SABR Day 2020
SABR Day is an annual event that brings together SABR members and friends on the same day, regardless of where they live. The 11th annual SABR Day was held on Saturday, January 25, 2020.
- 2020 SABR Day map: Click here for complete details on all of the scheduled events on our 2020 SABR Day map (or click here to view details on a spreadsheet)
Regional SABR meetings are open to all baseball fans and are usually free to attend, so bring a friend! Guest speakers often include current and former baseball players, managers, umpires, executives, scouts, writers and authors.
Here are some highlights from SABR Day 2020:
Atlanta, GA (Magnolia Chapter)
The Magnolia Chapter celebrated SABR Day at the Sandy Springs Public Library by reviving the history of Ponce de Leon Park, Atlanta’s home for baseball from 1907 to 1964. The main presentation was made by Paul Crater of the Atlanta History Center. Paul utilized the vast archives of the AHC to show the park’s pictorial history, from an early natural spring to the acclaimed steel and concrete ballpark that featured a majestic magnolia tree in centerfield. Chapter member Ken Fenster gave a stirring presentation on the 3-game series that took place at “Poncey” in April 1949 when Atlanta Cracker owner Earl Mann invited Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers to town. The result was the first integrated baseball games in a major city in the deep south. Presentations were also given by Andrew Mearns, selecting an all-Poncey team, and by chapter member Sam Grazdziak, telling the histories of a few one-game wonders who had ties to Atlanta. Chapter member Karl Green sprinkled in some Atlanta Crackers trivia throughout the afternoon. We had over 30 attendees and most of us met for a BBQ lunch beforehand. It was a good day to talk baseball and remember the history of Ponce de Leon Park. — Craig Brown
Austin, TX (Rogers Hornsby Chapter)
Thirteen chapter members celebrated SABR Day enjoying some delicious Italian food at Romano’s Macaroni Grill. They discussed the election of Derek Jeter and Larry Walker to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Another topic discussed was the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal. Highlighting the event was a trivia quiz about home run leaders by letters of the alphabet. Jerry Miller dominated the quiz and won it scoring 79 points. The members enjoyed a great day of celebrating SABR via baseball discussions and thought-provoking trivia. Another interesting note to add is their own Hall of Fame vote at their winter meeting two weeks ago matched that of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced last week. Click here to view more photos at SABRHornsby.org. Or click here for a recap/photos from the Rogers Hornsby Chapter 11th annual Winter Meeting on January 11 at Texas State University at San Marcos. — Monte Cely
Boston, MA (Boston Chapter)
Ten Boston Chapter members met for a SABR Day dinner on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Johnnie’s, which is a long fly ball away from Fenway Park. A couple of new members joined a few oldtimers for discussions about a new Red Sox manager, the upcoming season’s roster, cheating scandals and other topics. Bill Nowlin hosted the event, along with Dixie Tourangeau and John Gregory. — Dixie Tourangeau
Burlington, VT (Gardner-Waterman Vermont Chapter)
The Gardner-Waterman Vermont Chapter had a blast celebrating SABR Day with ESPN baseball analyst Buster Onley emceeing the festivities. The Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center hosted the Vermont Lake Monsters’ annual “Winter Warmup” in Burlington, with all proceeds benefitting our local SABR chapter, and the turnout was great with many members attending. The chapter celebrated SABR Day by hosting their third SABR-VT trivia contest where Carl Backman stole the show to unseat the dynastic Chuck McGill. The day included an opportunity for members to discuss baseball research interests and projects. Boog Sciambi provided many laughs for the members with his remarkable 1986 Game 6 World Series Vin Scully impersonation and many other amusing stories. — Clayton J. Trutor
Cherry Hill, NJ (Goose Goslin Chapter)
The Goose Goslin Chapter celebrated SABR Day at the All-Sports Museum of Southern New Jersey. Museum Committee members gave us a tour of the museum and shared stories about the artifacts. Some of the artifacts included Willie Mays’ 1960 Gold Glove Award, a Jackie Robinson game used bat and Hall of Famer Leon “Goose” Goslin’s personal collection! Dom Valella, Chairman of the museum, gifted the chapter with pictures of Goose Goslin and a copy of a $100 check that the Goose made out to Babe Ruth as a bet that he would hit more homers then the Babe in the 1932 season! After the tour, Dr. Richard Puerzer did a presentation on the 1946 Negro League World Series between the Newark Eagles and the Kansas City Monarchs! The chapter would like to thank the All-Sports Museum of Southern New Jersey for their great hospitality and Dr. Richard Puerzer for a wonderful presentation! Click here to view more photos on the chapter’s Facebook page. — Anthony Arot
Columbia, SC (Larry Doby Chapter)
The new Larry Doby Chapter held its first SABR Day meeting on January 31, 2020, in Columbia, South Carolina. Tina Whitlock did a great job finding the venue and organizing the guest speakers. Necessary items that were voted on: 1) The name of our new chapter is The Larry Doby Chapter. 2) The Chairperson is Tim Deale. 3) The Co-Vice Chairpersons are Tina Whitlock and Steve Benke. 4) The Social Media Director is Dia. It is important for us to have involvement in social media so we can attract more members and awareness to SABR.
We met at Apex Performance Training in Columbia. An impressive business to say the least. We learned about some of the technology being used in sports today, such as the K-Motion vest, Trac-Man, and the Diamond Kinetic Ball.
