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SABR 43: Research Presentations
Here is the schedule of research presentations for SABR 43, July 31-August 4, 2013, at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Research abstracts and presenter bios can be found on this page. Where available, you can also listen to select presentations and view prepared presentation slides by clicking on the links below.
To view abstracts for SABR 43 poster presentations that were on display all week during the convention, click here.
Thursday, August 1
10:30-10:55 a.m. (Salon A/B)
RP01: Miss Arlington Twirls for the Coal Heavers: Lizzie Stride (playing as “Lizzie Arlington”) Was the First Woman to Pitch in a Regulation Game in “Organized Baseball”
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Brian’s presentation (20:01; 18.3 MB)
On July 5, 1898, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Stride (using the name of “Lizzie Arlington”) pitched a shutout inning in a regulation Atlantic League game for the Reading Coal Heavers against the Allentown Peaches. Promoted as a novelty, Stride eventually would play as a “Bloomer Girl,” barnstorming with other women in games against men’s teams. Engelhardt covers not only Stride’s wide-ranging talents (she was an accomplished equestrienne and early bicyclist) but also the 1898 game that also featured three Delahanty brothers (albeit not Ed) and the men who were instrumental in Stride’s career – including Yankee architect Ed Barrow.
Brian Engelhardt <email@example.com> is a native of Reading, Pennsylvania, where he resides with his wife, Suzanne, who is a good sport about a lot of things. Their three daughters are grown (and Phillies fans). A member of SABR since 2006, he has written for the SABR BioProject, The National Pastime, and the Deadball Committee newsletter. A regular contributor to the Berks County Historical Review, he also has written for several other Reading-area publications, including the (then) Reading Phillies (now Fightins’) website. At age 13, his emotional growth was permanently stunted by the combination of the collapse of the 1964 Phillies plus his mother throwing out his baseball cards because he left them laying around after she told him to pick them up “for the tenth time.” He does not easily let things go.
10:30-10:55 a.m. (Salon C/D)
RP02: The 1964 American League Pennant Race
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Tim’s presentation (21:37; 19.8 MB)
Philadelphia Phillies fans are all too familiar with the outcome of the 1964 National League pennant race. But how many know that the American League race that year remained undecided until the final weekend of the season? The 1964 contest involved three teams going down to the wire, including a Yankee team in the last year of its post-WWII dynasty that had copped the flag in fourteen of the previous seventeen seasons. Herlich uncovers and illuminates unnoticed details about the race and answers the questions: who were the clutch performers, and what front office and on-field decisions shaped the race’s final outcome?
Tim Herlich <Ltherlich@aol.com> has been a member of SABR since 1996. He received the Doug Pappas award for best oral presentation at SABR 39 in Washington D.C. in 2009, a tribute to the single-game strikeout record set in 1962 by Tom Cheney, which he reprised last year at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Tim has contributed to the BioProject with biographies of Cheney, Ray Washburn and Billy North. Tim resides in Seattle with his wife Leslie. His favorite team is (gulp!) the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies!
11:00-11:25 a.m. (Salon A/B)
RP03: Take Her Out to the Ballgame: Ladies at the Ballpark – Past and Present
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Ed’s presentation (26:33; 24.3 MB)
From its beginnings as a commercial enterprise following the Civil War, baseball was played by men and watched, for the most part, by men. But baseball, early on, recognized women as an important target market. Mayo traces baseball’s efforts to attract women and how these efforts have led to the point where, today, women represent 45% of organized baseball’s fan base. He looks at attempts to make women more comfortable, separate them from rowdy fans, lure them with specials such as brass bands, good-looking players, Ladies Days (eventually leading to men complaining about discrimination) and even “Hot Pants Night” (which led to complaints from women).
Ed Mayo <firstname.lastname@example.org> is Professor Emeritus of Marketing at Western Michigan University, where he taught marketing strategy, marketing research, and sports marketing for 23 years. He also spent 10 years on the faculty at Notre Dame. Near the end of his academic career, Ed worked for two years with the ownership group of the Albany Diamond Dogs and was co-founder of SunCoast Sports, which provided website development and marketing planning services with other minor league baseball and hockey organizations. Ed continues to work in an advisory capacity with the sports marketing program at Western Michigan, and he is writing a book describing the side-by-side growth of professional baseball and the American automobile industry. Ed traces his baseball bloodlines to The Sporting News American League MVP in 1945, Detroit Tigers second baseman Eddie Mayo; and to his maternal grandfather, the owner of the Brooklyn franchises in three outlaw professional leagues (the Atlantic, Union, and United) in the early 1900s.
