Induction year: 2011
Born (date, year, place): April 21, 1948 in Kelowna, B.C.
Primary Position: Founder & Editor of Baseball America
Baseball America’s motto is “Baseball news you can’t find anywhere else.” The same can be said about its founder, as he is absolutely one-of-a-kind. A public accountant and baseball junkie, Simpson had briefly dipped his toes in baseball industry waters as general manager of the Lethbridge Expos in the rookie-level Pioneer League, and he spent three summers with the semi-pro Alaska Goldpanners, during which time he doubled as sports editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
“I had the good fortune to watch Dave Winfield break in as a full-time position player in Fairbanks in 1972, and Andre Dawson make his professional debut in Lethbridge three years later,” recalled Simpson from his home in Durham, North Carolina.
When The Sporting News ignored the growth of college baseball, and reduced its baseball coverage of the minor leagues, winter and summer leagues, the draft, the ambitious but admittedly naive Simpson, decided to step in and fill the void. He had no publishing background, limited financial resources, and few active contacts in baseball. Yet he believed he could produce a bi-weekly publication covering every corner of the baseball industry while doubling up as circulation manager, advertising manager and production manager, out of his garage, in Canada no less.
The 2004 Jack Graney Award winner moved his family to White Rock, BC, and established post office boxes in Blaine and Bellingham, Washington.
“I had to do everything I could to give readers the impression this was a USA-based publication. Otherwise, it was akin to starting a hockey publication in the U.S. – it wouldn’t have worked if readers thought it was a Canadian product,” added Simpson.
“I had none of today’s sophisticated word-processing and production capabilities. My garage in White Rock was equipped with a typesetter so primitive that it had no memory. You could see the line you were typing on the screen and nothing more. If the processor ate your copy, it was gone.”
The publication originated with 1,500 subscribers and 30 years later has a base of approximately 250,000 readers.
1997-inductee Pat Gillick recalled the days when the industry’s hardest-working scouts resented Baseball America due to the in-depth information Simpson assembled.
“This recognition is overdue,” said Gillick.
“Allan has always had a love and passion for baseball, and when today’s scouts, general managers, players and fans want the close-to-the-scene information, they all turn to Baseball America.”
The Ball Hall also received outstanding endorsements of Simpson from Alex Anthopoulos, Doug Melvin, Dave Dombrowski, John Schuerholz, Terry Ryan, Gary Hughes, Greg Hamilton and Jim Callis, among many others.
“This is truly a great personal honor, certainly the greatest I have ever received,” gushed Simpson.
“In so many ways, it validates and puts into perspective everything I have done in the baseball world. It is all the more meaningful as it is all about Canada, and I have never forgotten my Canadian roots.”
“Baseball was underexposed in many areas at the grassroots level of the sport, in both Canada and the United States, when I had the good fortune to launch Baseball America 30 years ago. I take great satisfaction in the role that I have played through the years to help publicize and promote this great game. I am very grateful to the Canadian Hall of Fame for recognizing this contribution.”
Simpson and his wife Jill have three children, all Canadian-born, Jordan, Kelsey and Jeffrey. He left Baseball America after 25 years to become vice-president and director of national scouting with Perfect Game USA,the world’s largest baseball event company and scouting service. They are about to open a new complex in Cartersville, Georgia, where they will expand their staging of high school tournaments and showcases.