Membership Spotlight for 04/19/2005

Dressed in uniforms of the 1880s and wielding the heavy bats of the period, players and umpires who compete in baseball leagues that play under 19th-century rules were the star speakers at the New York Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research’s annual meeting at the Mid-Manhattan Library on Saturday, March 12.

Mickey “The Lip” Tangel, a teacher by day and vintage “base ball” player on weekends, described how modern fans of 1880s ball play the game under the period rules in organized leagues, to an audience of about 100 chapter members a

Dressed in uniforms of the 1880s and wielding the heavy bats of the period, players and umpires who compete in baseball leagues that play under 19th-century rules were the star speakers at the New York Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research’s annual meeting at the Mid-Manhattan Library on Saturday, March 12.

Mickey “The Lip” Tangel, a teacher by day and vintage “base ball” player on weekends, described how modern fans of 1880s ball play the game under the period rules in organized leagues, to an audience of about 100 chapter members at the all-day affair. Among the differences: no gloves, the “striker” can ask for a high or low pitch, and the umpires can impose ten-cent fines for obscene language. Les Hanak and Harry Higham, who umpire vintage action, gave their perspective on the old-time game, as well.

For Higham, baseball is in the blood – he is the great-grandson of major league baseball umpire Harry Higham.

The meeting was sponsored by the chapter and supported by the New York Public Library, and it offered attendees a mix of trivia contests, authors’ panels, historical presentations, peanuts, and Cracker Jack.

The fans – some of whom came from as far as Massachusetts to the heart of the “Evil Empire” – also heard from authors of new baseball books, and heard from book authors and research experts.

“We had one of our best annual meetings ever,” said Evelyn Begley, the Chapter President. “We had authors with new books, presentations on the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers, book raffles, and a trivia contest.”

The keynote speaker was author Bill Ryczek, author of a forthcoming book on the New York Yankees and New York Mets in the 1960s, “Empire Rising, Empire Falling?????” To research the book, Ryczek spoke with numerous former Yankees and Mets, including little-known players like former Met Don Bosch, who was touted in the late 1960s as the next Willie Mays.

“He was himself amazed at the comparison,” Ryczek told the audience. He also learned from former Yankees that Marv Throneberry, while the symbol of Met comic ineptitude, was a highly-regarded minor league slugging star when with the Yankees.

The book compares how the Yankees and Mets enjoyed opposing experiences across the 1960s.

He was followed by sportswriter Cecil Harris, whose new book “Call the Yankees My Daddy” is a memoir of his experiences of covering the team for Newsday and the New York Post; and Alan Schwarz, author of “The Numbers Game,” which traces the history and use of baseball statistics since the 19th century

Other authors on the panel included Greg Spira and Matt Silverman, who teamed up to produce “USA Today/Sports Weekly’s Best Baseball Writing 2005.”

Jim Reisler discussed his book “Guys, Doll & Curveballs: Damon Runyon on Baseball,” which studies the great Broadway columnist’s days of covering baseball from 1911 to 1934.

While the published authors and baseball players were the headliners of the meeting, SABR chapter members also made presentations on baseball history.

These included Steve Krevisky on “Elston Howard and the Integration of the Yankees,” Peter Mancuso on the 1886 New York Giants and how they gained their name, and Rory Costello on “Twilight at Ebbets Field.”

The latter presentation discussed the use of Ebbets Field after the Dodgers left, which included college and amateur baseball and soccer, and the stadium’s fate.

Opposing ends of the history of the New York and San Francisco Giants were seen in presentations by Al Blumkin and Jonathan Nicholas. Blumkin’s “The Crucifixion of Fred Merkle” discussed his fate in the 1908 pennant race and after, while Nicholas’s “Walking Barry Bonds” covered the validity of intentionally walking the slugger in the 2004 season.

“It was a great meeting,” said Begley. “We made sure everyone was on the top step of the dugout for the National Anthem.”

-Contributed by David Lippman



Originally published: April 20, 2005. Last Updated: April 20, 2005.

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