This was a tough week. Baseball Prospectus, and by that I mean the people that make up this site, lost not just a valued member but perhaps our most essential. Rob McQuown was the beating heart, breathing lungs, and structural skeleton of this enterprise, as necessary and taken for granted as our basic bodily functions. That last part has left me feeling a lot of regret and angst. I’m hoping he grasped how important he was, not to our site’s operations, but as a member of the community that I hold so dear.
A lot of people have started off a memory of Rob by saying “I am sure I didn’t know him as well as others…” and while it is inevitably true that we show more of ourselves to certain people than others, I also think that if you interacted with Rob even once you knew him pretty well. Gracious, generous, thoughtful, warm, goofy, helpful: They’re just a few of the things that made up Rob McQuown the person, but they were also immediately on display in a given exchange. This is no small feat in general, but to be able to be all these things and more, so consistently, via a chat box or email could only have been achieved by a force of nature, a man of remarkable character and charm.
The last paragraph I wrote when I left BP as the Minor League Editor last September was about the community that composes it. The community, the culture, of Baseball Prospectus is what attracted me to it as a reader. There was a sense that you were not just observing but a functional part of a large but also intimate group of friends whose relentless jabs and snark were only surpassed by the support they offered one another. We all have different takeaways from community, but those were my feelings as a reader, and they were only bolstered when I was able to join the staff as a writer and editor.
I’ve cried a lot this week. They weren’t all sad tears, though. I’ve had probably 15 people, in the days since Rob’s passing, drop me a line and say “hey, how are you doing? Are you holding up okay?” or some variation therein. They’ve come from long-time friends and from staffers who had previously never sent me a message. And every time I cry a little more, because I think about how fortunate I am to be surrounded by such compassion, each one a reminder of what makes this community so special, and worth pouring our hearts and minds into.
And then I cry a little more because I’m reminded of who is missing. Rob wasn’t so essential merely because he was our institutional knowledge, or because he knew which switches to flip, or because he could query anything in record time. Now, he was, knew, and could do all those things, but he was also the fabric of our community, stitching together stats and prospects, features and fantasy. One of the few constants that remained over the course of multiple changes in staff, editors, and ownership; a common thread that linked current generations with those that came before him. He was such a big part of the site and the community, and he attracted people who were like him: curious and kind, sharp and gregarious. Rob had a gravitational pull, a magnetic personality. He could and would talk about anything with anyone. A fearless conversationalist, he could broach any topic and get you to talk about it because his personality was so disarming. And once you did open up, he never forgot to ask about what was important to you. It was almost like writing a query for him — once he knew the code to unlock a dataset, it was always easy to go back to.
Rob is irreplaceable both in his actions and his presence, but I also don’t worry about the state of our community, because he did such a good job attracting people like him to the site. His mark upon us is indelible and his presence will remain inside the microfibers of our site, stitched into the fabric of our formulas and our code. Baseball Prospectus is a special place, and I love that I get to connect with it on such a fundamental level. I love our little corner of the internet, I love our extended family, and I love my colleagues. I loved Rob, and I miss him so much already.
There’s some common wisdom that goes “we are who we surround ourselves with.” I hope that’s true, because for over a decade Baseball Prospectus was blessed to be surrounded by Rob McQuown.
Thanks to Rob McQuown, for everything.
Thank you for reading
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