The Top 40 Baseball Storylines Of The SABR Era

Baseball's first free agentIn conjunction with the Society for American Baseball Research's 40th anniversary in August, we conducted a survey to determine the top baseball storylines in the SABR Era — from our founding in 1971 to today.

Here are the results:

Top baseball storylines in the SABR Era

  • 1. The introduction of free agency (1975-76)
  • 2. The Steroid Era (1990s-2000s)
  • 3. Hank Aaron hits 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth's record (1974)
  • 4. Designated hitter introduced in American League (1973)
  • 5. Cal Ripken plays in 2,131st consecutive game, breaking Lou Gehrig's record (1995)
  • 6. 1994 labor dispute ends season, cancels World Series (1994)
  • 7. Influx of international players in Major League Baseball
  • 8. The Pete Rose saga: Hit King banned for life (1989)
  • 9. Wild card/three-division realignment (1994)
  • 10. Evolution of relief pitching: The rise of the closer (1980s-1990s)

The rest of the top 40 storylines for our 40th anniversary, as chosen by SABR members:

  • Decline in number of African-American players in major leagues
  • Expansion of MLB teams from 24 to 30
  • Metal bats introduced, widely used in amateur baseball
  • MLB loses status as America's No. 1 sport to NFL
  • Ownership controversies (Finley, Steinbrenner, Schott, McCourt)
  • Revenue earned by major league teams explodes
  • Sabermetrics gains wide acceptance
  • Stories of women/minorities in baseball begin being told
  • 1971: Pittsburgh Pirates field first all-black starting lineup
  • 1973: George Steinbrenner buys New York Yankees, value of team rises to nearly $1 billion
  • 1975: Carlton Fisk's home run wins Game 6 of World Series
  • 1981: Labor dispute forces split season, extra round of playoffs
  • 1982: Rickey Henderson breaks single-season stolen base record, then career record
  • 1986: Bill Buckner's error in Game 6 of World Series
  • 1988: Kirk Gibson's home run wins Game 1 of World Series
  • 1980s-1990s: Popular resurgence of minor league baseball
  • 1990s: Rise of Bud Selig as owner-turned-commissioner
  • 1990s: Ken Griffey Jr. becomes most recognizable face in the game
  • 1990s: Rebirth of New York Yankees dynasty
  • 1997: Interleague play introduced
  • 1998: Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa: The Great Home Run Chase
  • 1999: Offices of American League/National League presidents eliminated
  • 1990s-2000s: Building of dozens of new major league stadiums
  • 2000s: Universal TV/radio/Internet access to MLB games
  • 2001: Baseball's role in response to 9/11
  • 2001: Barry Bonds breaks single-season home run record, then career
  • 2004: Boston Red Sox win World Series, first in 86 years
  • 2005: Baseball returns to Washington, D.C.
  • 2006: World Baseball Classic introduced

Visit for more coverage of our 40th anniversary — including an updated history of the organization, a multimedia look at every SABR national convention, a timeline of SABR's progress and our members' achievements, and much more.

This page was last updated August 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm MST.