The Growth of the Society
By the fall of 1974 the membership of the Society had risen from the original 16 members to 230. It climbed slowly but steadily through the ’70s, reaching 300 in October 1975, 350 at Society’s fifth birthday in August 1976, 410 in December 1976, and 634 in July 1978, before finally topping 1,000 in September 1979.
By 1978 the Society had members in all mainland states except South Carolina, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. On the Society’s tenth anniversary in 1981 there were 1,250 members. Shortly thereafter, between 1982 and 1985, the membership skyrocketed, going from 2,800 in January 1983 to 4,100 by August of the same year. Five thousand was reached in October 1984 with 1,300 new members in 1984 alone. After peaking in 1987 with 6,393 members, the rank and file fell into the mid to high 5,000 range until climbing back over 6,000 where it has mostly remained ever since.
The Society has been represented by members all over the world. Over the years members have resided in — among other places — Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, and Zambia. Long-time member Dallas Adams claimed the unique status of being the first member in both Switzerland and Australia.
Two noted early members, Harold Seymour and Vern Luse, moved to Ireland and Yugoslavia, respectively, in the mid-1970s, no doubt bragging about the Society wherever they went. Later in 1975 the Society received a request from the Yugoslavian Embassy in Washington for assistance in locating a picture of George “Catfish” Metkovich. Who knows what type of research Luse was conducting.
By early 1984 the Society membership included many former big league and Negro Leagues players, and other various members who were associated with the game in some official capacity. Some of those included Elden Auker, Red Borom, Gene Benson, Buddy Burbage, Bill Cash, Zip Collins, Joe Dwyer, Jim Fanning, Tom Ferrick, Joe Garagiola, Hank Greenberg, Frank Hiller, Waite Hoyt, Roy Hughes, Clarence Israel, Spook Jacobs, Ken Keltner, Larry Kimbrough, Ralph Kiner, Tony Kubek, Bert Kuczynski, Tony Lupien, Tim McCarver, Jack McKeon, Jeep McLain, Tim McNamara, Charlie Metro, Sy Morton, Joe Munson, Joe Orengo, Andy Pafko, Brooks Robinson, Oscar Roettger, Bill Sayles, Paul Schramka, Bob Scheffing, Andy Seminick, Roy Sievers, Joe Stanka, Bill Starr, Bill Steinecke, Chuck Stevens, Ed Walczak, and Ted Williams.
In August 1985, Terry Kennedy and Kurt Bevacqua became the first active major-leaguers to join SABR. In August 2010, Fredi Gonzalez attended the Annual Convention in Atlanta as a guest, and then joined SABR. He had been released as manager of the Marlins six weeks before, and would be named the new Braves manager in October, thus making him the first active major-league manager to be a SABR member.
Major-league executives also joined the rolls of the society. Members included San Diego Padres president Ballard Smith, baseball commissioners Peter Ueberroth and Bud Selig, Detroit Tigers president Jim Campbell, Los Angeles Dodgers president Peter O’Malley, Calvin Griffith of the Minnesota Twins, Padres general manager Jack McKeon, and various other executives such as Roland Hemond, Harry Dalton, David Dombrowski, Jim Fanning, Tony Siegle, Lou Gorman, Elten Schiller, and Arthur Richman.
The SABR membership continues to be well educated and professionally diverse. Educators, lawyers, doctors, or accountants are well-represented in the SABR membership, as are writers and editors. SABR members also are well-connected to the Internet, with more than 98 percent of members sharing an email address with SABR as of 2017. A demographic breakdown of the membership can be found in the Annual Reports.