This Week in SABR: April 13, 2012
Here’s what we’ve been up to as of April 13, 2012:
Spring 2012 Baseball Research Journal articles are now online
Reports are flying in that the new Baseball Research Journal is showing up in members’ mailboxes. If you haven’t received yours, it should be arriving in the next two weeks. Meanwhile, you can get started reading the Spring 2012 edition of the BRJ online at:
That link also offers you a way to download the PDF version of the magazine to read on your computer or e-reader device, as well as a chance to purchase additional copies of the BRJ for any baseball-loving family members or friends at the SABR Bookstore.
Here’s a note from BRJ editor Cecilia Tan about the new issue:
Happy baseball season, everyone.
Herewith, a new baseball season and a new issue of the Baseball Research Journal. In SABR, there really is no offseason. Our offices are as busy as any general manager’s in the winter, as we’ve got year-round work with publications, conference planning, membership services, website updates, award announcements, and more. SABR Day, the annual mid-winter occasion on which SABR chapters around the globe all hold events, tallied 34 meetings and outings. The Seymour Medal went to Glenn Stout. The first ever SABR Analytics Conference was held in Arizona in March, sponsored by MLB and Bloomberg Sports and featuring talks and presentations by front office execs of no fewer than six big league teams and scores of our community’s top analysts and writers. It was a busy winter.
Many SABR members, too, do not hibernate, but buckle down on their research while the ritual of following live games is not eating up three or more hours of their time every day, as it may in mid-summer. The fruits of their labor, and that of the editor(s), peer reviewers, interns, proofreaders, designers, and fact-checkers who work on the BRJ team, are presented here. We often think of research as a solitary pursuit—with a perhaps romanticized view of the library sleuth or number-crunching analyst—but as the thanks and acknowledgments in these papers so often prove, it is a team effort.
Some of the papers presented here are the culmination of years of painstaking investigations, like Herm Krabbenhoft’s efforts to present full and correct data on RBI totals for Hank Greenberg, while others are preliminary studies that one hopes will spur further research, like Christoph Kreinbucher’s study of differences in strike-zone recognition ability between players and umpires. I have been surprised to see relatively little dialogue between the field of game theory and baseball strategy, and I hope William Spaniel’s game-theoretical investigation of a well-known game situation might contribute to that conversation. Some writers shine a light on well-known topics like Steve Ames on Sparky Anderson and Sol Gittleman on the Joe Gordon-Allie Reynolds trade, while others reach the less visited corners of the baseball world, like Kane, Pennsylvania and even our recent, but less heralded past, as in Jennifer Ring’s account of the 2010 Women’s World Cup in Venezuela. And these are just some of the articles in this issue.
It’s all baseball. Major leagues, minor leagues, international, amateur, professional, college—just as players have something to learn at every level, I believe researchers do, too. Each league or era or region we focus on gives us a different angle from which to see the same thing: baseball. The more perspectives, the better our understanding. That goes for authors and researchers, as well. Every SABR member can submit a paper for consideration, and I urge you to do so if you haven’t before. The more eyes look at the game, the better we can all see it. Contributors to this volume range from school age to retired, from college professors to amateur hobbyists. All share a passion for this game.
In addition to all of the BRJ articles you will find in the print edition, we’re also proud to once again present special supplemental material, available exclusively at SABR.org, related to Herm Krabbenhoft’s ongoing research of Hank Greenberg’s RBI totals.
Click here to read more articles from the Spring 2012 “Baseball Research Journal”
Nominees announced for Nineteenth Century Committee’s “Overlooked Legend” of 2012
SABR’s Nineteenth Century Research Committee will be holding its fourth annual vote for the 19th Century Overlooked Baseball Legend in 2012. Our past winners were Pete Browning in 2009, Deacon White in 2010 and Harry Stovey last year.
The 2012 ballot consists of ten names. We have seven returning candidates from last year, one returning from the 2009 and 2010 ballot and two newcomers. One newcomer was the leading vote-getter from last year’s write-in votes and the other was selected by the subcommittee while being among the leaders of the write-in votes.
