Neyer: Before Baseball-Reference, statheads relied on the ‘Big Mac’

From SABR member Rob Neyer at FiveThirtyEight on May 1, 2017, with mention of SABR members Sean Forman, John Thorn, David Neft, and Bill James:

For diehard baseball fans, a world without Sean Forman’s is difficult to imagine. But the site is relatively new; it didn’t grace the Internet until 2000. Before that, for seamheads interested in baseball statistics there was only … print. Print? Yes, print. You remember print.

One of those print compendiums of baseball information was a 6.5-pound behemoth nicknamed “Big Mac,” and it changed how people think about the sport. A world without the Big Mac might not just mean a world without, it might also mean a world without Bill James, which might mean a world without sabermetrics, a world without “Moneyball,” a world without the analytics that have transformed so many other sports. As John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian, says today, “It was a revolution. This was the ‘Moby-Dick’ of baseball statistics, not only for its size, but also for its place in baseball history.”

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Originally published: May 1, 2017. Last Updated: May 1, 2017.