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November 1, 2014 Chapter Meeting
Written by Mark Brunke   

The Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research conducted its Fall chapter meeting after the conclusion of yet another Fall Classic.

The Chapter was very excited to have guests and member presentations. The meeting was hosted at the Library Conference room of Seattle Pacific University by Professor Bill Woodward, a longtime SABR member. Professor Woodward attended the meeting along with many of his students.

The first presentation of the day was from Joe Staton, member of the 1972 and 1973 Detroit Tigers. Joe had a great amateur career in Seattle and Washington State, and brought along many artifacts from his time in high school and college baseball. These artifacts illustrated a highly competitive environment in the area. Joe had great stories of his managers with Detroit, Billy Martin and Joe Schultz, as well as his winter ball manager in the minors, Jim Leland. Joe's minor league adventures had even included time playing in Mexico with future Mariner Enrique Romo. Aside from his playing accomplishments, Joe helped start the Seattle RBI program. The program is in its 21st year, and has helped 180 kids, 14 of whom have gone on to be drafted.

Next up was Ocean Shores based author, SABR member, and statistician Merrianna McCully. Merrianna has self published a book about her second career providing stats research to Jim Kaat for his broadcast work. Kaat had hired McCully while he worked as a TV analyst for the Minnesota Twins, as well as CBS and ESPN, and he also wrote the book’s foreword. Merrianna's book centers around her concepts of Swing Runs as well as her own story with baseball. Its a fascinating read with lots of great numbers to back up the concept which looks at how many runs a given team needs to win a gam.

Steve Steinberg was up next, delivering a presentation on the 1931 Dixie Series of Houston versus Birmingham. Steve presented a great narrative of, as he put it, the wiley veteran against a brash youngster. In this case the veteran was Ray Caldwell, who place in the minors was on his way down, against Dizzy Dean, whose star was ascendant. It was a fascinating story, including not just the great characters of the legendary players, but the interesting details, such as Caldwell being struck by lightning and then finishing a game.

SABR Member Frank Workman delivered his concept for realignment next. This restructuring looked at creating three leagues of 10 teams, an East, Central and West. Each would then be divided into a north and south division. There would be no interleague, instead teams would focus on geographic rivalries during a regular season with a balanced schedule of 162 games against the other 9 teams in their league. This would also allow games to always be played at night in a single time zone, accommodating tv. An 8 team playoff would have two seeded teams get a break while the others play a series of one game playoffs, then a quarter finals, then a World Series. It was a very interesting proposal which sparked a lot of debate.

Finally, Mark Brunke presented some recent audio and video finds. The main part of Mark's presentation was audio from reel to reel tapes of interviews conducted during the Seattle Mariner's 1978 Spring Training. These interviews, by Dave Niehaus and Ken Wilson, were of players such as Julio Cruz, Enrique Romo, Dan Meyer and Bruce Bochte. A real treat was hearing Dave Niehaus interview team owner Danny Thomas.

The next PNWSABR chapter meeting will be during Mariners Fan Fest on January 25, 2015. This meeting is a closed meeting for SABR members and guests. There will also be a meeting for members in Victoria, BC area that weekend, as part of the SABR Day activities. That meeting is at 11 AM at John's Place, 723 Pandora Avenue, Victoria. The next regular chapter open meeting will be in Portland on February 14, 2015. Please look at our events page information on this and other meetings.

 
February 16 Meeting Recap
Written by Mark Brunke   

The Pacific Northwest Chapter of SABR held its regular chapter meeting in Oregon on Sunday, February 16 at 12 Noon. The venue for the event was Max's Fanno Creek restaurant in Tigard.

There were 22 SABR members there, plus about 10 guests. Most of the attendees were from the Portland area, but many members also made the trip down from Washington State. The meeting started with introductions and a general welcome were made by chapter vice-president Mark Armour.