Among the guests were Jack Wyncoop, a minor league pitcher for the Colorado Rockies; Charles Peterson, a former professional baseball player and now a scout with the St. Louis Cardinals; and Tina Whitlock, the newest female coaching in professional baseball. She will be a coach for the Cardinals affiliate in Florida.
We talked about a trip to the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum when it re-opens in the spring. We have been invited by the museum and the city of Greenville.
There was much more but I am not a great note taker (that’s why I would like a chapter secretary!) We had a great time and went well past our scheduled time.
I am working on our next meeting location and venue. I am asking members in the Florence area to find a venue for us to hold our meeting. The meeting will be on or before February 21. It can be Monday through Saturday. You don’t need to compete with the January venue, we just need a place to meet.
Trivia question. The winner receives a prize at the February meeting. In the last 100 years, who is the leader in “hit by pitch?”
I look forward to hearing from you soon,
— Tim Deale
Cooperstown, NY (Cliff Kachline Chapter)
Members of the Cliff Kachline Chapter celebrated SABR Day at the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Bullpen Theater in Cooperstown. Highlights were presentations from Hall of Fame Librarian Jim Gates on the Penny Marshall Sheet Music Collection (and a Bud Fowler song!). Collin Miller spoke about the history of baseball in Delaware County. Tom Shieber, the Hall’s Senior Curator, gave a presentation on Zee-nut/Home Run Kisses cards from a century ago and a milestone in baseball uniforms. Click here to view more photos on the chapter’s Facebook page. — Jeff Katz
Des Moines, IA (Field of Dreams Chapter)
Eleven baseball fans — 8 members and 3 guests — attended the Field of Dreams Chapter meeting on Sunday, January 26 at the Twisted Vine Brewery in West Des Moines. Due to Umpire-in-Chief Tim Rask’s move to Wisconsin, we elected Steve Elsberry as only our third Umpire-in-Chief after founder R.J. Lesch and Tim. Steve vacated the position of Concessionaire and we elected Mike Coveyou for his replacement. The group discussed possible plans for future meetings and locations. Pizza was enjoyed by all and all had a good time. — Steve Elsberry
Houston, TX (Larry Dierker Chapter)
A large and enthusiastic group of 40 baseball fans gathered on Monday, January 21 at the Spaghetti Western restaurant in Houston. Several guests and a new member, Richard Lowery, were in attendance. Chapter chair Bob Dorrill reviewed the participation in this year’s Astros Fanfest on Saturday, January 19 at Minute Maid Park. Several staffed the booth to introduce our SABR chapter to many of the 10,000 attendees. Copies of our book on the history of baseball in Houston were sold and many, many baseball cards were given to visiting children. Sixteen prospective members were identified from those who stopped by to learn about our activities. The featured activity of the evening consisted of two mock arbitration exercises involving current Houston Astros players. Former MLB executive and arbitrator Tal Smith had presented information on the process at our November meeting and he acted as Arbitrator at this session. We were very fortunate to have had Tal’s participation in this exercise. His considerable experience on both sides of the table and his thoughtful analyses were very enlightening. Those attending learned a great deal about this business aspect of the game. Click here to read the full recap. — Bob Dorrill
Indianapolis, IN (Oscar Charleston Chapter)
Here’s a recap from the SABR Day meeting of the Oscar Charleston Chapter, which took place on Saturday, January 25, 2020 at the Haughville branch of the Indianapolis Public Library.
First, Dan O’Brien reflected on the life of longtime SABR member Pete Cava, who died on December 18, 2019. As many of you know, Pete researched more than 300 Indiana-born professional baseball players, covering playing careers and the players’ lives after retiring from the game. Dan, who met Pete in 1986, reflected on their mutual interest in track and field and Pete’s successes with Little League coaching—in a funny twist, several of Pete’s former players thrived as high school state champions in cross country and swimming, for example.
Second, Professor Alan Nathan covered his work with the MLB Home Run Committee, updating us on the developments since 2018. In essence, his group, which includes academics in math and science, concluded that reduced drag on the ball and adjusted launch conditions contributed to the 2019 home run surge. Professor Nathan’s team analyzed the MLB’s complete Statcast data, test data from a Washington State University baseball lab, and ball manufacturing information from Rawlings, MLB’s official game-ball manufacturer. Please visit this link for up-to-date developments on Professor Nathan’s research.
Third, longtime friend of the Oscar Charleston Chapter, Howard Kellman, previewed the Indianapolis Indians’ 2020 season and discussed other baseball news. Howard discussed former Indianapolis Indian, Larry Walker, and his recent vote into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Walker was the first Indian voted in since Randy Johnson. With the Indians’ April 9, 2020 opening day fast approaching, Howard also connected his discussion with the Major League home run surge, noting that the minor leagues adopted the major league ball (whose stitching and materials might have reduced drag) in 2019, which might lead to greater power numbers in the minors. Indeed, more home runs could mean more fireworks, a tradition that dates back to Bill Veeck’s White Sox, which used to be the Indians’ parent organization.
Fourth, Tim Tassler covered the history of black baseball in northeast Indiana. Although several teams during the first half of the twentieth-century called Fort Wayne home, two featured most prominently: the Fort Wayne Colored Giants (1908–51) and the Fort Wayne Colored Pirates (1926–29). Although segregation still infected much of the United States, as early as the late 1800s visiting black players routinely stayed at Fort Wayne hotels, and in the 1920s, newspapers reported on “mixed crowds” attending black baseball games. Indeed, Fort Wayne was fertile baseball ground: it hosted Game 4 of the 1932 Negro League World Series between the Chicago Giants and the Homestead Grays.
