2005-07-20 / Front Page

It’s the same game, different players

Author makes statistical comparisons of baseball pros from different eras
BY DAN NEWMAN Staff Writer

Staff Writer

CHRIS KELLY staffCHRIS KELLY staff MIDDLETOWN — Baseball purists often judge a player’s success upon statistics such as their batting average, home runs, stolen bases, victories and earned run average.

For Steve Lombardi, these aren’t the important figures. The Middletown resident has authored a book, “The Baseball Same Game — Finding Comparable Players From the National Pastime,” which compares players’ statistics from different eras using categories such as plate appearances, on-base plus slugging percentage vs. the league average, and strikeouts to walks ratio vs. the league average.

Lombardi said that his intention was to find a niche and do something different from most other historical baseball works, which focus so often on the basic numbers of the game.

“This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and I am so passionate about the game that I felt like I could really get into this topic and have some fun with it,” Lombardi said.

Another thing that makes the final draft so compelling is the amount of time it took for Lombardi to compile the 65 cases that are outlined in the 213-page book.

“It was my New Year’s resolution this year to get this book started. It was a very concentrated effort for me and I finally finished it in March,” Lombardi said. “It was really a labor of love and an insane undertaking from start to finish. My goal was to get it done by April 1, and I made it.”

While he reached his goal, Lombardi explains that it was a huge challenge.

“My wife [Elizabeth] has been so supportive of me right from the start,” he said. “She knew when she married me that I was a baseball nut.”

As for the book itself, Lombardi, who works as a client services manager by day, says, “The numbers really make the story — they make the book.”

“Most people think that you can’t compare the careers of Don Mattingly and Rocky Colavito, or Gil Hodges and Paul O’Neill, because they played in different eras,” Lombardi said. “But as long as the statistics are there in plain print, I feel like it is feasible to do so.”

Each of the 65 comparisons made in the book involves players who are retired. Lombardi acknowledges that not every player in the book may have been among the greatest of his era. He also went on to discuss how some players over the course of time received, or did not receive, too much credit for their body of work.

“People think that Dwight Gooden should make the Hall of Fame because he had a few great years, but by looking at the numbers, it’s hard to justify that. He was never close to 300 wins, and pitchers often come and go; so, to say that Gooden belongs is a bit of a stretch,” Lombardi said.

Lombardi said he has received positive reviews thus far. Even though this is the case, he says he’ll probably take a break before trying to write another book.

“In the immediate future, I don’t think I’ll do another book,” Lombardi said. “My friends and family have pushed me for a long time just to do this piece, but I think I’ll just enjoy what I have done.

“This whole experience has been so surreal to me,” Lombardi said. “This really was a tremendous educational process for me in all facets.”

The book is published by iUniverse Inc. and can be found online at amazon.com and the Barnes & Noble Web site.

Pictured is the cover of “The Baseball Same Game — Finding Comparable Players From the National Pastime” by Stephen Lombardi, of Middletown.

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