The Society's founding meeting in 1971 is considered the first annual meeting. The second of what came to be called National Conventions was held in Washington, D.C., from June 23 to 24, 1972, with 23 members in attendance. Eventually, the meetings have come to be referred to by number. The 2011 National Convention, for example, was called SABR 41.
The 1973 National Convention was held at the Sheraton-Chicago Hotel in Chicago from June 22 to 24 with 23 or, depending on the source, 26 attendees. The cost was $15 for a single room and $20 for a double. Negro Leaguer Dave Malarcher was the guest speaker.
Original plans called for the 1974 National Convention to be held in Newark, New Jersey, but plans were changed and the meeting was held at the Holiday Inn in Philadelphia from June 22 to 24. Dick Cramer and Ben Weiser were the organizers, and 40 members and guests attended. The speakers were former Phils and Reds announcer Gene Kelley, Negro Leaguer Ted Page, and writer Fred Lieb.
Sixty-four members attended the 1975 National Convention which was held in Boston from July 11 to 13. Society members took in a game at Fenway Park. Eric Simonsen was the convention chairman. Jumpin' Joe Dugan was the speaker.
Forty-five members attended the 1976 National Convention at the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in Chicago from June 25 to 27. The Convention Committee was led by Emil Rothe and Bob Soderman with assistance from Eddie Gold, Bill Loughman, and Stan Grosshandler.
Lew Fonseca was the banquet speaker and the Treasurer's report listed the Society's assets at $1,150 at convention time.
Gene Murdock, Merl Kleinknecht, and Bob Hunter headed the committee that produced the 1977 National Convention in Columbus, Ohio, from June 24 to 26. It was attended by 74 members. Kit Crissey was in charge of a midwest players reunion which, held in conjunction with the convention, drew 24 former players, among them Johnny Lipon, George Sisler, Jr., Jim Fridley, Dick Hoover, Roy Hughes, Danny Kravitz, George Spencer, Larry File, and Jim Waugh. Former Cards and Tigers catcher Johnny Bucha was the main speaker at the Friday night welcoming social.
Eighty-one members attended the 1978 National Convention at the Paramus, New Jersey, Paramus-Parkway Holiday Inn from July 28 to 30. Al and Barbara Wicklund were the convention organizers. The Wicklunds, and Cliff and Evelyn Kachline, should probably share the title of the Society's first "couple." Tony Lupien, ex-major leaguer, Harvard graduate, and longtime Dartmouth College baseball coach, gave a "scholarly discourse on player organizations, personnel management, and the pension plan." Clearly this foreshadowed his and co-author Lee Lowenfish's book, The Imperfect Diamond. The Society attended an old-timers game honoring the 1949-53 Yankees that preceded a Yanks/Twins game. The player panel, put together by Kit Crissey, included Hinkey Haines, Walt Hunzinger, Charlie Hargreaves, Russ Van Atta, and the big star of the day, 91-year-old Jack Martin who had also appeared at the October 29, 1977, regional meeting in Raritan, New Jersey.
Bill Borst organized the 1979 Convention which was held at the Lennox Hotel in St. Louis from June 29 to July 1. One hundred and fifteen people, 78 of them members, attended. Mike Shannon was the banquet speaker, and Cool Papa Bell, Andy High, and Buddy Blattner were all in attendance. Room rates were $17.50 for a single and $22.50 for a double. The Treasurer's report listed $14,000 in Society assets at convention time.
The Society numbered 1,145 when 62 members and about 20 guests attended the 1980 National meeting at the TraveLodge International Hotel at the Los Angeles Airport from July 11 to 13. Room rates were $36 for a single and $40 for double. Roy Smalley, Sr. was the banquet speaker. Wally Berger, Jigger Statz, Quincy Trouppe, Bert Shepard, former Pirates General Manager Joe L. Brown, and American League umpire Joe Rue also spoke.
