SABR

SABR 42: Research presentations

Here is the schedule of research presentations for SABR 42, June 27-July 1, 2012, at the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Research abstracts and presenter bios can be found on this page. Where available, you can also listen to select presentations and view prepared presentation slides by clicking on the links below.

For more coverage of SABR 42, visit SABR.org/convention/2012.

 

THURSDAY, JUNE 28

10:45 – 11:10am Thursday

RP01: Todd Peterson – "An Aggregation Of Conceit”: The Minneapolis Keystones 1907-1911. (Ballroom 3)

Although they never placed a franchise in any of the major Negro Leagues, the Twin Cities once possessed two black baseball teams of major league quality. Peterson discusses the Minneapolis Keystones and their bitter cross-town rivals, the St. Paul Gophers, who dominated the diamonds of the Upper Midwest during the early 20th century. Perhaps more than any other team of their era, the Keystones anticipated the athlete of the 21st century: independent, defiant, and proud. Kidd Mitchell’s club suffered fools and racists not at all. Their story is one full of lawsuits, bean-balls, disputes with umpires, and fights over gate receipts.

Todd Peterson <mccarthye@sbcglobal.net> is a Kansas City-based visual artist, historian, and educator. The Twin Cities native has published several articles on the Negro Leagues, and is the author of Early Black Baseball In Minnesota, published in 2010 by McFarland & Co.

 

RP02: Herm Krabbenhoft – Most Runs Batted In … Lifetime … By an Individual Player … American League. (Ballroom 4)

Because early official baseball records are plagued with countless errors, Lou Gehrig’s record of 1,996 RBI (based on the 2011 edition of The Elias Book of Baseball Records) may be inaccurate. Krabbenhoft discusses the expansion of his earlier research that corrected Gehrig’s totals through 1930 to encompass the remainder of his career. This will have particular significance this year, as Alex Rodriguez began the 2012 season with a career-to-date total of 1,893 RBIs and may surpass Gehrig’s total. Krabbenhoft will provide the accurate target for A-Rod’s approach to the AL record for the most RBIs, lifetime, individual player.

Herm Krabbenhoft <BQR9343@aol.com>, a SABR member since 1981, is a retired research chemist with numerous patents and scientific publications. On the baseball research front, he has conducted comprehensive studies on many topics, including leadoff batters, triple plays (in collaboration with Jim Smith and Steve Boren), ultimate grand slam home runs, consecutive games performance streaks, and Detroit uniform numbers. Herm's research has been published in journals, weeklies, and newspapers. His research was recognized by the Macmillan-SABR Baseball Research Award in 1989 and 1995. His first baseball book, Leadoff Batters of Major League Baseball -- Complete Statistics, 1900-2005 was published by McFarland (2006). He currently focuses on the Tigers' longest game streaks of scoring and/or batting in runs in each of the club's seasons.


11:15 – 11:40am Thursday

RP03: Dave Laliberte – Diamond Alliances: Baseball at Minnesota’s Lower Sioux Indian Reservation, 1900-1915. (Ballroom 3)

Fluid—and thus unconventional—racial dynamics governed much of baseball’s story at turn-of-the-century Lower Sioux Indian Community and at Morton, the reservation’s nearest neighboring town. In an intriguing counter-narrative to oft-sounded stories of baseball’s racial discrimination, Laliberte demonstrates the unique possibilities of cross-cultural collaborations while revealing the poignant challenges facing Native peoples in the national game. He refocuses our collective historical lens on the non-professional baseball experiences—particularly the reservation games—of American Indians, raising our awareness of both the complexity of tribal identity and of the myriad fascinating, if previously untold, baseball stories.

David J. Laliberte, MSS, MA <dlaliberte@usa.net> is an adjunct instructor of history at St. Cloud (MN) State University. A past recipient of the McFarland-SABR Baseball Research Award, his specialties include sports history, American Indian history, and race in Progressive-era America. His essays have appeared in The State We're In: Minnesota at 150, in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, and in Minnesota History.

 

RP04: Steven Glassman – Thank You for Your (Non-) Support. (Ballroom 4)

Rather than advocating for anyone for the Hall of Fame, Glassman discusses some players who fell short but still deserve to be remembered, and the evolution of the Hall’s eligibility rules. He will also address some unusual balloting quirks, including three eventual HOF members who received no votes at all in their first year of eligibility. He will analyze data by position and era and discuss whether there are any common themes among hitters and pitchers.

Steven Glassman <sportsphan@comcast.net> has been a SABR member since 1994 and regularly makes presentations for the Connie Mack Chapter. He is attending his seventh convention and presenting his third research poster. His oral presentation at SABR 42 is his first. The Temple University graduate in Sport and Recreation Management has worked in the Sports Information field for Temple, West Chester University, Albright College, and Rutgers University-Newark. He currently works as a full-time scoreboard operator for The Sports Network in Hatboro, PA. Steven is also a part-time volunteer Director of Sports Information for Manor College in Jenkintown, PA. He has been attending Philadelphia Phillies games since the 1970s and has been a partial season-ticket holder since 2003. Steven also serves as a part-time right fielder/first base coach/scorekeeper for his summer league softball team. Born in Philadelphia, he currently resides in Warminster, PA.


