The annual meeting of Retrosheet, Inc. will be held on Saturday, June 27, 1998 at 7:30 am PDT (that's 10:30 Eastern). It is open to all interested parties. The meeting will be held in conjunction with the SABR National Convention at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel. The meeting room will be announced at the convention.
Anyone with items for the agenda should contact Dave Smith. Included on the agenda will be a vote to fill the expiring Board term of Ron Rakowski and a discussion of data distribution methods. We hope to see many of you at the meeting. Bring a friend!
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This issue of TRS is filled with lots of good news, as usual, but I would like to begin with something of an apology concerning the release of new data. Although the 1981 season was posted on our web site in early March, we have not yet been able to release 1980, 1984, and 1985 as I had hoped to do by now. Part of the problem is that it is pretty overwhelming to complete the proofing on three seasons at once and part of the problem is that there was more to do to make 1984 and 1985 ready to release than I had anticipated. Let's just say that our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. However, much work has been done in the last three months on these seasons by David Vincent, John Jarvis, and me with help from Pete Palmer and Bill Deane and they will be released as soon as possible. I am reluctant to commit to a date, but this year's All-Star game is a good target. Stay tuned and check the web site.
On a more positive note, I offer here a different kind of summary of our inputting activity. There have been 90 different people who have input at least one game since we began in 1989. Every volunteer's donated labor is greatly appreciated, no matter how many games they have entered, but there are a few especially prolific workers whom I would like to acknowledge. Here are the 11 people who have entered at least 1000 regular season games, as of May 23, 1998:
Clem Comly 6841 David Smith 2813 Alan Boodman 4006 Greg Beston 2626 Dave Lamoureaux 3443 Luke Kraemer 1726 Ron Fisher 3271 Bill Disney 1751 David Vincent 3164 Mark Dobrow 1198 Ron Rakowski 2891
I note with some sadness that my own position on that list has continually slipped as Retrosheet has expanded and my administrative responsibilities have increased. However, that sadness is more than overcome by the pride I have in the tremendous efforts of an extraordinarily hard-working group of volunteers. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to making Retrosheet a success; this has been a marvelous group effort that shows no signs of slowing down!
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In the last issue of TRS, we printed a list of the 63 NL games from 1977 through 1979 that we needed to complete those years. That list also was posted on our Internet web page.
In April Dave Smith received a package from Rich Carletti who lives in Montreal and is an former Project Scoresheet volunteer. Rich had seen the "Most Wanted" list on the web and realized he could help. Rich's package contained 39 of those 63 games! He is also looking for Expos games we need prior to 1977 and is pretty sure he has some that will fill in gaps. Thanks to Rich for this wonderful addition to the vault!
Dave gave the Giants a list of 49 games we needed and they sent back 21 of them, including five from the Most Wanted list, knocking that original list down to 19 games needed.
Because our Most Wanted hunt has brought results, the list has changed. You can view the current Most Wanted.
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Brad Sullivan (I bet you thought this was about Joe DiMaggio) has turned into a copy machine. Recently, he has photocopied an estimated 2,468 game accounts from various newspapers. Here is a detailed listing of his work:
1912 PIT complete 1913 PIT complete 1914 PIT complete 1915 PIT complete 1916 PIT missing last game 1917 PIT complete 1918 PIT missing 2 games 1919 PIT complete 1920 PIT missing 2 games 1922 PIT complete 1923 PIT complete 1932 CLE complete 1933 CLE complete 1934 CLE approx. 110 games 1935 CLE approx. 140 games 1936 CLE approx. 140 games 1942 CLE approx. 115 games
The games also include some late 1916 pennant-race contests. The teams involved are BRO, PHI, BOS and DET. Brad also found an account for the missing last game of the 1921 season for PIT. The 1920 Pirates stash includes the only triple header this century.
The message that Brad sent to Prez Smith announcing the impending arrival of the Pittsburgh games contained this note: "Had my sanity completely disappeared, I could have conceivably continued to copy for another 7-8 hours since Pitt is currently in finals week, keeping the library open until 2 a.m. But after nearly seven hours, my brain and posterior (who sometimes live together) could take no more. I'm currently planning to make another trip this Saturday, unless something catastrophic happens."
In discussing his approach to finding games in the various Pittsburgh papers, Brad talked about jumping between them to complete seasons. "I used the same philosophy with the PG-T for 1915, but was shocked to find that they had abandoned P-B-P's in 1916. In a major panic, I checked the Post-thankfully, my boys came through with all but the final game. In a way, I felt like some guy who dumps his girlfriend for a new babe, then gets dumped himself, forcing him to slink back to the old girlfriend."
