Editor’s note: “Baseball Analyst”, a Bill James creation that he self-published from 1982 to 1989, was one of the first publications to feature articles devoted to sabermetrics — a phrase he coined in part to honor SABR. “Baseball Analyst” was a 20-page magazine compiled for most of those years by Bill and his wife, Susan McCarthy, at home in Kansas and sent out to dozens (later a hundred or so) of subscribers who paid $12 a year for the privilege.
From the beginning, its content was groundbreaking: The first article in the first issue of June 1982 was by Paul Schwarzenbart on ballpark effects, now a widely accepted idea in baseball analysis. In Issue 8 of October 1983, “Baseball Analyst” announced the creation of Project Scoresheet — started because there was no easy way to find box scores or stats of historical major league games — the same project that has evolved today into the amazing Retrosheet. Many esteemed writers contributed articles to “Baseball Analyst” over the years, including Pete Palmer, a 2010 Henry Chadwick Award winner; Craig Wright, the first full-time sabermetrician employed by a major league team (Texas Rangers); Phil Birnbaum, longtime editor of the Statistical Analysis Committee newsletter; Bill Deane, former Senior Research Associate at the Hall of Fame Library; and more.
Thanks to the generosity of Bill James and Phil Birnbaum, we are pleased to offer the entire run of “Baseball Analyst” for the first time online at SABR.org. Each of the 40 issues are available for download on our “Baseball Analyst” archives page. We’re also glad to have SABR member and Baseball Nation editor Rob Neyer, who began his baseball writing career as an assistant for Bill James — you can read James’ ad for the job in Issue 37 of August 1988 — introduce the collection here:
It took 22 years, but I’ve come full circle.
In 1989, I killed Baseball Analyst.
Yes, it was my fault. When I went to work for Bill James in 1989, he assigned me the chore of assembling Baseball Analyst. Before me, Jim Baker had performed that role with élan. Not me, though. Wrapped up in whatever else I thought was more important, I didn’t bring enough enthusiasm to Baseball Analyst to keep it on Bill’s radar screen. After one or two issues under my purview, it died a soft slow death.
About which I have always been slightly ashamed. So it’s with that feeling, along with the attendant irony, that I now have the pleasure of introducing the entire run of Baseball Analyst here, finally available on the Web after more than two decades completely out of public view.
This was the front lines of baseball research, friends. Articles of the sabermetric bent written on typewriters, or printed on dot-matrix printers. I’m not sure there was mimeographing involved at some point in the eight-year run, but it’s definitely possible.
Anyway, now it’s all here. This long-lost treasure of Bill James and Craig Wright and Mike Kopf and Dick O’Brien and Steve Roney and Dallas Adams and so many others is lost no more. I, for one, am immensely grateful to Bill and to SABR for this gift.
— Rob Neyer
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Originally published: November 2, 2011. Last Updated: November 2, 2011.