Thursday, August 18, 2011

WIL Official Statskeeper Bill Weiss

Hi, all. I realise the baseball blogs have been left fallow for some time. I've been working on other projects and haven't been near here since last year. However, I got word that Bill Weiss, the man who kept the league stats for the Western International League, has passed away this week.

Bill was an efficient and knowledgable historical statistician. Until stats became corporatised, Bill was handling the Pacific Coast League stats and when I was covering the PCL team in Vancouver, we'd anxiously await Bill's league record book to see what new and obscure things we'd find. Rarely would he miss a new record.

Apparently, he still had bulging filing cabinets of official box scores and so on from the many leagues that used his services. I hope those records aren't chucked away and find a home with some baseball historical group.

This was on the SABR mailing list about Bill, so I'll pass it on.

*SABR Salutes Bill Weiss *

William J. Weiss was born June 2, *1925, *in Chicago. He inherited his
love of baseball from his father, who took the five-year-old to his first
game at Wrigley Field in 1930. The precocious youngster began reading *The
Sporting News *when he was six and collecting baseball books when he was
eight. He was fascinated by baseball stats and wanted to become a
statistician. He graduated from Hyde Park High in 1942, along, with future
SABR member George Hilton. Bill attended Central YMCA College in Chicago
for a year and one- half and was a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy for
three years. From 1941-47 he helped run an amateur team, the South Shore
Cobras. He was not a player, but served as official scorer, statistician,
business manager, booking agent, and occasional field manager. They won a
division championship in the Chicago Metro Senior League in 1946. Bob
Hemple, another future SABR member, was their top hitter.

Bill landed his first job in pro ball in 1948 and the man who hired him was
Howard Green, now chairman of the Dallas-Fort Worth SABR Chapter. Howard
was then half-owner and GM of the Abilene Blue Sox in the Class C West
Texas-New Mexico League and president of the Class *D *Longhorn League. Bill
was hired as Longhorn League statistician and box office manager at Blue Sox
Stadium. After the 1948 season, he headed West where lie was hired to do
the averages for the California and Far West Leagues and to work for Jerry
Donovan, President of both Leagues, in San Francisco. At the end of the
1949 season, the statistician for the Pacific Coast League retired and Bill
was retained by PCL President Clarence Rowland to do their stats. He set up
shop in San Mateo in 1950 and has been there ever since.

As the years passed he added other leagues as clients: Sunset in 1950,
Pioneer and Arizona-Texas in 1952; Longhorn in 1953, Western International
and West Texas-New Mexico in 1954, Northwest in 1955 and Western in 1956. He
was statistician for other circuits as well, including the American
Association 1969-70.

>From 1949 to 1987 Bill prepared, first for leagues, then for Major League
organizations, sketch books which contained biographical information and
career records for all players in the league or organization. They
eventually reached a total of 200 books. Following the 1988 season, the old
Rowe News Bureau was purchased by Peter Shipman and his associates and they
bought Bill’s business. He has been associated with Howe
SportsdataInternational ever since.

Since 1971 Bill has written during the season a weekly newsletter for the
California League. He also has been the League’s corporate secretary for
the last 20 years. He prepares the annual record books for the California,
Northwest, and Pioneer Leagues. As the PCL’s official historian, he assists
in the preparation of their record book. Since 1989, he has written the
“Baseball Anecdotes” column which appears regularly in *Baseball America. *For
the past seven years he has sold the “Program Notes” service to ball clubs.

One of his greatest pleasures was being president of the Peninsula Winter
League in the San Francisco area 1959-84. The league was organized by a
group of major league scouts and financed by several major league clubs. The
players were young organization members and free agents still in school. They
sent numerous players to the majors, including Joe Morgan and Willie
Stargell. Three PWL players are still in the majors: Ken Caminiti, Tom
Candiotti, and Mark Parent.

Bill has always felt close to the scouts, “the unsung heroes of the game,”
and has been secretary-treasurer of the Professional Baseball Scouts of
Northern California since the organization was founded in l 969. He also
served many years as the National Association’s representative on the
Scoring Rules Committee, along with such luminaries as Seymour Siwoff,
Jerome Holtzman, Jack Lang, and Red Foley.

He was one of the very early members of SABR, joining September 3, 1971 as
Member No. 34. After 25 years of attrition, he is now 15th in seniority. Bill
and his wife Faye have been married for 42 years. She has been his good
right hand (Bill is a southpaw) in the business, all these years. They have
no children but have enjoyed generations of black cocker spaniels.

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