On last word from Brad to Dave Smith: "On a related note, when I was mailing the box, I asked the woman at the post office if she could tape the top since my regular tape just wouldn't do. She moaned about how she'd "do it this time, but you're supposed to have it taped already." Yeah, I can imagine a couple pieces of tape are going to cause postal rates to zoom through the roof. I would have griped back, but I WAS in the Post Office!!!" [So that explains the recently announced 1 cent increase.]
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Brooklyn, 6-5-1918 - Brooklyn's third effort of the series to stop the Cardinals wound up in a riot and a travesty of the national pastime yesterday, and ended just before dusk yesterday with the Cardinals triumphant, 8 to 1, after thirteen innings, twelve of which were devoid of anything which might be termed interesting. Neither of the contesting teams gave forth enough baseball energy to excite the fans during the first twelve innings, so the faithful hundred or more present occupied themselves with howling against the decision of the umpires.
This diversion of the fan seemed to imbue the Brooklyn players with confidence that the umpire could be talked out of anything. At least the Dodgers played that way in the thirteenth inning. Chronologically events happened in the session as follows:
Cruise, first up for St. Louis, dumped the ball down the 3b line and appeared a certain out at 1b, but Ollie O'Mara threw wildly, pulling Johnston off the bag and Umpire Moran called Cruise safe. This excited a storm of protest, overruled, of course, by the umpire. Hornsby flied out. Snyder shot the ball down the 3b line for a double, putting Cruise on 3b. Smyth was purposely passed filling the bases and putting the argument up to Marty Kavanagh.
Kavanagh got the count 3 and 2 before slashing the ball toward lf. The ball hit just inside the 3b line, in front of the bag and turned out on the bound. Umpire Rigler, who was about the only person on the field in a position to judge whether or not the ball was fair or foul, promptly called it fair and allowed Cruise, Snyder, Smyth and Kavanagh to score since Zach Wheat in lf made no attempt whatever to field the ball.
Instantly the entire Brooklyn team was around umpire Rigler arguing that the hit was a foul. Rigler was not open to argument and the players, realizing this, began throwing their caps into the air. This seemed to be taken as a signal by the fans to come out on the field, and they instantly jumped over the balustrade and ran toward Rigler. The St. Louis players hastened to the aid of the umpire, surrounded him, and, armed with their bats, kept the fans at a distance.
The fans howled loudly for a time, had the little fun, and then went sheepishly back to their seats. However, the Dodgers were not satisfied. To a man they stalled around, continued to talk to the umpires, and refused to continue with the game. O'Mara and Johnston were banished from the field and then it was that Manager Robinson decided upon a new maneuver. Cheney and Griner were sent to take the positions vacated by Johnston and O'Mara and Jack Coombs, who was doing the pitching, grooved the ball for the St. Louis batters and none of the infielders made any attempt to stop balls hit or thrown their way. This action probably was in the hope that darkness would stop the proceedings before the inning was over. St. Louis piled up three more runs and decided it had enough.
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Earlier this year Wayne Townsend found that the encyclopedias were incorrect on Moe Berg's debut date. Total Baseball and Bill Carle of the SABR Biographical committee agreed with our evidence and changed their records. Wayne has found another debut error:
"According to the NY Evening Telegram, Arnold Stone pitched in a game for the Pirates on 7/30/23. He was a reliever in the fourth vs. NY1 (which had already mauled the Pirates for 10 runs to that point). Details of this game were sketchy, but it appears he gave up 2 or 3 more runs to the Lions, er, Giants, before being relieved himself in the 5th.
The encyclopedias say Stone debuted on 8/7/23. Although not as satisfying as the Moe Berg finding, it's fun nontheless to help accurately chronicle these events."
This information was passed along and Bill Carle made the correction in the last newsletter of his committee.
Keep up the good work here Wayne and we will have to refer to you as Mr. Debut.
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Retrosheet volunteers Clem Comly, Bill Disney, Mike House, Bob Kistler, Dave Lamoureaux, Dave Smith, Stew Thornley, Wayne Townsend, and Ted Turocy contributed to this list.
5-30-03 (G1) PHI @ BRO - In the top of the first, the Phillies had a runner on 1b and two out. Bill Keister hit a ball that got past the fielders into lcf and he ran all the way around for an IPHR. However, umpire Johnson ruled that he cut 2b (not touching it) and Keister ended up with an RBI single.