Peter Hepokoski gave the first presentation, providing a nice overview of his personal history of taking ballpark tours across the United States and Canada. For the last 20 years Peter has taken tours with Jay Buckley's Baseball Tours out of LaCrosse, WI. Peter grew up in Minnesota as a Dodgers fan. He attended the University of Minnesota. Peter began at first going on his own trips, but after awhile sought out tours as a way to see games across the country. Peter had many stories to share of his many years taking tours. He has been to 54 MLB ballparks over the years, 55 if Puerto Rico is included.

Tom Leip of the Salem Keizer Volcanoes was the next speaker. Tom has had a long career in baseball operations in the minor leagues. He spoke at length about many of the unique things he has seen in the minors, and especially about the peculiarities of running a minor league club. His time in the minors goes back many years in the Northwest League and includes time spent working for George Brett and his brothers, as well as his many years in Salem.

John Simpson spoke next on deadball era player Hub Perdue. John has a recently published book on Hub which is available for purchase. John said he became interested in writing a book about Hub because of the rarity of published work on Southern Deadball Era players, and then as he researched Hub, the story became more and more intriguing. Perdue got his first shot at playing pro baseball in Vincennes in 1905. His 1919 numbers set a Southern League record with a 1.56 era. Hub was a fun loving character, and Simpson's book should provide some much needed scholarship on Deadball players from the South.

The next presentation was from a guest of SABR, Marie Jessup. Marie was a veteran of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, having played with the Fort Wayne Daisies in 1953. Marie was accompanied by many members of her family, and in addition great stories of her time in the league, presented a slide show with personal photos. Marie said that throughout most of her life, the only people who remembered the AAGPBL were people in the midwest. As a young woman, her brother-in-law, who she said was a really good baseball player, saw an ad for tryouts for a women's professional baseball club. Marie said she practiced in the winter in Maine, where she was from, and when the snow cleared she jogged to get in shape. Then the local Rotary gave her $50 to take a bus to Michigan for the tryouts in the spring. She was there for three days, and then saw her name on the wall. The team travelled through the midwest by bus, stayed in hotels, and had chaperones. Marie was the backup catcher, and had played the same position in high school on her softball team. She said one of the players she liked most growing up was the old Detroit and Boston catcher Birdie Tebbetts. After her time in the AAGPBL, Marie moved to Arizona and played semi-pro softball before hanging up the cleats.

The next presentation was from John Henshell on clutch hitting. First John described a definition of clutch which he separated from situational hitting. John looked for pressure situations where pitching performance would also be clutch. This was key to John's presentation, as he stated if you perform with runners in scoring position, you are performing against clutch pitching. John emphasized that context is also important. His presentation included a summary of 30 to 40 studies of clutch hitting.

The final presentation of the day was Mike Rice's annual preview of the Mariner's season. Mike looked back at the previous season and covered the Mariner's off season, looking at the possibility of improvement in returning players and the pitching staff. Some of the questions that came up were the impact of Robinson Cano, and where players such as Corey Hart and Logan Morrison will fit in and impact existing players such as Justin Smoak. At the end of Mike's presentation, SABR members present went around the room and gave their predictions of wins for the coming season.

The meeting was concluded at 5 PM and a few remained behind to continue the discussions of the upcoming season in the main dining area of the restaurant. The next Pacific Northwest SABR meeting will be on Saturday, April 26th. This will be an open meeting at which all can attend.

 
February 16 Meeting Recap
Written by Mark Brunke   

The Pacific Northwest Chapter of SABR held its regular chapter meeting in Oregon on Sunday, February 16 at 12 Noon. The venue for the event was Max's Fanno Creek restaurant in Tigard.

There were 22 SABR members there, plus about 10 guests. Most of the attendees were from the Portland area, but many members also made the trip down from Washington State. The meeting started with introductions and a general welcome were made by chapter vice-president Mark Armour.

