This Week in SABR: September 20, 2013

Welcome to “This Week in SABR!” Here’s what we’ve been up to as of September 20, 2013:

Register now for 2013 SABR Arizona Fall League Conference

The fifth annual SABR Arizona Fall League Conference will be held October 31-November 2, 2013. The conference will feature four AFL games at three different ballparks. Guests will see all six AFL teams, showcasing every major league team’s top prospects. The final game on Saturday night is the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium.

All baseball fans are welcome to attend, so join us next month for the SABR Arizona Fall League Conference!

Hotel: The host hotel is the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Old Town Scottsdale (3131 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251) and the SABR group rate is $104/night plus tax. Call (480) 675-7605 to book your room and be sure to mention the “SABR AFL Conference.” The hotel’s website is (sorry, no discount code is available online.) Reservations must be booked by October 4, 2013.

There is a free airport shuttle which also is available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for rides anywhere within a three-mile radius of the hotel.

Schedule: After taking in a game on Thursday afternoon, guests will also be treated to dinner at Don and Charlie’s, home to one of the great sports memorabilia collections you will ever see. Friday’s schedule includes two AFL games and a pregame ballpark dinner at Talking Stick at Salt River, along with a special guest speaker to go along with your meal.

On Saturday morning, attendees will join members of SABR’s Flame Delhi (Arizona) Chapter for their regional fall meeting. Saturday night is always a highlight of the conference as the top prospects from every organization participate in the AFL Fall Stars game. All of this, including transportation, is included in one low registration price.

Registration: Your registration fee of $165 (before October 4; $175 afterward) includes all game tickets; an AFL Media Guide; dinner at Don and Charlie’s; ballpark dinner at Talking Stick at Salt River; and transportation to and from all events. Hotel registration includes breakfast and complementary happy hour each day. Register for the 2013 SABR AFL Conference by clicking here. Questions: Please Contact Rodney Johnson at

The Arizona Fall League ( is baseball’s premier player development league. In the first four years of the conference, attendees were treated to sneak peeks at Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Buster Posey, Stephen Strasburg, Nolan Arenado, Gerrit Cole and Billy Hamilton before they hit the big leagues.

A detailed schedule and more information can be found at

The Baseball Archaeologist: David Block’s quest for the game’s early origins

We’re pleased to pass along this wonderful profile by Bryan Curtis at on September 18, about SABR member David Block:

In a just world, [David] Block would be an archaeologist hero. What Bill James did for 20th-century baseball, Block is doing for 18th-century baseball. Eight years ago, Block came out with a book called Baseball Before We Knew It. Said Tom Shieber, the senior curator at the Baseball Hall of Fame: “Baseball Before We Knew It and its aftermath is to me probably the single most important baseball research of the last 50 years, if not more.”

“He definitely is on a mission,” said Block’s brother, Philip. “It is a passion. It is everything like those archaeological hunts, looking for whatever holy grail you want to be looking for.” Holy grail is the right term, at least in the Dan Brown sense, for with those old books Block is trying to solve a riddle: Who is the father of baseball?

Block has discovered a 245-year-old dictionary and a 258-year-old comic novel and other “interesting things” that point toward the answer. But that afternoon, he left the room and came back with a copy of his newest find: a 264-year-old English newspaper called the Whitehall Evening-Post. The paper has news of inmates attempting a jailbreak from Newgate Prison, and of a chestnut mare that disappeared from a local forest. On Page 3, there is a small item. It reads:

On Tuesday last his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and Lord Middlesex, played at Base-Ball, at Walton in Surry; and notwithstanding the Weather was extreme bad, they continued playing for several Hours.

The date of the game was September 12, 1749. That’s 90 years earlier than, and 3,500 miles away from, baseball’s alleged conception in Cooperstown, New York. The “Base-Ball” player is the heir to the British throne. Block is rewriting the prehistory of the game. He is exposing a century’s worth of lies. He has come up with a shocking answer to the riddle of baseball’s parentage.

The story also mentions SABR members Tom Shieber, John Thorn, Thomas Altherr and Larry McCray.

Read the full article here:

Related links:

Leg Men: Career pinch-runners in Major League Baseball

Billy Hamilton’s first month in the big leagues has electrified fans in Cincinnati and around Major League Baseball. In September 2013, the 23-year-old Reds speedster became the first player since 1921 to steal four bases and score three runs before ever making a plate appearance, drawing comparisons to another famous “pinch runner”: Herb Washington, a track and field champion signed by the Oakland A’s in 1974. (And in Hamilton’s first start on September 18, he stole four more bases.)

But they are not the only famous pinch-runners in baseball history. This story by SABR member Clifford Blau first appeared in the Summer 2009 edition of the Baseball Research Journal:

In 1974, the Oakland Athletics signed track star Herb Washington as a “designated runner,” despite his having had very little baseball experience. Keeping on the roster a player whose only purpose was to run was a new idea, but there have been many other real baseball players whose main purpose it was to pinch-run. The first was Wilson Collins in 1913 with the Boston Braves. This article gives the stories of all baseball players who did nothing but pinch-run in at least half of their career major-league games (minimum five appearances). It will attempt to show how they came to be used in that capacity. The players are presented in order of their initial major-league appearance.

