Bill Nowlin Profiled by Baseball Prospectus

David Laurila’s interview with SABR board member Bill Nowlin appeared in Baseball Prospectus on February 22, 2009. It is reprinted here with the generous permission of Baseball Prospectus for the SABR membership.

Prospectus Q&A: Bill Nowlin
by David Laurila

David Laurila’s interview with SABR board member Bill Nowlin appeared in Baseball Prospectus on February 22, 2009. It is reprinted here with the generous permission of Baseball Prospectus for the SABR membership.

Prospectus Q&A: Bill Nowlin
by David Laurila

When the subjects are baseball and music, Bill Nowlin is about as knowledgeable as they come. The Vice President of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), Nowlin is also a co-owner of both Rounder Books and Rounder Records, the latter of which produced the 2009 Grammy Award-winning collaboration between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. The author of over 20 books on baseball, Nowlin also serves as the publications editor for the Ted Williams Museum.

David Laurila: In a nutshell, how would you describe the Society for American Baseball Research?

Bill Nowlin: SABR has close to seven thousand members, with a wide variety of interests. By no means is everybody in the society actively doing research. Some members simply enjoy seeing the publications that come out, and feel like they’re supporting the people who are doing baseball research. As you know, we have people writing biographies; we have people who are interested in collecting photographs and cataloguing the pictorial history of baseball. We have people whose specialty is Asian baseball, the Negro Leagues, the Deadball Era; we have a lot of people who are interested in looking at baseball in the early years of the 20th century. The 19th century committee is a big one, too.

DL: A lot of people equate SABR with sabermetrics. How much of a role does statistical analysis play within the organization?

BN: I actually just saw numbers on that, because I’m on the board. The statistical analysis committee [in SABR] is one of the biggest committees, but it still only attracts about 25 percent of the membership, so there are large portions of the SABR membership who don’t really know very much about, or follow, statistics other than in a general way. I’m not at all up on stats, but am very involved with Oral History, Bio Project, and several other committees.

DL: Do you feel that Bill James, in coining the term “sabermetrics,” inadvertently did a disservice to SABR?

BN: So many things are like that, though



Originally published: February 23, 2009. Last Updated: February 23, 2009.

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