January 28 has been established as SABR Day, with events in thirty-four cities: http://sabr.org/sabrday. What is SABR, you might ask?The Society for American Baseball Research, founded in 1971, is a group of over 6,000 people of diverse backgrounds, united by their love of baseball and their desire to know more about it. Some are active researchers who pursue their areas of interest through one or more of SABR’s committees, like minor leagues, or statistical analysis, or records, or biographical. Others simply like the SABR publications or the camaraderie of the regional and national meetings.
Who is a typical SABR member? Writers, former ballplayers, club and league officials, doctors and lawyers and butchers and bakers. And you could be too. Membership is, in my humble opinion, baseball’s best bargain since the bleacher seat.
For SABR Day, I thought I’d share — especially with readers who are not yet members — a squib I wrote a few months back, about why I’ve been a member for thirty-two years.
I joined SABR in part to cover its 1981 convention in Toronto, on assignment for The Sporting News. Cliff Kachline — at that time the historian of the Baseball Hall of Fame, later SABR’s first executive director, and posthumously, not long ago, a recipient of the society’s Henry Chadwick Award — urged me to join. With my interests in baseball’s history and statistics, he assured me, I would feel instantly at home and would wonder why I had waited so long to join.
He was spectacularly right.
At the convention’s opening reception, the first two individuals I met were Pete Palmer and Bob Carroll. I went on to create many books with each, and in some cases both of them, and they became lifelong friends.
I had a fantastic time at the convention, despite being a little star-struck at meeting so many individuals whose work I had read. Immediately upon returning to Albany, New York, I filed my story with TSN. (I vividly remember transmitting it via 300-baud cupped-phone modem from the Western Union office on State Street.)
I have been a member ever since. I continue to be amazed at how many accomplished men and women I have met in the ranks of this merry band of baseball sleuths. I have continued to describe SABR as baseball’s best-kept secret — puzzlingly so, because its benefits are many for the advanced fan, the aspiring professional, or simply those who cannot get enough good baseball talk and text.
The perception among baseball fans has been, I suspect, that SABR membership is for those who are conducting ground-breaking historical research or game-changing statistical analysis, but that is not so. At your first convention or regional meeting, you will be seized with newbie jitters, as I was, but you will instantly be made to feel at home. Look me up; I will be one of many longtime members who will be glad you joined us.