7-26-1911 NY1 @ CIN – In the top of the third, Josh Devore tripled. On Larry Doyle's single to rf, Mike Mitchell threw home in time to head off Devore at the plate for a S9.3XH(92).
8-18-1911 PHA at CHA - Sox catcher Fred Payne had several teeth knocked out and left the game after being hit in the face by a foul ball being returned from the grandstand. "Give that fan a contract."
9-14-11 (G2) CHN @ PIT – In the second inning with one out and Wilson on 3b, Miller on 2b, and Gibson batting, here's the account from a contemporary writer: "Gibson grounded to Zimmerman and Wilson was out between third and the plate, Zimmerman to Archer to Doyle to Archer. Archer got the putout near third base and no one covered the plate. Miller went to third and Gibson started for second. Miller saw that nobody was at the plate and started home. It was a race between the base runner and Archer and Tinker threw as they neared the plate. Archer fell, Miller scored, and the ball rolled to the stand. Gibson tried to score and Heine [Zimmerman] recovered the ball in time to throw him out, Richie getting the putout." That would be: FC3.3XH(3252);2-H(E2)(NR);BXH(31). No DP because of the intervening error.
7-14-1923 NYA @ CLE – In the second game of the day, the Yankees had Joe Dugan on 2b and Babe Ruth on 1b. Wally Pipp singled to rf sending Dugan to 3b. Ruth rounded 2b and headed to 3b. The relay through went to first sacker Frank Brower and he ran over and tagged Ruth. Dugan must have thought he was out because he walked off to the dugout. Tris Speaker (what's he doing in the infield?) took the ball and tagged 3b and Dugan was ruled out. Here's the weird double play: S9/DP.1X3(913);2X3(8)
7-22-1923 (G1) BSN @ BRO - Up 14-0 with 2 outs in the ninth, the Braves' Billy Southworth (on 2b) and Al Hermann (on 1b) pull a double steal. Southworth getting plunked 2 batters earlier likely had something to do with it. Poor Dutch Henry was forced to get the complete-game drubbing of 17 hits and 14 runs (8 earned). Rube Marquard got the shutout against his old mates and the Dodger crowd warmly applauded him after the game for his effort.
8-6-1923 SLA @ NYA – In the bottom of the fifth, Fred Hofman was up with Aaron Ward on 1b and two out. Hofman singled to lf sending Ward to 3b. The Browns' Ken Williams picked up the ball and held it. Ward defied Williams and set sail for the plate. He scored and Hofman reached 2b. Fred Lieb's game story credits each runner with a stolen base. We checked with Pete Palmer who confirmed that these batters did receive credit for stolen bases in that game (Pete notes that Lieb may very have been the official scorer) and it is clear that there are no other situations in the game where they could have gotten them. Since our software can't deal with this as one play (because it is a bizarre ruling by the official scorer that goes against the rules) Dave Smith's suggestion was to turn it into two plays: "S7.1-3;B-2" followed by "SBH;SB2" which will at least cause our game to agree with the official totals although we miss the point of the continuity of the events.
10-3-1916 NY1 @ BRO – On the day when Brooklyn clinched its first NL pennant, the Dodgers pulled off an unusual double play. In the first inning, New York had runners on 2b and 3b with a run in after pitcher Sherry Smith had misplayed two bunts. Heine Zimmerman also bunted and Smith threw him out at 1b. Buck Herzog was run down trying to score on the play and cf Hi Myers was involved in the rundown. Here is the play: 13/BG/DP.3XH(3682) In the bottom half of the inning, Jake Daubert was picked off 3b by Bill Rariden. This play is POCSH(212456).
6-22-1925 PIT @ SLN – This game had a number of unusual events. The Pirates won 24 to 6 and scored 8 runs in the top of the first (nice deficit before you even come to bat!) The Bucs also scored 10 runs in the eighth. Lead-off hitter Max Carey had two singles in the opening inning and then again in the eighth. It marked the first time a player had two multiple hit innings in the same game. In the top of the first, Eddie Moore had hit a pitch and flied out to Ray Blades in lf but plate umpire Sweeney called a balk and the play was negated. Moore returned to bat and hit a foul to lf which Blades missed in a one-handed effort. Moore then singled to cf driving in two runs.
6-4-1936 CLE @ BOS – In the top of the eighth the Indians had the bases loaded with two out. George Blaeholder struck out but catcher Moe Berg dropped the ball but picked it up and stepped on the plate to force Joe Vosmik. Berg then rolled the ball to the mound. Meanwhile the Indians' dugout yelled to Blaeholder to keep running. Boston third baseman Billy Werber picked up the ball and threw to Jimmie Foxx at 1b. The scorer ruled that the putout at 1b took precedence over the force at the plate for a bizarre K253.
