2020 SABR Day: Philadelphia

Mark Kanter

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

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

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

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