Alpert, Staples, Seamheads group win 2012 SABR Baseball Research Awards

The 2012 SABR Baseball Research Awards, which honor outstanding research projects completed during the preceding calendar year which have significantly expanded our knowledge or understanding of baseball, have been awarded for:

  • Rebecca T. Alpert for the research she did to prepare her book, Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball, published by Oxford University Press.
  • Gary Ashwill, Scott Simkus, Dan Hirsch and Kevin Johnson for the research they did to assemble the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database at
  • Bill Staples Jr. for the research he did to prepare his book, Kenichi Zenimura: Japanese American Baseball Pioneer, published by McFarland & Co.

The authors will receive their awards at the SABR 42 national convention, June 27-July 1, 2012, at the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The winners receive a plaque and a $200 cash award.

Alpert is an Associate Professor of Religion and Women’s Studies at Temple University and a recipient of Temple’s College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Teaching Award. Also the author of Whose Torah?: A Concise Guide to Progressive Judaism, she has lectured at a number of colleges and universities, including Columbia, Pennsylvania, Princeton and Swarthmore. She earned her Ph.D. in religion at Temple University and her Rabbinical training at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Pennsylvania.

Ashwill, a freelance writer and editor who graduated from the University of Kansas and Duke University, was a member of the Negro League Research and Authors Group (NLRAG), a historic study sponsored by Major League Baseball and the Baseball Hall of Fame that was used to select Negro Leagues players to the Hall of Fame in 2006; he writes about the Negro Leagues at Simkus, who blogs regularly at and publishes The Outside Baseball Bulletin, was the lead consultant for the Strat-O-Matic Game Company in New York, helping research and write a 32-page booklet for their ground-breaking Negro League All-Star set; his work has been profiled in Sports Illustrated, The New York TimesLos Angeles Times, Chicago Sun-Times, National Public Radio, among others. Hirsch, a graduate of the University of South Florida and a firefighter at Offutt Air Force Base in Kansas, runs The Baseball Gauge and is a web designer at Johnson (KJOK), a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis who now works for a travel technology company in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, is a founding contributor at and SABR member since 1986; he helped create the Seamheads Ballparks Database in 2009.

Staples is Director of Marketing and Communications at the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Also serving as chair of SABR’s Asian Baseball Research Committee, Staples’ book was also named an official Arizona Centennial Legacy Project by the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission, in conjunction with Arizona’s 2012 centennial. He writes regularly about Japanese-American baseball at He lives in Chandler, Arizona.

The SABR Baseball Research Award, formerly known as the Sporting News-SABR Baseball Research Award, is designed to honor projects that do not fit the criteria for the Seymour Medal or the McFarland-SABR Baseball Research Award.

The selection committee consists of: Steve Gietschier (non-voting chair), Monte Cely, Andrew Goldblatt and Marlene Vogelsang.

To submit a nomination for the 2013 awards, which will be presented at the SABR 43 national convention in Philadelphia, please send the work’s title, author and publisher information to Steve Gietschier.

To see a complete list of SABR Baseball Research Award winners, click here.

Originally published: April 27, 2012. Last Updated: December 21, 2020.