Members and guests of the Buck O’Neil/North Florida Chapter gathered on January 10, 2024, at Casa Grande Margaritas & Cocina in Tallahassee, Florida, for their monthly meeting. In attendance were:
- Matt Keelean, President
- Matt Hudson, Vice President
- Renee Watters, Communications Co-Director
- Rick Swain, Treasurer
- Kent Putnam, Secretary
- Frank Alarcon
- Susan Allen
- Franklin Billingslea
- Gar Chisenhall
- Fred Dunphy
- Bruce Grant
- Jeff Lickson
- John Nogowski
- Mark Pelt
- Glenn Robertson
- Chuck Rosciam
- Jim Wolf
President Keelean called the meeting to order at 6:07 PM. The first order of business was the Chapter’s upcoming SABR Day celebration. It will be held on February 3 and we will have at least one and possibly two guest speakers. Another highlight will be the annual trivia contest, with the winner taking home the traveling trophy for the next 12 months.
We welcomed new member Franklin Billingslea who introduced himself and identified his favorite players as Mickey Mantle (past) and Bryce Harper (present); the MLB teams he most strongly supports are the San Francisco Giants and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Chuck made a presentation on the upcoming MLB rule changes for 2024, several designed to clarify enforcement of the pitch clock. Other changes concern the legal lane for running from home plate to first base and the number of permissible mound visits.
Our guest speaker was Head Coach Jamey Shouppe of the Florida A&M University baseball team. He was recently awarded the Coach of the Year Award by the Florida Diamond Club. The Rattlers won their conference title and barely missed a major upset against the University of Florida in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Shouppe talked about his approach to coaching and answered a wide range of questions posed by the SABR members. He wrapped up his presentation and we thanked Shouppe, wished him well in the upcoming season, and committed to attending one or more of the Rattlers’ games in 2024.
Next up was the always interesting topic of the year’s balloting for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, now that several voters have made their choices public. Our chapter has made our own picks for the Hall for the last six years and, for the first time, we reached the threshold 75 percent for an eligible player: Adrian Beltre (who also has strong support from the BBWAA and will likely be voted in). Other players who are “on the bubble” were the subject of our lively discussion.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8 PM.