The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) has announced the 2011 recipients of the Henry Chadwick Award, which was established in November 2009 to honor the game’s great researchers—historians, statisticians, annalists, and archivists—for their invaluable contributions to making baseball the game that links America’s present with its past.
The 2011 recipients of the Henry Chadwick Award are:
Charles Alexander’s (1935- ) first book about baseball, Ty Cobb, was published in 1984, and he’s followed that highly regarded biography with books about John McGraw, Rogers Hornsby, and Tris Speaker. Alexander has also written general histories of baseball, including a Seymour Medal-winning book about baseball during the Depression, and his forthcomingTurbulent Seasons: Baseball in 1890-1891. In a book review, Alexander once railed against the notion that the study of baseball should be “lightweight, and peripheral to the major concerns of scholarship.” For more than 25 years, his books have embodied that argument.
Sean Forman (1972- ) launched baseball-reference.com, now baseball’s premier statistical website, on April 1, 2000. Forman almost single-handedly created and engineered what has become the best site to look up almost any statistic for any baseball player or team and transformed the way researchers can access once mostly inaccessible information. For any serious baseball researcher, analyst, sportswriter, announcer, or historian, Forman’s creation is the first stop.
John B. Holway (1929- ) has been researching baseball since 1944, and he is still at it. Few may boast of as long and noteworthy a contribution to baseball research. He has published many notable books on the Negro Leagues, most notably perhaps Voices from the Great Black Baseball Leagues (1975), a collection of interviews with the then virtually unknown Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard, Bill Foster, Willie Wells. A former chairman of SABR’s Negro Leagues committee, Holway has received the Bob Davids Award and the Casey Award for Blackball Stars, voted the best baseball book of 1988.
Clifford S. Kachline (1921-2010) left an indelible mark on the world of baseball research, with 24 years as a writer and editor at The Sporting News, 14 years as the official historian of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and as one of the founders of SABR. He was a stickler for the exactness of baseball records, and doggedly worked to get them changed when needed, from Rube Waddell’s 1904 strikeout total to Hack Wilson’s 1930 RBI figure. Cliff’s contacts within the game helped countless researchers over the years, and he was helping them right up until his death in 2010.
J.G. Taylor Spink (1888-1962) occupied a command post in the business of American sports journalism for nearly half a century. As publisher of The Sporting News from 1914 until his death, he and his staff produced a weekly newspaper so indispensable that it was venerated for decades as the “Bible of Baseball.” He also introduced several invaluable ancillary publications, including The Sporting News Record Book, Daguerreotypes, The Baseball Register, and The Sporting News Baseball Guide.
By honoring individuals for the length and breadth of their contribution to the study and enjoyment of baseball, the Chadwick Award will educate the baseball community about sometimes little known but vastly important contributions from the game’s past and thus encourage the next generation of researchers.
The criteria for the award reads in part: The contributions of nominees must have had public impact. This may be demonstrated by publication of research in any of a variety of formats: books, magazine articles, websites, etc. The compilation of a significant database or archive that has facilitated the published research of others will also be considered in the realm of public impact.
I would like to extend my personal congratulations to Sean Forman, whose work has become a game changer for me and so many others. I just want to be there when he is inducted into the Hall in Cooperstown.