Midwest League Rosters

For the past few months, I’ve been compiling (or creating, in some cases) electronic rosters for every Midwest League team, organization, and season. I’ve been collecting the basic resources for several years; the recent effort’s been more about getting things into a useful shape than actually acquiring the data. The compilation effort has been–and continues to be–an odd combination of automation and manual handling; it turns out that much of the work is tweaking the data.

The last (still ongoing) step consists mostly of comparing the Baseball-Databank list of major league players to the lists I’ve collected and assembled; that comparison could be simplified somewhat if I’d automate it, but the error rate would be unacceptable. For each fourteen-team season my programs generate a list of about 140 "likely matches," of whom roughly fifty turn out to be false positives. Most non-matches are obvious when I eyeball them, but the edge cases can be maddening. That’s necessarily manual work, folks.

Today I’ve begun posting that effort to the MWLguide.com website. I’ve begun with Appleton, and will work alphabetically through to Wisconsin Rapids over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, at this time my presentable data only goes back to 1989, so I’ll need to repeat the effort as I complete the earlier years (coming; it’s just slow work, as I’ve suggested). But this is clearly the most-wanted missing feature for MWLguide.com, so it seems worth posting the incomplete lists and promising further cleanup. I expect I’ll have "complete" lists (see Less Thans, below) posted early in the upcoming season.

Miscellaneous Notes

Errors. This is the sort of project where every possible error is more or less guaranteed to occur. Please tell me if you find something wrong. Thanks.

The Sporting News. A project like this tends to generate a love/hate relationship with your best source–in this case, the Sporting News Guides. The quality of the Guides is more variable than you’d imagine (for instance: Don’t Trust the 2005 Edition), and there are some systematic issues which everyone finds annoying. Nonetheless: TSN has discontinued publishing most of their baseball annuals, and I miss them.

Name changes are problems, as are some common nicknames. David Ortiz called himself David Arias when he played in the MWL. Albert Belle went by Joey. Ervin Santana was Johan. (There are others like this; I recognize a few.) And many minor league sources list players by their proper names, which means my programs may miss major leaguers who went by Dick, or Bill, or Tom at the major league level (though I’d likely notice the match if they went by Rich, Willie, or Thom). The main advantage of getting this right is the demographics; I can get the birthdate right, and show a pointer to his big league career. I’d be grateful to be notified if you spot someone I missed. Thanks.

On the roster, but didn’t play. David Eckstein sat on the Michigan Battle Cats’ bench for a few days in 1997. Rick Ankiel, officially disabled at the time, spent the entire 2002 season on the Peoria roster. Neither appeared in any games. Neither pattern is particularly unusual, but they’re not documented very well. I’m including those I notice.

Less Thans. Prior to about 1964, the TSN Guides don’t reliably list players who played only a few MWL games. Baseball researchers call these players "Less Thans," and they’re a bane of our existence. I list the Less Thans that I, or my sources, know about, but it’s really quite clear that hundreds of folks who played two or four games in the Midwest League are not listed in the historical record.

Birthdates. It’s absolutely amazing to me how many players’ birthdates changed between their MWL summer and their major league career. It’s clearly always been common for players to shave a couple years off their age when they sign their initial contract. This isn’t exactly news, but I didn’t realize the practice had continued into the modern era. (Note: It appears that the stringent transportation ID requirements imposed by the Feds in 2002 have largely put an end to this practice.)

I’ve got more information. I have all years’ rosters in electronic form, and will post those as I get to them. I have all managers, most coaches, and most trainers. I have some front office staff. I have most umpires, though there are some reliability issues because the available lists are typically produced in March. I intend to mark the MWL All-Stars in the same way I’ve marked the major leaguers. And the Hall of Famers. I’ve numbers, positions, birthdates, hometowns, and other information for many players; transcribing those from paper may be next winter’s big project. Also: The database contains information I’m not posting to the website. It does not contain any statistics; other folks are working on that.

Seasons, and Organizations. I plan to create lists showing everyone who played in a specific season. I likewise intend to post roster pages for the MWL’s major league affiliates.

