A look back at SABR 12 — 1982 Baltimore convention

Memorial Stadium (Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles)

Next week, the annual SABR convention will return to Baltimore for the first time in 40 years. Our long-awaited SABR 50 convention — the first in-person convention to take place in three years — will be held August 17-21, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor, just a few blocks away from Camden Yards, the crown jewel of the major leagues when it opened play in 1992. More than 500 members and guests are expected to attend SABR 50.

The SABR convention has grown tremendously since our last visit to Baltimore for the 12th annual convention, held on the campus of Towson University on June 25-27, 1982. The city’s National Aquarium and Harborplace market had recently opened to great acclaim, and the Orioles still played their home games at Memorial Stadium as Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver prepared to say goodbye in his final season at the helm.

Sparky Anderson (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY)A lively SABR convention that summer saw an explosion in attendance to 227, “by far the biggest event the Society has participated in during its 11 years,” as founder Bob Davids reported in the SABR Bulletin. The Orioles generously provided hundreds of free tickets to Saturday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers — No. 24 in rookie Cal Ripken Jr.’s record-setting streak that began just four weeks earlier on May 30, 1982.

At the SABR convention, Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell delivered the invocation at the Saturday banquet and then introduced the keynote speaker, manager Sparky Anderson, who offered “a testimonial of his … good fortune of going from a .218 hitter to a World Champion manager (with the Cincinnati Reds).” The Orioles would go on to win the following year’s World Series, with Ripken earning American League MVP honors, and Anderson’s Tigers would claim their own championship in 1984.

Rex Barney, the former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher and longtime Orioles public-address announcer, also spoke at the SABR convention. The Friday night panel included former major leaguers Billy Hunter, Dick Hall, Roy Hughes (an active SABR member), and Al Rubeling.

Research presentations included Bob McConnell on the 100th anniversary of the American Association, John Holway on Negro Leagues great Satchel Paige (who had died two weeks before the convention), and Harry Agens with a study of baseball’s first 10 seasons since adding a designated hitter. Meanwhile, a 31-year-old writer from Kansas who was recently profiled in Sports Illustrated, Bill James, held a Q&A session to promote his increasingly popular Baseball Abstracts, which he self-published each year and sent out to more than 750 subscribers.

To learn more about SABR 50 in Baltimore, visit SABR.org/convention.

Click here for a multimedia look back at SABR convention history.

Originally published: August 9, 2022. Last Updated: August 9, 2022.