Bibliography Guide No. 7: Overview and Pre-1948 Subject Player Index of “Who’s Who in Baseball”

SABR Bibliography Committee
Research Guide No. 7: Overview and Pre-1948 Subject Player Index of “Who’s Who in Baseball

Editor’s note: This guide was first published by the SABR Bibliography Committee in 1987. To download the original in PDF form, click here.

By Frank Phelps
July 1987

Baseball Magazine published this collection of players’ career records first in 1912, next in 1916, and thereafter annually. Who’s Who continued after Baseball Magazine ceased temporarily in 1957 and permanently in 1965. The 1987 issue is the 72d edition, numbered from 1916, not 1912. The Sporting News started a rival annual (see SABR Research Guide #3) in 1940, similar and more detailed. The Register provided more but Who’s Who maintained advantages of lower prices, handier size, and newsdealer distribution. 

The 1912 edition, a 30¢, 50-page, 6.25″ x 0.75″ paperback, said of itself: “The work represents the combined efforts of two baseball researchers for five years.” It stated for each of 149 big leaguers date and place of birth, height, weight, sides bats and throws; and, year-by-year, team(s) and league(s) in organized ball, position(s), games, batting and fielding (but not pitching) averages; player trades, sales, etc.; and noted school, college, semi-pro and outlaw affiliations.

The 15¢, 96 page, 1916 edition, a marked improvement, principally was based on the research of railroad engineer John J. Lawres (1871-1953), of Milwaukee, WI. Since 1896, Lawres compiled “league books” of major and minor league statistics each season. From these he prepared ledgers consolidating players’ career statistics, “giving four columns of figures for each man. (Whatever became of them?). In the introduction of the 1916 Who’s Who, Lawres observed that OB’s careless neglect of statistics forced private enterprise to codify and preserve them. Apparently, Lawres’ connection with Who’s Who ended after the 1921 edition as the next two issues credit Ernest J. Lanigan with making the revisions therein.

The basic format of the 1916 book still maintains. Besides personal facts, it furnished G, AB, R, H, SB, and BA, for 146 non-pitchers; and G, IP, W, L, PCT, SO, BB, H, and ERA, for 62 pitchers. Federal Leaguers were excluded. Subsequently added were World Series records (1924); major league career totals (1925); TB, RBI, and asterisks denoting league leaders in various categories (1937); 2B, 3B, and HR, replacing TB (1940); small head photos (1965); League Championship series records (1969); and Saves (1981).

The numbers of players covered per issue increased slowly at first, then exceeded 250 (1941), 300 (1944), 400 (1955), 500 (1962), 600 (1969), and 700 (1975). Manager’s records were included only in 1983. Through 1987, more than 28,000 separate career records covering more than 4,000 men appeared. Infrequently an issue carried both batting and pitching records of an individual simultaneously; examples, Dick Hall, Hal Jeffcoat, Babe Ruth. The only article to be included was a 1921 biography of the Babe by F. C. Lane. Some editions printed league totals and averages, perhaps as fillers.

No editors or compilers were identified from 1924 through 1939, but thereafter the editors have been Clifford Bloodgood 1940-1951, Joseph Lally 1952, Sid Feder 1953, Allan Roth 1954-1972, Elias Sports Bureau 1973-1974, Seymour Siwoff 1975-1981, and Norman McLean 1982-1987. Who’s Who in Baseball Magazine Co., Inc., or variant titles, succeeded Baseball Magazine as publisher. For further editing, publishing, and printing history details, see the 1982 edition, page 232.

Early issues sported attractive front covers showing players surrounded by red borders, the first one showing Cobb and Joe Jackson. The four-sided borders disappeared in 1939 but red continued as the dominant color. Beginning in 1937, photos appeared inside both covers, and, in 1955, on the outside back cover, since 1969 being pictures of the latest World Series victors. The names of the players pictured on the covers are furnished later in this paper.

The original size maintained until increasing, in 1962, to 7″ x 5″, and in 1969, to 8.625″ x 5.25″. Current dimensions are 8.625″ x 5″. The number of pages changed from 96 to 128 in 1957, to 144 in 1972, and, gradually, to 256 in 1983, while the most recent issues have been of 218 pages. Newstand price, always a bargain, rose slowly: 25¢ (1920), 30¢ (1948), 50¢ (1952), 75¢ (1969), $1.00 (1972), then by stages to $2.50 (1981), and to $3.95 (1983), the present cost.

Errors exist, of course. The oddest makes Jim Caveney (1923-1925) the shortest (except for Gaedel) major leaguer ever at an even five feet, not once, but all three times he appeared. And, it is fascinating to compare some birth years with those given in modern baseball record books. Misinformation aside, the annals provide a gold mine of facts on early players. Some listings of early years in school, college, semi-pro, outlaw, and the minors, frequently with dates and reasons for movement between teams, are not found in other record collections.

The prime purpose of this paper is to set forth the alphabetical list of approximately 1,400 players who appeared in Who’s Who prior to 1948, thus overlapping commencement of Baseball Register and the return of wartime players. Each name is followed by the years included, omitting the “19” part as too space consuming. Anyone covered in the 1947 or earlier issues also has listed all years after 1917 which saw him included. Misspelled names are spelled as they appear, except when such rendering would cause confusion or improper alphabetizing, so Eagan* becomes Egan; Reuther, Ruether, and Clifton Heathcote is again Clifton, etc.

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