New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Statistician

Jay Chesler


Jay Chesler (Statistician.  Born, New York, NY, Dec. 9, 1921; died, Dover, NJ, Mar. 14, 1997.)  Harry A. Chesler was a baseball statistician with the Elias Baseball Bureau (now the Elias Sports Bureau) for 35 years before retiring in 1991.

Al Munro Elias


Al Munro Elias (Statistician.  Born, Charleston, SC, June 5, 1872; died, New York, NY, Aug. 1, 1939.)  A salesman who peddled shoes, shirts, salad oils and other sundry items, Al Munro Elias was to have a profound effect on baseball statistics.  Elias came to New York in 1899 an ardent baseball fan.  While pursuing his trade, he compiled extensive records of baseball players and teams.  In 1913, in concert with his brother Walter B. Elias, he began selling scorecard-like sheets to fans who assembled in saloons and pool halls.  When the Evening Telegram arranged to have Elias supply daily statistics to the paper in 1916, the Al Munro Elias Baseball Bureau was born.  Elias created daily “Top 10” leaders, which soon became a staple of baseball coverage and, in 1919, the Elias Bureau became the official statistician of the National League.  Shortly, the Bureau was handling the International League and a half-dozen other minor leagues.  When Spalding discontinued publishing the “Little Red Book of Baseball Records,” started by Charles D. White in 1926, the Elias Bureau took it over (1937).  By that time, Elias was ill and no longer engaged actively in the business, which was run by Walter for nearly two decades until it was taken over by Seymour Siwoff.

Steve Hirdt


Steve Hirdt (Statistician.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Feb. 11, 1951.)  Since he joined the Elias Sports Bureau in 1970 while still an undergraduate at Fordham, Stephen T. Hirdt has become one of the nation’s most respected sports statisticians.  From 1982-2005, Hirdt was director of information for ABC-TV’s “Monday Night Football,” working over 400 telecasts, including seven Super Bowls.  He worked with Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, Frank Gifford, O.J. Simpson, Joe Namath (q.v.), Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller, and John Madden.  Hirdt is also a contributing writer to ESPN the Magazine (since 1998).  His first major television position was in 1976, when he began a 20-season run as director of information for major league baseball’s network telecasts by ABC and then CBS.  Hirdt was a commentator and analyst for Yankees telecasts on the MSG Network (1989-2001).  Through it all, he served as executive vice president of Elias, the premier sports statistical organization in the country, which serves as official statistician for Major League Baseball, the N.F.L., N.B.A., N.H.L., A.F.L., and M.L.S.  Other senior staff at Elias includes two of Hirdt’s brothers, Peter and Tom, as well as Chris Thorn, John Carson, John and Santo Lombardo, Alex Stern, and Bob Waterman.  Under long-time Elias president Seymour Siwoff, the staff has also included the late Jay Chesler Bob Rosen, and the late Rocky Avakian.

Seymour Siwoff


Seymour Siwoff (Statistics.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Nov. 1, 1920.)  Although he is considered a legend in the area of modern sports statistics, Seymour Siwoff of the Elias Sports Bureau’s outstanding achievement was perhaps his decision 40 years ago to computerize the business.  In 1961, Siwoff rescued the remnants of the old Al Munro Elias Baseball Bureau and the following year converted to a computer system for tabulating and maintaining the Bureau’s records.  Although Elias had been the offical statistician for the National League and several minor leagues in baseball (including the International and Eastern Leagues), Siwoff expanded and modernized its operation and began by becoming the official statistician for the National Football League in 1961.  His new organization began handling the National Basketball Association in 1969 and, as was also the case with the N.F.L., he began to create accurate modern statistics.  While Siwoff created a new organization when he took over in 1961, he had worked part-time for the old Elias Baseball Bureau even while a high school student.  The original Bureau traces its origins back to 1916, when Elias himself became one of the first baseball statisticians.  Siwoff and his staff also produced such nationally recognized publications as the Book of Official Baseball Records and, for several years, the Elias Baseball Analyst.

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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