11:00-11:25 a.m. (Salon C/D)
RP04: Bob McConnell, Researcher Extraordinaire
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Peter’s presentation (24:03; 22.0 MB)
Before the birth of SABR in 1971, there were so few serious baseball researchers that the members of that small, select fraternity all pitched in to help with any ongoing project, until the growth of SABR allowed them to specialize. SABR founder Bob McConnell, who passed away in 2012, exemplified this behavior, involving himself in numerous different research initiatives. In the late 1990s, with the committee system firmly established, he passed along his collection of biographical research materials from his greatest passion — the minor leagues — to Morris, who presents some of the highlights of that collection, shedding light on the techniques of one of SABR’s greatest researchers.
Peter Morris <email@example.com> of Haslett, Michigan, is the author of seven books about baseball history and is a two-time winner of SABR’s Seymour Medal. He also was one of the inaugural winners of the Henry Chadwick Award.
2:00-2:25 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP05: Blurring Color Lines: The “Integrated” Interstate League of 1926
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Geri’s presentation (28:39; 26.2 MB)
Historians have long noted economic necessity as one force behind the re-integration of Major League Baseball in 1947, but before that, the same motive sometimes blurred the color line in the independent game. Perhaps the most formal example was an “integrated” league of black and white teams — the 1926 Interstate League in Pennsylvania that contained three struggling white teams (Chester, Camden, and Allentown) and three Eastern Colored League (ECL) teams (Harrisburg Giants, Hilldale Club, and Bacharach Giants). Strecker illustrates a new view of race and baseball in the 1920’s through images and photos — and also the fact that the white teams offered little competition for their vastly superior ECL opponents, causing attendance at games between black and white teams to dwindle despite early positive media attention.
Geri Strecker <firstname.lastname@example.org> is an assistant professor at Ball State University, where she teaches writing for architecture and urban design. She has published articles in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History & Culture, Black Ball: A Negro Leagues Journal, and The National Pastime. She is currently finishing a book on Oscar Charleston and another on the early history of baseball in the Philippines. She lives in old Bush Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Indians from 1931-1996.
2:00-2:25 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP06: Rube Waddell and the Great Straw Hat Mystery of 1905
Steven A. King
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Steven’s presentation (29:47; 27.3 MB)
In 1905 Rube Waddell was widely considered to be the best pitcher in the American League and second only to Christy Mathewson in all of baseball. But he was unable to match up with Mathewson in the World Series between his Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Giants. Waddell claimed that he hurt his pitching arm trying to destroy teammate Andy Coakley’s straw hat in early September as the team was returning from Boston. King presents evidence that makes it apparent that the whole straw hat incident should be considered an unsubstantiated myth and alternative explanations for Waddell’s behavior are more credible.
Steven A. King <email@example.com> is a physician specializing in pain management. The primary focus of his baseball research is New York City baseball at the beginning of the 20th century and he is writing a book on the interaction between baseball and politics in the city at that time. His most recent baseball articles are on the myth of the Amos Rusie-Christy Mathewson trade that appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, and on why Rube Waddell missed the 1905 World Series in the 2013 issue of The National Pastime.
2:30-2:55 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP07: Black Integration in the Major Leagues: A Different Perspective
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Bryan’s presentation (29:26; 27.0 MB)
Without in any way diminishing the importance of Robinson, Doby, and the first wave of trailblazers who ensured that black players with superior talent and ability would find a place in the major leagues, Soderholm-Difatte argues that integration could not be considered complete until blacks with far more average major league ability were allowed to compete for — and win — starting positions. By 1960, only 21 blacks had been core regulars on their teams for at least four years. More than half of them were elite players (including nine HOFers). Soderholm-Difatte points out that blacks who were core, but not elite, regulars on the Giants, Dodgers and Braves of the 1950s were critical to the success of MLB integration.
Bryan Soderholm-Difatte <firstname.lastname@example.org> is devoted to the study of baseball history. He is author of the online manuscript, www.thebestbaseballteams.com, which identifies the best teams of the twentieth century in each league using a structured methodological approach for analysis and writes the baseball historical insight blog at brysholm.blogspot.com. Bryan is also a frequent contributor to The Baseball Research Journal and has an article in this year’s issue of The National Pastime.
2:30-2:55 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP08: Syl Johnson — The Most Unlucky Pitcher In The Majors
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Matthew’s presentation (27:29; 25.2 MB)
Sportswriters in the 1920s and 1930s dubbed Sylvester “Syl” Johnson of the Tigers, Cards and Phillies “the most unlucky pitcher in baseball history”. Clifford, who is developing a full-length biography of Johnson after publishing one in the SABR BioProject, describes how he came to the conclusion that Syl, who ultimately devoted forty-four years to organized baseball, was, in fact, nothing but lucky in more ways than any statistics or analysis can present. Clifford, who spoke with several of Johnson’s children, will share some enjoyable yarns about Syl.
Matthew Clifford <email@example.com> is a freelance writer from the suburbs of Chicago, IL. He joined SABR in 2011 with intentions to enhance his research abilities and literary talents to help preserve the accurate facts of baseball history. Clifford has a background in law enforcement and is certified in a variety of forensic investigative techniques, all of which currently aid him with historical data collection and verification. He has discovered and reported several baseball card errors and inaccuracies of player history to SABR, Baseball-Almanac.com, Baseball-Reference.com and the research department of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Clifford’s literary contributions have been added to the SABR Biography Project.
3:00-3:25 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP09: Twilight Time: Ed Bolden’s Philadelphia Stars and Negro League Baseball After Integration, 1947-1953
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Courtney’s presentation (24:38; 22.5 MB)
2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the demise of Ed Bolden’s Negro League Philadelphia Stars. Smith covers the Stars’ final four seasons, during which the Stars faced the unfortunate consequences of professional baseball’s integration — the gradual disappearance of the Negro Leagues, which provided African-Americans, such as Bolden, with leadership opportunities unavailable in the Major Leagues. Smith shows how the Negro League officials’ neglecting to develop an effective plan to co-exist with the integrated Major Leagues forced teams like the Stars to adopt strategies, such as targeting teenagers and playing fewer home games, geared toward short-term survival but leading to their gradual disappearance.
Courtney Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org> is a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan and an Assistant Professor of History and Political Science at Cabrini College in Radnor, PA. She graduated from Cabrini College with a degree in History and Political Science. Courtney received her M.A. and Ph.D. in American History from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Her dissertation focused on Lehigh’s athletic extra-curriculum from 1866 to 1998. Her Master’s thesis, a history of the Philadelphia Stars, forms the basis of her current scholarship projects.
3:00-3:25 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP10: Battle at the Dock: The Federal League Tries to Sign Major League Players as They Return from the Around-the-World Tour
Daniel R. Levitt
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Dan’s presentation (25:17; 23.1 MB)
In late 1913 the newly minted Federal League declared itself major. The Federal Leaguers were disappointed with their limited success signing major league ballplayers in the winter of 1914, but one further opportunity remained before the start of spring training: on Friday, March 6 a boatload of star players would be returning to New York on the Lusitania from their around-the-world baseball tour. Levitt uses affidavits, photographs and other primary sources to expand our knowledge of the Federals’ elaborate plans to ride out to the incoming Lusitania on a revenue cutter and sign the players before the ship docked, and Organized Baseball’s plans to thwart it.
Daniel R. Levitt <email@example.com> is the author of The Battle that Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy (Ivan R. Dee, 2012), winner of the Larry Ritter Book Award; Ed Barrow: The Bulldog Who Built the Yankees’ First Dynasty (University of Nebraska Press, 2008); and co-author of Paths to Glory: How Great Baseball Teams Got that Way (Brassey’s, 2003). He was also the editor of last summer’s The National Pastime on baseball in Minnesota. Dan is currently working on another book with Mark Armour.
3:30-3:55 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP11: Bill Veeck, Satchel Paige and the Orange Bowl
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Sam’s presentation (22:08; 20.3 MB)
In 1956, for the first time, the city of Miami was introduced to professional baseball above the lowest rungs of the minor leagues. Sid Salomon Jr. purchased the floundering Phillies AAA affiliate, the Syracuse Chiefs, and relocated them to South Florida. He recruited the services of his good friend Bill Veeck to get things off on the right foot. On August 7, Veeck, with the help of Satchel Paige, created one of the most famous minor league games in history. Zygner discusses this game and Veeck’s attempt to break the minor league attendance record.
Sam Zygner <firstname.lastname@example.org>, a SABR member since 1996 and Chairman of the South Florida Chapter, is the author of the book, The Forgotten Marlins: A Tribute to the 1956-1960 Original Miami Marlins, from which the research for this presentation came. He received his MBA from Saint Leo University and his writings have appeared in the Fall 2012 edition of the SABR Baseball Research Journal, NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, as well as in La Prensa De Miami (Miami, Florida) newspaper. A lifelong Pittsburgh Pirates fan, he has shifted some of his focus to Miami baseball history.
3:30-3:55 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP12: A Probabilistic Approach to Measuring the Excitement of Baseball Games
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Michael’s presentation (26:00; 23.8 MB)
In a 2007 article in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports ( “On Probabilistic Excitement of Sports Games”), Vecer, Ichaba and Laudanovic introduced a probabilistic metric to measure the excitement of sports games. Freiman extends their approach from soccer to baseball, and also expands their method by judging how game events change the probability not only of winning the game but of winning the World Series. He describes and explains this Game Excitement Index, running down the method’s Top 20 most exciting games, as well as some criticisms of this approach due to the inherently subjective nature of game excitement.
Michael Freiman <email@example.com> has a Ph.D. in Statistics from the University of Pennsylvania and is now working as a statistician for the U.S. Census Bureau. He has been a SABR member for more than 16 years, and has had his work published in the Baseball Research Journal and the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. He is still rooting for the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies.