Finally, thank you to Andrew Reinbold for constructing the meeting’s trivia. The top performers were: (1st) John Rickert; (2nd) Todd McDorman; and (3rd) Noel Fliss. And another thank you to Ronnie Wilbur for her book donations as trivia prizes.
Thank you to everyone who made the meeting a success. Your participation helps our Chapter thrive! As always, please let me know if you’re interested, or know someone who is interested, in presenting at a future meeting. I’ll be in touch in the coming weeks about our next meeting.
— Trent Morton
Kansas City, MO (Monarchs Chapter)
SABR Day 2020 in Kansas City featured two speakers, Wichita Wind Surge broadcaster Tim Grubbs and SABR member Todd Peterson on January 25 at the Gem Theater across the street from the Negro Leagues Museum. Six members were in attendance to discuss various baseball topics and listen to the two speakers’ presentations. Grubbs shared a lot of information on the new stadium in Wichita. Todd Peterson followed up with an excellent presentation on the new book he just edited, The Negro Leagues Were Major Leagues: Historians Reappraise Black Baseball. We also heard from Raymond Doswell of the Negro Leagues Museum, updating the membership on upcoming events, including the Royals’ Salute to the Negro Leagues day on May 17 when the Los Angeles Dodgers visit Kansas City. Click here to view a full recap and photos (PDF). — Mike Webber
Louisville, KY (Pee Wee Reese Chapter)
The Pee Wee Reese Chapter held its SABR Day meeting on Saturday, January 25, 2020 at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory (LSMF) and a good time was had by all. As it always so generously does, LSMF provided the Chapter with its spacious second floor meeting room along with treats for attendees. Terecia Helm of LSMF welcomed attendees and announced that the Museum was donating a to-be-personalized Louisville Slugger bat certificate as well as four LSMF tour passes. New Chapter leader Tad Myre then introduced Chapter Treasurer Ken Draut to give a quick financial report.
Ken took us all through the financials (to summarize, we’re holding our own). Then, to our delight and to the surprise of Harry Rothgerber, our longtime fearless leader, he presented Harry with the Pee Wee Reese Chapter’s coveted “Home Plate Award,” making him only the fifth recipient of our highest honor. To a standing ovation, Harry rose and offered some predictably self-deprecating remarks. There is not enough room in this report to summarize all that Harry has done for the Chapter over the years; suffice to say that most of us would have a hard time imagining where the Chapter would be without him.
That’s a sobering thought for Mr. Myre (i.e., me), who kept things moving by telling the quick anecdote of one particular Louisville Slugger, which he held in his hand. Long ago, Tad’s brother-in-law, Dan Stewart, worked with Jack Hillerich to redesign the signature bat logo. After some back and forth, the undeniably correct decision was made to retain the famous oval (though some tweaks were made within it). For that effort, Mr. Hillerich gave Dan a Pee Wee Reese bat commemorating the famous Louisvillian’s election to the Hall of Fame in 1984. That year also coincided with the Hillerich & Bradsby Company’s 100-year anniversary, with “One Hundred Years” and “1884-1984” also engraved on the barrel. After concluding the quick tale, Tad placed the bat in better hands by handing it over to Harry, his predecessor (and friend) and longtime Dodger and Pee Wee Reese fan. A big hand for Harry, both here at the Chapter and across all of SABR.
Our first speaker was Greg Gajus, co-author of the book Baseball Revolutionaries: How the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings Rocked the Country and Made Baseball Famous. The book has been well-received, as indicated by the following blurb (“Delightful! Text and illustrations do the great story of the 1869 Red Stockings proud. Forget the legend and learn the real story of the team that made baseball famous.” – John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball.)
Having received a copy from Greg ahead of the meeting, I was deep into it by SABR Day, and can attest to the truth of Mr. Thorn’s observations. It is not just a baseball book; it’s a history book that captures post-Civil War times as well as antecedents of the game destined to become our National Pastime, in no small part due to the marauding success of the Red Stockings over 150 years ago. The authors adopt a framework applied to good effect by Bill James and Rob Neyer in their use of a generous number of side-story panels, many of which were researched and written by Mr. Gajus.
Doffing his Reds hat and wearing a shirt emblazoned with the book’s front cover photograph, Greg regaled us with the story of this remarkable team, offered up with the affable delivery of a storyteller in love with the sport. You can (and should) find this book on Amazon.com. For his early-morning drive down I-71 and his entertaining presentation, Greg received a gift certificate to the Slugger Museum Gift Shop. At the end of Greg’s presentation, Ms. Helm informed the group that all attendees would be treated to a free Museum and Factory tour after our meeting concluded. Terecia, who is a baseball fan in her own right, also handled the critically important task of making sure we never ran out of coffee.
Next up was our member Chris Betsch. Chris has been researching an early Twentieth Century baseball player by the name of John Dodge. While we all know the tragic story of Ray Chapman, few have heard of Dodge, who was also killed by a pitched ball, this time while playing in the minor leagues (the twenty-seven year old was trying to make his way back to the major leagues). Dodge’s parents were living in Louisville at the time of his death, so they had him interred in Louisville’s famous Cave Hill Cemetery. https://www.cavehillcemetery.com/. Dodge lies next to his parents but in an unmarked grave. Chris gave us a good portrait of this ballplayer’s short life, and you should look for his (first-time author) John Dodge SABR bio any time now.
