SABR

Spring 2014

Volume 43, Issue 1

  • Allan Roth: The First Front Office Statistician By Andy McCue

    Beginning with his hiring by the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s, Allan Roth pushed the analysis of baseball statistics to a new level. He promoted himself into a place those other analysts only aspired to. Roth was the first to be employed full time by a major league team, “the only zealot lucky enough to work for a major league team and to get to test his theories first hand.”

  • The Creation of the Alexander Cartwright Myth By Richard Hershberger

    The two most well-known stories of baseball's creation — that of Abner Doubleday in 1839 and Alexander Cartwright in 1845 — are intimately connected: born together in the early 20th century and joined ever since. The Doubleday Myth has been debunked many times. This is the less-told story of how the Cartwright Myth came to be, and its ties to the Doubleday Myth.

  • Stolen Bases and Caught Stealing by Catchers: Updating Total Player Rating By Pete Palmer

    In 1984's The Hidden Game of Baseball, Pete Palmer came up with a total player rating involving batting, pitching, base running, and fielding. New data on stolen bases over the last two decades inspires the author to update his rating for catchers.

  • McGraw’s Streak: 26 Consecutive Games Without A Loss in 1916 By Max Blue

    In the fall of 1916, New York Giants manager John McGraw drove his motley collection of unlikely heroes to win — day after day. He almost convinced them that they would never lose again. For three magical weeks they were unbeatable, achieving the longest unbeaten streak in baseball history.

  • Clyde Sukeforth: The Dodgers’ Yankee and Branch Rickey’s Maine Man By Karl Lindholm

    Clyde Sukeforth was the consummate Yankee, though he was never associated with the New York Yankees baseball club, and for 20 of the 48 years he drew a paycheck in baseball, he was a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Yankees’ arch-rivals. Sukeforth was a Yankee from Maine.
    As Branch Rickey’s collaborator and confidant, Sukeforth is well-known for his role in the Jackie Robinson integration saga.

  • Identifying Undated Ticket Stubs: An Attempt to Recapture Baseball History By Dr. James Reese

    Some professional baseball teams did not include dates on regular season tickets before 1974. Therefore, many stubs exist as a tangible part of sports history, but remain unidentified and have lost their historical significance. This study attempts to identify pre-1974 regular season grandstand and bleacher tickets issued by the New York Yankees. Numerous unique details exist on ticket stubs to assist researchers in trying to identify the date each ticket was used.

  • “Many Exciting Chases After the Ball”: Nineteenth Century Base Ball in Bismarck, Dakota Territory By Terry Bohn

    After the Civil War, the U.S. Army built dozens of military forts on the Great Plains. As the railroads pushed westward, settlers soon followed, and the first cities on the western frontier were established. From the earliest days, the playing of base ball was a favorite pastime, first by the soldiers and later by the new citizens in the territories. This essay traces the development of baseball in and around Bismarck from the earliest known origins through North Dakota statehood in 1889.

  • The Great 1952 Florida International League Pennant Race By Sam Zygner and Steve Smith

    South Florida is notoriously hot in the summer, but conditions heated up another notch in 1952 when the Miami Sun Sox and the Miami Beach Flamingos fought it out in one of the great pennant races of minor league baseball. The 1952 dash for the pennant involved two colorful managers, the contentious Johnny “Pepper” Martin of Miami Beach and former Brooklyn Dodger Max Macon of Miami, and by many former and future major leaguers including Charles “Red” Barrett, Humberto “Chico” Fernandez, Miguel “Mike" Fornieles, Dick Gray, Jesse Levan, and Camilo Pascual.

  • Aquino Abreu: Baseball’s Other Double No-Hit Pitcher By Peter C. Bjarkman

    Aquino Abreu—a diminutive right-handed fastball specialist who labored for a decade and a half during the formative years of the modern-era post-revolution Cuban League—remains entirely unknown to North American and Asian baseball fanatics. This is a rather large irony considering that Abreu once registered a string of the most remarkable performances witnessed anywhere in the history of the bat-and-ball sport.

  • Defiance College’s Historic 1961 Postseason By Roger J. Hawks

    Defiance College in northwestern Ohio has fielded a baseball team since 1905. Like most small colleges, Defiance places academics ahead of athletics, and the baseball team generally loses more games than it wins. The 1961 baseball season, however, was a shining exception. That season the Defiance College baseball team was invited to the NAIA national tournament. Defiance played only three games in the double-elimination tournament, but each of these games featured performances that had never before been seen in the tournament.

  • Hitting Mechanics: The Twisting Model and Ted Williams’s "The Science of Hitting" By Takeyuki Inohiza

    The “Twisting Model” is a biomechanical model of physical movement that explains why our current ideas about baseball mechanics — bat speed, hip rotation, “power” — are insufficient to explain fully what happens when bat hits ball. In this article, the author introduces the “Twisting Model” by showing how it supports Ted Williams’s theory of hitting from The Science of Hitting.