Without further ado, the 2012 candidates are:
- Doc Adams
Born: November 1, 1814. Died: January 3, 1899. Played: 1839-1862. Position: Pioneer.
The title “Father of Baseball” has been bestowed on a handful of gentlemen since the early days of our national pastime. Daniel Lucius Adams is among them. A graduate of both Yale and Harvard, Adams helped shape the game as we know it today.
- Ross Barnes
Born: May 8, 1850. Died: February 5, 1915. Played: 1866-77,79,81. Position: Second Base.
Ross Barnes may have been the most exciting all around player of the 1860s and 1870s.
- Bob Caruthers
Born: January 5, 1864. Died: August 5, 1911. Played: 1884-93. Position: Pitcher and Outfield.
Robert Lee Caruthers was among the greatest all-around players of his day. He was an outstanding pitcher with a deceptive right-handed delivery and a hard-hitting outfielder who had a solid reputation as a defensive player and a base runner.
- Jim Creighton
Born: April 15, 1841. Died: October 18, 1862. Played: 1857-62. Position: Pitcher.
James Creighton was baseball’s first superstar and possibly its first professional. His life came to a tragic end just six months after his twenty-first birthday, making the young ballplayer a baseball legend and fueling the lore that makes baseball our national pastime.
- Bill Dahlen
Born: January 5, 1870. Died: December 5, 1950. Played: 1891-1911. Position: Shortstop.
Known as “Bad Bill” for his extreme temper, Dahlen played for 21 seasons and is considered one of the great defensive shortstops in baseball history.
- Jack Glasscock
Born: July 22, 1857. Died: February 24, 1947. Played: 1879-95. Position: Shortstop.
Considered by many historians as the greatest defensive shortstop of the Nineteenth Century, “Pebbly Jack” played the majority of his career without a glove.
- Paul Hines
Born: March 1, 1855. Died: July 10, 1935. Played: 1872-91. Position: Outfield.
Hines, an outstanding defensive center fielder, was among the best all-around players in the game for 20 seasons.
- Bobby Mathews
Born: November 21, 1851. Died: April 17, 1898. Played: 1869-77,79,81-87. Position: Pitcher.
Mathews, a pioneer pitcher in the development of both the spitball and the curveball, won 297 games, including the National Association’s first game in 1871.
- Tony Mullane
Born: January 20, 1859. Died: April 25, 1944. Played: 1881-84,86-94. Position: Pitcher.
Born in Ireland, Mullane won 284 games in thirteen major league seasons.
- Joe Start
Born: October 14, 1842. Died: March 27, 1927. Played: 1859-86. Position: First Base.
Start had one of the longest playing careers in baseball history, playing in 1859 with the Enterprise Club of Brooklyn to 1886 with the Washington Nationals of the National League. In between, he would earn the nickname “Old Reliable” for his play on the field and for his honesty and personal integrity.
Others receiving consideration but who did not make our top ten include: Bud Fowler, Mike Griffin, Dummy Hoy, Cal McVey, Lip Pike, Al Reach, Jack Stivetts, George Van Haltren, Chris Von der Ahe and Ned Williamson.
To read more extensive biographies of these overlooked legends, and for details on the voting process, download the Nineteenth Century Committee’s Spring 2012 newsletter (PDF). Ballots will be sent out electronically or by mail in May and the winner will be announced during the Nineteenth Century Committee’s annual meeting during SABR 42 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The 19th Century Legends Project Committee consists of Charles Faber, Bob Gregory, Ralph Peluso and Joe Williams. For information or questions, contact Joe Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Frederick Ivor-Campbell 19th Century Base Ball Conference: Please note, registration for the Frederick Ivor-Campbell 19th Century Base Ball Conference, April 20-21 in Cooperstown, New York, is now closed. We’ve reached full capacity, conference organizer Peter Mancuso reports, on the earliest date in the event’s history! “I wish to thank all those who have joined in as presenters, panelists, speakers and participants. The value and enjoyment derived from the conference is a direct reflection of its attendees,” Mancuso writes in the committee’s Spring 2012 newsletter. To learn more about the conference, visit SABR.org/ivor-campbell19c.
