SABR Bibliography Committee
Research Guide No. 14: A List of Box Scores of Major and Minor Leagues in Sporting Life and The Sporting News
Editor’s note: This guide was first published by the SABR Bibliography Committee in 1991. To download the original in PDF form, click here.
By Frank Phelps
Sources: Sporting Life, April 15, 1883-February 24, 1917; The Sporting News, March 17, 1886 to date.
Abbreviations in text & tables:
L or L=Sporting Life
N or N=The Sporting News
B = both L and N, or B circled = boxes printed for less than league’s full season played; + (in margin) = league continued from preceding or onto succeeding table; and some standard baseball abbreviations.
From inception L and N carried major and minor league boxes. This paper lists all leagues whose boxes were carried for whole or partial seasons by these weeklies, but does not identify isolated gaps in coverage or deal with boxes of series, playoffs, exhibitions, or opening day (only) games.
Both L and N standardized their box formats yearly, but differed in the detail. AB was omitted in 1883 by L and in 1886 by N, but added by both in subsequent years. L furnished the basic AB-R-H-PO-A-E (plus summary) consistently, but N did not supply R for the majors until 1925 or for the minors until the May 18, 1939 issue.
L carried boxes for all majors through the June 24, 1916 issue (then eliminated all boxes, major and minor): NL, 1883-June 24, 1916; AA, 1883-1891; UA, 1884; PL, 1890; AL, 1901-June 24, 1916; and FL 1914-1915.
N covered NL, 1886 to date; AA, 1886-1891; PL, 1890; AL, 1901 to date; and FL, 1914-1915.
The number of minors afforded boxes increased from one in 1883 to seven in 1886, and averaged eight during 1887-1900, and ten during 1901-1935. The average rose to twelve in 1907-1911 and 1928-1932. In 1932 N achieved a high of fifteen. They supplied twelve regularly, and when Southeastern, Eastern and Three-Eye failed in mid-season, they picked up the boxes of Mississippi Valley, Western Association and Middle Atlantic for the balance of their seasons.
N cut down box coverage in 1938 to the five minors of the top two NA classes and further cut it in 1950 to only AA, IL, and PCL. Suspension of AA play during 1963-67 left only two. When AA resumed play in 1968, it then dropped the boxes of IL and PCL rather than increase back to three. Never again did N publish minor league regular season boxes.
Fortunately L and N did not always run boxes for the same leagues. Through 1910 each printed boxes for at least one league not supplied by the other, except in 1901. For example, L included New England and Connecticut boxes almost exclusively, while N favored Texas and Pacific Coast. Between them, the papers carried boxes of thirteen minors in 1908, four in common, four by L only, and five by N only. Before 1908, L usually carried more than N — but afterwards, fewer.
The list in the PDF below includes an alphabetical list of the minors whose boxes appeared regularly in L or N, cross-indexed by numbers signifying the order in which their names appeared in Tables One, Two, and Three (on pages three and four of the PDF below), where the numbers are positioned at the left margins. Read vertically, the tables show which leagues were covered in particular years; read horizontally, what years were covered for particular league names.
Table Four expands upon the entries circled in Tables One, Two,and Three by listing for each the inclusive dates of L or N issues containing the boxes for the league involved.
Other ground rules observed in preparing the index and the tables follow:
- Organizations not noted as “associations” were called “leagues”,
- “State” is omitted whether or not it appeared in a circuit’s name,
- Different organizations bearing the same names at different times are grouped together on the same lines, examples: Tri-State, Eastern, Western.
- Conversely, when an organization’s name changed (other than by adding or dropping “State”), the new title appears on a separate line, example: 1911 Eastern, 1912 International.
This is a product of the SABR Bibliography Committee Newspaper Research Project.
To view the alphabetical index of box scores in Sporting Life and The Sporting News, click here to download the original PDF file (list begins on page 2):
To go back or view other Bibliography Committee Research Guides, click here.