11:45am – 12:10pm Thursday

RP05: John Harney – The Growth and Political Roles of Youth Baseball in Taiwan, 1920-1968. (Ballroom 3)

Youth baseball enjoys a strong presence in East Asian modern popular culture. Taiwan in particular has been host to a vibrant youth baseball environment that has been an important component of its cultural realm, leading to the 1968 Hongye (“Maple Leaf”) schoolboy team victory over a Japanese team widely heralded as winners of the previous year’s Little League World Series. Harney describes a large array of tournaments that created an environment from which the Maple Leaf team would eventually emerge, showing how youth baseball in Taiwan illuminates the role of sport in embellishing the modern cultural experience without necessarily succumbing to political manipulation.

John Harney <john.harney@gmail.com> is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the History Department of DePaul University in Chicago. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, where he completed his dissertation on the political and cultural roles of Gaelic Games in Irish society and baseball in Taiwanese society in the years between 1884 and 1968. The project is currently being prepared for publication. John is originally from Limerick in the Republic of Ireland. He discovered baseball (and baseball statistics) through his interest in the history of Taiwan, where he lived for several years before moving to Texas. John loves his wife, Liverpool Football Club, and the Texas Rangers. Yes, in that order.

 

RP06: Steve Treder – The Deeds of Dynamic Ducky. (Ballroom 4)

Rare is the player whose career spans 19 major league seasons and yet who can be properly characterized as “obscure.” Treder will explore the long and colorful career of Dick “Ducky” Schofield, including his fifteen minutes of stardom, when he stepped in for an injured Dick Groat on the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates and hit a sizzling .403 down the stretch, helping the Pirates clinch their first pennant since 1927. His experience was rather Forrest Gumpian: though almost never occupying a prominent role, Schofield was an intimate witness to tremendous baseball history, involved in a sequence of dramatic pennant races on numerous high-achieving teams.

Steve Treder <SteveT@wmgnet.com> has written a weekly column on baseball history for The Hardball Times since 2004, and is a co-author of many Hardball Times books. He has presented papers to the NINE Spring Training Conference on the Historical and Sociological Impact of Baseball, to the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, and the SABR Annual Convention. His articles have been published in Nine: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, as well as in The National Pastime. A lifelong San Francisco Giants’ fan, he is Vice President for Strategic Development for Western Management Group, a compensation consulting firm headquartered in Los Gatos, CA.

 

12:15 – 12:40pm Thursday

RP07: Robert Fitts – Murderers, Spies, and Ballplayers: The Untold Story of the 1934 All American Tour of Asia. (Ballroom 3)

Of all the great barnstorming tours in baseball history, few are more legendary than the 1934 All American tour of Asia. For six weeks, more than half-million fans across Japan, China, the Philippines and Hawaii paid to watch one of the greatest teams ever assembled that included Ruth, Gehrig, and many other future Hall of Famers. Fitts will examine the intrigue surrounding the 1934 tour using sources unexamined by baseball historians, including tour participant Moe Berg’s possible foray into espionage, the attempted assassination of tour organizer Matsutaro Shoriki, and the plot to topple Japanese democracy.

Robert K. Fitts <ochiaifitts@verizon.net> graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received a Ph.D. from Brown University. Originally trained as an archeologist of colonial America, Fitts left that field to focus on his passion, Japanese baseball. He founded the SABR Asian Baseball Research Committee. He is also the author of Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral History of the Game (winner of the 2005 TSN-SABR Baseball Research Award, Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball and Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage & Assassination during the 1934 Tour of Japan.

 

RP08: Rod Merkle – Elden Auker: From Norcatur to the World Series. (Ballroom 4)

Elden Leroy Auker is the only Kansas State baseball player to compete in the Major League World Series. Merkle will chronicle Auker’s collegiate pitching exploits, including the first known detailing of Auker’s college pitching statistics. Auker aspired to attend college to become a doctor, but did not have money for tuition so he accepted an athletic scholarship. Due to limited travel, during Auker’s three seasons Kansas State only competed in 44 games (the modern team plays about 60 games a year). Nevertheless, he led the Wildcats to the 1930 Big Six Conference championship and was first team All-America in 1932.

Rod Merkle <Rod.Merkle@heartland.edu> has been a full-time business faculty member at the community college setting for 17 years and at Heartland Community College since 2008 where he developed an Associate in Applied Science degree in Sport Management. His doctoral research at Kansas State University focused on adjunct faculty employment issues at four rural, community colleges in Kansas. Prior to his current post, he was Business Chair at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa where he was an advisor for Phi Theta Kappa Chapter; President of the Iowa Community College Business and Marketing Deans/Chairs Association; and co-authored an adjunct faculty handbook. Rod served on the finance committee as a board of director at the Ottumwa Country Club. Rod is co-owner/operator of Merkle Brothers Farms, a family owned enterprise that has existed since 1883 in Fountain Creek Township near Cissna Park, Illinois. He received a Master of Science from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and a Bachelor of Science at Arkansas State University. Rod resides in Bloomington, Illinois with his wife, Jeanne, and daughter, Andria.

 

2:30 – 2:55pm Thursday

RP09: Vince Gennaro – Value Strategies for Building a Roster. (Ballroom 3)

In the post-Moneyball era there is a common misconception that the market inefficiencies that once allowed MLB teams to acquire talent at discounted prices have been eliminated. While the market dynamics have changed considerably over the last decade, teams are still able to employ viable strategies to bargain shop for wins. Gennaro identifies and quantifies the economic inefficiencies that still remain in the post-Moneyball era and explains why they exist. Finding these pockets of value becomes all the more important in light of the growing revenue disparity among teams resulting from the emerging trend of doubling or tripling of local broadcast contracts in selected markets.

