Total Sports Publishing

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Total Sports Publishing refers to a book publishing company based in Kingston, New York, that operated from 1998 to 2002. Prominent author John Thorn served as the division's publisher throughout its existence.

Total Sports

Thorn and Michael Gershman had been packaging books for other publishers since the late 1980s, most notably their baseball encyclopedia, Total Baseball. Thorn and Gershman called their company "Baseball Ink."

The pair joined forces with internet news company KOZ, Inc. to form Total Sports in 1998. The new company was headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, and led by George Schlukbier. Thorn's publishing division took root in his hometown of Kingston, New York, while Gershman headed the company's Manhattan office on Park Avenue.

This merger proved to be an ill-fated arrangement. The burst of the dot-com bubble led the two companies to split after less than two years. Thorn led a management buyout of the publishing division during the summer of 2000. The Raleigh-based web business was purchased by the San Francisco-based internet company Quokka Sports. Both Thorn's new venture and Quokka Sports would declare bankruptcy by 2002.


TSP's editorial staff included most of the prominent sports reference editors of the era, including Thorn, David Pietrusza, Pete Palmer, Bob Carroll, Gary Gillette, Sean Lahman, Dan Diamond, Mike Meserole, Beau Riffenburgh, Kenneth Shouler and Matthew Silverman.


TSP was best known for its massive sports encyclopedias, each generally more than 2000 pages, such as Total Baseball, Total Football and Total Hockey. These volumes were updated at regular intervals, and bore the official endorsements of the leagues whose history they covered: Major League Baseball, the National Football League, or the National Hockey League. These books were universally hailed as a quantum leap in the sports reference genre.

Total Sports Illustrated

An alliance with Sports Illustrated created the "Total/Sports Illustrated" imprint, which published best sellers such as Don Zimmer's autobiography as well as books by magazine staff writers such as Rick Reilly and Peter King. The TSI line was also renowned for its "Classics" series, which reprinted great books by well-known authors, including Frank Deford, Leonard Koppett, Lawrence Ritter, Robert Creamer, W. C. Heinz, Peter Gent and Lee Allen.

A Life in Pictures series

Another hallmark of the company was pictorial autobiographies of legendary athletes, including Henry Aaron (with Dick Schaap), Ted Williams (with David Pietrusza) and Wayne Gretzky (with John Davidson). Each book contained pictures documenting the life of the subject, many of which came from their own personal collection. Books in this series bore the subtitle "A Life in Pictures."

Books published

External links