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SABR 51: Poster Presentations

Here is the list of SABR 51 poster presentations that will be on display throughout the convention on July 5-9, 2023, at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. Full abstracts and presenter bios will be available soon.

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P01: Rick Zucker, “Does a Hippo Have the Memory of an Elephant?”

In one chapter of the 1945 book, My Greatest Day in Baseball, former Cubs pitcher Jim “Hippo” Vaughn tells the story of a singular event in baseball history: a nine-inning double no-hitter pitched by him in Chicago on May 2, 1917 against Fred Toney and the Reds. The Reds got two hits in the top of the 10th to beat Vaughn and the Cubs, 1-0. Zucker tests Vaughn’s assertions in his 28-year-old memory of the event, including Vaughn’s allegation that Toney never beat him again, along with the specific events surrounding the famous swinging bunt by Jim Thorpe that resulted in the game’s only run.

Rick Zucker <> was president of the Bob Broeg St. Louis SABR Chapter from 2018-22.  He is a frequent presenter at the annual Rygelski Research Conference in St. Louis, and won the Conference Award in 2017.  Rick teamed with Abbey Garber and the late Steve Brower to win the 1989 KRLD North Texas Sports Trivia Championship.  Rick played D3 baseball for Washington University in St. Louis. He currently serves as an editor on the SABR Bio Project. Special thanks to Samantha Zucker for her invaluable assistance in preparing this poster. Samantha is a graphic designer and enjoys keeping score at St. Louis Cardinal games.

P02: Mark Kanter, “Major Trades Between the Phillies and Cubs”

The Phillies and Cubs have made a number of trades over the past 123 seasons. Some of the trades have actually helped the Phillies, such as the Manny Trillo trade and the Dode Paskert for Cy Williams trade. Some have actually been helpful for the Cubs, such as the Grover Cleveland Alexander trade, the Ferguson Jenkins trade and, of course, the Ryne Sandberg trade. Kanter focuses on the trading of Hall of Famers and lesser luminaries, such as Grover Cleveland (Pete) Alexander, Cy Williams, Chuck Klein, Ferguson Jenkins, Larry Jackson, Bob Buhl, Ryne Sandberg, Larry Bowa, Ivan DeJesus, Garry Mathews and Bill Campbell. He shows the reasoning behind the trades and whether any of these trades are considered to be in the pantheon of best of best or worst trades of all time for these teams.

Mark Kanter <> grew up in Bristol, Pennsylvania where he became a lifelong Philadelphia Phillies fan. He got the itch watching the last few outs of Jim Bunning’s perfect game against the Mets on Father’s Day in 1964. As a member of SABR since 1985, he has made numerous presentations at SABR meetings and national conventions, as well as writing articles for the Baseball Research Journal, The Northern Game and Beyond, The National Pastime: From Swampoodle to South Philly, and several SABR BioProject biographies. He was the editor of The Northern Game and Beyond, the 2002 Boston SABR convention journal. He has won 12 SABR Team Trivia Contests since 1997.

P03: James O’Flanagan, “Ballparkview: A Baseball Stadium Predictive Performance Platform”

Numerous stadium effects impact the outcome of a baseball game – variations in both the in-play and out-of-play areas of the ballpark; weather and wind conditions; and lighting conditions. O’Flanagan presents a predictive sabermetrics model leveraging data science, Ballparkview, that uses CAD models for the stadium, Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations, National Weather Service data, ray tracing technology and game statistics. This model generates a large new dataset of simulated stadium days, with a new set of 30 equations that describe ball flight characteristics at each stadium. This model is encapsulated in a predictive software application.

James O’Flanagan <> is an engineer who was born and raised in Northeast Ohio. He has worked in a variety of industries: tires, automotive, naval nuclear, oil & gas, medical devices, and consumer products. He is the President of OAPSIE, an engineering agency business that specializes in computational mechanics. He married his high school sweetheart in 2020, and they have two kids and two dogs together. He learned to be an engineer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he received a BS in computer engineering in 2002. He graduated from the University of Akron in 2010 with an MS in Engineering Management, specializing in Finite Element Analysis and writing his Master’s Report on outsourcing engineering work at US manufacturing companies. In his spare time Jim likes to read fantasy, science fiction, and adventure novels, as well as spend time in the outdoors hiking, camping, bicycling, and other fun activities.

