SABR 41: Davies, Kilgo Team Win Convention Presentation Awards

LIVE FROM LONG BEACH — Ross Davies, a professor of law at George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia, has won his second Doug Pappas Award for the best oral research presentation and a team led by Patrick Kilgo from Emory University in Atlanta won the USA Today Sports Weekly Award for the best poster presentation at the annual SABR convention.

Davies, who is also editor-in-chief of Green Bag, An Entertaining Journal of Law, won for a presentation called “Toolson’s Secrets: A Close Call for the Baseball Antitrust Exemption,” which he delivered Thursday during SABR 41 at the Long Beach Hilton. His abstract is posted below:

A lot of ink has been spilled over two of the Supreme Court’s big three baseball antitrust exemption cases – Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs (1922) and Flood v. Kuhn (1972). The third SCOTUS decision, Toolson v. New York Yankees (1953) has received far less attention. Davies discusses two documents he discovered, revealing that Chief Justices Earl Warren and William Rehnquist were critical players in Toolson, even though neither one ever wrote a published opinion in a baseball antitrust case. He will describe how this enlarges and clarifies their roles in antitrust policy and its relationship to baseball.

The Doug Pappas Award — originally established as the USA Today Sports Weekly Award in 1992 and renamed in 2004 to honor the late baseball researcher — includes a $250 cash prize with a matching amount donated to SABR.

Davies also won the award in 2010 for “Chinese-US Baseball Diplomacy before the Great War“.

The team of Kilgo, Jeff Switchenko, Hillary Superak, Paul Weiss, Lisa Elon, Brian Schmotzer, and Lance Waller won the award for their poster presentation “Pitch F/X as a Scouting Tool: Using Advanced Graphical Methods to Scout Hitters.” Their abstract is posted below:

The wide availability of Pitch F/X data has fostered what promises to be a revolution in the analysis of pitching. In these early years, the collected pitch data are still being used largely anecdotally, with general conclusions derived from a scout’s impression of a graphical representation of the pitches. In this poster, the Emory research group offers a more sophisticated statistical approach to examining Pitch F/X datasets – spatial analysis and graphing. This technique can identify statistically valid clusters and diagrams that may demonstrate useful characteristics of hitters and pitchers that could be valuable information for coaches and players.

The USA Today Sports Weekly Award — first presented in 1990 as the John W. Cox Award — includes a $125 cash prize with a matching donation to SABR.

Kilgo also won the award in 2007 for “Historically Atypical Performance: Quantifying the Unusualness of Players’ Seasons.”

For more information on the SABR convention, visit

— Jacob Pomrenke

Originally published: July 10, 2011. Last Updated: July 27, 2020.