This Week in SABR: April 12, 2013

Welcome to “This Week in SABR!” Here’s what we’ve been up to as of April 12, 2013:

Filmmaker Brian Helgeland brings Jackie Robinson legend to life in “42”

When Brian Helgeland sat down to write “42,” the new biographical film about Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson which premieres on Friday, April 12, he was determined to put audiences in the shoes of the Brooklyn Dodgers great during his rookie season in 1947.

Robinson’s debut with the Dodgers on April 15, 1947, ended the unwritten color ban in Major League Baseball that had been in place since the 1880s. The film, which focuses mostly on the story of Robinson’s first season, stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson and Harrison Ford as Dodgers executive Branch Rickey.

“If you made the story up, people wouldn’t believe it,” Helgeland said in a wide-ranging interview with last week. “I was struck by his personal courage. He’s a great American hero, a great baseball hero, which almost always go together.

“The fact that it’s a true story makes you wonder how he did it. How was he able to get up there and hit almost .300 in his rookie season? How could he leave it all at his locker so he could go out and play baseball? The great thing about a movie is you feel it with him when he goes through his trials. He’s a hero for everyone.”

Helgeland, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of “L.A. Confidential” and “Mystic River,” said he utilized a number of research sources in his screenplay.

“I spoke to (former Dodgers pitcher) Ralph Branca a lot; he’s the only surviving member of the 1947 Dodgers and was very helpful in explaining what it was like in spring training in Panama,” Helgeland said. “I read (SABR member) Lee Lowenfish’s biography of Branch Rickey. I read Jackie’s own autobiography (I Never Had It Made.) Red Barber wrote a book called 1947: When All Hell Broke Loose in Baseball, so that was good to have. Clyde Sukeforth, the Dodgers’ bench coach, was interviewed countless times. I got all of Wendell Smith’s columns he wrote that year from the Hall of Fame.

Helgeland said SABR member Bill Francis at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, New York, was particularly helpful in his research.

“I thought it would make for a great scene if a pitcher hit Robinson and then he hit a home run later,” Helgeland said. “But I didn’t want to invent any games or box scores. So I sent a request in to the Hall of Fame and crossed my fingers: Can you give me a list of every pitcher who hit him in 1947 and every pitcher he hit a home run off of? And I learned that the Pirates pitcher Fritz Ostermuller hit him with a pitch in May, and then Robinson hit a homer off him in September (editor’s note: Robinson also homered off Ostermuller in June.) So we were able to work in that element of his revenge, so to speak, to the film.”

Helgeland said the limitations of a two-hour film forced him to “cheat a little bit” on some aspects of historical accuracy. For instance, recent research suggests that the famous Pee Wee Reese on-field embrace with Robinson likely did not happen in Cincinnati in 1947, and little attention was paid in the film to Tom Greenwade’s extensive role in scouting Robinson or Robinson’s secret 1945 tryouts in Boston or San Diego. But Helgeland said getting the details right was important to him, especially the re-creation of historic ballparks such as Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds.

— Jacob Pomrenke

To read more from our interview with Brian Helgeland, click here: /latest/filmmaker-brian-helgeland-brings-jackie-robinson-legend-life-42

Related links:

A note to AOL e-mail subscribers

We’ve received several reports this week that members with an AOL e-mail address are not receiving all e-mail communications from their chapter and committee leaders. Our membership system provider, YourMembership, has been alerted and has informed us that AOL is having a problem with their Reverse DNS delegation service, which is causing delays and drops in e-mail delivery from SABR’s membership system. We are diligently checking on this issue and hope to have it resolved as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Over the past decade, we’ve also had a recurring issue with AOL subscribers not receiving SABR-L digests. Here are some suggestions that could help: /about/sabr-l-note-aol-subscribers.

In the meantime, please be sure to add “” to your contact list to ensure that all e-mails from SABR show up in your inbox and not the spam folder. (If you’re reading this, that’s a good sign!) Is your e-mail address on file with us? Visit to edit your membership profile information at any time.

Download your free copy of the 2013 Emerald Guide to Baseball

The Emerald Guide to Baseball, edited by Gary Gillette and Pete Palmer with Rod Nelson and Ted Turocy, is the most comprehensive record of the previous baseball season.

Historically, the primary purpose of annual baseball guides has been the publication of the official league standings plus the official team and individual statistics for both Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball. Our new Emerald Guide follows faithfully in that tradition, containing the official batting, pitching, and fielding statistics for every team and every player in the Major Leagues plus extensive lists of league leaders.