Peter Hepokoski gave the first presentation, providing a nice overview of his personal history of taking ballpark tours across the United States and Canada. For the last 20 years Peter has taken tours with Jay Buckley's Baseball Tours out of LaCrosse, WI. Peter grew up in Minnesota as a Dodgers fan. He attended the University of Minnesota. Peter began at first going on his own trips, but after awhile sought out tours as a way to see games across the country. Peter had many stories to share of his many years taking tours. He has been to 54 MLB ballparks over the years, 55 if Puerto Rico is included.

Tom Leip of the Salem Keizer Volcanoes was the next speaker. Tom has had a long career in baseball operations in the minor leagues. He spoke at length about many of the unique things he has seen in the minors, and especially about the peculiarities of running a minor league club. His time in the minors goes back many years in the Northwest League and includes time spent working for George Brett and his brothers, as well as his many years in Salem.

John Simpson spoke next on deadball era player Hub Perdue. John has a recently published book on Hub which is available for purchase. John said he became interested in writing a book about Hub because of the rarity of published work on Southern Deadball Era players, and then as he researched Hub, the story became more and more intriguing. Perdue got his first shot at playing pro baseball in Vincennes in 1905. His 1919 numbers set a Southern League record with a 1.56 era. Hub was a fun loving character, and Simpson's book should provide some much needed scholarship on Deadball players from the South.

The next presentation was from a guest of SABR, Marie Jessup. Marie was a veteran of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, having played with the Fort Wayne Daisies in 1953. Marie was accompanied by many members of her family, and in addition great stories of her time in the league, presented a slide show with personal photos. Marie said that throughout most of her life, the only people who remembered the AAGPBL were people in the midwest. As a young woman, her brother-in-law, who she said was a really good baseball player, saw an ad for tryouts for a women's professional baseball club. Marie said she practiced in the winter in Maine, where she was from, and when the snow cleared she jogged to get in shape. Then the local Rotary gave her $50 to take a bus to Michigan for the tryouts in the spring. She was there for three days, and then saw her name on the wall. The team travelled through the midwest by bus, stayed in hotels, and had chaperones. Marie was the backup catcher, and had played the same position in high school on her softball team. She said one of the players she liked most growing up was the old Detroit and Boston catcher Birdie Tebbetts. After her time in the AAGPBL, Marie moved to Arizona and played semi-pro softball before hanging up the cleats.

The next presentation was from John Henshell on clutch hitting. First John described a definition of clutch which he separated from situational hitting. John looked for pressure situations where pitching performance would also be clutch. This was key to John's presentation, as he stated if you perform with runners in scoring position, you are performing against clutch pitching. John emphasized that context is also important. His presentation included a summary of 30 to 40 studies of clutch hitting.

The final presentation of the day was Mike Rice's annual preview of the Mariner's season. Mike looked back at the previous season and covered the Mariner's off season, looking at the possibility of improvement in returning players and the pitching staff. Some of the questions that came up were the impact of Robinson Cano, and where players such as Corey Hart and Logan Morrison will fit in and impact existing players such as Justin Smoak. At the end of Mike's presentation, SABR members present went around the room and gave their predictions of wins for the coming season.

The meeting was concluded at 5 PM and a few remained behind to continue the discussions of the upcoming season in the main dining area of the restaurant. The next Pacific Northwest SABR meeting will be on Saturday, April 26th. This will be an open meeting at which all can attend.

 
February 16 Meeting Recap
Written by NWSABR Chapter   

The Pacific Northwest Chapter of SABR held its regular chapter meeting in Oregon on Sunday, February 16 at 12 Noon. The venue for the event was Max's Fanno Creek restaurant in Tigard.

There were 22 SABR members there, plus about 10 guests. Most of the attendees were from the Portland area, but many members also made the trip down from Washington State. The meeting started with introductions and a general welcome were made by chapter vice-president Mark Armour.

Peter Hepokoski gave the first presentation, providing a nice overview of his personal history of taking ballpark tours across the United States and Canada. For the last 20 years Peter has taken tours with Jay Buckley's Baseball Tours out of LaCrosse, WI. Peter grew up in Minnesota as a Dodgers fan. He attended the University of Minnesota. Peter began at first going on his own trips, but after awhile sought out tours as a way to see games across the country. Peter had many stories to share of his many years taking tours. He has been to 54 MLB ballparks over the years, 55 if Puerto Rico is included.

