Remember me

I'm Moving On

October 24, 2019

Every Purpose Under Heaven


Hey, everybody.   The time has come for me to end my 17-year working relationship with the Red Sox, and I wanted you all to hear about it from me rather than from secondary sources.   I’m guessing you may have heard talk about this, but we have reached a point of no return now, so this will serve as my public announcement. 

I leave the Red Sox on the best possible terms.  I am still friendly with everyone that I have worked with there, from the owners to the security guards.  I still intend to pay the extortionary rates of DirecTV’s baseball package so that I can watch every Red Sox game.  Well, maybe not EVERY game; retirement means I don’t have to stay up to watch them play a four-hour game in Seattle ending at 1:30.  In exchange for that, next time we win the World Series, I won’t get a ring.

A 17-year run is a long run.  I mean, I did the Baseball Abstract for 11 years, and it still defines my career 30-some years later.  You look at all of the people who are moving to the sidelines in baseball—Bruce Bochy, and Ned Yost, and Joe Maddon—I’m not only older than any of them, I’m much older than any of them.  I was very fortunate to work in and around Fenway for a couple of decades, but my time has come. I’m 70 years old, maximum take-your-Social-Security-dammit age, and, to be honest, I haven’t earned my paycheck with the Red Sox for the last couple of years.  I’ve fallen out of step with the organization.  The normal flow of work assignments to work products has deteriorated to basically nothing; honestly, I should have left a couple of years ago. 

I’m not "retiring"; I’m just retiring from the Red Sox, and I’ll start collecting Social Security, but I still have about 500 work projects that will go forward.  I have two books written that I need to get published; I have more books that I am writing and more books that I want to write.   The annual Handbook will be out in a week or so.  I have a TV project in the works; I have big dreams.  I’m going to get a dog, and a bicycle, and my wife and I will travel, as we always have.  I’m only 70; I haven’t quite decided whether I want to be remembered as a poet or a playwright or a mystery writer.  I will continue to post articles here; in some ways my time will be more available now than it has been.   I appreciate you all reading my work, and to the Red Sox:  it’s been a blast.   Thank you all.




COMMENTS (54 Comments, most recent shown first)

Two times in my life was I the most eager to buy a book -- any book:

2. As a fourteen-year-old I spent $19.95 of my own Christmas money to buy the first edition of the MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia.

1. While working at Waldenbooks I saw your first Ballantine edition of the Baseball Abstract. I was no good for the rest of the day, and didn't sleep when I got it home.

You have always delighted and never disappointed. May the rest of your life be long, fruitful, and a reasonable percentage of the sheer joy I got, that day early in 1982.
2:55 AM Dec 29th
Congratulations from someone a tear behind you on the retirement front. You have increased my enjoyment of what was already my favorite recreation exponentially and I will always be grateful and cherish my copy of the 1982 Abstract you signed for me at the Library of Congress this summer past.
3:24 PM Nov 9th
As a Yankees fan, I am delighted at this news.

Congratulations and welcome back to civilian life.
7:24 AM Oct 29th
Many years ago, as a high school baseball coach, I started putting my best hitter t second in the order after I read it in an Abstract.
3:07 PM Oct 28th
First ballot HOFer.
Completely changed the game.
3:04 PM Oct 28th
I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you.
11:32 AM Oct 28th
Steven Goldleaf
Good way of putting it, Maris. Bill has almost completely eliminated my rooting interest in the game. (That's a good thing.)
5:02 AM Oct 28th
It changed my experience of watching baseball too.

For one thing, it's a lot more tolerable when 'my' team doesn't win.
I watch less as a 'rooter.' I'm mostly watching as an observer -- trying to understand better and better how it works, observing to see how what happens does or doesn't follow certain expectations, and taking particular note of things that not only won't "show up in the box score" but probably won't be seen by existing analysis. I don't know that it makes me any smarter :-) but it makes the experience richer.
9:53 PM Oct 26th
I have been a Yankee fan since 1955 and I started reading the Baseball Abstracts in 1984 . What I remember is the high quality of the writing, which continues to
the present day . I don't always agree with your analysis (no fun in that) but, to borrow a line from from Robert Duvall in the movie, "The Natural ", "you make baseball a lot more interesting to watch".
Best Paul
11:46 AM Oct 26th
I was referring to August 1979.
9:16 AM Oct 26th
Mozel Tov
7:37 AM Oct 26th
Congratulations and good luck. The first time I read you was in August at a used magazine store in Philadelphia. A spring issue of Esquire had your preseason prediction. I was outraged that you picked the Phillies for fourth when everyone knew Pete Rose would lead them to the series. The irritating thing was that you were right.

We got our revenge in 1980. You said that that team was what you’d get when you took the 1980 Blue Jays and added Willie Mays, Warren Spahn, and Hoyt Wilhelm.