4:00-4:25 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP13: Bill Veeck Jr. — Baseball’s Promotional Genius
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Millard’s presentation (30:57; 28.3 MB)
Bill Veeck Jr. was baseball’s promotional genius and perhaps its only populist owner. A self-proclaimed hustler, he was the greatest public relations man and promotional genius the game of baseball has ever seen. Over the course of a fifty-year love affair with baseball, Veeck owned three major league teams and established himself as the game’s most incorrigible maverick. Fisher dispels the controversy and inaccurate reporting of past works, presenting accurate material based on documented evidence including interviews with those who worked directly with Veeck, such as Mike Veeck, Larry Doby, and Roland Hemond.
Dr. Millard Fisher is a devout baseball fan who reads extensively all types of baseball material, and particularly enjoys biographies and history of the game. He is an avid and loyal Braves fan. When not cheering for his favorite team, he speaks internationally on health issues and medicine, and has had numerous articles and research presentations that deal with those subjects. He was on the President’s committee that formulated guidelines that targeted health implications for tobacco usage. In addition, he is a consultant to several national and international organizations such as The World Future Society, The Centers For Disease Control, and the National Institutes For Health. Dr. Fisher is the President of the Magnolia Chapter in Georgia. Also, he is a frequent speaker at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
4:00-4:25 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP14: Markerless Motion Capture Technologies For In-Game Player Performance Assessment
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Michael’s presentation (31:54; 29.2 MB)
Coaches and trainers focus upon getting successful player motions continuously repeated. Until recently, the only method available to track and capture multiple view biomechanical data was to use a “marker” system based upon attaching reflective materials to a confining and bulky Spandex® body suit. Using high speed cameras with advanced optics and telephoto lenses, an integrated Markerless MoCap hardware/software technology platform can provide “live game” baseball player performance and skills assessment. Eckstein discusses the evolution from marker to markerless systems, how the technology is deployed within a baseball stadium, and examples of how user interface formats and analytics can be used by coaches, trainers, scouts, managers and players.
Michael Eckstein <firstname.lastname@example.org> resides in Philadelphia, and is a member of the Connie Mack Chapter of SABR. A lifelong baseball fan, for the past 30 years he has been CEO and CIO of various software development, IT project management, and networking systems companies for Fortune 500 corporations. As the President of Topaz Technology, in 2012 he became a founding principal of KinaTrax LLC to apply markerless motion capture technology platforms to in-game player performance and analytics. Past executive positions have included the CEO of the technology subsidiary of PA Blue Shield, appointment as the North American Software Consultant for the Government of Israel, and technology engagements with global companies including Glaxo, Unisys, BT North America and Novartis.
Friday, August 2
2:00-2:25 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP15: Three Men Played in the Four Decades: 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s – or are there four? The Mysterious Case of Elmer Valo
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Norman’s presentation (21:44; 19.9 MB)
Thanks to resources such as Retrosheet and Baseball Reference, many of baseball’s legends, myths, stories and claims can now be proved or disproved. We can verify that three players — Ted Williams, Early Wynn, Mickey Vernon — played in the four decades of the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Macht traces the history of Red Smith’s story that Elmer Valo appeared as a pinch hitter in the last game of the 1939 season, which would make him the fourth to appear in those four decades. Through interviews and analyses, Macht gets to the heart of the search for truth: whether the repeated appearance of a story in print should be sufficient grounds for a researcher to accept it.
Norman Macht <email@example.com> hopes to finish volume 3 of his Connie Mack biography before reaching the age at which Mr. Mack retired.
2:00-2:25 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP16: Philadelphia’s Rooftop Bleachers
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Jack’s presentation (24:14; 22.2 MB)
Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, has a section of the stands, near Ashburn Alley, called rooftop bleachers. It commemorates the time in baseball history (1929-1935) when neighbors living on 20th Street charged admission for fans to see Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics performing in Shibe Park. Rooney actually lived in one of those houses, and he focuses here on the A’s 1929-31 dynasty years, exploring the A’s legal action to prevent the roof top bleachers from being constructed for the 1929 World Series, and how cameramen from three movie newsreel companies filmed Series games from his roof.
John J. (Jack) Rooney. Ph.D. <firstname.lastname@example.org> is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Master’s program in Clinical Counseling at La Salle University. He is the author of numerous articles and three books including Bleachers in the Bedroom: the Swampoodle Irish and Connie Mack (May, 2012), a humorous account of his childhood experience growing up across the street from Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium before and during the Depression. His commentary pieces and book reviews appear regularly in the Philadelphia Inquirer and other outlets, and he is a frequent speaker at professional and community organizations.
2:30-2:55 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP17: What About Solly Hemus?
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Mark’s presentation (26:13; 24.0 MB)
In David Halberstam’s book October ’64, prominent black members of the 1964 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals contrasted their admiration for manager Johnny Keane with their dislike of his predecessor Solly Hemus (and his dislike of them). It was more than mere disdain, they argue; Hemus had actively delayed Bob Gibson’s, Bill White’s, and Curt Flood’s emergence as star players. Some of the players’ complaints were such specific situations that it was possible to review contemporary news reports and game details to assess their veracity. Armour, a leading researcher of the rise of African-American stars in the 1950s and ‘60s, examines Hemus’s controversial tenure with the Cardinals, including Solly’s own recollections as well as the complaints.
