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SABR 52: Poster Presentations

Here is the list of SABR 52 poster presentations that will be on display throughout the convention on August 7-11, 2024, at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. Full abstracts and presenter bios are available below.

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P01: Herm Krabbenhoft, “The Pitcher’s Cycle: Definition and Team-by-Team Summaries (1893-2023)”

Herm Krabbenhoft presents a companion poster to his oral presentation at this convention, “The Pitcher’s Cycle: Definition and Achievers (1893-2023).” He devises a viable definition of a Pitcher’s Cycle (PC), an analog to the traditional Batters Cycle (BC) (single, double, triple and homer in the same game). He identifies all players who achieved a PC from 1893 (when the current 60’6” distance between the pitcher’s rubber and home plate was instituted) through 2023 and presents the key aspects of PCs on a Team-By-Team basis. These include (1) The player who achieved the first PC. (2) The player who accomplished the most-recent PC. (3) The players who amassed the most PCs. (4) Hall of Famers with PCs.

Herm Krabbenhoft <>, a retired organic chemist, has been a SABR member since 1981. Among the various baseball research topics he has pioneered are: Ultimate Grand Slam Homers, Consecutive Games On Base Safely (CGOBS) Streaks, Quasi-Cycles, Imperfect Perfectos, Minor League Day-In/Day-Out Double-Duty Diamondeers, Downtown Golden Sombreros. Herm is the author of Leadoff Batters of Major League Baseball (McFarland, 2001). Krabbenhoft has received a SABR Baseball Research Award three times (1992,1996, 2013). He is a lifetime Detroit Tigers fan; the Tigers’ Zeb Eaton hit a pinch grand slam against the Yankees on the day Herm was born.

P02: Stew Thornley, “Beyond the Twins: Hall of Famers in Minnesota”

Minnesota has a rich baseball history that goes well beyond the Twins’ 64 years. From the 1880s through 1960, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul had two of the most prominent minor-league teams in baseball, the Millers and Saints. When Thornley began researching the Millers in the 1980s, he found that the team included more than 10 players/managers who were in the Hall of Fame, including Rube Waddell, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, and Carl Yastrzemski. The number crept up with the later induction of players such as Ray Dandridge and Orlando Cepeda. St. Paul did not have as many members in the Hall of Fame, but its list includes some notable ones, including Lefty Gomez, Duke Snider, and Roy Campanella, who integrated the American Association in 1948. With a great heritage of town-team baseball in Minnesota, some amateur teams included top players such as Hilton Smith, who pitched for Fulda, Minnesota, in 1949. The players and their information are noted in a striking display with a backdrop of a panoramic view of Nicollet Park in Minneapolis in its final years.

Stew Thornley <> has been a SABR member since 1979 and is the author of several books on Minnesota baseball history, including a history of the Minneapolis Millers. He is an official scorer for Major League Baseball and a member of the MLB Official Scoring Advisory Committee. He is also the past Field Timing Coordinator for Major League Baseball.

P03: Rich Arpi, “Spread of Baseball in Minnesota, 1858-1923”

Arpi’s poster represents the result of a several-year project of the Halsey Hall Chapter with contributions from almost a dozen people. This project compiled the history of amateur baseball throughout the state and several neighboring states in the 19th and early 20th century before the establishment of the state amateur tournament in 1924. The first phase of the project was to find the first record of a baseball game played in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties. A large, color-coded map of Minnesota notes the date of the first game in each county, showing how the game spread throughout the area.

Rich Arpi <> has been a SABR member since 1982 and has been quite active researching various topics of Minnesota baseball history. He has been a chapter officer (currently president of the Halsey Hall Chapter) and has been active in several SABR committees.

P04: Ed Denta, “Scanning the World of Baseball Streaks”

Denta presents the results of a comprehensive scrutiny of baseball win-loss streaks, including many new and unique types of streaks. He explores and captures the triumph and tribulation of some of the best and worst teams of all-time. The information is captivating and presented clearly in a series of easy-to-digest tables. The breadth of won-loss streak related data recounted in this document is extensive.

Ed Denta <> is a retired electrical/systems engineer and a lifelong baseball fanatic and trivia buff. During his professional working career, Ed got out from behind the desk to fuel his passion for the sport by umpiring high school baseball on Florida’s Gulf Coast for 18 years. In retirement, he combines his analytical background with his fervor of sports history and statistics to research and author sports-related documents and products. He is an active member of SABR’s Roush-Lopez Tampa Bay Chapter.

