Help:Brief biographical outlines

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For many people who have entries in the Encyclopedia, very little is known outside the fact they played for a particular team, and their basic statistics. Further information about these people may exist, scattered in brief mentions in newspaper articles or The Sporting News, or in team and league media guides, programs, and so forth. Usually, these bits of information are not enough on their own to write an encyclopedic summary in prose for the person, but they may be worth noting systematically to provide clues for future researchers. This article suggests some standards for organizing and formatting this information into an attractive summary.


[edit] The Media Guide model

These guidelines are based on the format used by team and league Media Guides for many years. A good way to think of this exercise is that it is producing an expanded media guide entry for the person, without the space constraints of a printed guide.

[edit] Header formatting

It is recommended to start the profile outline section with a second-level header

== Profile ==

Under this header, facts about the person are listed in a bullet-pointed list. The MediaWiki markup for this is to start each line with an asterisk. For a person for whom only one or a very few facts are known, this list can be a simple list, not broken up into subsections. This would be the typical case when noting a particular piece of information from an isolated news article, for instance.

[edit] Subsections for longer lists

In the case when enough facts are known about the person that a simple bullet-pointed list starts to become unwieldy, the list may be broken up into categories. These categories should be set off as third-level headers, such as

=== Personal ===

A suggested separation of content, based on practices used in Media Guides, is listed below. As always, these are guidelines; in specific cases, it may make sense to tailor these to suit the information known about a particular person.

[edit] Personal

The Personal section includes information about the person's origins and family ties. This may include:

  • The person's hometown or residence, as distinct from place of birth; if a person is known to be residing in a particular location, this can be useful information in identifying the person. Hometown is more appropriate for players in the 19th and first part of the 20th century, when players where routinely referred to as being "of" some city. For modern players where birth city is known, a hometown should only be noted if there is some significance to that information. Specific identifying information about a living person's residence or contact information should never under any circumstances be included.
  • Family relationships. These, including marital status, should only be noted if the related person is themselves notable. A rule of thumb is the relation should be noted if the person has an entry in the SABR Encyclopedia, or in Wikipedia if the person is notable outside of baseball. For instance, see Ronnie Retton, who was the father of Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton.
  • Ancestry. Prior to about 1960, information about "ethnicity" was routinely collected and reported. While this practice is not common today, it is potentially of research interest, as the composition of the baseball player pool has changed over time. It is recommended to refer to this data as "self-reported," unless there is citation of formal genealogical evidence of a player's family origins, and it is preferred to use "ancestry" rather than "ethnicity." Modern terminology should be used; in particular:
    • Black players were generally referred to as "Negro" or "American Negro"; this should be reported as the modern term "African-American."
    • Players of Native American background were generally referred to as "Indian"; this should be reported as "Native American," or, better yet, the tribe(s) with which the person identified, if known.
    • Remember that "Scotch" is a drink, but people are "Scottish."

[edit] Pre-professional career

The pre-professional career section contains information about a person's athletic achievements prior to signing a pro contract. Information on high school and collegiate play goes here, as would semipro experience. Experience at lower levels, such as Little League, should be included only if notable, such as playing in the Little League World Series, or winning a major geographic championship. Participation in other sports, if relevant, can also be included here.

[edit] Post-professional career

This section contains information about the person's athletic career after leaving pro baseball. The most typical entries here would be experience as a coach, umpire, or administrative official at the high school, college, or amateur levels.

[edit] Awards and honors

This section contains distinctions conferred upon the player: being named to all-star teams, Most Valuable Player awards, and the like. These should be awards which are based upon some sort of voting or selection process, as opposed to purely statistical milestones.

[edit] Notable achievements

This section is for specific achievements. Examples include league leadership in statistical categories, records set or held, superlative performances, and so forth.

[edit] Transactions

This section lists signings, releases, trades, options and callups, and other events related to a person's professional contract status.

[edit] Outside of baseball

This section organizes significant activities outside of baseball, including off-season employment and post-baseball careers outside of sports.

[edit] Citing sources

As always, tracking where information comes from is a central objective of the Encyclopedia. Help:Citing sources is the starting point for the mechanics of noting sources in a standardized way. When doing a brief biographical outline, the most common choice one faces is whether to use a list of sources, or to use the reference mechanism to offer a reference for individual facts. There is not a clear, hard-and-fast rule for which style to use. Each individual fact can be followed by a <ref> tag; this is the most conservative approach, since it ties each fact to the original source. However, especially when working from a Media Guide or similar publication, there may be a dozen fact bullet-points, and creating a footnote for each one is unattractive. A reasonable starting point for citing sources is

  1. If you are noting one specific fact from a source like an isolated newspaper article, use a <ref>.
  2. If it especially important to note the origin of a fact to be sure its origin will be preserved in future edits, use a <ref>.
  3. If you are working from a Media Guide-like source which offers many facts, but noting the specific origin of some fact is not of paramount importance, simply list the source in the page's sources section, and do not footnote individual facts.

[edit] Examples

The pages linked below have been prepared based on these guidelines.

[edit] Media Guides

The articles for these players have been updated based on information which appeared in team media guides circa 2000.

[edit] Older league player indices

These articles are for players, mostly circa 1950, who were profiled in league player guides, newspaper articles, or other resources.

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