Hy Turkin, a New York Daily News reporter, and S.C. Thompson, a part-time statistician at the Elias Baseball Bureau, began collaborating in 1944. They both had an interest in expanding on Ernest Lanigan’s work, The Baseball Cyclopedia, by including birth and death information, as well as statistics.
The two teamed up and spent the next seven years preparing the first edition of The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball, which was published in hardcover in 1951 by A.S. Barnes & Co., in conjunction with Baseball’s Diamond Jubilee – the 75th anniversary of the National League. Lanigan was among those who helped, and 50,000 copies were sold.
So well received was the book that it was updated in 1956 and again in 1959, after which both Turkin and Thompson passed on. Roger Treat did the fourth edition in 1962, and upon his death, his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Peter Rowe Treat did edition five in 1970 and edition six in 1972. (Two competitors, the Roland Encyclopedia of Baseball, and Nelson’s 20th Century Encyclopedia of Baseball failed to pull readers from Turkin & Thompson). Eventually, Pete Palmer took it through its tenth and final edition in 1979, by which time its importance had been far exceeded by the MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia.