Baseball Historian Hall of Fame: Why I Deserve a Henry Chadwick Award

Illya HarrellAnalyst IIMarch 2, 2010

Baseball dorks finally have made it to the Hall of Fame. Yes, they had to create their own: the Baseball Historian Hall of Fame, with an award named after Henry Chadwick.

The Hall was created by the good folks over at the Society of Baseball Research or SABR.  For those not in the know, SABR stats are the basis of sabermetrics. Without sabermetrics Billy Beane would only be recognized by a handful of people.

Without Billy Beane, Michael Lewis would, in 2003, have never written the best seller Moneyball

Without Beane we would we have never witnessed the trend of "young buck" general managers headed by Theo Epstein—a disciple of Beane. It's a vicious cycle.

Henry Chadwick, again for those not in the know, was the man who (by most accounts) invented that little thing that we baseball dorks look so dearly forward to reading every morning: the box score.

Without the box score no one would have been elected to the inaugural class of the Baseball Historian Hall of Fame, which was announced on Monday, March 1, 2010.

Chadwick himself was not among the recipients. Chadwick already has a plaque in Cooperstown.

Of course Bill James, the modern day Babe Ruth of statisticians and historians, was selected as one of the nine members of the 2010 class. His Baseball Abstract series is held dear to the hearts of baseball dorks everywhere. 

The latter works of James, more suited for layman baseball junkies, are also classics.

In my mind, the awesomely underrated David Neft is more deserving—and was also included.

Neft took on the project of creating the Baseball Encyclopedia (first published in 1969), a mammoth 6.5 pound book which contained stats for every player who had ever picked up a bat or thrown a ball in Major League Baseball. 

I remember the day (not the exact date) in the early 80s when my mom was going to the mall, and I gave her my very hard earned fifty bucks for one of the final editions of the book—I had saved allowance and starved myself to pocket my lunch money.

"Are you sure you want to pay fifty dollars for a book?"

"I am dead positive. Look at how skinny I am from saving lunch money!" She agreed and came home with my new treasure.

In 1969, a New York Times book reviewer called it "the book I'd take with me to prison." 

Seriously, for hardcore fans of stats, various editions of the book can be picked up on eBay for about twenty clams.

Okay, now this is what brings me to the reason I should be a member of the 2011 class (or at the latest the 2012 class). 

I studied my Baseball Encyclopedia like a mad man at an early age, while staying a summer with my dad in Richmond. I used the book to create a baseball board game using dice.  

Actually, the game was handwritten on the back of one of those huge desk calendar pages.

It was so intricate that it impressed my high school stepsister...unfortunately not enough to where she would let me see her boobs. 

Still though, she was an artist and not easily impressed.

From there, I went on to create a crude computer baseball game programmed in BASIC. I have detailed the game in an article for another web site. 

It only featured the starting lineups of the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates, but I had plans to eventually include the other 24 teams.

Those plans were thwarted by an Avalon Hill baseball board game, Statis Pro Baseball , purchased in a local hobby shop.

And thus, the untimely death of my baseball computer programming career. 

So be that.

Kudos to Chadwick, Neft, James, and the seven other guys I had never heard of until yesterday.

Yesterday was a celebration for baseball dorks, geeks, and junkies from West Virginia to Japan and everywhere in between.  

Believe you me, starting today—I will be campaigning for my 2011 introduction.