Chris also brought a couple of his friends along, something we always welcome.
Next up was Jack Sullivan’s famous Trivia Quiz. Unfortunately (for us, but maybe not so much for him), Jack was in Phoenix and could not attend, but he made up for it by sending us a doozy of a quiz. Jack’s questions covered the gamut: statistics, awards, nicknames, quotes, pictures, birthplaces, a couple of his beloved Bosox references, it was one of those classic quizzes that can frustrate because some of the answers feel like they are right there within reach.
Jack always gives a player’s season statistics and then asks who it is and what year it was compiled. Here was his latest:
Most baseball fans will identify this season as Hack Wilson’s famous one, although fewer can guess the year (it was 1930). Harry Rothgerber pointed out that the still-standing season RBI record was originally 190 until SABR researchers spotted an overlooked ribbie, putting Hack’s record just that much more out of reach. Hack Wilson was a heavy drinker, and I recited the story of the time manager Joe McCarthy gathered the team around and proceeded to drop a live worm into a class of gin. After the worm quickly curled up and died, McCarthy turned to Wilson and said, “Hack, what’s that tell you?” Wilson’s response: “It tells you that if you have worms, pound the gin!” Bob Sawyer then chimed in with a sportswriter’s quote that Hack Wilson looked like a keg of beer and usually had about that much in him. Admittedly, one or both of these may be embellished, but the grand tradition of baseball storytelling allows for that.
Bob’s brother Charlie Sawyer won the contest, nailing 20 out of the 30 questions, and for that received the personalized bat certificate.
We then discussed a project that has come together as a result of Chris Betsch’s aforementioned visits to Cave Hill Cemetery in pursuit of the John Dodge story. In addition to Pete “the Gladiator” Browning and John Dodge, over twenty professional baseball players are buried there. As he will do, Harry Rothgerber drew from his vast store of knowledge and told me about a project that former Chapter head (and fellow Home Plate Award honoree) Bob Bailey worked on many years back. Bob, who no longer lives in Louisville, was happy to provide us with a large list of players, sportswriters, managers, umpires, owners, etc. who are buried in Louisville and in other locations throughout Kentucky. Bob ended up compiling a book entitled “Baseball Burial Sites” which I promptly bought off of Amazon.com. After that, I met with the Executive Director of the Cave Hill Cemetery Foundation, a very engaging Michael Higgs, who expressed interest in working with us to develop a baseball-themed tour at the Cemetery. (If you want to see something cool, download the Cave Hill app and check out the stories behind many of Cave Hills “inhabitants”(?), including Browning’s).
We are now also exploring the feasibility of a baseball-themed Louisville tour that would include a visit to the Slugger Museum, a cemetery tour, a pregame trip to Slugger Field, and then, to close things out, a Bats game. Harry, Mike Zanone and Jon Borie offered to volunteer in this effort. Chris Betsch and I have also discussed raising money so that John Dodge has finally has a marker right there next to his parents.
We finished the meeting with our traditional “everybody-wins” drawing for the right to select a book or other item from the “SABR table”, which was stocked compliments of Mr. Rothgerber, with the help of “stevedores” Andy and Ken Draut.
A couple of final notes. Congratulations once again to Harry Rothgerber for the Home Plate Award. Long overdue; never any doubt. Thanks to Ken Draut and Ryan Schroer (and of course, Harry) for their behind-the-scenes work. Without that, the meeting would have been at best a mess. Thanks to Teresa Cooper, Terecia Helm, Alex Shepard, Andrea Davis and other folks at the Museum for their continuing support of our Chapter. If you’re a local and haven’t been, or are ever passing through Louisville, a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is a must and a blast. https://www.sluggermuseum.com/ The gift shop is also one of the coolest.
We were thrilled to have a larger than normal crowd this year and always welcome guests and out-of-towners. I had a nice chat with Dan Schroer, who came down from Columbus, Indiana, with son Ryan. Chris Rainey made the trip over from Oxford, Ohio. Chris has written more than a few SABR bios (and other works). It was fun getting to talk to him a little bit and we hope he returns. His offer of assistance to Chris and me is greatly appreciated and one I expect to take him up on in connection with my Ron Hunt bio. Our old friend Alex Mayer travelled down from Newport to attend the meeting and also donated a trove of baseball books for future giveaways. Alex was our faithful contact with the Louisville Bats, but has now moved on up to the Reds, where he’s just getting going. We promised to stay in touch for a SABR junket to a Reds game (my preference would be a Reds-Cardinals game). The refortified Reds look to be a contender this year if their pitching staff can keep the ball in the park. It was good seeing Lexingtonians Michael Burnley and Woody Coyle, as well as Roger Snell, who came over from Frankfort. We did not see some of our regulars from Bowling Green this year, but hope to make up for it when we head down for a meeting and Hot Rods game on April 10. It was a pleasure also to meet new SABR member (and Bowling Green native) Trey Huntsman, donning a Dodger cap and recently employed at the Slugger Museum.
Speaking of Bowling Green, our member Chris Krebs has formed the company StatisticHouse, which will focus on the next generation of AI based sports simulations, advanced sports analytics and digital sports assets. As one example, its Pro Baseball Simulation allows for the monetization of players, teams and leagues, and is secured by the latest in blockchain technology. Chris has launched the company’s first podcast, which can be found right at statistichouse.com/podcast. Check it out. Chris is a business world-traveler, and consequently we’ve missed him the last couple of opportunities, but we’re hoping he’ll be around in April to tell us about this new company (and I’m hoping he can explain to me the meaning of “blockchain technology”).
