SABR BioProject: April 2018 Newsletter
High and Inside
The Newsletter of the BioProject Committee
Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)
Editor: Andrea Long
- From the Directors
- From the Editor
- Update on Resources for Winter Ball
- Guest Columnist: Warren Corbett
- Project Poobahs
From the Directors
Finishing What We Start, by Rory Costello
In recent weeks, the BioProject has launched a campaign to review the list of requested assignments. Many of them were originally taken on years ago but never completed. In some cases, the people who’d signed up to do certain stories are no longer SABR members.
Bill Nowlin has spearheaded the effort to contact members with longstanding assignments and get status updates. The result is that several names were relinquished and are now open once again.
BioProject co-chair Gregory Wolf has been publicizing the list of freed assignments via SABR-L. Please feel free to contact him if you have further questions.
As always, however, you may check to see if a name is available by entering the URL sabr.org/bioproj_search, using the search boxes to zero in, and then clicking on the result. If an assignment has been claimed, the line “This article is assigned to [NAME]” will appear. If that line is absent, the assignment is available and may be claimed by e-mailing Lyle Spatz at Lspatz@comcast.net.
If you take on an assignment, please make best efforts to complete it within a year.
Gregory and I also wish to emphasize quality — we’ve had to turn back some submissions lately. We’re not imposing any hard deadlines, so don’t feel compelled to rush through a project.
- If certain areas would benefit from depth, seek it out — think about what the R in SABR stands for. Use a broad array of sources. Access to The Sporting News is one of the great perks of SABR membership, but you can also use newspapers.com (doable without a subscription, though you have to sift through garbled results) and Google Books, for example. Make an effort to reach the subjects themselves if you can.
- At the same time, think about what areas don’t need to be explored in depth. Strike a balance — build up and pare back. Our suggested limit for readability is 4,000 words (body, excluding endnotes, etc.). It’s not a hard cap, but anything much more than 4K needs approval.
- Cover all the “compulsory figures” — family background, spouses and children, jobs after baseball, etc.
- Avoid simply reciting statistics — think of them as seasoning rather than a main ingredient.
- Follow style conventions for formatting, wording, endnotes, and hyperlinks.
- Be your own first editor and fact-checker. See the related update from Warren Corbett, head of the fact-checking team.
If you think you need more time, let us know.
From the Editor
People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. — Rogers Hornsby
This edition of High and Inside—my first as editor—comes to you in spring, as baseball season is beginning, which feels right and appropriate to me. It is with excitement and gratitude (and some trepidation) that I take the reins from the very clever and capable Stew Thornley, who has served as editor since 2015. Don’t worry about Stew, though. I didn’t overthrow him in a coup. He is now focusing on the SABR Official Scoring Committee, and you can keep up with him there.
As for me, I’m a native and lifelong resident of Charlotte, North Carolina. I spent a good part of my teenage years falling in love with baseball thanks to my hometown Charlotte O’s (Baltimore’s Double-A club at that time) and the Philadelphia Phillies. I think my love for the Phillies was the only great rebellion of my teen years, as it was clearly my way of blowing a big fat raspberry at everyone around me, Atlanta Braves fans one and all. Prior to the arrival of the NBA Hornets in 1988, Charlotte sports fans had no local major league team to root for. You were a Redskins fan; you were a Braves fan. And I was a lonely little petunia in an onion patch—in other words, a Phillies fan.
The Phils still have a hold on my heart, but these days, it’s mainly about the Charlotte Knights (Triple-A/CWS), the eventual, post-Orioles incarnation of the O’s, after affiliations with the Cubs, Indians, Marlins, and, mercifully, not the Braves.
Shortly after I joined SABR in 2016, I discovered the BioProject and also discovered that my favorite player, Bo Díaz, had no bio. (For more on that, see the June 2017 issue of this newsletter.) And once I had put heart and soul into that bio, I felt connected to the BioProject, to my editor, and to all the people who helped make it a published reality. The BioProject is special to me, and I’m pleased and proud to take over the newsletter. I’d love to hear from you—comments, ideas, contributions, even criticism (be gentle, please) are all welcome.
Here’s to spring, to new beginnings, and, of course, to baseball.
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And speaking of winter . . .
Update on resources for winter ball stats, by Rory Costello
One of the more difficult leagues to research has been the Mexican Pacific League, that nation’s winter circuit. This is now changing with the addition of a new website: http://www.beisboldelacosta.com.mx/. This site is under construction, but presently statistics for about 1,000 significant players are available. More will be added from the data archive over time, but the site’s proprietor has noted that the effort takes time and money. Nonetheless, this is a welcome development that can help flesh out an interesting aspect of many biographies.
Also, if you are seeking Venezuelan winter ball stats, the site that we mentioned in a previous newsletter issue is not functioning at present — but this one is: http://www.pelotabinaria.com.ve/beisbol/
From the Fact-Checker’s Error Bag, by Warren Corbett
In five years since the fact-checking team was created, we have seen certain errors crop up repeatedly.
The most common errors—typos, for example—are the result of carelessness: 2.84 instead of 2.85, .268 instead of .269. These are easy for the writer to fix. Please double-check before you turn in your story.
Another common error is grammatical, not factual. When you put a date in the middle of the sentence, a comma goes before and after the year: He was born on August 6, 1942, in Muskegon, Michigan. The same goes for cities and states: He was born in Muskegon, Michigan, on August 6, 1942.
Finally, a reminder to check a player’s (or other source’s) recollection against game logs or newspaper stories. This from Anna De Lellio, a sociologist who studies memory, as quoted in The New York Times: “In oral history you never use one source only, because people remember incorrectly, or don’t want to remember, or they are in denial and lie. All testimonies lie. So, you try to understand why they omitted something, or why they emphasize something else.”
If you’re willing to join the fact-checking effort, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. We need more sharp eyes.
Rory Costello (Co-Director, Chief Editor)
Gregory H. Wolf (Co-Director)
Mark Armour (Director, Emeritus)
Jan Finkel (Senior Editor, Emeritus)
Len Levin (Senior Editor)
Warren Corbett (Chief Fact Checker)
Bill Nowlin (Team Projects)
Lyle Spatz (Assignments)
Emily Hawks (Modern Initiative – 1980s/1990s)
Scott Ferkovich (Ballparks Project)