The Baseball Index: Frequently Asked Questions


What is The Baseball Index?

The Baseball Index is a project of the Society for American Baseball Research. The index is designed to help researchers find materials that advance their work. While we are adding URLs continuously, most of the items in the Index simply tell you that an item exists. You will then have to find it yourself. See Hints for finding materials below.

Organizing over 250,000 different citations requires rigor and choices. See Hints for searching below.

Errors and Corrections
While we make every effort to be as accurate as possible, our work is done by volunteers who are human beings. If you see any inaccuracies or other problems, please email mccue@sabr.org, who probably made some of those errors.


Hints for Searching

It is a good idea to think about the search terms you are interested in from multiple angles. The software allows you to search using only a single term. Let’s say you want to find materials related to Stan Musial, trades, and World Series. You should identify the term which is likely to find the fewest hits as that will make your later sorting work easier. In this case, let’s say that’s “Musial.” After you search for Musial, you can then generate an Excel spreadsheet and search the spreadsheet for “trades” and “World Series”.

Second, the software searches for strings of text. As a result, you will want to avoid searches with words that are too common. Searching for words such as “Stadium” or “Pitch” are likely to give you hits on topics far beyond what you are interested in. Click here to download a Thesaurus of approved search terms which will allow you to focus your search.

For similar reasons, searching using a person’s surname will capture both references in titles (Kiki Cuyler hits like a machine) and in the named persons field (Cuyler, Kiki). In the case of more common surnames, this will generate returns beyond your field of interest. This might be handled with a search of the resulting spreadsheet. Alternatively, the number of items where the full name is presented in the headline but not mentioned in the Named Persons field is likely to be small and your needs might be met doing a search such as “DiMaggio, Dom”.

TIP: Searching the TBI Database and Viewing Full Results (PDF)


Hints for Finding Materials

When you use The Baseball Index, the search results will help show you that an article, a book, or another resource simply exists. You will then have to find those materials yourself. Here are some tips on finding the resources that you're looking for.

SABR maintains an extensive list of Research Resources, which is available to all members at sabr.org/research/resources. Also, check out SABR's How to Do Baseball Research section at sabr.org/how-to for more tips.

This list is far from perfect. Please feel free to send suggestions, especially about new resources, to mccue@sabr.org.

1. Online Resources
Here are some recommended starting points to find materials that are available online:

The Sporting News archives— TSN archives between 1886 and 2003 are available for free to all SABR members.

Sports Illustrated — almost all SI articles are available for free through www.si.com/vault, using the Covers/Full Issues link.

LA84 Foundation – Thanks to a partnership between SABR, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the LA84 Foundation, early archives of Baseball Magazine and Sporting Life are available online. Other academic journals are also available. The search page can be found at search.la84.org.

Proquest – provides access to major daily newspapers from around the country. It is only available through institutions, mostly public and university libraries. Generally, access is limited to the major local daily and, perhaps, the New York Times. Depending on the library, there may be charges. Some libraries will grant access even if you don’t live in their service area.

Chronicling America — The Library of Congress's Chronicling America project provides digital access to many U.S. newspapers up until 1922. Because of copyright issues, there is no current plan to go past 1922.

Google News Archive — Google has holdings of mostly small newspapers, but it is free and searchable online.

Subscription newspaper sites: Newspapers.com, GenealogyBank.com, and NewspaperArchive.com provide digitized access to many smaller and mid-sized newspapers. All are pay sites. All are expanding their databases.

Index of Online Baseball Guides — SABR member Sean Lahman maintains a list of the Spalding, Reach, and other baseball guides that are available for viewing or download online. Mostly complete back to 1860.

2. Public or university libraries
Your public library may have holdings of books or periodicals you need, but more likely it would be their online resources, such as Proquest (for major newspapers) or their interlibrary loan program. Local colleges and universities often have extensive libraries, most with greater electronic resources than the public libraries. Depending on your topic, local historical societies can have valuable holdings.

One excellent place to start the library search is Worldcat.org. Worldcat pulls together the catalogs of libraries all over the world. With your zip code, it can give you a list of libraries with your desired material organized by proximity.

3. Specialty libraries or collections
Some examples of these libraries or collections include: the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (Cooperstown, New York); the Joyce Sports Research Collection, Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame (South Bend, Indiana); LA84 Sport History Library (Los Angeles, California); Library of Congress (Washington, DC); New York Public Library (New York City).

4. Local history archives
Excellent baseball archives are held at the Hall of Fame, New York Public Library and the Library of Congress, but many city libraries and historical societies keep archives related to local topics, including baseball, and are worth checking. As newspapers went out of business, their clipping files were often transferred to the local library and can provide a rich source of material.

5. SABR-L
SABR-L is an e-mail listserv that allows baseball researchers to post questions or seek help with their projects. You can ask for a fellow SABR member to check a newspaper in a distant city or check other archives or records. You can ask if anyone has a copy of a book they’d be willing to lend or photocopy. It’s a cooperative society. Any SABR member can subscribe or post questions. For more information, visit sabr.org/about/sabr-l.

Making a plea to fellow SABR members at your regional chapter meetings or through a committee newsletter may also help, as would a thorough search of SABR's Research Resources page at sabr.org/research/resources.

6. Book dealers
There are SABR members who deal in used baseball books and may have a book you need, including Bobby Plapinger (baseballbooks@opendoor.com) and Mike Wickham (abebooks.com/mikes-baseball-books-chula-vista-ca/816401/sf). Also, generic used-book sites such as addall.com/used can direct you to used book dealers who have titles you are searching for.

7. Horizontal thinking
A citation gives you a date an article was printed. But if the source of that article is unavailable, it may be available in a different publication. The date is a clue to where to look it up in another