P05: Alan Cohen, “Integrating the Minor Leagues”

In the years following the signing of Jackie Robinson, integration came to the minor leagues at a very slow pace. In 1946, Robinson, along with Roy Partlow and Johnny Wright, played with Montreal in the International League and Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella played with Nashua (New Hampshire) in the New England League. Beyond that, there was no integration in the minor leagues. Over the next several years, most of minor league baseball remained closed to Black players. There was token immigration in AAA; in 1949, the Pacific Coast League, which had integrated in 1948, had 10 Black players. The International League also had 10 players and the American Association had only four. AA ball was segregated into the 1950s as the two leagues with that designation were in Southern states. In the lower minor leagues, some leagues were welcoming, others not. Cohen shows lists of players,  but each player’s story is unique and this poster goes beyond being a compilation.

Alan Cohen <> has been a member of SABR since 2011. He chairs the SABR BioProject fact-checking committee, is an officer in the Connecticut Smoky Joe Wood Chapter, and is a datacaster (MiLB stringer) with the Hartford Yard Goats, Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. He volunteers with the Retrosheet Negro Leagues project and with SABR’s Negro League Committee. His biographies, game stories, and essays have appeared in more than 70 baseball-related publications. He has four children, nine grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, and resides in Connecticut with wife Frances, their cats Zoe and Ava, and their dog Buddy.

P06: Chuck Hildebrandt, “The Practical Implications of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption”

Even casual fans are aware that baseball has had an exemption from the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 for over a century now. But as with most business aspects of the sport, few people understand what this actually means. What are the practical implications of such an exemption? What are those things the antitrust exemption allows baseball to do, and as importantly, does not allow baseball to do? What were the precise circumstances that led to baseball obtaining an antitrust exemption in the first place? Why is baseball considered to have a full exemption from the Sherman Antitrust Act, while other major sports such as football, basketball, and hockey are not? Hildebrandt takes a deep dive into this topic to reveal all this and more, organized and presented in terms people who are not antitrust attorneys will easily understand.

Chuck Hildebrandt <> is a previous winner of both the Doug Pappas Award for best oral research presentation (“‘Little League Home Runs’ in MLB History”, 2015; “Does Changing Leagues Affect Player Performance, and How?”, 2017) and SABR Convention Poster Presentation Award (“Long-Tenured Teammates on Big League Teams”, 2023). Chuck has authored four articles for the Baseball Research Journal and The National Pastime. Chuck also founded the Baseball and the Media Committee in 2013 and currently serves as its chair emeritus. A Detroit native who is a proud Tigers fan despite too many recent rebuilds, Chuck lives with his lovely wife Terrie in Chicago, where he still plays in two rec softball leagues against the advice of his orthopedic surgeon.

P07: Brian Flaspohler, “How Fast Was Walter Johnson (and Bob Feller and Nolan Ryan …)?”

The Statcast era provides the most accurate measures of pitching velocity in history. Average fastball velocity over recent times has demonstrably increased. Given the philosophy of pitching today, in which players are less likely to pace themselves and instead more regularly throw max velocity, there is no question that average velocity has improved. Flaspohler examines maximum velocity achievable for three great fastball pitchers in pre-Statcast era history: Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, and Nolan Ryan. He compares velocity to world record 100-meter-dash performances over time, analyzes the primitive testing that was done when these pitchers pitched, and uses available anecdotal and video evidence. He attempts to separate improvements due to technology from improvements due to improved coaching, training, and nutrition.

Brian Flaspohler <> is a baseball researcher and author, primarily concerned with baseball in St. Louis and Missouri-born major league players. He has written a book, St. Louis Baseball History: A Guide, along with a number of biographies for the SABR Biography Project and a few game stories for the Games Project. He is currently working on a book about Missouri-born major leaguers and the towns they are from.

P08: John J. Burbridge Jr., “Jim Thorpe: Baseball Player”

While growing up as a New York Giants fan, Burbridge read many books concerning the history of the team. He learned that Jim Thorpe, who is considered by many to be the greatest athlete of the twentieth century, played for the Giants. When Burbridge would ask his father about Thorpe, he would respond “couldn’t hit a curveball.” Thorpe was signed one season before the Giants and Chicago White Sox were about to embark on an around-the-world tour. It was suspected John McGraw signed Thorpe to be a gate attraction as a Giant but more specifically on the tour. Reinforcing this notion, it does not seem Thorpe was ever given a chance to earn a regular position as a Giant. McGraw sent him to the Jersey City Skeeters just across the river from New York City. He was then sent to Harrisburg and ultimately returned to the Giants. The Giants traded him to the Cincinnati Reds (managed by Christy Mathewson), then he went back to the Giants and finally the Boston Braves. Burbridge takes a detailed look at Thorpe’s baseball career and sheds light as to whether he could have been a successful major-league player.

