SABR

SABR 44: Research presentations

Research presentations Schedule of events Committee meetings
Poster presentations Featured speakers Vendors Room
Information Photo galleries #SABR44 on Twitter

 

Here is the schedule of research presentations for SABR 44, July 30-August 3, 2014, at the Royal Sonesta Houston in Houston, Texas.

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

Abstracts for SABR 44 poster presentations that were on display all week during the convention can be found on this page.

 

Thursday, July 31

11:45 a.m.-12:10 p.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP01: The Minions of Mikado: The Quest to Form the First Professional Japanese-American Baseball Team
Rob Fitts
 

Atsuyoshi Saisho, the son of a samurai family, arrived in California in 1904 to attend Stanford University and seek his fortune in the New World. Instead, he found baseball. Fitts tells the story of how Saisho and a handful of like-minded young Japanese abandoned their aspirations for financial success to pursue their dreams of creating the first Japanese professional baseball team. Organized in Los Angeles, they toured the Midwest in 1906 as Guy Green’s Japanese Baseball Team before heading out on their own the following season as the Mikado Baseball team. The tour failed and Saisho and his teammates reorganized and saved their money for four years before heading east again in 1911 as the Japanese Base Ball Association. Calling themselves the first and only professional Japanese team, they barnstormed across the Midwest, playing over a hundred games before limping home, broke.

Rob Fitts <robfitts@optimum.net> writes about the history of Japanese baseball. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and websites and he is the author of three books on the topic. His latest, Banzai Babe Ruth, won the 2012 Seymour Medal. His next book, Mashi: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer, will be published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2014.

11:45 a.m.-12:10 p.m. (Legends I/III)

RP02: Framing of Experimental Medical Procedures in Baseball
Coral Marshall
 

Marshall investigates how the media has portrayed experimental sports surgeries in baseball over time, specifically using framing theory and an inductive content analysis of newspaper and blog coverage of these surgeries from their inception to the present day. From Tommy John Surgery to Schilling Tendon Procedure to Bartolo Colon’s shoulder, there is no shortage of controversial procedures in baseball that give the media something to talk about. Marshall hypothesizes that certain procedures that were once seen as novel or controversial are no longer framed as such, and are considered commonplace by the media, fans, and the league. She will discuss the role the media has in shaping the perception of “performance enhancement versus science versus performance enabling versus cheating and ethics” in experimental procedures.

Coral Marshall <Cmarshall@crimson.ua.edu> is currently a doctoral student in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. She interned for SABR during her Masters program in Sport Management, at California State University, Long Beach, and assisted with the Long Beach Convention. She attended the Minneapolis convention as a Yoseloff Scholar. Her baseball research interests are historical in nature, and her communication research interests focus on sport and deviance. Her love of baseball comes from watching countless Angels' games with her dad, Jeff.

12:30-12:55 p.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP03: Evaluating the Impact of Baseball at Japanese-American WWII Internment Camps: An Assessment of the Game and its Portrayal in Popular Culture
Emily Hawks and Anthony Salazar
 

Hawks and Salazar examine and evaluate baseball's impact in Japanese-American internment camps during WWII, assessing the game and how it has been portrayed in popular culture. Using primary sources, including oral interviews, and materials from internment camps and several prior works, they explore this fascinating epic of baseball history, with a backdrop of race and discrimination a dark period of America's history. The story of these ballplayers truly represents a “league of their own” that Hawks and Salazar put into a social context, with an impact on popular culture that led to the movie “National Pastime” and even children’s books.

Emily Hawks <emilyhawks@gmail.com> was born and raised in Boise, Idaho, where she sought out any and every opportunity to enjoy the game of baseball. In Boise, this meant spending nearly every summer day with the 1990s Braves on TBS and catching the single-A Boise Hawks whenever she could. Now a Seattle resident, she loves and suffers with the Mariners each season. In her time as a SABR director, Emily has focused on recruiting and involving more young people in SABR, particularly through the BioProject for which she serves as a Vice Chair.

Anthony Salazar <salazar8017@yahoo.com> chairs SABR’s Latino Baseball committee, and is editor of its publication, "La Prensa del Béisbol Latino." He has authored numerous articles on the Latino baseball experience, and has consulted with baseball teams, media networks, production companies, museums, and other organizations looking to tap into the Latino market. Salazar served on SABR’s national Board of Directors, and holds degrees in American Social and Urban History from UC Santa Barbara and the University of Oregon. He has lived in Seattle for over 20 years, where he has watched and suffered through many Mariner games at the Kingdome and Safeco Field.

12:30-12:55 p.m. (Legends I/III)

RP04: Just a Little Bit Outside …
Nicholas Miceli and Tom Bertoncino
 

Miceli and Bertoncino examine two things: (1) Do pitch counts influence injury rates; and (2) is it possible to predict approaching injury for pitchers? With the use of PITCHf/x, Retrosheet, MLB Gameday, and Baseball Prospectus injury data, they use several models including survival analysis to examine pitcher injuries during the 2008-12 seasons. Their findings are similar to those found in quality control, examining when a process is going out of control and needs to be adjusted. In this case, the process involves expensive pitching talent and the adjustment is more problematic than a machine’s tune up.

