When members of the Society of American Baseball Research sit down to write a book, don't expect kiss-and-tell tales or dugout innuendo. Dug-up facts, and plenty of them, are the main fare. Take, for instance, Peter Filichia's "Professional Baseball Franchises: From the Abbeville Athletics to the Zanesville Indians." An exhaustive list, it is published, appropriately, by Facts on File ($25.95, 290 pp.).
This is hardly the sort of work that gets prominent display in chain bookstores. But as compendiums go, it is impressive, listing every professional baseball team since 1869 - from major to lowest minor, from Canada to Mexico, including the old Negro league and women's teams.
Research society authors do not limit themselves to the arcane. Some of their works would appeal even to casual fans. One example is the "Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball: American League," and the companion National League volume (Carroll & Graf, each nearly 600 pp.). These full-size paperbacks, edited by Peter C. (Dr. Baseball) Bjarkman, offer thorough histories of all 28 teams - yes, even short chapters on the expansion Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies. Because these are group projects, the w riting can be a bit uneven, but on the whole the authors deliver engaging narratives. And, of course, they are well researched. In fact, just the end-of-chapter notes, bibliographies, and tables are worth the $14.95 price of admission.