This Week in SABR: October 28, 2011

Here’s what we’ve been up to as of October 28, 2011:

Finally, a seven-game World Series!

Hey, we got what we wished for last week — a winner-take-all game tonight in St. Louis. (With no rooting interest in either team, we here at the SABR office simply root for as much great baseball as possible.)

The World Series will see its first Game 7 since 2002, and only because the Cardinals staged one of the wildest, wackiest comebacks of all-time in Game 6 on Thursday. How to sum up this Fall Classic? We’ve seen a little bit of everything this week. Last night, David Freese surpassed Kirk Gibson’s game-winning 1988 home run as the highest single-game WPA (win probability added) performance in World Series history. In Game 5, Cards manager Tony La Russa made a puzzling decision, bringing in a reliever to intentionally walk the only batter he faced, before blaming it on a bizarre bullpen phone mishap (more on that below.) Derek Holland was masterful for the Texas Rangers in Game 4, pitching a two-hit shutout into the ninth inning. In Game 3, Albert Pujols joined Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as the only players to hit three home runs in a World Series game. The first two games were both tight contests decided by one run. It’s a fitting conclusion to one of the most exciting postseasons in recent memory.

Looking ahead to tonight, SABR member Bill Petti offers some fascinating factoids about Game 7 pitchers at Beyond the Box Score, while Seymour Medal-winning co-author Steve Steinberg helps discover why they’re playing a best-of-seven format in the first place.

BRJ archives: Rainouts and home run records

As inclement weather hit St. Louis on Wednesday and we were forced to wait an additional day for Game 6 to be played, we were reminded of one of the more fascinating rainout what-ifs in baseball history.

Jim Rygelski’s article “59 in ’21: What If The Babe Had One More Game?” first appeared in the Baseball Research Journal in 1998:

One other significant though rarely discussed fact emerged from Ruth’s 1921 [season]: The Babe became—and remains—the only person to bid for the single-season homer record (those who have hit 56 or more) whose team didn’t play a full schedule. A rainout never made up held the Yankees to 153 games.

“Iffy” history can be a dangerous thing if it gets out of hand (or so I remind my fellow Cardinals fans when they put too much weight on umpire Don Denkinger’s infamous call in the 6th game of the 1985 World Series). Yet it’s interesting to speculate on what might have happened if that rained-out September 4 game had been made up.

You can read Jim’s article here:

Tracing the origin of the bullpen telephone

In Game 5 of the World Series, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa made three pitching changes in the pivotal eighth inning — including a bizarre move in which reliever Lance Lynn intentionally walked the only batter he faced (which is actually the third time that’s happened in World Series play). This came two batters after left-hander Marc Rzepczynski allowed the eventual game-winning double to the Rangers’ Mike Napoli, a right-handed batter. Afterward, La Russa explained that a telephone miscommunication with bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist caused Lynn to be accidentally inserted into the game.

In his 2006 book, A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball, Seymour Medal-winning author Peter Morris investigated the origin of the bullpen phone. He told The New York Times that the earliest reference he found was in a 1930 article from The Sheboygan Press that mentioned a bullpen phone at Yankee Stadium.

Morris said it was one of the most difficult topics for him to research. He also rediscovered an earlier device that was in use by the Boston Red Sox in about 1908-09, when manager Fred Lewis concocted a bell system that allowed him to “ring” the bullpen and tell pitchers to warm up or come into the game.

Read more on the bullpen telephone here:

Twitter: Countdown to 4,189 followers

We noticed this week that our Twitter account @SABR was about to pass 4,000 followers. As we approached the milestone, we wanted to offer a gesture of appreciation to our baseball friends in the Twitter-verse. So we rounded up a few prizes to give away — with a SABR twist, of course.

We like round numbers as much as anyone, but 4,000 isn’t nearly as important in baseball history as 4,189. See, for more than a half-century after he retired in 1928, Hall of Famer Ty Cobb’s career hits record was thought to be 4,191 — until SABR research in the late 1970s discovered that the Detroit Tigers great had been credited with two extra hits in 1910, near the end of a highly disputed batting race with Cleveland’s Nap Lajoie.

It’s one of the many impacts SABR members have had on baseball’s record books in the last four decades. When the Fall 2011 Baseball Research Journal comes out in the next few weeks, you can read more on this in Gary Gillette and Lyle Spatz’s article, “Not Chiseled in Stone: Baseball’s Enduring Records and the SABR Era”.

