Neyer: One man’s tiny contribution

For SABR member Rob Neyer at Baseball Nation on Febuary 21, 2013: 

As I’ve mentioned a few times, the baseball records are merely approximations. Today I made them a little bit less approximate, I hope.

I’ve been researching the career of a 1960s outfielder named Adolfo Phillips — an incredibly talented player with a really interesting career — for SABR’s BioProject, and it didn’t take long for me to realize there was probably something amiss with Phillips’ minor-league ledger …

Obviously, it would have been very difficult for a player in 1961 to play in 183 minor-league games. Unless some of those games were played in March and/or October. But that wasn’t the case here. The Alabama-Florida League started playing on the 24th of April and ended on the 22nd of August; the Pioneer League started on April 23, ended September 4. Also, I acquired Phillips’ “contract card” from the Hall of Fame and found that he spent most of July on the Disabled List. Absent a huge number of doubleheaders and perfect time, it was mathematically impossible for Adolfo Phillips to play 183 minor-league games.

So, hoping to figure out what happened, I queried SABR-L, the Society for American Baseball Research’s mechanism for asking (and answering) questions related to just about anything under the sun. Within just a few minutes, I had a lovely message from a fellow SABR member, with an illuminating attachment: a page from the 1963 edition of the Philadelphia Phillies Organizational Sketch Book. 

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Originally published: February 22, 2013. Last Updated: February 22, 2013.