Ferdinand Cole Lane
F.C. Lane was born October 25, 1885 near Moorhead, MN but spent his childhood years on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. A Sabermetrician long before there ever was such a thing, Lane performed a variety of odd jobs while attending Boston University, then worked as an assistant biologist for the Massachusetts Commission of Fisheries and Game. However, his career plans changes when he was diagnosed with "weak lungs", then spent six months in a remote cabin on the frontier in Alberta, Canada. When he returned, he found a job with the recently founded Baseball Magazine, published in Boston, MA, and worked there from 1910 to 1912, quickly rising to Editor-in-Chief. He then moved the publication's offices to New York City, where he continued as editor from 1912 to 1938, as the magazine became a great success.
He wrote probably close to a thousand detailed articles on baseball's technical side as well as interviews with stars at home in winter. Among his sabermetric insights, he was the first to devise a basic "run expectancy model", i.e. a table predicting how many runs would on average be scored from a given situation of outs and men on base. This was only rediscovered by researchers decades later after falling into oblivion, but his figures turned out to be extremely close to those devised by later researchers using computers and thousands of games' worth of data. In tribute, SABR republished his book Batting in 2001 (it had originally come out in 1925).
After retiring in 1937 from Baseball Magazine's editor's chair, he returned to Cape Cod for the remainder of his long life. He headed Piedmont College's History Department at Demorest, GA from 1941 to 1943 and established a journalism program there. He traveled extensively with his wife Emma, whom he married in June, 1914.
Together they made many overseas voyages, circling the globe six times. They wrote several books on geography and nature for adults and youths in the 1940s and 1950s. He published his poems in 1958 (On Old Cape Cod). They lived their final years in a Cape Cod nursing home; she dying 10 months after him. He died at age 98 on April 20, 1984 in Hyannis, MA.
In 2012, he was named a posthumous recipient of the Chadwick Award.
- F.C. Lane: Batting, The Society for American Baseball Research, Cleveland, OH, 2001 (originally published in 1925). ISBN 0-910137-86-2
- Rob Neyer: "F.C. Lane", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 41, Number 2 (Fall 2012), p. 101.
- F. C. Lane at the SABR Bio Project
- SABR tribute page
- For a blog discussion of Lane, see Dan Agonistes Blog
- For a full Bibliography of 389 articles from SABR's The Baseball Index (TBI)