Pete Rose didn’t get to celebrate passing Cobb’s real hit total of 4,189, but we did. Read about it here:

An overlooked 19th-century legend: Harry Stovey

At this year’s SABR convention in Long Beach, Harry Stovey was selected by SABR’s Nineteenth Century Research Committee as its Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend for 2011. The announcement was made during the committee’s annual business meeting.

SABR member Joe Williams profiles the life and career of baseball’s all-time home run king when he retired:

Macht poring over long-lost Philadelphia A’s records

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, accounting ledgers and films from the 53 years Connie Mack’s Athletics spent in Philadelphia — items long believed to be gone forever — showed up on eBay earlier this year. The material was salvaged from an Oakland Coliseum Dumpster decades ago by a ballpark employee who had kept it all in his garage until selling it at a flea market recently for less than $200.

After the intervention of the Philadelphia A’s Historical Society and Mack’s grandson, Connie Mack III, a former U.S. senator from Florida, the records found their way to SABR member Norman Macht, who is completing a massive, three-part biography of Mack.

According to Macht, the ledgers detail just how successful the Athletics were until 1932, when they began selling off the best players from one of the best teams in baseball history.

Macht’s first volume, Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseballwon the Deadball Era Committee’s Larry Ritter Book Award in 2008.

Still time to register for AFL Conference

After the World Series ends, we hope you’ll help us put off the offseason for a little while longer by attending the third annual SABR Arizona Fall League Conference, November 3-5 at the Hilton Phoenix East/Mesa.

Conference attendees will see:

  • Four AFL games, including the premier Rising Stars Game on November 5 in Surprise and games at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and Hohokam Park in Mesa.
  • Major League Alumni Awards Dinner, featuring Roland Hemond, Laurel Prieb, Dustin Pedroia, Steve Cobb and Clint Meyers.
  • A tour of the “Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience” museum exhibit at the Arizona Historical Society in Tempe
  • A tour of Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Flame Delhi Chapter meeting, with writer Barry Bloom and former major league umpire Travis Katzenmeier

To register: Registration for the conference is available now at the SABR Store: $125 for SABR members and guests, or $159 for nonmembers. The conference is open to all baseball fans:

To book your room: The Hilton Phoenix East/Mesa is at 1011 West Holmes Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85210. Click here to book your room online or call (800) 544-5866 and tell them you’re registering for the SABR Arizona Fall League Conference. Conference attendees will receive complimentary parking, complimentary breakfast buffet (for up to two people per room) and complimentary wireless high-speed Internet in guest rooms. Please note that SABR’s group rate of $99/night expired on October 26, but rooms are still available at the hotel’s normal rate.

Download a 2011 AFL Conference schedule: Tentative schedule downloads as a single-page PDF file

See who’s going: SABR members can view a list of registered AFL Conference attendees by clicking here

Register for Rocky Mountain Chapter banquet

SABR’s Rocky Mountain Chapter will hold its 14th annual chapter banquet on November 4 at the Denver Athletic Club. Cocktails begin at 6 p.m., dinner and program at 7. The banquet will take place in the Grand Ballroom of the DAC, 1325 Glenarm Place, Denver, CO 80204.

John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball, will be the keynote speaker. Rob Neyer, baseball editor at SB Nation, will be the featured speaker. Jim Armstrong, the Denver Post’s Rockies beat writer, will serve as master of ceremonies.

For more information, contact Paul Parker or visit For a downloadable PDF registration form, click here.

SABR internship opportunities

SABR is seeking an intern with journalism and multimedia skills for the spring of 2012. The ideal candidate will produce and edit content to be displayed on our website at, working with our Web Content Editor/Producer and other staff members. This internship will include responsibilities across a variety of disciplines.

This internship is an unpaid educational opportunity, covering 15-20 hours per week (flexible schedule), at the SABR office in Phoenix, Arizona. The internship will be for a fixed period of time and is designed to provide the intern with skills and training that may be applicable to working in a nonprofit research environment or in other research-based organizations. No housing assistance will be provided. Internships may count toward college credit. Please send a resume, cover letter and 4-6 samples of published articles in PDF form by 12 p.m. MST November 15 to

Chapter meeting recaps

If you would like to include your chapter meeting recap in “This Week in SABR”, please e-mail a notice to Jacob Pomrenke.

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If you would like us to include an upcoming event, article or any other information in “This Week in SABR”, please send an e-mail to Jacob Pomrenke.

Originally published: October 28, 2011. Last Updated: April 3, 2020.