BOOKS IN BRIEF

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THE GREAT ALL-TIME BASEBALL RECORD BOOK, by Joseph L. Reichler, revised by Ken Samuelson (MacMillan, 592 pp., $25). Anyone who browses in a well-stocked bookstore knows that the baseball section often bursts with statistical offerings. The ways that numbers are packaged and sold is impressive. This is among the more palatable stat books. One might loosely call its contents "the good stuff' that doesn't fit in the Bible of the genre, the authoritative "Baseball Encyclopedia," which also began under Reichl er's stewardship.

For those fascinated by the trivial-yet-revealing, the latest edition of the record book can identify such facts as:

* The pitcher who hit the most career home runs: Wes Ferrell, with 38.

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* The slugger with the best home-run ratio: Babe Ruth, who homered every 11.76 trips to the plate. (Hank Aaron had more lifetime home runs but is only 13th on the ratio list.)

* Lone player selected "most valuable" in both the National and American Leagues: Frank Robinson (in 1961 with NL's Cincinnati Reds and in 1966 with AL's Baltimore Orioles).

One of the more peculiar records listed, for unassisted double plays by outfielders, cries out for an explanation, though none is given. When reached by phone, Ken Samelson, who updated the book, says this rare double put-out occurs when an outfielder charging in to make a catch runs into the infield and steps on base before a returning baserunner.

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