OCEAN SHORES — Tucked away in her Ocean Shores home, Merrianna McCully had nearly all of the material and information needed to write a book about her second career in baseball.
All she needed was a bit of motivation and a push, one delivered by her friends and by a well-known baseball statistical novel.
On Saturday, McCully, 72, greeted friends and fellow Sabermetric followers at the launch party at Galway Bay restaurant for her new book, Three Up, Three Down: Pearls of Wisdom, which chronicles her journey as a former independent baseball statistician for baseball television broadcaster Jim Kaat.
The book is self-published, a 270-page tome which features her story as a statistician, her statistical baseball theories and how Kaat, now with MLB Network, and former Minnesota Twins/Chicago Cubs/Baltimore Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail used and benefited from her work.
Kaat, who hired McCully while he worked as a TV analyst for the Minnestoa Twins, CBS Sports, ESPN and the MSG/YES Network, wrote the book’s foreword.
“I’ve been very lucky that it has come easy for me; I never asked for any of the jobs I got,” McCully said. “When I signed on with Kaat, it was because I heard him on television. He had a few things to say in that foreword. MacPhail came to be through Kaat and he hired me for a few years. I now realize what I’ve accomplished in baseball.”
The idea for the book came from her friends, who told her that everything she’s done in baseball — at a smaller scale — was similar to Michael Lewis’ now-iconic book, Moneyball, which chronicled the Oakland Athletics’ use of statistics and Sabermetrics to put together winning baseball teams in 2004.
“What spurred me on to write the book was Moneyball,” said McCully, who credits Marlene Thomasson for helping her to write the book. “When the movie came out, my friends told me that it was about ‘everything that you did.’ I always had it on my bucket list to write a book about my adventures and I still had all of my game notes for Kaat.
“The book is about every team and I’m still a fan,” she added. “You can’t be a Sabermetrician without being a fan. I am a pioneer in the Sabermetrics industry if you look back at it. What makes the story is that I’m female. There isn’t another female that has done (all of this). One of these days, there will be a woman general manager in baseball.”
McCully retired from the Yakima Herald-Republic in 2001 as the pre-press manager after 30 years and had already been working with Kaat since 1990 as his exclusive statistician. McCully met Kaat after she sent him a letter containing several pages of statistics on how the 1989 Minnesota Twins weren’t as bad at winning low-scoring games as he announced in a game.
Kaat got McCully hired by CBS Sports in 1990 and McCully’s baseball career as one of the first female baseball statisticians began. MacPhail, who was the general manager of the Twins when Kaat was with the team, also contacted McCully for help with pitchers — McCully’s statistical specialty. Kaat and McCully worked together for 15 years and McCully still provides some info and stats to Kaat on occasion when he gets an assignment for MLB Network.
Over the last 10 years, McCully has worked as an independent real estate agent in Ocean Shores, but never stopped crunching numbers.
“I still have an extraordinary active mind for math,” said McCully, who briefly talked about her fight with breast cancer in 2007 in the book. She was declared cancer free in 2012.
Along with the baseball journey, the book is peppered with McCully’s game notes to Kaat and it serves as a Master’s thesis in baseball statistics. It includes McCully’s final score theory built on run support for pitchers — four or more runs as the benchmark — to get to the postseason. She uses the 2001 Seattle Mariners’ 116-win team and the 1998 New York Yankees to illustrate the theory.
“When I started the final score study, I heard (former Seattle Mariners broadcaster) Joe Simpson ask in 1985, ‘How many runs do the Mariners need to score before they can win consistently?” McCully said. “I wrote it down. I know I could do the Mariners, but to compare the Mariners to the rest of baseball, I had to do every team. So, I did.
“I’m on my 26th year, with report cards on every team,” she added. “The numbers and percentages, even through the last 25 years, haven’t changed. To be a winning team, you have to score four or more runs at least 100 times a season and win at least 80 percent of those games. You still have to have a good percentage of your low-scoring games, around 33 percent, and it is a combination of the two.”
For now, McCully is enjoying life as an author. She is planning on sending her book to every general manager in Major League Baseball and one or two GMs already have the book on their desk, she says. She also has it marked for a few well-known baseball executives and personalities as well.
“Right now, I’ll spend the next two years marketing the book,” McCully said. “I’m very interested to see how this book does and how it is received.”
• Merrianna McCully, Three Up, Three Down — Pearls of Wisdom, (self-published, 2014) is available through Amazon.
Rob Burns: (360) 537-3926; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @RobRVR.