There are many behind-the-scenes contributors at Forest Park’s No Glove Nationals Softball Tournament but few are more valuable than Milan Stevanovich aka “Mr. Stats.”
For 35 years, he has been compiling stats for softball tournaments and competitions in other sports.
He was first invited to the No Gloves in 1991 by then park director Dave Novak. Each year, he has manned his post underneath the announcer’s booth at Field One. He records data from score sheets to create 30-page booklets of statistics for each team. He also compiles the crucial data for choosing the tournament MVP.
Stevanovich has been obsessed with stats ever since his kids played youth sports. Then, when they became old enough, his kids helped out at the No Gloves.
“It started out with just me but it became a family tradition,” Stevanovich said. “I’ve had over ten family members help me.”
His current assistant is his younger sister, Helen Stevanovich aka “Sister Stats.”
She’s been helping her big brother at the prestigious Forest Park tournament since 2000.
“It’s fun and I get to be with my brother,” she said. “I get to work with a computer. If you enjoy it, it’s not hard work.”
Teams bring score sheets to them, or Helen gathers them herself.
“I want to be out on the field,” Helen said. “The atmosphere is cool; like the World Series.”
The Park District of Forest Park provides brother and sister with good accommodations: a quiet, cool space for inputting data into the computer. Many tournament-goers are not aware of their contribution.
“We have to be low-key because the players are the stars,” Helen said. “We’re the oil that makes things run.”
She said that the No Gloves is very important to the Stevanovich family.
“I plan to keep doing it for as long as I can,” Helen said.
She defers to her brother, though, as the boss.
“People are interested in how players are doing,” Milan said. “They want to know who the hottest hitters are. The announcers in the booth have stats to relay to the fans.”
Compiling these numbers has become more sophisticated over time.
“I used to have half a car full of equipment,” Milan recalled. “Now, I carry a small case with a printer, a laptop and a ream of paper.”
Softball isn’t the only sport he enjoys.
“I’ve always been a fan of all the sports,” noted Milan, “but I didn’t play beyond grammar school.”
As a kid, he would fill notebooks with sports statistics. It was natural for this numbers guy to become an IT guy, helping people with their computer problems.
He’s retired now but makes a few bucks helping out at the No Gloves. He puts in so much time, the hourly rate isn’t great.
Milan works the first two days of the tournament alone and Helen joins him when crunch time starts on Saturday morning.
“No one could replace us,” he said. “We compile batting averages, slugging percentage. When we finish the booklet, teams have the whole tournament in their hands. Everyone’s surprised by how quickly we do it.
“Stats don’t lie. We have them back to 1987. We may put together a database someday.”
In the meantime, “Mister” and “Sister” Stats will be working in their cozy space making statistical sense of countless games.
“Being there on-site is the greatest thing,” Milan said.
No Gloves Tournament Director Larry Piekarz would second that.
“Mister Stats does such a great job. He’s like the Wizard of Oz – the man behind the curtain.”