Nicholas Miceli <micelin01@gmail.com> is an Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, at Park University in Parkville, MO (Kansas City). He has a Ph.D. in Management (University of Oklahoma) and a M.S. in Public Health / Epidemiology (Ohio State University). His previous baseball-related research dealt with performance and compensation, and was published in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports in 2009 ("If the Team Doesn't Win, Nobody Wins ...").

 Tom Bertoncino <tom.bertoncino@park.edu>

1:15-1:40 p.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP05: Too Much, Too Fast, Too Young: Major League Baseball’s Struggle to Control Its Menacing Drug Problem
Joe Thompson

Non-academic histories of baseball’s drug problems center on the steroid issue, and few touch on drug problems or baseball’s drug policies before the 1990s. In academia, there are just a handful of histories even mentioning baseball’s early drug problems. Thompson explores the failure of the MLBPA and baseball executives to develop a strong drug program, allowing players to feel immune from disciplinary actions, risk their overall health, and cause negative public perceptions of baseball and its players. His primary focus concerns itself with the Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth administrations because they were the first baseball commissioners to address the drug problem directly.

Joe Thompson <splendorajoe@gmail.com> is a lecturer at the University of Houston. He will be entering the Ph.D. program at the University of Houston in the fall of 2014. The focus of his dissertation will be expansion of his master’s thesis to include the steroid problems that have plagued the game since the late 1980s. He has participated in the Houston SABR chapter’s book project, Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-1961. He presented his first academic paper at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in May 2013 on professional women’s baseball in Texas during the 20th century. Joe's wife, Susan Thompson, and their children, Josh Hansen, Jordan and Kayla Thompson, are all enthusiastic Astros fans.

1:15-1:40 p.m. (Legends I/III)

RP06: A Tall Tale Comes to Texas:  Hank Greenberg and the 1932 Beaumont Explorers
Steve Krevisky

Much has been written about Hank Greenberg’s career with the Detroit Tigers, and his role as the first big Jewish superstar in baseball. However, there has been very little done regarding his minor league career, which led him to his major league fame. Greenberg had a big year with the 1932 Texas League champion Beaumont Exporters that Krevisky will put in perspective, including a statistical analysis. That season led to Greenberg being considered one of the promising MLB rookies of 1933. It also placed him among teammates who had never been around Jews before, so that he could thus understand what Jackie Robinson later encountered.

Steve Krevisky <SKrevisky@mxcc.commnet.edu> has been a SABR member for about 30 years. He is a frequent presenter at SABR national and regional meetings and has been Chapter President of the Connecticut Smoky Joe Wood Chapter for many years. He regularly uses baseball in his classes as a Professor of Math at Middesex Community College, in Middletown, Connecticut. He also frequently presents at international math and statistics conferences, on using sports data in math classes. Steve is also a six-time team winner of the trivia contest at the national SABR conventions.

3:00-3:25 p.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP07: Let Them Play! The Houston Astrodome, the 1970s, and America’s Golden Age of Popular Culture
David Krell

The Houston Astrodome stands silent on the eve of its 50th anniversary, steeped in a quagmire of politics, referendums, and civic debates concerning its prospects. Once a futuristic symbol of American progress, the Astrodome has been reduced to an empty edifice of past glory. Krell covers the cultural importance of the Astrodome as an American landmark, including its serving as a site for iconic sporting events, stadium innovations, and entertainment epics raging from a Bad News Bears sequel to the Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs Battle of the Sexes in tennis, to an Evel Knievel stunt and a James Bond film.

David Krell, Esq. <david@davidkrell.com> is the baseball historian for thesportspost.com. He is also writing a book about the Brooklyn Dodgers presently titled Blue Magic. It will be published in 2015 by McFarland. David is the Co-Editor of the New York State Bar Association’s sports law book In the Arena. He authored the chapter about licensing team mascots. David’s article series Krell’s Korner appears regularly in the New York State Bar Association’s Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law Journal. Additionally, David has been published in Black Ball: A Negro Leagues Journal and Memories and Dreams – The Official Magazine of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

3:00-3:25 p.m. (Legends I/III)

RP08: Levittown Defeats Fort Worth to Win the 1960 Little League World Series
Mark Kanter

Levittown, Pennsylvania won the Little League World Series in 1960 by defeating the North East Optimist Fort Worth team. A decade earlier, Levittown didn’t even exist. Kanter discusses the player composition of the team, the building and population of Levittown, and the fact that it is the last home state team to win the Little League World Series held in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. His original research will examine the history of Levittown, the history of Little League in southeastern Pennsylvania and the impact of the influx of young families on the proliferation of Little League teams and leagues in Levittown.

Mark Kanter <stratomark@hotmail.com> grew up in Bristol, Pennsylvania, where he became a lifelong 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 the 2002 Boston convention journal. 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, Rhode Island.

3:30-3:55 p.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP09: A History of the Houston Colt .45s/Astros in The Rule Five Draft
Steven Glassman

One of the ways the Houston Astros have been trying rebuild and reload its franchise in recent years is through the Rule Five Draft. Glassman, after a brief overview of how Rule Five works, discusses Houston’s short- and long-term draft successes and failures. He uses multiple modern statistical methods to help assess the history and effectiveness of the Rule Five Draft, exploring whether participating in the Rule Five Draft has been an effective method for the Astros as one way to help rebuild and reload a roster.

