Baseball Research Journal 1974 edited by Bob Davids: a review

The third BRJ issue has the usual array of basic research and lightweight work; it’s interesting enough and very readable. The best work in this edition was biographical.

Ted Patterson’s portrait of Waite Hoyt is easily the best piece in the volume; it covers his playing career and his subsequent career as Cincinnati’s baseball radio announcer. The description of Hoyt’s early radio work is fascinating, and the discussion of his transition into his new career is unexpectedly interesting.

Bob Hoie’s look at Hal Chase is nearly as good. These two biographies justify the issue.

George Hilton kicked off the issue with a good look at the history of Comiskey Park. Elsewhere in the journal are looks at the minor league careers of Willie Mays (by Randy Linthurst) and Grover Cleveland Alexander (Al Kermisch); both are workmanlike, and likely of interest to some readers. Ray Gonzalez looked at hitters who’d broken up no-hitters; the novelty here is that he included folks who got more than one hit when the rest of their team was blanked–typical Gonzalez work, and as interesting as usual. Tom Hufford’s portrait of Muscle Shoals is a good portrait of a career minor leaguer (someone should write/compile a book of these). Bill Plott’s look at the 1886 Southern League of Colored Base Ballists is a fine effort to reconstruct an early professional league’s record from inadequately-preserved records; that it’s a Negro league is a bonus.

William Borst described his syllabus and teaching experience for a baseball history class he offered at Maryville College. Many of his planned speakers fell through, but the class went well. He was planning to repeat it.

Bob Davids closed the book with his own exploration of the Charlie Finley’s A’s use of Allan Lewis as a professional pinch runner from 1967 to 1973. Bob located a few predecessors, but most of the interesting cases were pitchers who ran the bases well. Lewis, overshadowed when Finley continued the experiment with Herb Washington, has largely been lost to history.

There’s a bit for the sabermetrically inclined. Dick Cramer and Pete Palmer jointly authored an essay about Batter’s Run Average (OBA x SLG), with some analysis; the most interesting part is a formula for converting BRA to estimated runs. There’s also less interesting work by Ronald Liebman (on Power/Speed; his formula’s too simple), Stanley Kuminski (singles hitters), and Bob McConnell (home run average–there’s nothing wrong with Bob’s essay, really, except the baseball community found a different solution for expressing players’ home run rates).

This list hardly exhausts the volume, which improves on the earlier editions. This is developing into a valuable journal.










This review was originally published on LibraryThing.