Hanlan’s Point Chapter meeting recap – 3/21/2021

By Elena North

More than 30 people attended the Spring 2021 meeting of SABR’s Hanlan’s Point Chapter in Toronto on Saturday, March 21, including a number of attendees of the 43rd (!) season of Bill Humber’s Spring Training for Fans class.

Chapter Coordinator Allen Tait kicked things off with a welcome to all ‘regulars, returnees, new and prospective members,’ noting that the Chapter was regaining momentum after a tough COVID year.

After providing an update on SABR’s postponed national convention, Allen talked about London’s Tourism’s recent baseball project, which our Chapter was asked to support. As noted in this press release, Tourism London this summer will be offering public tours of Labatt Park, the oldest continuously operating ballpark in North America and a ‘baseball passport’ for visits to three historical baseball sites in SW Ontario.

The meeting’s main feature was a presentation by Brian ‘Chip” Martin about his book The Man Who Made Babe Ruth: Brother Matthias of St Mary’s School. Chip had our rapt attention, not least because of the beautiful vintage photos reproduced in the publication. In response to attendees’ questions. he illustrated how Matthias was an ongoing steadying force in Ruth’s life. Looking forward, Chip will be featured at the April 13th meeting of the 19th Century Committee, talking about his book about the Detroit Wolverines, the team that “kidnapped their way to victory.”

Next up, Elena North updated attendees on the Chapter’s newsletter. The good news is that we expect to publish four, not two, issues this year.

Nick Malian, a member of the Planning Committee, followed with a proposal for a group devoted to the issues inherent in ball deadening. He also invited members’ ideas as to ad hoc topics and virtual meetings on specific interests. Bottom line is that he’s looking for thoughts on new technologies and ways to engage. In this regard, Allen referred to the newsletter’s ‘Committee Hot Corner’ and the desire to strengthen the Chapter via participation in SABR committees.

Next, Allen and Adrien Pilon talked about the upcoming Survey Monkey survey of Chapter members, through which we want to gauge overall interest in Chapter activities. Results will be transmitted to the Planning Committee so that we may better design strategies for future engagement.

There followed an open forum which included lively discussion of the Inter-County Baseball League, the steps taken by the Toronto Baseball Association to maintain interest in baseball through COVID, and our somewhat stalled project to map out historical baseball sites in Southern Ontario. Andrew North of the Centre for Canadian Baseball Research noted that the Centre was still hoping to hold a 2021 conference in Toronto later in the year. He also discussed the Chapter’s SABR book project, 46 different essays by 31 SABR authors about Canadian baseball milestones, events, leagues, teams and personalities, expected publication date 2022.

Scott Crawford of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum closed the meeting with an update as to induction ceremonies this year. They will not take place as usual in June owing to cross-border issues, among other COVID-19 concerns, but there is a slim hope that something can happen this fall.