SABR unveils First Games Back project for Opening Day 2020

First Games Back

As we welcome Opening Day in 2020, SABR invites all baseball fans to check out our First Games Back project, edited by Bill Nowlin and Alan Cohen, a look at how baseball has returned to play following all the unusual delays that have kept leagues, teams, and players off the field: wars, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, injuries, illnesses, franchise relocations, and more.

This collection of 32 articles highlights the breadth and depth of SABR research, showcasing a variety of stories from the earliest days of baseball history into the 21st century.

As Cohen writes in his introduction to the project:

After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, baseball games were canceled as America collectively mourned the loss of life. Games began on September 17 and the first games back in New York City produced a blend of exhilaration and remembrance. Another act of terror in Boston in 2013 showed the resilience of that city’s fanbase.

There were pauses in play for natural disasters, including a World Series earthquake in the Bay Area and a devastating hurricane in Houston. There were returns after work stoppages in 1981 and 1994-95. Civil disturbances in the 1960s also impacted the baseball schedule. In 1919, the start of the season was delayed while an influenza pandemic ravaged the entire world.

Cities that had been without major-league baseball for decades saw the game return and fans turned out to welcome new teams.

Baseball is a game for a resilient and perpetually optimistic fanbase, and it is to those fans that these stories are dedicated.

More stories will be added to the First Games Back project soon, including articles on the Opening Day games in 2020. Play ball!

Originally published: July 23, 2020. Last Updated: July 22, 2020.