As I’ve shared with readers in the past, today I’m a Speech Communication professor. As a boy, I didn’t read. It’s not that I couldn’t, I just didn’t. It wasn’t fun. And then I ran into the Baseball Abstract. And then another. And then The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract changed my life. I was fourteen years old. I read it. I thought about it. I studied it. And I wanted to read more, so I did. I can’t imagine that my life would be 30% as successful as it is today without Bill James. People who don’t read don’t find a lot of success in college, and people without a lot of success in college seldom become college professors. I honestly can’t imagine what my life would be like without Bill James.
Forget my life for a moment. What about yours? Bill James created the term “sabermetrics”. To say he created the field is a stretch, but not a tremendous one. Without the influence of Bill James, there’s no way you’d be reading this post. You just wouldn’t care enough about baseball analytics to run into the Hall of Miller and Eric.
Without Bill James, Bert Blyleven wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. Without Bill James, Jack Morris would be. Moneyball wouldn’t have existed because Billy Beane wouldn’t have started thinking like he did. Would BBREF even exist? The horror! I could go on. I should go on.
Without Bill James, there’s no Fangraphs, there’s no Pete Palmer, there’s no Tom Tango, there’s no Baseball Think Factory, there’s no Rob Neyer, there’s no Hall of Merit, there’s no Hall of Stats. Perhaps there’s no WAR without Win Shares. And Red Sox fans, our beloved team hired James in 2003. I don’t have to remind you what happened in 2004, right? Yeah, okay, maybe some of these people and things would still exist, but they wouldn’t be who or what they are today.
There would certainly be no Hall of Miller and Eric without The Politics of Glory.
In 2006, Time magazine called James one of the 100 most important people in the world. What I don’t understand is how they’ve left him off every year since then. I know he’s the person I’d most like to join for a beer. And he’s the fifth inductee into the Pioneer/Executive wing of the Hall of Miller and Eric. Next Friday, we’ll share number six.