Bob Davids was responsible for editing almost all of the Society’s publication efforts since the inception of the group. In February 1985, John Thorn was named the Society’s first official Publications Director. Page one of the 1985 April SABR Bulletin commented on the failure of the Society to meet its promised schedule of publications delivery. “Promises! Promises! Where’s the Beef…er, Books?” ran headlines.
Thorn discussed his thoughts on how the rapid growth rate of the Society was affecting his and the Society’s publications goals. He promised to remedy scheduling problems and discussed long-term plans to increase the range and appeal of the Society’s publications and seek a wider commercial audience. He commented on how the uneven editorial and design specifications and “seat-of-the-pants” production schedules had been addressed with the creation of his funded, part-time post of Publications Director. The projected cost of that year’s publications (SABR Bulletins, Membership Directory, two editions of The National Pastime, The Baseball Research Journal, and the planned ballparks book) was $103,085.
By the middle of 1987, Thorn was ready to move to bigger projects, and the July 1987 SABR Bulletin informed members that the position of Publications Director had been restructured. Thorn announced his resignation, due to his overcrowded professional schedule and some unhappiness with the timeliness of publications, as of December 21, 1987. From a field of 42 applicants, Paul Adomites was announced in October 1987 as new editor-in-chief of the Society’s publications effective January 1, 1988.
Adomites held the Publications Director position until his resignation on October 15, 1990, although he agreed to stay on in the interim. Many Society members agree that the highlight of Adomites’ tenure was his development and editorial direction of The SABR Review of Books series, a review of current baseball literature, which was published between 1986 and 1990. Richard Puff, then Publications Committee chairman, was placed in charge of finding a new Publications Director. He said of Adomites’ departure, “He’s done a fine job in maintaining the excellent quality of SABR publications. It’s going to be difficult to find a SABR member to match Paul’s editorial and production skills and his baseball knowledge.”
John Holway was named Publications Director early in 1991. At the same time, Baseball Ink, Inc., a company led by John Thorn which had produced Total Baseball, was hired as publication production consultant. Holway held the position until his resignation and subsequent replacement by current Publications Director Mark Alvarez in April 1992.
Mark served in this post until he resigned on August 1, 2001. During his tenure, the longest of any SABR Publications Director, SABR’s publications program produced books from committees suck as The Negro Leagues Book (1994), Baseball’s First Stars (1996), and Minor League Stars, Volume 3 (1992), and began publishing biographies such as Uncle Robbie (Wilbert Robinson), Addie Joss; King of Pitchers, and Lefty Grove: An American Original. The size of The National Pastime and The Baseball Research Journal also increased during Alvarez’s tenure, partly due to publishing more first-time authors. Mark helped find ways to improve distribution of SABR publications, first partnering with Inland Books and then with the University of Nebraska Press – a relationship that still continues.
In early 2002, Jim Charlton agreed to handle SABR’s publications for that year, but he ended up staying through 2007! Jim brought a long history in the publications field to the job. As Publications Director, he was responsible for several SABR publications being published or co-published by trade publishers. In 2007, Scribner’s published the SABR Baseball List and Record Book, edited by Lyle Spatz. In 2006, Walker & Company published the latest edition of Green Cathedrals. Potomac Books (and its earlier name, Brassey’s) co-published and distributed Deadball Stars of the National League and Deadball Stars of the American League. Also under his leadership, the SABR convention publications became a full membership publication, beginning with Dominionball, the official publication of the 2005 convention in Toronto. Jim had been a contract employee, working out of his office in New York. After he resigned, the SABR board decided to make the position of Publications Director a full-time staff position in the Cleveland office.
Nicholas Frankovich became the new Publications Director on February 1, 2008, taking on the responsibility for the membership publications program and SABR’s digital publishing program, as well as overseeing publishing projects produced by Chapters and Research Committees. Shortly after joining SABR, Nick recommended to the board that the Baseball Research Journal be given more visibility by publishing two issues a year rather than one, and that The National Pastime be given its own identity as the title of the annual convention publication.
With the move of the SABR office to Phoenix in early 2011, Stu Shea was hired on a contract basis to edit the Spring 2011 BRJ, and Cecilia Tan was contracted to produce the Fall 2011 edition, as well as the SABR 41 convention journal that summer. Tan then assumed the role of Publications Editor (now no longer a staff position) and she has lifted SABR’s publications program to new heights in the 2010s. The launch of the SABR Digital Library has given SABR members expanded opportunities to publish their research, and the organization has published dozens of new, original books starting with Can He Play? A Look at Baseball Scouts and Their Profession, and revived old out-of-print classics like Great Hitting Pitchers and Nineteenth Century Stars. SABR members can download all of our Digital Library e-books for free or get 50% off the paperback editions at SABR.org/ebooks.