The History of Sports Analysis

Beadle’s Dime Base Ball Player & Henry Chadwick

January 17, 1861

Beadle’s Dime Base Ball Player & Henry Chadwick

In Beadle’s Dime Base Ball Player (1861) it is stated that, ‘in order to obtain an accurate estimate of a player’s skill, an analysis, both of his play at the bat and in the field, should be made, inclusive of the way in which he was put out’. Further to…

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Lawn Tennis Manual – Hints for Scoring

January 17, 1885

Lawn Tennis Manual – Hints for Scoring

In the Lawn Tennis Manual (1885), in a section entitled ‘Hints for Scoring’, the writer advocates the use of a detailed scoring system, ‘which records the character of every played ball, whether it be a fault, a served ball, a returned ball, a volleyed return, together with the number of…

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Tennis Ranking System

April 17, 1890

In the April 1890 edition of Outing, William Strunk Jr. presented his idea for notating tennis matches, which he suggested had been tested in a tennis tournament of 1889. He outlined it was ‘designed for the recording of tournaments and championship games, with a view to assigning each player a…

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New York Times – Tennis Report

July 18, 1891

In July 1981, an anonymous reporter for the New York Times provided statistics on placed balls, aces won on outs by opponent, aces won on hits into net by opponent, aces won on double faults and total points won.

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The First Heat Map?

March 18, 1897

The First Heat Map?

A world championship bout in 1897 between Corbett and Fitzsimons is presented in the San Francisco Call on 19th March 1897, the day after the fight. A pictorial representation of this fight also appeared in a New York newspaper. The analysis was conducted by boxing Professor James Connors. Connors used…

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Outing – University Football (Gridiron)

January 18, 1900

Outing – University Football (Gridiron)

In the January 1900 edition OUting, a comprehensive statistical analysis of University Football (Gridiron) was presented for the games between Yale and Princeton, and Yale and Harvard, showing not only the frequency of key events, but also estimated distances for rushing and punts.

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La Petite Gironde (Rugby)

March 18, 1907

La Petite Gironde (Rugby)

A collaboration between two French journalists results in a remarkable notation analysis of rugby football. The analysis is extremely comprehensive, listing game time, pitch location and ideographic symbols, to provide the reader with an indication of key match events, such as scrums, lineouts, stoppages, fouls, penalties, tries and various types…

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Weighted Olympic Gold

June 19, 1908

Weighted Olympic Gold

British reporters calculated national standings based on a point system — five for gold, three for silver and one for bronze.   *https://web.archive.org/web/20080827043408/http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/sunday/commentary/la-oe-hardaway22-2008aug22,0,52982.story

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Association Football Chart

January 18, 1910

Association Football Chart

In 1910, David F. Barrett, a reporter for the St Loui Star, presented an article on association football, expressing concern that, ‘all that the average soccer fan pays attention to in the game is the number of goals scored and who scores them. He pays no attention whatsoever to the…

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Touching Second: The Science of Baseball

April 18, 1910

Touching Second: The Science of Baseball

Hugh Fullerton’s notaations appear in a book, Touching Second: The Science of Baseball, he co-authored with ex-baseball start John J. Evers. In a chapter written by Fullerton, he provides not only an example of his own ideographic notation system, but also evidence of undertaking notations of baseball much earlier than…

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Elias Sports Bureau

January 23, 1913

Elias Sports Bureau

Perhaps the first sports data company Elias was founded by brother Al and Walter Munro. Then in his 40’s he wanted to see if he could make a living keeping and selling his baseball statistics. Although the company got off to a slow start in 1917 the Associated Press signed…

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Lloyd Messersmith’s – Distance Traversed Basketball

January 18, 1931

Lloyd Messersmith’s – Distance Traversed Basketball

This paper, Messersmith, L L & Corey, S 1931, ‘The Distance Traversed by a Basketball Player’, Research Quarterly, II, 2, pp. 57-60. is one of a number Messersmith et al., would go on to publish between 1931-1944. There is a wonderful paper written about Messersmith’s career and contribution to Notational Analysis…

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Early Recording of Shot (Soccer)

January 18, 1937

Early Recording of Shot (Soccer)

Jurryt’s post shares a record of shots taken in the Western Europe v Central Europe football game played to celebrate Olympic Day in the Netherlands on 20 June 1937. He asks if this is the first example of a record of shots taken in association football.

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MLB – First Full-Time Statistician Hired

January 18, 1947

MLB – First Full-Time Statistician Hired

It was in 1947 that Mr. Roth, a native of Montreal who had worked as a statistician for the Canadiens and the National Hockey League, approached Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, with a proposition that would transform somewhat how the game was played. Wouldn’t it help a manager,…

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Charles Reep joins Brentford

September 18, 1950

Charles Reep joins Brentford

Probably the most influential and certainly the most controversial notational analyst in Britain is Charles Reep who died in 2002 (Pollard, 2002) having devoted over 50 years to analysing soccer (and other sports) in great detail. Whilst most of his work remains unpublished his legacy remains as the primary advocate…

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Decades Before Moneyball, The Dallas Cowboys Used Advanced Stats To Win Super Bowls

January 17, 1960

Decades Before Moneyball, The Dallas Cowboys Used Advanced Stats To Win Super Bowls

Salam Qureishi grew up in India and knew nothing about football — or America. And yet in the early 1960s, Qureishi, a computer programmer and statistician, helped the Dallas Cowboys overhaul their scouting system, replacing hunches with hard numbers. The result: five Super Bowl appearances and two titles. FiveThirtyEight and…

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Skill & Chance in Association Football

