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The mathematician of luck passes away
2006-07-26 09:41
by Bob Timmermann

I noticed this in King Kaufman's column. Kaufman wrote about the passing of mathematician Frederick Mosteller.

Mosteller had an obituary in the Washington Post.

Toward the end was this paragraph:

Among the works in his prolific output were several articles on magic tricks and bridge. One of Dr. Mosteller's early papers, the first known academic analysis of baseball, showed that even a strong team relies heavily on luck in a short, seven-game series. He wrote the piece after the Boston Red Sox, his favorite team, lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946.

In 1946, St. Louis was 98-58 (winning a playoff against Brooklyn), while Boston finished 104-50. It was a World Series that featured Stan Musial and Ted Williams.

Musial batted .222 in the series. Williams, bothered by an injury, batted .200. Neither man homered.

Mosteller likely went through the streets of Boston after the series ended yelling, "Sample size! Sample size!"

2006-07-26 11:11:30
1.   Xeifrank
Are you saying that size really matters?
vr, Xei
2006-07-26 11:15:52
2.   Bob Timmermann
I think you're looking for the Harold Reynolds thread. ;-)
2006-07-26 18:25:57
3.   Rich Lederer
Oh, I thought he was heard saying, "Our bleep doesn't work in the playoffs!"

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