Vince Gennaro <VAGennaro@aol.com> is President of SABR and author of Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball. He is also a consultant to MLB teams and appears regularly on MLB Network's show on baseball analytics—Clubhouse Confidential. Over his 30-year business career, he served as CEO of a public company and was President of a division of PepsiCo. His innovative work in baseball analytics has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, CNNMoney, and the New York Times. He teaches in the Graduate Sports Business Management programs at Columbia University and Manhattanville College and has an MBA from the University of Chicago. He lives in Purchase, NY, with his wife and daughter. His website is vincegennaro.com.

 

RP10: Paul Hensler – Dynastic Aspirations: The Minnesota Twins, 1965-1970. (Ballroom 4)

As the competitive balance of the Junior Circuit shifted during the mid-1960s, the Minnesota Twins began to reap the benefit from the cast of players that owner Calvin Griffith had spent years assembling, starting while the franchise was still the Washington Senators. Falling short of realizing a dynasty, the Minnesota Twins of 1965 to 1970 nonetheless left their mark on baseball history through contributions to exciting pennant races, Hall of Famers, and fine second-tier players. Hensler highlights one of the golden eras in Minnesota’s major league history and introduces fans of the post-Baby Boom generation to a period of the Twins’ past that they may have overlooked.

Paul Hensler <route6a@comcast.net> is a member of the Smoky Joe Wood chapter and resides in Ellington, Connecticut. He has worked as an information technology professional in the insurance industry since 1978. In addition to lecturing on sports at several colleges, he has written articles (nearly 20 years apart) for The Baseball Research Journal and a book review for NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture. His current work is a book on the American League between 1965 and 1975. This is not only his first SABR convention presentation … it's the first convention he has ever attended.

 

3:00 – 3:25pm Thursday

RP11: William Spaniel – The Fear of Injury: Explaining Delay in Contract Extensions. (Ballroom 3)

Why do we observe delay when players and teams attempt to negotiate contract extensions? Spaniel shows that a player’s level of risk aversion and the team’s uncertainty about it may lead to this delay. Every time a player takes the field, he risks catastrophic injury which will deny him a large payday in free agency. In a game theoretical model of this bargaining problem, the team begins making offers that only risk averse players would accept. Spaniel’s model contains a causal mechanism that explains why we sometimes see delay in contract extensions and sometimes see outright failure.

William Spaniel <williamspaniel@gmail.com> is a Ph.D. student in political science at the University of Rochester, author of the best-selling game theory textbook Game Theory 101, and creator of gametheory101.com. His article "Breaking Balls with a Runner on Third: A Game Theoretical Analysis of Optimal Behavior" appeared in the Spring 2012 edition of the Baseball Research Journal.

 

RP12: Donald Frank – Trying to Get a Major League Baseball Team in Portland, Oregon, from 2000 to 2005: Political & Economic Realities and the Soft Underbelly of Baseball Exposed. (Ballroom 4)

The Portland metropolitan area is the largest city in the U.S. without a Major League Baseball team. Frank will describe and analyze the failed efforts to bring the Montreal Expos to Portland instead of Washington. He will examine previously unpublished data and information about the Portland market, the financial plan, the ballpark options, and team revenue projections, focusing on what’s needed to support a Major League Baseball team, combining relevant political and economic factors as well as the metropolitan emotional reaction. One civic leader who loved baseball noted: “You had to be here to believe it. Now I understand Major League Baseball.”

Donald Frank <frankd@pdx.edu> is Professor Emeritus at Portland State University. His research includes baseball as social history, with a focus on leadership in baseball. He loves baseball. He has taught at Texas Tech University, the University of Arizona, Harvard University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Portland State University. He has been the recipient of one regional scholarly award as well as the Reference Service Press Award, a national scholarly award.

 

3:30 – 3:55pm Thursday

RP13: David W. Smith – Shutting down the Running Game by Limiting Steal Attempts. (Ballroom 3)

The frequency of stolen bases has varied greatly during baseball history. Using detailed play by play data now available from Retrosheet, Smith argues that the rate at which stolen bases are attempted — as distinct from the probability of success — is potentially much more meaningful, and that using fixed values to determine contribution to scoring may yield inaccurate results. His results from systematically examining all available games from 1947 through 2011 will show that the identities of the pitcher and catcher are very important in the frequency of attempts and therefore have a major impact on the relationship between base stealing and scoring.

David W. Smith <dwsmith@retrosheet.org> joined SABR in 1977 and has made research presentations at 16 national SABR conventions and many more at regional meetings. In 2001 at SABR 31 in Milwaukee, he won the USA Today Sports Weekly Award for his presentation on the 1951 NL pennant race. In 2005 he received SABR’s highest honor, the Bob Davids Award, and in 2012 he was honored with the Henry Chadwick Award. He is a past co-chair of the Statistical Analysis Committee and the recipient of the first SABR Special Achievement award. Smith is also the founder and President of Retrosheet, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the collection, computerization and free distribution of play-by-play accounts of Major League games. He has been a Biology Professor at the University of Delaware for 38 years.

 

RP14: Steve Steinberg The Day John McGraw Lost Control of his Team ... And Quit. (Ballroom 4)

The New York Giants’ John McGraw was legendary for his autocratic and dictatorial management style. “He could yell paint off walls,” said Giant Josh Devore. McGraw was more blunt: “With my team, I’m an absolute czar. I order plays, and they obey. If they don’t, I fine them.” Yet in a late 1916 game, his men ignored his directives and were playing so lackadaisically that he walked out in the middle of the game and did not return for the season’s last two games. What was the story behind what the New York Tribune’s Bill McGeehan called “perhaps his [McGraw’s] most spectacular performance”? What does it tell us about baseball in the heart of the Deadball Era?

