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Moon, Footer share baseball playoff memories at winter meeting
Written by Gilbert Martinez   
Friday, 23 January 2015 19:03


The 1954 National League Rookie of the Year and three-time World Series Champion Wally Moon (pictured above) and national correspondent Alyson Footer spoke at the Ninth Annual Winter Meeting of the Rogers Hornsby Chapter of SABR on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015.


Thirty-five members and guests gathered at Texas State University’s historic Old Main building in San Marcos to talk baseball, reminisce about the 2014 season, gripe (and, for some of us, celebrate) the Hall of Fame vote and share baseball memorabilia.


A World Series Champion with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1959, 1963 and 1965, Moon said he was impressed with Madison Bumgarner’s pitching performance with the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 World Series, but he said Sandy Koufax’s three pitching appearances in the 1965 World Series were better. Koufax’s performance included a complete-game shutout of the Minnesota Twins in Game 5, and, on two days rest, another complete-game shutout to clinch Game 7 and the Series.


Moon also shared that as a young boy, he used to listen to baseball games on the radio with his grandfather. He remembered that his grandfather used to turn down the volume between innings. When Moon asked why, his grandfather told him, “I don’t want to hear no god-damn beer commercials!”


Moon also recalled vividly his first major league at-bat. In fact, he didn’t get a warm reception at Busch Stadium, mostly because he was replacing the future Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter, who was a favorite player of Moon’s growing up. He said he heard the crowd booing and chanting, “We want Enos!” as he went to bat. After taking the first two pitches, he hit a homerun. By the time he rounded second base, he said, the boos had turned to cheers.


Moon also took the opportunity to express how much the fans meant to him. He said he has some fans who have kept in touch with him for 50 and 60 years, ever since he played minor league ball in Omaha, Nebraska. He said he still gets letters and holiday cards from some every year, and that one of his longtime fans even named her parakeet Wally Moon.


Moon also sold and signed copies of his book, “Moon Shots.”


After Moon’s recollection of the 1965 World Series, the group heard about another memorable postseason 40 years later from Alyson Footer (pictured below), a national correspondent for and former social media manager for the Houston Astros and former beat reporter covering the Astros for eight seasons, including their playoff runs in 2004 and 2005.



Footer remembered clearly how close the Astros were to reaching the World Series in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series in 2005. Because requires game stories to be posted within five minutes of the last out, she had written much of the story about the Astros, who were leading in the ninth inning. But when the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols crushed Brad Lidge’s slider, not only did it silence the deafening crowd in the stadium, but Footer said she had to delete her story and start from scratch. “Not one word was relevant at all,” she said.


She also recalled that – after the Astros went on to win Game 6 at the very last game at Busch Stadium II and punch their ticket to the franchise’s first Fall Classic – she worked late into the night and early morning. Once her work was done, she poured herself a Budweiser beer in the sportswriters lounge at 3 a.m. – perhaps the last beer drunk at that ballpark, she said.


Footer also talked about the changes in sportswriting. She said she’s doing more video now and writing shorter stories because videos get four times the clicks online than articles.


In addition to Moon and Footer, attendees were treated to “Crop Shop,” a warm-up presentation by Hornsby member Jim Baker (pictured below). He shared zoomed-in portions of famous baseball photographs and images to see if the group could recognize them. Though the group caught on quickly and recognized most of the images, Baker stumped everyone on a few images.




Hornsby Chapter founder Bill Gilbert gave a 2015 Houston Astros Preview and predicted a break-even season for them. He summarized the additions to and subtractions from the big league club and discussed promising prospects that may make it to the big leagues later this year or in the next few years.


New Hornsby member Jim Kenton (pictured below) talked about a successful program in St. Louis called the Baseball Reminiscence League in which volunteers spend time helping Alzheimer’s patients by discussing baseball players and games from earlier in their lives. Kenton is working with local groups who help Alzheimer’s patients in Austin in hopes of creating something similar here and recruiting volunteers.




Dan Walsh (pictured below), a 30-year SABR member and active Hornsby chapter member, shared some research he did on Starting Pitchers Game Score and described some of the greatest pitching performances in MLB history. A Bill James metric, game score determines the strength of a pitcher’s performance in a particular game.