Steven Glassman <sportsphan@comcast.net> has been a SABR member since 1994 and regularly makes presentations for the Connie Mack Chapter. Steven is attending his ninth convention. “A History of the Houston Colt .45s/Astros in The Rule Five Draft” will be his third convention oral presentation. “The Gulf States/Lone Star League” will be his fifth poster presentation. Steven wrote “Philadelphia’s Other Hall of Famers” for The National Pastime (Online Edition) (SABR 43). The Temple University graduate in Sport and Recreation Management has worked in the Sports Information field for Temple University, West Chester University, Albright College, and Rutgers University-Newark. He currently works as a full-time scoreboard operator for The Sports Network in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. Steven is also a part-time volunteer Director of Sports Information for Manor College in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. 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. Originally born in Philadelphia, Steven currently resides in Warminster, Pennsylvania.

3:30-3:55 p.m. (Legends I/III)

RP10: "The Bikers Beat the Boy Scouts": Facial Hair and the 1972 World Series
Maxwell Kates

Fans watching Game 1 of the 1972 World Series saw extremes in visual contrasts. On one hand, the Oakland A's wore green and yellow uniforms along with long hair, beards, and moustaches. The Cincinnati Reds, meanwhile, wore conservative, businesslike attire while long hair and facial hair were banned. Kates explains why dress codes were enforced in baseball beginning with the late 1960s, how attitudes began to change, the role the Oakland A's played in this change, and why other organizations like the Cincinnati Reds resisted so strongly.

Maxwell Kates <BUS79@sympatico.ca> is a chartered accountant who lives and works in midtown Toronto, Ontario. A SABR member since 2001, this is his second research presentation, having spoken in Seattle in 2006. "The Bikers Beat the Boy Scouts" is scheduled to appear in print in a forthcoming book about the 1970s Oakland A's. He is a Detroit Tigers fan and lists Magglio Ordonez's home run to propel the Tigers into the 2006 World Series as his greatest baseball memory.

 

Friday, August 1

8:00-8:25 a.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP11: Leo the Lip and the New York Giants
John Burbridge

While Leo Durocher managed the Dodgers to the 1941 pennant and is popularly remembered as the Dodgers manager who confronted the players who protested playing with Jackie Robinson during spring training in 1947, his most successful tenure as manager was with the New York Giants from 1948 until 1955. During those years, he led the Giants to a pennant in 1951 and a World Series win in 1954. When he took over the Giants in 1948, the Giants were not a serious threat to win the pennant. In 1947 they had set the record for the most home runs hit by a team, 221, but they did not have the pitching, speed or defense to contend. Burbridge examines the transformation engineered by Durocher acting as both field manager and general manager to enable the Giants success.

Dr. John J. Burbridge Jr. <burbridg@elon.edu> is currently Professor Emeritus at Elon University. He has also served as dean of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business at Elon. While at Elon he introduced and taught Baseball and Statistics. John has presented at SABR conventions and the Seymour Medal Conference. He is a lifelong New York Giants baseball fan (he does acknowledge they moved to San Francisco.) The greatest Giants-Dodgers game he attended was a 1-0 Giants’ victory in Jersey City in 1956. Yes, the Dodgers did play in Jersey City in 1956 and 1957.

8:00-8:25 a.m. (Legends I/III)

RP12: The Retroactive All-Star Game Project
Chuck Hildebrandt and Mike Lynch

How might All-Star games have played out had the concept been inaugurated earlier in history, in 1916 instead of 1933, and what might the effect on baseball history have been? Hildebrandt developed All-Star candidates for each season 1916 through 1932 and collected more than 9,000 All-Star ballot responses via SABR’s SurveyMonkey account. Lynch then simulated games with the resulting teams using Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) 14. After overviewing the game results and individual achievements from the simulations, Hildebrandt discusses how players might have become regarded differently had they been able to play in All-Star games during their career.

Chuck Hildebrandt <ch@sabrmedia.org> a SABR member since 1988, has served as chair of the Baseball and the Media Committee since its inception in 2013. Chuck is an advertising and marketing veteran who utilized his access to media data to develop the study, “The History of World Series Television Ratings”, presented at SABR 20 in Cleveland in 1990. Chuck lives in Chicago with his lovely wife, Terrie. Chuck is also a Chicago Cubs season ticket holder since 1999, although he is originally a proud native of Detroit. So, while Chuck’s checkbook may belong to the Cubs, his heart belongs to the Tigers.

Seamheads.com founder Michael T. Lynch Jr. <seamhead@hotmail.com> has been a SABR member since 2004. His book Harry Frazee, Ban Johnson and the Feud That Nearly Destroyed the American League, was published in 2008 and was named a finalist for the 2009 Larry Ritter Award in addition to being nominated for the Seymour Medal. His second book, It Ain’t So: A Might-Have-Been History of the White Sox in 1919 and Beyond, was released in 2009. His work also appeared in Opening Fenway Park in Style: The 1912 Boston Red Sox and The Miracle Braves of 1914: Boston’s Original Worst-to-First World Series Champions.

8:30-8:55 a.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP13: Revenge of the Parrott
Andy McCue

Harold Parrott spent more than four decades in baseball — from teenage sportswriter to department head for the Padres. He worked for the Dodgers, Angels and Mariners before joining the San Diego team. And then, in 1976, he wrote the excoriating The Lords of Baseball, which trashed the front office of every place he’d worked, as well as some places he had heard about second-hand. McCue examines the reality of his invective, especially his attacks on Walter O’Malley and Parrott’s own dismissal for skimming funds.