The 1981 National Convention was held in Toronto, Ontario, from July 24 to 26 at the University of Toronto's Erindale campus. This was the first time the meeting was held outside of the United States and the first time the convention was held at a college. Dormitory rooms cost $13.65 a night. One-hundred and forty-seven individuals, 97 members and 50 guests, attended. Due to the players strike, the Blue Jays-Orioles game had been cancelled. Speakers were former major leaguers Goody Rosen, Phil Marchildon, Roy Hughes, and Reno Bertoia. Former Negro Leaguers Gene Benson, Buddy Burbage, Jeep McLain, and Sy Morton were also in attendance.
The 1982 National Convention was held at Towson State University near Baltimore. One-hundred and fifty-one members were included in the 227 total attendance. Sparky Anderson and Ernie Harwell were the featured speakers. The player panel consisted of Billy Hunter, Dick Hall, Roy Hughes, Al Rubeling, and Rex Barney.
There were 262 attendees at the 1983 National Convention at Marquette University in Milwaukee from July 15 to 17. Tom Jozwik was the organizer. Hal Goodenough, a boyhood teammate of Mickey Cochrane from Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and later a baseball executive, was the guest speaker. Other ex-players on hand were Ken Keltner, Andy Pafko, Mike Hegan, Fabian Gaffke, Lester Lockett, Ted Radcliffe, and umpire Stan Landes.
The 1984 Convention was held at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1884 World Series between the Providence Grays and the New York Metropolitans. There were 350 on hand from July 6 through July 8. Lou Gorman was the banquet speaker. Eric Simonsen was the convention organizer. The player panel consisted of Clem Labine, Dave Stenhouse, Tony Lupien, and Boston's Triple-A affiliate Pawtucket Red Sox owner Ben Mondor. One of the convention highlights was a recreated 1884 game with Society members wearing reproductions of 19th century uniforms. The game, originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon, was rained out and eventually played between games of the Sunday Pawtucket Red Sox doubleheader. Photos of the game and the players in their 19th century uniforms ran on the front pages of local papers the next day.
At the 1985 Convention at the Hyatt Regency in Oakland, California, room rates were $56.16 night. Over 300 heard A's owner Roy Eisenhardt speak at the banquet. The player panel consisted of Sam Chapman, Earl Robinson, and Bill Raimondi.
The 1986 National was held at the Loyola University Lakeshore Campus in Chicago from July 18 to 20. It was the last National Convention held at a college campus using dormitory rooms and cafeteria dining. A total of 479 members and guests attended. Bill Gleason was the banquet speaker. Marge and Jon Daniels and Rich and Barbara Topp, the Society's most active spouses, were the convention organizers. Chico Carrasquel, John Klippstein, Rich Nye, Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, Marv Rotblatt, and Nelson Potter made up the player panel. The Society's constitution was amended to make the offices of president, vice-president, and treasurer two-year positions rather than one.
The 1987 Convention was held at the Crystal City Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, from June 27 to 29. Six-hundred and thirty-one attended. John Steadman was the banquet speaker. Jay Demarest was the convention organizer. Luke Appling homered at the old-timers All-Star game. Ex-players Chuck Stevens, Milt Pappas, Wilmer Fields, and former Red Sox General Manager Dick O'Connell were on hand. Eddie Frierson performed his one-man show, "Lunch with Christy Mathewson." A vote passed at the convention to increase the annual membership dues to $30.
The 1988 Convention was in Minneapolis from July 7 to 1 0 with 340 people in attendance. Andy MacPhail was the keynote speaker, and minor-league home run legend Joe Hauser was a special guest. Bob Tholkes was the convention organizer and the Halsey Hall regional group the host Society chapter. A player panel was made up of Hauser, Julio Becquer, Howie Schultz, and Nancy Mudge Cato.
The 1989 National Convention was held in Albany, New York, from June 23 through June 26. Richard Puff was the convention chairman, and welcomed 524 members and guests. Phil Rizzuto and American League President Bobby Brown were the featured speakers. Society members took in the Eastern League All-Star Game and a group trip was made to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. This was SABR's most tumultuous National, for reasons that will be described below (in Chapter 20).
The 1990 Convention was held in Cleveland, Ohio. Total attendance was 481. Sam McDowell was the guest speaker.
