Near Major Leaguers and the ‘Bill Sharman Society’

This article was written by Bill Hickman

SABR member Bill Hickman, the longtime chair of our Pictorial History Committee, has made available his research into “near major leaguers” — the aspiring professional players who were invited to spring training, who appeared in spring training games, or who were called up during the regular season but never appeared in an MLB game.

These lists are now available for all baseball researchers to view at the Google Docs spreadsheet below:

The spreadsheet is divided into three tabs; click on a tab at the bottom of the screen to view them:

  1. Rostered But DNP: Also known as “phantom major leaguers,” these are players who were called up during the regular season, but didn’t get into a major-league game. SABR member Keith Olbermann likes to describe this group as “The Bill Sharman Society,” in honor of the future Boston Celtics star and Basketball Hall of Famer who was called up to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951. This list covers more than 550 players dating back to 1884. Sources include: SABR Baseball Records Committee,
  2. Spring Rosters: Players who were on major-league rosters around the time of spring training, but never got into a regular season major-league game. Most of them were in spring training exhibition games. This list covers more than 3,300 players between 1925 and 2012. Sources include: The Sporting News, Baseball Digest, annual yearbooks/guides.
  3. Non-Roster Invitees: Players who were invited to major-league spring training camps, but were not on the rosters, i.e. they were known as non-roster invitees, but they also never got into regular season major-league games. This list covers more than 2,400 players between 1950 and 1999, including “replacement players” in 1995. Sources include: The Sporting News, newspaper archives.

Please contact Bill Hickman at if you have any questions or corrections.

Photo credits: Bob Lemke, Trading Card Database