1916 was a strange season for the Giants. They were a disappointing 14 games out of first place on September 7, when they reeled off a record-setting 26-game winning streak. On October 1, as the season headed into its final days, four teams—including the Giants—were within five games of first place, led by Wilbert Robinson’s Brooklyn Robins. The defending NL champion Phillies were just a half-game back, preparing to close the season against the third-place Boston Braves. After dropping the first game against the Robins, the Giants were stumbling and losing 6-5 in the fifth, when McGraw walked out. He later explained, “I lost my patience. Such baseball disgusted me, and I left the bench.” The Robins won and clinched the pennant, but McGraw’s walkout topped the headlines and prompted Robinson to declare, “He pissed on my pennant.” But a closer look reveals another possibility, that the Giants were throwing the game, purposely losing so the beloved “Uncle Robbie” could win the pennant. Many of these Giants—inc. Burns, Fletcher, and Herzog—played under Robinson, who coached the Giants through 1913, and some of the key members of the Robins—inc. Marquard, Merkle, and Meyers— were longtime Giants. Then there was the complicated relationship between McGraw and Robinson, one that appears quite different in contemporary accounts than histories written years later.

A closer look yet reveals the role that betting and gambling may have played in this season-ending Giants-Robins series. This paper will examine these hard-to-find “minority reports,” as well as the mainstream newspaper coverage that denied any possibility of sinister influences. Those “majority reports” had a hard time dealing with McGraw’s action, which sportswriter Joe Vila called “righteous, perhaps, but decidedly ill-timed and entirely unnecessary.”

This paper looks at the events surrounding the Giants’ October 3, 1916, 9-6 loss that gave the Brooklyn Robins the pennant from the perspective of a dozen Brooklyn, New York (Manhattan) and national publications. A key focus is on perhaps the most bizarre action John McGraw ever took and answering the question: Why did John McGraw do what he did? 

Steve Steinberg <ssteinberg@trinorth.com> is the co-author with Lyle Spatz of 1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York, winner of the 2011 Seymour Medal. They are currently working on a book on Jacob Ruppert and Miller Huggins. He is also co-editing a book on the Deadball Era World Series with Tom Simon. Steve has written Baseball in St. Louis, 1900-1925 and many articles revolving around early 20th-century baseball, including a dozen for SABR publications.

 

4:00 – 4:25pm Thursday

RP15: Jed Dukett – A new proposal to determine home field advantage in the World Series. (Ballroom 3)

Home field advantage in the World Series is clearly a significant reward. Dukett discusses how giving that advantage to the winner of the Mid-Summer Classic, albeit a respectable choice by MLB to bring value to the All-Star Game, may not be the best way to generate return on the investment placed by fans, teams, players, and the media in the April through September baseball season. He will examine the benefit of allowing the highest aggregate winning percentage of the playoff-bound teams, relative to each league, to determine home field advantage in the World Series.

James (Jed) Dukett <jamesdukett@yahoo.com> is 40 years old and lives in Tupper Lake, NY, with his wife, Juli, and children Elli and Luka. For more than 19 years he has worked as a Chemist and since 2004 as the Program Manager for the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation. He monitors changes to natural ecosystems of the Adirondack Mountain ecological zone with a focus on water quality, atmospheric deposition, fish surveys, and other biological and chemical studies for the benefit of regulatory agencies and the general public. His analysis of cloud water chemistry collected from the summit of Whiteface Mountain has been published in the scientific literature. He was a co-founder and played over 10 years of baseball for the Adirondack Timberjaxx before retiring in 2009. He also previously coached high school hockey for over 10 years. He enjoys time with family, attending church, playing softball, and analyzing baseball data and concepts.

 

RP16: Bob Buege, Paul Haas – How Warren Spahn Almost Ruined SABR. (Ballroom 4)

In 1958 Julian Messner, Inc., published The Warren Spahn Story, written by Milton Shapiro. After 16,000 copies had been sold, Spahn sued to stop distribution of the book, asking for $175,000 in damages for being rife with “factual errors, distortions, and fanciful passages.” Buege and Haas will explore some of the book’s shortcomings and explain why the legal action found traction and tested the limits of justice. Had Spahn’s action prevailed, it might have had a chilling effect on future unauthorized biographies, as they present evidence that Spahn’s suit spawned similar legal actions by other baseball stars of the sixties.

Born the day before Bob Feller pitched a no-hitter against the New York Yankees, Bob Buege <RBuege@wi.rr.com> has been a SABR member since 1988 and has attended every SABR convention beginning in Cleveland in 1990. That year he received the first John Cox Award for the best research presentation, although he says, “I didn’t deserve it.”

Paul Haas <phaas6@verizon.net> was born the same day as Hall of Famer Joe Morgan. He has been a SABR member since 1983 and has attended all but two SABR conventions since 1990. Paul is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and is currently Faculty Services and Reference Librarian at George Mason Law School in Arlington, Virginia.

