SABR member Merrianna McCully writes up her story in baseball as pioneering stat analyst

From Rob Burns at The Daily World on August 19, 2014, on SABR member Merrianna McCully:

Tucked away in her Ocean Shores home, Merrianna McCully had nearly all of the material and information needed to write a book about her second career in baseball.

All she needed was a bit of motivation and a push, one delivered by her friends and by a well-known baseball statistical novel.

On Saturday, McCully, 72, greeted friends and fellow Sabermetric followers at the launch party at Galway Bay restaurant for her new book, Three Up, Three Down: Pears of Wisdom, which chronicles her journey as a former independent baseball statistician for baseball television broadcaster Jim Kaat.

The book is self-published, a 270-page tome which features her story as a statistician, her statistical baseball theories and how Kaat, now with MLB Network, and former Minnesota Twins/Chicago Cubs/Baltimore Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail used and benefited from her work.

Kaat, who hired McCully while he worked as a TV analyst for the Minnestoa Twins, CBS Sports, ESPN and the MSG/YES Network, wrote the book’s foreword.

“I’ve been very lucky that it has come easy for me; I never asked for any of the jobs I got,” McCully said. “When I signed on with Kaat, it was because I heard him on television. He had a few things to say in that foreword. MacPhail came to be through Kaat and he hired me for a few years. I now realize what I’ve accomplished in baseball.”

The idea for the book came from her friends, who told her that everything she’s done in baseball — at a smaller scale — was similar to Michael Lewis’ now-iconic book, Moneyball, which chronicled the Oakland Athletics’ use of statistics and Sabermetrics to put together winning baseball teams in 2004.

“What spurred me on to write the book was Moneyball,” said McCully, who credits Marlene Thomasson for helping her to write the book. “When the movie came out, my friends told me that it was about ‘everything that you did.’ I always had it on my bucket list to write a book about my adventures and I still had all of my game notes for Kaat.

“The book is about every team and I’m still a fan,” she added. “You can’t be a Sabermetrician without being a fan. I am a pioneer in the Sabermetrics industry if you look back at it. What makes the story is that I’m female. There isn’t another female that has done (all of this). One of these days, there will be a woman general manager in baseball.”

McCully retired from the Yakima Herald-Republic in 2001 as the pre-press manager after 30 years and had already been working with Kaat since 1990 as his exclusive statistician. McCully met Kaat after she sent him a letter containing several pages of statistics on how the 1989 Minnesota Twins weren’t as bad at winning low-scoring games as he announced in a game.

Kaat got McCully hired by CBS Sports in 1990 and McCully’s baseball career as one of the first female baseball statisticians began. MacPhail, who was the general manager of the Twins when Kaat was with the team, also contacted McCully for help with pitchers — McCully’s statistical specialty. Kaat and McCully worked together for 15 years and McCully still provides some info and stats to Kaat on occasion when he gets an assignment for MLB Network.

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Originally published: August 19, 2014. Last Updated: August 19, 2014.