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Elias Sports Bureau

From BR Bullpen

The Elias Sports Bureau is the Official Statistician for Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, and the Arena Football League.

Elias was founded in 1913 by Al Munro Elias and his brother Walter. They were appointed official statisticians of the National League in 1916, with other baseball leagues to follow. In 1952, it was purchased by an employee, Seymour Siwoff, who would retain ownership until his death in 2019, at age 99.

There is some controversy surrounding the Bureau for two main reasons: first, it considers its statistical data, including historical data, to be proprietary and has been reluctant to make it available to researchers. This has led to fans and researchers putting together their own databases, the most important being Retrosheet which contains play-by-play information for almost all games played since 1916 (and is working on earlier years), and the statistical database constituted by Sean Lahman, which is the basis of Those projects are based on the principle of free data sharing and on encouraging researchers to use the data and publish the results of studies conducted with this data, leading to a boom in baseball research, whereas Elias has been reluctant to exploit its database for anything other than publishing basic statistical data.

The second major criticism is that Elias has also repeatedly failed to correct its historical data when research uncovers obvious mistakes. Dogged researches combing through old boxscores have for example found numerous instances of hits or RBIs attributed to the wrong player because of obvious typographical errors, but Elias has been reluctant to accept most of these changes. As a result, while Elias numbers are the "official" ones used by Major League Baseball, those compiled by SABR through the Baseball-Reference site are considered more accurate by most researchers. In a particularly egregious example of this problem, Elias has refused to compile RBIs collected before 1920, when the statistic became official, whereas all other data sources have compiled those retroactively. As a result, Elias's list of career RBI leader has little correlation with reality.

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