This Week in SABR: August 3, 2012
Here's what we've been up to as of August 3, 2012:
The "Diamond Report" will be a series of monthly messages, written by SABR President Vince Gennaro and Executive Director Marc Appleman, to keep SABR members better informed about the Society's direction and progress. The Diamond Report archives will be collected at SABR.org/diamondreport. Here is the first "Diamond Report", for August 2012, by Vince Gennaro.
It's been an exciting year for SABR—one filled with change and major accomplishments. We've launched the SABR Analytics Conference, reached a licensing agreement with MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) to allow more of SABR's research assets to be seen by many more people, and found ways to use our new Phoenix base to make SABR even stronger. In an effort to give our members more background about the direction and actions of SABR over the past year or so, I'd like to address the "why" — the reasons we are doing many of the things we're doing at SABR today.
Over the last year, nearly all of our actions have focused on two objectives: advancing our mission as a baseball research organization and stabilizing our financial base. I believe it's important to draw the connection between our actions of the past year and our mission as a research society, particularly since we are doing things differently than we had in the past as we try to adapt to a changing environment.
At our core, SABR is a research community dedicated to deepening the public's understanding and appreciation of the great game of baseball. This includes encouraging and supporting the study of baseball, as well as disseminating our research to a broad audience. Our ability to fulfill our mission can be distilled to:
- Our ability to attract researchers with diverse baseball interests
- The quality of our research
- The way in which we disseminate our research
On the first two points, we do particularly well. SABR can claim many of the world's leading baseball researchers in their chosen areas of interest. Robert Fitts on Japanese baseball history, Alan Nathan on the physics of baseball, and John Thorn on the origins of baseball are just a few among the hundreds of active SABR members that are internationally recognized as experts in their field.
We also strive to maintain a high quality of research and do a fine job by utilizing our Committee structure, peer review, and other collaboration tools, including the use of SABR-L as a feedback mechanism.
But one area where we could stand to improve is in the dissemination of our research. It's not just how much research we produce, but it's also about who sees our research. It was with that goal in mind that we brought Marc Appleman on board as our Executive Director. Marc has done an outstanding job building our relationships within the baseball community. We cannot fulfill our mission without having our members' research reach the people and organizations to whom our work should matter most — those connected to organized baseball, which includes the Hall of Fame, MLB, MiLB, the MLBPA, and the baseball media, such as the BBWAA, MLB.com, and broadcast media. I would argue that a connection to baseball — being on its radar screen — is fundamental to our mission and gives our work even greater impact and relevance.
One concern I sometimes hear is, "Will our objectivity and independence be compromised by relationships with organized baseball?" From talking to people within baseball it is very clear to me that our objectivity and independence are the very traits that make us unique and different from all other entities that have a voice within baseball. Since many baseball people view our objectivity as central to the value we provide, I feel strongly that we will be able to maintain this all-important objectivity and independence.
Another priority area over the last year has been our focus on bringing in new members. What's our real motivation? I've even heard some members lament, "Why do we have to be bigger ... what's the benefit?" Aggressively seeking new members is not all about being bigger. Our aging membership base has been well documented. In the last 20 years our median age has gone up 17 years. In addition to the very consistent churn rate we've had each year for the last couple of decades — members coming and going for various reasons — we are now losing an additional several hundred members each year, based on the standard mortality tables. Over the last 12 months we have brought in 1,100 new members, one of our highest new member totals in the last 15 years. But that increase has simply allowed us to stay about even (actually up about 50 members vs. the same date one year ago). Bringing in new members is both a defensive and forward-looking strategy. Defensive so that we can at least maintain our membership levels, which allows us to invest in a level of service for our members, but future-oriented so that we can expand member services and create the next generation of baseball researchers, who can carry on the mission of SABR for another 40 years.
Finally, I'd like to talk about why we produced the first SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix in March. As we put the plan together last summer, it became clear that the Analytics Conference could accomplish multiple objectives to advance our mission:
- It would capitalize on the location of our new office in Phoenix — the western nerve center of baseball — during the heart of spring training
- It would elevate our profile within baseball and the media, which would pave the way for more outlets for our research — not just on analytics, but all of our research
- It could provide a much-needed financial boost to SABR at a time when we had been running deficits for several years. We believed we could use it as a platform to launch a donation and sponsorship campaign outside of our membership base, within the baseball community
I'm happy to say the Conference delivered on all fronts. In fact, it is one of the key reasons we project a significant improvement in our financial results versus last year.