Andy McCue’s <agmccue44@earthlink.net> Mover and Shaker: Walter O’Malley, the Dodgers and Baseball’s Westward Expansion was published earlier this year by the University of Nebraska Press. It is the first full-length biography of the controversial owner, researched and written over 20 years without the cooperation of his family or the Dodger organization. McCue is a former president of SABR, winner of the Bob Davids Award and the first Doug Pappas Award. His research has appeared in The National Pastime, the Baseball Research Journal, Nine, Memories and Dreams and USA Today Baseball Weekly.

8:30-8:55 a.m. (Legends I/III)

RP14: Lead Me Out to the Ballgame: A Study Investigating the Leadership of MLB Managers
Howard Fero and Rebecca Herman

Drs. Fero and Herman set out to identify the leadership characteristics, behaviors, and philosophies that are possessed and utilized by Major League Baseball managers. Over a two-year period, they interviewed 16 current and former MLB managers using a standardized questionnaire, along with 100 other current and former players and executives from 19 different organizations. Fero and Herman discuss the ten leadership themes that emerged, grouped in three categories they will introduce in their talk. Their research, using multi-sources to enable triangulation and evidence analysis with quantitative software seeking to identify patterns through coding, themes and frequency helps them provide insight to the question, “How do MLB managers lead?”

Howard C. Fero <howard@theleadershipdoc.net>, “The Leadership Doc”, is a leadership speaker, professor, consultant, and executive coach. He is a sought-after speaker and has been recognized as an “inspirational, motivational, and innovative facilitator.” Dr. Fero works with individuals and groups helping them to cultivate their leadership, identify and focus their motivation, and create high performing teams.  He is the Director of Graduate Leadership Programs and an Associate Professor of Management and Leadership at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, and was recently recognized as a Business New Haven Rising Star. Dr. Fero lives with his three children and wife, interior designer Lisa Fero, in Connecticut. He holds a Master's degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Baruch College, the City University of New York, and a Ph.D in Organizational Behavior from Claremont Graduate University.  For more information, please visit www.TheLeadershipDoc.com.

Rebecca L. Herman <rebecca.herman.phd@gmail.com> is a leadership professor, transformational speaker, passionate volunteer leader, baseball blogger, and avid photographer. She loves to work with people to help them achieve their fullest potential. Dr. Herman is a Professor of Leadership and Organizational Development for Kaplan University’s School of Business graduate programs. Prior to her academic appointment, Dr. Herman enjoyed a successful career as a leader in Human Resources for more than two decades. She is a member of Alpha Omicron Pi fraternity with more than 30 years of volunteer service and is currently serving as International Vice President on the Executive Board. Dr. Herman lives with her son in San Diego, California. She holds a Master's degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix, a Ph.D in Organization & Management from Capella University and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). For more information, please visit www.RebeccaHermanPhd.com.

9:15-9:40 a.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP15: The Case for Al Campanis
Mark Armour
 

In April 1987, Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Al Campanis made some incendiary remarks about African-Americans in a Nightline interview with Ted Koppel. The next day he resigned, and the incident dominates any discussion of Campanis to this day, many years after his death. Armour, however, focuses on the preceding five decades of Campanis’s life as a player, a minor league manager, a legendary scout, an innovative instructor, a top flight scouting director, and a great general manager. In several of these roles, he left a lasting mark on the sport, and he made an important contribution to 12 NL pennants and five World Series championships. 

Mark Armour <markarmour@comcast.net> is the director of SABR's Baseball Biography Project, and the author or editor of six books on baseball. His forthcoming book with Dan Levitt, entitled Baseball Operations: The Pursuit of Pennants from Deadball to Moneyball, will be published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2015. Mark won the Bob Davids Award in 2008 and the Henry Chadwick Award in 2014.

9:15-9:40 a.m. (Legends I/III)

RP16: The Ballpark Sportscape: Outfield Advertising and the Branding Issue
Ed Mayo, Dobb Mayo and John Weitzel

Major League Baseball stadiums are special places. An MLB team markets an experience that takes place just 81 times a year, and the ballpark where it does this is crucial to the creation of the team's brand. Memorable ballpark experiences are created by appealing to all five senses, but sports facility researchers have paid little attention to the sensory components of the fan experience. Mayo, Mayo and Weitzel focus on the visual component of the fan experience at MLB ballparks — and, specifically, on outfield advertising signage. Do visitors feel comfortable? Does the stadium's aesthetics promote social interaction among fans sitting alongside each other? Does the amount of stadium advertising contribute to a stadium's gestalt — to the overall feeling that a fan experiences while sitting in the stadium for three hours?

Ed Mayo <ed.mayo@wmich.com> is Emeritus Professor of Marketing at Western Michigan University, and he presently serves as a Visiting Faculty member at the University of Notre Dame. At WMU, he was the founding director of the University's Sports Marketing program. After stepping away from the classroom in 2001, Ed worked for two years with the ownership group of the Albany Diamond Dogs and co-founded SunCoast Sports, which provided website development and marketing planning and research services for other minor league baseball and hockey organizations. Ed's baseball bloodlines can be traced to The Sporting News American League MVP in 1945, Detroit Tigers second baseman Eddie Mayo; and to his maternal grandfather, the owner of the Brooklyn franchises in three outlaw professional leagues (the Atlantic, Union, and United) in the early 1900s.

