Mosher: SABR member Jim Herdman’s quest back through baseball history

From Terry Mosher at the Kitsap Sun on January 21, 2020, with mention of SABR members Jim Herdman, David W. Smith, and Andy McCue:

You may think that baseball went crazy with all of its more modern statistics such as WAR (wins above replacement), OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) and countless others that do not include more normal stats like RBI (runs batted in). But did you know that almost all that craziness was born a long time ago when a guy named Allan Roth, a Canadian, had a quirky passion at a young age for looking at baseball in a different way.

“Allan Roth had insights well before his time and he was literally the only one doing it,” explains David W. Smith, a retired microbiology professor with the University of Delaware and the founder of Retrosheet, which in itself is crazy but in a wonderful way.

“I meant it when I said he inspired me when I was 10 and saw some of his data at the first Major League game I attended. I never met him, but I did talk on the phone with him three times, including the night before he died.”


Closer to home, Bremerton’s Jim Herdman has recorded the first and last of all things baseball in every baseball stadium in the history of the sport from 1901 to present, and now is a volunteer with a company called Retrosheet as it attempts to record every Major League game played from the 1984 season backward to the start in 1871. (The 1984-89 seasons were compiled by Project Scoresheet, started by legendary Bill James, and from 1990 to present the games have come from MLB’s Advanced Media).

Herdman started his first to last quest in 1994, when his son reached high school and he passed coaching him on to then Bremerton coach Mike McKnight.

“I got a little stir crazy and didn’t know what to do,” says Herdman. “I had heard that Babe Ruth had hit the first home run at Yankee Stadium and it was pretty cool that it led to being the house that Ruth built. I wanted to know who the winning pitcher was so I went to look it up.

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Originally published: January 22, 2020. Last Updated: January 22, 2020.