Collectibles: Ballpark Figure

  • The Major League Baseball Opus Marquee Edition includes more than 1,000 images (Jackie Robinson shown here) from the MLB archives.
  • Oliver Slosser

If the Major League Baseball Opus Marquee Edition had a trading card, the back would read something like this: pages: 790; size: 20 x 20 inches; weight: 75 pounds; images: 1,000+; words: 110,000+; cost: $3,000. The new tome’s supersize dimensions (and price tag) may bring to mind baseball’s steroid era, but the contents of this latest work from Opus Media Group reflect the class, style, and finesse of the game’s glory days.

London-based Opus, which in 2006 released a similarly sized book on football’s Super Bowl, is producing only 1,000 examples of the Major League Baseball Opus Marquee Edition. (A smaller and lower-priced Classic Edition, as well as Major League team-specific versions, will also be available.) The volume chronicles the great American pastime from the first recorded game in 1846 to the present. "It’s the definitive publication on the greatest sport in the world," says Mark Skelly, president of Opus Media Group Americas. "Because of our partnership with Major League Baseball, we can offer images and content unavailable to any other publication."

Indeed, more than half of the photos in the Major League Baseball Opus are exclusive to the book, and many of the images have never before appeared in print. During the selection process, Opus’ creative and production teams pored over hundreds of thousands of pictures from the Major League archives. They reproduced the selections with an eye toward retaining each image’s original character while achieving the sharpest picture possible. "It was similar to restoring great pieces of art," says Dot McMahon, the project’s creative director. "We’d sometimes spend a full day on a single image."

Overall, the Major League Baseball Opus required roughly two years to complete. The publication joins eight other large-scale works from Opus, including the 950-page, 90-pound Super Bowl volume (which sold out) and books on everything from the Manchester United soccer club to pop legend Michael Jackson. Each project costs more than $1 million to produce and includes never-before-seen images and editorial.

The baseball book, which will ship in time for the World Series in October, features contributions from more than 50 writers, including a forward by Roger Kahn. The book also offers excerpts from memoirs by such players as Jackie Robinson and a section on streaks by ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian.

Skelly, who oversaw the project, appreciates that baseball is a game of statistics and says he wanted the book to set records that could not be broken. "There will never be anything like it—ever," he claims. The book will, however, soon have new siblings in the Opus portfolio: The publisher is working on volumes about Ferrari, the South African rugby team Springboks, and the Barcelona soccer club.

Opus Media Group, 800.207.1010, www.mlbopus.com

From Around the Web...
1973 Andy Warhol silkscreen from the artist’s Mao series
Warhol’s silkscreen depicting the Chinese communist leader hits the auction block on April 2…
Stanley Bard part-owner and manager of Manhattan’s legendary Chelsea Hotel
The art collection of legendary Chelsea Hotel manager Stanley Bard will hit the auction block…
Rothko’s No. 1, painted in 1949 as the first in a series of 12
No. 1 and Transom will hit the block as two of 50-plus lots at a Christie’s London sale in New York…
Heartfelt correspondence and stunning jewels are among many remarkable items set to cross the block...
The Beatles, Bob Marley, and Barbra Streisand all hit the auction block in this landmark sale…
A rendering of the new Christie's center in Beverly Hills.
Set to debut in April, the 5,400-square-foot center will feature two floors for sales and events…
More than 100 of Britto’s original works will be on exhibit and for sale…
Phillips auction house’s Robert Manley shares the secrets to building a successful art collection…
The ultra-exclusive writing instrument collection abounds with diamonds and gems that twinkle like...
AP/REX/Shutterstock
The lineup of heavy hitters include articles once owned by Evel Knievel, Babe Ruth, and Jim Brown…