8-25-1936 (1) BSN @ SLN – Boston scored eleven runs in the first inning on ten hits including seven doubles. The doubles set the major league record. Boston won the game 20-3 by pounding out 25 hits.
9-25-1936 BOS @ WA1 – In the third inning, the Senators had Joe Kuhel on 3b and Johnny Stone on 1b. Red Sox pitcher Jim Henry went behind the mound and picked up the rosin bag. However he turned his back on the runners and they pulled a double steal. Henry was so startled that he threw the rosin bag to 2b instead of the ball. The played was scored a double steal and no error. On the next pitch, Stone stole 3b as the flustered Henry went into his windup. Joe Cronin then removed Henry from the game.
7-02-1965 CLE @ BAL – In the bottom of the third rookie pitcher Jim Palmer pinch hit for Don Larsen (that other Yankee perfect gamer) with two out and no one on. Palmer then went to the mound in the next half inning.
5-9-1968 BOS @ WS2 – Ed Stroud of the Senators enjoyed a rather unusual trip around the bases leading off the bottom of the second inning in this night contest. Stroud bunted for a base hit against Red Sox starter Jerry Stephenson. With Ed Brinkman, at the plate Stroud stole 2b. The rattled Stephenson then balked Stroud to 3b. Brinkman grounded out 63 with Stroud holding. With Phil Ortega at the plate, Stephenson uncorked a wild pitch allowing Stroud to complete his unusual basepath excursion. S1/BG + SB + BK + WP = RUN without a ball being hit more than 15 feet.
5-23-1968 CLE @ CAL - Some exciting baserunning on a sacrifice fly: in the top of the seventh, the bases were full of Indians with Duke Sims on 3b, Jose Vidal on 2b and Tony Horton on 1b. Larry Brown hit a sacrifice fly to rf scoring Sims. However, Horton is out for passing Vidal.
4-5-74 PIT @ SLN – On Opening Day, the teams played 10 innings. In the bottom of the tenth with the bases loaded, Lou Brock hit Ramon Hernandez' first pitch of the game. The soft liner was ruled a trap by 1b umpire Lee Weyer. Pirate rf Gene Clines threw home to force Jim Dwyer and catcher Mike Ryan threw to 3b to double up Tim McCarver. No one had moved because it looked like the ball was going to be caught. How often do you see an outfield single turned into a GDP? The play string is: 92(3)5(2)/GDP/L9S.1-2
5-17-1980 SLN at SFN - We have a most unusual play with Ken Reitz batting in the 9th: 64(1)/FO.3-H(NR);2-3. The unusual part is the absence of an RBI. The Giants scoresheet says "run scores on defensive indifference -no RBI". The official totals confirm this and the San Francisco Chronicle chastized the Giants for their slow play.
5-29-1982 NYA @ MIN – Stew reports that he attended this game. In the top of the second Bobby Murcer and Graig Nettles singled. With the runners on the move, Roy Smalley struck out. Sal Butera's throw to Gary Gaetti at 3b was so far ahead of Murcer that he stopped and retreated toward 2b where Nettles had arrived. Nettles then ran back to 1b. Gaetti threw to Kent Hrbek, who tagged Nettles out. Murcer then broke for third. Hrbek threw to pitcher Terry Felton covering the bag and Murcer was out for a triple play. This is the play that caused Murcer to say, "We need a second base coach." The play is: K+CS3(25);CS2(31)/TP
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In the March 29th edition of al Baseball Daily (an electronic newsletter), there was a piece called "98 Great Things About Baseball." One of the things mentioned was "he historical box-score-gathering efforts of Retrosheet." Thanks to Stu Shea for including us in his list.
A regular feature of USA Today Baseball Weekly's "On Deck" column since Opening Day has been our "Strange and Unusual Plays" from past issues of The Retro Sheet. They include our web address each time and we have had a few inquiries as a result. Editor Paul White asked for permission to run these and we had to think for about 1 millisecond before agreeing! In Paul's column in the April 22 issue, he mentioned Retrosheet research regarding the importance of lead-off hitters in a line-up.
