In the course of researching another, much longer and potentially offensive essay, I've had occasion to leaf through literally every page of the latest edition of The Dickson Baseball Dictionary.
That's a lot of pages: 956, to be precise. Of course I've been relying on Dickson's work for many years; his first Baseball Dictionary was published back in 1989, and was essentially the first comprehensive catalog of baseball terminology.
It seemed comprehensive, anyway. This latest edition, the third, is far larger and more comprehensive than the first. And it's not until just now that I've realized one could learn a great deal of baseball history simply by paging through the book and alighting on whichever entries jump off the page.
Looking at just at the M's, we find illuminating entries for
- Enos Slaughter's Mad Dash, the key play in the 1946 World Series and Johnny Pesky's unfortunate legacy
- the Mendoza Line
- Merkle's Boner, the Dead Ball Era's most famous moment
- the Miracle Braves and the Miracle Mets and the Miracle of Coogan's Bluff
Mr. Baseball and Mr. October
- the Mitchell Report
moxie, with a long explanation of how the beverage Moxie came to mean "pluck and mettle" in baseball
- murderers' row, which goes back to at least 1918.
Obviously, I left out a bunch of things. Essentially, everything important that's happened in major-league history has left a lexicographical trail, and that trail winds its alphabetical way through The Dickson Baseball Dictionary.
Yeah, it's a reference work and nothing says boring like reference work. Except this reference work, like so many others, tells a story. You just gotta be ready for one.