The Emerald Guide to Baseball is our attempt to fill the gap in the historical record created by the recent demise of The Sporting News Baseball Guide. First published in 1942, The Sporting News Guide was truly the annual book of record for our National Pastime. It is our great privilege to document for posterity a slice of recent baseball history in our new book.

The 2013 edition of the Emerald Guide runs more than 600 pages and covers the 2012 season; it also includes a 2013 Major League Season Preview with Franchise Directories, Schedules, Spring Training Rosters, Minor League Affiliates, Broadcasting Information, and Career Leaders in 26 Categories for All Major League Teams.

The Emerald Guide is available in both a printed version and in a downloadable PDF format.

To learn more about other SABR research resources, visit

All e-books in SABR Digital Library now available for free to members

One of the great perks of being a SABR member is access to all the new books we’re publishing as part of the SABR Digital Library at

So far in 2013, the list includes Batting, by F.C. Lane; Memories of a Ballplayer: Bill Werber and Baseball in the 1930s, by Bill Werber and C. Paul Rogers III; and Sweet ’60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, edited by Clifton Blue Parker and Bill Nowlin. We’ve got a lot more books in store for you this year and they’ll all be free to download on the website.

And as of today, ALL of the ebooks published as part of the SABR Digital Library since we launched it in December 2011 are now available for free to members at the SABR Store:


So if you haven’t downloaded your copy of these books from the SABR Digital Library, today’s a fine day to do it:

All of our SABR Digital Library books are available in digital formats as well as paperbacks produced by “print on demand” (POD). We hope you enjoy the books!

Early-bird rate for Malloy Conference ends Monday, April 15

The 16th annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference will be held June 13-15, 2013, at the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel in Newark, New Jersey. The conference is open to all baseball, history and sports fans of all ages.

Click here to download the conference information packet and mail-in registration form. Make your checks or money orders out to “SABR – Malloy Conference,” 4455 E. Camelback Rd., Suite D-140, Phoenix, AZ 85018.

Special registration packages are available for educators and students, along with single-day rates. The early conference registration rate ends April 15, 2013; the full rate will be available until May 31.

Hotel reservations should be made directly with the Renaissance Newark Airport; click here to book your room online or call (908) 436-4600 and ask for the “Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference.” Our special room rate for this hotel is $139/night (plus tax.) The cut-off date to book your room at the Renaissance is May 25, 2013. Directions are available in the information packet.

 The conference theme is “Pop, Max, Effa and Black Ball in the Garden State.”

The Malloy Conference, hosted by SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee, promotes activities to enhance scholarly, educational, and literary objectives. For the past 15 years, the event has been the only symposium dedicated exclusively to the examination and promotion of black baseball history. The conference is open to baseball and history fans of all ages.

Each year, monies are targeted to donate books to schools or libraries; raise funds for the Grave Marker Project; and award scholarships to high school seniors in a nationwide essay contest and a nationwide art contest.

SABR 43 Yoseloff Scholarship deadline extended until May 15

Good news: If you’re planning to apply for a Yoseloff Scholarship to attend SABR 43 in Philadelphia this summer, the deadline has been extended until May 15, 2013.

With generous funding from The Anthony A. Yoseloff Foundation, Inc., SABR will award up to four scholarships to college students who wish to attend SABR 43 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 31-August 4, 2013. This scholarship will pay for registration, transportation and lodging up to a total value of $1,250.

The objective of this scholarship fund is to encourage high school and college-level student engagement with baseball research and to engender an active interest in baseball and SABR. The Yoseloff scholarship is to assist young researchers who want to attend SABR’s annual convention and to introduce them to fellow SABR members. Through this fund, SABR hopes to inspire future baseball research, expose students to high-quality research and build the research capability of interested students.

All applications must be postmarked or e-mailed to Jeff Schatzki at no later than May 15, 2013.

For more information about the SABR convention, visit

SABR 43 hotel in Philadelphia filling up fast

This summer’s SABR 43 convention in Philadelphia, July 31-August 4 at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, promises to be spectacular. Seamus Kearney, Dick Rosen, Peter Mancuso and the rest of the Connie Mack Chapter are working hard to line up guest speakers and panelists for the convention, and we hope you’ll join us in Philly for the 43rd annual convention. Register today at

As we noted last week, SABR’s group block at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown is going quickly — if you want a room at the Marriott for the SABR convention, you should book your room now. (Don’t forget to register for the convention, too!) If and when our room block sells out, we’ll set up an overflow hotel nearby and post more information at

SABR has secured an exclusive group rate of $139/night (plus tax) at the Marriott for SABR 43. This is a very low rate for a major hotel in downtown Philadelphia during that time of year. The Philadelphia Marriott Downtown is at 1201 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, just blocks from City Hall , Independence Hall and many other Philadelphia landmarks. Click here to book your room online or call (877) 212-5752. The hotel’s website is Please note that our block of rooms is only available for the nights of July 30 to August 4, 2013.

