The SABR Overlooked 19th Century Base Ball Legends Project began in 2008 when Peter Mancuso introduced Joe Williams as chair of a new project; its purpose was to “bring long overdue recognition to those 19th-century players and other 19th-century baseball persons who have yet to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.” Charles Faber and Bob Gregory quickly joined the cause to develop the process that the committee uses today to hold annual SABR elections and select the Overlooked Legends.
After five Overlooked Legends elections — highlighted by 2010 winner Deacon White being elected to the Hall of Fame in December 2012 — Joe turned the reins over to Adam Darowski, who added a sabermetric slant to the project bios from his work at hallofstats.com. Darowski has led the project for the past five elections, which included the first non-professional player winning in 2014, when Doc Adams was selected. Adams missed election to the Hall of Fame by just two votes in December 2015 before the “Laws of Base Ball” (which Adams authored in 1857) were made public and sold for $3.26 million at auction. Adams will be eligible again for a December 2020 vote by the Early Baseball Era Committee at the MLB Winter Meetings.
We have a few changes to announce as the Overlooked Legends project enters its second decade. Adam and Joe have decided to be co-chairs of the project, so they can share the workload and expand the activities of the project. Ralph Peluso, Sam Reich, and Tom Zocco make up the rest of the team that helps determine the preliminary candidates and oversees the annual election of the Overlooked Legend.
A second group has been created under the project to bring attention to 19th-century pioneers of the game. Matt Albertson, Eric Miklich, and Gary Passamonte are joining Adam and Joe to participate in education and promotion of overlooked pioneers. Pioneers will be considered for their contributions to the game, not just statistical metrics. Our plan is to research and write a quarterly Pioneer Profile for Nineteenth Century Notes, which will also be published online at SABR.org.
More information about the Pioneer initiative will be addressed in the October issue of Nineteenth Century Notes.
Originally published: August 15, 2018. Last Updated: April 27, 2020.