We are also working to provide even greater value to SABR members in terms of research tools, tools to enable you to function better as a community, and to give you even more for your dues. There are many initiatives underway in these areas as well, which we will talk more about on future updates.
In summary, I want to acknowledge that we are operating differently than we did for much of the last couple of decades. I also wanted to give you context as to "why" — which includes the need to offset our aging membership base, but also need to adapt to a changing environment and renew the organization. Finally, I want to convey to you my sense of optimism that is shared by our Executive Director, Marc Appleman, and the Board of Directors — that these actions position us to do an even better job of fulfilling SABR's mission in the months to come. It's a great time to be a SABR member.
— Vince Gennaro
SABR member Gary Gillette passed along some good news today about one of the few remaining Negro Leagues ballparks in the United States:
Hamtramck Stadium in Detroit, Michigan, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places this week by the National Park Service. Hamtramck Stadium is one the few surviving home ballparks of the fabled Negro Leagues era from 1920-1950—along with Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama; Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey; and Bush Stadium in Indianapolis.
“The City of Hamtramck is delighted to be a part of the proud history of Negro League baseball, and we look forward to a new future for our Stadium that honors this important legacy and recognizes its continued relevance to new generations,” Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski said. “We always knew we had a gem in this city. It's a special pleasure to share that gem through this official recognition of its historic significance.”
At least 17 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame once played in Hamtramck Stadium, including baseball immortals like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, and Cool Papa Bell. Dozens of other great Black Baseball players also took the field at Hamtramck Stadium, including at least 43 of the top 100 Negro League & Black Baseball players of all-time (as selected by SABR member James A. Riley for Gary Gillette’s and Pete Palmer’s ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia). Riley, author of the landmark Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, is an historical consultant to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.
Hamtramck Stadium’s resident superstar was Norman “Turkey” Stearnes, a stellar left-handed slugger and one of the greatest home run hitters in baseball history. Posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2000, Stearnes patrolled center field while pounding opposing pitchers during his two decade-long career in baseball’s segregated era. The fearsome power hitter played for the Detroit Stars from 1923-1931 and in 1937. Stearnes hit .344 and led the Negro National League in extra base hits during the Stars’ pennant drive in 1930, Hamtramck Stadium’s inaugural season. In 1931, Detroit’s superstar led the league in runs, hits, extra base hits, and home runs.
“My family and I are elated to hear the news about Hamtramck Stadium,” said Joyce Stearnes Thompson, daughter of Turkey Stearnes, whose family remains in the Detroit area. “Hopefully, now steps will be taken to restore this wonderful field with a wealth of historic value and memories.”
Hamtramck Stadium is a brick, steel, and concrete structure built in 1930 by Detroit Stars owner John Roesink, a local businessman and promoter of semi-pro baseball. It was the home field of the Negro National League Detroit Stars in 1930-1931 and in 1933. The Stadium was also home to the Detroit Wolves of the short-lived Negro East-West League in 1932 and to the Negro American League Detroit Stars in 1937. The deciding games of the 1930 Negro National League Championship Series were played in Hamtramck, with Detroit losing in seven exciting games to the St. Louis Stars.
Earlier this spring, SABR members were given exclusive first access to BaseballMemoryLab.com, a collaboration of MLB’s Origins Committee and MLB.com. Focusing on the intersection of personal history and baseball, BaseballMemoryLab.com spotlight two aspects of the game’s history — the origins and evolution of baseball and fan-submitted memories and recollections. We invite you all to check out the site's progress over the summer and contribute your baseball memories to the Baseball Memory Lab.
Stemming from the MLB Origins Committee’s work, and in collaboration with SABR, BaseballMemoryLab.com is publishing content regarding the origins of the game. The first major feature, Early Baseball Milestones, tells the story of major events across baseball’s historic timeline, dating as far back as 2500 B.C. The works are used, with permission, from Protoball’s Working Chronology of Early Ball Play and have been edited by Larry McCray and John Thorn.
The broadest focus of BaseballMemoryLab.com’s mission is to build a community in context with baseball’s history through its collection of memories and collaborative discussions. Fans can share their personal reflections and photos, tagging them by favorite game, player, team, ballpark, and/or region, ultimately creating the most comprehensive portal housing baseball memories. We plan to extend the surrounding content for each submission to be tied to relevant boxscores, play by play, photos and videos, as applicable. Each fan’s submission (after review) will become a permanent exhibit on BaseballMemoryLab.com.
