Bill James Biography

Bill James is a prolific American baseball writer, statistician and historian. Explore this biography to learn more about his profile, childhood, life and timeline.

Bill James

Quick Facts

Also known as: George William James (English)
Gender: Male
Birthday: 05 October 1949
Nationality: American
Sun Sign: Libra
Education: University of Kansas

Bill James was a Kansas City Royals baseball fan, when he began developing his popular theory of ‘sabermetrics’; which scientifically analyzes and studies baseball. He revolutionized the game of baseball without once treading a professional baseball pitch as a player, coach, supervisor or executive. A writer and historian, James developed the tools for the statistical analysis of baseball, which led to its adaptation and formed the basis for a major motion picture, ‘Moneyball’. His most profound understanding was that the batting average was hyped and that a player’s ‘on-base percentage’ was a more precise barograph of a player’s value on field. This later became the new Holy Grail of baseball measurements. He is a man of humble beginnings and joined the Army, where he was sent to fight the Vietnam War. Although he did not see action on the front, he spent a couple of years stationed in South Korea and began writing about his favorite sport. One of his articles on baseball got published and he became famous overnight. He astonished the audiences with a self-publication, ‘The Bill James Baseball Abstract’. Today, he is known as one of the premiere historians, statisticians and baseball writers in America and has found a place in the Time 100 as ‘one of the most influential people in the world’. Scroll further for more.

Childhood & Early Life

George William ‘Bill’ James was born on October 5, 1949 in Holton, Kansas.
He joined the University of Kansas and studied there for four years before he was sent to join the U.S. Army in 1971. He was sent to fight the Vietnam War, although he never saw any action at the front.
He spent two years in South Korea documenting his experiences as a young lad and wrote to the University of Kansas about taking his final class as he had not completed his semester.
He returned in 1973 with degrees in Economics and English and graduated with an Education degree from the University of Kansas in 1975.


After he left the U.S. Army, he began doing night shifts as a security guard at a pork and beans cannery. It was during this time one of his articles on baseball was published, which received fair and encouraging reviews.
In an effort to reach a wider audience, he self-published a volume on baseball, incorporating his in-depth studies of box-scores and statistics called ‘The Bill James Baseball Abstract’ in 1977.
Over the subsequent years, James became a household name in the world of baseball and by 1982; the sales for his book had almost reached ten-fold. He partnered with a media multinational, who offered to issue forthcoming editions.
In 1988, James ceased writing the ‘Abstract’ due to work-related burnout. He continued to publish hardcover books about baseball history such as ‘The Baseball Book’ (1990-1992) and ‘The Player Ratings Book’ (1993-1995).
For a deeper understanding the game, he developed a couple of statistical tools to aid his in-depth baseball research. A couple of these innovations are ‘Runs Created’, ‘Range Factor’, ‘Win Shares’, ‘Pythagorean Winning Percentage’ and ‘Power/Speed Number’.
He proposed the formation of ‘Project Scoresheet’, a group of fans who got together and collected play-by-play accounts of every game from 1984-1991. However, the group never functioned smoothly.
He joined the company STATS, Inc., who provided data and analysis to all major media outlets, but was eventually acquired by Fox Sports in 2001.
He authored ‘The Bill James Handbook’, releasing the first part of the publication in 2003. He is currently working on the latest volume of the same. He was also employed by the Boston Red Sox, a baseball team for his writings.
In 2008, he launched ‘Bill James Online’, where subscribers of the website could interact with the one another and also view profiles of teams, players and other exhaustive, statistical information of players, matches and events.
He was reported on ’60 minutes’ on March 30, 2008 as a sabermetric pioneer and advisor for the Red Sox team.
He authored ‘Popular Crime- Reflections on the Celebration of Violence’ and ‘Solid Fool’s Gold’, in 2011.
As of 2012, James published a series of ‘sabermetric’ books and is currently a Senior Advisor for the Boston Red Sox team.


Bill James Baseball Abstract
The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
This Time Let’s Not Eat the Bones
The Bill James Baseball Book
The Politics of Glory
The Bill James Player Ratings Book
Win Shares
The Bill James Handbook
The Bill James Gold Mine
Popular Crime- Reflections on the Celebration of Violence
Solid Fool’s Gold

Statistical Tool Innovations

Runs Created
Range Factor
Defensive Efficiency Rating
Win Shares
Pythagorean Winning Percentage
Game Score
Major League Equivalency
The Brock2 System
Similarity Scores
Secondary Average
Power/Speed Number
Approximate Value
Temperature Gauge

Awards & Achievements

World Series Rings, 2004 and 2007
He was named in the Time 100 as ‘one of the most influential people in the world’, 2006
Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame, 2010

Personal Life & Legacy

He made a special appearance on a Simpson’s episode; ‘MoneyBART’.
He is also an ardent fan of the University of Kansas men’s basketball team.
A number of books have been written on James such as ‘The Mind of Bill James’ and ‘How Bill James Changed Our View of Baseball: By Colleagues, Critics, Competitors and Just Plain Fans’.

Citation Information

Article Title

Bill James Biography

Author Editors

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Last Updated

May 03, 2020

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