SABR 21 was held at the Penta Hotel in New York City from June 28 to 30, 1991. A total of 405 members and guests attended. Mel Allen was the keynote speaker. The membership took in a Mets-Phillies game. Singer Terry Cashman did his rendition of "Talkin' Baseball" and the Brooklyn Dodger Sym-phoney also performed.
Four-hundred and eighty-five people attended the 1992 National Convention at the Adam's Mark Hotel in St. Louis where room rates were $91.77. Bing Devine was the banquet speaker. Players at the convention included former St. Louis Cardinals Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Marty Marion, Ted Savage, Joe Cunningham, and Tom Poholsky; and St. Louis Browns Ned Garver, Don Lenhardt, Jim Delsing, Ed Mickelson, and Babe Martin.
Three-hundred and fifty members and guests attended SABR 23 in San Diego from June 24 to June 28, 1993. Joe Naiman was the convention organizer and the Ted Williams regional group was the host group. Dick Williams was the keynote speaker after the Saturday night banquet. A panel of players from the 1984 National League Champion San Diego Padres included Kurt Bevacqua, Bruce Bochy, and Garry Templeton. The major-league player panel consisted of Irv Noren, Joe Nuxhall, and Pete Coscarart; and a minor-league panel included Earl Keller, Rod Graber, AI Olsen, and Tony Criscola. At a non-players panel we heard from former American League umpire Ed Runge, long-time Dodger executive Buzzie Bavasi, and announcer Marty Brennaman. Many of the convention-goers and their families attended a bus trip to the San Diego Zoo.
A total of 405 members and guests attended the 1994 National Convention at the Arlington Marriott in Arlington, Texas. Robin Roberts was the keynote speaker and player panels consisted of Roberts, Bobby Bragan, Buck O'Neil, Frank Lucchesi, J.C. Hartman, and Charlie Pride.
SABR 25 was organized by Ed Luteran and the Society's Forbes Field regional group at the Hyatt-Regency Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Chuck Tanner gave the keynote address to the 451 attendees. Elroy Face, Bill Mazeroski, and Frank Thomas, among others, were in attendance.
The 1996 National at the Marriott Downtown in Kansas City attracted 431 members and guests. Steve Fehr gave the keynote address and the player panel consisted of Bob Feller, Bob Usher, and Clarence Marshall. Feller was honored by SABR and its Kansas City chapter with the initial SABR Hero of Baseball. The award, given at the discretion of the Society's Executive Board, is to honor a baseball personality whose career has been marked by heroism on or off the field. Other winners have included Ted Williams and Pee Wee Reese in 1997, and Stan Musial in 1998.
The 1997 Convention was held in Louisville, Kentucky, at the Hyatt Regency Louisville. Convention organizer co-chairs were Harry Rothgerber and Henry Mayer. A total of 440 members and guests were in attendance. Pee Wee Reese and Jim Bunning were the featured speakers, with then Congressman Bunning giving the keynote address. There were rumors all weekend long that Ted Williams would attend but the Splendid Splinter, in poor health, was unable to make it. There were several interesting player panels. One consisted of Reese, Carl Erskine, Don Lund, Ed Stevens, and Tot Presnell. The current Louisville Redbirds were represented by Gaylen Pitts, Kevin Koslofski, and Brian Maxcy. Among other players present were Ned Garver, Bill Cash, Connie Johnson, Butch McCord, Thomas Turner, Slick Surrett, Ernie Andres, and Mel Parnell. Branch Rickey III and Louisville Redbirds General Manager Dale Owens also spoke. The membership had a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Bat Factory and also attended an American Association game between the Louisville Redbirds and the Iowa Cubs in which Iowa pitcher Miguel Batista tossed a neat two-hit shutout.
Four-hundred and thirty-seven people attended the 1998 convention at the San Francisco Airport Marriott in Burlingame, California, from June 25 through June 28. The convention chairman was Barry Mednick and Bill Rigney was the keynote speaker. Player panels consisted of former Giant players Orlando Cepeda, Hank Sauer, Eddie Bressoud, and Mike McCormick; and a Pacific Coast League panel of Larry Jansen, Gino Cimoli, Dino Restelli, Bud Watkins, and Ernie Broglio.
