Allan Roth

Introduction

A ScoopIt alert to an article written by Andy McCue introduced me to Allan Roth.

Andy notes:

Allan Roth pushed the analysis of baseball statistics to a new level. He promoted himself into a place those other analysts only aspired to. Roth was the first to be employed full time by a major league team…

Andy’s article is an excellent account that will be of interest to performance analysts. This is particularly so in the passages where we learn about Allan’s attempts to find a position in baseball.

In addition to Andy’s article for SABR, the following might be of interest.

Induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame 2010

New York Times Obituary 1992

Mr. Roth, who charted every pitch and did the requisite calculations either in his head or with a simple calculator, insisted on working by hand throughout his career.

Branch Rickey and Sabermetrics 1954

He was widely regarded as “the first executive to see the value of using baseball statistics in putting together and running his teams”. While GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers, this realization inspired Rickey to hire a full-time statistician named Allan Roth in 1947. Only 26 years old at the time, the Montreal-born Roth was charged with recording every conceivable piece of data pertaining to the team and then synthesizing it into relevant strategy.

Baseball’s numbers revolution: a chronology

The First Baseball “Stats Man”

Allan Roth.  “He was the guy who began it all.”

Reflection

Allan was a contemporary of two people I have spent a great deal of time researching, Lloyd Messersmith and Charles Reep. I am sorry it has taken me so long to find Allan.

His journey resonates with many early performance analysts. He has insights he would like to share and develop but it requires a brave person to create the opportunity to do this. Particularly when he was born in Canada with the potential to be seen as an ‘outsider’.

I am hopeful this is the start of another history of ideas and the social construction of knowledge. He is referred to in Branch Rickey’s Wikipedia page but does not have his own page.

Photo Credit

Allan Roth and his books, tables and calculating machines (United States Library of Congress, no copyright restriction known.)

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