  • The Best Shortened-Season Hitting Performance in Major League History By David Nemec

    What player in major league history, while participating in no more than half his team’s scheduled games, posted the most outstanding overall hitting performance?

  • Was There a Seven Way Game? Seven Ways of Reaching First Base By Paul Hertz

    A common trivia question among baseball fans is: How many ways are there for a batter to reach first base? The answer is seven: hit, walk, error, fielders’ choice, hit by pitch, dropped third strike, and defensive interference. A natural question is: Has this ever happened in a major league game?

  • The Three, or Was It Two, .400 Hitters of 1922 By Brian Marshall

    The .400 batting average (BA) for an individual in a single season has been the standard of hitting excellence all batting champions have sought, but few have achieved. In fact, the last time it was accomplished was in 1941 when Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox managed the feat with a .406 BA. To find the last season when there were multiple .400 hitters, the baseball historian has to turn the pages of major league history back even further, to 1922. Not just one but three players finished the season with a batting average of .400 or above.

  • What Do Your Fans Want? Attendance Correlations with Performance, Ticket Prices, and Payroll Factors By Ben Langhorst

    North America is dotted by cities with unique histories, industries, landscapes, ethnicities, religions, and dialects. Just as political campaigns analyze the unique behavioral tendencies of geographical regions, Major League Baseball clubs could benefit from applying the same principles. The 30 MLB fan bases are as individualized as the towns they inhabit and MLB franchises would be wise to develop a thorough understanding of their fans’ values and behaviors. Such an understanding can serve as a critical foundation for the business decisions and investments made by MLB franchises.

  • Do Fans Prefer Homegrown Players? An Analysis of MLB Attendance, 1976–2012 By Russell Ormiston

    Since the dawn of free agency, there has been increasing affection paid to players who spend their entire career with the same team. From the ballpark statues of Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn to the retired numbers of Robin Yount and George Brett, baseball fans in recent years have celebrated star players who rose through the ranks of the home team’s farm system and remained true to that team, city, and fan base over the course of their careers. The question of whether fans prefer homegrown players can be answered, in part, by examining fluctuations in game attendance in Major League Baseball attributable to the characteristics of the home team’s starting pitcher.

  • Henry Chadwick Award: Mark Armour By Rob Neyer

    Mark Armour has been a SABR member for more than 30 years, and one of the organization's leading lights for at least half that time. In 2002, Armour spearheaded the formation of SABR's Baseball Biography Project — which has now contributed more than 2,000 biographical articles and a number of books to the game's literature — and has served as the BioProject's director ever since.

  • Henry Chadwick Award: Ernie Lanigan By Lyle Spatz

    According to Henry Chadwick Award honoree Fred Lieb, no one had ever done as much for baseball research as the diligent, untiring, ever-searching Ernie Lanigan, a writer for Baseball Magazine, author of The Baseball Cyclopedia, and curator of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was a pioneer at gathering information about baseball statistics and about the players themselves.

  • Henry Chadwick Award: Marc Okkonen By Daniel R. Levitt

    Much of what we know about the history of baseball uniforms we owe to Marc Okkonen. In his meticulous research, Okkonen exhaustively cataloged major league uniforms dating back to 1900, which he turned into a ground breaking book, Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century: The Official Major League Baseball Guide. We now have a record of the uniform worn by every team, both home and road, for each year since 1900. Okkonen’s inquiry required tracking down the colors for early twentieth century uniforms, a task made considerably more difficult by the lack of color photographs.

  • Henry Chadwick Award: Cory Schwartz By Christina Kahrl

    It might be easy to believe that Cory Schwartz is living the sabermetric dream. After all, he’s Vice President for Statistics for Major League Baseball Advanced Media. If you’re reading this, you are almost certainly a consumer of his work: Schwartz oversees a team of 25 full-time and over 300 part-timers responsible for live data capture for the official stats for all of Major League Baseball, the minor leagues, and winter league baseball games. His group at MLBAM also operates the PitchF/X system, which provides pitch trajectory, velocity, and location data for all games played in MLB venues. Open access to the data the PitchF/X system collects has provided information beyond anything any of us dreamed up a decade ago, and it has proven to be the irreplaceable source of the most revolutionary and evolutionary work going on in sabermetrics today.

  • Henry Chadwick Award: John C. Tattersall By John Thorn

    John C. Tattersall (1910–81) was a great authority on home runs and early baseball records. His scrapbooks of multiple box scores for nearly every game from 1876 to 1890 proved vital for three generations of baseball encyclopedia: Turkin–Thompson in 1951, ICI/Macmillan in 1969 (for which he was listed as “Consulting Editor”), and Total Baseball in 1989. Tattersall’s day-by-day records have been lost, but what has survived is a batting and fielding summary and a pitching summary for each club in each year.

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