Oscar Charleston Chapter meeting recap – 10/26/2019

On Saturday, October 26, 2019, the SABR Oscar Charleston Chapter hosted a meeting at the Indianapolis Public Library-Haughville Branch.

First, Professor David Goss, formerly of the Indiana University School of Optometry, presented on the use of eyeglasses in professional baseball (see attachment). In fact, starting with pitcher William White, players have worn eyeglasses dating back to 1877. Professor Goss described the past stigma that visually-impaired players confronted, but also noted that modern sensibility and sturdier eyeglass frames have helped change that. Finally, if you want to see how much vision—obviously—affects the game, compare George Sisler’s stats before 1923, when a sinus infection damaged his vision, and after; the contrast is shocking.

Second, Jeff Stanger, author of several baseball books, discussed backstories behind some of baseball’s famous artifacts. For Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” both the spectator who caught the ball, and the ball’s subsequent chain of custody, have been subject to forensic and historical debate. And the priceless Honus Wagner T206—indeed the entire legendary T206 set itself—underwent criminal controversy at the hands of inept fabricators. Mr. Stanger covered these tales, and others, during his presentation.

Third, Jim Blessing, perhaps our Chapter’s most frequent traveler, chronicled the history of Baseball Hall of Famer gravesites and his adventures in tracking those down. With graves located in states ranging from here to Hawaii, and New York to California, Jim has visited 215 of the 232 known gravesites. California leads with twenty-one gravesites, while Indiana hosts six. Offering interesting trivia, Jim pointed out that the first American League president, Ban Johnson, is buried in Indiana. That’s one Hoosier gravesite that none of our meeting’s attendees could name!

Thank you to all our presenters!

Finally, a hearty congratulations to Jim Blessing on his World Series trivia victory!

I’ll be in touch with everyone as the meeting and event schedule for late 2019 and into 2020 materializes. Until then, please contact me if you’re interested in presenting at a future meeting or know someone who might be interested.

— Trent Morton