SABR is pleased to announce the 2021 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 2021 recipients of the Henry Chadwick Award are:
- Gary Ashwill (1968 – ) is an author, researcher, and historian, primarily of Negro Leagues, minor-league, and Cuban baseball. The Seamheads Negro Leagues Database that he co-founded was recently cited by Major League Baseball as being one of the contributing factors in their long overdue recognition of the segregated Black baseball circuits. A freelance editor residing in North Carolina, Ashwill has been writing the critically acclaimed outsider baseball blog Agate Type since 2006 and he was a contributor to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Negro League Researchers and Authors Group (NLRAG), as well as the Baseball Think Factory’s Hall of Merit.
- Alan Nathan (1946 – ) has been a professor of physics at the University of Illinois since 1977, with a specialty in experimental nuclear/particle physics. Now a professor emeritus, Nathan has spent the past quarter-century creating a body of knowledge around the physics of baseball. His extensive research and numerous articles, in particular on the collision between the bat and ball and the flight of the baseball, has dramatically expanded our quantitative understanding and visualization of baseball’s most fundamental interactions. Beyond the physical interactions themselves, Nathan’s research has examined their implications, from how a batter’s swing might be optimized to the insights extractable out of the data explosion from ballpark-installed technologies.
- Robert W. Peterson (1925-2006) was a newspaper writer, a freelance journalist, and the author of several books on sports and contemporary news events. His primary contribution to baseball research was the seminal Only the Ball Was White, a 1970 book on the Negro Leagues, which remained a foundation for the next few decades of scholarship in the field. Inspired by his memories of watching barnstorming black players in his hometown of Warren, Pennsylvania, in the late 1930s Peterson set out to interview surviving players and study the leagues’ histories on newspaper microfilm. Peterson later became an active participant in SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee, attending several Jerry Malloy Conferences, and was part of the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues that elected 17 people to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
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 15, 2021. Last Updated: February 15, 2021.