The 1999 National Convention was hosted by the Society's Arizona Flame Delhi chapter in Scottsdale, Arizona. Community and kids' programs were an imaginative part of the schedule, and convention chairman Rodney Johnson even laid on a no-hitter by the Cardinals' Jose Jimenez. Tommy Henrich was a delightful keynote speaker.
The 2000 National Convention site was West Palm Beach, Florida – SABR’s first venture into the South. The Welcome Luncheon featured Dave Dombrowski, President and General Manager of the Florida Marlins, who brought along special guest Tony Perez: Other convention speakers and guests included Pete Broberg, Larry Brown, Pete Castiglione, Mike de la Hoz, Pete Castiglione, Jeff Fischer, Monte Irvin, and Tom Underwood. A tour of Spring Training sites included Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, home of the Mets, and Jupiter, where the Cardinals and Expos trained.
SABR 31, the 2001 National Convention, was held in Milwaukee, at the Four Points by Sheraton Airport hotel, and featured a two-game, two-city doubleheader – a White Sox/Cubs interleague contest at Wrigley Field in Chicago and a Twins/Brewers battle at Milwaukee’s new Miller Park. One of the highlights of the convention was the Centennial Party for the American League, and the unveiling of a historical marker at the site of the Republican House hotel, where the A.L. got its start. Three player panels entertained and informed convention attendees. Jim Nitz moderated the panel of All American Girls Professional Baseball League players Vivian Sheriffs Anderson, Annastasia Batikis, Jackie Mattson Baumgart, Betty Moczynski, Mary O’Hara, and Joyce Hill Westerman. Former Negro Leaguers Dennis Biddle, Sherwood Brewer, and Carl Long enlightened SABR members with their experiences and exploits. Milwaukee Brewers/Braves player guests included Johnny Logan, Felix Mantilla, Andy Pafko, and Bert Thiel. A Milwaukee Authors Panel was composed of “Big Jim” Ksicinski, Tom Flaherty, and Gregg Hoffmann. Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig was the Awards Banquet speaker, and fielded questions on a variety of subjects, including adding a “wild card” team to post-season play, umpire accountability, Latin American and Japanese involvement in baseball, the sociological significance of Jackie Robinson in MLB, the work stoppage of 1994 and 1995, team disparities, the lack of World Series day games, and many other questions that only a Commissioner would be asked!
The 2002 National Convention, held in Boston, attracted a record-breaking 712 registrants, who were treated to an abundance of research presentations, special panels, and unique events. David Vincent honored SABR’s beloved late founder, Bob Davids, during the awards ceremony. Bob passed away in February, at the age of 75. Bob Davids Chapter leader Bob Savitt and Larry McCray supervised a “Tribute to Bob Davids” table near the registration desk throughout the convention’s four days. In addition to over 40 research presentations, convention-goers were treated to six panels during the weekend. The Boston Braves Panel included Sibby Sisti, fresh from his role as a manager in the film The Natural, Robert Fuchs, son of the late Braves owner Judge Emil Fuchs, and former Braves players Ray Martin, Art Johnson, and Ralph Evans. Dave Anderson, Chair of the Umpires and Rules Committee, moderated the Umpires Panel, which included official scorer David Vincent, Umpire Evaluator Kevin O’Connor, and umpire Bob Long. The Media Panel was well represented by newspaper reporter Gordon Edes, radio announcer Joe Castiglione, TV broadcaster Pete Van Wieren, in town with the visiting Atlanta Braves, and internet journalist Rob Neyer. The Scouts Panel, moderated by Bill Clark, included Galen Carr, John Kociak, Paul Snyder, and Bob Howsam. Bill Nowlin moderated the Owners/General Managers Panel, consisting of Bob Howsam, Roland Hemond, and Drew Weber, owner of the Lowell Spinners. Anthony Salazar moderated a SABR convention first-ever Latino Panel, and drew applause after he mentioned Luis Tiant – a Boston-area favorite. Eduardo Valero, chair of SABR’s Latin America Committee, Dr. Carlos Munoz, Jr., professor emeritus at UC Berkeley, and Bruce Markusen, author of books on Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda, completed the panel. A highlight of the convention was the Talkin’ Ted Williams Forum, which opened with a captivating performance of Dick Flavin’s “Teddy at the Bat,” and included guests Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Maureen Cronin. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the Boston Convention was Bill Nowlin’s idea for The Fenway Project. Each SABR member in attendance was encouraged to attend the Red Sox-Braves game and to record their observations and thoughts. These notes, photos, and 64 essays, written by SABR members were then published in a 2004 book The Fenway Project, chronicling all aspects of the game from many diverse viewpoints. The idea had been inspired by an earlier effort, Facets of the Game, put together by several members of the San Diego Chapter.
