So one of my favorite sites out there is Baseball-Reference.com. In fact, it’s not unlike my version of internet porn. I find myself on that site several times a day, looking up stats, salaries, transactions, you name it. I’ll mess around with the baseball oracle, figuring out how I can connect Alvaro Espinoza to Atlee Hammaker. What can I say? It’s the perfect site for a geek like me. Well considering how much enjoyment the site has provided me, I decided it would be fun to track down the man behind the brilliance of Baseball-Reference, founder Sean Forman.
1. Can you give readers a brief background on who you are and what led to the creation of baseball-reference?
I wanted to be able to find Ty Cobb’s stats online. I had done some web design and really enjoyed it, and I thought that the web would be the perfect place for a baseball encyclopedia. The linkability, the infinite amount of storage space and the rest of it really made an on-line encyclopedia a good fit.
I was in grad school at the University of Iowa in Applied Mathematics when I started the site. I had a fellowship and for the year (1999-2000), and I was supposed to be finishing my dissertation. Instead, I took two months to do the basic site and finished the dissertation later.
2. How were you able to do so much of the work by yourself?
Practice and patience. The site launched seven years ago, so I’ve had a lot of time to work out the best way to do things. I figure I’ve written about 150,000 lines of code and a million words. It is really just a matter of plugging away day in and day out. I’ve been full time on the site for the last year and that has made a dramatic difference in my productivity.
3. What would you say is your favorite feature on the site?
The fact that the new Play Index is able to return things like the most home runs by a Yankees against the Tigers or every walkoff hit by a Marlin in 2000 in a few seconds is my current favorite. It took several months of work to get that up and running properly and quickly enough to make it useful. That whole area now has splits, gamelogs and lots of new tools for the last 50 years.
4. Any new features you may be adding soon?