For more information on SABR 43, visit

Seamheads Negro Leagues Database updated with 1933 stats

A note from SABR member Gary Ashwill at

This week we’re making a slight break with chronological order and adding the 1933 Negro leagues to the DB. Many thanks to Scott Simkus, the creator of the Strat-O-Matic Negro leagues set, who did most of the heavy lifting on this.

The year 1933 marked something of a fresh beginning for the Negro leagues, with the start of a new league and the inauguration of what became black baseball’s biggest event, the annual East-West All-Star Game. The Eastern Colored League had fallen apart in early 1928; its successor, the American Negro League, lasted only a single season. When the Depression broke up the original Negro National League in 1931, it was left to the Negro Southern League to expand temporarily into the north, while Cumberland Posey’s East-West League failed to last through the 1932 season. So in 1933 numbers king Gus Greenlee, owner of the independent Pittsburgh Crawfords, started a new Negro National League, one that, unlike Rube Foster’s original, tried to bring the east coast and the Midwest together.

The tough economic times continued, and it was hard for Greenlee to keep the league up and going. The Chicago American Giants were evicted from Schorling Park, their home since the team’s founding by Rube Foster back in 1911, when it was turned into a dog racing track When the Indianapolis A.B.C.’s moved to Detroit due to low attendance, the American Giants moved to Indianapolis and started playing their home games in the A.B.C.’s former park, Perry Stadium. The Homestead Grays were kicked out in July for poaching two players (Big Jim Williams and Jimmy Binder) from Detroit. Syd Pollock‘s Cuban Stars opted against taking the Grays’ place, and subsequent attempts at placing teams in Akron and Cleveland didn’t last long. In the end only the American Giants, Nashville Elite Giants, and Greenlee’s own Pittsburgh Crawfords finished the season. The Crawfords and the American Giants both claimed the championship; it wasn’t until well into the 1934 season that the Giants conceded the 1933 title to Pittsburgh.

The Crawfords are possibly the most famous team in Negro league history, featuring five Hall of Famers. Their offense was led by the 21-year-old Josh Gibson, by far the league’s dominant hitter (.411, 14 home runs), and the 35-year-old first baseman/manager Oscar Charleston (.352, 12 homers). Their pitching may have been even more impressive, with southpaws Sam Streeter (8-2, 2.62) and Leroy Matlock (7-5) and right-hander Bert Hunter (8-1) taking pressure off the undisputed star, Satchel Paige. Paige’s won-lost record (4-6) doesn’t look like much, but he struck out 77 hitters in 80 innings, sported the Negro leagues’ best ERA (2.03). In four of his ten starts against major Negro league competition, Paige suffered 2-0, 2-1, 2-1, and 3-1 losses.

As great as the Crawfords look, the American Giants were more than worthy rivals, with four future Hall of Famers of their own. Though Rube Foster was dead, under the management of Foster protégé Dave Malarcher the Giants had scooped up several of the star players cut loose by the end of Foster’s old Negro National League, most notably Willie Wells and Mule Suttles from the defunct St. Louis Stars, and Turkey Stearnes (.346/.404/.590) from the old Detroit Stars. Together with a pitching staff led by Rube’s younger brother Willie Foster (6-4, 2.56), the Giants’ stars took the first half pennant, and pushed the Crawfords the whole way during the second half.

The Nashville Elite Giants couldn’t quite keep up with the big boys, but they did feature fine performances from veteran lefthander Percy “Dimps” Miller (6-2, 3.01), outfielder Wild Bill Wright (.336), catcher Tommie Dukes (.340), and second baseman Sammy T. Hughes (.341). The Baltimore Black Sox, now owned by Joe Cambria, had lost a court battle with former investors and lost the rights to the “Black Sox” name—they played the 1933 season as the Baltimore Sox, with shortstop Jake Dunn (.392) and a towering young southpaw named Stuart Jones (5-3) providing some rare bright spots. The Columbus Blue Birds, managed by Dizzy Dismukes, seemed promising at first, but good hitting from outfielder Jabbo Andrews (.398) and shortstop Leroy Morney (.382) couldn’t make up for poor pitching.