SABR 33 reached Rocky Mountain heights, when 494 registrants from as far away as Australia and the United Kingdom converged in Denver for the 2003 Annual Convention. In addition to some unusually informative research presentations, attendees were entertained by several interesting panel discussions. The Art of Relief Pitching Panel was composed of former big-leaguers Ryne Duren, Charlie Metro, and Nick Willhite. Another highlight was the Baseball at Altitude Panel, moderated by Alan Schwartz of Baseball America. Panel members included Dr. Robert Adair (author of the Physics of Baseball), Dan O’Dowd (GM and Executive VP of the Rockies), and Rany Jazayerli (Baseball Prospectus), all of who attempted to explain “baseball at altitude.” Despite the explorations and explanations, no “answer” was presented as a “remedy” in this fascinating panel!
The Baseball 2020 Panel began with a moving tribute to scheduled panelist Leonard Koppett, delivered by William B. Gould, who recalled the friendship they shared. Koppett died only two weeks before the convention. Alan Schwarz mentioned the breadth and depth in Koppett’s thinking along with the influence he continues to have. A videotape of Koppett’s 1992 acceptance speech for the Hall of Fame’s Spink Award was played at the conclusion of this tribute. The Baseball 2020 panel opened with a special videotaped introduction by George Will, who was a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Baseball Economics. George’s personal theory was that baseball was fundamentally the same game as it was in 1903, and he anticipated no radical changes by 2020. Tom Goldstein moderated the panel and directed audience questions to the panelists: Andrew Zimbalist, Gary Gillette, and William Gould. Zimbalist pointed out that growth factors in population and household income predicted by that time needed to be entered into the expansion discussion. Fans should demand expansion, he said, not contraction, since the market would support it.
On Saturday, after a Scouts Roundtable discussion with Pat Gillick, many SABR members attended the Coors Field Braintrust. This special session, moderated by Paul Parker, included personnel from Coors Field assembled to describe their work, and field questions from members about the ballpark. Convention attendees were also treated with a Living History panel discussion moderated by Jay Sanford (Denver Post Tournament) featuring former Negro League players Byron “Mex” Johnson and William Richardson, who regaled the audience with their experiences and memories. Kansas City Monarch shortstop Byron Johnson recounted the 1933 Negro Leagues East-West All-Star Game, and considered it the pinnacle of his career. At the Awards Luncheon, Roland Hemond was on hand to present the SABR Scouts Committee’s Roland Hemond Award to Pat Gillick. Gillick praised SABR for its efforts in preserving the heritage and history of baseball scouting. Former Major League Umpire Jim Evans delivered the keynote address followed by a Q&A session afterwards. Through the generous support of The Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Newspaper Agency, convention attendees were treated to two publications: The Denver Post Tournament and Above the Fruited Plain.