Tom Leip of the Salem Keizer Volcanoes was the next speaker. Tom has had a long career in baseball operations in the minor leagues. He spoke at length about many of the unique things he has seen in the minors, and especially about the peculiarities of running a minor league club. His time in the minors goes back many years in the Northwest League and includes time spent working for George Brett and his brothers, as well as his many years in Salem.

John Simpson spoke next on deadball era player Hub Perdue. John has a recently published book on Hub which is available for purchase. John said he became interested in writing a book about Hub because of the rarity of published work on Southern Deadball Era players, and then as he researched Hub, the story became more and more intriguing. Perdue got his first shot at playing pro baseball in Vincennes in 1905. His 1919 numbers set a Southern League record with a 1.56 era. Hub was a fun loving character, and Simpson's book should provide some much needed scholarship on Deadball players from the South.

The next presentation was from a guest of SABR, Marie Jessup. Marie was a veteran of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, having played with the Fort Wayne Daisies in 1953. Marie was accompanied by many members of her family, and in addition great stories of her time in the league, presented a slide show with personal photos. Marie said that throughout most of her life, the only people who remembered the AAGPBL were people in the midwest. As a young woman, her brother-in-law, who she said was a really good baseball player, saw an ad for tryouts for a women's professional baseball club. Marie said she practiced in the winter in Maine, where she was from, and when the snow cleared she jogged to get in shape. Then the local Rotary gave her $50 to take a bus to Michigan for the tryouts in the spring. She was there for three days, and then saw her name on the wall. The team travelled through the midwest by bus, stayed in hotels, and had chaperones. Marie was the backup catcher, and had played the same position in high school on her softball team. She said one of the players she liked most growing up was the old Detroit and Boston catcher Birdie Tebbetts. After her time in the AAGPBL, Marie moved to Arizona and played semi-pro softball before hanging up the cleats.

The next presentation was from John Henshell on clutch hitting. First John described a definition of clutch which he separated from situational hitting. John looked for pressure situations where pitching performance would also be clutch. This was key to John's presentation, as he stated if you perform with runners in scoring position, you are performing against clutch pitching. John emphasized that context is also important. His presentation included a summary of 30 to 40 studies of clutch hitting.

The final presentation of the day was Mike Rice's annual preview of the Mariner's season. Mike looked back at the previous season and covered the Mariner's off season, looking at the possibility of improvement in returning players and the pitching staff. Some of the questions that came up were the impact of Robinson Cano, and where players such as Corey Hart and Logan Morrison will fit in and impact existing players such as Justin Smoak. At the end of Mike's presentation, SABR members present went around the room and gave their predictions of wins for the coming season.

The meeting was concluded at 5 PM and a few remained behind to continue the discussions of the upcoming season in the main dining area of the restaurant. The next Pacific Northwest SABR meeting will be on Saturday, April 26th. This will be an open meeting at which all can attend.

 
November 2, 2013 Chapter Meeting in Seattle
Written by Mark Brunke   

The Pacific Northwest chapter of SABR held a chapter meeting on Saturday, November 2, 2013. The meeting location was in the 2nd floor conference room at the Seattle Pacific University Library. As in the past for our meetings at SPU, the meeting was hosted by SABR member and SPU Professor Bill Woodward and his students.

 

The meeting began with PNW SABR Chapter President Rick Solomon covering chapter business, including the expected January meeting at Safeco Field for SABR Day, the February meeting in Portland on Presidents Day Weekend, and the upcoming Spring meeting, which this year will be in late April. In addition, mention was made of the upcoming visit of Nate Silver to lecture at the UW Graduate School. PNW SABR has a block of reservations, and local SABR members can email Anthony Salazar.

