Boston Chapter meeting recap – 11/11/2017

The SABR Boston Chapter held their fall meeting on November 11, 2017, with 22 persons attending. The meeting began at lunch time at the Sunset Cantina, 18 attendees were there and preliminary talk carried over at one o’clock, at the WBUR-FM studio that provided the accommodations as they had last year, and a big thank you to Daigo Fujiwara and the WBUR staff for arranging the location again this year.

We enjoyed six presentations, all of which were interesting, engaging, thought-provoking, well delivered and received. A better agenda could not have been imagined, and all the presentations were intertwined in some way, making me wonder if it was all somehow organized that way!

Paul Hensler spoke about his new book, The New Boys of Summer, baseball’s touchstone events of 1968 and 1969. How could two years be so monumental? He explained very clearly how and why.

Saul Wisnia – despite not realizing he would be a pinch-hitting presenter, stepped up to the plate and talked about the upcoming autobiography of  Luis Tiant. He also made an impassioned plea for Tiant’s election to the HOF, a timely topic, as Bob Ryan, the next day in the Boston Globe, also spoke in favor of Tiant’s nomination. Thank you, Saul, for always being prepared!

Donna Halper. How can we adequately thank Donna for educating us about a facet of baseball history that is often obscure, overlooked or neglected. I always learn something new and valuable when Donna gets up there in front of us and fascinates us with history that we did not know about. I know her effect on the gathering is important, as her presentation is always much talked about after the meeting, and inspires us to seek more history, read more, learn more. You can also catch Donna’s research in the latest edition of the SABR Baseball Research Journal, just out, and is a great way to enjoy her writing if you were unable to attend the meeting. Thank you, Donna, you always hit a home run. And yes, I’ll be giving you a lifetime extension on presentation time slots at future meetings!

Andy Andres brings to meetings his important research on some aspect of sabrmentrics. We all need a dose, and he delivers it painlessly – and quite frankly – in a way we can all appreciate and understand it. For all of us of the history-leaning crowd, that is a remarkable achievement to get us to sit up and listen – and learn. The Statcast Database (Baseball Savant), a new way of viewing performance, is, well, you gotta see and experience it. If I can get it, so can anyone else!

Zach Sanzone talked about Yaz’s role in left field after Ted Williams. Now, there’s a sliver of baseball history. How Zach approached the question was unique. How could such a seemingly simple question be so elegantly done? Yes, elegantly. And also, how he approached former players to find  answers was also impressive. After the meeting that was another discussion point that stuck with us. Great presentation, an interesting approach. Thank you, Zach. I hope you come up with another of these intriguing questions.

Jim Kaplan, patient as the final presenter of the day, spoke about his publication, Clearing the Bases: A Veteran Sportswriter on the National Pastime. This is a book  about baseball that takes the reader in  an entirely different direction. He entertained us with  a few of the anecdotes that  inspired us to grab a copy of this book. He also  talked to us about the five “C”s, well, you’ll have to get that book to read all about that, so intriguing are his  insights into how baseball continues to be an integral part of American life and history. Thank you, Jim, for being the clean-up hitter, and for being in that most difficult of time slots. You were well worth the wait.

As for announcements of future meetings, the Chapter is working with Gordon Edes, who has invited the Boston Chapter to Fenway Park on Saturday, January 27, 2018 – SABR Day. Plans are still being organized, so stay tuned for upcoming news on this event. There will be a sign-up coming from Gordon, so keep an eye out for that.

 The SABR Day meeting will replace the MLK Day meeting as the main event in January, but we will not abandon MLK Day, but will offer to those interested, a lunch meeting at The Baseball Tavern, with a one-theme subject for discussion.  A few suggestions were considered, such as a chance for persons who have a work in progress or who want to learn more about getting into writing about baseball, to come together seeking feedback or advice. Please let me know if you are interested in the MLK Day lunch (Monday, January 15, 2018), and if there’s a subject you are interested in.  This will be an informal “event,” tentatively meeting at noon and finishing whenever we run out of inspiration.

Any questions, comments, let me know,

— Joanne Hulbert