2004 – Tell your Aunt Hattie, this year its Cincinnati! A total of 644 registrants made this Convention the second-best attended in history, trailing only Boston in 2002. Marvin Miller, longtime Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, spoke to an overflow Awards Luncheon crowd. Sandwiched in among more than 30 research presentations were four featured speaker panels. The Local Players Panel, moderated by Reds TV announcer Chris Welsh, consisted of former major leaguers Todd Benzinger and Pat Tabler, along with Mike Cameron, Ken Griffey Jr.’s coach at Moeller High School, and veteran University of Cincinnati baseball coach Glenn Sample. Alan Schwarz moderated a panel on the 1919 Cincinnati Reds, where researchers Gene Carney, Daniel A. Nathan, Jim Sandoval, and David Fleitz took a look back at the controversial 1919 World Series. The Crosley Field Reds panel gave members a chance to question former Reds Joe Nuxhall, Chuck Harmon, Jim O’Toole, and Lee May. In a SABR convention first, a Baseball Relatives panel shared stories of the past from relatives of former ballplayers and umpires. Included on the panel were Joyce Dolle, widow of Gus Bell (and mother of Buddy, grandmother of David and Michael); Eleanor Kluszewski, widow of former Red great Ted Kluszewski; Susan Dellinger, granddaughter of Hall of Famer Edd Roush; Charles Dautel, grandson of National League umpire Cy Rigler, and Paul Sallee, cousin of 1908-21 National League pitcher Slim Sallee. Bill Nowlin conducted an oral history “on stage” with Tim Naehring. In a special presentation, Doug Lyons interviewed legendary softball pitcher Eddie Feigner, famous for his four-man team, “The King and His Court.” Over 600 SABRen attended the Friday night Reds-Cardinals game, with the highlight being a spectacular catch – still shown on highlight reels - by St. Louis outfielder Jim Edmonds.
In 1981, SABR held its Annual Convention in Toronto, and while the SABR faithful showed up, Major League Baseball didn’t. The convention dates coincided with the player strike! In 2005, we again ventured North of the Border, with much better results – 461 registrants attended, making this the largest international gathering of SABR members. David McGimpsey moderated a Canadian Baseball Literature panel of award-winning and honored authors. Himself a writer of several poetry collections, he partook in some of the Q&A raised by listeners wanting to learn more about Canadians writing about baseball. The panelists included Martin Levin, George Bowering, and Steven Hayward. The Canadian Business of Baseball panel focused on a myriad of issues face teams located in Canada. Gary Gillette, co-chair of the Business of Baseball Committee, Paul Beeston, longtime Toronto Blue Jays executive, and President and CEO of Major League Baseball (1997-2002), and Tom Valcke, current President & CEO of The Canadian Hall of Fame and Museum, provided attendees insights on the impact of the Expos moving out, and the declining number of Minor League teams and the impact it causes owners and fans. John Matthew IV was moderator for the Toronto Media panel, encouraging an abundance of audience participation by asking nearly 40 questions, both from the panelists and from members of the audience. A marketing producer for mlb.com and formerly in the press box himself, Matthew immediately stimulated the panelists by having each trace the changes over the courses of their career. The panelists in included Neil MacCarl, Larry Milson, Spencer Fordin, and Bob Elliott. MacCarl covered the International League Maple Leafs and the Blue Jays for the Toronto Star. Milson was the senior active member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, and wrote for The Globe and Mail. Fordin was in his fifth year with mlb.com, his fourth year in Toronto, and he had already covered three World Series and four ALCS! Bob Elliott was a columnist for the Toronto Sun, a member of the Veterans Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and had been a beat writer for both the Expos and Jays. Although primarily a reliever during his six-year major-league career, Paul Spoljaric made a spot start for Dr. Ron Taylor who was unable to attend and participate on the Canadian Player panel. Paul was joined by Warren Sawkiw, who participated on the Canadian National Team in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Former Expos announcer Jacques Doucet was the eloquent emcee of the Annual SABR Awards Luncheon, the event which featured Blue Jays President and CEO Paul Godfrey as the keynote speaker. Godfrey shared his unique experience of bringing a major-league franchise to Toronto.
