It works just like the formation of mountain chains. As the earth's plates shift beneath the continents, there is a resulting upthrust of rock that becomes towering peaks. Likewise, as each year's mass of major league baseball statistics settles into the fans' subconscious, there is a resulting upthrust of trivia. Of course, the writers are there to put the stuff into books for your entertainment and profit.
Of the dozens of trivia books issued this spring, two should bring special joy and enable you to win beer bets for a month: The All-Time Baseball Teams Book by Frank Coffey ( St. Martin's Press, $5.95) and The Great American Baseball Lineup Quiz Book by Richard Chilton (Atheneum, $9.95). All-Time is strictly for fun; Lineup is for serious students of the game.
All-Time offers you the Edible Name team: Start with Coot Veal, Dizzy Trout and Mark Lemongello and go on from there. Also, the Amorous team: Ed Hug, Tom Letcher, Paul Casanova. And the Dubious Distinction team: Ralph Branca, Mickey Owen, Fred Merkle. And many more.
Lineup makes you work hard. Only one team in history can boast a complete lineup in the Hall of Fame composed of ex-players. Guessing the team may be easy; naming the lineup is tough. Next, start with Babe Ruth and list everyone who ever played for both Boston teams before the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1952. There are 48 others. Honest.
One last monster—82 major-leaguers were born outside the Western Hemisphere. We'll give you Bobby Thomson ( Scotland), Bert Blyleven ( Holland) and Moe Drabowsky ( Poland), and let's see how much farther you can go.
A few easy ones, to keep you interested: After reading both books, you should be able to list complete lineups of players named Brown(e), Robinson, Mickey, Frank and Willie without too much trouble. But don't try Thompson unless you're really an expert. Or players whose last names begin with Z or end with X.