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May 7 Meeting in Seattle
Written by Tim Herlich   

Twenty members and a guest gathered at the Fremont Public Library in Seattle for an afternoon of NWSABR presentations before the evening game at Safeco Field between the Mariners and White Sox. Chapter Vice-President Rick Solomon organized the meeting.

Stan Opdyke led off the meeting by taking us back to New York City in 1953, when the three major league clubs assembled arguably the greatest collection of baseball announcers ever in one city. The Dodgers' broadcast booth featured veterans Red Barber and Connie Desmond, plus a young Vin Scully in only his fourth year behind the Ebbets Field microphone. The Giants had the tandem of Russ Hodges and Ernie Harwell in the Polo Grounds, while across the Harlem River Mel Allen, Jim Woods and Joe E. Brown covered the Bronx Bombers in Yankee Stadium. Stan recounted the often intersecting careers of these top announcers, starting with Barber's arrival in Brooklyn in 1939. The Dodgers were first to broadcast baseball games in the New York market. In June of that year, Allen, who was already at WCBS-Radio, was hired by both the Yankees and Giants to broadcast their home games. In 1946, the teams ended their shared arrangement, and Allen began to work full time for the Yankees, joined by Hodges. Desmond worked with Allen in 1942 before joining Barber in Brooklyn the following year. In 1948, when Red missed some games due to an ulcer, the Dodgers brought in Harwell from the Atlanta Crackers to replace him. Harwell stayed in Brooklyn through 1949. Both Hodges and Harwell were hired away from their respective teams by the Giants. Scully, fresh out of Fordham University, was hand-picked by Barber to replace Harwell. Woods, who had succeeded Harwell in Atlanta, was brought in to team with Allen in 1953. Allen and Woods were joined in the Yankee Stadium broadcast booth by movie star and avid baseball fan Joe E. Brown.

The alignment of these great announcers in one city lasted only one year. In 1954, Harwell left for Baltimore to cover the fledgling Orioles, before moving on to Detroit to become the voice of the Tigers. The same year, Barber left Brooklyn to join Allen and Woods with the Yankees. Desmond was taken off the air by the Dodgers one year later. Woods left the Yankees in 1957 and joined Hodges for the Giants last year in the Polo Grounds before moving on to team up with Bob Prince in Pittsburgh. Hodges and Scully relocated to California with their respective teams for the 1958 season. Allen and Barber continued to cover the Yankees until the mid-'60's. Barber, Allen, Hodges, Harwell and Scully are all recipients of the Ford C. Frick Award presented by the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Mark Armour, presenting at NWSABR 5/7/11

Mark Armour, presenting at NWSABR 5/7/11

Mark Armour followed Stan with an analysis of the trade of Joe Morgan from Houston to Cincinnati forty years ago, when SABR was founded. The Reds won the NL pennant in 1970 but finished tied for 4th Place with the Astros in the West Division in 1971. GM Bob Howsam and Manager Sparky Anderson coveted Astros second-baseman Morgan for his speed, high OBP, and occasional power. Morgan did not get along with manager Harry Walker and seemed to be available in the right trade. After Howsam convinced his counterpart, Houston GM Spec Richardson, that the Astros needed a powerful bat in their lineup, Richardson offered Morgan for Reds 1B Lee May straight-up. Howsam countered and the two sides kept adding players until they agreed on an eight-player deal. Houston sent 2B Morgan, SP Jack Billingham, INF Denis Menke, and OF's Cesar Geronimo and Ed Armbrister to the Reds for 1B May, 2B Tommy Helms and UT Jim Stewart. Morgan went on to a Hall of Fame career as the Big Red Machine won 502 games over the next 5 years, winning two World Series. Morgan amassed more career Win Shares than all the other players in the trade combined.



Mike Rice followed with an examination of Similarity Scores, the formula developed by Bill James to measure the similarity of player offensive performance over the course of a season or a career. Mike noted that the career of Edgar Martinez is most similar to that of Todd Helton, while Ken Griffey Jr.'s career up until he was 24 years old was most similar to Mickey Mantle's at 24. A Similarity Score of 950 is considered extremely similar. Ron Cey and Robin Ventura have the most similar offensive careers in baseball, with a Similarity Score of 960. Pete Rose and Rickey Henderson have the most unique offensive careers with Similarity Scores of 678 and 715, respectively. The formula does not take into account ballpark factors, era adjustments, or any other advanced metrics, but is a useful and entertaining tool to use when comparing one ballplayer to another.


Chapter President John Henshell followed with chapter business, covering the results of the NWSABR member survey that was conducted earlier this spring, and presenting an appropriate plan of action. One conclusion drawn from the survey was that most members do not attend chapter meetings because of geographic distances involved or personal conflicts, rather than due to the content of the meetings. For now, we will stay with the meeting schedule as it is, although further review will be conducted. Because a good number of members were strongly opposed to renaming the chapter after Dave Niehaus, such action will be tabled for the time being. John also reported the results of the chapter survey naming the all-time Mariners team. Only RP Felix Hernandez, C Dan Wilson and DH Edgar Martinez were unanimous choices.


Vice-President Rick Solomon then led the group in a discussion of the Seattle Mariners season so far. The M's were 16-17 but many in the group felt the near .500 record was unsustainable. One of the hot topics was whether Wedge was fielding his best keystone combination in placing Wilson at 2B and Ryan at SS. Several felt that Adam Kennedy should be the regular 2B and Wilson the SS, which would improve the enemic offense. The meeting concluded at 4:30pm, with many heading to Safeco Field to watch the White Sox beat the M's, 5-0.

Last Updated on Monday, 16 May 2011 16:41

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Chapter Officers

Bob Russon 
Portland, President

Tip Wonhoff
Tacoma, Vice President

Mark Brunke
Seattle, Secretary

Tim Herlich
Seattle, Treasurer