P04: Tom Stone, “Using ChatGPT for Baseball Research”

The baseball world is already blessed with a wealth of great research websites. This past winter, ChatGPT, the chatbot developed by OpenAI, grew quickly in popularity for many tasks in business and beyond, from creating outlines to writing draft articles and more. Stone explores how well it does with regard to baseball-related research and writing. He will share the results of various tests of questions such as “What are the pros and cons of Willie Mays as the greatest player of all-time?”, “What would an all-time Yankees dream team look like?”, “What are 10 highlights from the career of Gaylord Perry?,” and more. What does ChatGPT get correct? What kind of (surprising) factual errors does it currently make?

Tom Stone <> is a Senior Research Analyst at i4cp, the Institute for Corporate Productivity. He conducts research on a wide range of topics in human capital, and has given over 150 presentations at national and international conferences in the human resources and corporate learning and development industries. Tom was a baseball writer for many years at and published his first book, Now Taking the Field: Baseball’s All-Time Dream Team for All 30 Franchises with ACTA Sports in 2019. He currently writes about baseball at his Now Taking the Field newsletter/blog on Substack.

P05: Bill Marston, “World Series Results: Predictable or Coin Toss?”

What if the winner of every World Series game were decided by a coin toss? What would the results look like? Marston’s research compares the actual World Series results with those based on probability calculations of random outcomes. Using statistical tests of significance, he shows if there is evidence the actual results might follow a random pattern. He analyzes data such as comebacks from being down two games to none or three games to one; teams winning three games in a row but losing the series; winning the series after winning the first game; and winning the series after winning the next game when the series is tied. He also looks for evidence of a “backs to the wall” attitude that aids the trailing team in elimination games; the impact of having the home field advantage in games and for the series; if the difference in the two teams’ season winning percentages has an impact; and just how unusual it is that no team has come back from a three-games-to-none deficit.

A lifelong baseball fan, Bill Marston <> always appreciated statistics in baseball, which meshed nicely with his 40-year career as a high school mathematics teacher. Retirement has given him the time to read more books on baseball, both biographies and historical collections, which have increased his interest in the history of baseball. Two specific interests that have developed are unassisted triple plays and the World Series. In the last two years, he has begun more formal research on these topics and has been excited to share his findings in presentations and articles published on the SABR website.

P06: John Burbridge Jr., “Revisited: Wrigley’s Cavalcade of Coaches”

For the 1961 season, Philip K. Wrigley, owner of the Chicago Cubs, appointed eight coaches who would fulfill the role of manager for the upcoming season. A particular coach would assume the head coach role for a certain period but then would relinquish those duties to another coach. Upon relinquishing those duties, he would then go to a minor league affiliate of the Cubs to aid in the development of those players. After losing 90 games in 1961, they lost 103 games in 1962 under three head coaches. Most sportswriters and observers felt the approach led to confusion and chaos. Some players such as Richie Ashburn and Don Zimmer were not complimentary. Wrigley appointed Bob Kennedy head coach for the entire 1963 season, during which the Cubs went 82-80. Wrigley finally abandoned the practice after hiring Leo Durocher to manage the team in 1966. Burbridge reassesses Wrigley’s cavalcade of coaches, and considers whether Wrigley may merely have been premature in his efforts given what has occurred in baseball this century.

Dr. John J. Burbridge Jr. <> is currently Professor Emeritus at Elon University where he was both a dean and professor. While at Elon he introduced and taught Baseball and Statistics. He has authored several SABR publications and presented at SABR conventions, the NINE Conference, and the Seymour Medal Conference. He is a lifelong New York Giants baseball fan. The greatest Giants-Dodgers game he attended was a 1-0 Giants’ victory in Jersey City in 1956. Yes, the Dodgers did play in Jersey City in 1956 and 1957.