 

FRIDAY, JUNE 29

11:00 – 11:25am Friday

RP17: Anthony Giacalone – "Hello, Goodbye:” Baseball’s Franchise Shifts and its Expansion Fight in 1968. (Ballroom 3)

In the 1960s, the keepers of baseball orthodoxy – the National League’s owners – saw little need to change the game. Conversely, American League owners, the possessors of less talent and poorer markets, sought a redress of grievances. Giacalone explores how expansion occurred in 1969 and why it took the course that it did. He explains how just as outcasts and gatecrashers found ways to outflank the walls of the establishment in the wider world, baseball’s upstarts outmaneuvered the game’s proponents of conservatism and forced them to accept a series of new, uncertain and even chaotic arrangements.

Anthony Giacalone <giacalone.anthony@gmail.com> is an independent historian and baseball writer, with particular interest in the cultural history of baseball, race and the media in the 1960s and 1970s. A longtime contributor to Baseball Think Factory, he has previously delivered nine research presentations to SABR conventions. When he attended his first baseball game at Comiskey Park in 1972, relief pitcher Dave Lemonds gave him a baseball.

 

RP18: Bruce Allardice – “The inauguration of this noble and manly game among us” – The Spread of Baseball in the South prior to 1870. (Ballroom 4) 

With all the new information uncovered about the growth of baseball prior to the establishment of the National Association in 1871, comparatively little attention has been paid to the spread of baseball in the southern United States. Allardice will present the early history of Southern baseball, which in most respects parallels the more publicized growth of baseball in the north. Southern baseball should not be viewed as a footnote to Northern baseball, mentionable only when Northern teams played there, but rather as a regional adoption of the game, as important as the baseball played during this era in the Midwest or West.

A professor of history at South Suburban College, Bruce Allardice <bsa1861@att.net> is past president of the Northern Illinois Civil War Round Table, and past president of the Civil War Round Table of Chicago. A lifelong Chicago area resident and long-suffering White Sox fan, he has authored or coauthored six books, and numerous articles, on the Civil War. His More Generals in Gray (LSU Press 1995) was a selection of the History Book Club. His latest book, accepted for publication by State Press of Texas, is the edited diary of Charles F. Gunther, a Confederate steamboat officer who later became Chicago's leading candymaker. An article he coauthored on Civil War baseball appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of the journal Base Ball. Allardice received the Civil War Round Table of Chicago's prestigious Nevins-Freeman Award for distinguished service in Civil War Scholarship and the CWRT movement. An avid sports historian, he currently heads SABR's "Civil War Baseball" subcommittee. Mr. Allardice is a graduate of the University of Illinois and the University of Illinois School Of Law.

 

11:30am – 12:00pm Friday

RP19: Steve Steinberg – Four Days in October, 1908. (Ballroom 3)

The end of the 1908 National League season is remembered for two events: the famous Merkle game of September 23 and the Giants-Cubs game of October 8 that determined the pennant winner. Steinberg will discuss events between those games, especially the now-forgotten four days before that final game, October 4-7, when the baseball world followed events in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Boston. He will show why this famous season was even more dramatic than remembered, and will raise additional possibilities of foul play in the Deadball Era, though positive conclusions and proof remain elusive.

Steve Steinberg <ssteinberg@trinorth.com> is the co-author with Lyle Spatz of 1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York, winner of the 2011 Seymour Medal. They are currently working on a book on Jacob Ruppert and Miller Huggins. He is also co-editing a book on the Deadball Era World Series with Tom Simon. Steve has written Baseball in St. Louis, 1900-1925 and many articles revolving around early 20th-century baseball, including a dozen for SABR publications.

 

RP20: John Burbridge – The Legacy of Alvin Dark as a Player and Manager. (Ballroom 4)

(In the absence of John Burbridge, his presentation was delivered by Robert Garratt.)

Alvin Dark had a long and noteworthy career as a major league player, where he was a key contributor on the 1954 champion Giants, and manager, where he won the 1974 World Series with the Oakland A’s and the 1962 pennant with the Giants. Burbridge will explore Dark’s record compared to those of other shortstops from his era, including Pee Wee Reese and Phil Rizzuto. He will also discuss the impact of Dark’s outspoken born-again Christianity as a player and manager, and Dark’s controversial comments about minority players while he was managing the Giants in 1964, addressing the impact of culture and the media in their handling of controversial statements concerning race.

John Burbridge <burbridg@elon.edu> is professor of operations and supply chain management in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business at Elon University. Prior to joining the faculty, he served as dean of the Love School of Business. John has also been a member of the faculty at Loyola College in Maryland, Rutgers University, and Lehigh University. He earned a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Lehigh and has worked in industry as an operations research analyst and as a distribution executive. He currently resides in North Carolina with his wife, Mary. A SABR member since the 1970s, John is a native of Jersey City and a San Francisco Giants fan.

 

3:00 – 3:25pm Friday

RP21: Brian Carroll -- Integration or Preservation? The great dilemma for the black press presented by Negro league baseball in the 1940s and 1950s. (Ballroom 3)

In order to integrate professional baseball, America’s black communities of the North and Midwest, and eventually everywhere, were in effect asked to sacrifice their own Negro Leagues. Carroll takes a historical approach to describe and analyze this deliberate but wrenching sacrifice that represents in many ways W.E.B. Du Bois’s notions of double-consciousness, the idea that blacks were required to reconcile a desire for assimilation with an equal desire to preserve their distinctive African heritage and culture. In particular, he examines and places into historical context the outlandish plans black writers and editors hatched to save black baseball for at least one more summer in the sun.

