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.
Ten members gathered at Iron Works BBQ in downtown Austin for the August meeting of the Rogers Hornsby Chapter. Topics of discussion included Gary McIntosh's fantasy baseball league, Jose Altuve's chase for the Houston Astros' team record for hits in a season and Mike McNulty's recent trip to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Dan Walsh presented a trivia quiz that was won by Jan Larson. The date of the September meeting is TBD. Details will be forthcoming.
If SABR 44 were a baseball game, you could say that members of the Rogers Hornsby Chapter were deeply involved in all facets of the game as they had a hand in nearly all aspects of the convention.
A team made up of mostly Hornsby members were runners-up in the trivia contest; two members snagged foul balls at the Astros game; one member gave a very interesting talk about the Houston Eagles; and several members had the winning bids in the silent auction, including such items as Diamond Club seats behind home plate at the Astros game, a Jose Altuvé game-used, cracked bat and a piece of the original Astrodome turf.
Though no official count was taken, it appeared that the Hornsby Chapter had the largest representation at the convention, and we made our presence felt. The Larry Dierker Chapter, led by Bob Dorrill and Marsha Franty, hosted and coordinated the convention and were greatly assisted by the Hornsby Chapter.
The conference was filled with research presentations and panels on the history of the Houston Colt .45’s and Houston Astros.
Both the Houston Astros and Sugar Land Skeeters played a big part in the convention. Tal Smith, former Astros president and current special adviser to the Skeeters, spoke at the convention and hosted members at Constellation Park. The Astros president Reid Ryan and general manager Jeff Luhnow spoke on panels and fielded questions from the audience. More than a dozen former Astros and Colt .45 players were featured on panels, including Larry Dierker, Art Howe, Alan Ashby, Roger Clemens, Enos Cabell, Jose Cruz, Bob Watson, Bob Aspromonte, Hal Smith and Jimmy Wynn, among others. There was also a media panel consisting of longtime Astros broadcaster Bill Brown; Alyson Footer, national correspondent with MLB and former social media director with the Astros; Evan Drellich, Astros beat reporter for the Houston Chronicle; Buck Martinez, former player and current broadcaster with the Toronto Blue Jays; and Brett Dolan, radio broadcaster formerly on the Astros broadcast team.
In addition to a walking tour of old baseball sites around Houston, there were outings to Constellation Field to watch a Sugar Land Skeeters in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, and to Minute Maid Park for a Blue Jays-Astros game.
In fact, both games had SABR members buzzing about what they experienced and saw – and what they nearly saw. The Skeeters’ starting pitcher Clint Everts came within two outs of no-hitting the Brideport Bluefish, giving up two hits and one walk through 8.1 innings.
On Saturday, Aug. 2, the Astros game featured several interesting tidbits: Jon Singleton had a thrilling inside-the-park home run that resulted after replay review overturned an out call at home; Jose Altuvé had two more hits, adding to his Major League hits total, and scored from first base after two errant throws; highly touted Astros prospect Mike Foltynewicz had his Major League debut; and the roof was open for an uncharacteristically cool August night. In fact, Minute Maid Park had its roof open at game time in August for the first time since 2004. In addition, Hornsby Chapter director Jan Larson and C. Paul Rogers III of the Banks-Bragan Chapter both won the auction for Diamond Club tickets. In the second inning, Raeanne and Gilbert Martinez joined them in the Diamond Club after receiving a surprising upgrade from their regular season ticket seats (check out a screen-grab from the television broadcast of Jon Singleton’s mighty swing; Gilbert and Raeanne can be see behind the umpire). In addition, chapter members Michael Hammon and Ryan Pollack caught foul balls while sitting with 500 of their closest SABR friends along the first base line.
One of the most popular attractions at any SABR convention is the trivia contest, and this year was no exception. The Hornsby +1 team consisted of Bill Gilbert, Jan Larson and Tom Thayer plus David Kaiser of the Lajoie-Start Chapter. In addition to the usual trivia questions one might expect, the contest also featured physical demonstrations of gestures by baseball players, including batting stances of Stan Musial and Hunter Pence. The Hornsby +1 team lost to a team from New England that called themselves the Misspelled Tulowitskis. For more about the trivia contest, click here.
In the research presentations, Hornsby’s own Eric Robinson gave his presentation on the brief life of the Houston Eagles, the only Negro League team to be based in Texas. His presentation, like many at SABR 44, was well received.
For more details about the convention schedule and summaries, please click here.
Many thanks to all the Hornsby and Dierker chapter members for volunteering and giving up some time to staff the chapter and silent auction tables and monitor the presentation rooms. Also, a special thanks to all SABR staff and interns for helping make SABR 44 one of the best conventions ever.
SABR 45 will be in Chicago next year from June 24 to 28. Upon the conclusion of SABR 44 in Houston, a number of SABR members took to social media to start counting down the days to Chicago.
Seventeen members and guests enjoyed the Sunday, July 20 game between the Iowa Cubs and Round Rock Express at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas. Most of the group enjoyed a pre-game meal in the Intel Club and were then joined by the others for desserts, snacks and soft drinks in the air conditioned comfort of suite #29. The suite featured a flat screen television with the game feed and the piped in radio broadcast featuring the play-by-play of Express' broadcaster, Mike Capps.
The game was a tight contest that was tied 2-2 at the end of nine innings. As the hour was becoming late and a work week loomed in the not-to-distant future for many attendees, some were forced to call it a night before the contest came to conclusion. The hopes of the home fans were dimmed when the visiting Cubs took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 11th inning but a leadoff home run by Lillibridge in the bottom of the frame enabled the game to continue. Only four of the original 17 were present to see the Express complete the come from behind win by pushing across a run in the bottom of the 12th inning to win 4-3.
Next on the agenda for a number of chapter members is the SABR convention beginning on July 30 in Houston. The date and time of the August chapter meeting will be announced at a later date.
Ten members of the Hornsby SABR Chapter met Thursday evening, June 26 at IronWorks BBQ in downtown Austin.
A broad range of baseball topics were discussed and debated, including: Tim Lincecum's recent no-hitter; the seeming "parity" among MLB teams this season; 2014 Cy Young contenders; among many other topics.
Gilbert Martinez reminded chapter members of the upcoming SABR National Convention to be held in Houston the last week of July. If you are planning to attend, and are interested in volunteering to help at the Convention, please contact Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan Larson reminded chapter members of the upcoming Hornsby July chapter meeting to be held Sunday July 20 at Dell Diamond. We are planning to rent one of the suites at Dell Diamond, with the cost being $45-50 per attendee. If you want to attend, Jan will need a firm commitment by July 7. Jan can be reached at email@example.com .
Although Bill Gilbert was unable to attend, he emailed in a "quick quiz". The two questions were:
1. Who are the four active pitchers who have thrown two no-hitters?
2. Who are the five active players (not counting A-Rod) with 400+ home runs and 2,000+ hits?
The reader will be left to work out the answers via Baseball-Reference.com.