P07: Tom Best, “The Legacy of Baseball in Monmouth, Illinois: Tales You Must Hear!”

Monmouth, Illinois has had a rich history of amateur and minor league baseball dating to the late 19th century. From the Clippers, Athletics, and the Maple Citys to local club teams and the Monmouth Browns, their legacy is one of colorful players, creatively-crafted exhibition games, future major leagues, controversies over Sunday baseball, and exhibition games against the Chicago Cubs in the early 1900s. Best reveals contests held amidst other stories that captured the public’s attention, from serial murders in this small western Illinois community to the national importance of local celebrities.

A recently retired junior high and college-level history teacher, Tom Best <> has a Master’s degree in history and was a finalist for teacher of the year in the state of Illinois. He has spoken widely on topics ranging from the Civil War and Lincoln to the Oregon Trail, travels across America, and – of course – his love of baseball.

P08: Leslie Heaphy, “Black Female Owners”

Heaphy focuses on the Black female owners of baseball teams beginning with Olivia Taylor and continuing to the present. She reviews their baseball involvement as well as their life beyond the baseball diamond. Analyzing primary sources including newspapers, archives, and oral interviews helped develop a sense of who these women were and why they are important. Heaphy’s work fills a gap that exists in the literature on this topic, expanding our understanding of women in baseball and the Negro Leagues.

Dr. Leslie Heaphy <> is an associate professor of history at Kent State University at Stark and writes about the Negro Leagues, women and baseball, as well as the New York Mets.

P09: Alan D. Cohen, “Ballplayers Who Hit Home Runs in the Same Ballpark in the Negro Leagues and Major Leagues”

During the years of the Negro Leagues, many big-league ballparks were used for games, and although many statistics have never been discovered, it was often noted, in the smallest of newspaper articles in the Black weeklies and mainstream newspapers, if home runs were hit. Cohen reveals those 21 Negro League players who after homering in ballparks as Negro Leaguers, came back to those ballparks in the AL/NL major leagues and homered again. Sometimes the gap in time was small. Other times it was longer, the longest gap being 24 years.

Alan D. Cohen <> chairs the SABR BioProject fact checking committee, serves as Vice President-Treasurer of the Connecticut Smoky Joe Wood Chapter, and is a datacaster (MiLB first pitch stringer) for the Hartford Yard Goats of the Class AA Eastern League. His biographies, game stories, and essays have appeared in more than 65 SABR publications. He is currently involved with the Retrosheet project to add Negro League box scores from 1920 through 1948. He has four children, nine grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, and resides in Connecticut with wife Frances, their cats Ava and Zoe, and their dog Buddy.

P10: Richard Smiley, “Luke Appling, Slugger”

In his 20-year major league career, White Sox legend Luke Appling hit only 45 home runs. But remarkably, he first came to national attention for a feat of home-run hitting and likewise last came to national attention for tallying an unexpected home run. Smiley delves into the details of the four-home run game Appling had for Oglethorpe College in the spring of 1930, the build-up to the highly visible game, the feat’s subsequent appearance in regional and national press items, and the impact that the press coverage had on his burgeoning career. He also will discuss Appling’s transition from a home run to “contact” hitter who took on the characteristics of a modern player, concluding with the bookend event of Luke’s home run off Warren Spahn at the age of 75 in an old-timers game at RFK Stadium in 1982.

Richard Smiley <> is a statistician who lives in Chicago. A long-time White Sox fan, Richard has authored biographies of Reb Russell, Matty McIntyre, and Jim Rivera that have appeared in SABR publications. He contributed an article on Heinie Zimmerman’s chase of Eddie Collins in the 1917 World Series for The National Pastime and edited the chapter on the 1906 World Series in a SABR Deadball Era Committee publication. He also contributed a chapter on the building of Old Comiskey Park to the McFarland series on historic ballparks. He is currently working on biographies of Luke Appling and Norman T. Gassette.

