Ritter got the idea for the book in 1961 upon the death, at the age of 74, of Ty Cobb. He realised that those who played baseball in the early years of the 20th century were now old men, and he resolved to interview as many of them as he could in order to record their memories. Ritter travelled 75,000 miles to interview his subjects, sitting for hours listening to them tell their tales into his tape recorder. The book retells their stories in the first-person, as they were told to Ritter.
The interviews were made between 1962 and 1966, when the book was published. An enlarged edition was issued in 1984, with the additions of George Gibson, Babe Herman, Specs Toporcer, and Hank Greenberg. More recently, the actual recordings of the interviews have been released on audiocasette and CD.
The subjects are,