As much as anyone–including George Lindsey, Earnshaw Cook, and Bill James–Leonard Koppett has advanced the cause of performance analysis in baseball and baseball management. More importantly, Mr. Koppett was an entertaining writer with an infectious exuberance for the game. His watershed book, The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Baseball was a benchmark work that introduced the basic concepts of looking at performance in a new way to the general public.
I had the good fortune to speak with Mr. Koppett on many occasions, and the even better fortune to attend high school in the Bay Area with his son, David, where we played a lot of Wiffle Ball during breaks, hitting balls onto the roof of Florence Moore Hall, and occasionally making an ill-advised asphalt dive to keep a ball from hitting the wall on the fly, and hence, turning into a double. (I still have a scar from a scrape I got from diving to catch a ball during one of those many Wiffle Ball games. I didn’t make the play.)
Leonard Koppett’s contributions to baseball and our enjoyment of it are truly enormous, but are only one small facet of a truly great man. Our condolences go out to Suzanne, Katherine, and David, as well as the entire Koppett family.