First Pitch: PRE-SALE for The 2022 Guide and The 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys Books

The 11th version of the Pirates Prospects Guide and the first ever Pirates history book by John Dreker are both available for pre-sale at the PBN Shop. You’ll also find our Black Friday deals live, with discounts on the 10th Anniversary Prospect Guide, as well as merchandise discounts.

John Dreker’s book will be released by the end of this year, while The 2022 Guide will be released in early 2022, targeting early March. Below is a preview of each book.

The 2022 Guide

This is the 11th version of the Pirates Prospects Guide, but it’s the second version of a new direction for the book. When I first had the idea for this book in 2010, the goal was to compile all of the information we had on every prospect into a single book. As the years went on, more content was added to the book, including featured articles.

Last year, for the 10th Anniversary edition, I aimed to create more of a “book” than a one-year guide. Using the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven, my knowledge from covering baseball player development so closely for over a decade, and exclusive interviews, I put together a summary of where the Pirates were in their rebuild, in addition to the usual full prospect reports on each player.

This year will be a continuation of that concept. There will be a new song. It’s been played recently as a First Pitch song of the day. There are more exclusive interviews. The story will pick up from last year’s musings on player development, looking deeper into individualized development. I’m writing these books about a rebuilding organization, with the idea that the combined story will reveal more about player development than I could do in a single article or book.

The cover of this year’s book represents a progression. Pictured is the No Quarter skull, paying homage to a classic Pittsburgh Pirates logo. In case you haven’t noticed, this is a not-so-subtle trend for the new book approach.

I already have the 2023 design planned out.

This year’s Guide will include variant covers that feature Oneil Cruz and Roansy Contreras, who will both likely be in Pittsburgh full-time by the end of the 2022 season. Here’s a look at those covers.

The Guide will be available in digital form when it is released. Physical copies will only be available for purchase during the pre-sale period.

The 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys: The Worst Team in Pittsburgh Pirates History

John Dreker started working on this book in 2019, and it’s currently in the final editing stages, aimed to go to the printer at the start of December. To get a preview of the book, I decided to ask the author himself a few questions.

Tim Williams: Aside from the obvious worst record, what drew you to wanting to write about this team?

John Dreker: The amount of obscure players that they had for the club, using 30 rookies that season, and they all had a story to tell. I found many discrepancies over the years, with stats and stories, and wanted to get everything I already knew into one place, while also looking to see what else I could find that I didn’t know. There was a lot once I started going day-to-day, reading every local paper from the time, as well as numerous outside sources.

TW: Why do this? Why torment a fan base that has mostly known losing for the last three decades with a book about the worst losing team in history?

JD: I don’t think tormenting anyone really played in my mind, but it was clearly a low point in franchise history and they bounced back from it nicely over the years. If anything it shows how bad things really got at one point and it happened 11 years before they went on a three-year run of National League pennants, including the best team in franchise history.

Tim’s Cat: 3422222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222′.

JD: They didn’t quite give up that many runs, but it was a lot.

[Editor’s Note: My cat walked across the keyboard.]

JD: Doggie Miller was just a nickname, not an actual dog.

TW: I feel like we celebrate champions for the obvious reason that they are so good. We lament losing teams for the same reasons. But once we’re removed from the losing, there tend to be more entertaining stories surrounding the worst teams. What was your favorite story from this team?

JD: There are so many great stories from that year, but probably the most entertaining one looking back on it was the owner claiming in the local papers that he believed this was the best team that he had put together in their brief franchise history. The team was so bad that at the end of the year at the National League meetings, they gave them a huge banner with 114 stars, one for each loss they suffered during the season, and owner J. Palmer O’Neil proudly accepted that flag and displayed it for a time for all to see.

TW: It’s safe to say that was their day’s version of “The Best Management Team in All of Baseball…”

JD: While O’Neil gets no credit now because of that record, the fact that he kept the team going and then helped put the Player’s League out of business after one year, has helped the National League stay in existence since 1876. It might not be around still if not for what he did to help keep the team afloat, making deals for them to play most of their games on the road, where they actually made more money than at home games. Despite piecing together a team, there were still instances of him spending money to try to improve a last place team late in the season.

TW: What’s the next project you’re working on?

JD: It involves going back an entire year to the 1889 season. I just started writing the beginning of it this week, but the outline has been in place for a year or so, and I’ve been collecting notes. It involves the Johnstown Flood and how it possibly changed the course of four young pitchers who were with the Alleghenys at the time. This one is a bit more specific to a small time-frame from the season (most of it takes place within one month). It’s a fascinating story of getting a chance in the majors that is interwoven within a real tragedy that takes place at the same time not far away. The four players are the main story, but there will be info on the rest of the 1889 team and the famous flood, which directly affects them.

TW: Anything else you want to add?

JD: I think people who have no real clue about the 1890 team are still going to enjoy this because there are so many interesting things that happen during the years that you just won’t see happen now. There was a guy who hit the ball over the fence, but he decided to stop at third base and there was an actual explainable reason behind it. A pitcher for the Alleghenys was the second of three pitchers used that day and he recorded all 27 outs of a nine-inning game. I don’t want to give away too much, but there were countless odd situations that popped up throughout the season that make this book so interesting for everyone.


You can pre-order both books at the PBN Shop.


We’re running a sale at the PBN Shop this week, with older products anywhere from 20-50% off. The biggest discount is on the remaining copies of The 10th Anniversary Guide. Check out all of the deals at the PBN Shop.

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