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5/22/10 Meeting Recap
Written by Mary Groebner   

The Northwest Regional Chapter of SABR (NWSABR) met on Saturday May 22, 2010 from noon until approx 5pm at the Douglass-Truth branch of the Seattle Public Library in the Central District of Seattle.  Approximately twenty-five (25) members and guests were in attendance (some are pictured below).

 Speakers included NWSABR members Stan Opdyke, Mickey Gallagher, Steve Steinberg and special guest Dr. Pierce Scranton (former team physician of the Seattle Seahawks).

Meeting Attendees 5/22

Meeting Attendees 5/22

 The first presenter of the day was Stan Opdyke, who provided insights about the careers of Connie Mack and Vin Scully.  Between the two of them, their careers span nearly the entire history of professional baseball through present day. Stan had published a recent article on these two at Baseball Analysts site Stan recalled Mack’s playing career as a catcher in the 1880’s, his subsequent alliance with Ban Johnson, and his boom-and-bust tenure as manager and owner of the Philadelphia Athletics during the first half of the twentieth century.  Scully owes the start of his broadcasting career to Red Barber, who recommended Scully to Branch Rickey when Ernie Harwell left Brooklyn to become a broadcaster for the Giants.  Scully’s first broadcast was a spring training game in Vero Beach, FL in 1950 against the A’s.  The straw hat-bedecked Mack was in his last year as manager, while Scully was embarking on a broadcast career that is now in its 61st year. Stan’s presentation ended with audio from a 2006 Voices of the Game interview with Rick Rizzs and Vin Scully; Scully noted that as a broadcaster, you have to earn the respect and trust of the fans by reporting the game accurately and avoiding seeing the game with your heart as a fan would.

Next up was Mickey Gallagher, who spoke of the baseball-related writings of Tom Clark.  Clark had seen his first game at Comiskey Park and noted that baseball delivers what religion didn’t.  Once he moved to California, Clark became an avid fan of the A’s of the early 70s, referring to them as ‘ragged outsiders’.  Mickey read some of Clark’s homages to Reggie Jackson, Bert Campanis, Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman, Vida Blue (September in the Bleachers), Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee, Mark Fidrych, and the St. Louis Browns.  Clark wrote about Roberto Clemente more than any other individual player, referring to Clemente as a dignified outsider.  Clark hasn’t written any baseball-related poems since the late 70s; his last baseball-related poem was ‘Why I Can’t Get Interested in Ron Darling’.  Clark does, however, continue to write on his blog, and Mickey shared a recent Tom Clark blog entry that referred to the passing of Robin Roberts.



The third speaker of the day was Steve Steinberg (pictured above) who reprised and expanded on a presentation he had given at this spring’s NINE conference in Tucson, AZ on the life of Grover Cleveland Alexander.  Steve had seen a photo of Alexander, surrounded by children that had piqued his interest; the photo was taken in St. Paul, NE (near Alexander’s hometown of Elbe) after the 1926 World Series.  Steve had worked with the local newspaper to get out word to try to identify the children in the photo and successfully found their identities but sadly, all had died.  Many were nieces and nephews of Alexander.  The photo had triggered Steve’s interest in the intersection of Alexander’s personal/private life, small-town pride, and the love story with his wife Amy.  Alexander had met Amy in 1914 at a dance in St. Paul; they married and divorced twice, and stayed in love with each other through their lives regardless of their current marital status.  The movie ‘Winning Team’ was about Alexander, and Amy had served as a consultant for it.  Alexander battled alcohol abuse, which may have been related to efforts to hide epilepsy. Steve related that NWSABR member, and recently retired state senator Ken Jacobsen had grown up in St. Paul, NE and remembers seeing Grover sitting at the end of a bar, signing baseballs for drinks; prior to his retirement it was incredibly hard to get autographed items from Alexander. Though widely known as an alcoholic, residents of St. Paul don’t speak of this aspect of Alexander’s life, preferring to focus only on the highlights of his career while celebrating Grover Cleveland Alexander Days annually during the summer.

 Anthony Salazar (pictured below) spoke briefly, leading a brief discussion around the future of SABR, noting that the median age for members in 1999 was 49 and now it has risen to 58 with over 40% of the members over the age of 50.  He solicited suggestions for retention, recruitment, and what the future of SABR should look like.

Anthony Salazar 5/22

Anthony Salazar 5/22

Neal Traven spoke briefly about the presentations and posters (more than ever) at the upcoming national convention in Atlanta.  Neal is the ‘presentation wrangler’ and assured those in attendance that the quality of the convention would be excellent.

Tim Herlich gave a presentation titled ‘Tale of Two Pitchers’ (with nods to Mark Armour and Charles Dickens for the title).  He provided stats of the first several starts of this season for a couple pitchers that one might think are poised for stardom (Ubaldo Jiminez and Phil Hughes), and then compared them to similar stats for two pitchers in the 1963 season who also seemed poised for stardom (Tom Cheney and Ray Washburn).  Both ended up with career-debilitating injuries; Tim reminded us that nothing is certain.

Dr. Pierce Scranton 5/22

Dr. Pierce Scranton 5/22

The featured speaker of the day was Dr. Pierce Scranton (pictured above).  Dr. Scranton is an orthopedic surgeon and former team physician for the Seattle Seahawks, having started his Seahawks affiliation back in the golden age of the Seahawks (Jack Patera, Chuck Knox) as well as the author of two books including ‘Playing Hurt: Treating and Evaluating the Warriors of the NFL’.   Dr. Scranton spoke about the changes that free agency brought to the role of team physician as well as the roles of agents, players, public relations people etc. as it involves sports injuries.  Interestingly, he spoke of the increase in non-contact ACL injuries due to a combination of evolving sport shoe technology and Astroturf; this had contributed directly to the ACL injury of Curt Warner.  Scranton’s colleague, Tom Whitesall, referred to skills needed by NFL players as ‘qabs’ (quickness, agility, and balance), and that football is all about finesse, power and misdirection which makes it a very different game to play than baseball.  People physically stop maturing somewhere between the ages of 18 and 25, and it’s likely that overuse in younger years (especially for pitchers) may have robbed people of potential careers; Scranton was aware of Mike Marshall’s theories on pitching and thinks he might be 100% right.  Scranton noted that Jamie Moyer, who virtually has no rotator cuff left, is a personal hero, and that he believes much of what we see as natural ability is in fact genetic.  Scranton recommended Tom Farrey’s book (‘Game On’) on genes and athleticism, and further suggested that a potential future speaker would be his now-retired colleague, Dr. Larry Pedegana (team physician for the Mariners for 30 years). 

 Tim Herlich reviewed the chapter’s finances and future meeting dates, and Mike Rice closed out the meeting with an update of the presentation he gave in Portland in February about the Mariners probability of success this season. Mike noted that the Mariners were 35-20 in one-run games in 2009, but only 5-11 this year.

After the meeting, several members and guests took in the Mariners-Padres game at Safeco Field, and the Mariners lost their twelfth one-run game of the year, 2-1.



Last Updated on Monday, 31 May 2010 22:53

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