Getting to Fenway: How baseball’s most storied ballpark came to be
As Fenway Park prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary next Friday, check out another special excerpt from SABR’s upcoming book on the first team to call the iconic Boston ballpark home: The 1912 Red Sox.
Here’s a preview by Saul Wisnia on Boston’s pre-Fenway parks:
Today’s casual fan might be under the assumption that Red Sox baseball began with the opening of Fenway Park, but of course this is far from the truth.
In fact, the first great moments in the history of Boston’s American League franchise took place about a mile from Kenmore Square at Fenway’s predecessor, the Huntington Avenue Grounds. It was in this humble, long-forgotten locale that the Red Sox won the first modern World Series in 1903, and then repeated as American League pennant winners a year later. It’s also where they stole the hearts of Boston’s raucous fan base from their inner-city National League rivals at the turn of the century, a move that would have seemed preposterous just a few summers before.
Built in the first few months of 1901, the Huntington Avenue Grounds stood literally across the railroad tracks from the South End Grounds, home of the Boston Nationals, the most celebrated team of professional baseball’s early years, in an attempt by the brand-new American League to gain a foothold in the hotbed of America’s Pastime. First known as the Red Stockings and Beaneaters, and later to become the Braves, the Nationals were the kingpins of the National League, with eight championships since the circuit’s formation in 1876 and five in the 1890s alone. Their loyal fans would serenade their heroes with songs at the South End Grounds, and then drink with them after the games at a nearby saloon. The most dedicated devotees, the self-proclaimed “Royal Rooters,” even took their pennants, pins, megaphones, and drums to road games in New York and Baltimore.
Read more of this special excerpt at the SABR Boston Chapter’s website, http://chapters.sabr.org/boston.
- Larry Granillo dusts off a detailed illustration of Fenway Park, circa 1946 (Baseball Prospectus)
- Seymour Medal and Ritter Award winner Glenn Stout: After 100 years, Fenway still matters (ESPN.com)
The “lost founder” of fantasy baseball and the variability of statistics
From Bess Kalb at Grantland.com on longtime SABR member John Burgeson:
A few days before Christmas in 1960, John Burgeson, a mid-level programmer at IBM in Akron, Ohio, called in sick and invented a form of computerized fantasy baseball. In the process, he also presaged the rudimentary concepts of sabermetrics. And in doing all that, he figured out that computers, which until then had basically been ice cream truck–size calculators, were portals to a virtual world and the future of gaming. …
While [Dan] Okrent is indisputably the father of fantasy baseball, John is its genetically distant forebear, and for the sake of historical correctness he recently decided to claim great-grand-paternity. In 1960, nobody cared about a computer wonk in Akron tinkering at his desk for his own amusement, and John’s game never caught on. …
John, for no other reason than that it seemed like a neat trick, figured out that quantitative multivariable computer analysis could determine the relative merits of baseball players and figure out who would win a game. Using objective parameters like batting averages and RBI totals and slugging percentages, John was able to run a comparative performance test in an infinite number of fantasy scenarios. Twenty years later, James defined sabermetrics as “the search for objective knowledge about baseball.” John Burgeson was looking for just that.
You can read the full profile of John Burgeon at Grantland.com here: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7793059/john-burgeson-ibm-computer-start-baseball-video-games
Mentioned in the story is a series of posts that John made to the SABR-L listserv in the fall of 2000. We’ve compiled those posts, on the inherent variability of baseball statistics, and how chance can account for a wide range of results for any player or team, regardless of how good they are:
Here’s an excerpt from John’s posts:
I’ve made the argument that chance plays a large part in baseball — and that its influence on the outcome of games as well as the resulting statistics is often overlooked by some of us, fans, SABRites, writers and broadcasters. That does not diminish, in my judgement, either the inherent worth nor the enjoyment of statistics. The thesis simply enjoins us to take them for what they are worth, imperfect measures of imperfect players made by imperfect people, some better than others, all talented far beyond the average person, who have given us over a hundred years of great enjoyment and will continue to do so for years to come.