Also, members brought sports memorabilia and participated in a baseball book exchange. Hornsby Chapter member Jeremy Schmidt (pictured below on right) shared a collection of Craig Biggio baseball cards and a signed ball, and donated a mint Biggio rookie card as a door prize, which was won by Ira Siegel (pictured below).




The Winter Meeting also featured something new. Jan Larson (pictured below), on the Hornsby Chapter leadership team, led the audience through a discussion about next year’s Hall of Fame vote, and then allowed everyone to place their own ballot. For better or worse, our group’s voting results matched the Baseball Writers Association of America pretty closely on players who have been on a the ballot for at least a year. Judging by our results, only Ken Griffey, Jr. (93 percent of the vote), will be elected to next year’s HOF class. Three who were close included Mike Piazza (73 percent), Jeff Bagwell (67 percent) and Tim Raines (60 percent). Other notables in our voting were Barry Bonds (57 percent), Edgar Martinez (53 percent) and Roger Clemens (50 percent).




Click on this link to see the presentation slides by Baker, Gilbert, Kenton and Walsh. You can also see the results of the Hornsby Chapter’s Hall of Fame vote for 2016 by clicking this link.


Much thanks to Wally Moon, Alyson Footer and all of our presenters and visitors. We’re glad that the weather cooperated fully on Jan. 17, especially after we had to reschedule from the previous Saturday after icy conditions in Central Texas.


It was another great day of baseball talk at Old Main. A big thank you to our speakers, and also to Monte Cely, a member of the Hornsby Chapter leadership team who worked tirelessly to organize much of the winter meeting. We also thank Raeanne Martinez for her assistance in organizing the lunch orders.


Also, many thanks to Hornsby Chapter member Ryan Pollack who volunteered his time to take photos during the Winter Meeting. All photos on this page are used by permission and owned by Pollack. Here’s his website:


More photos from the Winter Meeting are below. See you next year!




Last Updated on Sunday, 25 January 2015 19:29
December Meeting Recap
Written by Jan Larson   
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 22:51

Eight members of the Rogers Hornsby Chapter, including San Antonio member Cy Morong who made the trip north, gathered at Iron Works BBQ in downtown Austin on the evening of December 16 to discuss baseball in general and the active 2014 off-season in particular.  The group was also treated to holiday cookies provided by Monte Cely.

Discussion topics included the recent signings and deals by the Red Sox, White Sox and Dodgers among others, the possible role for A-Rod with the Yankees and the upcoming Hornsby Chapter Winter Meeting.  As sometimes happens at these types of gatherings, the conversation took an unexpected turn which resulted in substantive discussion of the career of Ted Williams.

Dan Walsh, one of the chapter's most prolific authors of triva quizzes, presented a quiz on the 2014 season.  Jan Larson was the winner and took home a major award.

The next time chapter members gather will be at much anticipated Ninth Annual Winter Meeting on Saturday, January 10 at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX.


Last Updated on Monday, 19 January 2015 21:10
November Chapter Meeting Recap
Written by Monte Cely   
Tuesday, 18 November 2014 22:03

Nine chapter members met Thursday, November 18 at Iron Works BBQ in downtown Austin.  Off-season discussion topics were wide ranging, including current trade and free-agent market activity, the recently completed playoffs and World Series, the Cy Young voting, and the Astros' new TV contract to appear locally on AT&T u-Verse via ROOT Sports.

Mike Dillon posed a quiz topic that we worked on as a group -- With Albert Pujols recently joining the 500-home run club, could we name all the previous 500 home run hitters?  There are now 26 players who have hit at least 500 career home runs.  See how many you can name.

Monte Cely covered the status of the 2015 Hornsby Chapter Winter Meeting agenda.  Wally Moon, 1954 NL Rookie of the Year, and Alyson Footer, MLB network national correspondent, will be our two headliners.  The upcoming Winter Meeting will be held Saturday, January 10, 2015 at Texas State University.  More details will be forthcoming.

Our next chapter meeting will be Tuesday, December 16 at 6pm back at Iron Works BBQ.  A reminder and call for rsvp's will be emailed to chapter members as that date approaches.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 22:04
Chapter members watch Giants get even
Written by Gilbert Martinez   
Sunday, 26 October 2014 11:52


A small group of hearty Hornsby members traveled to the northwestern lands of Cedar Park to watch the San Francisco Giants get even with the Kansas City Royals in Game 4 of the 2014 World Series.


