SABR Salute: Fred Lieb

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. The following biographical sketch appeared in the 1976 membership directory.

In this, the 100th anniversary of the National League and the 75th of the American League, the Society for American Baseball Research salutes its oldest member, who also is one of its most renowned and respected. Frederick George Lieb came on the scene on March 5, 1888, and it was probably no coincidence that the 1887 system of counting bases on balls as hits was immediately dispensed with, never to be resurrected. Fred Lieb was all for setting the record straight, for getting the message through directly and clearly, and he has written that way all his life.

Educated in the public schools of his native Philadelphia, he became baseball editor of the New York Press in 1911. As this was the leading baseball paper in the Big City at that time, he automatically became, at age 23, the official scorer for the American League in New York. He became a top-notch writer and baseball authority while working on New York papers for the next quarter-century. He was President of the Baseball Writers Association of America for three years 1921-23. In 1931 he took a team of Major League All-Stars on a playing tour of Japan.

In the mid-1930s Fred branched out on his own to author nine books on baseball, most of them the anecdotal history of major league franchises. He spent four years with The Sporting News during World War II, and has written special features or obituaries for that publication after moving to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1947. He continues to write a winter Hot Stove League column for the St. Petersburg Times. In 1965 he was named a member of the Veterans Committee of the Hall of Fame.

When SABR was established in 1971, Fred was a little uncertain about joining. He had all the obvious credentials, but he was 83 and his career was all behind him, so he said. But he joined and wrote an article for the first Baseball Research Journal. He repeated the next year, and again in 1976. He also was a featured speaker at the National Convention in Philadelphia in 1975. There he said for the record that SABR was a fine organization; something baseball could have used a half-century before; and that he was proud to be a member. The Society is proud and happy to have him as an active participant — at age 88.


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