Faris: The life and astounding historical trove of baseball’s GOAT statistician, Bill Weiss

From Nick Faris at The Score on March 31, 2020, on longtime SABR member Bill Weiss:

It was winter in California, which meant Bill Weiss, the busiest statistician in baseball, was consumed with piecing together the story of the 1892 San Jose Dukes. Something strange went down on the mound in San Jose that long-lost season, Weiss once told a Sports Illustrated reporter who’d asked him to reflect on his decades of service to the sport. Two pitchers combined to start and complete all but a handful of the Dukes’ 170-plus games: George Harper, a righty on the cusp of the majors, and J.D. Lookabaugh, whose yeoman’s effort enabled him to hurl more than 800 innings – and whose name, within a couple of seasons, vanished from rosters of the day.

“Probably threw his arm out,” Weiss said.

This – the 800 innings; the belated appreciation of Lookabaugh’s toil – all took place many years ago, but as vignettes of Weiss’ work go, it’s evergreen. Weiss was a caretaker of baseball’s present and its past, and he was tireless. Across his adulthood he tracked stats for more than a dozen minor leagues. He saved every scrap of information that he unearthed about the game: thousands of books, team batting totals from the 1950 Pacific Coast League season, copies of The Sporting News that dated back to World War I.

His understated explanation for why he bothered digging into Lookabaugh one offseason doubled as a summary of his professional ethos: “I enjoy historical research.”

Read the full article here: https://www.thescore.com/mlb/news/1948734



Originally published: April 1, 2020. Last Updated: April 1, 2020.

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