January 18, 1968

Skill & Chance in Association Football

Charles Reep’s first published paper produced the finding that the structure of soccer is determined by near constants (Reep and Benjamin, 1968) and his work is thought to have influenced many researchers and football coaches e.g. Charles Hughes, who was the Assistant Director of Coaching for the Football Association (Hughes, 1987);…

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Measuring Clutch

January 23, 1969

Measuring Clutch

Two brothers rented time on an IBM 1620 mainframe to pick a knot that had confounded baseball fans for generations, and still does: just what a “clutch” player is, and how that can be measured. The Mills brothers published their approach in a thin, Reader’s Digest-sized book title, Player Win…

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Society for American Baseball Research

March 19, 1971

Society for American Baseball Research

The organization became an entity with (Robert) Davids’ March 19, 1971, letter: This letter is being addressed to about 25-30 persons interested in baseball history and statistical research (I use the term “statistorians”). You are an addressee because I have seen your name in The Sporting News in past years,…

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Bill James Publishes First Baseball abstract

January 17, 1977

Bill James Publishes First Baseball abstract

Editors considered James’s pieces so unusual that few believed them suitable for their readers. In an effort to reach a wider audience, James self-published an annual book titled The Bill James Baseball Abstract beginning in 1977. The first edition of the book presented 80 pages of in-depth statistics compiled from…

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STATS Inc is Founded

January 2, 1981

STATS Inc is Founded

The acronym STATS stands for Sports Team Analysis & Tracking System. The Oakland A’s (not for the last time in their history would be ahead of the curve) became STATS first customer. They signed a $75,000 deal before STATS had a computer programme. The final system, built for the Apple…

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Centre for Performance Analysis is Established

January 20, 1992

Centre for Performance Analysis is Established

The CPA was established in 1992, with an initial vision to provide support services for the flourishing of elite Welsh sport. The diversity of clients serviced by the CPA attests to the success of extending services to the United Kingdom as a whole and internationally. Within a short time the…

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Infostrada Sport Launches

January 19, 1995

Infostrada Sport Launches

Infostrada Sports was founded by Philip Hennemann and partners in the Netherlands in 1995. The initial aim was to collect data on all sports in order to build up and maintain the ultimate historical archive and provide services to media and professional sports organisations. The first contract with the International…

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Opta Index

January 18, 1996

Opta Index

The Opta brand is first associated with the Premier League through the launch of a ranking system, The Opta Index.  This was seen on Sky Sports Monday Night Football. In 2002; Aidan Cooney’s Sportingstatz business purchases the assets of Opta from BSkyB.  Current senior members of the operational management team…

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Prozone Sports Launches

January 18, 1998

Prozone Sports Launches

Prozone Sports is founded in 1998, promising to Changing the way you Think About Sport. Prozone are one of the first companies to offer tracking of physical performance through a camera system.

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Sportstec Founded

January 23, 1999

Sportstec Founded

Sportstec is Founded

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Football Live

August 1, 2001

Football Live

Football Live was the name given to the project and computer system created and utilised by PA Sport to collect Real Time Statistics from major English & Scottish Football Matches and distribute to most leading media organisations. At the time of its operation, more than 99% of all football statistics displayed across Print,…

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Moneyball Book Released

June 17, 2003

Moneyball Book Released

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game is a book by Michael Lewis, published in 2003, about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane. Its focus is the team’s analytical, evidence-based, sabermetric approach to assembling a competitive baseball team, despite Oakland’s disadvantaged revenue situation.

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SportsVu Launched

January 2, 2005

SportsVu Launched

SportVU was created in 2005 by Israeli scientists, Gal Oz and Miky Tamir, who had a background in missile tracking and advanced optical recognition. They had previously used some of that same science to track soccer matches in Israel. SportVU was featured at national trade shows NAB 2007, in Las…

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Dartfish Wins an Emmy

January 20, 2005

Dartfish Wins an Emmy

Dartfish was founded in 1999 as InMotion Technologies, Ltd to commercially develop SimulCam and other digital imaging applications. In 2005 They were an Emmy winner for The George Wensel Outstanding Innovative Technical Achievement Award

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PITCHf/x

October 3, 2006

PITCHf/x

PITCHf/x, created and maintained by Sportvision, is a system that tracks the speeds and trajectories of pitched baseballs. This system, which made its debut in the 2006 MLB playoffs, is installed in every MLB stadium. The data from the system is often used by broadcasters to show a visual representation or…

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Perform acquires Opta

July 10, 2013

Perform acquires Opta

Digital sports media group PERFORM today announces the acquisition of sports data company Opta for c. £40m.

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1st OptaPro Forum

February 6, 2014

1st OptaPro Forum

The first OptaPro Analytics forum is held in London. It brings together a host of bloggers, fanalysts and club analysts to discuss football analysis. This event is designed to bring together the best analytical practitioners in sport, whether they are amateur writers or represent professional organisations.   You can read…

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Stats LLC acquires ProZone Sports

May 1, 2015

Stats LLC acquires ProZone Sports

Stats LLC has acquired U.K.-based athlete-performance and analytics outfit Prozone, marking the company’s fourth acquisition in the last eight months and third since February. Prozone, active in scouting and video tracking in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa, will become part of Illinois-based Stats and greatly expand the company’s international reach….

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Gracenote acquires Infostrada

May 28, 2015

Gracenote acquires Infostrada

Infostrada is acquired by U.S.-based Gracenote, a subsidiary of Tribune Media Company. With this acquisition, Infostrada Sports is now part of the world’s leading entertainment and sports data company.

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This information would not be possible without a whole host of people but I want to mark 3 sources in particular.

If you think there is a key moment that should be added, or have found an error please contact me robcarroll @ thevideoanalyst.com with the details and any links.