Brian Carroll, Ph.D. <bcarroll@berry.edu> is an associate professor of communication and director of the Honors Program at Berry College in Mount Berry, GA. His first book, When to Stop the Cheering? The Black Press, the Black Community and the Integration of Professional Baseball, was published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis in 2007 and was a finalist for SABR's Seymour Medal. Carroll has been published in the Baseball Research Journal, Black Ball, Baseball and American Culture; Journalism History; American Journalism; the Journal of Communication and Social Change; Journal of the Wooden O; and the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, among other peer-reviewed publications.

 

RP22: Alan Nathan – What Have We Learned from a Decade of Bat Research? (Ballroom 4)

In the nearly 40 years since they were first introduced, aluminum bats have evolved into superb hitting instruments that, left unregulated, can significantly outperform wood bats. Indeed, they have the potential of upsetting the delicate balance between pitcher and batter that is at the heart of the game itself. Nathan will focus on the decade of scientific research that led the NCAA Baseball Research Panel (on which he has sat since 2001) and to the creation of the BBCOR standard for non-wood bats that was adopted by the NCAA in 2011 and the National Federation of High Schools in 2012.

Alan Nathan <a-nathan@illinois.edu> is Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Illinois and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. For the last decade he has added the physics of baseball to his research portfolio and has written numerous papers, primarily on the physics of the ball-bat collision and the aerodynamics of a baseball, for scientific journals. In addition, he has lectured on the subject to both scientific and popular audiences and maintains a frequently visited "physics of baseball" website (http://go.illinois.edu/physicsofbaseball). He and his much younger colleagues are part of a baseball-analysis consortium known as Complete Game Consulting (www.completegameconsulting.com). He is the Chair Emeritus of SABR's Science & Baseball Committee.

 

3:30 – 3:55pm Friday

RP23: Mark Armour – Sometimes a Great Notion: Artificial Surfaces in Baseball. (Ballroom 3)

An artificial playing surface — comprised of a substance that became known as Astroturf — was installed in the Houston Astrodome in 1966, in response to the discovery that grass would not grow adequately indoors. Within a few years, a notion began to take hold that the artificial grass was, in fact, an improvement on the real stuff. Armour steps back and takes a “big picture” look at this issue, which dominated baseball for a generation. He will take a historical view, looking both at its tangible impacts and the underlying causes of its initial popularity — and its ultimate near-abandonment.

Mark Armour <markarmour@comcast.net> researches and writes baseball from his home in Corvallis, Oregon. Founder and chairman of the BioProject, he received SABR's highest honor, the Bob Davids Award, at SABR 38 in Cleveland. Mark's most recent book, Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball, was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2010.

 

RP24: Mark Pankin – Reviewing the Reviews. (Ballroom 4)

Homer reviews using replays have been around for almost four full seasons now, so we have enough information to take a closer look at how they have worked. Pankin will discuss the “mechanics” of a review, including what replays the umpires have available and how they get them. He analyzes review results, including the frequency of different types of reviews and changed calls, how the teams have fared, and if certain batters or types of hitters have been involved more often. He will identify — with pictures — features of parks that tend to make reviews more or less likely.

Mark Pankin <mp@pankin.com> has a Ph.D. in Math earned at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, where he is a registered investment advisor. During his last two summers in graduate school, his apartment was five blocks from Wrigley Field, long before there were lights, and he often joined the “bleacher bums” for one dollar a ticket in those days. Wrigley was the fourth or fifth park in which he saw a major league game, and the count has now reached 49. Although he is a dedicated Tigers fan, one of his proudest possessions is his “NO DH” license plate.

 

4:00 – 4:25pm Friday

RP25: Benjamin Wiggins – From the Diamond to the Helix: Major League Baseball and Genetic Testing in Latin America. (Ballroom 3)

In 2009, the New York Times broke the story that MLB clubs were using DNA tests to verify the age of unsigned prospective ballplayers in Latin American countries. Age is a crucial factor in the evaluation of a player’s potential, and inaccurate information could cost a team millions. Wiggins considers this DNA testing of Latin-American prospects in the context of how teams, like governments, manage populations through statistical probabilities concerning health in the name of mitigating risk. MLB’s “voluntary” solicitation of genetic information may have identified a loophole through which candidates could offer prospective employers tests confirming their genetic “fitness”, offering a glimpse of crucial issues American labor will confront in the very near future.

Benjamin Wiggins <wiggi034@umn.edu> is a Doctoral Dissertation Fellow and Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of American Studies at the University of Minnesota. His dissertation attempts to explain the persistence of racial inequality in the measures of wealth, criminality, morbidity, and mortality by investigating actuaries’ use of racial statistics between the 1880s and 1950s. His writing has appeared in three volumes of the Intellect/University of Chicago Press’s World Film Locations series and he has articles forthcoming in Black Camera and The Encyclopedia of American Studies. He has taught courses on the politics of writing and on popular culture and politics in the twentieth century. He enjoys instant photography, cross-country skiing, cooking, and, of course, baseball.

 

RP26: Mark Kanter – The Decision-Making Process of Canceling and/or Postponing Games Not Due to Weather. (Ballroom 4)

MLB has cancelled games throughout its history for many reasons beyond weather: ballpark fires and construction issues; deaths of ballplayers, owners and league executives; lockouts and strikes; wars, political deaths and assassinations; and earthquakes. Kanter will describe and discuss the decision-making process that has been used to cancel games on a league or major league-wide basis due to national and international tragedies and calamities. He explores the ramifications associated with the decision-making process of the Commissioner, players and the teams, such as Commissioner Eckert’s vacillations over how to handle the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, which likely contributed to the brevity of his tenure.