Dobb Mayo <dmayo@45tigers.com> is currently a systems architect at the boutique advertising agency Gazillion & One, in the lakeside community of Grand Haven, Michigan. Dobb has been in and around the sports marketing industry for more than 14 years, working with top sports and entertainment companies such as Topps, CART, World Wrestling Entertainment, and a number of minor league sports teams.   Additionally, he worked in the front office of the Albany Diamond Dogs baseball club and was the Chief Operating Officer of SunCoast Baseball. He is a vintage base ball player, as well as the grandson of former Tigers second baseman Eddie Mayo.

John Weitzel serves on the marketing faculty at Western Michigan University, where he teaches advertising and directs the University's Sports Marketing program. Prior to joining the WMU faculty in 2001, John spent 26 years in the advertising agency business. He co-founded the J.W. Messner agency in Grand Rapids, which surpassed $110 million in billings while John served as Executive Vice President. In 1999, John joined GMR*Works, an events and promotions firm exclusively dedicated to serving General Motors at the regional level. With degrees from Kent State and the University of Washington, John has served as a consultant and principal with firms in the retail grocery, music production, and minor league baseball industries.

11:15-11:45 a.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP17: The Cuban Baseball “Defectors” – An Insider’s Full Revelations on the True “Inside” Story
Peter C. Bjarkman

Based on nearly two decades of unprecedented access to the Cuban baseball scene, Bjarkman reveals for the first time unpublished and heretofore unavailable insider accounts of the unembellished facts surrounding the “defection” sagas of a recent wave of MLB-impact Cuban League refugees. Based on his extensive experiences at international tournaments (including unparalleled access to the Cuban locker room and to Cuban ballplayers’ hotel rooms), extensive interviews and personal conversations with top Cuban national team stars both at home and on the road since the mid-1990s, and lengthy and numerous interviews with Cuban baseball authorities — including two recent Cuban League commissioners, Cuban security personal and Cuban sports ministry VP Tony Castro (former national team surgeon and son of Fidel Castro), Bjarkman answers a wide range of questions and provides insights into mysteries of the Cuban baseball “defections.”

Peter C. Bjarkman <bjarkman@mindspring.com> is the Senior Baseball Writer at www.BaseballdeCuba.com.

11:15-11:45 a.m. (Legends I/III)

RP18: The Daniel Boone of Major League Baseball in Houston: George Kirksey
George Skornickel

Former United States sports editor and public relations executive George Kirksey blazed the trail of the movement to bring Major League Baseball to Houston. As early as the late 1940s, the native of Hillsboro, Texas, began his attempts to bring big league baseball to Houston. Skornickel describes Kirksey’s use of young Houston sports journalist Mickey Herskowitz to lobby for a team in Houston, and of Craig Cullen to pressure MLB with a potential Houston franchise in the proposed Continental League. Along with Roy Hofheinz and Bob Smith, Kirksey and Cullen became the foremost figures in bringing MLB to Houston.

George Skornickel <georgeskornickel@gmail.com> has an MS in Elementary Education and taught English as well as being Gifted Education Coordinator for the Highlands School District. He was a teacher consultant, Director of the Young Writers Institute, Summer institute for Teachers, and Professional Development Coordinator for the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a Master Teacher for the Pittsburgh Holocaust Center and is the recipient of the Janus Korczak Excellence in the Teaching of the Lessons of the Holocaust award. He is the Chairman of the Forbes Field Chapter of SABR and the author of Beat ‘em Bucs: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates. He lives in Fawn Township, Pennsylvania, with his wife Kathy and black lab, “Maz.”

3:45-4:15 p.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP19: The Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy
Daniel R. Levitt

Kansas City pharmaceutical mogul Ewing Kauffman, awarded that city’s expansion team to begin play in the 1969 season, recognized that he might gain an advantage over the established teams if he could tap non-traditional sources of players. In one of his brainstorms, Kauffman decided to create a Baseball Academy, operating separately from the traditional farm system, where great athletes with little baseball background could learn the game, not only from baseball men but also experts in physiology and psychology. Levitt expands our knowledge of this fascinating attempt to find a new source of ballplayers and discusses its successes and ultimate demise. 

Daniel R. Levitt’s <danrl@attglobal.net> latest book, Baseball Operations: The Pursuit of Pennants from Deadball to Moneyball, co-authored with Mark Armour, is scheduled for a spring 2015 release from the University of Nebraska Press. Dan is also the author of The Battle That Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy, winner of the 2013 Ritter Award; Ed Barrow: The Bulldog Who Built the Yankees’ First Dynasty, a Seymour Award finalist; and coauthor of Paths to Glory: How Great Baseball Teams Got that Way, winner of The Sporting News/SABR Baseball Research Award. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons.

3:45-4:15 p.m. (Legends I/III)

RP20: William Hulbert and the Birth of the Business of Professional Baseball
Michael Haupert

Hall of Famer William Ambrose Hulbert was president of the Chicago White Stockings, founder of the National League, and its second president. At the time of his premature death in 1882 he had revolutionized the business and the game of baseball. His impact on the organization of professional sports leagues has endured to this day. Haupert tells the story of William Hulbert as the story of the evolution of the American business organization. Hulbert employed fundamental business principles to create the National League, which replaced the National Association, the first professional sports league in America. Through the discovery of primary documents, including letters, league minutes, and financial records Haupert describes several previously unknown facts concerning Hulbert’s life and work, and will correct many inaccuracies that have been repeated over the past century.

