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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Zander Hollander, Sports Trivia Shepherd, Dies at 91

Zander Hollander, a journeyman journalist who rebounded from the merger of his newspaper in the mid-1960s by becoming what Sports Illustrated called “the unofficial king of sports paperbacks” — particularly a once wildly popular series of encyclopedic yearbooks — died on Friday in a nursing home in Manhattan. He was 91.

The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, his wife, Phyllis, said.

Before televised sports were pervasive and the Internet a nonstop gusher of sports trivia, Mr. Hollander found a niche in the market by annually providing statistics, team rosters, records, schedules and predictions for the coming season in the form of brick-size tomes he titled “Complete Handbooks.” He offered them for hockey, baseball, soccer and college and professional football and basketball…

The yearbooks were just one part of Mr. Hollander’s body of work. He also chronicled sports bloopers and wrote a history of Madison Square Garden, among other subjects. All told, he edited, wrote or packaged 300 books.

His wife said that, with her help and occasionally that of assistants, Mr. Hollander churned out books like an assembly line, starting with the submission of an outline to a publishing house. If the idea was accepted, he would recruit well-known writers in the appropriate field. He assembled photographs, wrote captions and did all the editing…

While writing for [The World-Telegram newspaper], Mr. Hollander became friendly with a young lawyer, Howard Cosell, who rode the same bus. Mr. Cosell represented the Little League of New York and had been asked by the local radio station WABC to host a show featuring Little League players. Mr. Hollander agreed to help out by writing scripts and recruiting sports celebrities. Neither man was paid, but it was the beginning of Mr. Cosell’s sports broadcasting career.

The District Attorney Posted: April 20, 2014 at 10:56 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: books, obituaries, zander hollander

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   1. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: April 20, 2014 at 12:42 PM (#4689621)
I loved those books as a kid, especially the "Astrological Previews" of the then-future years of 1981-91, with World Series on the moon and the Super Bowl in China! Great stuff!
   2. puck Posted: April 20, 2014 at 01:21 PM (#4689643)
Those books were indeed great. They had useful info and bios, and some really funny stuff.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 20, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4689646)
Books inspired by individuals rather than committees are usually the ones to keep, and Hollander's were definitely in the former category.
   4. Mark Armour Posted: April 20, 2014 at 01:31 PM (#4689653)
I loved these books, and still have a complete set. There is really nothing like this today, mainly because the guy had the field to himself and did not feel the need to change a great formula.

   5. Publius Publicola Posted: April 20, 2014 at 01:32 PM (#4689654)
I loved his NBA annual. But boy, could he be mean! On Lancaster Gordon (Hollander thought Gordon a disappointment, to say the least) "Here Lancaster, fetch this bone!" I laughed anyway though.
   6. puck Posted: April 20, 2014 at 02:46 PM (#4689690)
There is really nothing like this today, mainly because the guy had the field to himself and did not feel the need to change a great formula.


The other reason why there's nothing like this today is because everything's like this today. Back then, the snarky comments stuck out. Now everyone does it.
   7. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: April 20, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4689759)
I remember that the Complete Handbook of Baseball really was complete; it included how many times each batter was awarded first base on catcher's interference.
   8. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 20, 2014 at 05:22 PM (#4689788)
Those books were great. I damn near memorized them as a kid.
   9. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: April 20, 2014 at 07:13 PM (#4689856)
I loved his NBA annual. But boy, could he be mean!

My favourite bit : Is T. R. Dunn?
   10. Jose Canusee Posted: April 20, 2014 at 08:25 PM (#4689913)
This had already been printed in Time magazine last week. I had a lot of Baseball Handbooks (only a few Street and Smith) still mostly together in boxes. Didn't remember it being snarky, mostly predicting next year's race would be the same as last year's.
Too bad someone who relied a lot on memory got Alzheimer's; wonder whether he tired of sports rather than kept his mind active digging up trivia about current teams/players.
   11. puck Posted: April 21, 2014 at 12:21 AM (#4690015)
Didn't remember it being snarky

I remember it more in the NBA books than the MLB annuals. Not sure about the NFL (only had a couple) and I didn't have any NHL books.
   12. djordan Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:27 PM (#4690626)
The most Zander Hollander comment that stays with me was his opening description of Bill Robinson in 1978: "No Brooks at third. No Frank at bat." Always made March better in my childhood.
   13. djordan Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:37 PM (#4690637)
One more thing: for anyone here who has never read one of the Complete Handbook of Baseball annuals, go on eBAY or Amazon. Hollander started losing his fastball a bit toward the end of the '80s, but if you spot the older books & can spare the $5-8 dollars, don't hesitate to grab one. About a year ago, I finally found a 1972 for about $19. It was like Christmas when I opened the mailbox and found the package. I really loved these books.
   14. Steve Treder Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:43 PM (#4690642)
Hollander's annual baseball series was terrific. Although it followed essentially the same formula as a slightly earlier series by Jack Zanger, it was vastly superior to Zanger's because Hollander was unafraid to write candidly about the weaknesses of players as well as their strengths.

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