You can read John’s entire series of SABR-L posts here: http://sabr.org/latest/john-burgeson-variability-baseball-statistics
Free download of Defining Greatness: A Hall of Fame Handbook
SABR member Dr. Michael Hoban is offering a free download of his new book, Defining Greatness: A Hall of Fame Handbook, to all of his fellow members for a limited time only. You can download a PDF copy of the book here:
In Defining Greatness — available in paperback for a retail price of $16.95 at Booklocker.com — Hoban, a retired professor of mathematics who joined SABR since 1998, tries to answer the question of who truly belongs in baseball’s Hall of Fame. That is, which players have earned the right to be there? Hoban uses Bill James’ Win Shares to come up with a formula that assigns a numerical value to a player’s entire career. The system, called the CAWS Career Gauge (Career Assessment/Wins shares), ranks all the great players of the 20th Century according to their career numbers and it establishes career benchmarks for each position — to determine if a player has obvious HOF numbers.
This is Hoban’s fifth book dealing with baseball; his Hall of Fame blog appears regularly on Seamheads.com.
You can read a free excerpt from Defining Greatness and order a paperback copy here: http://booklocker.com/books/6117.html
Vote for 2012 SABR Board of Directors
SABR members, pay attention to the e-mail address that you have on file with SABR; you should have received a message on Thursday, April 5, with a link to vote online in the 2012 SABR Board of Directors election. The poll will close at 12:00 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on Sunday, May 20.
The only way to vote online is through the link you will receive by e-mail. All e-mails will come from the address email@example.com; if you wish to add it to a whitelist in your e-mail client, that may help ensure that you will receive the e-mails. You will receive at least one more voting -email between April 5 and May 20 with an active voting link. If you did not receive a voting e-mail Thursday, you can contact Jacob Pomrenke at firstname.lastname@example.org to send you a custom voting e-mail.
Members who do not have an e-mail address on file with SABR as of April 5, 2012, will receive a paper ballot in the mail. Please do not vote online and send in the paper ballot; if you do, the paper ballot will be discarded, and only the online vote will count.
If you would like to register your e-mail address on file with SABR so you can vote online (and also receive our “This Week in SABR” newsletter on Fridays), please contact Membership Director Deb Jayne at email@example.com.
When you vote, you will find three items on the 2012 Board of Directors ballot: the election of the SABR Vice President, Secretary, and one Director. The candidates are:
For Vice President
- Bill Nowlin (incumbent)
- Chris Dial
- Todd Lebowitz (incumbent)
For Director (open)
- Bill Staples Jr.
- Ty Waterman
You can read candidate biographies, along with full descriptions of the positions and responses the candidates made to a series of questions, in the 2012 SABR Election Guide below.
Download the 2012 SABR Election Guide here: http://sabr.org/about/2012-sabr-board-directors-election
1947 Brooklyn Dodgers book on sale now from University of Nebraska Press
The Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers, edited by Lyle Spatz, is the first book in SABR’s “Memorable Teams in Baseball History” series with the University of Nebraska Press. Published on April 1 (no fooling!), you can order it now at a 25% discount from the UNP website at http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/pages/JackieRobinsonSale.aspx. The sale is good through the end of the month.
At SABR.org, read a special excerpt on Jackie Robinson’s historic debut, written by Spatz, at http://sabr.org/latest/1947-dodgers-jackie-robinsons-first-game.
The “Memorable Teams in Baseball History” series, written by SABR members as part of the Baseball Biography Project, will focus on iconic teams with an unquestionable legacy in baseball history. Each book will collect essays detailing the players, moments and games that define these teams. For a complete list of biographies included in the 1947 Dodgers book, click here.
