About the Book
SABR 50 at 50 celebrates and highlights the Society for American Baseball Research’s wide-ranging contributions to baseball history. Established in 1971 in Cooperstown, New York, SABR has sought to foster and disseminate the research of baseball—with groundbreaking work from statisticians, historians, and independent researchers—and has published dozens of articles with far-reaching and long-lasting impact on the game. Among its current membership are many Major and Minor League Baseball officials, broadcasters, and writers as well as numerous former players.
The diversity of SABR members’ interests is reflected in this fiftieth-anniversary volume—from baseball and the arts to statistical analysis to the Deadball Era to women in baseball. SABR 50 at 50 includes the most important and influential research published by members across a multitude of topics, including the sabermetric work of Dick Cramer, Pete Palmer, and Bill James, along with Jerry Malloy on the Negro Leagues, Keith Olbermann on why the shortstop position is number 6, John Thorn and Jules Tygiel on the untold story behind Jackie Robinson’s signing with the Dodgers, and Gai Berlage on the Colorado Silver Bullets women’s team in the 1990s. To provide history and context, each notable research article is accompanied by a short introduction.
As SABR celebrates fifty years this collection gathers the organization’s most notable research and baseball history for the serious baseball reader.
Bill Nowlin has served on the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) board of directors since 2004 and is one of the co-founders of Rounder Records. He has written or edited nearly one hundred books, including Ted Williams at War and Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox (Nebraska, 2018). John Thorn is the official historian for Major League Baseball.
Contributors: Mark Armour, Bob Bailey, Philip Bergen, Gai Ingham Berlage, Phil Birnbaum, Peter C. Bjarkman, Clifford Blau, Gene Carney, Jerrold Casway, William R. Cobb, Warren Corbett, Richard D. Cramer, L. Robert Davids, Mark Fimoff, D. B. Firstman, Robert K. Fitts, Duke Goldman, Peter B. Gregg, Bill Haber, Gary D. Hailey, Leslie Heaphy, John R. Husman, Bill James, Clifford S. Kachline, Stephen R. Keeney, Bill Kirwin, Herm Krabbenhoft, William F. Lamb, Larry Lester, Daniel R. Levitt, Matthew Levitt, Frederick G. Lieb, Karl Lindholm, Jerry Malloy, Tom Melville, Peter Morris, Leonard S. Newman, Keith Olbermann, Heather M. O’Neill, Joseph M. Overfield, Pete Palmer, Lawrence S. Ritter, Tom Shieber, David Shoebotham, David W. Smith, Steve Steinberg, A. D. Suehsdorf, John Thorn, Stew Thornley, Jules Tygiel, and William J. Weiss.
"This compilation, a distillation of all that is important to the society's members . . . showcases the SABRite at his or her baseball-loving, stat-obsessed best."—Paul Dickson, Wall Street Journal
"This book is more than just statistics and formulas. It is a living, breathing history of baseball, with writers passionate about not only preserving the history of the game, but also getting it right."—Bob D'Angelo, Sports Bookie
Table of Contents
Foreword by John Thorn
1. Ernie Lanigan—Patron Saint of sabr
Frederick G. Lieb
2. Relative Batting Averages
3. The Best Games Pitched in Relief
L. Robert Davids
4. The First Negro in Twentieth-Century O.B.
William J. Weiss
5. Average Batting Skill through Major-League History
Richard D. Cramer
6. Runs and Wins
7. Ladies and Gentlemen, Presenting Marty McHale
Lawrence S. Ritter
8. In Pursuit of Bull Durham
9. Out at Home
10. The Federal League and the Courts
Gary D. Hailey
11. J. Lee Richmond’s Remarkable 1879 Season
John R. Husman
12. Roy Tucker, Not Roy Hobbs: The Baseball Novels of John R. Tunis
13. Zane Grey’s Redheaded Outfield
Joseph M. Overfield
14. Honus Wagner’s Rookie Year, 1895
A. D. Suehsdorf
15. Four Teams Out: The National League Reduction of 1900
16. Jackie Robinson’s Signing: The Real Story
Jules Tygiel and John Thorn
17. Locating Philadelphia’s Historic Ballfields
18. Smokey and the Bandit: The Greatest Pitching Duel in Blackball History
19. The Evolution of the Baseball Diamond: Perfection Came Slowly
20. The Book
21. Cricket and Mr. Spalding
22. Lifting the Iron Curtain of Cuban Baseball
Peter C. Bjarkman
23. The Colorado Silver Bullets: Can Promotion Based on the “Battle of the Sexes” Be Successful?
Gai Ingham Berlage
24. Cy Seymour: Only Babe Ruth Was More Versatile
25. Free Agency in 1923: A Shocker for Baseball
26. Hack Wilson’s 191st rbi: A Persistent Itch Finally Scratched
Clifford S. Kachline
27. John McGraw Comes to New York: The 1902 Giants
28. Underestimating the Fog
29. Which Great Teams Were Just Lucky?
30. Why Is the Shortstop “6”?
31. Do Batters Learn During a Game?
David W. Smith
32. New Light on an Old Scandal
33. Roberto Clemente’s Entry into Organized Baseball
34. The Effects of Integration, 1947–86
35. Pots & Pans and Bats & Balls
36. History vs. Harry Frazee: Re-Revising the History
Daniel R. Levitt, Mark L. Armour, Matthew Levitt
37. The Quest for Dick McBride
38. Zooming In on a Great Old Photo
39. The Georgia Peach: Stumped by the Storyteller
William R. Cobb
40. Babe Ruth, Eiji Sawamura, and War
Robert K. Fitts
41. Lou Gehrig’s rbi Record: 1923–39
42. Clutch Hitting in the Major Leagues: A Psychological Perspective
Leonard S. Newman
43. Do Hitters Boost Their Performance during Their Contract Years? Evidence from the 2006–11 Collective Bargaining Agreement’s Years Says “Yes”
Heather M. O’Neill
44. The Double Victory Campaign and the Campaign to Integrate Baseball
45. The Black Sox Scandal
William F. Lamb
46. Bill McKechnie
47. The Roster Depreciation Allowance: How Major League Baseball Teams Turn Profits into Losses
Stephen R. Keeney
48. Professional Woman Umpires
49. The Struggle to Define “Valuable”: Tradition vs. Sabermetrics in the 2012 al mvp Race
Peter B. Gregg
50. From Usenet Joke to Baseball Flashpoint: The Growth of “Three True Outcomes”
D. B. Firstman