John Thorn is eminently qualified to receive the Bob Davids Award. He is a SABR visionary with a remarkable capacity for turning that vision into reality; a baseball historian who, by restoring early baseball to our awareness and by encouraging a new generation of researchers, has done perhaps more than anyone else to help us grasp the unity of our game’s history and development; and a keen student of baseball statistics, who through his writing and publication has given crucial impetus to the sabermetric revolution.
For SABR he created–and for several years edited–The National Pastime, establishing a standard of excellence for that publication that remains unsurpassed. He served as SABR’s first official Publications Director, and in 1983 co-founded (with Mark Rucker) SABR’s Nineteenth Century Committee, reawakening the study of baseball’s early, much-neglected history.
For the many editions of his pathbreaking publication, Total Baseball, John and co-editor Pete Palmer, drew heavily on the expertise and writing of SABR researchers (providing for some their first exposure to publication beyond SABR), enhancing the exposure of SABR to the broader baseball world. They set a standard for making what could have been a dry compilation of numbers into a vibrant resource, with insightful essays on a wide range of topics.
John is generous with his counsel, and more than generous in sharing with other researchers the fruits of his own research. In addition to the many interests and responsibilities he has, John continues to be active in SABR: serving, for example, on the Yoseloff-SABR Research Grant selection committee, and contributing his research findings and valued insights regularly on SABR e-lists. He is a continual inspiration and guide to all who work to produce high quality material for our baseball research community. I am honored to present the Bob Davids Award for 2006 to John Thorn.