BASEBALL Research Primer
What follows are a few tips that might help get you started on a research project. This brief outline is not intended to replace the Society for American Baseball Research’s (SABR) own 2000 publication, How to Do Baseball Research, edited by Gerald Tomlinson (available at http://sabr.org). That fine work focuses on all aspects of baseball research, and goes into much more detail than we attempt here. This document is a start, something that might help you organize the task ahead.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Mark Armour for providing the bulk of this primer. Cary Smith and Dan Levitt contributed the majority the web-based information. Stew Thornley provided the Hennepin County Library research direction.
Essential Web Resources
Other Useful Places to Surf
Historical Newspapers Online
Historical Magazines and Periodicals
Scholarly Sources and Journals
Using your SABR Membership
Book Dealers, etc.
Other Hints: What to Look For
SABR Baseball Research Journals
An encyclopedia-style site managed by SABR member Sean Forman. Organized by player, team, year, etc.
Managed by SABR member David Smith. A tremendous resource with a surprisingly diverse number of statistics and breakdowns. Game-by-game information, including downloadable play-by-play. Anyone can join, and they have a member listserv.
Day-by-days, season rosters, on-line version of The Ballplayers, on-line version of the Baseball Chronology.
The Baseball Index
The Baseball Index (TBI) is a free catalog to baseball literature. It encompasses books, magazine articles, programs, pamphlets, films, recordings, songs, poems, cartoons, advertising, or anything else that may be of interest to the baseball fan or researcher. It is an ongoing project of the Bibliography Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) to catalog the entirety of baseball literature, from the earliest references to the present day. TBI is the creation of volunteers. Their hours of work and financial contributions have made your TBI research possible.
Remember, TBI is an index to baseball literature. It is a guide to what has been written about baseball subjects. It does not include the full-text of the sources referenced.
The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) offers the Emerald Guide to Baseball as a free PDF to the baseball community. The Emerald Guide contains statistics and other information that had been available in the annual Official Baseball Guide published by The Sporting News. In addition to the free PDF (past issues back to 2007 are also available), bound copies are available for purchase.
Ancestry.com offers a large collection of government historical information. Most notably they provide U.S. Federal Census records, Birth, Marriage & Death records, and a Social Security Death Index. Monthly and annual subscriptions are available.
Enter “baseball” into the search window (or a more specific term, such as the title of the book). To narrow the list to books that are on line, change “All Books” to either “Limited Preview and Full View” or “Full View Only” in the “Showing” window.
Managed by SABR member Sean Holtz. Trivia style. Stories, jokes, lists, awards, etc.
This web site has a large image collection of old baseball cards.
This site tracks Major League baseball contracts, signing bonuses, service time and franchise values. The information is unofficial and has been collected from various published reports.
Peter Morris Books
In addition to a listing and summary of books by Peter Morris, this site contains links to other research performed by Morris.
A research service by SABR member Stew Thornley, this site contains monographs, including an ongoing list of no-hitters broken up in the ninth inning since 1961, a list of Minnesota Twins uniform numbers, research on the demise of the reserve clause, and articles and information on Minnesota baseball history, including the Minneapolis Millers.
Access: Hennepin County and St. Paul Libraries, which also offer remote access to those with a library card registered with them (does not have to be issued by the specific library, just registered with them).
Historical New York Times
Selected Minnesota Newspapers
St. Paul Public Library:
Click on Online Databases (http://alpha.stpaul.lib.mn.us/screens/srchhelp_db.html)
If accessing remotely, click on Outside the Library (will eventually have to insert name, library card bar code, and PIN, which can be obtained when registering the card with the library).
Click on Articles – Newspapers
Go to Historical New York Times (limited to 1851-2005) or
Go to ProQuest Newsstand Complete (for Historical New York Times or Historical Minneapolis Tribune, limited to 1867-1922) or
Go to Minnesota Newspapers (for a variety of Minnesota newspapers limited to certain time periods, including the Star Tribune from January 1986 to present and St. Paul Pioneer Press from January 1988 to present)
For Hennepin County Library:
Click on Databases A-Z (http://www.hclib.org/pub/search/SubjectGuides.cfm?Topic=Databases)
Go to Historical Minneapolis Tribune (1867-1922)
Go to Historical New York Times, 1851–2005
Go to ProQuest Newsstand (full-text articles from major national and regional newspapers, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Barron’s and the Star Tribune. Coverage varies by title.)
Brooklyn Eagle Archives
The Brooklyn Eagle Newspaper digitized from 1841-1902.
Toronto Star Archives
A subscription provides access to millions of pages from The Toronto Star - pages that previously could be viewed only on a microfilm viewer. Pages of the Past is searchable by the text on the page, or by the date of publication. You can easily seek out birth, death and marriage notices; follow stories of international importance or local significance; view fashion trends, or check on the price of goods over the years.
