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Elias Sports Head Seymour Siwoff Passes Away

Seymour Siwoff, who managed Elias Sports Bureau for seven decades, has passed away at the age of 99.

Siwoff had been the president and chief executive of Elias, the official record-keeper for America's major professional sports leagues, since 1952, twenty-some years before computers were first used to analyze sports statistics.

"Statistics can be cold and trivial," Siwoff once said. "But they can also be alive and full of drama."

"What I enjoy most about statistics is the chance they give you to relive the past. When Nate Colbert drives in 13 runs in a doubleheader, it gives you a chance to recall when Jim Bottomley drove in 12 in a game."

"In looking up things like that, I can see these guys in my mind as clearly as if they were playing again."

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Comments

5 comments, Last at 08 Dec 2019, 8:54am

1 Remember reading info from…

Remember reading info from them as far back as I can remember reading about football. His contribution to statistics is immense.

2 An alternative perspective

Siwoff tried to hold back sports analytics coming from other sources by working to hoard the available data and charging extortionist prices when contacted to share. So folks just went off and did their own thing while Elias was left to tout "most yards thrown by a rookie qb in his first four games" stuff as being of significance.

What he did and is being done by Elias is not statistics. Sure Elias does the first part which is collect the data. But there is no second step of any sophistication. There are no tools employed. They just lump stuff together and present with a flourish. Which the likes of Chris Berman love.

3 I did not know that.   I had…

I did not know that.   I had assumed this was in some kind of database somewhere, and would love to have the ability to do actual sql queries against it rather than use various front end tools like PFR (though I do appreciate that).

4 In the book

The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics by Alan Schwarz the author details Siwoff's mercantile approach along with the nasty and mostly one-sided feud with Bill James. Siwoff did not want any competition and James work was clearly deemed a threat even though what James was doing was an actual attempt at analysis versus what Elias does which is just trivia.  Trivia is not a statistic. But good luck explaining that to most people.

5 Yes, Siwoff somewhat…

In reply to by big10freak

Yes, Siwoff somewhat difficufl to deal wirh accordijf to stuff I heard directly from from soem friebds who tried to get official stats changed. 

 

I ahve found an error to a historical statistical thing. Was told Siwoff would need 100% proof anf still might not bother to change it. 

 

I have 99% proof at rhis time

 Once at 100% i will reach out to Elias, PFR, the NFL itself abf get this thing changed.  It is minor- a games played total for one particular player.