clem conly retrosheet baseball researcher obituary

Last week we lost Clem Comly.

I knew something of Clem’s work, and I knew him well enough to say hello at the SABR Convention every year. But that’s about it. So I’d like to hand the ball to David Smith, the godfather of Retrosheet, who wrote this notice on SABR-L …

A brief announcement of Clem’s death has already been posted on this list, but I write to add my personal comments about Clem. He was a stalwart SABR member for over 30 years, serving for at least the last decade as co-chair of the Statistical Analysis Committee. He made frequent posts to this list on a wide variety of topics and was also a moderator of the list, performing that potentially thankless task in his usual cheerful and efficient way.

Clem was friends with so many people and was one of the greatest conversationalists I have ever known. He was deeply informed on an extraordinary range of topics, including books, movies, and music, in addition to all sports. One of the highlights of SABR conventions for me was flying there with Clem as we talked about all manner of things.

Clem conducted many baseball research studies and he was deeply involved in Retrosheet, serving as a Board member since its inception and as Vice President and Treasurer for over a decade. He did the data entry for over 15,000 games, by far the most of anyone. In recent years, he was tireless in proofing our game files against the official records so that they were properly ready for release on the website. The attention to detail necessary in that work is enormous and will be extremely hard to replace.

This is a very sad occasion for Retrosheet, SABR and me personally. He will be greatly missed.

Fifteen thousand games. For those who don’t know, "data entry" means going through blurry photocopies of old newspaper accounts or someone’s old scorecards and punching in the play-by-play. A long time ago, I did this for a few dozen games and felt I’d accomplished something, made a contribution to the cause.

Fifteen thousand games. Without Retrosheet and people like Clem Comly — but especially Dave Smith, Clem Comly, and a few other diehards — making real contributions to the cause, baseball research as we know it would not exist

I’ll miss Clem, and of course I wish I’d gotten to know him better.