Bob Davids Award: David W. Smith

“I wonder if…?” is usually how it begins. A researcher…, a baseball fan…, an author…, a reader… wonders…! “I wonder who scored the most runs in a game without getting a hit?” “I wonder what the AL starting pitchers’ ERA was in 2004?” “I wonder if a non-starter ever had 5 Ribbies or even 6 RBIs?” I wonder if this year’s recipient of the L. Robert Davids Award, SABR’s highest honor, realizes the valuable impact he has had on both fans and players, and on lifetimes to come.

This man is a “winner” in every sense of the word, certainly according to the qualities our founder, Bob Davids, exemplified: He is generous in sharing freely his knowledge, literally. He is modest, as when he ventured to assist those on SABR-L seeking umpire information and cited the contributions of no less than seven previous researchers by name. He is famous for performing “missions of mercy” at numerous SABR conventions, and just like Bob Davids, he is described by the media as a man of brilliance and character, whose “can do” approach has overcome obstacles toward achieving a so-called “impossible” quest. More than most people, this man leaves a positive impression on everyone, with his cheerful and respectful attitude, both very evident in his postings to SABR-L, our research forum, and elsewhere, such as on television and in his newsletters.

With the media and on his website, he is always conscious of his SABR connections. One SABR chapter’s newsletter thanked him for having “alerted us to some recent contributions” about an unusual baseball event occurring. Another chapter has his name prominently on its Home Page in a section about Moonlight Graham. As for contributions that “reflect the ingenuity, integrity, and self-sacrifice of the organization’s founder and past president” there are 21 original research papers using data from his server, and 150,000 pages of paper are in his basement, yet to be computerized — talk about sacrifices!

We are honored to acknowledge this man’s vision of an organized compilation of game accounts that has led to a renowned website where anyone can find accurate – and authoritative — research on ballparks, managers, franchises, schedules, milestones, transactions, and those wonderful game logs. He has earned a Special Achievement Award and, in 2001, the SABR Salute and the Best Research Presentation Award. Integrity of character, ingenuity, research, and service make this year’s recipient of the L. Robert Davids Award an obvious choice: Dave Smith of Retrosheet.