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, NINE, and the Seymour meetings. 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.

P09: Allison Levin and Scott Carter, “From Big Lug to Mudonna: Minor League Baseball Mascots as a Marketing Tool”

Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams are well known for the way they must market themselves to survive. While some thought the marketing pressures might change with the consolidation of MiLB with MLB several years ago, that has simply not been the case. One fundamental way that marketing happens is through the team mascot. With all of MiLB’s marketing, why should the focus be on the mascots? Promotions like fireworks night can grow the fandom, but having a promotional night for every game isn’t feasible. So how do you bring that excitement to the game? Teams have found the answer lies in coordinating activities around the mascot. Over the years, the research has shown that fan identification grows with a strong mascot. Building on previous marketing research, Levin and Carter examine and discuss the current state of marketing through mascots by providing examples of exemplary mascots and showing the marketing in action through QR codes. They explore and explain various marketing strategies and the types of mascot activities and promotional strategies, along with how marketing needs differ league-by-league and based on demographic areas. The poster provides a cohesive guide to how MiLB teams market themselves through mascots.

Allison Levin <> is a Professor of Sport Communication and a Member of SABR’s Board of Directors. Her research revolves around the modern trends in baseball. Scott Carter <> is the Executive Vice President of SABR. Through his years in Minor League Baseball, he has had the privilege of putting on the mascot suit more than once.

P10: Rex Hamann, “Self-Publishing a Baseball History Journal”

A 2001 visit to a graveyard in Gahanna, Ohio uncovered an uncomfortable reality: the final resting place of Nick “Tomato Face” Cullop, a minor-league slugger during the 1930s, had no gravestone. To remedy this, Hamann organized a successful effort getting one. The story was worth sharing, and as a result he began publishing the American Association Almanac in November 2001. Hamann shows his process for self-publishing, which now involves a sense of page design that can be computer-assisted, including the technologies and methods he uses for organizing and comparing data. His ongoing series on American Association ballparks further expanded his research skills.

Rex Hamann <> was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1957. As a youngster Rex was a baseball card collector, which led him to a devout following of the Chicago Cubs. In high school his baseball interests diminished. He began his 20-year teaching career in Milwaukee and became a die-hard Milwaukee Brewers fan. Rex became interested in the old Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association after listening to his new neighbors talk about them. While he is now a Cleveland Guardians fan, the Brewers are never far from his heart. He has lived in Andover, Minnesota with his wife since 2001.

P11: Bailey Hall, “Leadoff Walk vs. Leadoff Single: Which is Actually Worse?”

We can all agree: watching a leadoff walk is agonizing. How could you, as the pitcher, give something away like that? Or is that actually the calculated best outcome? In Hall’s family of baseball fanatics, a leadoff walk is an unforgivable sin, but she has always been an outlier in this opinion. Is a leadoff walk actually the worst outcome, or is that a strategic choice? Is it worse than a leadoff single? Hall addresses the age-old question: is a leadoff walk or a leadoff single worse? Which produces a higher run total in an inning? Hall uses data from and to cross-reference innings beginning with a leadoff walk or single with the corresponding box scores for runs in those innings, and following that, unifying the data in a form that is queryable by inning, pitcher and team. Hall also intertwines the research with the larger concept of baseball ethics and where statistics belong in the sport: as a catalyst for learning and improvement rather than an apparatus to do jobs for us.

Bailey Hall <> is a high school junior from Austin, Texas. She is above all else a Cubs fan, but secondly an Astros fan, and an overall sports enthusiast. In her free time, she plays volleyball and loves school, particularly math and history. She is particularly interested in the history of baseball and its role in American culture. As she begins her lifelong journey of being a baseball fan, she is discovering the nuances of sabermetrics and has enjoyed researching and learning about how statistics fits into baseball as it attempts to evolve with this new era of technology.

P12: Tom Conlon, “Introducing Two Statistics So Everyday Baseball Fans Can Better Measure Seasonal Performance for Batters and Pitchers”

The golden statistical era of sabermetrics was in the 1980s, spurred by James, Palmer, Thorn, and contemporaries. But few of the new sabermetric statistics have been adopted into widespread use by fans and the media. One statistic that seemed to have promise was “Run Expectation 24” (RE24), initially described in Palmer and Thorn’s book The Hidden Game of Baseball (1984). Why has it not gained greater prominence among fans? Conlon looks at issues with the original RE24 statistic and considers various adjustments ranging from the components of the statistic to even the user-friendliness of its name. He proposes new related statistics calculated using Retrosheet data that he argues are more intuitive and easily understood by most fans. He will explore leaders in these statistics using the 2019 season as an example.