Mark Armour <email@example.com> is the founder and director of SABR’s Baseball Biography Project. He is the author of a book on Joe Cronin, and is currently at work on a history of baseball front offices with Dan Levitt. He roots for the Red Sox from his home in Corvallis, Oregon.
2:30-2:55 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP18: There Used to Be a Ballpark: The Baker Bowl and the Hump
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to George’s presentation (21:46; 19.9 MB)
The Baker Bowl, home of the Philadelphia Phillies for 51½ seasons (1887-1938), was formally known as Philadelphia Park or Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds. Although summarily mentioned in various “ballpark books” and internet sites, none go into great detail about the park and how it changed over the years. Aiming to broaden our knowledge of an important ballpark in Philadelphia and baseball history, Skornickel provides a cohesive and detailed study of the park, including physical changes, a survey of historical events and baseball feats, and a discussion of other tenants.
George Skornickel <firstname.lastname@example.org> has an MS in Elementary Education and taught English as well as being the Gifted Education Coordinator for the Highlands School District. He was a teacher consultant, Director of the Young Writers Institute, Summer Institute for Teachers, and In-Service Coordinator for the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a Master Teacher for the Pittsburgh Holocaust Center and is the recipient of the Janus Korczak Excellence in the Teaching of the Lessons of the Holocaust award. He is the author of Beat ‘Em Bucs: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates as well as numerous baseball articles. He lives in Fawn Township with his wife, Kathy, and black lab, “Maz.”
3:00-3:25 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP19: Uncle Robbie Moves to Brooklyn
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Steve’s presentation (26:05; 23.9 MB)
Wilbert Robinson, the beloved longtime manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers (affectionately known as the Robins during his years there, 1914-1931), left his position as coach of the New York Giants after the 1913 World Series and became the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers later that fall. The circumstances surrounding his departure from his former teammate and business partner, Giants manager John McGraw, were shrouded in mystery for years, until stories of a rift between the two men emerged decades later. Steinberg compares and contrasts the contemporary accounts of Robbie’s change of jobs with what really happened, revealing a better understanding of this complicated man, McGraw, and his old friend, Robinson.
Steve Steinberg <email@example.com> is the co-author with Lyle Spatz of 1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York, winner of the 2011 Seymour Medal. Their book on Jacob Ruppert and Miller Huggins and their partnership in laying the foundation for future Yankees’ greatness, The Colonel and Hug, will be published by the University of Nebraska Press in the spring of 2015, the 100th anniversary of Ruppert’s purchase of the Yankees. Steve and Tom Simon are co-editing a photo-laden book on the Deadball Era World Series. Steve has also written Baseball in St. Louis, 1900-1925 and many articles revolving around early 20th-century baseball, including a dozen for SABR publications. Steve has been a regular presenter at SABR national conventions.
3:00-3:25 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP20: The Ball Park at 21st and Lehigh
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Doug’s presentation (27:46; 25.4 MB)
For 62 seasons, major league baseball was played at 21st and Lehigh (Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium). Using a wealth of photographs, including early ballpark shots, pictures of fans atop the roofs adjacent to the park, and architectural and aerial views, Skipper discusses the construction of baseball’s first steel-and-concrete ball park and its place in the community, opening day and the death of catcher Doc Powers, and the numerous World Series and two major dynasties that played in the park. He also discusses Mack’s relationship with the park’s neighbors and erection of the “Spite Fence,” the addition of the lights to the ballpark and their effect on the neighborhood, and the move of the Phillies from the Baker Bowl.
Doug Skipper <firstname.lastname@example.org> has contributed to a number of SABR publications and profiled more than a dozen players and managers for the SABR Baseball Biographical Project. A SABR member since 1982, he is active in the Halsey Hall (Minneapolis) Chapter and the Deadball Era Committee, and is interested in the history of Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, the Boston Red Sox, and old ballparks. A market research consultant residing in Apple Valley, Minnesota, Doug is also a veteran of father-daughter dancing. Doug and his wife have two daughters, MacKenzie and Shannon.
Saturday, August 3
11:00-11:25 a.m. (Salon A/B)
RP21: Scorecard Advertisements as Social History
David W. Smith and Amy Tetlow Smith
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Amy’s presentation (24:09; 22.1 MB)
Depending on one’s perspective, the traditional ballpark scorecard can have several different purposes. For most fans, the scorecard has always been a convenient place to record the events of the game they are watching and these cards are often saved for many years as they are keepsakes of happy days. However, the ball clubs and their advertisers saw an excellent opportunity to promote their products by targeting a very defined audience, with a degree of homogeneity rarely available to marketers. The Smiths discuss their systematic analysis of the advertisements they catalogued while analyzing thousands of scorecards from the 19th century to the present and how the changing product lines reflected wider societal changes across the country.
