Greg Spira, Writer and Internet Pioneer, Co-Founder of The Diesel Driver, Dies at 44

By Paul Riegler on 9 January 2012
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Greg Spira, a co-founder of The Diesel Driver and Frequent Business Traveler (née Executive Road Warrior) magazines and an online pioneer, died on December 28, 2011 in New York City.  He was 44 years old.

The cause was polycystic kidney disease and complications stemming from a subsequent kidney transplant, said his brother Jonathan Spira, who is also a co-founder of the two publications.

In 1991, two years before the invention of the first Web browser, Mr. Spira founded the Internet Baseball Awards.  He was considered an important pioneer in Usenet online baseball discussion groups including, and helped found Baseball Prospectus, a Web site that focuses on the sabermetric analysis of baseball.

While primarily known as a researcher, Mr. Spira published two groundbreaking articles, “The Boys of Late Summer,” examining the differences between players born in August versus the 11 other months of the year (“The lesson: If you want your child to be a professional baseball player, you should start planning early. Very early. As in before conception”) in Slate magazine, and “Pitching to the Score,” a piece that examined whether some pitchers “pitch to the score” to win versus simply allowing the fewest number of runs possible, in Baseball Prospectus 1997.

His final article appeared today in Frequent Business Traveler on the topic of buying books online.

Mr. Spira, with Sean Forman, created the site in 2001, and served as an editor and researcher for a variety of books and publications including Maple Street Mets Annual (2008-11), Ultimate Yankees Companion (2008), USA Today Sports Weekly’s Best Baseball Writing 2005, ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia (2004-08), and Sports Illustrated Sports Almanac (2000-01).

Mr. Spira was a thoughtful and fastidious editor whose goal was always clarity and logic. He had a unique style of editing that pulled no punches in getting his thoughts across.

“His curiosity, his need for information, was virtually unquenchable,” said his brother Jonathan, whose book on Information Overload was published last year. “His ability to assimilate information was unsurpassed. His ability to draw conclusions and see around corners that other people didn’t see was particularly unparalleled.”

Mr. Spira also inherited his parents’ love of books and collecting bug and had assembled a voluminous library of contemporary sports books that numbers in the thousands.

Greg Andrew Spira was born in New York City on April 27, 1967 to S. Franklin and Marilyn Spira.  His mother was a magazine editor; his father, known as Fred, was the founder of Spiratone, a company that became the largest retailer of photographic accessories in the U.S. by the 1980s.

Mr. Spira graduated from Bayside High School in 1985 third in his class and magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1989.

Besides his brother, Jonathan, Mr. Spira is survived by his mother, Marilyn.

In memory of Mr. Spira, Accura Media Group, publisher of Frequent Business Traveler and The Diesel Driver, will donate airline miles to one of several charities including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation for each new subscriber to its new weekly Frequent Business Traveler newsletter that Greg helped create, with a goal of donating at least 100,000 miles.  There is no charge for a subscription.

Photo: Greg Spira (right) with his brother, Jonathan, at his graduation from Harvard. Photo by Fred Spira.