SABR. SABR’s Minor Leagues Committee is working on a similar, but much larger, project. Just wanted to mention it; it promises to be my favorite SABR resource. I’ll be sharing my database with that project team in the near future.

Copies? If you want a copy of the database, or a subset, drop me a line. We can negotiate about formats

You want to help? Data donations are welcome. Please put the information in a spreadsheet. Please include first and last names, preferably in separate columns; columns for year and team are also essential. I’m pretty sure I can wrestle any spreadsheet into MySQL, and then to the site. Thanks.

Revision History:

9 comments on “Midwest League Rosters

  1. carolyn englemanNo Gravatar says:

    MAYBE YOU COULD GIVE ME SOME ADVICE ON HOW TO RESEARCH ON THE DAYTON DUCKS 1930-1935. MY FATHER, PETER ENGLEMAN PLAYED AS A LEFT-HANDED PITCHER ALONG WITH LIFE LONG FRIEND JOHNNY VANDERMEER AND DUTCH BERGMAN.DUCKY HOLMES WAS THEN THE MANAGER.WE HAD AN ALBUM WITH NEWSPAPER ARTICLES AND PICTURES AND OVER THE YEARS THE ALBUM HAS GONE MISSING. TRYING TO LOCATE JUST A BIT OF INFO.

  2. joelNo Gravatar says:

    Are you in the Dayton area? I’d try the Daily News, and the local libraries.

    I can verify some of your story, though it’s really outside my research expertise (which basically begins after WW II).

    Ducky Holmes was Dayton’s owner/manager for most of the 1930s.

    Pete Engleman pitched for the Ducks in 1933 & 1934, & Vandy was a teammate on the 1933 team. Pete was 7-3 in 33, 11-8 in 34. Pete moved on to Council Bluffs for the 1935 season, where he went 3-3.

    Your father’s 1933 statistics were printed on page 6 of the 1/25/34 Sporting News, and his 1934 stats were printed on page 6 of the 2/7/35 Sporting News (both are available for free at http://paperofrecord.com/ ) I got the won/lost records and the Council Bluffs mention from another source, which isn’t readily available.

  3. ANDREW MCGINLEYNo Gravatar says:

    Where did Dan Markowski go after Appleton. Dan is a good friend of mine. We graduate Patterson High school the same year. He is seeking information on where he may be on the web.

  4. Tanya BlairNo Gravatar says:

    I wanted to give you some corrected information regarding one of the players for the 1980 Clinton team. I also wanted to get some information from you.

    Gil Albright {DOB}02/16/1958

    We are trying to locate his baseball card from that year, can you direct us as to where to look to obtain a copy of his baseball card.

    Thank in advance for your assistance in this matter.

  5. joelNo Gravatar says:

    Tanya:

    Thank you! I’ve added the changes to my database, and updated the listing on the site.

    I’m really not a baseball card expert. I’m aware of dealers selling team sets from the 80s on eBay, but really don’t pay much attention to them; you might check there. If you can’t find the specific set on sale, contacting those dealers directly might get you some leads.

    joel

  6. Jerry GoldingNo Gravatar says:

    I just purchased a signed team baseball. As well on the ball it states “Sept 1947”. I recognized a few of the signatures and was able to research (with great help from your website) that it is a team ball from the 1947 West Frankfort, Illinois team. Do you have more info for them? Did any of their players make the big leagues?

    Thanks for all your hard work,

    Jerry

  7. joelNo Gravatar says:

    Glad you found the site helpful. On the whole, it’s a fun project.

    Rip Repulski was the only future major leaguer on the ’47 West Frankfort team. They were a Cardinals farm club (and were called the Cardinals), had a 52/60 won/lost record, and finished fourth of six teams in the league standings.

    Don’t really have much else about them. Sorry.

  8. viagra spammerNo Gravatar says:

    [gutted this one–it was a viagra ad–but decided to leave it because it’s so bizarre.]

    Oh my spirit!!! This is so very incredibly amazing.
    Couldn’t plan that something as exciting as this was notwithstanding in the oblivion.
    Your in smithereens of master-work is just astounding.

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