In late June 2006, Seattle hosted the Annual Convention, with 539 members in attendance, making it our largest convention west of the Mississippi. One of the highlights of the convention was the 1969 Seattle Pilots panel, featuring four members of that team - Jim Bouton, Steve Hovley, Mike Marshall, and Jim Pagliaroni. The SABR Founders panel included founders Bill Gustafson, Tom Hufford, and Bob McConnell, as well as two members who joined SABR the month after its founding - Pete Palmer and Tom Zocco. Jim Bouton was also the featured speaker at the Awards Luncheon, where he reminded listeners of the threat that steroids posed to the integrity of the game. “We used greenies to overcome hangovers. They were performance enablers, they allowed you to play up to your ability, but not beyond your ability,” said the former pitcher. A panel consisting of former Pacific Coast League players included Eddie Basinski, Dick Fitzgerald, Wes Stock, and Edo Vanni. The Collective Bargaining panel discussion featured Dick Moss, Mike Marshall, and Andrew Zimbalist, who gave their insights into the labor relations situation in baseball.
In 2007, the 37th Annual SABR convention was the best attended event ever. The final St. Louis convention count was 726 registrants. This year’s schedule once again included many great research presentations and panel discussions. A St. Louis Browns Players Panel, moderated by Fred Heger, included several former Brownies such as Bill Jennings, Don Lenhardt, Bud Thomas, Ed Mickelson, and Roy Sievers. The panel was lively and fun with members sharing stories of Satchel Paige, Bill Veeck, and Sportsman’s Park. Norm Richards moderated a St. Louis Cardinals Players Panel. Players on the panel included Al Hrabosky, Ricky Horton, Ted Savage, and George Altman. “Our Mother’s Game (And Ours): Stories from the Women’s Side of Baseball,” moderated by Jean Ardell, included panelists Erma Bergmann, Sara Blasingame, Dorothy Seymour Mills, Cecilia Tan, Judith Testa, and Melody Yount. The Women’s Panel was followed by a special presentation by former Cy Young Award Winner Dr. Mike Marshall, who enjoyed the 2006 Seattle convention so much that he asked if he could return this year! He spoke for an hour on his theories of the proper pitching motion to eliminate all pitching injuries. When his hour was up, he continued his talk for nearly two hours in the lobby, fielding questions and interacting with the SABR audience. Friday night’s events were capped off by a great baseball game at Busch Stadium attended by several hundred SABR members. The annual awards luncheon featured former major league catcher Joe Garagiola, who had the audience in stitches with his humorous anecdotes and baseball insights. Everyone who attended the luncheon received an autographed copy of Joe’s new book, Just Play Ball. Saturday evening saw actor – and SABR member — Ben Jones (“Cooter” from Dukes of Hazzard) perform his one-man show called “Ol’ Diz.” Animated and informative, he captivated the audience while capturing the folksy mannerisms and humor of the Gashouse Gang original.
The 2008 convention was held in Cleveland, where 632 registrants were treated to highlights each day of the event. The convention Opening Ceremonies were presided over by Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who delighted a capacity crowd with his reminiscences of his life in baseball. Afterwards, he stayed and met with each SABR member who waited for the occasion. A Baseball Broadcasters panel, hosted by Curt Smith, included Tom Hamilton, Duane Kuiper, and Jon Miller. An Indians Player panel, moderated by Rick Bradley, introduced the crowd to stories and a Q&A session with Dave Burba, Joe Charboneau, Vern Fuller, and Kevin Rhomberg. Player agent Ron Shapiro, whose clients included Cal Ripken, Jr., among others, was our Awards Luncheon speaker, after having been introduced by his son Mark, General Manager of the Indians.
2009 found the SABR Annual Convention in Washington, DC, with 664 members in attendance. In addition to the convention hotel, events were held at Nationals Park, in Washington, DC, Camden Yards, in Baltimore, and at the Smithsonian Institution. A highlight of the convention was a panel in the form of a lively discussion between former Washington Senators great Frank Howard and World Series MVP turned broadcaster Rick Dempsey. Their conversation was moderated by sportscaster and commentator George Michael. The three discussed a number of former players and managers, such as Reggie Jackson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, and Ted Williams. A panel of former Negro League players featured Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, Sam Allen, Pedro Sierra, and Henry “Hank” Mason. The featured speaker at the Saturday awards luncheon was Josh Alkin, a lobbyist for Major League Baseball, who replaced Nationals President Stan Kasten at the last minute. He serves as a primary advisor to the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball and acts as liaison between the Commissioner's office and Congress and the White House. Since the Washington Nationals were on the road during the convention, chartered buses took more than 400 SABRen to Baltimore, for a Red Sox-Orioles game at beautiful Camden Yards.