David W. Smith <email@example.com> joined SABR in 1977 and has made research presentations at 17 national SABR conventions and many more at regional meetings. In 2001 at SABR 31 in Milwaukee, he won the USA Today Sports Weekly Award for his presentation on the 1951 NL pennant race. In 2005 he received SABR’s highest honor, the Bob Davids Award and in 2012 he was honored with the Henry Chadwick award. He is a past co-chair of the statistical analysis committee and the recipient of the first SABR Special Achievement award. Smith is also the founder and President of Retrosheet, a non-profit organization dedicated to the collection, computerization and free distribution of play by play accounts of Major League games. He has been a Biology Professor at the University of Delaware for 39 years. Amy Tetlow Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org> is the Retroczarina and a lifelong Orioles fan.
11:00-11:25 a.m. (Salon C/D)
RP22: Phillie Dave Coble Plays Catch with Billy Penn
In a 1939 publicity stunt, Phillies catcher Dave Coble caught a baseball thrown from the observation tower of Philadelphia’s City Hall — 521 feet above street level. The event drew thousands of spectators and made national headlines. The ’39 Phils fared miserably, but this exhibition was a hit. It was the last in a billow of ball drops from towering structures which had been taking place sporadically since 1884. Link covers a number of these attempts while delving into one of the furthest and most daring (which took place two blocks away from the site of SABR 43), raising awareness of an interesting but under-examined corner of baseball history.
Dennis Link <email@example.com> has been a member of the Society for American Baseball Research since 2007. With the Connie Mack Chapter, he has helped organize SABR Day and other annual events. He is also a member of the local planning committee for SABR 43. Dennis is active in area organizations such as the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society and Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. He also plays infield for the vintage league Athletic Base Ball Club. Dennis is a Syracuse University graduate and has covered sports professionally for print and TV. He currently produces web-based baseball news and historical features for the Phillies Meetup Group and is employed full-time as an administrator.
11:30-11:55 a.m. (Salon A/B)
RP23: Analyzing Batter Performance Against Pitcher Clusters
- Video: Watch Vince Gennaro’s award-winning SABR 43 presentation (YouTube)
- Related link: Vince Gennaro won the Doug Pappas Award for top oral research presentation at SABR 43
Baseball data continues to grow exponentially. Over the last ten years, we have generated 95% of the game-level and pitch-level data that exists today. In other words, when the book Moneyball was written, we had less than 5% of today’s baseball data. Gennaro leverages this data using community detection algorithms to create clusters of pitchers based on similarities multiple attributes, such as frequency of pitch types, velocity, release points, horizontal break, vertical break, pitch variety, pitch location, and handedness. This research could have implications for optimizing batter-pitcher relationships and matchups by identifying how hitter performance varies across these pitcher clusters.
Vince Gennaro <VAGennaro@aol.com> is the President of SABR, the author of Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball, and a consultant to MLB teams. He appears regularly on MLB Network’s Clubhouse Confidential, and is a frequent guest commentator on sports business in the media. This follows a 25-year business career, where he served as President of a billion dollar division of PepsiCo. His innovative work in baseball analytics has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, CNNMoney, and the New York Times. He teaches in the Graduate Sports Management program at Columbia University and has an MBA from the University of Chicago. His website is vincegennaro.com.
11:30-11:55 a.m. (Salon C/D)
RP24: 52 In ’52: Roberts And Shantz Make History!
Steve Krevisky and Elliot Hines
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Steve and Elliot’s presentation (22:32; 20.6 MB)
In 1952, Robin Roberts and Bobby Shantz combined to win 52 games between them, each winning about one-third of their teams’ games, in one of the rare times that both Philadelphia teams were in the first division in the same season. Using data from Retrosheet, Krevisky and Hines analyzed every game that Shantz and Roberts pitched in 1952. They analyze MVP votes and discuss their projection of what the Cy Young voting would likely have been, using measures such as adjusted ERA, WHIP and WAR. They also review the Philadelphia teams’ respective rosters, putting Roberts and Shantz’s season into perspective.
Steve Krevisky <Skrevisky@mxcc.commnet.edu> has been a Professor of Math at Middlesex Community College since 1985, where he often uses baseball in his math classes. He is a frequent presenter at international math and statistics conferences on math and sports, with an emphasis on baseball. He also is currently President of SABR’s Smoky Joe Wood Connecticut Chapter, chair of the SABR Games and Simulation Committee, and the Yankees manager in the Great American Fantasy League (GAFL). Steve is a frequent presenter at SABR national and regional meetings and has been on teams that have won the SABR national trivia team championships six times. He has published articles in both The National Pastime and the Baseball Research Journal, and has attended all national SABR conventions since 1986. The Big E, as Elliot Hines is often called, attended the 2002 SABR convention in Boston. He is a regular attendee at the NY Casey Stengel SABR chapter, where he has made many presentations, and often administered the trivia contests. He and Steve Krevisky have co-presented before, and he also has an ongoing list of his top 100 players. He is a big Yankees fan in general, and Mickey Mantle devotee in particular.
