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Thursday, June 29, 2006

SABR36 Day 2: Morning

This morning I attended the SABR Records Committee meeting where the main topic of discussion was the upcoming "SABR Record Book" (title not finalized). There are hundreds of lists that are in development and the committee is currently vetting the lists and looking for members to help. The lists will be on the SABR members site so everyone can provide feedback. The book is using 1983 as the cut-off as the beginning of the modern game and the plan is to be current through the 2006 season with the book being released by springs of 2007.

After the opening ceremonies that were littered with whereases from the various statements read by the county, state legislature, and governor, I took in the Retrosheet "committee" meeting. Retrosheet is actually a separate organization with five members and so they're not really a SABR committee. The meeting was chaired by Dave Smith and included Clem Comly and David Vincent both of whom are well known in the sabermetric committee. As was mentioned in The Numbers Game the server actually uses a DSL connection and is located in Smith's basement and is therefore prone to situations like the one that happened last June. For a tool that is becoming indispensable to so many in the research and the media it would be nice to see the volume of contributions rise just as the number of hits has. The site currently averages over 2,000 hits per weekday and 1,500 or 1,600 per day on the weekend.

It's probably worth noting (since I wasn't aware of it until recently) that although the play by play data goes back to 1957 on Retrosheet, that doesn't mean that those seasons are 100% complete (for example 1973 is missing nine games). And as more seasons are released the likelihood that the season won't be complete grows. As a result they also have a boxscore format that they're collecting data for in order to have a complete record of the games. The results for the box (but not the lineup position and some other data) are taken from the daily logs also known as "official dailies" used by the league office. Smith showed one from 1927 to track Babe Ruth's statistics. Retrosheet has purchased microfilm from the Hall of Fame going back to around 1880 and needs volunteers to convert these dailies into spreadsheets. There was some discussion of using optical character recognition but that hasn't been attempted to date.

Interestingly, there was also an update on the data that was collected for umpires. It turns out that the only incomplete seasons going back to 1920 are 1979 (because of the subs used during that year), and 1989 where around 80 games are missing. Data is also now being collected and entered for 1882 AA, 1910, 1917, and 1920.

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