The February 1975 SABR Bulletin reported that Pete Palmer had a one-page analytical chart showing pitch-by-pitch results of the 1974 World Series. The announcement warned that “it may be a little complicated for the layman.” This was evidently a sign of things to come, for in April 1975 the Executive Board approved two new committees. They were Statistical Analysis and Baseball Records.
Research Committees: Click here to learn more about each of SABR’s Research Committees
Dick Cramer had begun formulating plans for the Statistical Analysis Committee the previous summer. Cramer and Pete Palmer were named co-chairman of the committee with Bill James the third and only other member. In addition to Cramer and Palmer, Eddie Epstein, Don Coffin, Rob Wood, and current co-chairs Clem Comly and Neal Traven have headed the committee over the years. Initial committee goals included coordinating statistical projects to facilitate checking of information and prevent unnecessary duplication of work. The committee newsletter, By the Numbers, is a forum for analysts to exchange and discuss the statistics of baseball. Baseball statistics have come a long way from the days of Ernie Lanigan. Thorn and Palmer’s The Hidden Game of Baseball, and James’ Baseball Abstracts changed the way baseball statistics have traditionally been viewed.
The Records Committee’s job was to establish an accurate set of records for organized baseball with the focus being on information not previously collected. Bob McConnell resigned his chair seat of the Publications Committee to accept the leadership of this new committee. He has since been succeeded in order by Mil Chipp, Tom Jozwik, Ev Cope, Neil Munro, John Swartz, and Lyle Spatz. The Records Committee has produced a Society publication, Baseball Records Update 1993, edited by Spatz, which documented changes to the playing records of such players as Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Hugh Duffy, and The SABR Baseball List & Record Book, published in 2007.
Late in 1978 the Society’s committee system was restructured. The Auditing and Nominating Committees, which had been ad hoc since their creation in 1975, were formalized. The Editorial Board took the place of the Publications Committee, and an Ethics Committee and Public Relations Committee were added.
The Ballparks Committee was formed in 1982 with Bob Bluthardt as chairman. Bob led the committee for 25 years, before handing over the reins over to Gary Gillette and Stan Meradith. Phil Lowry was also involved with the formation of the committee, whose mission is to “research and collect the history of past and present major, minor and Negro leagues parks.” A sub-committee collects photographs of ballparks. Another committee goal is to erect plaques or memorials on the site of abandoned or demolished ballparks. Lowry’s Green Cathedrals, mentioned earlier in the publications section of this text, was a committee project that the Society published in 1985. It was subsequently re-issued in 1993 by AddisonWesley.
The Nineteenth Century Committee was suggested by John Thorn and Mark Rucker in the fall of 1982. Between 30 and 40 members had joined by February 1983, exceeding the expectations of the organizers. In addition to Thorn and Rucker, the committee has been chaired by Bob Tiemann, Fred Ivor-Campbell, and John Husman, Paul Wendt, and Peter Mancuso. In addition to the two books already discussed, Nineteenth Century Stars, and Baseball’s First Stars, the major accomplishment of the committee has been the National Association Box Score Project. Based on the Michael Stagno collection of National Association boxscores, which the Society bought for $3,000, the project, thanks mostly to the efforts of Bob Tiemann and Bob Richardson, made additions and tabulations of Stagno’s initial research, presenting us with a clearer statistical picture of the National Association.
The Computerization Committee was formed in 1984 to facilitate the sharing of resource and data sets related to members’ baseball research. Tony Formo and Gary Skoog were co-chairs. The committee was active in the data input for the Tattersall-McConnell Home Run Log project.
The Bibliography Committee was established in 1984 to locate, identify, evaluate, classify, and describe the literature of baseball. Frank Phelps was the original chair, a position he held until stepping down in 1995. Andy McCue, who had become co-chair in 1990, assumed the full chair at that time and still continues in that role today. The ongoing committee project, suggested in 1990 by Ted Hathaway, is the Researching Baseball Index (RBI) – now The Baseball Index – a complete log (currently over 250,000 entries) of baseball literature. The committee produced the first Current Baseball Publications, by Joe Lawler in 1985. Published quarterly by the committee, this is a list of all baseball books published. The committee has also published The Index to The Sporting News Registers, 1940- 1995, edited by Frank Phelps.
The Collegiate Committee was formed in 1985 to “study the relationship between college and professional baseball.” Chairmen have been Al Del Rossi, Dave Anderson, John Mocek, and Cappy Gagnon. SABR president Rich Topp dissolved it when it became inactive in 1990-1992.
Back in business, the committee’s goal is an all-time register of major league players, umpires and executives listed by colleges attended and degrees obtained. Committee leaders since 1993 have been Pete Peterson, Jay Langhammer, Rick Benner, Tom Stillman and Karl Green.
The Oral History Project was announced late in 1985. This would eventually turn into the Oral History Committee which was formed “to accurately record and store remembrances of baseball’s past.” The group has developed a library of audio and video tapes of interviews conducted by committee members. Committee leaders have included Norman Macht and Rick Bradley, David Paulson, Ed Attanasio, and Rod Nelson.