In 1982 in the Philly suburbs I bought my first abstract. I’ve never seen baseball the same.
8:03 PM Oct 25th
Congratulations and good luck. The first time I read you was in August at a used magazine store in Philadelphia. A spring issue of Esquire had your preseason prediction. I was outraged that you picked the Phillies for fourth when everyone knew Pete Rose would lead them to the series. The irritating thing was that you were right.

We got our revenge in 1980. You said that that team was what you’d get when you took the 1980 Blue Jays and added Willie Mays, Warren Spahn, and Hoyt Wilhelm.

In 1982 in the Philly suburbs I bought my first abstract. I’ve never seen baseball the same.
8:03 PM Oct 25th
If you travel to England and enjoy a pint, I would happily buy you one for all the pleasure and intellectual rigor you have brought to my life.

5:57 PM Oct 25th
Happy retirement.
Old writers(generals) never retire, they just fade away.
11:45 AM Oct 25th
Typing too quickly, should be reached 70 and the beginning of September.
Sorry for the goof
10:29 AM Oct 25th
I too reached the ago of 70 at the beginning of 70 and just got my first Social Security check. Pretty sobering as it is the first flap in the face recognition that the finish line is a lot closer than the starting line, but it sure did come in handy.

Congratulations on the retirement and knowing what a difference you made in your years with Boston.

If it is any consolation, whatever you accomplished there is a mere percentage of how you have affected all of our lives over the past 43 years. I have and treasure the pre mass market Abstracts and always looked forward to how Susan McCarthy was going to grace us each year.

I am sure you have the back burner ablaze and am so looking forward to what happens next.

All my best/Jim​
10:28 AM Oct 25th
The important thing is you have made a difference.
7:41 AM Oct 25th
Bill - All good things come to an end. And a new beginning. We'll keep reading.
7:04 AM Oct 25th
Thus far, only one person who WAS NOT a member of the BBWAA has won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. The award given to baseball writers in Cooperstown. That person was Roger Angell, who was very deserving. To clear up that common misconception: writers are not elected to or inducted into the Hall of Fame. They are honorees.

I quite hope Bill never accepts such an honor. He always has seemed to me like an outsider, the type who "wouldn't want to belong to an organization that would have him as a member" as the old saying goes.

It's always easier to cause a ruckus on the edges. Far less complicated, and more ballsy than being in the system.

Get a rescue dog. There are so many dogs waiting, and so many dogs already alive that need homes.

4:32 AM Oct 25th
In my Double Pyramid system for writers on Baseball History and Statistical Analysis, you easily have the most “10” season scores. You have added to the joy of so many people. Thank you.
10:32 PM Oct 24th
As a Yankee fan, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
9:00 PM Oct 24th
All the best Bill, I retired this year as well though at age 60 to spend quality time with the grand kids and more time on baseball stat/games type stuff. As you pursue your interests I look forward to your sharing of your thoughts and ideas on whatever topics you chase.
7:46 PM Oct 24th
When I saw the title "I'm Movin' On," I thought Bill was writing an article about Hank Snow (That big eight wheeler comin' down the track means your true lovin' Daddy ain't a comin' back I'm movin' on...)

As a BJOL member and Bill James admirer, I'm very happy to hear that Bill's retiring only from the Red Sox. I hope he keeps writing about baseball for a long time.
7:32 PM Oct 24th
I remember Bill Russell quoting his grandfather, talking about getting older, that "Now it takes me all night to do what I used to do all night."

Relevance? I dunno, it's just what came to my mind.

I believe it's more enjoyable to do the work we want to do rather than the work we feel obligated to do. I don't know if that applies to you or not - no doubt your days with the Red Sox combined both.

You've been a major influence on my life, Bill, and I'm sincerely happy for you no matter what you decide to do.

5:37 PM Oct 24th
Fireball Wenz
From a Red Sox fan of 52 years, thank you for all you have done!
5:13 PM Oct 24th
Best wishes on the change.
We look forward to reading more from you.

5:03 PM Oct 24th
Congratulations Bill, and very best wishes moving forward. Looking forward to reading your future projects!​
2:53 PM Oct 24th
Hello Bill,

You are 70, I am 57. I don't know where the time has gone. I look forward to all your books. I want to read your Kansas book and whatever else comes down the pike.

Thank you. I read your 1979 Bill James Baseball Abstract when it came out, I was 17 years old then and I was playing Strat-O-Matic Baseball with my neighbor and friend Phil Meade. He found out about your book before I did. I have some letters we corresponded with back in the day. I recall getting a letter from you about the release of the next Baseball Abstract. I think the 1979, 1980 and 1981 editions are all excellent. You send the letter out in early December. I didn't get a letter one year but in the spring of 1982 I saw your 1982 Bill James Baseball Abstract in a bookstore in Belmont, MA. I bought it and then the Abstract was usually in big piles in the front of the store for years after that.

Thank you.