Tom Conlon <> has followed sabermetric literature since subscribing to Bill James’ abstracts and the Mayo Smith Society newsletter in the 1980s. He grew up in the Detroit area and remains a Tiger fan, cheering for the Tigers often at Fenway Park and T-Mobile Park as he lived in Boston and Seattle for long periods of his life. He holds an MS in biostatistics from Harvard School of Public Health. His primary career was in software engineering, including four years as the Program Manager of Microsoft Excel Pivot Tables.

P13: Larry McGill, “Beyond Top 100 Lists: Visualizing Career “Greatness” in Two Dimensions”

Any statistician will tell you that working with disaggregated data allows you to conduct more sophisticated analyses than are possible with aggregated data. Yet when we have conversations about whether a player deserves election to the Hall of Fame, we tend to focus obsessively on a player’s career totals, ignoring a wealth of season-by-season data that paints a much richer picture of just how “great” (or merely “good”) that player actually was. McGill proposes a method that analyzes season-by-season data for every player who has played in the major leagues through 2023 to visually differentiate the “great” players from the merely “good,” by plotting the results in a two-dimensional representation.

Larry McGill <> is a consultant based in Washington, DC. In his long career, he has conducted multiple-method research on many topics, including the news media, the arts, racial equity, philanthropy, and public opinion in general. He is a lifelong fan of the Baltimore Orioles and became a Cubs fan when he did graduate work in Chicago during the 1980s. Previously, Larry was head of research at Foundation Center — now Candid, which houses the world’s largest database on philanthropic giving — director of research at the Freedom Forum, associate director of an academic center at Princeton University, and director of news audience research for NBC.

P14: Connie Sharpe, “Post War Diamonds: The Beginning of the End”

When you were raised and bred on the third row of bleachers behind the first base line at “The Nebraska Diamond,” you have memories that don’t connect until you’re at a Cincinnati, Detroit, or Kansas City ballpark around June 6 or the Fourth of July of any year.  For Sharpe, the likes of Bob Cerv, Stan Bohansen, Dwight Siegel, Gary Neibauer, Dave McDonald, and Hobe Hayes would spew from the fireworks that announced “The Star Spangled Banner” before a game. Collegiate baseball took a long hiatus during World War II,  and its return was sluggish. But Nebraska, led by an athletic director from Indiana, initiated the return of baseball to the college landscape following WWII. Sharpe provides a report on one school and how it faced up to an end-of-war situation. Over the last 13 years, three Nebraska Governors have proclaimed June as Nebraska Baseball History Month in recognition of the country’s first team that revived college baseball with the GI Bill. This poster describes that team composed entirely of WWII veterans.

Connie Sharpe <> is a war baby to a University of Nebraska head baseball coach. She is a retired professor from the University of Maryland, The Johns Hopkins University, and Tampa University. She earned her degrees in Journalism, English, and Education from the University of Nebraska and her Masters Degree in Public Affairs, Journalism, and Media Studies from American University in Washington, DC. Her professional career spans from corporations and newspapers in Detroit to classrooms and legislative units in Maryland and Washington, DC. She was born to a Cincinnati Reds/St. Louis player who, on the day the Cincinnati Reds traded him to St. Louis, was in transit to his assignment as a Naval Officer in World War II.

P15: George M. DeMarco Jr., “Patriot Behind the Plate: The Life and Times of American League Umpire Larry Barnett and the Story of his Dedicated Service to The Disabled American Veterans (DAV)”

DeMarco describes and interprets the life and times of retired Major League umpire Larry Barnett. His is a powerful and untold story of excellence on the field and a deep and abiding love of country and family that holds lessons for all. DeMarco reviews Barnett’s 31 years as an American League umpire and longtime crew chief who umpired 4,281 games, including four World Series, five All-Star Games, and seven ALCS. Recognized nationally for his volunteerism and philanthropy, Barnett received a Point of Light Award in 1988, was a finalist for the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992, and awarded an honorary Doctorate in Public Service by Bowling Green University in 1995. For his four decades of dedication to the Veterans Administration, Barnett received a lifetime achievement award at the 2016 DAV National Convention in Atlanta. DeMarco also looks at Barnett’s most famous games and most controversial calls.

Dr. George M. DeMarco Jr. <> is Professor Emeritus of Physical Education-Sport Studies at the University of Dayton and a former professional umpire. His physical education and sport-related research has appeared in more than 25 peer-reviewed publications, including primary sourced data-based research articles, book chapters, position papers, scholarly reviews, and electronic media. He has also made more than 125 presentations at international, national, regional, state, institutional, local conferences, symposia, workshops, and meetings, including at the North American Society for Sport History, American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, and the SABR Dayton Chapter.

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