Philadelphia/Connie Mack Chapter meeting recap – 6/9/2012

On Saturday, June 9, the Connie Mack Chapter held their regional meeting in Trenton, New Jersey, at Mercer County Waterfront Park, home of the Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. Thirty-two SABR members and guests came from Delaware, New Jersey, New York and across Pennsylvania to enjoy a half-dozen research presentations, two authors discussing their books, a players panel and a Q&A with the GM and radio broadcaster from our hosts — the Trenton Thunder.

Seamus Kearney batted leadoff with a presentation about Richie Ashburn, who knew a thing or two about leading off. Steve Glassman talked about the 1970 Phillies and the misfortune that befell their catching corp that season. Ira Levinton presented on the rare feat of having 20 triples and 20 home runs in the same season (it has only happened seven times). Ted Knorr talked about a subject near and dear to his heart, Negro Leaguer Rap Dixon. Ted will present a similar talk at the Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference; if you’ll be in Cleveland for the event, don’t miss Ted’s presentation.

Wyoming, PA, native Jack Smiles researched Deadball-era pitcher John McCloskey, who was listed as being born in Jack’s hometown. However, the audience learned from Jack that the colorful McCloskey actually hailed from the state of Wyoming but did meet his demise in a Pennsylvania mining disaster. Our final presenter was Bob Harley whose grandfather Dick played in the majors in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s including spending 1899 season with the infamous Cleveland Spiders.

Related link: Read SABR member Bob Hurte’s article on triples at Forbes Field from the Connie Mack Chapter meeting on June 16 (

Author Ken Bingham, a Drexel University professor, who has written The Greatest Phillies Clubs of All-Time, read from his book. La Salle University administrator Jack Rooney, author of Bleachers in the Bedroom: The Swampoodle Irish and Connie Mack, gave his perspective of growing up in the shadow of Shibe Park during the 1920s glory days of Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics through the Depression and the start of World War II.

A pair of relief pitchers comprised the players panel and had a lively discussion with the group. Bob Duliba played from 1959 until 1967 with the Cardinals, Angels, Red Sox and Athletics. He’s coached in college and high school and has vivid memories of facing Willie Mays in his Major League debut (he got the Hall of Famer to ground out). Tommy Phelps, the Thunder’s pitching coach, played from 2003 through 2005 with the Marlins and Brewers. After 10 years in the minors, he was in the right place at the right time as he pitched for the World Series-winning Marlins in 2003.

Will Smith, the Thunder general manager, and Jay Burnham, the director of broadcasting for the team, took time out of their busy schedules to speak with the group about their personal histories in the game, the state of minor league baseball and numerous other topics. Burnham, who was the 2011 Minor League Broadcaster of the Year according to Ballpark Digest, took the group on a tour of the stadium and reported that Phelps enjoyed his session and was impressed by the questions he received from the SABR contingent.

A game between the Thunder and the Binghamton Mets, which the Mets won 12-0, concluded a full day of baseball.

For more information on the Connie Mack Chapter, click here.

— Rockwell Hoffman