Fueled by delicious cheeseburger sliders, cookies and brownies by host Jim Baker along with a mayonnaise-less cole slaw by Raeanne Martinez, five members provided our own commentary to much of the game, which the Giants won 11-4 after trailing early 4-1.


While there was no official World Series trivia quiz, there was plenty of chatter on social media to challenge us. After Giants reliever Yusmeiro Petit (he of the robust .049 batting average) hit a bloop single in the 4th inning, the television broadcast noted that that was the first hit by a reliever in a World Series since Al Leiter did it in Game 4 in 1993 in which the Blue Jays outlasted the Phillies, 15-14.


Jayson Stark of ESPN noted on Twitter the name of the last National League reliever to get a hit in the World Series, so I proffered it as a question. After a few seconds of cranial gear-turning, Ryan Pollack offered, “Jesse Orosco?” Resident Mets fan and expert Jim Baker scoffed and said Orosco was a horrible hitter and couldn’t have been the correct answer, but, of course, it was! Orosco got a hit in Game 7 in 1986! (Later, Raeanne Martinez found Orosco’s career batting average, .169, confirming Baker’s suspicion.)


Speaking of Ryan Pollack, he noted that his first Hornsby Chapter meeting was the year before at the group’s World Series Watch Party. Also, Ryan got married a few weeks after SABR 44 in Houston and watched the stars align to attend ALCS Game 1 in Baltimore – it’s been quite a year for him! (You can read about Ryan’s Game 1 experience by clicking here.)


There was also an update on recently moved-away Eric Robinson, whom we had last heard had moved to West Texas seeking fame and fortune. Raeanne Martinez bumped into him at a book festival in Midland two weeks ago. Eric shared with Raeanne that he met Jim Morris, the relief pitcher who made his MLB debut at age 35 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999.


Many thanks to Jim Baker for hosting the World Series Watch Party for the fourth consecutive year. As I have always found, watching baseball with my knowledgeable Hornsby pals is the best way to watch baseball.


This was the 95th consecutive month in which the Hornsby Chapter has met.


The November meeting hasn’t been scheduled yet, but we’ll announce the date as we get closer.


(Note: Giants vs. Royals graphic illustration by Jim Baker)



Last Updated on Sunday, 26 October 2014 12:06
Chapter members ponder playoff picture
Written by Gilbert Martinez   
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 21:20

Eleven chapter members and guests met for barbeque in downtown Austin, chatting about teams fighting for playoff spots in the final week of the regular season.


Jan Larson and Gilbert Martinez shared some stories about the last two Astros home games over the weekend. Martinez also did his best to discount the rumor that he fathered Astros phenom Jose Altuve. No one knows for sure, but the rumor appears to have started in West Texas earlier this week.


Baseball conversations focused on some of the favorite teams of the members in attendance. Ryan Pollack is encouraged by the play of his Baltimore Orioles, despite losing some key players to injury and suspension. The key down the stretch, he said, has been pitching and defense, but Pollack noted that the O’s have also benefited from the down years by the Rays and Red Sox.


Dan Walsh said he feels good about his Los Angeles Dodgers winning the NL West.


Mike McNulty and others wondered if the Boston Red Sox will rebound next season. We talked about ESPN writer Jayson Stark’s recent column that posed this question, “Has there ever been a team that lost 111 games or more one year and then won more games than the defending World Series champs the next?” The short answer is no, and, according to Stark, it’s not even close. But, going into games on Tuesday, the Houston Astros had one more win (69) than the Red Sox and was even in losses.


The New York Yankees fans in attendance – Jan Larson and Michael Hammond – both think that their team needs a lot of help if Derek Jeter’s final season is to be extended.


Speaking of Jeter, Larson has plans to be at Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 25. Of greater interest to Martinez (and perhaps few others), Larson will also be at the Astros-Mets game at Citi Field the next night.


Another topic of discussion included the overall improvement by the Astros this season, but some expressed worry about the team’s missteps this season – such as the failure to sign their No. 1 draft pick and two others, and the firing of manager Bo Porter.


The chapter will next meet on Saturday, Oct. 25, for Game 4 of the World Series. As we have done in recent years, we’ll gather for a watch party at the Cedar Park home of Jim Baker. More details to follow, including the names of the teams to play in the aforementioned World Series. Stay tuned for more details.

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