The name Zander Hollander may not mean much to the majority of my readers. But for some of us, mostly men who grew up in the late 70s and early 80s loving sports, he played a huge role in our formative years as sports fans.
Mr. Hollander, who was the creative force behind the Complete Handbook series, died last week at the age of 91.
One of the few splurge purchases I was allowed to make when I was young, and my parents were short on cash, was the occasional book from the Scholastic book flyers that came home from school. Whenever one of Hollander’s new guides to the NFL, NBA, or MLB appeared, I pounced on it. Once it arrived, I quickly turned to the section on my favorite team and devoured all the profiles and stats. Then I flipped around and read the details on my favorite players who weren’t on my team of choice. Then I’d read through the reviews of the previous season and previews of the coming season. Eventually, I made it through the whole thing, although never from front-to-back.
As this terrific profile from last summer states, Hollander’s books were the best source for information-hungry sports fans in the pre-Internet era. They were jam-packed with statistics, schedules, and essays to keep you busy for months, but small enough to throw into your book bag or take along wherever you went.
I think I’ll go dig through the boxes in the attic and see if, by chance, any of my old Complete Handbooks have survived 30-plus years of moves and purges.
For Sports Fans, Before the Internet, There Were the Complete Handbooks