A Baseball Guide is an annual publication that includes a review of the previous season, including a detailed statistical record, and team rosters and league information for the upcoming season. The guides may also contain pictures, articles about events recent and more distant, a section on current rules, a list of awards given in past years, and a necrology.
There have been several Baseball Guides since the 19th century - the Spalding Guide and Reach Guide were the primary ones for decades. The two merged eventually and then were replaced by the Guides put out by The Sporting News. The main features of the Spalding and TSN Guides have been detailed coverage of minor league results; since the late 1920s, they have contained annual statistics for the vast majority of minor leagues. Several Guides have been official publications, such as the Barnes & Company one in 1945 or the Sporting News ones from the late 1940s through early 1990s. In the days when multiple competing guides were used, it is not as clear which guide is being referred to. The Sporting News ceased publication after their Guide following the 2006 edition, leaving the Baseball America Almanac as the sole major statistic annual the following year. In 2008, The Emerald Guide began publication, including a 2007 edition to fill the gap created by the Sporting News Guide's demise.
The Baseball America Almanac began its publication in 1986 as the Baseball America's Statistics Report, changing its name in 1988 and going full-sized in 1993. Baseball Weekly published a similar almanac from 1992 to 1999.
A list of Baseball Guides:
- Beadle's Dime Base-Ball Player (1860-1881)
- DeWitt's Base-Ball Guide (1868-1885)
- Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide (1878-1939), including Spalding's Official Base Ball Record Book, 1908-1924
- Reach's Official Base Ball Guide (1883-1939)
- Spalding-Reach Official Base Ball Guide (1940-1941)
- The Sporting News Official Baseball Guide (1942-2006)
- 1943 Baseball (the Commissioner's Guide) (1943)
- Official Baseball (A.S. Barnes & Co.) (1945-1946)
- Baseball America Statistics Report (1986-1987)
- Baseball America Almanac (1988-present)
- Baseball Weekly Almanac (1992-1999)
- The Emerald Guide (2007-present)
In addition to the guides listed above, there were other baseball guides published. Many sporting equipment manufacturers produced a guide with their name on it at one time or another; Wright & Ditson put out a guide from 1884 to 1886, and from 1910 to 1912; Rawlings published a guide from 1922 to 1946. The guides on the main list were and are by far the best and most comprehensive of their times.