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November 7, 2009 - Seattle, WA
Written by NWSABR Chapter   

The Northwest Regional Chapter of SABR (NWSABR) met on Saturday, November 7, 2009, from 12:15pm until just after 5pm at Seattle Pacific University (SPU). More than thirty (30) members and guests were in attendance, including students from host Bill Woodward’s SPU class on the History of Baseball.

Speakers included special guests Pat Gillick (former General Manager of various ML teams including the Seattle Mariners) and Steve Cox (Seattle Pilots documentary filmmaker), as well as NWSABR members Bill Woodward, Monica Nucciarone, and John Henshell.


The meeting began with NWSABR Chapter President Tim Herlich formally debuting the brand new NWSABR website located at: As Tim explained, Peter Garver of the National SABR office implemented the site, using the same general template as those used by other SABR regional chapters. Content was provided to Peter by Tim, chapter secretary Mary Groebner, and chapter member Dave Eskenazi (photos). Dave will continue to work with Peter to more fully flesh out the photo portion of the site, while Tim, John, and Mary will be trained to take over maintenance of the site. Many thanks to Peter Garver and the National SABR organization for their support. Please explore your new site. Suggestions/feedback welcome.

The first presenter of the day was SPU faculty and NWSABR member Bill Woodward. As he has done in prior years, Bill is once again teaching a class on the history of baseball from its beginnings up through the present. This year, Bill chose to segment the historical progression into particular eras, titled with biblical references. Several of Bill’s students were in attendance as he asked fellow NWSABR members for feedback/suggestions on elements to include or exclude from the course. Discussion focused specifically on era 6 (Pete, James & John 1977-1994), and era 7 (Numbers and Revelations 1994-present). Members wishing to provide further comment to Bill are encouraged to do so.

After a short break, NWSABR member Monica Nucciarone gave a presentation on her recently published book Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend (University of Nebraska press, 2009). Monica provided a brief overview of Cartwright’s life, and its intersection with baseball origins as told by oral history versus documented evidence. She also gave the chapter an update on what the reactions to her book have been thus far.

Featured speaker Pat Gillick was next up, introduced by Seattle Mariners Vice President Bart Waldman. Attendees were surprised to learn that after the young minor league pitcher’s playing career had ended, he had considered becoming an FBI agent. A job offer from the Houston Colt 45s front office redirected Gillick, who went on to have an impressive career working as General Manager for the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and Philadelphia Phillies, winning World Series for two of those teams while breaking a major league record for wins in a season (116, in 2001) for our own Seattle Mariners. Gillick continues to work as a consultant for the Phillies, and he and his wife Doris have chosen to make Seattle their permanent home. With no formal presentation, chapter members (and SPU students) were lucky to have a chance to ask numerous questions of this truly accomplished individual. Questions ranged from who influenced him most (former Blue Jays CEO Peter Hardy), to whether he thought there should be, or will be, instant replay (yes), to his best (Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar) and worst trades (yes, we talked about Jeff Cirillo), and how he goes about building teams (utilizing a mix of statistical evidence and more subjective knowledge, including that gathered from clubhouse attendants). Many thanks to both Pat and Bart for a fascinating discussion.

After another short break, NWSABR member John Henshell presented Part 2 of the ‘Reversing the Aging Process’ presentation that he had begun at the meeting held last February in Tigard, OR. In this presentation, John provided lists of players who had been arrested or convicted of specific types of offenses (domestic violence, DUI, assault) that may or may not be indicative of a performance-enhancing drug presence. Chapter members provided feedback (sometimes raucously) to John in preparation for Part 3.

Chapter president Tim Herlich then took care of some chapter business.

  • We passed the hat, collecting donations to reimburse Tim for the floral arrangement sent for the funeral of beloved chapter member Paul Andresen. Any funds over the cost of the arrangement will go into the chapter treasury. As Paul was the treasurer, Tim solicited the membership for a new treasurer; no one immediately volunteered. If you are interested in serving as chapter treasurer, please contact Tim.
  • Much conversation took place over the idea, proposed by member Mike Rice, that we might name the NWSABR chapter after Paul – or – the alternate idea that we establish a chapter-specific award in Paul’s name. The latter suggestion seemed to have more resonance with those in attendance, but specific details (what the award would be given for, how often, etc.) remain to be discussed after more thought.
  • Tim also discussed future meeting dates; as usual, we intend to have a chapter meeting in conjunction with Seattle Mariners Fanfest (January 30, 2010), a President’s day weekend meeting in the Portland area (February 13), followed by a spring meeting (May 22). Site of the May meeting was open for discussion, with potential locations of Seattle (in conjunction with a Mariners game against the San Diego Padres) or Tacoma (in conjunction with a Tacoma Rainiers game vs. New Orleans). Further discussion to take place regarding this meeting. Comments/suggestions? Reach out to Tim or John.
  • John also asked whether the chapter would be interested in meeting in Portland this summer for a trip to PGE park in its last year as host to the Portland Beavers.
  • Chapter members were reminded that the annual SABR convention (SABR40) will be held in Atlanta this year (August 5-8), and that SABR41 is intended for somewhere in the Los Angeles area in 2011. Neal Traven put out the annual call for reviewers and judges as well as presenters.

Lastly, featured guest Steve Cox regaled us with very entertaining stories and video gathered during his work on a documentary about the 40th anniversary of the Seattle Pilots. Judging from the stories told and footage shown, NWSABR members eagerly await the release of this film, and congratulate Steve Cox on a solid accomplishment.

The meeting adjourned shortly after 5pm, with several members heading to local watering-hole Nickerson Street Saloon for additional discussion and refreshments.

Special thanks due to Bill Woodward and Seattle Pacific University for allowing use of their facilities.

Last Updated on Sunday, 07 February 2010 15:19

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Chapter Officers

Bob Russon 
Portland, President

Tip Wonhoff
Tacoma, Vice President

Mark Brunke
Seattle, Secretary

Tim Herlich
Seattle, Treasurer