Mike Haupert <haupert.mich@uwlax.edu> is a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he combines his passion with his profession, and studies the economics of baseball. He has published extensively on the economics of professional sports, especially the labor history of baseball. Over the past decade, he has spent hundreds of hours working in the archives of various libraries to construct a database of player contracts from league and team financial records. He has presented his research at numerous conferences and seminars. He also shares results from his research in the newsletter of the SABR Business of Baseball Committee, which he co-chairs with Steve Weingarden.

 

Saturday, August 2

9:15-9:45 a.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP21: An Expanded Game-Theoretic Model of a Batter-Pitcher Confrontation in Baseball
Anton Dahbura

Since the 1970s, mathematicians have been studying ways to model the batter-pitcher confrontation in a baseball game as a classic two-person zero-sum game in game theory. Dahbura uses recursive analytical techniques to derive optimal strategies over all counts for pitchers to throw strikes and balls, as well as optimal strategies for batters to swing and take. He uses probabilities for pitchers, hitters and umpires, and runs his model against recent well-pitched games, including Felix Hernandez’s 2012 perfect game, to show how ball and strike statistics closely follow the optimal strategies derived from his game-theoretic model, which could help improve pitcher and batter effectiveness.

Anton “Tony” Dahbura <AntonDahbura@jhu.edu> is an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University and Interim Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute. Since 2010, he is a Minority Partner in the Hagerstown Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Prior to his current roles he was a researcher at AT&T Bell Laboratories, was an Invited Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University, and served as Research Director of the Motorola Cambridge Research Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dahbura received the BSEE, MSEE, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Johns Hopkins in 1981, 1982, and 1984, respectively.

9:15-9:45 a.m. (Legends I/III)

RP22: Texas Black Spiders: Texas’ Black Barnstorming Champions
Paul Spyhalski

The Texas Black Spiders of Mineola, Texas, traveled north from at least 1932 until 1941 or 1942. Known for their shadow ball and slow motion game, those who saw them play place them in as high a regard as many of the other top barnstorming outfits of the time. Spyhalski expands our knowledge and awareness of this Texas barnstorming team, including its connection to Buck O’Neil’s Shreveport Acme Giants, while further explaining the contribution of Texas to black baseball overall.

Paul R. Spyhalski <prspyhal@yahoo.com> hails from Austin, Minnesota. He found the Mason City (Iowa) Black Bats while researching local baseball history. Intrigued, he followed up with numerous trips to Mason City and found the connection between the Black Bats and the Texas Black Spiders. His initial research was published online as “The Black Bats of Mason City and Beyond” by the Iowa Field of Dreams Chapter as part of that chapter’s Iowa Baseball Project. He has presented on racial and economic incentives for Southern black baseball teams to barnstorm and continues to update his research on the Texas Black Spiders.

9:45-10:10 a.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP23: An In-Depth Study of Team Chemistry in Baseball
Vince Gennaro

Gennaro draws on his consulting work with MLB teams and his extensive business experience to illuminate an area that has generally been under-represented in baseball research, the connection between a team's chemistry — often called, "clubhouse chemistry" — and a team's performance. By studying organizational behavior and team dynamics, he draws from the popular models that are prevalent in the business arena today and adapts them to the structure of an MLB team. He lays out a framework and conceptual model for baseball team chemistry, including a hypothesis of its benefits and consequences, to help bridge the gap between the psychological and interpersonal factors that affect performance and the more tangible physical attributes that are more commonly used to explain and predict performance.

Vince Gennaro <VAGennaro@aol.com> is the President of SABR, the author of Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball, and a consultant to MLB teams. He appears regularly on MLB Network's Clubhouse Confidential, and is a frequent guest commentator on sports business in the media. This follows a 25-year business career, where he served as President of a billion-dollar division of PepsiCo. His innovative work in baseball analytics has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, CNNMoney, and the New York Times. He is the Director of the Graduate Sports Management program at Columbia University and has an MBA from the University of Chicago. His website is vincegennaro.com.

9:45-10:10 a.m. (Legends I/III)

RP24: The Houston Eagles and Professional Negro League Baseball in Texas: Not Every Bird Soars when it Migrates South
Eric Robinson

When the storied Newark Eagles moved to Houston in 1949, they were attempting to compete with the integrating Major Leagues and win back fans in new markets with significant African-American populations. It was the only time that a major league Negro league team was based out of Texas. The result was disastrous as the team struggled with attendance, and after the end of the 1950 season moved to New Orleans. Robinson discusses the factors in Newark that led to the team moving to Houston, a history of blackball teams that were based out of Southeast Texas, and how the lack of success the team had in Texas was indicative of the Negro Leagues' dwindling popularity as a whole and could even be considered the symbolic end of the Negro League period.

Eric Robinson <ericrobinson1776@gmail.com> is a graduate of the University of North Texas who currently lives in Austin, Texas, and works in elementary education. He runs and writes for Lyndon Baseball Johnson and focuses his research on Central Texas blackball history and pre-Major League Texas baseball history. He has given presentations on Central Texas blackball history to various groups including to local schools as part of Black History Month. Raised on a small ranch in Springtown, Texas, he recently uncovered that his grandmother had a neighbor that played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1933. His website is www.lyndonbaseballjohnson.com.

