LIVE FROM THE AFL CONFERENCE — The issue nearest to longtime SABR member Roland Hemond’s heart is the well-being of former professional baseball players, coaches and scouts. He serves as president of the Association of Professional Ball Players of America and was a co-founder of the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation. Both organizations offer assistance to members of the baseball community.
In recognition of his decades-long effort to support those in need, Hemond received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arizona Major League Alumni during the third annual AZMLA awards dinner on Friday night in Tempe, Arizona.
“Roland is one of the most respected men in baseball,” said Arizona Fall League director Steve Cobb, who presented the award to Hemond. “He has earned that respect, I believe, by … helping others succeed and helping those who have fallen on hard times.”
Earlier this year, Hemond became the second recipient of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I don’t think a person can work in baseball’s administrative side without total admiration for Roland,” said Laurel Prieb, Major League Baseball’s Vice-President of Western Operations. “His accomplishments over time are extraordinary. … But beyond that, his nature of always looking forward, of reinventing himself, of maintaining a very contemporary perspective and a curiosity about life, is something to be admired.”
Prieb, a member of the SABR Advisory Board, delivered the keynote speech at Friday’s dinner, which was part of the weekend festivities during the SABR Arizona Fall League Conference. He recounted the exciting end of the regular season and postseason in Major League Baseball, and said the offseason is becoming just as much fun.
“The game’s business is always turning in motion in interesting ways,” Prieb said. “Where will Pujols or Fielder play? Who will manage the Cubs, the Red Sox, the Cardinals? Will the Cubs prosper quickly under Theo Epstein? Who will buy the Dodgers and when will it happen? Will the Marlins’ new stadium and the presence of Ozzie Guillen combine to make Miami a baseball hotbed?
“There are myriad questions that so many fans have about their teams. The game just never ends. And for those of us who are such great fans, we’re happy that it never ends.”
Attendees also took in the “Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience”, an exhibit at the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tempe that puts Arizona’s rich spring training history on display. SABR member Bill Staples Jr. was on hand to sign copies of his book, Kenichi Zenimura: Japanese American Baseball Pioneer, and passing out baseball cards of the World War II internment camp survivor.
View more photos of Friday’s event below:
The SABR Arizona Fall League Conference continues at 9 a.m. Saturday with the Flame Delhi Chapter meeting, which is open to the public, at the Hilton Phoenix East/Mesa. The featured speaker is MLB.com senior writer Barry Bloom, who will share stories, insights and field questions from the group. Travis Katzenmeier, an umpire in the minor and major leagues for 13 years, and Rodney Johnson, an official scorer for the Diamondbacks since 2001 and president of the local SABR chapter, will discuss the rules on the field and from the scorer’s chair, and how their perspectives often differ.
— Jacob Pomrenke
Originally published: November 5, 2011. Last Updated: November 5, 2011.