The Akron Grays were cobbled together out of players from church teams and local sandlots in both Akron and Pontiac, Michigan, along with a few journeyman veterans (catcher Clarence “Spoony” Palm and outfielder Lou Dials) and a couple of high-profile pitchers on loan from other league teams (Bert Hunter from the Crawfords, Willie Powell from the American Giants). They pretty much performed to expectation. The Cleveland Giants started the 1933 season as a semipro team featuring a female infielder named Isabelle Baxter; upon entering the league they were provided with a roster drawn from the other defunct Ohio teams (Akron and Columbus). They only managed to complete a single league game, a 14 to 7 loss to the Crawfords, then failed to show up for subsequent games in Pittsburgh and Nashville. Disputes over these forfeits contributed greatly to the confusion that marred the season’s conclusion.

Greenlee’s league aspired to take in the whole blackball world, but several important teams were leery of committing themselves. The Kansas City Monarchs remained aloof, preferring for the most part to barnstorm. The New York Black Yankees (who, despite their name, actually operated out of Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey) claimed the world’s colored championship after defeating the Crawfords in a late-season series. Ed Bolden, the key figure behind the old Eastern Colored League, had lost control of his Hilldale Club (which folded after the 1932 season), but founded a new independent team, originally known as Bolden’s Philadelphia All-Stars. Behind the hitting of Rap Dixon (.394/.462/.628) and Jud Wilson (.372/.456/.551), the Stars served notice that they would be a team to be reckoned with in the future.

Next up for the DB: 1928 and 1934 Negro leagues; East-West All-Star Games; Mexican League 1937-1954; 1918/19 through 1922/23 and 1927/28 Cuban leagues, including Babe Ruth’s famous appearance in Havana with the New York Giants in 1920. 

To view the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database, visit

4 new biographies published by the SABR BioProject

Four new biographies were posted as part of the SABR Baseball Biography Project, which brings us to a total of 2,400 published biographies. Wow!

Here are the new bios:

All new biographies can be found here: /bioproj/recent

You can find the SABR BioProject at

Bios on more than just ballplayers: The ambitious goal of the SABR Baseball Biography Project is to publish a full-life biography of every major league player in history. But SABR members write about a lot more than just ballplayers. In addition, we have pages for Ballparks, Broadcasters, Executives, Managers, Scouts, Spouses, Umpires and a lot more on the BioProject website. You can browse all of these categories at /bioproj/browse. So if you’ve ever thought, “Hey, that person (or ballpark) should get the full BioProject treatment” — write the story and we’ll publish it!

Check out the new Baseball Ballparks Project: The SABR Baseball Biography Project has been accepting/publishing “biographies” of Ballparks for a few years, and we have 39 of them on our website at /bioproj/parks. However, this thing just got real. Ballparks are now its very own PROJECT — the Baseball Ballparks Project, our first official spin-off. The project leader is Scott Ferkovich, who is now in charge of recruiting ballparks articles and publicizing them. Learn more by clicking here.

Get involved! If you’d like to help contribute to the SABR BioProject, visit our BioProject Resources page or read the FAQs section to get started. We’re also looking to expand the BioProject to include all “encyclopedic” articles on baseball-related subjects from past SABR publications or committee newsletters. If you come across an article you think should be included in the SABR “baseball repository” at the BioProject, send a copy or link to or

Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Jews in America project

The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia is seeking SABR members’ help to collect online artifacts for their forthcoming exhibition, “Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Jews in America,” Their website can be found at

Associate Curator Ivy Weingram says, “This collecting initiative is so crucial to the success of our exhibition and our efforts to illustrate baseball’s impact on everyday people — we’re encouraging fans and collectors of all stripes, with collections large or small, to post photos of objects they might like to lend to Chasing Dreams.”

The museum is asking fans to share items such as uniforms, signed baseball memorabilia, bobble heads and other giveaways; stickball, whiffle, and T-ball equipment; handwritten scorecards; signed tickets, balls, baseball cards, and other memorabilia (preferably with authentication or photo of the object being signed); baseball cards of personal significance; Little League trophies and championship bats; armed-forces or war-related baseball memorabilia (example: World War II V-mail commenting on baseball back home); girls’ baseball uniforms; photos of marriage proposals at ballparks; Cracker Jack toys from boxes purchased at a baseball game; and fantasy baseball memorabilia.