Our web site has been chosen for inclusion in a new book titled Baseball on the Web by Rob Edelman. You can find more about the book at: www.mispress.com/baseball
We also have been involved with the Los Angeles Times. They and the Dodgers have mounted a large publicity effort to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the team's arrival in California and the Dodgers recommended that they contact us about some items for a web page they have established. Dave Smith has sent them the box scores and play by play accounts of several dozen games along with some detailed roster information and career totals for all LA batters and pitchers. Some of the material is still being added, but they have been careful to give us specific and conspicuous credit as well as to include a link to our web page. You can check them out at: www.dodgers40.com.
Kevin Hennessy made a nice presentation about Retrosheet at the recent meeting of the Minneapolis chapter of SABR and Tim Cashion is scheduled to do the same at the next meeting of the Chicago regional group.
The Big Bad Baseball Annual contains the following acknowledgement: "Special thanks are due Dave Smith, the founder and mastermind of Retrosheet, for supplying us with the game-by-game data for Sandy Koufax' 1966 season. Retrosheet is one of the most ambitious baseball research projects ever: its mission is to recreate play-by-play accounts and detailed box scores for every major league baseball game. Dave and his incredibly dedicated band of researchers are making amazing progress in their efforts and deserve your support." [It kind of makes us sound like Robin and the Seven Hoods but many thanks for the kind words!]
Padres Director of Baseball Operations Eddie Epstein writes a column for their web page as "Dr. Baseball." He recently used some data provided by Dave Smith and gave Retrosheet a plug. The column can be found at: www.padres.com/fanfare/drbaseball.
In the May 3, 1998 issue of Parade Sunday Newspaper Magazine, the "Ask Marilyn" column contained a question about the "big bang theory." She quoted the expert – our own Dave Smith.
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Dave Smith has stated many times to many people that our scoring system is so robust that it can handle any play we have ever encountered. Occasionally some odd situation has led to library modifications so we can capture unusual events but we have always been able to make the system work.
A situation has happened after approximately 75,000 games entered (reflecting the Retrosheet games as well as all post-1983 games) that cannot be properly captured by our system. The play was remarkable enough when it occurred that it occupied most of the game story in the LA Times the next day.
The game is 5-1-1980 SEA @ CAL. Here is the Times account of the top of the seventh inning: "Leon Roberts singled to lead off the inning, his third hit of the night. He was sacrificed to second and moved to third on a Ted Cox single. Larry Cox followed with a grounder to first that saw Roberts out at the plate but, after a sloppy Angel rundown, Seattle had runners on second and third.
Joe Simpson was walked intentionally to load the bases. Then came the excitement.
Jim Anderson hit an apparent bloop double to right that seemed to score two runs and break a 1-1 tie. Anderson was the player to be named later in the trade that made Thursday's winning pitcher, Johnny Montague, an Angel.
Montague replaced starter Chris Knapp and was set to face Dan Meyer. Instead he threw to third baseman Carney Lansford for the appeal play on Larry Cox. Third base umpire John Shulock ruled Larry Cox out, and the Angels walked off the field, thinking the score was 2-1.
Manager Jim Fregosi thought better of it, argued that Larry Cox was forced out at third and Ted Cox's 'run' didn't count either. Suddenly the Mariners had no runs. Anderson's double became a fielder's choice [a force out in Retrosheet syntax].
Johnson [Seattle manager Darrell] protested. What else could he do?" [end of quotation from LA Times] This inning is currently entered as:
play,7,0,robel001,??,,S8 play,7,0,steib001,??,,3/SH.1-2 play,7,0,cox-t101,??,,S7.2-3 play,7,0,cox-l101,??,,FC3.3XH(3253);1-3;B-2 play,7,0,simpj101,??,,IW play,7,0,andej001,??,,NP sub,montj101,"John Montague",1,0,1 play,7,0,andej001,??,,15(2)/FO
Dave Smith discovered a serious problem in the course of proofing the 1980 data in preparation for release. The problem is that, as the play is currently entered, Anderson's plate appearance and the third of an inning from his out are credited to Montague. However, the official totals give the batter faced pitcher to Knapp and the third of an inning to Montague. There appears to be no way for us to separate the two in this particular situation.
We have the choice of matching official totals for the IP of the two pitchers or matching the batters faced. The former is obviously more important and so our entry reflects that.
David Nichols response to Smith's e-mail was "what makes this so wonderful is that the rules think this was a 15 putout at 3b with a pitcher substitution in the middle of the play, i.e. after the ball was 'batted' and before it was 'fielded'."
This is a problem that will have to be worked on by the folks at DiamondWare, who have provided Retrosheet with the programs that we use to input games and then turn them into other forms (like box scores.)
Some sort of new record will probably have to be created to resolve this issue. If you have any thoughts on the matter please send them to Dave Smith at RetroCentral.