11:30-11:55 a.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP25: Why Does the Home Team Score So Much in the First Inning?
David W. Smith

For more than 100 years, the first inning has had the highest rate of scoring for both teams. However, the rate for the home team is significantly higher than for the visitors. This is even the case in comparison with other innings in which the leadoff man bats first, even though research shows that batters tend to improve their production as the game proceeds. Smith discusses how the largest single factor for this increase is diminished first-inning performance by the visiting starting pitchers, and also explores whether weaker visiting teams show a greater first-inning deficit or if the difference is greater in the first game of a series or in the later stages of the visiting team’s road trip.

David W. Smith <dwsmith@retrosheet.org> joined SABR in 1977 and has made research presentations at 18 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. He 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 recently retired after 40 years as a Biology Professor at the University of Delaware.

11:30-11:55 a.m. (Legends I/III)

RP26: Jackie Robinson Wasn’t the Dodgers' First Choice
Jim Kreuz

In researching an article on Dodger/Yankee scout Tom Greenwade for Baseball Digest, Kreuz came across evidence that proves that the Brooklyn Dodgers sent Tom Greenwade to Mexico in 1943 in search of “colored” ballplayers. One ballplayer in whom they were keenly interested was Cuban shortstop Silvio Garcia. In fact, the Dodgers (Greenwade, and later on Walter O’Malley) attempted to sign Garcia to a Dodgers contract that same year, but they failed in both attempts. Kreuz will reveal that baseball tried to “right a wrong” two years earlier than previously known, and set the record straight that Tom Greenwade was Jackie Robinson’s “scout.”

Jim Kreuz <jim.kreuz@basf.com> was recruited to SABR by Tim McNamara, a pitcher with the Boston Braves. Tim's high school catcher was a talkative lad named Gabby Hartnett, his teammate at Fordham University was a kid named Frankie Frisch, and Tim's best friend with the Braves in the early 1920s was an outfielder named Casey Stengel. Jim has been a member of SABR for more than 20 years, lives with his wife Kelle in Lake Jackson, Texas, and continues to collect stories from "old ballplayers."

12:00-12:25 p.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP27: The Strike-Zone Squeeze
Richard Thurston

The 1948, 1949 and 1950 American League seasons have the three highest walks-per-game ratios of any of the more than 230 seasons in major league history since the 60-foot-6-inch distance was established — and all three seasons are well above the fourth-place ratio. While both Steve Treder and Bill James have looked at this phenomenon — a brief blip that was seen nowhere in evidence in the National League at the time — Thurston examines the question through wide-ranging statistical analysis and a deeper examination of some of baseball’s most interesting historical personalities, patterns and trends. He discusses the curious "strike-zone squeeze" from many different angles, including the unique circumstances which influenced baseball at what was perhaps the most tumultuous time in its history: the onset of its Golden Age, as the dramatic changes of the postwar period were reshaping the nation and with it, the major leagues.

Rich Thurston <1946almanack@gmail.com> grew up in Washington, DC, and saw his first games in Griffith Stadium in the early 1950’s. Forty-three years ago, he and his bride were at the final “new Senators” game — forfeited to the Yankees — before Bob Short took the team to Texas. In spite of that, they are still together, two daughters and seven grandchildren later. Rich, a CPA, and his wife Carol, a registered nurse, have lived in Charlottesville, Virginia, for the last 30 years. Their two cats are named Yogi and Bear. This is his second consecutive SABR convention after a hiatus of several years.

12:00-12:25 p.m. (Legends I/III)

RP28: What Options Did the Managers Have, Part 1: Charlie Dressen’s Bad Day at the Office
Bryan Soderholm-Difatte

Soderholm-Difatte explores the context of key decisions by two different managers — Charlie Dressen, in the 1951 playoff game where Bobby Thomson hit his epic home run off Ralph Branca, and Birdie Tebbetts, in the 1956 stretch drive when the Cincinnati Reds were fighting in a three-way race for first place — that may have cost their teams a pennant. Soderholm-Difatte considers the underlying realities about his pitching staff that confronted Dressen down the stretch drive and in the playoff series, which came to a head in that fateful ninth inning. He also discusses, based in part on game logs, whether Tebbets handled Brooks Lawrence exactly as befitting the ace of his staff, or whether the assertion of other researchers that ineffectiveness or even the fact that Lawrence was black may have played a role in Tebbets’s decision making.

(Part 2 will take place in the RP31 timeslot at 1:00-1:25 p.m. Saturday.)

Bryan Soderholm-Difatte <brysholm@aol.com> writes the blog, Baseball Historical Insight; has an online manuscript, thebestbaseballteams.com, which uses a structured methodological approach to evaluate the best teams on the 20th century in both the American and the National League; and contributes to Seamheads.com. He is also a frequent contributor to SABR publications. He grew up in New York, went to college in Los Angeles, graduate school in Boston, and currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area (easily within distance of Baltimore), which gives a fair indication of the teams he follows most closely.