12:00-12:25 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP25: Baseball in the Age of Big Data: Why the Revolution Will Be Televised
Baseball analysis has been transformed in the last decade by the ready availability of large collections of data. Lahman looks at the key factors that helped give birth to this revolution, the current state of baseball information, and some of the emerging technologies which will have an even bigger impact over the next several years. He’ll move from a quick history of the open data movement in baseball research through the open data/proprietary conflict in the context of the Big Data movement, to a discussion of looming advances in computer vision, machine learning and video processing that may further transform baseball performance analysis.
Sean Lahman <firstname.lastname@example.org> develops interactive databases and data driven stories for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and other Gannett newspapers and websites. He’s part of their investigative reporting team and writes a weekly column on technology and innovation. Prior to joining the Democrat and Chronicle, he was a reporter and columnist with the New York Sun. Sean served as Senior Editor for Total Sports Publishing, where he helped produce reference books including Total Baseball, The Baseball Biographical Encyclopedia, and the Sports Illustrated Sports Almanac. Since the mid-1990s, his Baseball Archive website has provided an open source database of historical baseball statistics. Sean currently serves as SABR’s Data Projects Coordinator. He has been a SABR member since 1996.
12:00-12:25 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP26: How did Bob Carpenter Jr. Fare as the Phillies Acting General Manager
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Steven’s presentation (26:11; 24.0 MB)
Robert R.M. Carpenter Jr. served as the Phillies team president from 1943 through 1972. At the age of 28, he became the youngest president in National League history when the Carpenter family was awarded the franchise on November 23, 1943. Carpenter was the acting GM from 1948 until hiring Roy Hamey in April, 1954. Glassman discusses Carpenter’s numerous moves in those six years, determining which deals worked and which ones didn’t using Bill James’ Approximate Value and Win Shares, as well as WAR from Fangraphs.com. He also addresses Carpenter’s failure to integrate the Phillies during his tenure as the acting General Manager.
Steven Glassman <email@example.com> has been a SABR member since 1994 and regularly makes presentations for the Connie Mack Chapter. Steven is attending his eighth convention. His previous convention oral presentation was “Thank You for Your (Non-)Support” (SABR 42), and he’s also making his fourth poster presentation in the past five years. The Temple University graduate in Sport and Recreation Management has worked in the Sports Information field for Temple University, West Chester University, Albright College, and Rutgers University-Newark. He currently works as a full-time scoreboard operator for The Sports Network in Hatboro, PA. Steven is also a part-time volunteer Director of Sports Information for Manor College in Jenkintown, PA. Born in Philadelphia, PA, Steven currently resides in Warminster, PA.
12:30-12:55 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP27: Statistical Predictors of MLB Players’ Proneness to Long Hitting Streaks
Alan Reifman and Trent McCotter
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to Alan’s presentation (24:46; 22.7 MB)
Producing a long consecutive-game hitting streak requires excellent batting ability, to be sure. However, high batting average is insufficient to yield a long hitting streak; after all, Ted Williams never amassed longer than a 23-game hitting streak, despite a .344 career batting average, as players who walk frequently record few at-bats in some games and have little margin for error in maintaining a streak. Using regression analysis, Reifman and McCotter quantify the association between statistics such as walks, career longevity, strikeout rates and even base-stealing success with players’ longest hitting streaks, in a combined sample of current and historical MLB players, and discover some surprising results.
Alan Reifman <firstname.lastname@example.org> is professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Texas Tech University and has been a SABR member since 2004. He is the author of the book Hot Hand: The Statistics Behind Sports’ Greatest Streaks (Potomac Books, 2012) and has operated the Hot Hand in Sports website since 2002. Trent McCotter <email@example.com> is Vice Chairman of the Records Committee and is also an attorney living in Washington, D.C. He has written several articles about hitting streaks that have appeared in the Baseball Research Journal, and he often contributes streak-related notes to MLB teams and ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
12:30-12:55 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP28: The Phillies Near-Collapse of 1950
- Audio: Click here to download the MP3 file and listen to John’s presentation (26:40; 24.4 MB)
Before the Phold, there were the Whiz Kids. All Philadelphia recalls that the 1950 Phils won the NL crown, 35 mostly dreadful years after their only previous title, and that their pinstripers were narrowly swept (three 1-run games) in the Series by those other pinstripers. Less often recalled is that the Whiz Kids almost suffered the same fate as their 1964 brothers. Nearly surrendering a 5-game lead with 5 games left, the Phils were saved in their 154th game by Dick Sisler’s 10th-inning homer off Don Newcombe … only after what would have been the winning (and first-place tying) run for the Dodgers was cut down at the plate in the bottom of the 9th. Using firsthand reportage from newspapers on both sides, along with other research sources, Burbridge recounts an oft-forgotten final week of a season.