What You Can Do
Please share a memory of yours (or several) to add to the collection at BaseballMemoryLab.com. If you have any comments, questions or feedback, send an e-mail to BaseballMemoryLab@mlb.com. We look forward to your submissions and thank you for your participation.
Ozzie Guillen, the colorful manager of the Miami Marlins, will speak at the Rocky Mountain SABR Luncheon/Chapter Meeting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 18. Please join us in hosting Ozzie as our guest at the Denver ChopHouse located at 1735 19th Street in LoDo, near Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.
Cost to attend the event is $15. Because this is a fundraiser for the chapter, lunch is not included with your admission. Lunch options available by the ChopHouse are one’s own additional expense.
It is important to please send in your reservation as soon as possible as the event is likely to sell out. “Day of“ tickets (if available) will be $20 per ticket so please take advantage of our pre-sale and reserve your seat today. The pre-sale deadline is August 14.
Reservations can only be made by mail. Telephone and e-mail cannot be accepted. Your reservation is not secured until payment is received. Mail $15 for each reservation, payable to RMSABR, to:
5803 Orchard Creek Lane
Boulder, CO 80301
Please e-mail any questions to the below address.
The 6:10 p.m. Rockies-Marlins game also is the chapter’s Game of the Month. Cost per ticket for the August 18 game is a group discounted price of $20. If you would like to attend, add $20 per ticket to the amount you send in. You may purchase game tickets without attending the Ozzie Guillen Lunch – but if you miss Ozzie, you’ll miss a rare baseball experience like no other.
IMPORTANT: Please include your name and telephone number with your order. We will acknowledge receipt of your reservation by phone.
- SAVE THE DATE: The 15th Annual RMSABR Banquet will take place Friday, November 9, 2012, at the Denver Athletic Club. The Keynote Speaker will be 1962 NL MVP and breaker of Ty Cobb’s long-standing stolen base record, Maury Wills. Our Featured Speaker will be Roland Hemond, the 2011 recipient of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing the profound impact he has had on the game. Please join us for this unique event!
Sincerely yours in baseball,
Matthew Repplinger, RMSABR President
For more information, visit the Rocky Mountain Chapter's website at RMSABR.org.
Longtime SABR member Dan Evans, general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2001-04 and a featured speaker at our national convention in Long Beach last summer, wants to clear up some misconceptions about the Trading Deadline.
His first article for Baseball Prospectus was published this week — on the eve of the 2012 MLB trading deadline, of course — and in it Evans explains what it's really like to be a front office executive at the trading deadilne. Here's an excerpt:
Tension? Absolutely. Anxiety? Sure. Pressure? Without a doubt. Enjoyment? No question.
Tuesday's MLB trade deadline is unlike any other time of the year, as it affects more people in the sport than any other event over the course of a season. By late July, everyone in the game has settled into a nice daily routine after spending the last several months and about two-thirds of the season together. Then the deadline arrives to disrupt the routine. Players, field staff, front office personnel, scouts, media, and minor-league franchises have no choice but to adjust. You you can feel its approach in everything that you do. And I mean everything.
The deadline seems to take on mythic proportions, but for the people who make the big decisions for each major-league club, it is the very best time of the year. It's an opportunity to impact your club at a critical stage, whether you are a buyer or a seller.
You can read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=17826
SABR members are now eligible for a 25% discount for new MLB.TV Premium Monthly subscriptions through the remainder of the 2012 season. (That means your first month is free, no matter when you sign up.)
The 25% discount applies to MLB.TV Premium and MLB.TV subscriptions, and to new MLB.TV monthly subscribers only.
SABR members also are eligible for a 10% discount off their next order at the MLB.com Shop (certain restrictions apply; click below for details).
Click here to take advantage of our special discount offers for MLB.TV and the MLB.com Shop:
With MLB.TV Premium Monthly, you can watch home or away feeds of every out-of-market regular season game LIVE in HD quality. At Bat 12 is now included free with your MLB.TV Premium subscription: watch on the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and select Android phones (now available), PLUS, new connected devices for the 2012 season like Xbox 360.
We hope you enjoy these special offers from SABR and MLB Advanced Media!
Six new biographies were posted as part of the SABR Baseball Biography Project, which brings us to a total of 2,036 published biographies.