SABR BioProject reaches 1,900 published biographies
Three new biographies were posted this week as part of the SABR Baseball Biography Project, and our 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers and 1970 Baltimore Orioles books are now on sale. This gives us a total of 1,902 published biographies since the project began in 2002. Can we reach 2,000 bios before the SABR convention in June? Keep ’em coming! Here are the new bios:
- Bob McGraw, by Bill Nowlin
- Jim McHale, by Bill Nowlin
- Mike Menosky, by Bill Nowlin
All new biographies can be found here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/recent
We recently relaunched the BioProject at its new home page: SABR.org/BioProject. The new BioProject fully integrates its design with SABR.org and upgrades the back-end platform, making it easier for us to post and edit new bios and eliminating some formatting problems with the original software. All of your old URLs should still work (and if you find one that doesn’t, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Writing a biography for the BioProject is an easy way to get involved as a SABR member. Find out how by visiting our BioProject Resources page or reading the FAQs section.
- Pre-order our 1970 Orioles book: Pitching, Defense, and Three-Run Homers: The 1970 Baltimore Orioles, edited by Mark Armour and Malcolm Allen, is the second book in SABR’s “Memorable Teams” series with University of Nebraska Press. It will be published May 1, 2012. To pre-order your copy from UNP, click here.
- 1964 Phillies editors needed: Mel Marmer is looking for a volunteer to serve as a co-editor/fact checker on a work-in-progress SABR BioProject book on the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies. If you are interested, please contact Mel at email@example.com.
Register now for SABR 42
We have a great convention coming up in 2012! From June 27-July 1, SABR’s 42nd annual convention will be held at the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Halsey Hall Chapter of SABR will be hosting the event and we’ve been busy for many years planning for a great event. A preliminary schedule can be found at SABR.org/convention. A full schedule and list of speakers will be announced soon.
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR SABR 42: http://sabr.org/convention/sabr42-registration
We’re offering two options for registration this year:
1) All-inclusive rate
Special for 2012: We’re offering an all-inclusive rate for SABR 42. From now until May 1, SABR members can pay $199 and nonmembers can pay $249 to receive:
- Full registration to SABR 42 in Minneapolis (regular price: $129 for SABR members or $179 for nonmembers)
- 1 ticket to the Awards Banquet (regular price: $45)
- 1 Skyline Deck ticket to the Twins vs. Royals game on Friday, June 29 (regular price: $44)
Please note: Skyline Deck tickets are only available to the first 250 people who select the all-inclusive rate. Those who select the all-inclusive rate after Skyline Deck tickets are sold out will receive a Home Plate View ticket (regular price: $38) instead.
After May 1, the all-inclusive rate will be available at $219 for SABR members and $269 for non-members.
2) Regular rate
SABR members and non-members who wish to purchase registration, banquet tickets and game tickets separately can do so at the following rates:
includes access to all panel discussions, research presentations, committee meetings and other on-site events.
- SABR members: $129
- Non-members: $179
Awards Banquet on Friday, June 29
- Awards Banquet: $45
Meal includes salad, chicken entree and dessert. (If you have special dietary considerations, please contact Deb Jayne at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Twins vs. Royals game on Friday, June 29
SABR has reserved a block of tickets in the Skyline Deck and Home Plate View sections. (The Skyline Deck section is normally available only to season-ticket holders and special groups.) Click here for a seating chart at TwinsBaseball.com.
- Skyline Deck: $44
- Home Plate View: $38
You will be able to redeem your game ticket at the registration desk using the chit system. If you do not care with whom you sit, you should turn your chit into your game ticket right away at the hotel. But if you want to sit with a friend, wait to turn in your chits at the registration desk at the same time, thereby getting tickets next to one another.
We hope you’ll join us in Minneapolis this summer!
