Skip to main content

Before The Internet Sports Fans Had Zander Hollander

There is an absolutely fantastic feature in the New York Times this week about Zander Hollander. For nearly three decades he wrote annual "Complete Handbooks" about hockey, baseball, football and basketball. He wrote over 300 sports books over 45 years. I have most of the hockey books, though a couple of seasons are very hard to get a hold of.

These books were the bible of sports back then, spreading statistics and player biography information that simply was not compiled in such a "complete" and "handy" format until the internet came along. Sports fans of that era owe Hollander a debt of gratitutde.

This story, authored by Pete Croatto, is a celebration of Hollander's work and life. But it does have a sad ending.

From 1971 to 1997, Hollander edited sports yearbooks, brick-sized tomes known as Complete Handbooks, which in the pre-Internet era were almost holy objects to a certain type of sports-crazed youngster. Here, in one glorious place, was information — statistics, team rosters, records, schedules, predictions for the coming season and more — freed from the restrictions of newspaper column inches and far beyond what a still embryonic cable television system was providing.

In black and white were photos and detailed profiles of players from every team, players that even the most devoted fans might glimpse only in a rare nationally televised network game of the week or an All-Star contest, if at all. The work was Hollander’s driving force. Then he had a stroke, with Alzheimer’s following shortly after. Now 90, he no longer remembers the books that he struggled to produce, that brought him professional fulfillment, friendships and minor fame.

Here's the full story, including the complete behind-the-scenes look at how Hollander produced so many books every year.


Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M