We will keep you informed of any updates on this situation, but this is certainly one of the most strange and unusual plays in our vault.
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I continue to be amazed at the success we have had in collecting game accounts and I am incredibly happy at the help I am getting from so many people. In addition to the efforts of Rich Carletti and Brad Sullivan that are detailed elsewhere in this issue, we have had the following successes.
I finished the copying of the 1911 New York Evening Telegram and the 1931 New York World-Telegram and have ordered the 1932 microfilm. Wesley Underwood has copied 89 games from the 1942 New York World Telegram. We have very few from the war era and these are most welcome.
Mike Grahek has done excellent work with the New York Evening Telegram from early in the century. He has now finished copying the games for 1901 for both the Dodgers and Giants (remember that the Yankees-to-be still played in Baltimore until 1903). The accounts for the first half of that season have been sent to Ron Fisher for inputting. Mike notes that we now have Christy Mathewson's first Major League win and also the incredible enthusiasm in the newspaper for the young pitcher's success; he likens it to "Fernandomania". Mike also has begun copying accounts from the same paper for 1912 and found that the coverage is actually less complete than for 1901 (more partial games with the last innings missing). The real world of the day also impinges on what we can get. To quote Mike: "... most of which are missing the last couple of innings, especially around mid-April (some big boat wreck was hogging all the headlines and pushing baseball to the back pages!)" But there are some successes too: "One of the partials is the infamous game in which Cobb went into the stands against the cripple. Unfortunately, I was only able to get the first six innings. I also have some Walter Johnson games and Joe Wood games which have great appeal to me." Through all of this Mike has continued his work on the 1957 Tigers, which he has now completed through August.
In the last report I noted Jay Wigley's success in getting some scorecards through Internet searching. Jay has come up with another huge find through the APBA Journal. He reached a fan in Ontario, Canada who scored every game of the 1975 and 1976 Montreal Expos, pitch by pitch! Guy Duschl is the avid fan who sent his books (12 Peterson's Scoremaster books) to Jay who forwarded them to me. I am currently copying them and will send them back north. These games are meticulously neat and are very welcome additions to filling up some big holes in our 1970s NL holdings.
Bill McMahon continues working on Chicago papers from the late 1930s and has sent great detailed information. In addition, Bob Kistler has kept up his work at the Boston Public Library to pursue some otherwise very elusive accounts. He recently sent the June 27, 1939 contest between the Dodgers and Boston Bees, a 23-inning affair which was the third longest Major League game in history at that point. You may recall that the longest was between the same two teams on May 1, 1920, a game which we have already entered.
Herm Krabbenhoft has recently spent some time at the Harvard library while visiting his daughter and picking her up at the end of the school year. While there, he has copied dozens of games from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. Herm's main interest in these games was triple plays, on which he is a major authority, but he has very nicely taken the opportunity to copy the play by play accounts for us. Having the games from the Evening Bulletin is a very pleasant surprise, since checks in other years have shown that this paper was not a great source.
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This topic has been raised in various forms before, but given the increasing amount of data we have, it is worth discussing it again, this time with some very specific examples. The basic point is a deceptively simple question: what do we do when the totals for a given player in a game from our files disagree with the official totals for that day? In the very large majority of cases, the mistake turns out to be ours because of a data entry error, a game interpretation mistake, or sometimes an error on the scoresheets we used. We usually only detect the latter case by checking newspaper accounts when there is no other way to make sense out of the differences we found.
However, there are occasions when the answer is that the official totals are probably wrong. The first Retrosheetian to track down such official mistakes in detail was Luke Kraemer, who input the entire 1967 AL and then proofed the data files against the official totals. Luke found a few dozen differences, some of which are almost certainly errors in the official numbers. Luke's approach, in consultation with me, was to identify very precisely the games in which each of these discrepancies occurred. This information was then included in the books he published on this season and on our web page so that any users of the information would know exactly where we disagreed and why we decided to leave our data files as they are.
The next person to do such detail was Ron Rakowski, who has spent an enormous amount of time with the 1961 season. Just to refresh your memory, Ron found overwhelming evidence that Roger Maris had incorrectly been awarded an RBI and that in a different game he had been shortchanged a run in his daily reports. It turns out that both of these were significant, since correcting the mistakes that Ron found would drop Maris into a tie for the RBI lead and give him the run scoring lead outright. What should Retrosheet do about all this as an organization? Before you venture an opinion, let's consider some other examples.
