SABR Salute: Bill Deane

Editor’s note: The SABR Salute, first bestowed upon writer Fred Lieb in 1976, was designed as a manner of recognizing the contributions of some of the older members of the Society. Subsequent SABR Salutes appeared in the SABR Membership Directory and honored members who had made great contributions to baseball historical research. Bill Deane received the SABR Salute in 2001; the following biographical sketch appeared in that year’s membership directory.

Bill Deane was born in Poughkeepsie, New York on April 23, 1957. He became a baseball fanatic at age 10, and four years later had his first published baseball-related piece, in the nationally-syndicated “Johnny Wonder” column. It earned him a transistor radio. Deane has since authored seven books and hundreds of articles in such publications as Baseball America, Baseball Digest, The Sporting News, Street & Smiths Official Baseball Yearbook, and USA Today Baseball Weekly. But, he considers himself a researcher first and a writer second. Among his research efforts was the compilation of complete voting breakdowns on every MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year Award election since 1911. The results were first published in his SABR book, Award Voting, which won the SABR-Macmillan Baseball Research Award in 1989. Deane later expanded his research to include other awards, including the Player of the Month; this work forms the basis of his “Awards and Honors” chapter in Total Baseball. 

Deane earned a degree in Business Administration and embarked on a varied work career, including deli management, computer assembly and operations, and social services. He joined SABR while visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. He was recruited by Cliff Kachline, and inspired by the work of Bob Davids, Pete Palmer, and John Thorn, among others. Deane is a member of SABR’s Biographical Research, Statistical Analysis, and Records Committees, and served on its Long-Range Planning Committee. He has been a frequent contributor to SABR publications and to SABR-L, the Society’s on-line list-serve.

Deane’s diverse research projects include home and road statistical breakdowns for notable National League players and seasons; the complete list of players who homered in their final major league at bats, which appeared in SABR Presents the Home Run Encyclopedia; statistical charts, such as most homers and RBI in a season by a leadoff hitter, most hits and most homers in a player’s first 1,000 at bats, and best performances before the All-Star break; lists of former major leaguers who were murdered, committed suicide, or died accidental deaths; and an on-going project of documenting successful executions of the hidden-ball trick.

In 1986, Deane beat out 35 other applicants nationwide for the position of Senior Research Associate at the National Baseball Library.  He served in that capacity until 1994, earning for the Library an international reputation for timely and accurate service to baseball fans, scholars, and media personnel. Deane greatly expanded the NBL’s research files during that time, including historical documentation of the annual Hall of Fame Game and of the Veterans’ Committee. He is considered the foremost expert on Hall of Fame voting, and his annual election forecast has attracted a cult following.

Deane served on the Committee for Historical Accuracy for Macmillan’s Baseball Encyclopedia, and has compiled The Official Major League Baseball Calendar since 1998. He has fact-checked articles and books for such authors as Roger Kahn and Bill Gilbert, and performed consulting and research assignment-work for the likes of Bill James, Curtis Management Group, STATS, Inc., and Topps Baseball Cards. He has been featured, acknowledged, or quoted in countless books, newspaper and magazine articles, and radio and video interviews.

Deane lives just four miles from Cooperstown in Fly Creek, New York with his wife, Pam, and teenaged daughter, Sarah. He serves as Publications Committee Chairman for the Fly Creek Area Historical Society, and is an avid slow-pitch softball player, with three team MVP awards to his credit.


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