The SABR annual meeting is in easy-to-get-to Baltimore this year. If you haven’t been to this convention, it’s a great trip, chock full of baseball, yet there’s also plenty of time to do other things with family or friends. And if you’ve never been to Camden Yards, it’s time. Also: be sure and renew your membership if it’s that time of year for you.
Pitchers and catchers report shortly and, as with every spring training since the dawn of time, hope will soon officially spring eternal. In the meantime, stay healthy, stay safe, and see you on the flip flop.
— Tad Myre
Montclair, NJ (Elysian Fields Chapter)
The Elysian Fields Chapter had its best turnout in three years celebrating SABR Day at the iconic Yogi Berra Museum. They enjoyed a great panel about the history of the New York Mets with historians Bill Ryczek and Matt Rothenberg, plus an insightful presentation from Ron Kaplan about the best ballplayers connected with the Garden State. Among them was Goose Goslin, a South Jersey native for whom that region’s chapter is named. Eve Schaenen, the museum’s Executive Director, presented on the latest exhibit, which honors the rich history of the Negro Leagues through photographs. — David Krell
Montreal, QC (Quebec Chapter)
The SABR Québec Chapter met on January 25, 2020 in Montreal for SABR Day. There was one topic on the agenda, a presentation by two of our members, Patrick Carpentier and Marcel Dugas, historians both, on the history of the introduction of French baseball terms in Quebec.
Baseball has been played in Quebec since the late 1860s, but from 1880 to 1907, one can speak of only an anemic presence of French terms to describe the game. The players themselves used only English terms, the rather marginal press coverage was chock-full of English words, and the only social group pushing for French terms was the church-run classical colleges, where the priests sought to defend the practice of sports in French. Some direct translations of English terms, such as “premier-but” for first base were introduced, but also some terms imported from France where a game called “La Thèque”, similar to British Rounders, was still played at the time. Many of these terms came from a military vocabulary, such as that for outfielder, “voltigeur” which originally means light-infantryman. It is also at that time that “arrêt-court” first appeared as a translation for shortstop, but its use was still marginal. There were also some rather clumsy formulations in game summaries, such as “frappé par balle lancée par le pitcher”, a very convoluted way to say hit-by-pitch.
From 1908 to 1919, the first attempts at a systematic translation of the game’s vocabulary appeared as a project of the “Société du bon parlé français” (Society for proper spoken French). In the last year of the period, a visual dictionary incorporating a large number of baseball terms was published. But the French vocabulary was still only emerging, as English terms still dominated game reports. Still, arrêt-court had now caught up with shortstop. A common feature of the era was to see both a French term and the English one used interchangeably in the same paragraph of a newspaper article.
From 1920 to 1934, French terms now predominated in media reports, and players themselves were starting to use them, as they became familiar with these. The arrêt-court was twice as common as the shortstop and newspaper articles were much more numerous with the return of the Montreal Royals in 1928. In 1935, a guide of French baseball terms was largely distributed throughout the province.
From 1934 to 1968, the move to French terms was almost completed – at least in the media. Games were broadcast on the radio starting in 1935 and on television in 1952, and listeners would phone in to complain when an announcer used too many English terms. Arrêt-court had won its war with shortstop, now appearing over 90% of the time, and linguists were starting to call out abusive use of French, such as “empailleur”, which literally means “taxidermist” but was often used as a phonetic equivalent of “umpire”, a usage which has since completely disappeared!
The arrival of the Expos in 1969 marked the final phase of the introduction of French terms. We were lucky to have with us Jacques Doucet, who broadcast the team’s games on the radio, and he explained to us how certain terms that were lacking were created at that time. These include “prendre un coureur à contre-pied” (picking off a runner) or “un coup frappé à l’entrechamp” (a Texas leaguer). Modest as always, Jacques sought to minimize his role in this work. We all know how much he contributed to the use of French terms among coaches and players in the Quebec little baseball leagues during that period.
This fascinating presentation, which was breaking new ground, was made even more dynamic thanks to the numerous period documents that our two presenters brought along. It was some remarkable research that illustrates what SABR does best – and therefore a perfect topic for SABR Day!
Le chapitre de SABR-Québec s’est réuni le 25 janvier 2020 à Montréal à l’occasion de la journée SABR. Une seule présentation était à l’ordre du jour, offerte par deux de nos membres, tous deux historiens, soit Patrick Carpentier et Marcel Dugas, qui nous ont expliqué l’histoire de la francisation des termes de baseball au Québec.
La pratique du baseball au Québec remonte à 1869, et de 1880 à 1907 on peut parler d’une francisation anémique : les joueurs eux-mêmes utilisent les termes en anglais, la couverture de presse relativement marginale est truffée d’anglicismes, et le seul milieu qui pousse à l’usage du français est celui des collèges classiques, où les prêtres cherchent à défendre l’activité physique en français. Ainsi apparaissent des traductions directes comme premier-but, mais aussi des termes importés de France, où se jouait alors un jeu nommé la “Thèque”, apparenté aux “Rounders” britannique. Plusieurs de ces termes étaient calqués sur le vocabulaire militaire, comme celui de “voltigeur”. C’est aussi à cette époque qu’apparait le mot “arrêt-court” comme équivalent de “shortstop” mais son usage est encore nettement minoritaire. On trouve aussi des locutions plutôt bancales dans les sommaires, comme “frappé par balle lancée par le pitcher”.
