How to Do Baseball Research: Baseball Print Periodicals

Baseball magazines, newspapers and the sports sections of general-circulation papers remain a prime source of research material. More and more of this is migrating to the web, but much remains only on yellowing paper or microfilm.

Have migrated to the web

The Sporting News. 1886-present. St. Louis: C.C. Spink Publishing Co. Through 2003, this is available to SABR members by logging on to http://sabr.org/paperofrecord. The searchable issues run from the beginning through 2003.

Sporting Life. 1883-1917, 1922-1926. Name changed to Sport Life in 1924. Sporting Life was a very serious competitor for baseball news in its first thirty-four years of existence, the period when Francis C. Richter was the editor. The LA84 Foundation library is in the process of digitizing the publication and many issues are already available at http://search.la84.org.

Website and printed

USA Today Sports Weekly (formerly USA Today Baseball Weekly). Alexandria, Va: Gannett Publishing. Sports Weekly is the closest thing available to The Sporting News of old, but it lacks the in-depth coverage that made TSN great, and its high consciousness of fantasy baseball orients many articles in that direction.

Baseball America. 1981-present. Durham, N.C.: American Sports Publishing. Baseball America concentrates on minor league baseball, but from the perspective of major league player development. It has excellent columnists and a thoughtful approach to issues that affect the minors. It began as a monthly and steadily increased its publishing frequency over the years, currently producing an issue every two weeks.

Microfilm

New York Clipper. 1853-1924. The New York Clipper was the first publication to devote a great deal of space to baseball, along with the theater, the paper's first and last love. Baseball coverage was much heavier in the nineteenth century than in the publication's later years. Click here to access New York Clipper archives, 1853-1924.

Spirit of the Times, operated under slightly different names, esp. Porter’s Spirit of the Times, from 1839 until late in the 19th century. Baseball coverage was sporadic.

Baseball Magazines

Springtime usually sees an explosion of annual baseball magazines, the most enduring of which are Street and Smith's Baseball Yearbook (1941-2006, published under slightly different titles in earlier years) and The Sporting News Baseball Yearbook (1982-present). Dell and other publishers also produced annuals for a number of years.

These magazines are generally built around rosters, schedules, profiles of current stars, analyses of the most recent season, and predictions for the coming season. They can be an excellent source for understanding the expectations for a given season. Such general sports magazines as Sport (1946-present) and Sports Illustrated (1954-present) also provide baseball coverage during the season.

Baseball Digest. 1942-present. Evanston, lL: Lakeside Publishing Co. Baseball Digest has always been a somewhat breezy publication, very oriented to the fan. The staples of the magazine are profiles and other material about individual players. It contains both original articles and reprints from newspapers around the country, as well as rosters and statistical tables. A large number (but not all) issues of the magazine were scanned and put online at Google News, but this archive hs been unavailable in recent years.

The Baseball Research Journal, 1972-present, and The National Pastime, 1982-present. The Society for American Baseball Research. These two publications of SABR contain the research output of its members. In general, these publications have appeared annually, although The National Pastime appeared twice in 1985. In 2009, the Baseball Research Journal became a twice-annual publication while The National Pastime contains research articles connected to the site of that year’s annual convention. Some TNP issues have been primarily pictorial. Many issues are available online at our Baseball Research Journal archives page. Originals or reprints are also available at the SABR Bookstore or through the University of Nebraska Press, P.O. Box 880484, Lincoln, NE 68588-0484. Both publications are completely indexed through The Baseball Index.

Nine: A Journal of Baseball History and Social Policy Perspectives. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992-present. Nine is an academic publication with feature articles and numerous book reviews twice a year. There is a heavy emphasis on literature and sociological topics.

Defunct

Lane, F.G., ed. Baseball Magazine. 1908-1957; 1964-1965. Boston, New York, and Washington, DC: Baseball Magazine Co. From its inception until the early 1950s, when it fell on hard times, Baseball Magazine was a major publication. Especially in the years from the early 1910s to the mid-1930s, when it was edited by F.C. Lane, the monthly magazine produced some of the more thoughtful articles on the game. The LA84 Foundation Library in Los Angeles has digitized quite a number of issues from 1909-1918 and they are available at http://search.la84.org.

Elysian Fields Quarterly. 1981-1995; 1998-2008. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Started as The Minneapolis Review of Baseball and changed to EFQ in 1992. It contained essays, poetry, fiction and analysis from the fan’s point of view.

Spitball, 1981-present, Cincinnati: Ohio. Irregularly published anywhere from one to four issues a year, is similar to EFQ, but with a greater emphasis on poetry and fiction.

* * *

SABR’s Bibliography Research Committee has published fifteen research guides which can be a great help. Some have been mentioned already. Here are the others, with the year of publication in parentheses:

  • #1 - Baseball Figures in Current Biography (1986).
  • #2 - Index to Professional Baseball Figures in Who’s Who in American Sports (1986).
  • #4 - Indexes to Stars and Authors in Baseball Stars of 1950, 1953-1975 (1986).
  • #6 - Baseball Figures in Dictionary of American Biography (1987).
  • #7 - Overview and Pre-1948 Player Index for Who’s Who in Baseball (1987).
  • #8 - Index to Daguerreotypes of Great Stars of Baseball, all editions (1987) .
  • #9 - (Library) Collections on the History of American Baseball.
  • #10 - Baseball in History Journals.
  • #11 - Daguerreotypes Published in The Sporting News, a Checklist.
  • #12 - Leaves from a Fan’s Scrapbook Published in The Sporting News.
  • #13 - The Dope Book, 1942, 1948-1985, a Subject Index.
  • #14 - Box Scores of Major and Minor Leagues in Sporting Life and The Sporting News, a Chronology (1985).

Click here to access the Bibliography Committee Research Guides.

 

       
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