US News Archives on the web
A site that provides links to United States news archives available on the web. Some links may be slightly outdated.
NewspaperARCHIVE.com is the single largest historical newspaper database online, containing more newspaper pages from 1759 to present than any other service. Subscription required.
Xooxle Newspaper and Magazine Archives
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
This site has New York Newspapers, including the Brooklyn Eagle up to 1955 as well as newspapers from Binghamton, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Auburn, and Utica.
The Mid-Continent Public Library has a non-resident card available for a fee and provides access to historical newspapers such as the Chicago Defender, Atlanta Daily World, Los Angeles Sentinel, New York Amsterdam News, and Pittsburgh Courier.
Historical Magazines and Periodicals
New Yorker Magazine Archives
Order the complete text of all New Yorker magazines since February 1925. The New Yorker had a number of baseball articles, in addition to many famous ones by Roger Angell.
DVD – $19.99; Portable hard disk – $179.99; Updates available.
Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles
Baseball Magazine 1909-1918 (not complete)
Sports in History 1993-2001
Journal of Sports History 1974-2002
Sport Management Review 1998-2004
Other magazine and journals
This web site has indoor base ball guides from 1903-1926 and Spalding base ball guides from 1889-1939 Not every year is there but many of them are.
Baseball Digest, 1945-2007
HighBeam Research provides one place where you can access the free Web, online services to which you subscribe (both for-pay services and free services requiring registration) and a proprietary Library archive of 35 million articles from 3,000 respected publishers.
HighBeam Research Offers Basic and Full Membership Options. Full Membership includes unlimited viewing of full-text articles, full use of personalization tools, and the ability to export research to Microsoft Office.
Check your public library web site for remote access.
Specializes in historical scholarly journals. Articles go back at least to 1869.
Includes journals in law, religion, business, feminist and women’s studies, African American studies, geography, history.
Hall of Fame Library Catalog
ABNER (American Baseball Network for Electronic Research) is the National Baseball Hall of Fame Online Library Catalog. Library material is not available for loan. However, such material may be used on site at the Hall of Fame’s A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center. Research services are available by contacting the Library.
Academic Search Premier (Ebscohost)
Access: Check your public library web site for remote access.
Has a very strong search engine to filter out publication, age, full text or citations.
American Journal of Sports Medicine 1/1/1992-Current (Citations)
Culture, Sport, Society 3/1/2000-12/31/2003 (Full Text)
International Sports Journal 1/1/2002-6/30/2004 (Full Text)
Journal of Sports Sciences 5/1/1996-Current (Citations)
Journal of Philosophy of Sport 5/1/2003-Current (Citations)
Newsweek 2/21/1983-Current (Citations)
Nine: A Journal of Baseball History & Culture 9/1/2005-Current (Citations)
Access: Check your public library web site for remote access.
Do a search of libraries all over the country for many things including books, Visuals, Articles, Maps, almost anything a library would have in their collection. There are only citations so the best way to use this database is for finding hard to get items and then using interlibrary loan.
Just about any player who played for the Cubs or the White Sox from 1902-1933 is pictured in this collection. Many of the photos are also of visiting players from the same era.
Managed by SABR member Sean Lahman. An outstanding feature is a downloadable encyclopedia database. (Access, or comma-delimited).
Baseball Player Database
A CD available from Old-Time Data, Inc., Overland Park, KS
The site contains information about ordering a CD-ROM from Old-Time Data, Inc. that contains the entire professional records of plyaersbetween 1922 and 2004. The data is limited—batting average, home runs, runs batted in for position players, and won-lost record and earned-run average for pitchers, but it is invaluable for finding records of men who did not reach the major leagues. With the CD you can search for teams by year, league, farm system, etc., as well as looking for individual players.
SABR Minor League Database
Win Expectancy Finder
Plug in a situation (bottom of the fifth, bags loaded, no out, visiting team ahead by a run) to see a team’s chances of winning based on emperical data from 1977 to 2006.
The baseballrace.com site is the creation Christopher J. Falvey. It is an online application that allows you to view any Major League Baseball season, split by league or division (even wild card races), as an animated, date-by-date race between the various teams you choose.
Jim Albert’s home page
Jim Albert is a SABR member who posts some of his sabermetric studies.
If Linear Weights, Run Expectancy, and Runs Created mean something to you, if you are a fan of Pete Palmer or Bill James, then you’ve come to the right place. This is just a dumping ground for research or reports that I’ve done, and people might find interesting. One day, I will post all my research here.