De 1908 à 1919, les premiers efforts de francisation systématique ont lieu avec le travail de la Société du bon parler français, et la publication lors de cette dernière année d’un dictionnaire visuel qui comprend de nombreux termes liés au baseball. On parle d’une francisation émergente, puisque l’anglais domine encore dans les compte-rendus écrits; cependant, le mot arrêt-court commence à prendre le dessus sur le terme anglais. On retrouve d’ailleurs régulièrement le même terme utilisé dans les deux langues dans un seul paragraphe d’un même article de presse.
De 1920 à 1934, le français prend finalement le dessus dans les médias, et les termes sont maintenant repris par les joueurs eux-mêmes. L’arrêt-court apparait maintenant deux fois plus fréquemment que le shortstop, et les articles deviennent beaucoup plus nombreux avec le retour des Royaux en 1928. En 1935, un guide terminologique du baseball est largement diffusé.
De 1934 à 1968, la francisation est presque complétée – dans les médias tout au moins. Les matchs sont diffusés à la radio à partir de 1935 et à la télévision en 1952, et les auditeurs se plaignent lorsqu’un commentateur a recours à des termes en anglais. Arrêt-court a gagné sa guerre, occupant 90% du terrain linguistique, et les linguistes dénoncent maintenant certains termes français abusifs, comme “empailleur”, une désignation toute phonétique de l’arbitre – l’umpire – qui n’a rien à voir avec la taxidermie !
La phase finale de la francisation aura lieu suite à l’arrivée des Expos en 1969. Nous avions la chance d’avoir parmi nous notre ami Jacques Doucet, commentateur des matchs de l’équipe à la radio, qui nous a expliqué comment certains termes qui manquaient à notre vocabulaire ont été créés à cette époque, tel que “prendre un coureur à contre-pied” ou encore un “coup frappé à l’entre-champ”. Toujours modeste, Jacques a cherché à minimiser son rôle dans ce travail. Nous savons tous à quel point il a contribué à faire que les termes français soient ceux utilisés par les instructeurs et les joueurs des petites ligues à cette époque.
Cette présentation fascinante, qui abordait un terrain encore peu étudié était d’autant plus dynamique grâce aux nombreux documents d’époque amenés par nos deux chercheurs. Un travail remarquable qui illustre ce que SABR fait de mieux – et donc un sujet rêvé pour la journée SABR !
Nashville, TN (Rice-Russell Chapter)
Fifteen members and guests joined us on SABR Day at the Nashville Public Library’s Looby Branch. Harriet Kimbro-Hamilton, daughter of Negro League star Henry Kimbro and a member of our chapter, shared news about a project to commemorate Negro Leaguers from Nashville with a plaque at Rose Park. This initiative is an undertaking by former Nashville councilman Ronnie Greer, Belmont University, Nashville Park Board, along with Harriet and others. Christopher Ryland led a discussion about 19th-century base ball. “Books” is one of the players in the Tennessee Vintage Base Ball Association and a “digger” on protoball.org. Tom Lee, who is on a state legislative committee, spoke about sports gaming laws as it relates to MLB. Skip Nipper led a discussion on recent news surrounding cheating in baseball, MLB’s antitrust exemption, and the potential new MiLB-MLB agreement that could eliminate minor league teams and affiliations. — Skip Nipper
New Orleans, LA (Schott-Pelican Chapter)
There were ten attendees at the Holiday Inn in Gretna (birthplace of Mel Ott) on January 25 to celebrate SABR Day. Brother Neal Golden prepared a baseball quiz for the group. Derby Gisclair presented a paper titled “Shreveport Sluggers” about the history of pro baseball in Shreveport. Bill Catalanatto shared an exchange he had with New Orleans Baby Cakes GM Cookie Rojas on why the team left New Orleans for Wichita. Richard Cuicchi presented information about the recent on-line availability of The Sporting News Baseball Player Contract Cards Collection. Topics of general discussion included the Hall of Fame elections, the Houston Astros’ scandal, recollections of no-hit games attended, among others. — Richard Cuicchi
Philadelphia, PA (Connie Mack Chapter)
Almost 30 members of the SABR Connie Mack Chapter and their guests attended the SABR Day 2020 gathering on Saturday, January 25, 2020, at Temple University Center City in Philadelphia. We were treated to member presentations, a statistical performance measure of all MLB teams, two book presentations and a terrific trivia quiz. Oh, and the sandwiches were great, too.
Mark Kanter gave us a new understanding of how to look at pennant races and how statistically close they actually are via his “Competition Index.”
Mitch Nathanson told us how he researched his upcoming book on Jim Bouton. Did you know that Bouton wrote his notes on anything he could use: napkins, hotel note paper, airline tickets and other ephemera? That he kept them in a “butter yellow box” until they were donated to the Smithsonian? Mitch told us this and a whole lot more. His book, Bouton, The Life of a Baseball Original, will be out this spring.
Dan Joseph delivered a fascinating presentation on the last full year of Lou Gehrig’s career in “The Last Ride of the Iron Horse”. How Gehrig’s ALS condition hindered his performance until a late season surge brought the old Gehrig to the fore. Dan noted that very few ALS patients perform physically at Gehrig’s 1938 level — let alone experience a surge of energy evidenced in Lou’s August play.
Ted Knorr made a case for the Hall of Fame enshrinement of outfielder Rap Dixon during his presentation of the career and life of the black ballplayer. Many Negro League contemporaries, Ted said, contend that Dixon was the best outfielder of his time.
