The Summer of Jeff

Wisconsin Baseball History Papers

Posted in baseball history by Jeff on September 18, 2011

In 2004, I presented two papers at SABR conferences on aspects of Wisconsin baseball history.

The first, which I gave at the Seymour Conference, is titled, “Challenging Everyone: The Capital City Base Baseball Club of Madison, Wisconsin, 1865-1870.”  It discusses the first wave of baseball enthusiasm in Madison and its quick fade.  Click for the PDF.

The second, which I gave at the SABR National in Cincinnati, is titled, “‘But Few Can Touch Him:’ George Wilson and Integrated Wisconsin Baseball, 1905-1907.”  Wilson was a very talented African-American pitcher who once played for the Page Fence Giants.  He went on to make a career for himself in the low minors in Wisconsin and Minnesota, usually the only black player on his team, and often the star.  Sadly, some of that paper has been lost, but click for a PDF of the first several pages and the accompanying handout.

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Oy Christina Big Band Scores, Part 2

Posted in music by Jeff on August 24, 2011

From 2002 to 2006, I led a 15-piece jazz orchestra.  I wrote charts for the top 40 pop hits of the day, which ranged from swing to funk to outright satire.  You can listen to the full studio album here.  I shared the charts for those songs in an earlier blog post.

I also created an album of “bootlegs” — live versions of songs that didn’t make the cut for the studio album.  You can listen to that album here.  The charts for most of those tunes are below.

I created the individual parts in Lime, a very friendly music notation program available from the Cerl Sound Group.  (You can download it for a free trial.)  I worked from handwritten score sketches; unfortunately I no longer have those to make available.  (And if I did, I’m not sure they’d be usable by anyone but me.)

Most of the charts are scored for 15 pieces: 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 4 saxes (2 altos, tenor, bari), and rhythm (usually 2 guitars, bass, drums).  Sometimes I only created a single rhythm section part.  Some of the charts were scored multiple times for different size groups; in those cases, the filenames should make that clear.

I can’t speak for the original composers and lyricists of these songs, but you have my permission to use these scores for whatever purposes you want.  If you perform any of them, I want to hear about it–and I want to hear a recording!

Click the links to download a .zip file with the full parts for each chart:

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Oy Christina! Big Band Scores

Posted in music by Jeff on August 22, 2011

From 2002 to 2006, I led a 15-piece jazz orchestra.  I wrote charts for the top 40 pop hits of the day, which ranged from swing to funk to outright satire.  You can listen to the full studio album here.

I created the individual parts in Lime, a very friendly music notation program available from the Cerl Sound Group.  (You can download it for a free trial.)  I worked from handwritten score sketches; unfortunately I no longer have those to make available.  (And if I did, I’m not sure they’d be usable by anyone but me.)

Most of the charts are scored for 15 pieces: 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 4 saxes (2 altos, tenor, bari), and rhythm (usually 2 guitars, bass, drums).  Sometimes I only created a single rhythm section part.  Some of the charts were scored multiple times for different size groups; in those cases, the filenames should make that clear.

I can’t speak for the original composers and lyricists of these songs, but you have my permission to use these scores for whatever purposes you want.  If you perform any of them, I want to hear about it–and I want to hear a recording!

Click the links to download a .zip file with the full parts for each chart:

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1879 Chicago White Stockings Notes, from Chicago Tribune and Times

Posted in baseball history by Jeff on August 18, 2011

Several years ago, I did a fair amount of research on the 1879-87 Chicago White Stockings, focusing on Cap Anson. That included a block of time I spent going through the Chicago Tribune from late 1878 and all of 1879.

After the jump, find my notes from that research.  (At the end, there are some notes from the 1879 Chicago Times, as well.  Passages are almost always verbatim; my personal commentary is indicated by square brackets.  These are exactly as I typed them, which means there are plenty of abbreviations (I hope you can make sense of them; most of them refer to names), and there are even more typos.  Sorry about that.

Since I’ve abandoned my 19th-century baseball research, I hope this can be useful to someone.  See also my file of 1879 White Stockings box scores and my 1879-87 White Stockings notes from the Hall of Fame Library.

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1879-87 Chicago White Stockings: Hall of Fame Library Notes

Posted in baseball history by Jeff on August 16, 2011

Several years ago, I did a fair amount of research on the 1879-87 Chicago White Stockings, focusing on Cap Anson.  I lucked into a few days at the Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, so I dug through several player files.

After the jump, find my notes from those files.  Passages are almost always verbatim; my personal commentary is indicated by square brackets.  These are exactly as I typed them, which means there are plenty of abbreviations (I hope you can make sense of them; most of them refer to names), and there are even more typos.  Sorry about that.

Since I’ve abandoned my 19th-century baseball research, I hope this can be useful to someone.  See also my file of 1879 White Stockings box scores.

(more…)

1879 Chicago White Stockings Box Scores

Posted in baseball history by Jeff on August 10, 2011

As part of a long-dead, unfinished project, I collected all of the box scores of the 1879 Chicago White Stockings.  (I think it’s all of them, anyway.)  I copied them from the Chicago Tribune reports of (usually) the following day.

I’ve zipped all the individual box scores, and now they are available for anyone who may want them.  (I know–it’s difficult to imagine how you lived your life all this time without them.)

Click to download.

Ted Sullivan, Humorous Stories of the Ball Field

Posted in baseball history by Jeff on August 8, 2011

Several years ago, I had some free time and easy access to a well-stocked library.  For some reason, I decided to spend that time transcribing the text of Ted Sullivan’s book, Humorous Stories of the Ball Field.

