- "Biff opened the safe. He pulled a box off the center shelf, then dug a key out of his pocket and unlocked the box. He grinned and pulled the Sports Almanac out for Marty to see. / Marty had to admit it: the book didn't look like much, unless you knew what it was — especially now that it had seen thirty years of wear and tear. The dust jacket was gone, the pages were worn and turning yellow, there were even a couple of what looked like mustard stains on the spine."
- — From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 132)
- "You see this book? This book tells the future. Tells the results of every major sports event till the end of this century--"
- —Old Biff discussing the almanac with his younger self in 1955.
- " A liver-spotted hand closed over the book and snatched it away [from Marty's reach in the backseat of Biff's car]. / "You damned fool!" Old Biff yelled. "Never leave this book lying around! Don't you have a safe?" The old man made a disgusted sound, deep in his throat. "No, you don't have a safe. Get a safe! Keep the book locked up! And until then, keep the book on you! Like this!" / Marty could hear Old Biff stuffing the book some place or other. Car doors opened and closed. They were getting out! "
- —From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, pages 154 and 155)
Grays Sports Almanac: Complete Sports Statistics 1950-2000, also known as Grays Sports Almanac (novelization), was a compilation of sports statistics and scores that was sold at the Blast from the Past antique/memorabilia store in downtown Hill Valley in 2015.
The almanac covered many sports from 1950 to 2000, including football, baseball, hockey, horse racing, boxing, slamball, golf, tennis, track, polo, bowling, surfing, sailing, auto racing, rugby, soccer (a.k.a. football in the UK), ping pong, darts, swimming, diving, ice skating, racquetball, rodeo, and more. Gray's had been making almanacs since 1923.
According to Blast from the Past's futuristic-looking receipt, which was printed on translucent blue plastic with white print (as opposed to the more familiar white paper with black print), the almanac cost $29.00, plus $3.19 tax, making a total of $32.19.
The Grays Sports Almanac had been released on December 31, 2000, marking the end of the 20th century.
On October 21, 2015, Marty McFly happened upon the book and fantasized about knowing the scores before they occurred to make money. When Dr. Emmett Brown found the almanac, he immediately discouraged Marty from using it or the DeLorean time machine for financial gain. As Doc was about to place the book in a mobile trashcan called a Litter Bug, he saw police officers Reese and Foley investigating Jennifer, whom he had earlier tranquilized and left in an alleyway. After the officers went away, Doc threw the book into a traditional stationary trashcan and walked off. Unbeknownst to Marty or Doc, Old Biff Tannen had been listening to the conversation all along, and he had discovered the existence of the time machine. However, Biff followed Doc and Marty to Hilldale in a taxicab, then stole the DeLorean while they were distracted in trying to rescue Jennifer from the future McFly residence.
Old Biff made one trip to November 12, 1955, where he handed the book off to his younger self, in the hopes of improving his life. Having met Young Biff, Old Biff proved to him the validity of the almanac and left it with him. After this, Old Biff returned to the DeLorean and to 2015. However, shortly after arriving, he suddenly clutched his chest and doubled over in pain, staggered away, collapsed behind a stationary car and faded from existence, but not before leaving in the car the silver-colored Blast from the Past bag and the receipt for the almanac, as well as the clenched fist-shaped top of his broken cane.
Biff was reluctant to believe "some old codger with a cane", but eventually came to believe its validity. Using it as a guide for betting, by 1985 he became a celebrity and built a financial corrupted empire in an alternate reality, where he secretly murdered George McFly, married Lorraine Baines McFly and ousted their son, Marty. On October 26, Marty, Doc, and Jennifer returned to 1985 and found themselves in an alternate reality. Doc discovered the items Old Biff left in the DeLorean. Doc explained Marty that the almanac caused all this and urged him to ask Biff, now his stepfather, the time he got the almanac and remedy the event.
