Happy Birthday, SABR
It began 40 years ago today – Aug. 10, 1971 – at the Hall of Fame Library.
Four decades later, the Society for American Baseball Research has grown into one of the most influential research organizations in the sport. And on Wednesday, SABR members new and old took time to celebrate where it all began.
More than two dozen SABR members gathered at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Learning Center to swap stories and memories. Tom Hufford, one of the original 16 who was at the inaugural meeting 40 years ago, gave the keynote address to a group of devoted members including MLB Historian John Thorn and researcher extraordinaire Pete Palmer.
Today, SABR has more than 6,000 members in 35 chapters around the world – including the Cliff Kachline Chapter in Cooperstown. Kachline, the Hall of Fame’s longtime historian who passed away in 2010, was also among the first 16 members of SABR present at that initial meeting in 1971.
“In the spring of 1971, Bob Davids, who had freelanced for years for the Sporting News, sent letters to about 40 ‘statistorians’ – baseball fans who he knew to have a strong interest in the numbers of the game,” Hufford said. “He thought there might be about 25 to 30 people out there who would want to join an organization like this.
“Dues were $10. Cliff Kachline helped us organize that first meeting at the Hall of Fame a day after the 1971 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. And within a month, we had 50 members. Within a year, we were up over 100 – and we thought we might have something.”
Today, SABR has a new national office in Phoenix, Ariz. And the research produced by SABR members touches thousands of fans every day.
Forty years ago, that research began in earnest.
“I think SABR members feel like coming to Cooperstown is coming home,” said Marc Appleman, SABR’s executive director. “Being in SABR is wanting to share your love of baseball with others. And that’s what the Hall of Fame is about, too.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.