Spring 2017 Baseball Research Journal

  • Hothead: How the Oscar Charleston Myth Began By Jeremy Beer

    Even though Oscar Charleston was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976, many of today’s devoted baseball fans do not recognize his name, and when Charleston is thought of at all, it is often as a talented but temperamental hothead. Charleston began to gain this reputation because of an event that occurred at the end of his rookie season in 1915 with the Indianapolis ABCs. The story of how that happened is usually highly condensed and often mangled. It deserves to be told in full.

  • ‘Little League Home Runs’ in MLB History: The Denouement By Chuck Hildebrandt

    An examination of one of baseball's most entertaining and memorable plays, the “Little League Home Run.”

  • Marvin Miller and the Birth of the MLBPA By Michael Haupert

    Journalist Studs Terkel called Marvin Miller “the most effective union organizer since John L. Lewis,” longtime president of the United Mine Workers and founder of the CIO. The 2016 season marked fifty years since Marvin Miller’s arrival on the baseball scene, and this is the story of how it happened.

  • The 'Strike' Against Jackie Robinson: Truth or Myth? By Warren Corbett

    The story of the St. Louis Cardinals' quashed strike in 1947 has become part of the Jackie Robinson canon, a vivid illustration of the racist resistance he faced during his rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Stanley Woodward's story in the New York Herald Tribune won an award for best sports reporting of the year, and the writer Roger Kahn called it “the sports scoop of the century.” Yet hard evidence of a strike plot is lacking.

  • More Than Ballplayers: Baseball Players and Pursuit of the American Dream in the 1880s By Marty Payne

    This essay is intended as an exploratory survey of baseball players of the 1880s, what they did in the offseason, and how — or if — they planned for their future economic security. The purpose is to examine how the individuals of this era responded to the economic opportunities offered by their baseball careers and their pursuit of the ever-so-nebulous American Dream.

  • A Pitching Conundrum: Tim Keefe and Old Hoss Radbourne By Brian Marshall

    The 1950 rule defining pitching wins has been used as the criterion to define Old Hoss Radbourne's single-season record of 59 in the 1884 season. But a conundrum has become apparent. If the 1950 rule defining pitching wins is to be applied to Radbourne’s wins, then shouldn't it also be applied to Tim Keefe’s wins during his consecutive game win streak in 1888?

  • The Effect of Stride Length on Pitched Ball Velocity By Stephen P. Smith, Easton S. Smith, and Thomas G. Bowman

    One philosophy of pitching holds that pushing off the rubber as hard as possible and landing as far from it as possible generates the most velocity, while another holds that shortening stride length and "pulling off" the rubber will generate the most. In both theories, stride length is a critical component, both for establishing the timing of the kinetic chain of events and for distributing mechanical energy from the lower body to the throwing hand. Velocity is an asset pitchers have always wanted; so what is the best way to achieve an increase in velocity?

  • Calculating Skill and Luck in Major League Baseball By Pete Palmer

    One of the author's favorite topics is the contributions of skill and luck in baseball. He recently ran 1,000 simulations of a 162-game schedule that is the same as is currently being used in the majors — two leagues of 15 teams, three divisions each, with interleague play — where every team was the same and games could be decided by a coin flip, a random number generated by the computer. Here are the results.

  • The Chances of a Drafted Baseball Player Making the Major Leagues: A Quantitative Study By Richard T. Karcher

    In June of each year, Major League Baseball conducts its amateur draft. The purpose of this study is to determine a drafted baseball player’s chances of making the major leagues based upon the round a player is drafted, age when drafted and signed, and position. Historical data were compiled for all players drafted and signed through the twentieth round from 1996 through 2011.

  • Doubleheaders with More Than Two Teams By David Vincent

    A modern fan goes to the ballpark to see two teams battle each other. This is almost always a single game on one day at one venue. However, baseball had a tradition for many years of playing two games on Sundays and holidays such as the Fourth of July. Most doubleheaders featured the same two teams in both games, but there are a number of these sets in major league history that do not fit this pattern. Many of these featured three teams in one ballpark, but others are even more unusual.

  • The Many Faces of Happy Felton By Rob Edelman

    Happy Felton, an all-around entertainer of a long-gone era, won fame in television’s infancy as the creator and host of Happy Felton’s Knothole Gang — a kiddie-oriented television program broadcast live from Ebbets Field. The Knothole Gang is as much a part of the Golden Age of post-war Brooklyn, and the era’s Dem Bums nostalgia, as Jackie and Pee Wee, Newk and Gil and Hilda Chester.

  • With a Deliberate Attempt to Deceive: Correcting a Quotation Misattributed to Charles Eliot, President of Harvard By Richard Hershberger

    Tracing the origin of a Harvard University president's famous quotation about a curveball.

  • The Path to the Sugar Mill or the Path to Millions: MLB Baseball Academies’ Effect on the Dominican Republic By Thomas McKenna

    For many Dominican children, a future in the sugar cane fields, the hotel or travel industry, or some other low-paying job may seem inevitable. But when Major League Baseball (MLB) began obtaining talent, Dominican boys could dream of making heaps of money hitting home runs. For a few, baseball became the path out of poverty, while the vast majority were left with a future draped in it