By David W. Smith
The Retrosheet website (Retrosheet.org) has been updated with our annual fall release.
The main addition of play-by-play information is for the recently completed 2013 season, of course. Since it is only about four months since our July release, we have completed the proofing for of play-by-play event files for only one league-season to our previous set. That is the 1922 American League, for which we have full play-by-play for 363 games. Combined with the 463 NL games we have already posted for 1922, these AL games bring us to 826, which is right at two-thirds of 1,238 Major League contests that were held that year.
As regular users of our site are aware, for the past several years we have added box scores to the “front end” of our collection, moving steadily backwards in proper Retro fashion. All box scores are balanced and checked against the official daily totals for all players. Thousands of discrepancies with the official records have been discovered in the process. These box scores cover all games, whether we have play-by-play data or not.
With this release, we reach a major milestone in the publication of the box scores. With the completion of 1914 season (the Federal League games were the last addition) plus the addition of the games from 2013, we now have the last 100 consecutive years of box scores on our site. I like to think of it as the RetroCentury, a total of 169,462 games.
Of course, the main driving force in all of this is Tom Ruane. Many volunteers helped to digitize the official daily records and to collect lineups from newspapers, but it has been Tom’s relentless drive that brought everything together. Everyone who uses the Retrosheet site should give thanks to Tom and his selfless donation of thousands of hours in bringing this collection to life.
There are many other volunteers who deserve appreciation and I summarize the contributions of several here. I apologize in advance for any omissions.
There have been many additions to previously released event files. David Vincent has entered the play-by-play for over 300 games from the 1947-49 seasons, about 200 of them since our July update! This is a remarkable pace of work, but it is even more impressive when one considers that very many of the games he was working from were fan scorecards which are, to put it politely, extremely uneven, with some being very difficult to decipher. Some of them are certainly excellent accounts, but David has dealt with the scorecards from many different fans, so it can be hard to get momentum as is the case when working with a large number of games from a single source, such as a sportswriter’s personal scorebook.
Clem Comly has devoted a great deal of time to the proofing of 1939 and 1937 since the July release. These seasons are not quite ready for prime time yet, but his careful identification of a large number of issues makes the final reconciliation much easier and helps to get new seasons onto the website more rapidly. During this process, Clem has also entered over 100 games, many of them being difficult fan scorecards.
Longtime Phillies fan Dick Cramer has been plowing through scorecards from the 1930s and 1940s for his favorite team. This is a labor of love since there were some pretty rough seasons for the Blue Jays (as they were known for several years in the early 1940s). He has completed over 150 of these since June and is still working through the 1940s.
Jim Herdman continues his one-man quest of obtaining and entering Federal League games. He has had great success with newspapers from Buffalo, Indianapolis and Kansas City, with the result that he has entered 907 of the 1,243 Federal League games played in that organization’s brief existence from 1914 to 1915. These games are not completely proofed yet and so are not on our website, but hopefully they will appear next year.
Those of you who routinely make use of our event files should therefore download the full set again since there have been many additions in the last four months.
Cliff Blau continues his steady progress on the 1913 season and Doug Burks is working on the 1935 Chicago teams. Pete Cottrell has become an expert with the scorebooks of longtime writer Sid Mercer who covered New York teams for several years. Pete is currently deep into the 1942 season with the Yankees, who were Mercer’s beat that year. Bob Kapla is also a steady contributor, currently working in the early 1940s.
Webmaster Mark Pankin handles inquiries from users of our site and is extremely efficient in posting updates which come from several sources. For example, David Vincent keeps daily track of plays that were reviewed by umpires in current games and sends the results to Mark who has them on our site almost immediately.
On the game account acquisition front, Walter LeConte has done excellent work with play by play from St. Louis newspapers in the 1930s and 1940s and has lately been spending time on getting accounts from the Boston Globe to help in the work others do on deducing plausible play-by-play accounts from newspaper stories. The general pattern is that I obtain newspapers via interlibrary loan, scan the relevant stories, and send them out. Walter’s efforts allow me to concentrate on other newspapers, greatly increasing our efficiency. Of course, Joe Stillwell continues his regular scanning of the online auction sites to find images of scorecards we need, sometimes by cajoling the sellers into making fresh scans for us.
Speaking of deductions, Mark Pankin, John Gabcik, Richard Weston, and Stew Thornley have all put their sleuthing abilities to good use as they scour stories for tidbits that they piece together for excellent play-by-play accounts. Mark Pankin has been very diligent not only in the actual deductions, but also in getting more information on his own from the Library of Congress.
Dave Lamoureaux, who did a lot of the digitizing work that led to the box score files, has spent most of his Retrosheet time lately downloading newspaper images from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, and Detroit Free Press from 1922 and earlier. Having these files available is a tremendous help in proofing event files and box scores as the old newspapers had excellent, detailed coverage. Of course, in many cases they also had full play by play accounts as well.
Hopefully, there will be plenty here to enhance your Retrosheet experience!
SABR member DAVID W. SMITH is the founder and president of Retrosheet. He is a 2012 recipient of the Henry Chadwick Award and a 2005 recipient of the Bob Davids Award, SABR’s highest honor. Learn more at Retrosheet.org.
Originally published: December 2, 2013. Last Updated: December 2, 2013.