As has been reported before in TRS, there is mounting evidence that Hack Wilson was incorrectly short-changed an RBI in his record season of 1930 when he was officially credited with 190. We now have information from four newspapers supporting an increase in Hack's RBI total to 191. However, these sources are from Chicago (plus the New York Times) and we do not yet have information from any papers in Cincinnati, the team the Cubs played that day. Therefore, even though it is looking more and more like a mistake in the official totals, I am not quite yet ready to say they are wrong.
My personal favorites are the cases in which the official scorer has clearly misinterpreted rule 10.18 (g). This rule deals with the responsibility for the scoring of runners in an inning in which a pitching change occurs and there is subsequently a force out or fielder's choice. During our proofing of data files to get them ready for release, we have found about 10 instances of this kind of mistake in the official totals. We don't make changes in these cases, at least partially because our software cannot be forced to make the wrong determination!
Finally, I offer the following, fairly lengthy note I received from Tom Ruane concerning the work he did in comparing our event files to the official daily totals for the 1963 AL. Tom's effort here was extraordinary, since he also examined all of our scoresheets for these games to track down and sort out every discrepancy he could. Here's what he found:
By the way, Gary Robbins did a similar game by game fielding analysis for the 1964 Yankees and found the same kind of mistakes that Tom notes. One could dismiss the fielding differences as "minor", but that is an awfully subjective line to draw. I believe there is much to be said for treating all the data as important, whether we are considering Bobby Richardson's assist total in 1964 or Hack Wilson's RBI numbers in 1930.
I must comment on Tom Ruane's remark about loss of faith in the official record of the game. Not only has he very nicely captured what a lot of us feel (next thing he'll tell is that there is no Santa Claus), but he also makes us remember what "official" means. It is not a synonym for "truth", but rather it means "from the office", indicating that the numbers are endorsed by some entity which is seen to be authoritative. This is a very important point, as has been written about by Hall of Fame sportswriter and Retrosheet donor Leonard Koppett. Koppett's point is that without an official source there could be competing sets of data coming from different sources with the result being a great deal of confusion. Therefore, he argues with what seems to me to be good reason that changes in the official records should always be difficult to make.
So, back to the question I raised above: what should the organization do about all of this? Should we mount a crusade to get the official record changed? Ron Rakowski informed all the appropriate people about the Maris situations with the result that MacMillan changed his RBI total in their latest edition of the Encyclopedia, but Total Baseball did not. Although Ron is a valued part of Retrosheet, his contacts with officialdom were done on his own, not as a representative of the organization. As I have written before, I am strongly persuaded that Retrosheet itself should not get involved in these disputes (and they can rapidly become disputes). We always document the reasons for our conclusions very carefully and publicly and we will certainly continue to do so. However, in the long run I believe we will better serve the baseball research community by remaining an impartial historical organization and not an advocacy group.
P.S. (as it were) These remarks are my own since the Retrosheet Board has not approved or even discussed an organizational policy on this subject.
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Several more milestones have been passed recently. Tom Shrimplin and Stu Shea completed the 1969 Royals; Tom has begun work on the 1970 team while Stu has turned his attention to the 1969 Red Sox.
Mark Dobrow did the last games we needed to finish the 1966 AL and is continuing his work on the 1972 Mets.
Bill Disney finished the 1974 Reds minus the five games we don't have, while Michael Dehler completed the 1976 Cardinals and has begun the 1974 Redbirds.
Dave Lamoureaux continues on the 1968 AL except for the games of the Senators, which Mike House is processing.
On the proofing front, we must begin by apologizing to Jon Dunkel and Marc Stephenson for leaving them off the list of proofers in the last issue. Jon is working on the 1979 AL, while Marc is tackling the 1978 NL. In addition to his inputting work, Dave Lamoureaux has proofed the 1965 and 1966 Orioles and will soon begin work on the 1968 team. We are slowly but surely making progress in getting the Birds of Baltimore in good shape.
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We continue to try to standardize how games are entered. As part of that effort, we have a list of standard comments and their format. Note that there are two different ways to enter a rain delay comment. There are two factors to consider here: readability and brevity. We want the comment to be clearly understandable and yet we do not want it to be any longer than necessary. The rain delay is a good example of this. Noting time longer than one hour as 1:15 is shorter than entering 1 hour 15 minute rain delay and yet is readable.
The ejection comment contains the three essential elements: the ejectee, the ejector, and the reason. Please use the word "eject" in your comment and not any other slang term (tossed, run, etc.) as some of our programs key in on that word. If either the reason for the ejection or the umpire involved is not clear simply omit that from the comment.
