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May 20, 2006

Comments

Dr. Chaleeko

Hey, guys, just dropping in to see what's going on.

This question of a definitive encyclopedia of the most influential MiLs seems to be in the air right now.

Paul, you and I were talking about it in tangential terms just the other day, and on the HOM boards there's been several recent mentions by differing posters.

The natural starting point, I think, is to start with a single question:
Which leagues?

The answer has to address those leagues which:
-could have laid even a slight claim to major league status at any time during the MLB era or before

-were unaffiliated leagues of potentially major-league caliber

-were not farm teams.

Seems like this kind of book should avoid the player-development chain completely and focus on leagues that gave the majors the heebee jeebees at a competitive level.

Don't know whether the NgLs would fit under this rubric or not.

Gary Ashwill

What Wright says in the introduction to his IL book is this: he copied the stats from guides, and where the guides were inadequate, he used the work of researchers, primarily Ray Nemec. This was mostly for 19th century material; Nemec also supplied "less thans" for 1934-53, and some first names.

Paul Wendt

"I've thought of just getting a Web site and start posting information year by year and league by league, hoping that other people will join the effort."

What would you post year by year? I don't think it makes sense to do that without knowing, for example, what Marshall Wright has done in his book on the same league. NABBP aside, I don't know whether he has done more than publish the official statistics of the time, from annual guides or Howe Sports Data.

Gary Ashwill

Brent, I agree that it wouldn't be ethical simply to copy those minor league statistical collections that are out there. Though theoretically you can't copyright statistics, a huge amount of work went into those books: gathering the guides, working on the players not included in the guides (the "less thans"--players with less than, say, 5 or 10 games), compiling stats that weren't in the guides (which I think happens particularly in Marshall Wright's International League book, for example).

So, unless these authors were in on the project, we would probably have to start by going to the guides ourselves. There *is* information there that hasn't been published recently (fielding stats, most notably). The trouble, of course, is availability. I have facsimiles of some 19th century guides; real ones are often for sale on eBay. I'm sure a lot of the people who'd be interested in such a project have occasionally picked some up.

If the guides can be found, and if the project is limited to the 20th-century high minors, it is really doable within a fairly reasonable time frame, even by a group of part-time researchers (as opposed to the professional effort I was sort of envisioning).

By the way, there is some kind of effort to create a complete database of minor league baseball. It is, I believe, associated both with SABR's Minor League Committee and with an effort to establish a minor league museum / hall of fame. I have heard nothing about this recently; I'm sure there are folks out there who know much more about what's going on than I do.

Brent

This is really great stuff, Gary.

So, suppose we would like to start putting together an encyclopedia of the good minor leagues. How should we go about doing it? I've thought of just getting a Web site and start posting information year by year and league by league, hoping that other people will join the effort. I worry about the researchers who have written the minor league encyclopedias, though... if their contents were all posted on line, what incentive is there for people to buy the books (or for people to continue to compile them). It's not really plagiarism, but it does seem to smack of taking intellectual property.

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