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Monday, January 16, 2023

How a Group of Message-Board Misfits Changed Baseball

A graduate student at UC Davis, Huckabay played semi-pro baseball in the Sacramento Valley League, held a campus job running the university’s Scantron machines, did stand-up comedy for $10 a gig and argued about baseball on an early-internet discussion group at Rec.Sport.Baseball, part of the Usenet system, a proto-Reddit.

Once Huckabay realized he could write three lines of code to automate the Scantron results, he spent some of his time on the clock reading Rec.Sport.Baseball. “Oh, gosh, I don’t want to make it sound too bad,” he says, “but it was no more than 97 or 98 percent of my time.”

Rec.Sport.Baseball became Huckabay’s neighborhood coffee shop, a community of future scientists, engineers, dermatologists, lawyers who would argue before the Supreme Court and an oddly large number of guys named Dave. It was a place where Huckabay mingled with fans from Tokyo and heard the name Ichiro seven years before he debuted in Seattle, where posters published their own research projects and waited for peer review. People didn’t just discuss slugger Rob Deer; they wrote odes to the patron saint of walks, strikeouts and dingers, or, as the r.s.b posters originally christened them, “The Three True Outcomes.”

NaOH Posted: January 16, 2023 at 08:03 PM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball prospectus, gary huckabay, history of baseball stats, sabermetrics



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