Your friend,
Tom Nahigian
2:43 PM Oct 24th
The Red Sox loss is "Hey Bill's" win!!!
2:34 PM Oct 24th
It was a memorable day for me when I found your 1984 Baseball Abstract in a used book shop, promptly read all of it, and sat down to wait for next year's edition. I thank you for all of that.
2:00 PM Oct 24th
Big congratulations!

Frankly I can't imagine how you had time to do everything you do. Personally, I do very little and it takes all my time.
1:47 PM Oct 24th
If you want a rescue dog you can always come to National Mill Dog Rescue outside Colorado Springs. They even rescue dogs from Kansas.
1:33 PM Oct 24th
Bill, as a former long-suffering Boston Red Sox fan since 1975, I was thrilled when I learned you were joining the organization. It's no coincidence that multiple World Series titles followed. Thanks for contributions to that effort. If it's time to go, it's time to go.

Also, on a personal note, thank you for writing "Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?" which, upon re-reading a few years ago, inspired me to created my website and write about baseball.

I wish you the best of luck in whatever future endeavors you choose to pursue.
1:26 PM Oct 24th
Congratulations on a great run with the Red Sox. Best wishes going forward.
12:45 PM Oct 24th
12:39 PM Oct 24th
Congratulations Bill on a great run with the Red Sox. What a classy way to leave with an appreciative acknowledgement to your previous employer. And, as you stated, this is not a retirement from writing about baseball or history, its just a change from where your pay is coming from.....
11:53 AM Oct 24th
Their loss! (Maybe literally -- maybe we've already seen it.)
All best to you.

BTW, does this mean you can go back to rooting for the Royals?

GaryMaloney: Good job, and I'm jealous, because I was wanting to come up with something like that myself!
11:36 AM Oct 24th
Congratulations and best wishes!
11:22 AM Oct 24th
Congrats Bill! You have has a huge impact on me over the years. You're one of my heroes. Stay healthy, have fun, and oh by the way, this means more great stuff from you to come.
10:52 AM Oct 24th
A huge congratulations, Bill, on being a part of a phenomenal period of success for Boston, and not only ending their generations-long drought but also adding more championships on top of 2004's. I would think it's very gratifying to see that not only have many of your ideas been taken up by teams and changed peoples' understanding of the game, but that your work also had a direct impact on your team's success.

Do you know what kind of dog you're looking to get? We have a 1-year old English Golden Retriever that we love to pieces.
10:30 AM Oct 24th
I tweeted that now is the time for Bill to get elected to the Hall of Fame. If you agree, you can help spread the word by retweeting.

I am @Three4Three."

I agree completely. But instead of random people tweeting and retweeting each other, this needs to go to the BBWAA.

A concentrated deluge of tweets, e-mails, letters, etc.

Probably a website. Facebook page.

That's all actually serious. Many people used different forms of social media. - only one I could find

lots of BBWAA writers on Twitter themselves.

You have to get the word to the people who "can make" it happen.

Not the ones who "want" it to happen
10:11 AM Oct 24th
I tweeted that now is the time for Bill to get elected to the Hall of Fame. If you agree, you can help spread the word by retweeting.

I am @Three4Three.

9:58 AM Oct 24th
Congratulations. I look forward to your future endeavors.
9:57 AM Oct 24th
Congrats on an amazing run in Boston, Bill. Here's hoping we can all have a meetup in Cooperstown when you're honored.
9:57 AM Oct 24th
Congratulations, Bill...and good luck in this next chapter of your life. Looking forward to reading all the new things you plan to work on in the coming years. (Howdy to Suzy.)
9:47 AM Oct 24th
You know, in today’s environment, 70 is quite young for a presidential candidate...
9:12 AM Oct 24th
The great irony: Bill will go into the Hall of Fame in 2024 at the latest -and maybe before the players we discuss here so often: both D. Evans , Whitaker
9:03 AM Oct 24th
As someone who will be in a similar position in a few months - retiring from the large company that I have worked for for 33 years, but still planning to be working (external consulting instead of internal consulting) - I wish you the very best in this transition. I encourage to consider taking the program offered by the Center for Creative Retirement in North Carolina. It is about life planning, not financial planning, and several of my friends have dramatically changed their retirement plans after going through it. I plan to take it myself.
8:45 AM Oct 24th
Man, I can't wait for the book on these last 17 years.
8:21 AM Oct 24th
Well whenever you're tell-all comes out--should you do one mind--we'll be lined up for it.
8:18 AM Oct 24th
You've earned the free time — by which I mean discretionary, and not necessarily idle — and I truly hope you enjoy it. Congratulations!

Here's another descriptive noun for your consideration: I've always thought of you as a premier explainer. I guess that doesn't sound very lofty, but among vocations, I consider none to be more noble.
8:03 AM Oct 24th
Re the books -- If your Kansas history still needs a publisher, I've know of two local sources who might be interested in backing. Email
7:59 AM Oct 24th
Enjoy your retirement! (And selfishly, let me add I'm glad you're not retiring from writing. Hopefully we'll get to hear about the new dog.)
7:44 AM Oct 24th
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