About Me

I am a long time baseball fan who became interesting in documenting the "missing" batter strikeouts a few years back as an outgrowth of my interest in the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. Grew up w/ the Big Red Machine. I now follow them and my new hometown, Detroit Tigers. Member of SABR off and on since 1979.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How this all got started

This being my first blog, I am going to be posting my thoughts in bit of a random order (I was a Math major, not English).

Anyway, I should explain why batter strikeouts and how did I get started.

Well, it actually started way back in the early 1980's when I was a student at Wash U in St. Louis.  I was already a member of SABR and had developed a strong interest in the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, who, for those of you not in the know, went 20-134 that season (that is another story and very well documented in a book by J. Thomas Hetrick ("Misfits: The Cleveland Spiders in 1899).    Well, I decided that I wanted to document the lineups that they used for the entire season, just to see who these players were and how they were able to be so mediocre.

In order to do this, I ended up borrowing microfilm rolls of Sporting Life from the SABR library (rechecking out many times).   And since I was documenting the Cleveland lineups, I decided to document the lineups of all of the 1899 teams (since I was already looking at the boxscores anyways).   I got to learn about alot of great players and some very interesting seasons.   Buck Freeman's 25 homer season;  Jimmy Williams 27 triple season; and my favorite, John McGraw's .391 season w/ an OBP nicely north of .500 (in only 117 games as his 1st wife, Minny, died during the season and he took off time to grieve).  In a future post, I may explore Mr. McGraw a bit more based on some preliminary observations on his pitcher/player usage as well as his use of the stolen base (his 1899 Baltimore team stole 364 bases led by Jimmy Sheckard's 77, McGraw's 73, and Ducky Holmes' 50.  These totals are very often overlooked due to the "modern era" delineation (1901 to present).  However, the modern stolen base rule went into effect in 1898, so these numbers are as legitamate as some of McGraw's Giants team totals in the "deadball" era.

Anyway, I digress.  As I was documenting the lineups onto my graph paper (Barber-Colman, still have my original sheets, from my late dad), I noticed that in the Philadelphia home game boxscores that there were individual batter strikeouts listed.  I had noticed before in my Baseball Encyclopedia that the column for strikeouts for batters was blank in this era.  I had never really given it much thought, but now I wondered how many other sources might have batter strikeout info.

Basically, I took a break from my 1899 research, drifting off into other things 20 somethings do.   Around 2000 or 2001, I got back into my research, finishing up documenting all of the 1899 teams (I had only done partial when I had quit) and started in in earnest on my strikeout research.

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