In Pursuit of Pennants

In Pursuit of Pennants

Baseball Operations from Deadball to Moneyball

Mark L. Armour and Daniel R. Levitt
With a new epilogue by the authors

526 pages
31 photographs, 12 tables, 6 charts, 2 appendixes, index


April 2018


$26.95 Add to Cart

April 2015


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The 1936 Yankees, the 1963 Dodgers, the 1975 Reds, the 2010 Giants—why do some baseball teams win while others don’t?

General managers and fans alike have pondered this most important of baseball questions. The Moneyball strategy is not the first example of how new ideas and innovative management have transformed the way teams are assembled. In Pursuit of Pennants examines and analyzes a number of compelling, winning baseball teams over the past hundred-plus years, focusing on their decision making and how they assembled their championship teams.

Whether through scouting, integration, instruction, expansion, free agency, or modernizing management structure, each winning team and each era had its own version of Moneyball, where front-office decisions often made the difference. Mark L. Armour and Daniel R. Levitt show how these teams succeeded by relying on talent both on the field and in the front office. While success is never guaranteed in a competitive, ever-changing environment, these teams demonstrate how creatively thinking about one’s circumstances can often lead to a competitive advantage. This paperback edition includes an epilogue and a list of the top thirty general managers of all time.

Author Bio

Mark L. Armour is the author of Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball and the editor of The Great Eight: The 1975 Cincinnati Reds, both available from the University of Nebraska Press. Daniel R. Levitt is the author of Ed Barrow: The Bulldog Who Built the Yankees’ First Dynasty (Nebraska, 2008) and The Battle That Forged Modern Baseball. He is the coauthor (with Mark L. Armour) of Paths to Glory: How Great Baseball Teams Got That Way (Potomac Books, 2004).


“If Moneyball is the tale of how a modern front office works, In Pursuit of Pennants is the prequel that ably sets the stage.”—Jonah Keri, author of the bestselling The Extra 2% and Up, Up, and Away

“Armour and Levitt have given the reader an inside look into the different cultures and challenges facing professional sports executives. Their management styles might differ, but the objective never changes: ‘Be a consistent winner.’”—Pat Gillick

"The book is exceptionally well-researched, -reasoned, and -argued, and also exceptionally well-written."—Rob Neyer, Just a bit Outside, Fox Sports

“Baseball fans across the board that dedicate the time to reading this book will enjoy it.”—Gregg's Baseball Bookcase

"Read this book for its treasure trove of baseball history and because it is a damn good read."—G. Louis Heath, ARETE

"In Pursuit of Pennants is by far the best treatment of the building of baseball teams. It belongs in easy reach on every baseball researcher’s desk or bookshelf, and it’s going to be there for a very long time."—Jan Finkel, Inside Game

“A rare combination of a must-have reference book and engaging storytelling by distinguished baseball historians Armour and Levitt.”—Vince Gennaro, president of the Society for American Baseball Research and author of Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball

“This is an interesting, well-written, and well-researched examination of a behind-the-scenes look at how certain winning clubs have been constructed by notable baseball executives and the philosophies employed.”—Tal Smith, longtime baseball executive

“A great source of well-researched front office stories. . . . Armour and Levitt give an insider’s look at the teams’ efforts to innovate in this highly competitive industry.”—Sig Mejdal, director of Decision Sciences for the Houston Astros

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    

List of Tables    
List of Charts    
Part 1. Professional Management
1. Owner-Operator    
2. Field Manager    
3. General Manager    
4. Executive    
5. Farm System    
6. Organization    
Part 2. General Manager Ascendant
7. Dodger Way    
8. Dynasty    
9. Integration    
10. Commitment    
11. Excellence Rewarded    
12. Amateur Draft    
13. The Machine    
Part 3. New Order
14. Long Road Back    
15. Expansion    
16. Free Agency    
17. The Zoo    
18. Many Rivers    
Part 4. Businessmen
19. Winning Now    
20. Analytics    
21. Post-Moneyball    
22. Modern Game    
Appendix A: Front Office Awards and Recognition
Appendix B: The Top Thirty General Managers  

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