The SABR Salute
The initial SABR Salute was given to Fred Lieb in the 1976 Membership Directory and was designed as a manner of recognizing the contributions of some of the older members of the Society, many of whom had made great contributions to baseball historical research before the Society came into being. Lieb, who passed away on June 3, 1980 in St. Petersburg, Florida at the age of 92, had been the baseball editor of the New York Press. He had also been past president of the Baseball Writers Association of America and author of several of the Putnam team histories. Lieb was initially hesitant to join the Society in fear that it might hurt his reputation if the organization failed. Instead, the Society thrived, and Lieb’s presence gave it early respectability.
Subsequent SABR Salutes were given to Leonard Gettelson in 1977; Bill Schroeder in 1978; John Tattersall in 1979; Alex Haas in 1980; Bob Davids in 1981; Al Kermisch in 1982; Emil Rothe in 1983; Ellery Clark in 1984; James Bready, Joe Overfield, Tweed Webb, Ralph LinWeber and Art Schott in 1986; Bob Lindsay and Vern Luse in 1987; Ray Gonzalez, Ray Nemec, Pat McDonough and Keith Sutton in 1988; Harry Simmons and Tom Shea in 1990; Eugene Murdock in 1991; Stan Grosshandler and David Voigt in 1993; Eddie Gold, Jack Kavanagh and Joe Wayman in 1995; Ralph Horton, John Pardon and Bill Weiss in 1997; Fred Ivor-Campbell, Norman Macht and Frank Williams in 1999; and Bill Deane, Mark Rucker and David W. Smith in 2001.
(Click the links above to read the SABR Salutes as they appeared in the Membership Directory for that year.)
The members who have received the SABR Salute should long be remembered for their contributions.
Leonard Gettelson, a member since 1971, passed away on December 24, 1977. He had worked closely with Ernie Lanigan for many years on various The Sporting News publications like Daguerreotypes and The Sporting News Record Book.
John Tattersall passed away in Boca Raton, Florida on May 29, 1981. At a cost of $10,000, the Society purchased his collection of research material which consisted of seven file drawers of folders that pertained to all the major-league home runs hit since 1876. Tattersall had gained national recognition in 1953 when The Sporting News published a story about his correction of Nap Lajoie’s 1901 batting average. The New York Times and Time magazine subsequently mentioned this. Fascinated by statistical research, Tattersall had years earlier set out to catalogue every home run in major league history. Upon John’s death Bob McConnell took on the role of maintaining this list. In 1990 the Society’s Computerization Committee assumed the task of converting the log into an online format. The Tattersall-McConnell Home Run Log would eventually evolve into the 1996 Macmillan book, SABR Presents The Home Run Encyclopedia, edited by Bob McConnell and David Vincent. McConnell to this day, however, states that 90 percent of the material in the Tattersall/McConnell log was due to Tattersall’s efforts. Bob claims he has just updated the material and made a few corrections.
Former Society president Eugene Murdock died on July 23, 1992. Professor Murdock had been the chairman of the history department at Marietta College from 1972 to 1986 and was very interested in oral histories. Among his published works were Ban Johnson (published in 1982), Baseball Players and Their Times: Oral Histories of the Game, 1920-1940 (1991), and Baseball Between the Wars: Memories of the Game by the Men Who Played it (1992).
Keith Sutton, an original Society member, died in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, in early 1993. His material had appeared in The Sporting News from 1950 to 1975. In 1973 he published the 260-page Wayne County Sports History. Christy Mathewson had played semipro baseball in Honesdale in 1898 and 1899 and Sutton was considered the expert on that portion of Mathewson’s career.
Tweed Webb passed away on April 27, 1995, in St. Louis at the age of 89. Webb was a pioneering authority on the Negro Leagues. Webb’s death was sandwiched between the loss of two of the Society’s original members. Tom Shea died in March 1995, in a nursing home in Cohasset, Massachusetts, at the age of 90. Bill Haber died in Brooklyn from an asthma attack in June of the same year. A very strong argument can be made that Shea and Haber were baseball’s greatest biographical researchers. Sportswriter Bill Madden of the New York Daily News said of Haber, “In terms of sleuthing, Dick Tracy, Magnum, and Jim Rockford had nothing on Haber.” Shea’s story can be found in the 1998 edition of The National Pastime.
Pat McDonough, another of the Society’s original members, passed away on March 2, 1996. He was active as a newspaper writer and editor for over 50 years and his specialty was relief pitching research.
Ralph Horton, who passed away in October 1998, worked for the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company where he was instrumental in initiating the Gold Glove Awards. After his retirement Ralph started his own publishing company and reprinted old baseball guides and record books, a project that has and will greatly benefit present and future generations of baseball historians.
Over the years, SABR presented several awards for individual or group research achievements, most of which culminated in books or articles for publication. This was appropriate for a research society. But in the true spirit of SABR, the reason it was founded is also exemplified by the willingness of many members to assist others in their projects, without recognition or compensation. In order to acknowledge SABR members’ willingness to assist and share, the “Spirit of SABR Salute” was inaugurated in March 2000. In each SABR Bulletin, space was devoted to recognizing SABR members who, on their own initiative or on request, have assisted other members in their research projects.
(Special thanks to Rod Nelson, Joel Dinda and Tom Zocco for their assistance in compiling the text for these SABR Salutes.)