Wagner: From a church in Philadelphia, Baseball-Reference informs the world

From James Wagner at the New York Times on February 13, 2019, on SABR member Sean Forman:

While writing a sermon in September, Cheryl Pyrch, the pastor of Summit Presbyterian Church, needed an assist. On the topic of greatness and Jesus Christ, she wanted to open with recollections of greats in other spheres.

She didn’t have to look very far for a source.

Having encountered Wilt Chamberlain in passing almost 40 years ago, she decided he was the great she wanted to highlight. And details of his career — four Most Valuable Player Awards, seven N.B.A. scoring titles — were close at hand, literally and figuratively through Sports Reference, a monolith of sports data websites that just happens to rent space from the church.

“I didn’t know all this in 1980,” Pyrch told the congregation as she described Chamberlain’s awards during the Sunday service. “I got it yesterday from a Sports Reference website.”

The ubiquitous Sports Reference family of websites — Baseball-Reference.com, BasketballReference.com, Pro-Football-Reference.com, HockeyReference.com, and so on — are some of the most popular sports almanacs on the internet.

They draw users of all kinds, from people casually searching for a trivia answer to owners of professional teams. Aided by an overhaul of its mobile website, Sports Reference’s founder and president, Sean Forman, said the group of sites drew one billion page views last year, a record for the company.

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/13/sports/sean-forman-sports-reference.html

Originally published: February 13, 2019. Last Updated: February 13, 2019.