Editor's note: Spring 2014 Baseball Research Journal
This article was published in the Spring 2014 Baseball Research Journal.
I often hear baseball called “the most individual of team sports.” Each player’s interactions with the ball are largely discrete, and yet it is the sum of these interactions that makes up the team effort. Each batter in the lineup takes a turn, no fielder can turn to a teammate for help except in a few specific situations. And yet team chemistry is cited as a crucial element in success. Baseball, for all its emphasis on the individual, is still a team sport.
It struck me while editing this issue of the journal that SABR is a bit like that, too. The vast majority of researchers are alone in the library, or compiling their spreadsheet, or at their computer. And yet it is our collective power that has elevated SABR to where it stands today. When those opportunities arise to help one another, through research requests on SABR-L, or chance meetings at chapter meetings, or any number of other ways, we do. While editing the journal, I see peer reviewers often provide the missing link to a paper they are evaluating. It’s not uncommon for us to receive feedback that says “the author is barking up the right tree, but here’s the bit they need to make their conclusion cohere.”
And of course it’s teamwork that creates the fantastic book projects we've seen coming from committees and chapters recently, like the Nineteenth Century Committee’s book Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century, or the many BioProject books. Every team has — and needs — its stars, workhorses, and utility players. So if you've been thinking about joining one of these efforts, I encourage you to do so. You might just have a cup of coffee, or you might end up in a long and varied career. My first effort for SABR was an essay I wrote for The Fenway Project at my very first SABR convention. The next thing I knew, I was volunteering to typeset the book. A little while later I wrote a bio for the BioProject. I got roped at one point into helping update the SABR Style Guide. I helped edit the Impossible Dream Red Sox book. I guess I was like a utility player who, thanks to experience playing all over the field, becomes a candidate to manage.
In my lineup card this time around, I get to write in the names of veterans like Pete Palmer and Andy McCue, and newcomers making their rookie debuts like Paul Hertz and Russell Ormiston. Every team needs a hot prospect from Japan: meet Takeyuki Inohiza from our Tokyo chapter. This issue has history, sociology, physiology, memorabilia, major leagues, minor leagues, and good-ol’-fashioned stats. I also note several stories with a New York connection of one kind or another, which is not uncommon. But I would like to encourage diversity, both among the contributors and the topics of study. Open tryouts are always on, you know: submit your queries and ideas to me at PubDir@sabr.org and I’ll send you the details.
Remember, although you may feel you’re flying solo, you have a whole team around you. Use the massive resource that is the brainpower and knowledge of SABR members. The next thing you know, you'll be the wily veteran in the clubhouse giving tips to the rookies.
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CECILIA M. TAN is SABR's Publications Editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.