The fifth annual Winter Meeting of the SABR Rogers Hornsby Chapter was held on Saturday, January 15, 2011 at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. A group of 30 chapter members, guests and baseball fans enjoyed a full day of baseball-related talks and presentations. There was also a memorabilia display and a book exchange.
Chapter member Norman Macht kicked things off with one of his one-of-a-kind trivia quizzes. Questions such as identifying the five individuals in the team photo of the 1948 Oakland Oaks (PCL) that never played Major League Baseball are what make Norman’s quizzes unique. Chapter member Steve Braccini correctly identified four of the five.
Norman also polled the assembled group asking which pitcher, hitter and manager each would like to spend one day with if they could. Those receiving multiple votes were pitchers Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Satchel Paige and Cy Young; hitters Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Ty Cobb; and managers Connie Mack, Casey Stengel, John McGraw, Sparky Anderson and Billy Martin.
Houston Astros broadcaster Bill Brown presented a summary of the mostly forgettable 2010 Astros season and a look ahead to 2011. He also shared his thoughts on the recently completed Hall of Fame voting, particularly as it applied to former Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell.
Round Rock Express broadcaster Mike Capps discussed the transition of the Express as a ten-year affiliate of the Houston Astros to their new affiliation with the American League champion Texas Rangers. The Rangers currently have a highly regarded minor league system and Mike suggested that Central Texas baseball fans should expect to see an upgrade in the talent level and more wins in Round Rock in the coming seasons.
Hornsby Chapter member Steve Fall presented an analysis of post-season results from the period of 1969-1993 when just four teams qualified for the post-season versus the period from 1995 to the present during which eight teams qualify for post-season. The question was whether more playoff teams makes it less likely that the team with the best regular season record ultimately wins the World Series. The statistics bear out what most would expect – more playoff teams means a reduced likelihood of the “best” team winning the World Series.
Dallas resident Craig Budner presented a very interesting account of his great-grandfather Hyman Pearlstone’s long association with Connie Mack and Pearlstone’s multi-decade tradition of accompanying Mack’s Philadelphia A’s on one western road trip per season. On these trips, Pearlstone would dutifully occupy a seat on the bench immediately to Mack’s left for each game.
Norman Macht also played audio excerpts from his 1992 interview of the recently deceased Bobby Thomson, the former New York Giant best known for his 1951 “shot heard 'round the world” home run against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Part 1 of the interview details Thomson's memory of the historic home run while Part 2 details his life after baseball. To listen, click here.
The featured speaker of the day was former Colt .45's, Mets and Dodgers catcher Jerry Grote. Grote, who now works as a color commentator alongside Mike Capps on Round Rock Express radio broadcasts, regaled the group with tales of his playing days, highlighting that magical 1969 season he spent as the starting catcher for the World Series champion New York Mets.
For the fourth consecutive year, the winter meeting was held in historic Old Main, the oldest building on the Texas State campus and home to the School of Journalism & Mass Communication and the College of Fine Arts & Communication. The meeting also marked the 50th consecutive monthly meeting of the Rogers Hornsby Chapter.