12:30-12:55 p.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP29: The 1931 Dixie Series: Houston vs. Birmingham: The Brash Youngster Faces the Wily Veteran in a Series for the Ages
Steve Steinberg

The 1931 Dixie Series, featuring the champions of the Texas League and the Southern Association, matched one of the Minor Leagues' all-time greatest teams, the 108-51 Houston Buffaloes against the Birmingham Barons (97-55) in a series that included a Game 1 pitcher’s duel that was an early candidate as the “greatest game ever played”, especially to minor league fans in the South. Steinberg will help the audience relive a significant event in Houston’s baseball history and flesh out two of the game’s most colorful characters. He spotlights 1931 Texas League MVP Dizzy Dean’s formative Houston period, and former Yankee bottle-battling phenom Ray Caldwell’s final hurrah, including Caldwell’s critical Game Seven ninth-inning matchup against another future Hall of Famer, Joe Medwick.

Steve Steinberg <ssteinberg@trinorth.com> has collaborated with Lyle Spatz on The Colonel and Hug: The Partnership that Transformed the Yankees, about owner Jacob Ruppert and manager Miller Huggins. It will be published by the University of Nebraska Press in spring, 2015. Their earlier book, 1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York, was awarded the 2011 Seymour Medal. Steve 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 and a number of BioProject biographies.

12:30-12:55 p.m. (Legends I/III)

RP30: The Definitive Resolution Of the 1912 NL Triple Crown Discrepancy
Herm Krabbenhoft

Krabbenhoft, through rigorous and comprehensive research, ascertained the complete details for each and every run scored by the 1912 Cubs, Pirates, Braves, and Giants. Utilizing the game accounts provided in multiple (independent) newspapers, he has assembled rock-solid evidence to support the accuracy of his RBI numbers for the top-six RBI accumulators. He will present conclusively who the actual 1912 RBI champion is, and resolve a lingering question of whether or not Heinie Zimmerman should be included in the list of Triple Crown winners, as was believed from compilations performed by Ernie Lanigan prior to David S. Neft’s research team’s work for the “Big Mac” in the 1960s, whose RBI totals for the key players (including Zimmerman and currently believed RBI champion Honus Wagner) remain in place today in key encyclopedias, websites and record books.

Herm Krabbenhoft <BQR9343@aol.com>, a retired chemist, joined SABR in 1981. He has given 28 research presentations at the previous 21 national SABR Conventions which he has attended. Herm has received three SABR Baseball Research Awards : (1) in 1992 for his articles in Baseball Quarterly Reviews on the "Ultimate Grand Slam Homers" Project; (2) in 1996 with Jim Smith for their articles in BQR on their "Triple Plays" Project; and (3) in 2013 for his articles in The Baseball Research Journal on his determination of "The Accurate RBI Records for Lou Gehrig, Hank Greenberg, and Babe Ruth." Krabbenhoft wrote the authoritative book on leadoff batters, published by McFarland in 2006. Herm is the only person to ever have his research published in Baseball Digest, Baseball Weekly, The Sporting News, and Baseball America, as well as Macromolecular Chemistry and also be granted a United States Patent — in a single season (1991.)

1:00-1:25 p.m. (Legends IV/VII)

RP31: What Options Did the Managers Have, Part 2: The Brooks Lawrence Affair
Bryan Soderholm-Difatte

Soderholm-Difatte explores the context of key decisions by two different managers — Charlie Dressen, in the 1951 playoff game where Bobby Thomson hit his epic home run off Ralph Branca, and Birdie Tebbetts, in the 1956 stretch drive when the Cincinnati Reds were fighting in a three-way race for first place — that may have cost their teams a pennant. Soderholm-Difatte considers the underlying realities about his pitching staff that confronted Dressen down the stretch drive and in the playoff series, which came to a head in that fateful ninth inning. He also discusses, based in part on game logs, whether Tebbets handled Brooks Lawrence exactly as befitting the ace of his staff, or whether the assertion of other researchers that ineffectiveness or even the fact that Lawrence was black may have played a role in Tebbets’s decision making.

(Part 1 will take place in the RP28 timeslot at 12:00-12:25 p.m. Saturday.)

Bryan Soderholm-Difatte <brysholm@aol.com> writes the blog, Baseball Historical Insight; has an online manuscript, thebestbaseballteams.com, which uses a structured methodological approach to evaluate the best teams on the 20th century in both the American and the National League; and contributes to Seamheads.com. He is also a frequent contributor to SABR publications. He grew up in New York, went to college in Los Angeles, graduate school in Boston, and currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area (easily within distance of Baltimore), which gives a fair indication of the teams he follows most closely.

1:00-1:25 p.m. (Legends I/III)

RP32: Was Mantle’s Peak Value Really Greater than Mays’s?
David Kaiser

“Mickey Mantle,” Bill James wrote in his first Historical Abstract, “was, at his peak in 1956-57 and again in 1961-62, clearly a greater player than Willie Mays — and it is not a close or difficult decision.” Kaiser explores whether that statement holds based upon more sophisticated data on fielding and an analysis of the leagues in which they played. He uses the metric of Wins Above Average (WAA), and incorporates the sophisticated fielding data developed by Michael Humphreys and published in Wizardry. He also examines the impact on average league production that the presence of African-American stars including Henry Aaron, Frank Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Willie McCovey, and Ernie Banks must have had.

David Kaiser <kaiserd2@gmail.com>, a historian, is the author of many books, including Epic Season: The 1948 American League Pennant Race. He is a frequent contributor to the SABR-L e-mail listserv, and lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.

 

For more information on SABR 44, visit SABR.org/convention.

Individual Memberships start at just $45/year

Become A Member Today

When you join SABR you are making a statement of support for baseball history. You are joining a worldwide community of people who love to read about, talk about and write about baseball.