Pomrenke: Hugh Fullerton, baseball’s Carnac the Magnificent

From SABR member Jacob Pomrenke at The National Pastime Museum on May 22, 2017:

No one who knew him would have been surprised to learn that Hugh S. Fullerton was in the middle of the fracas that led to the formation of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America during the 1908 World Series. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, the Chicago-based newspaper and magazine writer played a significant role in just about every major story involving the baseball media. His impact on sports and how we analyze the game is still felt today.

Modern fans may know Fullerton best for his role in investigating the Black Sox Scandal. He was memorably portrayed by another Chicago icon, Studs Terkel, in the film Eight Men Out, in which he and colleague Ring Lardner (portrayed by director John Sayles) agreed to highlight any suspicious plays they saw on the field. In real life, Fullerton spent many years before and after the 1919 World Series as the leading voice in shedding light on baseball’s gambling epidemic. Without his tenacious efforts, it’s unlikely the game’s powers that be would have been motivated to clean up the National Pastime and hire their first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Fullerton’s legacy can’t be reduced to a few circles on a World Series scorecard, however. He had a deep impact on the game in many other ways, which led to his being posthumously honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame with the J. G. Taylor Spink Award in 1964. He was one of the game’s first statistical analysts, devising an elaborate sabermetric-like system that allowed him to compare players against their peers with more detail than anyone had ever done before. He was also a leading figure in the “Chicago School” of baseball writing, a contemporary and mentor to the likes of Ring Lardner, Irving Sanborn, Charles Dryden, Arch Ward, and many other influential reporters.

But Fullerton was most known in his own time for his prognostications; he had an uncanny knack for predicting the World Series winner every fall.

Read the full article here: https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/hugh-fullerton-baseball-s-carnac-magnificent

Originally published: May 22, 2017. Last Updated: May 22, 2017.