SABR Salute: Bill Weiss
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 Weiss (1925-2011) received the SABR Salute in 1997; the following biographical sketch appeared in that year’s membership directory.
William J. Weiss was born June 2, 1925, in Chicago. He inherited his love of baseball from his father, who took the 5-year-old to his first game at Wrigley Field in 1930. The precocious youngster began reading The Sporting News when he was 6 and collecting baseball books when he was 8. He was fascinated by baseball stats and wanted to become a statistician. He graduated from Hyde Park High in 1942, along, with future SABR member George Hilton. Bill attended Central YMCA College in Chicago for a year and one-half and was a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy for three years. From 1941-47 he helped run an amateur team, the South Shore Cobras. He was not a player, but served as official scorer, statistician, business manager, booking agent, and occasional field manager. They won a division championship in the Chicago Metro Senior League in 1946. Bob Hemple, another future SABR member, was their top hitter.
Bill landed his first job in pro ball in 1948 and the man who hired him was Howard Green, now chairman of the Dallas-Fort Worth SABR Chapter. Howard was then half-owner and GM of the Abilene Blue Sox in the Class C West Texas-New Mexico League and president of the Class D Longhorn League. Bill was hired as Longhorn League statistician and box office manager at Blue Sox Stadium. After the 1948 season, he headed West where lie was hired to do the averages for the California and Far West Leagues and to work for Jerry Donovan, President of both Leagues, in San Francisco. At the end of the 1949 season, the statistician for the Pacific Coast League retired and Bill was retained by PCL President Clarence Rowland to do their stats. He set up shop in San Mateo in 1950 and has been there ever since.
As the years passed he added other leagues as clients: Sunset in 1950, Pioneer and Arizona-Texas in 1952; Longhorn in 1953, Western International and West Texas-New Mexico in 1954, Northwest in 1955 and Western in 1956. He was statistician for other circuits as well, including the American Association 1969-70.
From 1949 to 1987 Bill prepared, first for leagues, then for Major League organizations, sketch books which contained biographical information and career records for all players in the league or organization. They eventually reached a total of 200 books. Following the 1988 season, the old Rowe News Bureau was purchased by Peter Shipman and his associates and they bought Bill’s business. He has been associated with Howe Sportsdata International ever since.
Since 1971 Bill has written during the season a weekly newsletter for the California League. He also has been the League’s corporate secretary for the last 20 years. He prepares the annual record books for the California, Northwest, and Pioneer Leagues. As the PCL’s official historian, he assists in the preparation of their record book. Since 1989, he has written the “Baseball Anecdotes” column which appears regularly in Baseball America. For the past seven years he has sold the “Program Notes” service to ballclubs.
One of his greatest pleasures was being president of the Peninsula Winter League in the San Francisco area, 1959-84. The league was organized by a group of major league scouts and financed by several major league clubs. The players were young organization members and free agents still in school. They sent numerous players to the majors, including Joe Morgan and Willie Stargell. Three PWL players are still in the majors: Ken Caminiti, Tom Candiotti, and Mark Parent.
Bill has always felt close to the scouts, “the unsung heroes of the game,” and has been secretary-treasurer of the Professional Baseball Scouts of Northern California since the organization was founded in l 969. He also served many years as the National Association’s representative on the Scoring Rules Committee, along with such luminaries as Seymour Siwoff, Jerome Holtzman, Jack Lang, and Red Foley.
He was one of the very early members of SABR, joining September 3, 1971 as Member No. 34. After 25 years of attrition, he is now 15th in seniority. Bill and his wife Faye have been married for 42 years. She has been his good right hand (Bill is a southpaw) in the business, all these years. They have no children but have enjoyed generations of black cocker spaniels.
Related link: Read Bill Weiss’ obituary at SABR.org from August 19, 2011
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