In March 1988, the formation of two new committees was announced. Peter Bjarkman, a Ph.D. in Spanish linguistics, would chair the Latin America Committee, which would cover Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela. Eduardo Valero, Anthony Salazar, and Edwin Fernandez-Cruz succeeded Peter as committee leaders. The committee’s name was later changed to the Latino Baseball Research Committee.
Larry Gerlach would lead the Umpires and Rules Committee, to “study the impact of both on the development of baseball.” Larry was followed as committee leader by Phyllis Otto and Dennis Bingham, David Anderson, Cliff Schold, Richard Carletti, and Reid Duffy.
The Women in Baseball committee was formed in February, 1990, to study the role of women in various aspects of professional baseball. Sharon Roepke was named chair. She was succeeded by John Kovach in June of 1992. Leslie Heaphy later took over leadership of the committee, assisted by co-chairs Claudia Perry and Justine Siegal.
The Baseball in UK/Europe Committee was formed in 1994 to “study baseball’s rich but little known history in Britain and Europe.” Patrick Carroll was the first chairperson, and was succeeded by James Combs and Mike Ross.
The Scouts Committee was formed in 1994 to document the achievements and record the history behind scouting. The “Tom Greenwade Award” is presented at the National Convention each year to the committee member who submits the most “who signed whom” in the previous year. Jim Kreuz was the first chairman of the committee, followed by Bill Clark, Rod Nelson, and Jim Sandoval.
The Executive Board meeting in Kansas City in the fall of 1994 selected Doug Pappas as the chairman of the Business of Baseball Committee. The role of the committee was to “study all aspects of baseball administration and off the field activity including economic, organizational, labor and legal issues.” Following Doug’s untimely death in 2004, Maury Brown, Gary Gillette, John Ruoff and Steve Weingarden led the committee.
Tom Shieber was named chair of the Baseball Pictorial History Committee which was formed in 1994 to “promote research into baseball’s rich history as reflected through drawings, illustrations, photographs, artwork, motion pictures, videos, and in general, any form of visual representation.” Tom was succeeded in the leadership role by Mark Rucker and Bill Hickman.
In 1997 the Internet Committee was formed. The September 1995 SABR Bulletin first mentions SABR-L, the Society’s electronic listserver. Only Society members may subscribe. It is a daily assortment of just about any baseball subject imaginable. SABR-L was initially moderated by Seamus Kearney who relinquished that role to F. X. Flinn in 1998. Ted Turocy took over in 1999, and was followed by Gary Collard, Daniel Levine, and Mike Emeigh.
The Baseball Songs and Poems Committee (later renamed Baseball and the Arts), was formed in 1997 to promote research into the rich history of music and poetry related to baseball. Jeff Campbell and Joanne Hulbert have been leaders of the group. Committee goals include (1) a complete index of songs related to baseball, (2) compiling a list of past and present players who were/are known for their musical pursuits, and (3) a complete index of poetry related to baseball.
On April 15, 2000, the SABR Board of Directors officially authorized the formation of the Deadball Era Committee. This group was established to research the period 1900-1919 – an era when the ball may have been dead, but the game was alive. Tom Simon spearheaded the formation of this committee, and served as its first Chairman, followed by David Jones and John McMurray.
In late 2001, Thomas Altherr proposed the establishment of a new research committee to cover the origins of baseball, up to 1839 – the date when Abner Doubleday allegedly “invented” the game. The committee would concentrate on very early baseball, baseball-prototype games, similar games in the colonial era, Revolutionary War period, and early republic, as well as study such games from other areas of the world. This interest let to the formation of the Origins Committee, led by Tom Altherr, Mike Ross, and Larry McCray.
2002 saw the formation of SABR’s Spring Training Committee. This committee was started to study the impact of professional baseball on the cities which have played host to spring training camps over the course of baseball history. The primary area of research is a comprehensive historical and geographical listing of spring training venues for major league, minor league and Negro league ballclubs. Committee members have also compiled a listing of those ballplayers who have appeared on spring training rosters for big league clubs, yet never made their debut in regulation championship play. The committee publishes the Spring Flings newsletter twice annually. Kevin Saldana was the committee’s first chairman, followed by Mark Rappaport.
On June 26, 2002, the Executive Board approved the formation of the BioProject Committee with Mark Armour as Chair and Fred Ivor-Campbell as Vice-Chair. The committee will house the Baseball BioProject, whose purpose is “to solicit, write, edit, and maintain high quality journal-length biographies of every player who ever played in the major leagues, and well as any other person connected with baseball in a significant way.” The BioProject is now just over nine years old, and by the time SABR celebrates its 40th Anniversary, almost 1,650 biographies will have been completed by members.