SABR’s Annual Convention moved south to Atlanta in 2010, where 480 attendees were treated to a special weekend of baseball activities. Marc Appleman was introduced as SABR’s new Executive Director, and outgoing ED John Zajc shared his thoughts on his 20 years at SABR in a report that was both humorous and touching. Two special presentations told the history and evolution of six of the Southern Association’s classic ballparks in Birmingham, Memphis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Nashville, and Chattanooga. The Braves Worst-to-First Players Panel was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the convention. Former Braves broadcaster (and SABR member) Pete Van Wieren moderated an all-star panel that included current Braves manager Bobby Cox, Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, and former players Mark Lemke and Ron Gant. That night, busloads of attendees headed to Turner Field to see Tom Glavine’s uniform retirement ceremony and watch the Braves take on the visiting San Francisco Giants. Several other memorable panels were staged during the convention. A spectacular panel on Joe Jackson and the Black Sox Scandal featured retired Atlanta journalism legend Furman Bisher, David Fleitz, Mike Nola, Daniel Voelker, and Paul Duffy. A presentation on New Technologies and Baseball, moderated by Alan Nathan, looked at the latest developments in Sportsvision’s PITCHf/x, HITf/x, and FIELDf/x and TrackMan’s radar technology. Looking at the “trials and tribulations” of the research process, Ken Fenster moderated a panel of Seymour Medal recipients that included Dorothy Seymour Mills, David Black, and Tom Swift. The Awards Luncheon featured Braves President John Schuerholz as the keynote speaker. Schuerholz gave a memorable speech that touched on all that he’s learned in his many years in the game. Bus trips were available to the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, GA; the Joe Jackson home and museum in Greenville, SC; and to Rickwood Field in Birmingham, AL.
Southern California played host to the 2011 Annual Convention, when nearly 450 SABR members met in Long Beach. The location and the MLB schedule allowed convention-goers to see both the Angels and the Dodgers at home – our first two-ballgame convention since Milwaukee in 2001 and that involved a long bus trip to Chicago. Agent Scott Boras kicked off the convention as our keynote speaker, and the Awards Luncheon featured White Sox executive/former agent Dennis Gilbert. Five informative and entertaining panels were on the program. A Medical Panel, moderated by Will Carroll of Sports Illustrated, featured Dr. Neal ElAttrache, team orthopaedist for the Los Angeles Dodgers; Dr. Ned Bergert, the Los Angeles Angels athletic trainer from 1991 to 2010; and Dr. Kevin Wilk, Director of Rehabilitative Research at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. A Media Panel addressed the question “Where Will We Get Our Baseball Information in 10 Years?” Moderated by SABR President Andy McCue, those anwering that query were Dave Cameron, Managing Editor of FanGraphs.com; Sean Forman, founder of Baseball-Reference.com; Bill Squadron, head of Bloomberg Sports; and Russ Stanton, Editor of the Los Angeles Times. A “SABR Era” Panel, looking at changes in baseball 1971-2011 was moderated by Tom Hufford, one of SABR's 16 founding members. Panelists on the hour-long session included John Dewan, a founder of STATS, Inc., and Baseball Info Solutions; Dennis Gilbert, one of baseball's top player agents during the 1990s; Roland Hemond, three-time winner of MLB’s Executive of the Year Award; Wes Parker, former Dodgers Gold Glove first baseman; and MLB Official Historian John Thorn. SABR member Rob Neyer, the baseball editor of SB Nation, moderated a General Managers panel with former Dodgers GMs Fred Claire and Dan Evans, and current Padres GM Jed Hoyer. Sunday’s player panel featured former Dodgers Tommy Davis and Al Ferrara.
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