Here are the new bios:
- Pete Appleton, by Bill Lamb
- Pete Dowling, by John Green
- George Murray, by Bill Nowlin
- Paul Musser, by Bill Nowlin
- Calvin Pickering, by Rory Costello
- Anthony Young, by Rory Costello
All new biographies can be found here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/recent
Earlier this year, we relaunched the BioProject at its new home page: SABR.org/BioProject. The new BioProject fully integrates its design with SABR.org and upgrades the back-end platform, making it easier for us to post and edit new bios and eliminating some formatting problems with the original software. All of your old URLs should still work (and if you find one that doesn't, please contact email@example.com.)
Get involved! If you'd like to help contribute to the SABR BioProject, visit our BioProject Resources page or read the FAQs section to get started. We're also looking to expand the BioProject to include all "encyclopedic" articles on baseball-related subjects from past SABR publications or committee newsletters. If you come across an article you think should be included in the SABR "baseball repository" at the BioProject, send a copy or link to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- 1957 Braves biographers needed: Editor Gregory H. Wolf is hard at work on a new BioProject team book on the 1957 Milwaukee Braves. But several players still need to be assigned: Dick Cole, Harry Hanebrink, Dave Jolly, Nippy Jones, Taylor Phillips, Mel Roach, Ray Shearer, Bob Trowbridge and coach Bob Keely. The deadline is January 1, 2013. If you'd like to contribute to the 1957 Braves book, please contact Gregory at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the research committee newsletters published this week:
- Origins: August 2012
Find all SABR research committee newsletters at SABR.org/research.
- No chapter meeting recaps were submitted this week.
Visit SABR.org/chapters for more information on SABR regional chapters.
Here is a list of upcoming SABR events:
- August 3: Rare Films from the Baseball Hall of Fame (Portland, OR)
- August 4: Quebec Chapter meeting (Quebec City, QC)
- August 4: Halsey Hall Chapter book club meeting (Roseville, MN)
- August 4: Jack Graney Chapter group ballgame (Eastlake, OH)
- August 4: Ray Sinabaldi book signing (Hingham, MA)
- August 4-5: Sabermetrics, Scouting and the Science of Baseball (Boston, MA)
- August 5: Allan Roth Chapter meeting (Los Angeles, CA)
- August 8: Bob Davids Chapter Monthly Hot Stove Dinner (Arlington, VA)
- August 9-12: Barbara Gregorich book signings (Cleveland, OH)
- August 10: Tim Herlich: "21* - A Tribute to Tom Cheney" (Cooperstown, NY)
- August 11: Talkin' Baseball: Rebecca Alpert (Columbia, MD)
- August 11: Northwest Chapter meeting (Vancouver, BC)
- August 18: Rocky Mountain Chapter luncheon with Ozzie Guillen (Denver, CO)
- August 18: Ted Williams Chapter meeting (Lake Elsinore, CA)
- August 20: Bob Broeg St. Louis Chapter meeting (St. Louis, MO)
All SABR meetings and events are open to the public. Feel free to bring a baseball-loving friend ... and make many new ones! Check out the SABR Events Calendar at SABR.org/events.
Here are some recent articles published by and about SABR members:
- David Laurila: Q&A with ex-Red Sox outfielder Reggie Smith (FanGraphs)
- Profits for Astros broadcaster and SABR member Bill Brown's book go to charity (MLB.com)
- Vince Gennaro: Adjusting players' stats for the quality of their opponents (Diamond Dollars)
- SABR member Joe Territo is doing his part to preserve baseball history in Rochester (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
- Geoff Young: Where has Justin Upton's power gone? (Baseball Prospectus)
- Mark Simon: Who were MLB's best defenders in July? (ESPN.com)
- Dave Cameron: Home runs have made their return to MLB in 2012 (FanGraphs)
- Jeff Polman: Retrosheet is still retro cool (Full Spectrum Baseball)
- Talking autographed baseball books with SABR member Bobby Plapinger (Baseball By The Letters)
- Retiring Toledo official Tom Blaha plans to devote more time to baseball research (Toledo Blade)
Read these articles and more at SABR.org/latest.
All previous editions of This Week in SABR can be found here: http://sabr.org/content/this-week-in-sabr-archives. If you would like us to include an upcoming event, article or any other information in "This Week in SABR", e-mail Jacob Pomrenke at email@example.com.
Find exclusive Members' Only resources and information here: http://sabr.org/about/members-info
Did you know you can renew your membership at any time? 1- and 3-year SABR memberships are available at http://store.sabr.org. Please also consider a donation to SABR to support baseball research at SABR.org/donate.
Replying to this e-mail goes to an undeliverable address. If you would like to contact the SABR office, please visit: http://sabr.org/about/contact-sabr
This page was last updated August 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm MST.