Baseball History


I have a lifelong interest in baseball history, and in 2013 I joined the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).  Since 2013 I have published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles on baseball history for the SABR Biography Project and SABR Games Project.  The articles are published online on the SABR web site.  Here is a complete list.  I also published a biography of Babe Herman in the Winter 2015 issue of Baseball History & Art.


The focus of my research is major league, minor league, and Negro League baseball during the five decades from 1891 to 1940.

I have a special interest in Cy Young, who won a record 511 games from 1890 to 1911.  I wrote an article about his 24th career victory, which came in 1891 while pitching for the Cleveland Spiders against the Boston Beaneaters.  In another article, I describe how he and the St. Louis Perfectos (predecessors of the St. Louis Cardinals) were defeated in 1899 by Honus Wagner and the Louisville Colonels.  Young gave much credit for his success in the 1890s to his catcher, Chief Zimmer.  I wrote Zimmer's biography for the SABR BioProject in 2015.
The Black Sox Scandal was a sad affair, in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox conspired with gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series to the opposing Cincinnati Reds.  The eight players, who became known as the Black Sox, were later banned from Organized Baseball.  The most famous of these was Shoeless Joe Jackson.  I wrote an article for the SABR Games Project about a 1908 game he played as a 20-year-old for his hometown Greenville (South Carolina) Spinners.  He is pictured here in a Greenville uniform.
In 2014 I published a biography of Hod Eller, one of the Cincinnati pitchers in the 1919 World Series.  His specialty was throwing the "shine ball."  And in 2017 I profiled "Sleepy Bill" Burns, one of the Black Sox conspirators.
George Puccinelli, pictured here, was a great hitter in the minor leagues; his .334 career batting average is the highest in the history of the International League.  But few people have heard of him because his major league career was brief.  I wrote his biography in 2016.
Other minor league stars I have profiled include Moose Clabaugh, Roy Hitt, George Hogreiver, Jack Lelivelt, Kid Mohler, Andy Reese, and Jimmy Zinn.
I am fascinated by Negro League baseball history and have written articles about several games: Philadelphia Giants vs. Cuban X-Giants in 1904; Chicago American Giants vs. Indianapolis ABCs in 1916; Detroit Stars vs. Bacharach Giants in 1921; Brooklyn Royal Giants vs. Baltimore Black Sox in 1924, featuring Cyclone Joe Williams; a Pittsburgh Crawfords doubleheader in 1936, featuring Satchel Paige; and Baltimore Elite Giants vs. Homestead Grays in 1940, featuring 18-year-old Roy Campanella.
I have written biographies of Negro League catcher Bruce Petway, shortstop Dick Lundyand pitchers Frank Wickware, Lefty Mellix, and Archie "Black Tank" StewartFats Jenkins, a Negro League outfielder, was a star in two sports: baseball and basketball.
When I begin a project, I don't know how it will turn out.  Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised.  When I chose to write a biography of Sammy Strang, I had no idea what an interesting and remarkable person he was.  A native Tennessean, he reached the major leagues at the turn of the 20th century and had a fine career.  After his major league career, he coached baseball at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he is the most successful baseball coach in the school's history.  Among the cadets he mentored were at least a dozen men who would go on to serve as Army generals during World War II, including Omar Bradley and Robert Neyland.
On Opening Day in Washington in 1910, William Howard Taft (shown here) became the first US president to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.  It was quite a game, as Walter Johnson of the Senators shut out the Philadelphia Athletics.
The first US president to attend a major league game was Benjamin Harrison in 1892.  "I find a good deal of pleasure in watching a good game of ball," he said.  But he left in the sixth inning.
I have written biographies of several innovators.  Billy Rhines (shown here) was one of the first submarine-style pitchers, and Elmer Stricklett was the "father" of the spitball.  Jack Sheridan was a pioneer of umpiring technique.  John Heydler, a baseball executive and statistician, introduced earned run average (ERA).