National Baseball Hall of Fame writer (and one of the true architects of baseball as we know it) Henry Chadwick began covering New York area cricket games for Long Island newspapers when he was a mere seventeen-years old–before the start of the U.S. Civil War. Michael Lewis, in Moneyball, evaluates Chadwick from the point of view of history and thro the lens of Sabermetrics:
“Going right back to the invention of the box score in 1845, and its subsequent improvement in 1859 by a British-born journalist named Henry Chadwick, there had been numerate analysts who saw that baseball, more than other sports, gave you meaningful things to count, and that by counting them you could determine the value of people who played the game. But what got counted was often simply what was easiest to count, or what Henry Chadwick, whose reference point was cricket, had decided was important to count.
“Chadwick was the critical figure in this history. To anyone who asked, ‘How could baseball statistics be so screwed up?,’ Henry Chadwick was usually the beginning, and occasionally the end, of the answer….The more you examined these old measurement devices, the less apt they seemed. Chadwick, with help from others, had created a system of perverse incentives for anyone who trotted out onto a baseball field…” *
If you saw the movie Moneyball, you got a small sample of the newer forms of baseball statistics being used to define excellence (and Major League salaries) in what is called Sabermetrics. If you read the book, you’ll learn much more, and you don’t have to be a math maven–just a rabid fan.
*Lewis, M. (2003). Moneyball. New York: Norton, pages 69-71.
(Thanks to William Van Ornum for this blog)