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR SABR 42: http://sabr.org/convention/sabr42-registration
Special prize offered for Malloy Negro Leagues Conference registration
- Jerry Malloy Negro Leagues Conference, July 19-21, Cleveland, Ohio: Registration is now open for the 15th annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference at SABR.org/malloy. Anyone who registers by Jackie Robinson Day — Sunday, April 15 — will be entered into a special grand prize drawing at the conference. The Malloy Conference, hosted by SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee, promotes activities to enhance scholarly, educational, and literary objectives. For the past 14 years, the event has been the only symposium dedicated exclusively to the examination and promotion of black baseball history. The conference is open to baseball and history fans of all ages. Each year, monies are targeted to donate books to schools or libraries; raise funds for the Grave Marker Project; and award scholarships to high school seniors in a nationwide essay contest and a nationwide art contest. Research presentation abstracts were due by March 19, 2012. A complete information packet with schedule, mail-in registration form and program advertising opportunities can be downloaded here (PDF) or on the website.
Research committee newsletters
Here are the SABR research committee newsletters published this week:
- Deadball Era Committee: April 2012
- Nineteenth Century Committee: Spring 2012
Find all SABR research committee newsletters at SABR.org/research.
Chapter meeting recaps
- Victorian Baseball in Boston event recap (April 5; Boston, MA)
Visit SABR.org/chapters for more information on SABR regional chapters.
SABR Events Calendar
Here is a list of upcoming SABR events:
- April 14: Talkin’ Baseball: Bob Savitt (Columbia, MD)
- April 14: Mike Luery book signing (Walnut Creek, CA)
- April 14: Smoky Joe Wood Chapter meeting (Hamden, CT)
- April 14: Tim Wendel book signing (Washington, DC)
- April 16: Bob Broeg St. Louis Chapter meeting (St. Louis, MO)
- April 16: Houston/Larry Dierker Chapter meeting (Houston, TX)
- April 17: Bob Davids Chapter Maryland Hot Stove Dinner (Silver Spring, MD)
- April 17: Rogers Hornsby Chapter meeting (Austin, TX)
- April 18: Ed Achorn book signing (Santa Clarita, CA)
- April 18: Rocky Mountain Chapter monthly lunch (Denver, CO)
- April 19: “From Base Ball to Baseball: Evolution of the Early Game” with Rich Adler (Temperance, MI)
- April 20-21: Frederick Ivor-Campbell 19th Century Base Ball Conference (Cooperstown, NY)
- April 20: Tokyo Chapter spring meeting (Tokyo, JP)
- April 20: Gary Caruso book signing (Marietta, OH)
- April 21: Halsey Hall Chapter spring meeting (Minneapolis, MN)
All SABR meetings and events are open to the public. Feel free to bring a baseball-loving friend … and make many new ones! Check out the SABR Events Calendar at SABR.org/events.
Around the Web
Here are some recent articles published by and about SABR members:
- Dave Cameron breaks down some of baseball’s most enduring “unwritten rules” (FanGraphs)
- Cyril Morong looks at the most likely Triple Crown winners — and the most surprising (Cybermetrics)
- Baseball, and Strat-O-Matic, keeps Mike Meissner and friends forever young (The Plain Dealer)
- Phil Birnbaum: On academic rigor in sabermetrics (Sabermetric Research)
- Tom Tango: Are hit batters an inevitability of pitching? (The Book)
- Wendy Thurm: It’s time to end beanball, once and for all (FanGraphs)
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto talks about his love of stats — and SABR membership (Orange County Register)
- Rob Neyer: Are the Rays’ infield shifts redefining defense? (Baseball Nation)
- Tom Ruane has some fun with Retrosheet data: Incomplete games by position (Retrosheet)
- SABR members in the Larry Dierker Chapter are profiled in this story on the Houston Babies vintage baseball team (Houston Chronicle)
- Oscar Soule’s love of baseball shines through in this feature story about the longtime SABR member (The Olympian)
Read these articles and more at SABR.org/latest.
All previous editions of This Week in SABR can be found here: http://sabr.org/content/this-week-in-sabr-archives. If you would like us to include an upcoming event, article or any other information in “This Week in SABR”, e-mail Jacob Pomrenke at email@example.com.
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Originally published: April 13, 2012. Last Updated: April 3, 2020.