NEW YORK -- Seymour Siwoff, the statistics maven who turned the Elias Sports Bureau -- the official statistician of the NFL --- into the place to go for exact information on teams and athletes for more than a half-century, died Friday. He was 99.
In keeping with Siwoff's penchant for detail, he died at his home in Manhattan at 12:57 p.m. EST, according to grandson Joe Gilston, who took control of the company in March when 100 percent of Elias' stock was bought by The Joseph Gilston Trust. Siwoff still went to the office regularly until a few months ago, Gilston said.
Elias was started in 1913 by brothers Al Munro Elias and Walter Bruce Elias and became official statistician of baseball's National League in 1919. Siwoff, born on Nov. 1, 1920, started as an accountant in 1938 and purchased the company in 1952 from the brothers' widows.
In 1961, Siwoff convinced NFL Commissioner Alvin Ray "Pete" Rozelle, who was 35 years old at the time and in his third year in the position, to hire the firm to be the official statistician of the league. The move came at a time where Rozelle spearheaded the league's efforts to increase revenue and expand its presence on television.
For over 55 years, the NFL, its subsidiaries and Elias have worked hand-in-hand to bring fans around the world valuable information on their favorite teams and players, both past and present, on a daily basis.
The company eventually consolidated its baseball work around 1980 when it replaced the Sports Information Center as the American League's official statistician and from 1981 until 2006 it compiled statistics that were used to determine baseball's free-agent compensation levels.
Even before the start of the computer age, Siwoff pioneered details split statistics, such as batting right- and left-handed, in day games and night games, at home and on the road, and with runners in scoring position. It was a forerunner to the 21st century transformation on baseball in an analytic era when computer programs help teams determine which players to start, when to replace them and where to position them on the field.
In addition to the NFL and Major League Baseball, Elias provides statistical support to the NBA, WNBA, Major League Soccer and many broadcast networks.
Siwoff is survived by son Ronald Siwoff and daughter Nancy Gilston.
Funeral services will be private, and a later public memorial is planned, his daughter said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.