Shortly after The Sporting News was launched, 15-year-old Lanigan went to work for his uncles, the Spink brothers. He worked for the New York Press until 1911, when he became secretary of the International League under Ed Barrow. He served stints as baseball editor for the Cleveland Leader, business manager of several Cardinals farm teams, and press information director for the International League. His frail health was a factor in his frequent job changes. In 1946, he was named curator of the Hall of Fame and later served as its historian.
Lanigan is a titan of baseball record keeping. He was among the first to advocate the formation of the BBWAA and published The Baseball Cyclopedia in 1922, an early model for today’s The Baseball Encyclopedia and Total Baseball. He was instrumental in making the RBI an official statistic and the unofficial lists he compiled for years are a valuable resource. Called Figure Filbert by Damon Runyon, he once confided: “I really don’t care much about baseball, or looking at ball games, major or minor. All my interest in baseball is in its statistics.”