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NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture 12.2 (2004) 142-143
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Thomas W. Brucato. Major League Champions, 1871-2001. American Sports History Series, no.22. Lanham MD: Scarecrow Press, 2002. 346 pp. Cloth, $49.50.
Casey Stengel once said, "You could look it up." Thanks to Thomas Brucato, communications specialist and member of the Society for American Baseball Research, you can. Broadly applying the term Major League to the highest levels of professional team sport in North America, Brucato records the annual championships for sixty leagues in eleven team sports—baseball, basketball, football, arena football, lacrosse, indoor lacrosse, hockey, roller hockey, soccer, indoor soccer, and tennis. Here one will find such familiar competitions as the World Series, the Super Bowl, and the Stanley Cup as well as such less well known events as the Scholarship Series (All-American Girls' Baseball League), the Soccer Bowl (North American Soccer League), and the Avco World Trophy (World Hockey Association). Some franchises, such as the New York Yankees, Montreal Canadiens, and Boston Celtics, are famous, while others, [End Page 142] such as the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (baseball), Vancouver Millionaires (hockey), and Akron Firestone Non-Skids (basketball), are obscure.
As this is a reference book in the most basic sense, the various championships are arranged by category. The first and by far the longest chapter (130 pages) lists year by year the more than 1,000 championships won since 1871. The listing is inclusive; for example, in 1924 one will find results for the Western Canada Hockey League and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association as well as the National Hockey League. In addition to listing the results, Brucato indicates the format of the competition—for example, best of seven series. Separate chapters listing champions chronologically follow this, with league titles arranged by sport and franchise arranged alphabetically. He then further breaks down championships according to the number of titles won by franchise and by city. Mindful that runners-up are soon forgotten, Brucato concludes the book with a listing of the second-place teams arranged alphabetically by city.
Major League Champions is a thorough, comprehensive, and conveniently arranged reference book for elite, professional North American team sport championships. A cover blurb calls Brucato's book "the ultimate source for discovering which teams have won the right to be considered the best of the best [and which finished second]." Just so, and as such, it will be a serviceable and valuable reference work for sport historians.
Larry R. Gerlach is a professor of history at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He is the author of Men in Blue: Conversations with Umpires (University of Nebraska Press, 1994) and a valued board member of NINE.