 

The first guest speaker was a returning guest of the Chapter, Larry Stone, columnist of the Seattle Times. Now a general sports columnist, Larry has been a beat writer on the Seattle Mariners for the last 18 years. Previously, Larry had been a beat writer in the Bay Area on the San Francisco Giants, and before that had started his career in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Yakima, Washington. His first opportunity to cover baseball was for his college paper at UC Berkeley. Other than a brief introduction, Larry spent his time doing a Q and A with SABR members. Questions covered the lack of Black American baseball players in the most recent World Series, the most compelling sports figures Larry had covered in his career, the life of a baseball writer and the future of sports journalism, as well as a number of questions about the Mariners. Larry has moved from being a beat writer to a general columnist, but hopefully he has baseball news to ponder on in the coming year.

 

In a day that would have made Yakima proud, former Yakima Herald sportswriter Larry Stone was followed by Yakima Valley's own Mel Stottlemyre, who hailed from Mabton High School and Yakima Valley College before signing with the Yankees at the age of 19. Mel was near celebrating his 72nd birthday, so he was given a rousing Happy Birthday. Larry had pointed out that in the early 1980s Yakima was the residence of World Series winning pitching coaches Hub Kittle (1982 Cardinals, and a former 20 game winner of the 1939 Yakima Pippins) and Mel Stottlemyre (1986 Mets).

 

Mel gave a brief overview of his career. He said he had benefitted as a young pitcher by getting good coaching. At Mabton High School, his coach was Jim Rodgers, and for his year at Yakima Valley College, it was Chuck Brayton. Mel also said he was fortunate to learn from his fellow pitchers, such as Whitey Ford. Regarding his career as a pitcher, Mel said one of the things he was proudest of was that of his 356 games started, he completed 152 of them. Such consistency in completing games would be unheard of today, and Mel commented on that, with his unique background of being both a top American League pitcher for 10 years, and a World Series winning pitching coach. Regarding pitch counts, Mel pointed out an important difference now is that pitchers are only trained to go 7 innings, so you wouldn't expect to see more complete games. Asked about the decline in offense since 2004, and the possibility of rules changes, Mel replied with a smile asking why change the rules against the pitcher, and that its time to let the hitters make the adjustments.

 

Mel covered many great topics, and was a fantastic speaker. He told the story of being on the mound for one of Gene Michael's hidden ball tricks. It was in the bottom of the ninth with no outs. Mel had given up a single and a pinch runner was brought in. With the score tied, it was a late-inning bunt situation. Mel threw to the shortstop on the bunt, but the runner was safe. According to Mel, Gene never threw the ball back to him. After the play was over, Gene asked the runner to step off the base so he could clean it, and with that tagged the runner out. The Yankees made it out of the ninth and won the game with 3 runs in the top of the next frame, a 10-inning complete game for Stottlemyre. Mel covered many other areas, such as his time with Dwight Gooden, his years with the Yankees and Joe Torre and George Steinbrenner, pitching regimens, and much more.

 

The next speaker was SABR member Mark Armour, who gave a presentation on Thoughts on the Draft. Mark started with a brief history of the draft and the different ways it has been done since the 1960s, as well as looking at the impact on rosters of drafted players. Mark used WAR and presented the draft as a way of teams drafting future WAR. He said a number to consider is that a team needs to have 34 WAR coming into their team every year to be average. Another thing to consider is that unlike when the draft first started, it is now incredibly rare for a non-International player to make it to a Major League Roster, so combined with international signings, the June draft has become especially important.

 

Mark broke the draft down for each team into 3-year sections. He then ranked the team performances by the WAR they accumulated in the draft for those 3-year sections. This helped to mitigate the impact of a single down or up year. The rankings were impacted of course by the length of the career and amount of time passed. Several of the top 10 in rankings were from teams drafting in the mid=1980s, including good stretches from the Royals, Red Sox, Astros, Pirates, Indians and Cubs. The top 3 performers were the 1965-67 A's, the 1974-76 Tigers, and in first, the 1966-68 Dodgers. Mark then concluded his presentation with an in-depth look at the Mariner's drafting history, which, in spite of having two of the highest performing draft picks in MLB history, did not manage to have a 3-year stretch of any great significance. Mark's research will be continuing and we look forward to more insights from him on the impact of the draft on rosters.