Before lunch, Matt Albertson, quizzed us on his baseball trivia. And guess what! Joe Stanton finished out of the money! First place went to Alex Cheremeteff, second to Steven Glassman and third to Andrew Milner.
After a really good lunch, Mike Gimbel held sway with his annual measurement of performance of each MLB team’s roster players. He rated players in three categories: Prime/Excellent, Good and [my words] Dogs. The Astros had the most excellent players but are not current WS champs because, after all, you have to play the games.
Brian Engelhardt told us of the time that Moe Berg played for the Reading Keys in the International League’s entry for the Brooklyn “Robins.” Berg compiled 200 hits over 168 games in the minors and sported a .311 BA — mostly as an infielder. Brian emphasized some of Berg’s quirks, his defensive skills and, of course, his languages. A little known fact: Berg always wore identical dark suits and ties — seven of them by one of Berg’s account.
Alex Cheremeteff in his “Hold That Tiger” presentation told us of the heroics of rookie Ty Cobb’s 2-run homer in the ninth during a late season double header against the Athletics. The dinger tied the game, forced extra innings, ended in a tie [darkness] and denied the A’s a chance to cop a third pennant since 1902.
Lastly, Steven Glassman astounded us with a presentation of the National Professional Indoor Baseball League! Steven told us Tris Speaker was the President, the teams were in major MLB cities and the Philadelphia entry played at the Convention Hall. Predictably, the public voted with their feet and the league lasted only a couple weeks. Who knew!
Still working on Hot Stoves. Look for our Annual Meeting in June.
— Seamus Kearney and Dick Rosen
St. Louis, MO (Bob Broeg Chapter)
On Saturday, February 1, 2020, 47 members and guests of the Bob Broeg SABR Chapter of St. Louis celebrated SABR Day by gathering at Favazza’s Restaurant, in the Historic Hill section of the city, just a few blocks away from where Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola grew up.
Chapter President Rick Zucker welcomed everyone to the event and everyone enjoyed a wonderful buffet meal of Italian roast beef, Sicilian chicken, cavatelli con broccoli, roasted vegetables, toasted ravioli, and salad followed by dessert cannolis.
Our three special guests gave wonderful presentations. First up was Dr. Raymond Doswell, Vice President of Curatorial Services for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.
His presentation was titled “ A Whirling Demon: Jackie Robinson Steals Home & History”. With a variety of photos and film clips he chronicled the 19 regular season career steals of home by Jackie, along with his most prominent one in Game 1 of the 1955 World Series.
Emily Wiebe, Manager of Player Development & Performance for the St. Louis Cardinals followed. She is primarily involved with handling the data requests from the coaching and training staffs in the organization. She mentioned that every decision they make with the data (which is purchased by each team from independent vendors) points toward predicting future performance. The various factors, which go into the data received, include ballpark dimensions, pitch tracking, batted ball tracking, the strike zone (which tends to fluxuate), and even the individual player’s preferred learning style of the data. She stated that it is no longer “if” teams use the data but “how” they use the data.
Our third and final speaker was Dan O’Neill, former columnist and beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and author of the recent book, “Celebration-The Magic of The Cardinals in The 1980’s”. With photos, film clips, and anecdotes he took the audience on a trip back through the 1980’s and the exciting times of Whiteyball. In approximately 12 months, early in the decade Herzog made moves involving 31 players to rebuild the team with speed, defense, and pitching. The result was three trips to the World Series over six years with a championship in 1982.
After a short break, President Zucker presented the annual Jim Rygelski Research Award to Tyler White for his presentation, at the chapter research conference last September, entitled “Mastering the Breath: A Potential Way to Improve Performance, Endurance, and Reduce Injury”.
The next order of business was the presentation of chapter officers for the coming year. The four current officers were willing to retain their positions and a motion was made, seconded, and approved to reelect the following: President – Rick Zucker, Vice-President – Jeff Ecker, Treasurer – Mark Stangl, Secretary – Jim Leefers.
The trivia quiz was presented by last year’s champion Mark Stangl and titled “2019 Cardinals Season”, with a total of 43 possible answers. Prizes were awarded for the top two scores: Bob Tiemann was the 1st place winner with a score of 31, Jim Leefers was 2nd with 26.
The dates for the regular meetings have been set for the coming year: March 2 (Monday), April 13 (Monday), May 19 (Tuesday), June 15 (Monday), July 7 (Tuesday), August 17 (Monday), October 12 (Monday), November 17 (Tuesday), December 14 (Monday). The meetings begin at 6:30 and will be at The Sports Café in Bridgeton.
The Baseball Fellowship Meetings are informal and held at Lester’s Sports Bar & Grill in Ladue, beginning at 5:30 on the following Wednesdays: April 1, May 6, June 3, July 1, August 5, September 2, September 30, November 4, and December 2.
The 6th Annual Jim Rygelski Research Conference will be held Saturday, September 12, 2020.
All meetings and events are open to non-members.