Items specific to the Jewish experience in baseball might include any of the above related to Jewish players; baseball-themed bar- and bat-mitzvah memorabilia; custom Little League jerseys sponsored by Jewish businesses; Jewish summer camp baseball artifacts and relics (t-shirts, signs with baseball calls in Hebrew); Jewish heritage night giveaways; kosher ballpark food artifacts (signs, hot dog steamers, concession uniforms).

For more information, visit

SABR member discount for “Baseball Legends” cruises

We’re pleased to pass along this note from SABR member Dan Schlossberg:

American Queen Steamboat Company will offer SABR members a discount of $375 per person (up to $750 per cabin) plus a $50 on-board credit (up to $100 per cabin) to anyone who books a “Baseball Legends” cruise.  The first cruise, St. Louis to Cincinnati on July 20-27, is a 7-night trip that includes a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum, while the second is a 5-nighter, Cincinnati to Pittsburgh on July 27-August 1. Participating personalities are Ron Blomberg, Art Shamsky, Al Clark and host Dan Schlossberg on the first cruise; and Jay Johnstone, Fritz Peterson, Al Clark and host Bruce Campbell on the second cruise. 

To receive the discount, SABR members must mention “Sirius XM” when booking.

For details, visit or call (888) 749-5280.

ICYMI: Highlights from last week’s This Week in SABR

We’ve heard your feedback: Some of you have said you look forward to “This Week in SABR” every Friday, but sometimes there are just too many compelling articles and announcements to read every week. We’re not complaining — hey, keep up the great work! — but we know the feeling. So in an effort to make the length of this newsletter more manageable to read, we’ll summarize some of the repeating/recurring announcements in a special “In Case You Missed It (ICYMI)” section of “This Week in SABR”.

Here are some major headlines from recent weeks that we don’t want you to miss:

All previous editions of This Week in SABR can be found here: /content/this-week-in-sabr-archives.

Welcome, new members!

We’d like to welcome all of our new SABR members who have joined this week. You can find all Members-Only resources at and the New Member Handbook can be downloaded here. 

Please give these new members a warm welcome and help them make the most of their membership by giving them the opportunity to get involved in their local chapter or a research committee.

Name Hometown     Name Hometown
Charles Accetta Selden, NY     Kohei Kakuta Tokorozawa, JP
Joseph Anzuena Havertown, PA     David Karpinski Ballston Spa, NY
Corey Austin Houston, TX     Aaron McBride Houston, TX
Martin Eisenstein Secaucus, NJ     Travis Miller Washington, IL
Katie Flannery Denver, CO     James Powers Durham, NC
Chris Gallaway Washington, DC     Hajime Tomiyama Tsukuba, JP
Dennis Gilhooley Sr. Lake Geneva, WI     Greg Warren Bainbridge, NY
Ray Harris Gainesville, FL     Ethan Yan Mountain View, CA
Daniel Hersh Dallas, TX        


Research committee newsletters

Here are the new SABR research committee newsletters published this week:

Find all SABR research committee newsletters at

Chapter meeting news

At last week’s Pittsburgh/Forbes Field Chapter meeting, Bob Sproule stepped down as chair of the chapter. George Skornickel was approved as the new chair. In one of Bob’s last “official acts,” he recommended that the Chapter take steps to give back to two organizations “that have been very good to us over the years.” Donations of $250 were made to The Senator John Heinz Western Pennsylvania History Center and to Pirates Charities. We thank Bob for his generous service to the Forbes Field Chapter and to SABR over the years.

Here are the chapter meeting recaps published this week:

Visit for more information on SABR regional chapters.

SABR Events Calendar

Here is a list of upcoming SABR events:

All SABR meetings and events are open to the public. Feel free to bring a baseball-loving friend … and make many new ones! Check out the SABR Events Calendar at

Around the Web

Here are some recent articles published by and about SABR members:

Read these articles and more at

All previous editions of This Week in SABR can be found here: /content/this-week-in-sabr-archives. If you would like us to include an upcoming event, article or any other information in “This Week in SABR”, e-mail Jacob Pomrenke at

Find exclusive Members’ Only resources and information here:

Did you know you can renew your membership at any time? 1- and 3-year SABR memberships are available by clicking “Renew” at Please also consider a donation to SABR to support baseball research at

Are you following us on Twitter or Facebook? Get SABR updates every day at @SABR or by searching “SABR” on Facebook.

Replying to this e-mail goes to an undeliverable address. If you would like to contact the SABR office, please visit: /about/contact-sabr

Originally published: April 12, 2013. Last Updated: April 3, 2020.