In the world of professional team sports baseball is unique in several ways. The discrete nature of the game, enabling individual plays to be readily categorized with a modest number of possible outcomes, leads to a very complete statistical record. Likewise, the discrete nature of the game enables detailed simulations to be carried out. The game’s statistical record provides accurate parametrization of the simulator and insight into the game can be obtained from these simulations. A number of statistical studies based on simulator results and full season play-by-play descriptions are linked to this page.
If you’re not familiar with Baseball Prospectus, here’s what we’re all about: understanding the game better, and innovating in order to do it. Everyone at BP loves the game of baseball with a passion that most people just don’t understand. We feel that this greatest of games is so compelling that we want to know everything about it. We always want to improve our understanding of the game; each player, each play, each pitch, each throw, each hit--what does it really mean? Those arguments that take place in bars about the relative merits of different players? We really want to know the definitive answer to those questions. But we don’t want to kill the joy of the game while we’re looking.
Baseball Think Factory
Baseball Think Factory and its family of affiliated sites is dedicated to providing unique baseball content (information, blogs, links, news, forums, chat) to thinking baseball fans.
An excellent overall baseball site run by Rich Lederer.
Beyond the Boxscore
An excellent site that includes research by Cy Morong
Another good statistical site
SABR Statistical Analysis Committee
Phil Birnbaum’s web site has all the past issues of By The Numbers, the quarterly publication of SABR’s statistical analysis committee.
SABR Research Tools Site (includes the resources noted below--underlined items are links to other resources)
SABR Research Committees
SABR Regional Chapters
The Online SABR Baseball Encyclopedia
Includes the SABR Biographical Committee Player Demographics Database, the Pete Palmer Historical Player Statistics Database, the Tattersall-McConnell Home Run Log, the SABR Pictorial Committee Player Image Index, and the SABR Scouts Committee Who-Signed-Whom Database. Access is limited to SABR members who have agreed to terms and conditions of use.
The Baseball Index
The SABR Lending Library
The SABR-L Archives
SABR Triple Plays Database
SABR Batterymates Project
The Baseball Research Journal Archives
2007 Sporting News Complete Baseball Record and Fact Book
The National Baseball Hall
of Fame and Museum
A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center
ABNER (American Baseball Network for Electronic Research) Online Library Catalog
The Library of Congress
American Memories Special Collections
By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s
University Libraries of
Notre Dame Baseball-Related Holdings
The Sports Research Collection
Cleveland Public Library
The Mears & Murdock Baseball Collections
Western Reserve Historical Society
The SABR Archives, Frank Phelps Collection & Louis Van Oeyen Photographs
San Diego Public Library –
SABR Ted Williams Chapter
San Diego Baseball Research Center
National Endowment for the
Chronicling America - Historic American Newspapers
U.S. Newspaper Program (online directory to microfilm resources)
Note: The Society for American Baseball Research now offers the Emerald Guide to all interested parties (not just SABR members). A pdf is versions back to 2007 may be downloaded at no charge. Hardcopies of the guide may be ordered for a fee.
Minneapolis Public Library
Most of the books with Library of Congress classifications are now on the shelves on the main floor. The books in the tall shelves in the section closer to 3rd Street are circulating copies. Books in the shorter shelves closer to the atrium are reference copies or are books in the Popular Library.
Current periodicals and newspapers are on the third floor. All the microfilm reels for the Minneapolis newspapers are in cases in this area. All of the St. Paul papers back to 1967 are in these cases, as well.
Other newspapers—Washington Post, New York Times, are in the stacks area on the other side of the atrium on the third floor.
In this area are the periodicals A through O. P to Z are across the hall.
History and Social Services are on the fourth floor. The stacks contain reference books as well as circulation copies of annual books. Sports books are in the section GV 877 to GV 971. Books on the Olympics are at GV 721.5. Also, check out the oversized (folio) baseball books in the stacks at fGV 863 to fGV 878.
Other sports books with the Dewey Decimal System (797) are in the stacks, as well.
James K. Hosmer Special Collections Library—Fourth floor.
Open by appointment only on Mondays and Wednesdays (10 to 1 and 2 to 4:30) and the first and third Saturday of each month from 11 to 2.
To schedule an appointment, call or e-mail Heather Lawton, 612-630-6351, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can come in without appointment during their hours but must contact Heather ahead of time if certain materials are needed.
o Putnam team histories. Published 1945-55, fairly comprehensive. Several have been reissued with indexes.
o Golenbock’s team oral histories (Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Mets)
o Post-1950 histories fairly sporadic but plentiful for the big market teams.
Business of Baseball (SABR Business of Baseball Committee site)
Giant collection of baseball links
Note: This research primer is a product of the Research Committee of the Halsey Hall Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research.