Dr. John Burbridge Jr. <firstname.lastname@example.org> is currently a senior fellow at Elon University. From 2007 until 2012 he was a full professor in operations and supply chain management at Elon. From 1996 to 2007 he served as dean of Elon’s Martha and Spencer Love School of Business. While at Elon he introduced and has taught Baseball and Statistics which includes all of the sabermetric approaches in addition to traditional statistical thinking. John has presented at SABR Conventions and the Seymour meetings. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in industrial engineering from Lehigh University.
4:30-4:55 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP29: 1959 Little World Series
The 1959 Little World Series was not only an exciting round of playoffs to determine a champion, but was played amidst political, historic and economic upheaval. Minneapolis faced Havana in the final round in an atmosphere of political unrest due to the revolution and rise to power of Fidel Castro. It also marked the last time a Cuban team would compete in the playoffs. Schabowski, through interviews with participants and other research, brings this period back to life, discussing the effects of the Havana franchise’s rapid re-location to Jersey City in the middle of the 1960 season on the players, the rest of the league, and also Cuban baseball.
Rick Schabowski <RICKIU76@aol.com> has been a SABR member since 1995, and is President of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter. He’s also President of the Wisconsin Oldtime Ballplayers Association, one of the Directors and Treasurer of the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association, and a member of the Hoops Historians. A retired machinist from Harley-Davidson, Rick works as an instructor at Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership. He lives in St. Francis, Wisconsin.
4:30-4:55 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP30: Home But Not Yet Home: World War I and its Impact on Professional Baseball — The Story of Win Noyes
Winfield Charles Noyes, a dead-ball era spitballer from Nebraska, displays a contributory reflection of the effect of World War I upon baseball and its players. Foresman focuses on Noyes’ time with the Philadelphia A’s and relationship to Connie Mack, baseball in Europe during the Great War and how PTSD and other war casualties affected MLB. He also discusses Noyes’ previously undiscovered involvement in the 1919 Black Sox scandal and his holding of several previously unchronicled and inconspicuous records. In telling Noyes’ story, Foresman also exposes the effect of WWI on the transition from dead-ball era to modern baseball.
Robert Foresman <email@example.com> is currently from Omaha, NE, completing his second bachelor’s degree at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. A U.S. Army veteran (Operation Enduring Freedom) and recent honors graduate at Chadron State College with a Bachelor’s in History, Rob has spoken and been invited to present lectures at several historical conferences throughout the Midwest over the past few years. Rob is excited to have the opportunity to share an important story of baseball history from Nebraska and hopes the findings he has discovered will lend to the national conversation about the effects of PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) on our American service members and their families, and also encourage others to participate in an important subject that demands our attention and further understanding.
5:00-5:25 p.m. (Salon A/B)
RP31: The Flight of the Pilots
What caused the Seattle Pilots to move to Milwaukee after only one year? By adding archival research and interviews to newspaper accounts and an array of secondary sources, Mullins brings insights into baseball politics, city politics, and the business of baseball to analyze the Pilots’ flight. He ultimately puts the greatest onus of the Pilots failure on the American League’s haste in granting a franchise to a city that was not entirely prepared to support major league baseball, combined with an ownership unwilling to endure losses.
Bill Mullins <firstname.lastname@example.org> is Professor of History Emeritus at Oklahoma Baptist University. He received his B.A. from Pomona College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington. His recently published book Becoming Big League: Seattle, the Pilots, and Stadium Politics is a history of Seattle and the Pilots baseball team that left the city after only one year of play. This paper is based on research for that book. Bill lives in Federal Way, Washington and is a member of the Northwest Chapter of SABR (NWSABR).
5:00-5:25 p.m. (Salon C/D)
RP32: Sin in America’s Pastime: The Juxtaposition of the Ethics of Sins in Baseball Culture
Arguably, the two greatest sins in baseball are gambling and Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) usage. Both sins violate the rules and lusory attitude of the game (the agreement to play by said rules), yet they are framed differently by the media and punished differently by the league. Using the communicative theory utilitarian ethics, Marshall examines inconsistencies in the way the two sins are portrayed and punished, providing insight into the game, theory, and society through a qualitative, rhetorical, and argumentative lens. Punishing gambling has historically allowed the league to look strong, as uncompetitive games are not as interesting. Steroids, however, have assisted the league as attendance records increase with power. The lack of equivalency in punishments has vast implications for sport, theory, and society.
Coral Marshall <Cmarshall@crimson.ua.edu> is currently a doctoral student in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. She interned for SABR during her Master’s program in Sport Management at California State University, Long Beach, and assisted with the Long Beach Convention in 2011. She attended the Minneapolis convention in 2012 as a Yoseloff scholar. Her baseball research interests are historical in nature, and her communication research interests focus on sport and deviance. Her love of baseball comes from watching countless Angels’ games with her dad, Jeff.
For more information on SABR 43, visit SABR.org/convention.