Alan Schwarz (Baseball America, ESPN, the New York Times) is one of the most prolific and respected baseball journalists working today. After more than a dozen years in the industry Schwarz has written his first book, The Numbers Game: Baseballís Lifelong Fascination with Statistics. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Alan several weeks ago in midtown Manhattan to talk about the book. The following conversation took place on a warm June evening in Bryant Park, directly behind the main branch of the New York Public Library on 42nd street.
Bronx Banter: First things first, when did you start becoming a baseball fan?
Alan Schwarz: I came to being a baseball fan extraordinarily late. I was born in July of 1968. When Thurman Munson died in 1979 I didn’t know who he was. That makes a lot of people gasp of course. I lived in London as a kid. When I was eight, nine and ten years old and returned in the summer of ’79. I was never a baseball fan before that. It was must have been late August of ’79–I bought my first pack of Topps baseball cards. They made me want to watch the games. Friends I made after returning from London were fans, so they showed me their baseball card collections and we watched games together and played catch. Next thing you know I was playing Little League and a baseball fan was born. But I was eleven, which was pretty late. What that has afforded me frankly is it means that I’m not overly nostalgic about the ’77-’78 Yankees, which is a good thing, Bronx Banter’s audience notwithstanding. Also, I’m really a child of the free agent era. So I do not resent the fact that players have rights — I don’t resent the fact that they even go on strike. I understand that’s built into the game, it’s built into the industry and work stoppages will happen every five or six years, and we’ll get over it and move on. It’s just the way it is.
BB: Are your parents American?
AS: Oh yeah, it’s just that my father traveled. He was assigned to London for three years and we said what the heck. We’re from New York, from Westchester County.
BB: As a kid were you more into playing baseball or studying it and getting into the numbers?