Sullivan is an important figure in early baseball, especially minor league baseball.  His Wikipedia page barely scratches the surface.  His books aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but as they are first-person narratives of the 19th-century game and its characters, they have some value.

In any event, I never finished the project, though I did transcribe roughly 75,000 words.  There are plenty of typos, and quite a few missing words, as the microfilm I was working from derived from a very worn copy.  This is not a project I’ll ever return to, and since Google Books doesn’t seem to have found Sullivan’s work yet, I’ve posted the full text of what I transcribed after the jump.

Sullivan’s book should now be in the public domain, and I disclaim any rights to any value I’ve added (if, indeed, there is any).  So use it however you want.

(more…)

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Head Over to HeavyTopspin.com

Posted in Meta, tennis by Jeff on February 28, 2011

It was only a matter of time before I started a dedicated tennis blog.

My archived tennis studies will remain here, but from now on, I’ll be publishing tennis commentary (and additional research) at my new site, HeavyTopspin.com.

Click on over, tell your friends, and learn more than ever wanted to know about men’s tennis.

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Lefties in Tennis: Doubles and Prize Money

Posted in tennis by Jeff on February 16, 2011

A few days ago, I offered some numbers on the prevalence of lefties in men’s tennis.  It turned out that, in the top 300 of the ATP singles rankings, lefties don’t show up much more than you would expect them to.

A reasonable follow-up question would be: What about doubles?

Being left-handed may not make one a better doubles player, but being left-handed does have the potential to make one part of a better doubles team.  Case in point: Five of the eight doubles teams that earned a spot in the ATP Tour Finals last year were a righty/lefty duo, including the top two teams in the year-end rankings.

And indeed, it turns out that left-handers are more prevalent in the top ranks of men’s doubles.  As we’ve seen, in November 2010, five of the sixteen players (31 percent) included in the ATP Tour Finals were left-handed.

The most current ATP doubles rankings tell a similar, if less extreme, story.  Of the top 100 ranked doubles players, 18 are left-handed.  That’s considerably higher than the 12 of 100 at the top of the singles rankings.  (Both top 100s include Rafael Nadal, who plays left-handed but was born right-hand dominant.  These calculations consider him left-handed.)

Prize money

The majority of players participate in both singles and doubles, at least on occasion.  To determine some general level of “success” for ATP players, we could look at total prize money.  This weights singles much more heavily.  An advantage is that it is a reasonable measure of a sustainable career in professional tennis.

So, do left-handers have a better chance at making money in tennis than we would expect, given their prevalence in the general population?

It doesn’t look like there is any substantial advantage.  Of the top 100 money-winners, 13 are left-handed, including Nadal.  The top 100 does include four doubles specialists, out of only 13 total doubles specialists in the top 100.

If we go further, we find an additional five lefties from 101 to 150, and six more from 151 to 200.

Left-handers do seem to have a better chance than right-handers of reaching a certain level of success in men’s doubles.  Beyond that, there is little in the way of a handedness advantage.  Whatever the advantages of playing tennis left-handed and the challenges of facing a lefty, they don’t translate into an overwhelming number of left-handers at the top of the professional game, or a disproportionate level of success for left-handed professionals.

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The Prevalence of Lefties in Men’s Tennis

Posted in tennis by Jeff on February 12, 2011

Many people, in and out of tennis, believe that left-handed players have an advantage of some kind.  The perceived advantage may just be one of unfamiliarity; a junior or club-level player doesn’t see many lefties, so he is unaccustomed to the angles and spins that come of a left-hander’s racquet.

In any event, we need some hard data.  Are lefties overrepresented in the top ranks of professional men’s tennis?

The short answer: Not really.

There’s no universal consensus on the prevalence of left-hand dominance in the general population.  You’ll frequently see the figure 10 percent, or a range between 8 and 15 percent.  How does that compare to the number of lefties in the ATP rankings?

Here is a breakdown of lefties in the ATP rankings of 7 Feb 2011:

  • Top 10: 2 (20%)
  • Top 20: 3 (15%)
  • Top 50: 6 (12%)
  • Top 100: 12 (12%)
  • Top 200: 29 (14.5%)
  • Top 300: 40 (13.3%)

An interesting case is Rafael Nadal, who was born right-hand dominant, but was taught to play left-handed.  So if we are looking at the success rates of left-hand dominant players, we could subtract one from each of the raw totals above.  Of course, there may be other players who were taught to play with their non-dominant hand.

(An odder case is that of Guillermo Olaso, who is listed on the ATP site as ambidextrous.  Other resources show him as right-handed.  I saw him play a couple of years ago and don’t remember anything unique about his game, so I left him in the righty category.)

The advantage, if any

A perspective that I’ve heard (I have no idea from where) is that lefties can take advantage of the unfamiliarity advantage early in their careers, giving them a foundation of success that earns them more matches, more support, more coaching, and the like.  The left-handedness doesn’t make them a better player, exactly, but it causes other things that lead to an improvement in their play.

Depending on how long that advantage persists, we might expect to see a “bulge” in the number of lefties somewhere in the rankings.  There’s a bit of a blip in the 101-200 range, and there’s a bigger one if we narrow our focus to 151-200, where 10 of the 50 men play left-handed.  Perhaps unfamiliarity helps them get to some level, but when they start meeting opponents at higher levels, the unfamiliarity advantage is not enough.

The blip between 101 and 200 might not mean anything; perhaps if we went further down the rankings, or even into the national or junior rankings, we’d see something more pronounced.  Alas, it was hard enough to get handedness for the top 300 players, so any larger project will have to wait for another day.

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