— Jim Leefers, Secretary
Santo Domingo, DOM (Juan Marichal Chapter)
On Thursday, January 30, the Juan Marichal Chapter met for SABR Day at 121 Nicolas Ureña de Mendoza St. in Los Prados Santo Domingo. Ten members of the chapter attended to exchange views about the championship of the Toros BBC of La Romana in the Dominican Winter League that took place the night before. The Toros will go now to the Caribbean Series (Serie del Caribe) that will take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in February. — Julio Rodriguez
Seattle, WA (Northwest Chapter)
The Northwest Chapter celebrated SABR Day on Saturday January 18 at Driveline Baseball, which commits itself to being innovative as a data driven baseball player development program. They specialize in hitting and pitching performance training informed by research and constant iteration. They received a VIP tour of Driveline’s training facility, observed one-on-one training sessions, and then got a chance to talk baseball and ask questions to some of driveline’s experts about their company and research. The turnout was great and there was a lot of positive feedback from all of the SABR members that were in attendance. — Tip Wonhoff
Starkville, MS (Cool Papa Bell Chapter)
Michael Jaffe coordinated our first meeting of the new Cool Papa Bell Chapter on SABR Day at Oby’s Restaurant in Starkville. John Cohen, Athletic Director and former baseball coach at Mississippi State University, was the guest speaker and he spoke about his experiences at the College World Series in Omaha. Thomas VanHyning did a follow-up presentation on 10 American League Rookies of the Year who played in Puerto Rico’s Winter League. There was a fun trivia contest, too. — Thomas VanHyning
Tallahassee, FL (Buck O’Neil Chapter)
Fifteen members and guests of the North Florida/Buck O’Neil Chapter gathered to celebrate SABR Day in the Biletnikoff Room at The Fourth Quarter Bar and Grill in Tallahassee, Florida, at 1 PM on January 25, 2020. In attendance were:
Matt Keelean, Chapter President
- Lori Willner
- Jeff English
- Terry Mahoney
- Diana Kampert
- John Obrzut
- Roger Raepple
- Ron Block
- Rick Swaine
- Doug Cook
- Kent Putnam
- Glenn Robertson
- Jim Turner
- Brent Kallestad
- Chuck Rosciam
President Keelean welcomed returning members and introductions were made of first-time guests John Obrzut, Ron Block, and Doug Cook.
President Keelean reminded members of the upcoming SABR 50 Convention in Baltimore in July 2020 and encouraged them to attend. Members were also asked to consider the Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference, which will be held in Birmingham in June this year.
The President then called upon local chapter member Jeff English for the first presentation. Jeff has researched the MLB careers of each player who first played varsity baseball at Florida State University. Using visual aids and statistical analysis, Jeff shared his fantasy all star team which identified the best players at each position, as well as a starting rotation and bullpen for the pitching staff.
The second presenter was guest Ken Silvestri Jr., who coaches baseball at a Tallahassee high school. His father, Ken Sr., had a lengthy big league career, mostly as a backup catcher and later as a coach. One of Ken Sr.’s claims to fame is that he was Joe DiMaggio’s roommate with the Yankees for several seasons. Ken brought several signed balls, programs, and other memorabilia to share, and his stories of life as the young son of a Major League ballplayer were very well received.
The third and final presentation was made by Nick Gandy of the Florida Sports Foundation. His interesting talk focused on Baseball Spring Training in Florida, past, present, and future.
It was agreed that the Trivia Contest, scheduled to be held at this meeting, would be rescheduled, providing members additional time to cram for the exam.
Finally, members and guests were reminded that the February Social will be held at a new location.
Meeting adjourned at 4:00 PM or thereabouts.
— Kent Putnam
Victoria, BC (Northwest Chapter)
The Northwest Chapter celebrated SABR Day with 8 attendees for brunch at John’s Place in Victoria. Not only did this group of baseball enthusiasts celebrate SABR day, but they also celebrated Larry Walker, the first British Columbian and second Canadian to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The members enjoyed a great day of brunch discussing various topics throughout baseball such as the Hall of Fame elections and the sign stealing scandal of the Houston Astros. — Gary Belleville
Virginia Beach, VA (Bud Metheny Chapter)
We met for SABR Day at the Cypress Point Country Club in Virginia Beach to discuss the future of minor-league baseball, player movement this offseason, and an awards recap. Chris Jones gave a presentation on “Happy Anniversary! Babe’s sale 100 years ago.” Paul Boren spoke about the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee; and Alexis Collins talked about her experiences at Baseball Scouting School Weekend and the Winter Meetings. Click here to view the presentation materials from our meeting at profile.sabr.org. — Drew Noe
Washington, DC (Bob Davids Chapter)
The annual SABR Day for the largest chapter of SABR, which met on Saturday, February 1 at the Holiday Inn Rosslyn in Arlington, Virginia, had the usual array of interesting speakers. The first speaker was Mark Pankin, who presented a paper on BOOT (Batting Out Of Turn). The next speaker, Brian Engelhardt, covered the back story on Moe Berg: Before he was a catcher or a spy. Jesse Dougherty, a current Nationals beat writer, talked about covering the Nationals. His book, Buzzsaw, comes out on March 24. The worst part about covering the 2019 Nats was the bullpen, the cause of many re-writes! Paul Scimonelli gave a presentation on Joe Cambria (minor league manager and scout for Clark Griffith). Matt Van Hoose, Nationals ballpark organist, talked about his interesting job. The paper by Charlie Pavitt on “Positional Discrimination in Baseball” was really eye-opening. Chris Segal, major league umpire, gave us a lot of insights from behind the plate. He’s been in the ballpark for three of Bryce Harper’s ejections. Jerry Crasnick of the MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association) gave us some insights, to the extent he could, on the state of baseball. Greg Larson presented Clubbie: A Minor League Baseball Memoir, about his time with the Aberdeen Iron Birds. His book comes out next year from the University of Nebraska Press. Click here to read the full recap at TalkNats.com. — Laura Peebles