Cook: Database guru Sean Lahman builds baseball history, one stat at a time

From Brad Cook at Out of the Park Baseball on May 11, 2015, with SABR member Sean Lahman:

Sean Lahman‘s name is well-known to many long-time players of Out of the Park Baseball, thanks to his popular database of historical player statistics that the game uses, as well as the exposure he gave OOTP during its early years. We wanted to learn more about how the database came about, and how he got involved with OOTP and sims in general, so we dropped him a line.

“I started with a table top game called Statis-Pro Baseball, which was put out by the Avalon Hill game company,” he recalls. “My parents gave it to me as a Christmas present in 1981, when I was 13. I played a lot of solo games, and joined some play-by-mail leagues as well. In high school, there were groups of us who played Strat-o-matic baseball (and football), and I was infatuated with these type of simulations. I bought just about every one that I could find, and with a friend even made some of our own.”

He adds: “I was a fan of the earliest computer games, particularly Earl Weaver Baseball, and the scores of other games that came out in the 1980s and 1990s. Odds are that if I heard of it, I probably played it. Console games tended to rely less on statistical simulation and more on hand-eye coordination, so my interest in those never really took off.”

The desire to tinker with home-brewed baseball sims is what led to the creation of his database. “It started because I was a gamer, and I needed data to create my own player cards,” he says. “I started by creating a spreadsheet with player statistics from one season, typing them in from my dog-eared copy of the baseball encyclopedia. I did not set out to create a digital version of the encyclopedia, but that’s what happened.”

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Originally published: May 12, 2015. Last Updated: May 12, 2015.