Mark Kanter <stratomark@hotmail.com> grew up in Bristol, PA, where he became a life-long Philadelphia Phillies fan. He got the itch while watching the last few outs of Jim Bunning's perfect game on Father's Day in 1964. He has written several articles for SABR's Baseball Research Journal and was the editor for Boston's SABR 32 Convention Publication in 2002. He has won a number of National SABR trivia contests since 1997. He and his wife, Lynne, who is also a great baseball fan in her own right, live in the idyllic seaside community of Portsmouth, RI.

 

4:30 – 4:55pm Friday

RP27: Bryan Soderholm-Difatte – Spying at the Polo Grounds In 1951 Pennant Drive: How Much Did Giants Cheaters Prosper?. (Ballroom 3)

In July 1951 Leo Durocher installed a coach, Herman Franks, in the manager’s office of the New York Giants’ clubhouse beyond center field in the Polo Grounds to look through a telescope at opposing catchers’ signals and relay them through an electrical-buzzer system to the Giants’ bullpen in deep right field, from where they would be flashed to the Giants’ hitters in their turn at bat. Soderholm-Difatte addresses the broad question, just how much of an advantage was there in having a spy in the centerfield clubhouse? He will systematically address this question using play-by-play data from every game played during the 1951 season through a series of more specific questions, including which Giants batters might have benefited from spying eyes.

Bryan Soderholm-Difatte <brysholm@aol.com> lives in Arlington, Virginia. He is an analyst in the interagency National Counterterrorism Center. His baseball interests focus on the history of the game, with particular emphasis on teams and players.

 

RP28: Gary Gillette, Stuart Shea – Heroes at the Mike. (Ballroom 4)

Note: This presentation was actually delivered in the RP31 time slot on Saturday.

Since radio’s invention, baseball has been an integral part of the American broadcasting landscape. The men (and, on rare occasions, women) airing accounts of games have become local, national, and even international celebrities as their calls of famous plays linger forever in the ears of fans. Drawing upon painstaking and ground-breaking research, including the first complete register of MLB team broadcasters, Gillette and Shea will examine the intense bonds between the longest-lived baseball broadcasters, their listeners, and their markets — paying special attention to the qualities that made them so popular.

Gary Gillette <ggillette@247Baseball.com> is editor of SABR's annual Emerald Guide to Baseball. He is a member of Baseball Prospectus’s advisory board, a member of SABR’s Board of Directors since 2009, and is co-chair of SABR’s Ballparks Committee and past co-chair of its Business of Baseball Committee. Gillette has written, edited, or contributed to dozens of baseball books and websites, including writing for ESPN.com and serving as editor of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia and executive editor of the ESPN Pro Football Encyclopedia. Prior to the ESPN encyclopedias, Gillette contributed to six editions of Total Baseball. His most recent trade book was Big League Ballparks, a complete history of major league parks published by Sterling’s Metro Books imprint in 2009. As a director of the Tiger Stadium Conservancy since 2007, Gillette fought to save the historic stadium and continues to fight to save the field at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull in Detroit. As a member of the Mayor’s Committee to save Hamtramck Stadium, he has been a leader in the effort to preserve one of the few remaining Negro League ballparks. Gillette lives in Detroit’s historic Indian Village, two doors away from the house built for Chalmers Motors president Hugh Chalmers in 1910.

Stuart Shea <stushea@gmail.com> is the author of Wrigley Field: The Unauthorized Biography and of the upcoming Calling the Game, a history of baseball broadcasting which is to be published by SABR. Shea collaborated with Gary Gillette to write Big League Ballparks, published in 2009 by Metro Books, and has contributed to countless baseball analytical and statistical annuals. In addition, he is an all-out music geek and has written books about the Beatles and Pink Floyd. He lives in Chicago, about 24 blocks north of Wrigley Field.

 

SATURDAY, JUNE 30

4:15 – 4:40pm Saturday

RP29: Andy Andres, Lisa Lebovici, Matt McGrath, Steve Miller, Kim Miner, Peter Travers, Rory Kirchner – Pitching Up a Storm: The Impact of Temperature and Humidity on Pitch Effectiveness. (Ballroom 3)

Andres and his co-researchers analyzed the relationship between pitch effectiveness and weather factors, specifically temperature and humidity, using publicly available Pitch F/X data. Andres will discuss their conclusion that extreme weather conditions, both in temperature and humidity, are counterproductive to a pitcher’s overall effectiveness in terms of velocity, horizontal and vertical break, and linear weight performance, and that an “ideal” condition for pitching is at around 70°F.

Andy Andres <andyandres@gmail.com> is on the Faculty at Boston University's College of General Studies in Natural Sciences and Mathematics, where he teaches biology and physics. He earned his Ph.D. in Human Nutritional Sciences and Physiology from Tufts University. He also teaches one of the first ever college courses in Sabermetrics, offered at Tufts University. In addition, Andy teaches science and coaches baseball in MIT Science of Baseball Program during the summer. A former Tutor in Biology at Harvard College, he taught a seminar in exercise physiology and ergogenic aids for athletic performance there for 17 years. As a Datacaster/Stringer for MLBAM, he scores games at Fenway Park for various Internet applications. A diehard Red Sox fan, Andy lives in Cambridge, MA, with his wife Kate and their three children, Maddie, Aubree, and Griffin.

