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SABR Creates New "Henry Chadwick Award": James, Ritter, Palmer Among Honorees


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For almost 40 years, the Society for American Baseball Research has painstakingly unearthed and saluted the accomplishments of long-forgotten contributors to the game. Now it will honor the stars of its own: by creating, in effect, the Baseball Historian Hall of Fame.

SABR announced on Monday the inaugural class of winners of its new Henry Chadwick Award -– (fittingly) nine people whose work is far better known, even among casual fans, than most realize.

Bill James

Lawrence Ritter

Bill Neft

Lee Allen

Pete Palmer

Bob Davids

Peter Morris*

Harold Seymour

Jules Tygiel

*I've already managed to mention But Didn't We Have Fun twice in a short period of time, but I have to mention it again because it's by Peter Morris, which I just realized as I looked him up.

I think it's very nice that SABR is honoring people who won't get the same attention from the actual Hall of Fame due to the BBWAA. Over time, though, it will be interesting to see if the two groups end up either switching situations, or combining forces in some way that brings SABR closer to the Hall.

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I briefly glanced at the email I got from SABR on this the other day, but didn't pay a lot of attention. I don't know how much recognition this will get outside of the hardcore SABR community, but these are some huge, huge people. In the historian community all of these guy are like the initial HOF class of Ruth, Cobb, Young, Johnson, Wagner, Speaker.

I guess you can't go wrong with any of them. James is James, and his influence can hardly be overstated - he's probably caused more people to get interested in baseball analysis/history/research than anyone, ever. And, of course, he's written dozens of volumes of his own.

Harold Seymour is arguably even more important. He, along with Dorothy Seymour, wrote the series of books beginning with Baseball, The Early Years, which were the first serious, scholarly looks at baseball history. Quite literally, before that book came out there was no decent source for the history of early baseball. It took until the 70s or 80s for most of the big players of the 1800s to get into the Hall because, more-or-less, nobody knew a thing about them until Seymour.

Among the others I'm most familiar with the works of Palmer and Allen, but all of these guys have made a thousand imprints on the game, large and small. For example, without Lee Allen we just wouldn't know the birth and death dates of thousands of players. I think he actually had a column in the Sporting News in the 40s and 50s enlisting people to go out and find information on hundreds of forgotten old players.

And Davids founded SABR. The baseball world would be very, very different without him.

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