John Donovan writes a nice article about Baseball-Reference and the man behind it, Sean Forman. There have been many articles on the greatness of B-R, but this piece is especially nice because it includes a long interview with Sean. What is great about Baseball-Reference is that it’s not just a pile of useful statistics, it’s a well-organized pile. Sean has a good vision for what he is doing, and he really has succeeded at putting a friendly face on publicly available data.
Sean has been so successful with B-R, and his related Sports Reference ventures, that it has become his full-time job. Giving up a tenured job at a good university is a difficult thing to do. One thing that many people may not know is that Sean’s business sense and entrepreneurial spirit are his greatest strengths. Yes, his computing and intellectual abilities are high—not to mention his vast love and knowledge of baseball—but even with these strengths, few people are able to turn a hobby into a career. And it’s not like Sean just cashed in on a good idea; his mini-empire (maybe it’s a fiefdom) is the product of several years of consistent work according to a plan. I can imagine this project going wrong in so many ways in hind-sight. How he avoided all of the pitfalls along the way is testament to his abilities.