 

RP30: Steve Krevisky – Charlie Root: Beyond The Called Shot. (Ballroom 4)

Charlie Root is remembered for being the victim of Ruth’s “Called Shot” in the 1932 World Series, an event he denied occurred. But his career, including stints in the Pacific Coast League, has not been well scrutinized. Krevisky will shed light on the accomplishments of a pitcher who has been overlooked, and who deserves to be better remembered than for that one incident 80 years ago. He will show that Root was a solid contributor to four Cubs pennant winners, and will discuss his performances on the big stage of the World Series.

Steve Krevisky <Skrevisky@mxcc.commnet.edu> is Professor of Math at Middlesex Community College since 1985, and often uses baseball in his math classes. He is a frequent presenter at national and regional SABR conferences, as well as at national and international math and stats conferences, on math and baseball. Steve is the President of the SABR Smoky Joe Wood Connecticut Chapter and a four-time member of teams that won the national trivia championship. He has published articles in both The National Pastime and the Baseball Research Journal.

 

4:45 – 5:10pm Saturday

RP31: Aaron Baggett – An Exploratory Application of Statistical Methodology to the Empirical Study of 2011 World Series Plate Umpires’ Ball-Strike Judgment and Decision-Making. (Ballroom 3) 

Note: This presentation was actually delivered in the RP28 time slot on Friday.

In most studies examining visual skills and decision making in baseball batting, the consensus is that visual skills prime perceptual-cognitive skills involved and allow for efficient visual search strategies. These strategies include procedural knowledge, advance cue utilization, pattern recall and recognition, and knowledge of situational probabilities. Baggett will argue that these perceptual-cognitive advantages are equally relevant and applicable for baseball umpires by using publicly available Pitch F/X data to explore 2011 World Series umpires’ ball-strike accuracy as well as relevant perceptual-cognitive skills involved in expert judgment and decision-making. He will also use statistical tools to examine whether there is evidence of situational pressure on ball-strike accuracy.

Aaron Baggett <Aaron_Baggett@baylor.edu> is a Ph.D. student in the Dept. of Educational Psychology at Baylor University in Waco, TX. His research interests include the study of expert-novice perceptual-cognitive skills, baseball umpire judgment and decision making, and statistical analyses of trends in NCAA baseball. SABR 42 is his first SABR Convention.

 

RP32: Robert Garratt – The Scandal of Candlestick. (Ballroom 4)

In the great 1957 shift to make the national pastime truly national, the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers fled their original environs and headed to the far west to change baseball forever. Horace Stoneham and his Giants had the same urgency for leaving New York as Walter O’Malley and his Dodgers: a decaying ballpark with no parking and a sinking attendance at the gate. Garratt will explain how the rush to move the Giants into their permanent home by 1960 proved to be calamitous in so many ways that the Giants would suffer as a ballclub for the length of its tenancy at Candlestick.

Robert Garratt <garratt@pugetsound.edu> is Professor of English, Emeritus, at the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, WA. A relatively new member of SABR, he is at work on a book on Horace Stoneham and the Giants’ move west, and the establishment of a major league tradition in San Francisco, with special emphasis on the Stoneham years (1958-1976). The story of Candlestick Park plays an important role in that history.

 

5:15 – 5:40pm Saturday

RP33: Michael Humphreys – Have We Been Understating (by a Lot) the Impact of Fielding Throughout History? (Ballroom 3)

Estimates of net runs saved by fielders throughout history have been notably controversial. Humphreys will discuss an updated and much simplified version of his Defensive Regression Analysis (DRA) first published last year and based on play-by-play data over the past approximately 20 years, and show its effectiveness when applied to data from earlier years. He will also validate it against the “With or Without You” (WOWY) methodology first developed by Tom Ruane and popularized by Tom Tango, highlighting its impact on consensus ratings of all-time greats and close or interesting Hall of Fame cases.

Michael Humphreys <michael.a.humphreys1@gmail.com> advises on tax aspects of international capital markets transactions at Ernst & Young LLP. His book Wizardry: Baseball's All-Time Greatest Fielders Revealed, in which he revealed his Defensive Runs (or Regression) Analysis system, was published by Oxford University Press in 2011.

 

RP34: Michael Fallon – The Dodgers’ Class of ’68. (Ballroom 4)

Conventional wisdom suggests that the Dodgers’ resurgence in the 1970s was primarily the result of the team’s choices in the First-Year Player Draft in 1968 — a group of players that some have called the most talented single-year draft haul by one team ever. Fallon will examine why the Dodgers had come to such a state of desperation in 1968, and will describe how Dodger management staked the team’s future in developing its rebuilding strategy. Using methods of comparative statistical analysis, he will quantify the exact value of the Dodgers’ choices in 1968, relative to other factors, and speculate whether the Dodgers’ acumen in 1968 was really as remarkable as many believe.

Michael Fallon <michaelf@visi.com> is a longtime writer on art and culture based in the Twin Cities. Born and raised in Southern California and educated in the arts, Michael's very first publication was an essay on baseball — about the public disgrace of his boyhood hero, Steve Garvey. Today, he is working on two book manuscripts about California in the 1970s — one on art and one on baseball — that explore the country's transformation from a mom-and-pop driven economic and social enterprise to a corporate one. He has written biographies for SABR's Baseball Biography Project. This is his first SABR presentation. To find out more about Fallon's work, visit his website at www.writermichaelfallon.com.

 

 


 For more details and information on SABR 42, visit SABR.org/convention/2012.

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