a book helps us fulfill our larger mission, which is to publish books of worthy scholarship in a number of areas.

“Our baseball list does that by expanding our understanding of the game, how it has evolved and how it mirrors — and can influence — our culture. And, importantly, it does so in a way that is very accessible to anyone who loves this game.”

University of Nebraska Press’ Hall of Fame Baseball Titles

Recent baseball titles that have earned critical acclaim:

SABR Seymour Medals
  • 2022 — Steven Treder, “Forty Years a Giant: The Life of Horace Stoneham”
  • 2020 — Jeremy Beer, “Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player”
SABR Baseball Research Awards
  • 2022 — Lawrence Baldassaro, “Tony Lazzeri: Yankees Legend and Baseball Pioneer”
  • 2022 — Lyle Spatz and Steve Steinberg, “Comeback Pitchers: The Remarkable Careers of Howard Ehmke and Jack Quinn”
  • 2021 — Robert K. Fitts, “Issei Baseball: The Story of the First Japanese American Ballplayers”
  • 2020 — Roberta J. Newman, “Here’s the Pitch: The Amazing, True, New and Improved Story of Baseball and Advertising”
  • 2020 — César Brioso, “Last Seasons in Havana: The Castro Revolution and the End of Professional Baseball in Cuba”
  • 2019 — Bill Nowlin, “Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox”
  • 2018 — Jim Leeke, “From the Dugouts to the Trenches: Baseball During the Great War”; Steve Steinberg, “Urban Shocker: Silent Hero of Baseball’s Golden Age”
SABR Larry Ritter Book Awards
  • 2020 — Jeremy Beer, “Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player”
  • 2020 — Charles DeMotte, “James T. Farrell and Baseball: Dreams and Realism on Chicago’s South Side”
  • 2018 — Jim Leeke, “From the Dugouts to the Trenches: Baseball During the Great War”
Publishing awards
  • Brad Balukjian, “The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife,” Los Angeles Times monthly bestseller list and NPR’s Book Concierge Best Reads of 2020.
  • Jeremy Beer, “Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player,” 2019 CASEY Award for the Best Baseball Book of the Year

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