Read the full article here: /latest/leg-men-career-pinch-runners-major-league-baseball

Retroactive All-Star Game Project: Vote for the 1916 All-Stars

Every baseball fan knows the first All-Star Game was played in Chicago in 1933. But calls for a midseason All-Star contest go back years earlier. For example, check out this article by F.C. Lane from “Baseball Magazine” in the offseason of 1915-16.

We can’t go back in time to change history and replay those lost potential All-Star Games on the field. But with a good game simulator and the recent availability of midseason stats going back to 1916, we can arrive at a good idea of who probably would have played in those All-Star Games and how they might have turned out.

That’s what we’re doing with the Retroactive All-Star Game Project.

We’ll use the statistics available at for the first halves of the 1916 through 1932 seasons, and determine midseason All-Stars for those years. Then using Out of the Park 14, the games will be played.

And as they did in 1933, the fans — meaning you — will get to vote for the All-Star Game starters, including starting pitchers, which is how they did it back then. (Bonus: no designated hitters.)

Starting right now, you can vote for the 1916 All-Star starters and pitchers here:

Voting will be open until 3:00 a.m. EDT on September 27, 2013. At that time, we will count up the votes, put together the rosters, and sim the game.

Then the box score and the game account will be posted, written in 1916-style, on the following week. While you’re waiting for that to appear, you’ll be able to vote on the 1917 All-Stars (TBA soon.) We’ll rinse and repeat, every two weeks, until we’ve played all the All-Star Games through 1932.

The results and stories will all be compiled at

Sound interesting? If you’ve read this far, you must be. So click on this link:

… and vote today, and be on the lookout in early October for the first Retroactive All-Star Game story on

This project was created and organized by Chuck Hildebrandt, chair of SABR’s Baseball and the Media Research Committee. For more information, contact Chuck.

Elmer Flick statue dedication ceremony Sept. 25 in Bedford, Ohio

On September 25, a bronze statue of Hall of Fame outfielder Elmer Flick will be unveiled in his hometown of Bedford, Ohio.

The Flick statue was created by noted local artist Ron Dewey and will be permanently displayed in the Bedford town square. In a 13-year major league career shortened by illness, Flick, the American League batting champ in 1905, compiled offensive numbers well above most of his Deadball Era peers, an achievement recognized by his induction to Cooperstown in 1963. Flick died in Bedford in 1971, two days short of his 95th birthday.

The Flick statue will be located within an infield made of light brown pavers. The Elmer Flick Recognition Committee is offering for sale pavers that can be personalized or inscribed in the memory of a loved one for $100 and $50.

For more information on ordering a paver or regarding the Flick statue dedication ceremony, contact SABR Deadball Era Committee member Jim Wagner at or the Flick Recognition Committee via

Print edition of expanded The National Pastime is now available for purchase

The National Pastime, SABR’s annual convention journal, is now larger than ever — and while all SABR members can download the expanded e-edition for free in PDF, EPUB (iPad/Nook) or Kindle formats, you can now also purchase it in paperback form for $19.95 by clicking on the link below:

The expanded edition, which at 252 pages is more than twice the size of the souvenir print edition offered to SABR 43 attendees in Philadelphia, tells a comprehensive story of baseball in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley — the site of the 2013 SABR convention. SABR’s Connie Mack Chapter received well over 50 submissions in response to the call for papers, in addition to suggestions for reprints. The full electronic edition is over 160,000 words reflecting the strength and scope of the articles received.

In addition to the e-edition and print edition, you can also read articles from the full TNP online by clicking on the link below:


Starting this year, the print edition of the TNP — which does not include the extra articles in the expanded e-edition — is being offered as a souvenir to SABR members attending the annual convention as part of our expanded Publications program led by editor Cecilia Tan. By publishing larger versions of the TNP online and in e-book format, more SABR members will have a chance to have their work published and SABR members will have the opportunity to read more top-level articles every summer.

Since 2009, The National Pastime has served as SABR’s convention-focused publication. Published annually, this research journal provides in-depth articles focused on the respective geographic region where the national convention is taking place in a given year.

For more coverage of SABR 43, visit

8 new biographies published by the SABR BioProject

Eight new biographies were posted as part of the SABR Baseball Biography Project, which brings us to a total of 2,557 published biographies. 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 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

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
John Copeskey Brandon, MS
John Dittrich Tempe, IL
Mark Donald Toronto, ON
Barrett Dunn Hendersonville, TN
Brett Johnson Bensalem, PA
Steven Sherman Munich, GER
Michael Yoder Fullerton, CA


Research committee newsletters

There were no new SABR research committee newsletters published this week.

However, the new co-chair for the Oral History Committee is Paul Ringel of Greensboro, North Carolina, not John Ringle as reported in last week’s newsletter. We apologize for the error. To learn more about the Oral History Committee, visit

Find all SABR research committee newsletters at

Chapter meeting news

Here are the new 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

This Week in SABR is compiled by Jacob Pomrenke, and sent out to all SABR members on Fridays. 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

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

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Originally published: September 20, 2013. Last Updated: April 3, 2020.