A major project of SABR’s Pictorial History Committee has been the Player Image Index. The objective of this project is to catalogue at least one photo image for every major league player. As of SABR’s 40th Anniversary, the Committee has located photos of over 97% of the nearly 17,600 major-league players since 1871. The group is now working to locate a photo of every major league manager, and every ballpark used for a major league game. The Committee has also assisted the Library of Congress and the Boston Public Library in identifying persons found in baseball photos in their collections.
In early 2003, two new research committees were approved by the Board. The primary goal of the Asian Baseball Committee is to introduce Asian baseball to the North American public. The Asian Baseball Committee hopes to increase awareness of Asian baseball by producing and distributing committee newsletters; creating a website; encouraging serious studies of Asian baseball by helping researchers network; encouraging members to publish their studies in the SABR journals, and eventually holding symposium at the annual SABR conventions. The committee’s first chair was Rob Fitts, followed by Bill Staples, Jr. and David Snyder.
The mission of the Science and Baseball Committee is to explore, disseminate, and foster research in the science of baseball, broadly construed to include behavioral, physical, and natural sciences. The Committee will provide a forum for all members with an interest in scientific matters, regardless of background or training. Ken Heard was the first chairman of this committee. Later chairpersons included Alan Nathan and Eric Van.
A new research committee called “Baseball and the Armed Forces” was added in 2004. Its mission was to research, compile and make available as much information as possible concerning the relationship between professional baseball and the armed forces. One high priority task of the new research committee was to build a complete and accurate database of baseball personalities who either served in the armed forces and/or had their careers affected in some way by wartime or military service. Ron Henry was the first chairman of the committee, followed by Jim Wheeler.
In late 2008, a Black Sox Scandal Committee was established to more closely investigate – you guessed it – the 1919 Chicago Black, er, White, Sox, their players, the 1919 World Series, and all things associated with the team. Longtime Sox researcher Gene Carney was the committee’s first chair. Unfortunately, Gene passed away unexpectedly on July 5, 2009. Irv Goldfarb assumed leadership of the committee, followed by Jacob Pomrenke.
Two new Research Committees were approved in 2010. The Baseball Card History & Influence Committee has the purpose and goal of encouraging more interactive knowledge sharing about the history and importance of baseball cards as a representation of the game itself. This research will help document the link between the baseball card industry and the game’s popularity. The Games and Simulation Research Committee was formed to explore how various simulation games work, what statistics are generated, and how organized baseball might benefit from strategies and tactics used in such games.
A major change to the SABR Research Committee structure occurred in late 2009 with the addition of a new form of non-geographic chapter, which the board decided to call Chartered Communities. These are likely to be online communities reflecting a shared interest that members from all over may wish to join. The first one chartered was the BTF Chapter, which sprang out of aficionados of Baseball Think Factory meeting at SABR’s annual convention, enjoying the fellowship and sharing of ideas and wanting to stay in touch throughout the year as well as to better communicate with people of like soul who were unable to make the convention. Chris Dial, Mike McCullough, and Paul Brewer from BTF met with the board on the final day’s meeting at the 2009 convention, and the board was unanimous in its wish to encourage such communities. Chris Dial and Mike McCullough became co-chairs.
Chartered over the next several months were the SABR Librarian Caucus, chaired by Lorene Kennard, and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, chaired by Mike Lynch and Michael Metzger. Three more chartered communities were organized and recognized during the year: Horsehide Trivia (with over 625 members), chaired by T. Scott Brandon and D. Bruce Brown, Project COBB (the Project for the Chronicling of British Baseball), with chairs Josh Chetwynd and Joe Gray, and The Union Project (a group of representatives from key organizations that collect and publish baseball data), with Gary Gillette as chair).
Thinking geographically, another big development for SABR was the establishment of SABR Day, usually scheduled for the last Saturday in January. SABR Day was conceived as an alternative to gathering members in one place by having as many members as possible come together on the same day—regardless of where they live. SABR members and other baseball fans across North America got together for Hot Stove discussions, research presentations, guest talks by former players, and one chapter even staged a ballgame. The first SABR Day was held on January 30, 2010, on relatively short notice, and more than 600 members attended one of 33 SABR Day gatherings held across the United States as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. On January 29, 2011, more than 1,300 members participated in one of the SABR Day gatherings. If SABR Day had been one of the Society’s national conventions, it would have been the largest gathering in SABR’s history. Find photos and highlights from all SABR Day events at SABR.org/sabrday.
In any organization like SABR, it is necessary to form ad hoc committees from time to time. These committees are usually formed for a specific purpose, and usually only last for a short time. Just in September 1999 alone, for example, the SABR Board formed four such groups — the Committee for the Preservation of SABR History and Records, SABR Hero of Baseball Committee, Corporate Sponsorship and Grants Committee, and the Convention Assistance Team. Every year, of course, there is a Nominations Committee and a Teller’s Committee to help with the annual election, an Audit Committee to review the Society’s financial and tax reports, and a Local Convention Committee, who attends to many of the details of the Society’s annual convention.