Not a novel about Johnny Fastballer of the Toledo Mud Hens but rather a tome on the minor leagues, the purpose of which is to complement the statistical cornucopia on the majors known as The Baseball Encyclopedia. Obojski traces the growth of the minors from their formation in 1877 through current days and currently declining revenues. Major obstacles which threatened the leagues way back then included player jumps from the minors to the majors (later solved by the reserve clause) and general organizational woes which were eventually remedied when the minors were structured by the formation of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues in 1902. The A, B,C,D ball classification system adopted then lasted for 60 years until the minors were regrouped into the AAA,AA,A and rookie leagues. Even more significant was the recent (1962) Player Development Plan guaranteeing the existence of at least 100 minor league teams. The bulk of this work is a ""detailed discussion"" of seven minor leagues -- facts and feats, standings, batting champs and the like. Still less eye-popping is a list of nearly complete rosters since 1902. A few pioneer profiles are also included -- those of Branch Rickey, ""the father of baseball's farm system,"" who later signed Jackie Robinson -- and George Weiss who produced the Yankee greats of yesteryear. Historically invaluable though this may be, such a bottom-heavy reference will be a bit too specialized for those who haven't heard of Russell ""Buzz"" Arlett and Justin ""Nig"" Clarke. . .or Joe Hauser and Homer Peel?