P11: Allison R. Levin, “The Future is Here? AI and its Impact on Baseball Fandom”

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more ubiquitous in society, the fears of what it means for baseball grow stronger. As fans debate how AI should be implemented on the field and in training, it is quietly being implemented to improve the fan experience. Levin examines and discusses how AI is already being used to improve baseball fandom and provide insight into the future of AI from a fandom perspective. By applying a predictive research method she explores how the AI being used in-stadium and in-app will expand to offerings for in-home use. Levin shows how AI impacts the fan’s baseball experience through targeted marketing, in-stadium apps and activities, focused highlights, more accessible access to stadiums and tickets, teaching opportunities, and fantasy and gambling implications.She also addresses the AI-generated ‘for you pages’ on Instagram and TikTok that allow MLB and other baseball entities to get content out to fans.

Allison R. Levin (MA, JD) <> conducts research that builds upon an eclectic background in political science, economics, women’s studies, communications, and law. In recent years her focus has been on the effects of social media on pop culture, communications, and sports, primarily baseball. She is a Professor of Sports Communication at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, and chair of the Educational Resources Research Committee and co-chair of the AI/Machine Learning Research Committee. In addition, she serves as President of the Bob Broeg St. Louis SABR Chapter and is on the SABR Board of Directors.

P12: Paul Spyhalski, “The Palmer House All Stars: Illinois State Semi-Professional Baseball Champions”

Spyhalski expands on the Palmer House’s connections with major league baseball by discussing its connections to semi-professional baseball through the Palmer House Indians and All Stars teams of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Formed in the 1930s, the Indians / All Stars played against area teams in 1936 and entered the state semi-professional tournament from 1937 until 1941. The All Stars won the state tournament in 1939 and 1940. The National Baseball Congress named the 1940 team the fifth best semi-pro team in the nation after the conclusion of that year’s National Baseball Congress. The strength of the team was based on its ability to recruit Black baseball talent in the area. Spyhalski demonstrates the dominance of the All Star teams and the respect they generated while playing on the same field as white teams.

Paul R. Spyhalski <> is a member of the Halsey Hall, Field of Dreams, and Ken Keltner SABR Chapters. He is a practicing attorney and graduate student in the history program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He has been working on Black baseball’s history in Minnesota and Iowa that includes studies of amateur and semi-professional baseball since 2005. His publications appear on the Field of Dreams Chapter website, in Black Ball, and in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture. He is a regular attendee and presenter at the Jerry Malloy Negro League Research Conference.

P13: Chuck Hildebrandt, “Long-Tenured Teammates on Big League Teams”

The 2022 Chicago White Sox had the distinction of having eight players on the squad who had been playing with the team for six consecutive seasons. Considering that they had more six-year teammates than over 99% of all teams in big league history, and that it occurred during the era of free agency player movement, this seems to be a truly remarkable circumstance. But just how unusual is this? Are there teams with more than eight players who were teammates for six straight years? Are there teams with eight players who were together for more than six years? Are there even teams with more than eight teammates together for more than six years? Hildebrandt examines the more than 2,600 AL and NL teams of the modern major leagues to determine which had among the most—as well as among the fewest—long-tenured teammates, determining. which eras were the most likely to have teams featuring numerous tenured teammates, and which franchises tended to keep the most (and fewest) long-tenured teammates.

Chuck Hildebrandt <> is a two-time Doug Pappas Award winner for his oral presentations “’Little League Home Runs’ in MLB History” (2015) and “Does Changing Leagues Affect Player Performance, and How?” (2017). He has authored three articles for the Baseball Research Journal, including the leadoff article in the Spring 2019 issue, “Sweet! 16-Year-Old Players in Major League History.” He founded the Baseball and the Media Committee in 2013. A Detroit native who is a proud Tigers fan even through their too-frequent rebuilding phases, Chuck lives with his lovely wife Terrie in Chicago, where he continues to play in softball leagues despite the advice of his orthopedist.

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