Hoffarth: The Baseball Encyclopedia landed with a thud 50 years ago

From Tom Hoffarth at the Los Angeles Times on August 31, 2019:

Sure, putting a man on the moon was a pretty big deal 50 summers ago.

Then there are some who considered the arrival of The Baseball Encyclopedia a short time later to be out of this world.

Of all the mind-blowing events from the summer of 1969, the wondrous thud of this 2,337-page bound publication, weighing more than six pounds and mass produced by computer software on onion-skin-thin paper, was as revelatory as it was roomy.

For the first time, the public had up-to-date and accurate access to the complete statistics of more than 10,000 professional baseball players going back to 1876. Think beyond the back-of-bubble-gum-card material.


At the annual SABR convention in June in San Diego, a panel discussion formed to herald The Baseball Encyclopedia’s golden anniversary and provide context. Neft flew in from New York to join Retrosheet.org founder David Smith, based in Delaware, and Baseball-Reference.com president Sean Forman, who lives in Philadelphia.

MLB official historian John Thorn, who moderated the event, said RetroSheet.org, founded in 1989, has so far digitized the play-by-play and box scores of nearly 175,000 games — 98% of all played over the last century. Baseball-Reference.com, launched in 2000 and expanded to basketball, the NFL, hockey, college football and soccer, says its primary aim is to be the “easiest to use, fastest and most complete sports statistics (site) anywhere. If we have some fun in the process, that’s good too.”

Read the full article here: https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2019-08-31/baseball-encyclopedia-fifty-year-anniversary-sabr-statistics

Originally published: September 4, 2019. Last Updated: September 4, 2019.