 

The next presentation was from another veteran newspaperman, Dan Raley, on his book Pitchers of Beer: The Story of the Seattle Rainiers. Dan had been at the Seattle P-I for 29 years, with 26 of the them being as a sportswriter when the paper closed up. He then moved to Atlanta for work, and returned to the Northwest 2 years ago. Dan relayed to the SABR group his personal relationship with baseball and importance, and gave the group not just a recap of the story in the book, but how it was written. According to Dan, he came across the story at a fortunate time, while there were still members of the Rainiers team and management alive that could be interviewed. The book has been highly reviewed and should be on the bookshelf of any fan of the game in the Northwest.

 

After a short break, the SABR member Robert Garrett gave a presentation on Roger Craig and Humm Baby Giants. Robert talked about the evolution of the Humm Baby name, and how it developed into a rallying cry for the team. He showed images of various Humm Baby items that had been marketed on t-shirts and such. Robert reviewed how the group of players that made up the Humm Baby team came together under Roger Craig and Al Rosen. Craig was hired in late 1985 and in 1986 the team turned around their performance. By 1987 they had a division title and in 1989 they won a pennant. Robert said the term Humm Baby came from Craig using the term to describe third catcher Brad Gulden and that it "basically meant a player who gave 180%".

 

What Robert emphasized was that the Giants success at that time had made them a commodity and raised fan interest and expectations. During that same run, the city of San Francisco was not a baseball town due to the success of the 49ers. It was in 1992, as the Giants were experiencing a losing season under Craig after years of success, that the team was all but sold by the Lurie's to interests from St. Petersburg. It was at this time that a group was put together by Peter Magowan to purchase the team and create a long term future for the Giants in San Francisco. However, it is Robert's contention that the success of the Giants under Craig had a big impact on the effort that led to saving the Giants.

 

The final presentation of the day was from SABR member Tip Wonhoff, and was on Baseball and Climate Change. Tip started off by reviewing a quote from Tim McCarver that had caused some controversy in 2012, "It has not been proven, but I think ultimately it will be proven that the air is thinner now, there have been climactic changes over the last 50 years in the world, and I think that's one of the reasons balls are carrying much better now than I remember." Tip looked at a lot of the research that has been presented on the physics of baseball to show that essentially McCarver is correct, warmer weather makes a baseball carry farther, all other things being equal. Tip first looked at how temperatures impact the game. He reviewed a 2004 study from the University of Massachusetts on temperature effects of more reactive equipment, showing warmer bats and baseballs will travel farther. Next Tip looked at the impact of warmer temperatures on fatigue and injury, relating the story of a player who had died from organ failure due to heat exhaustion. Tip also looked at increased pitcher stresses brought on by temperature changes, citing a study of 50 years of pitching data from Duke University. 

 

Tip then looked at the impact of increased precipitation causing more rain delays, and in the opposite direction, the impact of long droughts on games, field conditions and stadium design. As an example, he looked at Atlanta, which had been in a 5 year drought as of 2012. Finally, Tip looked at the impact of rising sea levels on stadiums located in coastal areas. There are 2 stadiums that will be impacted by sea levels rising by 2020, both of the stadiums in the Bay Area. Tip's overview of the range of impacts climate change demonstrated the many different ways in which environment can impact the game on and off the field, as well as the field itself.  

The SABR meeting was then concluded with a thank you to Professor Bill Woodward and his students for hosting the event. The next meeting for Pacific Northwest SABR will be during the SABR Day events nationwide that coincide with MLB team fan fests at the end of January. 

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 December 2013 18:53
 
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Upcoming Events

Chapter Officers

Bob Russon 
Portland, President

Tip Wonhoff
Tacoma, Vice President

Mark Brunke
Seattle, Secretary

Tim Herlich
Seattle, Treasurer