SABR announces 2018 Henry Chadwick Award recipients

SABR is pleased to announce the 2018 recipients of the Henry Chadwick Award, established to honor the game’s great researchers—historians, statisticians, annalists, and archivists—for their invaluable contributions to making baseball the game that links America’s present with its past.

The 2018 recipients of the Henry Chadwick Award are:

  • Jefferson Burdick (1900-1963) was a pioneer baseball card collector whose invented classifications still govern the hobby; he donated his enormous collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it remains one of the most popular destinations for researchers. He created The American Card Catalog, the bible of the hobby, in 1939, and tribute is paid to his lifelong work any time one brings up T-206 or N-162 or other codes common in the hobby. Burdick was “a collector’s collector,” said Freyda Spira, the Met’s assistant curator in the drawings and prints department. “He didn’t collect cards because of their value but because of his interest in history.” As he wrote in 1948, he regarded his life’s work as “a national collection belonging to everybody.” His quiet joys were not in chasing value or celebrity, or in mere accumulation, but in his research and in the legacy he consciously built, through crippling arthritis, to his dying days.
  • Bob McConnell (1925-2012) was an original SABR member from 1971 and a star researcher in whatever field to which his interest turned. His expertise was on brilliant and thorough display in biographical research, 19th century baseball, and perhaps most notably, the minor leagues. He revamped the John Tattersall Home Run Log, purchased by SABR from the latter’s estate in 1981, and kept it up to date until its publication in 1996 as SABR Presents The Home Run Encyclopedia, a register of every home run ever hit in major-league play. But perhaps McConnell’s greatest legacy is the three-volume Minor League Baseball Stars, which celebrated not only the anecdotes surrounding those second-tier greats, but also documented their statistical records, accurately for the first time. Along with Ray Nemec, Vern Luse, and Bob Davids, McConnell brought to life the golden age of the minor leagues, when many top-rank players preferred to stay closer to home, making salaries greater than they had made in their brief stays in the majors.
  • Tom Shieber (1964 – ) has been one of baseball research’s leading lights for more than two decades.  The founder of SABR’s Pictorial History Committee in 1994, he served as its chairman and newsletter editor for its first several years, and remains one of its top researchers. An expert in 19th-century baseball, among many other areas, he is responsible for locating and correctly identifying the oldest team photograph: that of the New York Gotham club of 1855. His Baseball Researcher blog, in its tenth year, is a delight for anyone interested in the microscopic details of baseball, especially as depicted in photography, imagery, or film. A native of Missouri and a one-time solar physicist at Mt. Wilson, California, since 1998 Tom has been a curator (now senior curator) at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 
  • Andrew Zimbalist (1947 – ) has been an economics professor at Smith College since 1974, but found time to make his mark as a leading voice in the field of sports economics. His 1992 book Baseball and Billions was a groundbreaking look at money in all aspects of the major and minor leagues. He followed that up with more than 20 other books, including several on baseball: May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy, In the Best Interests of Baseball? The Revolutionary Reign of Bud Selig, The Sabermetric Revolution: Assessing the Growth of Analytics in Baseball. He is a frequent contributor to documentaries about the game.

By honoring individuals for the length and breadth of their contribution to the study and enjoyment of baseball, the Chadwick Award will educate the baseball community about sometimes little known but vastly important contributions from the game’s past and thus encourage the next generation of researchers.

The criteria for the award reads in part: The contributions of nominees must have had public impact. This may be demonstrated by publication of research in any of a variety of formats: books, magazine articles, websites, etc. The compilation of a significant database or archive that has facilitated the published research of others will also be considered in the realm of public impact.

For a complete list of Chadwick Award winners, click here.

Originally published: February 22, 2018. Last Updated: February 22, 2018.