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Exhibition Baseball Americana

The Measure of the Game

“In baseball,” as New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra succinctly put it, “you don’t know nothin’.” But it has not been for a lack of trying. Managers and scouts have charted, plotted, logged, and recorded player performance and minutiae looking for patterns, tendencies, trends, and quirks that might give them a competitive edge. Scouting reports from the 1950s indicate an emphasis on experienced observation and intuitive assessment rather than objective measurements, thus Branch Rickey could describe a young Don Drysdale as having an “intelligent face and manner, shows good breeding” but only offer an estimate on his fastball as “way above average.” Converting factors such as observations, theories, luck, and numbers into a useful formula was bound to be an uncertain science. Over time, though, computer-driven number crunching, radar guns, statistical analysis, frame-by-frame video evaluation, and bats equipped with motion sensors became essential tools of measurement in the ongoing effort to know more than “nothin’” about baseball.

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