Marty went to Biff Tannen's Pleasure Paradise Casino & Hotel to ask Biff about the almanac. Biff was hesitant at first, but eventually revealed that he received the book on November 12, 1955, from "some old codger" (himself). Biff then mentioned that he had been warned by the old man, that if anyone came asking about the almanac, he should kill them; by then, Biff already had a pistol at the ready. Marty distracted Biff and ran off, avoiding bullet fire. Marty, ending up on the roof of the casino, was cornered by Biff, until he saw his opportunity to leave, and jumped off... onto the hood of the DeLorean. Having walloped Biff on the jaw with the DeLorean's gullwing door, knocking him cold, Doc and Marty then traveled back to 1955 to prevent Biff from ever making use of the almanac.
Back to 1955
Upon returning to November 12, 1955, Doc made mention of two Docs and two Martys, and that encountering one of the two could create a paradox to be avoided at all costs. Marty, in disguise, tracked Biff down to his house, and then into town. Unknown to Marty, Old Biff was behind a tree on the opposite side of the street. Marty climbed into the back seat and covered himself up. Old Biff then got into Biff's car and, after some heated discussion with his younger self, drove back to the house with the car. There, in the garage, Old Biff revealed the sports almanac, telling Young Biff never to leave the book lying around; to buy a safe and keep the book locked up (and until then, to always keep it on him); and never to tell anyone about the book. Old Biff told his younger self about Doc and Marty as they left the garage, locking Marty inside.
By nightfall, Biff left the house for the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, taking a few looks through the almanac on the way to the dance. Sometime during the dance, Biff put the dust cover of the almanac with an Oh La La pinup magazine, perhaps to prevent Mr. Strickland from taking it (Strickland took the pinup magazine instead). After coming up empty, Marty realized that Biff was outside harassing Lorraine and that Biff would soon be punched by George. After the event, Marty claimed to give Biff CPR and took back the almanac, with Lester believing that Marty had stolen Biff's wallet.
After preventing Biff's goons from beating his other self up, Marty ran into Biff outside the school, and the two faced off, but the fight was interrupted when Marty's other self (on his way to rendezvous with the Doc of 1955 at the clocktower) hit him with the door, exposing the almanac. Biff took it again and kicked Marty in the chest. A chase ensued with Doc and the DeLorean flying in behind Biff's car. Marty, on his hoverboard, snuck up to the passenger door and reached for the almanac, but Biff reacted and fought for it. Marty grabbed the almanac but was faced with a long tunnel to escape. Marty was nearly run over by Biff, but managed to grab flags from the Lyon Estates sign attached to the DeLorean. Biff looked up in awe, then back down, and then crashed into another manure truck.
Marty and Doc returned to Lyon Estates as storm clouds began to sparkle with lightning. Marty burned the almanac in a bucket, and everything became normal again. The wording on the matchbook cover changed back to BIFF'S AUTO DETAILING, and the newspaper stories with George McFly being murdered (GEORGE McFLY MURDERED) and Doc being committed (EMMETT BROWN COMMITTED) changed to George and Doc both receiving awards (the headlines reading GEORGE McFLY HONORED and EMMETT BROWN COMMENDED respectively).
After arriving back with his family in 1991, Doc opened the Institute of Future Technology and soon after, went back to 2015 and bought the almanac. Soon after, he threw it away (after also checking to see if Biff was there).
Behind the scenes
- Bob Gale has commented that "a book of 50 years of sports statistics, with that many sports in it, would be fifty times thicker... but that's 'movie logic' versus 'real logic'." It was essential to the plot that the book be thin enough to be carried in Biff's pocket, and that it have a dust jacket.
- The almanac contains an incredible amount of detail, including college football games played on November 12, 1955, and the results of horse races on Biff's 21st birthday in 1958.
- In an early draft of the sequel, it was contemplated that the almanac would have 5,000 pages, made out of a very thin (if not dustproof) type of paper available by the year 2000.
- Given that newspapers from the future change as the timeline is altered (due to the ripple effect), it's conceivable that such an almanac would always be accurate. And possibly, the book itself experimented the ripple effect if an event registered there happened in a different way on the alternate timeline.
- Back to the Future Part II is one of only a few films in which an almanac is a plot device. In the 1939 film Young Mr. Lincoln, the information from an almanac was a critical element in the final reel. The film was directed by John Ford, a director whose work was admired by Bob Gale.