This week I discovered the new Baseball Digest archive on Google Books, that includes EVERY issue they have ever published in its entirety. The monthly started in the forties and provides a very detailed look at Major League Baseball.
As a monthly publication in the age of 24/7 coverage, it has been losing traction over the past few years in the marketplace, and as a fan it’s a big relief to see them get up to speed electronically. Now they have a chance to show the world how deep their info is, and I’m happy to help.
What is great about Baseball Digest? It views baseball from a historical perspective, with an emphasis on showing fans the subtleties of the game through interactive columns (The Fans Speak Out, Quick Quiz, Crossword Puzzle and So You Think You Know Baseball?) inside info about the players (The Game I’ll Never Forget, Comeback Players, Close Up), Statistics and a few expert writers dissecting important events or ideas with the players, coaches and managers as key commentators.
The magazine (now I should say “printed magazine”) has scaled back a few times, and they are now down to eight issues per year. With the advent of the archive, as well as a new Facebook group, started in mid-December, it seems that Baseball Digest has begun to position itself for the electronic age. Now we have to get them some users! As the MLB Network is attempting to prove, there is enough baseball news for all 12 months, and every hour in them.
The Sporting News is heavily involved with fantasy leagues and have many joint ventures with other companies over recent years. They also cover every other sport, and I would guess they are still it for something like college basketball. Amazingly, Baseball Digest has only had an 800 number listed and one sample story per month on the web until now.
At the very least, it will give new fans a chance to read the magazine and see how great it is, and sadly, how great it was years ago. My first Baseball Digest is filled with cartoons, color printing, more articles and even a caricature in the middle of the crossword puzzle.
The old magazines are also overflowing with advertising for everything from cigarettes, the armed forces and other mainstream companies beside the ads for souvenirs like complete Topps sets ($10!) and helmet banks as well as baseball instructional equipment, camps and media. My favorite items are the old magnets and their standings boards. Souvenirs and books comprise most of the current print mag’s ads.
It’s also worth noting that it used to be an honor for the players to be on the cover of the magazine! With only 12 issues per year, there aren’t many Bump Willses in the mix.
This advance raises a few questions: First, what do I do with the shoe boxes filled with old issues? Second, how will I ever be able to walk away from the computer?
Congratulations to John Kuenster (Warm Up Tosses rocks) and all at Century Sports Network who contributed to the magazine making it to 2009, and good luck with your new venture. I will help.
Thanks Jim Yoshii for the big tip off!