On August 1, 1975, the mailing address of the Society became P.O. Box 323, Cooperstown, New York. Cliff Kachline was handling the administrative end of things with the assistance of his wife Evelyn, probably the Society’s most unsung hero of its early days.
The Society, especially in the early years, has always been intertwined with the Hall of Fame. Cliff, after a 20-year career at The Sporting News, had followed Ernie Lanigan and Lee Allen as Hall of Fame Historian, a position he had taken over soon after Allen’s death in 1969. Society member Tom Heitz was named to the newly combined position of Librarian and Research Director in 1982. Lloyd Johnson became Senior Research Associate that year and held that post until 1985 when he became the Society’s second Executive Director. Society member Bill Deane assumed Johnson’s Senior Research Associate position from 1986 to 1994.
The Executive Board met in Philadelphia on January 8, 1983, to discuss the proposed Executive Director position. Cliff Kachline formally became Executive Director after a vote of the National Convention in June. Kachline resigned as Executive Director on November 1, 1985. The Executive Board offered the job to Harrington E. “Kit” Crissey, one of two finalists from a field of 31 Society applicants. Crissey had second thoughts and declined the job. Lloyd Johnson, who had followed Cliff at the Hall of Fame, became Executive Director on November 15, 1985. He moved to Kansas City from Cooperstown in November 1986. The administrative address moved with him to K.C.
The Society underwent its greatest political crisis at the 1989 National Convention in Albany. As Eliot Asinof, author of Eight Men Out, gave a talk on the Chicago Black Sox, Society presidential hopeful John Holway, a member since 1972, handed out “8 Men Out” buttons in the lobby. The eight men Holway was referring to were not baseball players, but the Society’s Executive Board. At issue was the Executive Board’s ousting of Johnson as SABR’s Executive Director. A motion to unseat the entire Board failed to achieve a majority vote. After a wild business meeting Holway withdrew as a candidate and Rich Topp, nominated from the floor, beat out then current vice-president Luke Salisbury in a close vote for president.
The Executive Board made the following statement regarding its reasons for Johnson’s dismissal:
“The growth of SABR requires that its operations become more professional and businesslike. Business meetings at the 1986 and 1987 convention were chaotic. A parliamentarian was retained for the 1988 meeting at the cost of $1,186. The Board learned of plans for members to disrupt the January and April 1989 Board meetings so a parliamentarian was hired for those meetings also.
“The audit chairman had noted excessive telephone reimbursements to the President. It turned out that these were routine but no written policy existed.
“In January 1988, the Board saw problems in operations of the SABR office. The Board did not renew the former Executive Director’s contract. In January of 1988, non-Board members became involved and the Board retained legal counsel.”
In March 1989, a call for applicants was made to the membership for the Executive Director position. One-hundred and six resumes were received. After a two-month search by the Board of Directors, Norbert Kraich was hired effective May 1, 1989. Kraich lived in Garrett Park, Maryland. He had 20 years experience in public relations and marketing. The Society’s address moved to Garrett Park. Society President Gene Sunnen said that Kraich “has the ideal qualifications we are looking for to help lead SABR into the 1990s.” Kraich, however, tendered his resignation a few months later, effective March 21, 1990.
Morris Eckhouse was named as interim Executive Director, and the Society’s mailing address changed yet again, this time to Cleveland, where it remained until 2011 when the office was moved to Phoenix, Arizona.
The crisis of 1989-90 was costly in financial as well as personal terms. At the Executive Board meeting in October, 1990, Society treasurer Bob Ruland stated that the Society had seen its monetary assets reduced from $167,000 to $91 ,000 during the period of March 31, 1989 to August 31, 1990. “Twenty-five thousand dollars,” he continued, “was attributable to the series of Executive Director transactions.”
Eckhouse was given a two-year contract as Executive Director at the Executive Board meeting in April of 1990. John Zajc was named as administrative assistant in the SABR office in June of the same year. The Executive Board voted in March, 1993, to establish permanent Society administrative offices in Cleveland. In December of that year the offices were relocated from Cleveland’s Colonial Arcade Building to an office suite at the Caxton Building.
Morris Eckhouse resigned as SABR Executive Director on January 4, 2000. Manager of Membership Services John Zajc was appointed as Acting Executive Director until a permanent replacement was named. A search committee was appointed, consisting of Jim Riley, Dick Beverage, Norman Macht, Evelyn Begley, and Howard Green. After an exhaustive review of the candidates, the Board offered the position to George W. Case III, who began work on August 1, 2000. He came to SABR after a career in sporting goods sales and promotion. If his name sounds familiar — and it should, to longtime baseball fans — it’s because he is the son of George W. Case Jr., the six-time base-stealing champ with the Washington Senators and Cleveland Indians (1937-1947). In his 18 months as Executive Director, George focused on increasing SABR’s role within the baseball community, increasing the Society’s membership numbers, and identifying corporate sponsorship opportunities.
In February 2002, John Zajc was again promoted to the position of Acting Executive Director. The Board officially named John to the office of Executive Director, effective January 1, 2003. His strong commitment to member services and his attention to the details of operating an organization with nearly 7,000 members helped the Society prosper during the next seven years. John stepped down from the Executive Director position in early August 2010, but continued working as a consultant to the Society until the office headquarters moved to Phoenix on April 1, 2011.
After a nationwide search, the board selected media executive Marc Appleman as our new Executive Director. Marc joined us during the 2010 convention in Atlanta and his arrival coincided with a difficult financial time for SABR. Marc and the board focused on ways to increase membership, especially among younger people and women, and raise revenues. The success of these measures have gone a long way toward securing our future.
In 2015, the Board of Directors added the title of Chief Executive Officer to Marc’s current title of Executive Director in recognition of his efforts to lead SABR’s national office and the resulting growth of the organization since he came on board. During Appleman’s eight years leading the Phoenix-based office, SABR averaged double-digit annual revenue growth and established important strategic relationships throughout the baseball world, furthering the organization’s mission to foster the study, discussion, and understanding of all aspects of baseball, including its history, its data, its role as a social institution, as a business, and as a global sport.
Marc stepped down in 2018 and Scott Bush was hired as the organization’s new CEO. Scott had served as the Senior Vice President for Business Development with the Goldklang Group, a premier baseball ownership group that operates both independent minor-league clubs and MLB affiliates. His demonstrated commitment to creativity and his established track record of generating revenue, cultivating new markets, and collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders make Scott an ideal fit for the next stage of SABR’s evolution within the baseball ecosystem.