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World Series program a must-read
10/25/2004 8:20 PM ET
ST. LOUIS -- You don't have to be a Cardinals or Red Sox fan to enjoy this year's World Series game program. You only need to be a baseball fan who enjoys reading about America's pastime to appreciate this 200-page smorgasbord of information.

But it's safe to say fans in St. Louis and Boston, considered to be two of the best baseball cities, are gobbling up the programs at an unprecedented rate.

"This year's program is one of the most collectable publications we've ever been involved with," said Don Hintze, Major League Baseball's vice president of publishing. "This year even more so than other years because of the Red Sox and Cardinals, two very traditional teams."

Major League Baseball Properties recruits the best that baseball has to offer, from writers to photographers to illustrators, to contribute to the World Series program. Baseball writers from around the country -- some of the most recognizable names in the business -- are asked to submit articles that range from a look at today's game to some of the best moments in Major League history, with plenty of unique features in between.

And the program is timely. In "Making Their Pitches" by New York-based freelancer David Enders, the two presidential candidates, George W. Bush and John Kerry, weigh in with their views on baseball.

Both are lifelong baseball fans. Bush, former owner of the Texas Rangers, threw out the ceremonial first pitch in St. Louis on Opening Day this year, while Kerry is a die-hard Red Sox fan, as he admits on page 73: "All I want to do is see the Red Sox win it all."

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"The presidential story makes it fun," Hintze said. "This is a very significant election between two candidates who have roots in baseball."

Bob Klapisch, a baseball writer for The Record in Bergen County, N.J., as well as a regular contributor to, explains how hitters and pitchers go about "Working the Count" (page 117).'s Jayson Stark, always one to provide a fresh look into the minds of today's players, explains why Barry Bonds doesn't think stacking players on the right side of the infield always works in "Dissecting the Shift" (page 123).

Providence Journal-Bulletin Red Sox beat writer Steven Krasner talks to Boston relief pitchers to reveal the zany ways in which they kill those long hours in the bullpen in a feature called "Nothing But Trouble" (page 145).

Karl Ravech and Harold Reynolds of ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" debate whether 500 home runs still merits an automatic entry into Cooperstown (Yes for Reynolds: "Have you ever tried hitting 500?" And no for Ravech: "There's more to it than numbers," page 37).

Nationally syndicated columnist and renowned author George Will contributes a look back at two of the most famous moments in Major League history in "Right Place, Right Time" (page 192). Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'round the World" in 1951, and "The Catch" by Willie Mays in 1954, both took place at the Polo Grounds in New York, and both will be forever remembered as defining moments in baseball lore.

For those who enjoy lighter reading, check out "Mistaken Identity," in which current baseball figures are suggested to be look-alikes of other famous people. Think Dodgers manager Jim Tracy doesn't resemble David Letterman? Check out page 28.

The process of putting together a game program begins long before the playoffs do. Just after the All-Star break, the MLB Properties staff begins choosing and assigning stories for the League Championship Series and World Series programs. The bulk of the national section -- that is, the non-team specific stories -- is finished by the conclusion of the regular season.

Every team that is in contention submits local sections that appear in the middle of the program, and the deadlines fall long before any playoff series have been decided. When the Division Series is finished, the local sections from the four winning teams are bound into the LCS program. When the next round is complete, the local sections are rushed into the game program, which usually means a very late night of scrambling for the publication crew.

The World Series program is finished on the day before Game 1 of the Series, and like clockwork, the books arrived on time to Beantown on Saturday morning.

The World Series game program costs $15 and is available at the Shop, and at both Fenway Park and Busch Stadium, as well as on newsstands in both cities and throughout New England.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.