The last three relate to homers. The "IPHR" comment should be placed immediately after an inside the park homer. Also note that the play is HR8 (or whatever fielder is appropriate) rather than the HR/8 play for a ball that leaves the park. Before 1931 a ball that bounced in the field of play and into the stands or over a wall was considered a homer. This should be scored as a regular homer (HR/9) with the "Bounce HR" comment immediately following it.
Before 1920 a player who hit a game-ending homer was only credited with enough bases as required to score the winning run. In other words, if the scored was tied and there was a runner on 1b, the batter got credit for a triple (assuming he ran that far around the bases.) Since we now have volunteers scoring games before 1920, we need to be aware of this rule. Please score the play with the appropriate hit value and if the batter "loses" a homer place the note in the game account "Sudden Death HR".
Thanks for your attention to these standards.
Standard comment form:
1:15 rain delay
30 minute rain delay
Martin ejected by Ford for arguing call at 1b
Sudden Death HR
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The record for most HRs in a season without one off a LHP was Duke Snider's 40 in 1957. The Dodgers only faced 6 LH starters all season and Snider started against 3 of them. Snider had 27 total ABs against LHPs that year.
Clem Comly has done some checking on Snider vs. lefties. In 5 seasons in LA, Snider never started against a LHP yet in his first season in LA, he started in more games in RF or LF than he did in all his Brooklyn seasons except 1953. Here is the breakdown of LH starters faced by the 1957 team:
4/18 Pirates' Arroyo in Bro Snider started 5/12 Giants' Burnside in NY Snider started 5/24 Giants' Antonelli in Bro Snider started 7/01 Giants' Antonelli in NY Snider benched 8/07 Giants' Antonelli in Bro Snider benched 9/29 Phillies' Morehead in Phi Snider benched
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Herm Krabbenhoft recently sent some game accounts from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the 9-5-1927 edition, they had a short piece on the homer race between Ruth and Gehrig. On that day Lou tied Babe at 44. They noted that Ruth had hit two in the past week, and that his total of 44 was "10 homers behind his 1921 record of 59". This article is informative for two reasons: first, it shows that the fascination with chasing the season home run record is not new and second, it reinforces what a terrific September Ruth had that year. Ruth's monthly dinger totals in 1927 (starting in April) were: 4, 12, 9, 9, 9 and 17. The 17 in September is the record for that month and was tied by Albert Belle in 1995. The record for any month is Tiger Rudy York's 18 in August 1937.
New Information Added to Player Record
Bob Kistler has been working on the 1936 season. In the second game of a doubleheader between the Browns and Red Sox on July 15, Bob found that Harlond Clift played lf. No encyclopedia shows Clift in the outfield at any time in his career.
Congratulations to Bob for another RetroAddition to the record book!
A note from Wayne Townsend:
NY fans loved and appreciated the game of baseball (and the players who played it) so much that they frequently applauded the grand efforts of the visiting team. And veterans like Collins, Cobb, and Speaker were warmly applauded as they stepped to the plate for the first time. Former Giants players were applauded the same way in recognition for their contribution to the club in previous years. Cy Williams' clouts were loudly cheered as if he was on the home team.
Wayne Townsend, working on the 1923 season, sent a batch of games under the subject line "next batch of cookies almost done". Dave Smith replied: "Look in your mailbox soon for more raw ingredients for the next batch of cookies." Wayne responded: "Mmmmmm ... cookies. Please add a little pinch of Ruth and a dash of Cobb; I can do without Sloppy Thurston or Greasy Neale."
An article in the 7-4-1911 edition New York Evening Telegram contained the note that "contrary to all precedent, both umpires appeared on the field in their shirt sleeves". Dozens of people had died in New York in a week-long heat wave with temperatures as high as to 105, over 100 many days.
Greg Beston has actually slowed down his inputting rate as the demands of law school have caught up to him. He recently sent an e-mail to Dave Smith, putting himself on the Disabled List. He announced his expectation to return in June with the comment "Perhaps I should do a couple of dozen International League games first as a rehab assignment".
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Here is our usual edition-ending feature: the report on group activity since the last issue of TRS. The smallest number of games entered in a single week during this period was 71 and the highest was 353.
Total Games in Computer (All Years before 1984) 46,546 Games Entered since last Report 1,835 Days since last Report (2/28/98 to 5/23/98) 91 Games Entered per Week (13 weeks) 141.2 Games Entered per Day (The Fisher Index) 20.2
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Page Updated: 6/8/98Copyrighted: Retrosheet, 1998