Seymour Siwoff, the statistics maven who turned the Elias Sports Bureau into the place to go for exact information on teams and athletes for more than a half-century, died Friday. He was 99.
In keeping with Siwoff’s penchant for detail, he died at his home in Manhattan at 12:57 p.m. EST, according to grandson Joe Gilston. Siwoff still went to the office regularly until a few months ago, Gilston said.
Elias was started in 1913 by brothers Al Munro Elias and Walter Bruce Elias and became the official statistician of baseball’s National League in 1919. Siwoff, born on Nov. 1, 1920, started as an accountant in 1938 and purchased the company in 1952 from the brothers’ widows.
The company eventually consolidated its baseball work around 1980, when it replaced the Sports Information Center as the American League’s official statistician and from 1981 until the 2006 it compiled statistics that were used to determine baseball’s free-agent compensation levels.
Even before the start of the computer age, Siwoff pioneered detailed splits, such as how a player performs batting right- and left-handed, in day games and night games, at home and on the road, and with runners in scoring position. It was a forerunner to the 21st century transformation of baseball into an analytic era when computer programs help teams determine which players to start, when to replace them and where to position them on the field.
In addition to Major League Baseball, Elias provides statistical support to the NFL, NBA, WNBA, Major League Soccer and many broadcast networks.
Siwoff is survived by son Ronald Siwoff and daughter Nancy Gilston.
Funeral services will be private, and a later public memorial is planned, his daughter said.