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May 16, 2009 - Safeco Field, Seattle WA
Written by NWSABR Chapter   

The Northwest Regional Chapter of SABR (NWSABR) met on Saturday, May 16, from 12 noon to 5pm at Safeco Field.  Approximately twenty-five members and guests were in attendance. Featured guests were Tony Blengino of the Seattle Mariners, former major league ballplayers Bill North and Joe Staton, and SPU engineering student Ben Walker.
Former Major League ballplayers Joe Staton (called up by the A.L. East champion Detroit Tigers during the heat of the 1972 pennant race and again late 1973, played with the Mexican League champion Mexico City Reds in 1974) and Billy North (center fielder on the World Champion Oakland A's of 1973-74 and NL pennant-winning Los Angeles Dodgers of 1978) led off the meeting. Joe and Billy are native Seattle-ites and graduates of Garfield High School. 
They shared memories of their careers, as well as thoughts on various issues affecting baseball today and answered questions. Additionally, they spoke passionately of their desire to ‘give back’ and help at-risk area youth through their involvement in the Revive Baseball in the Inner-Cities (RBI) program. Joe is Board President of the Central Area Youth Association; Billy provides hitting instruction to area youth. Together, they are hoping to find funding to construct an indoor hitting facility to complement the RBI program in Seattle. Bill’s mom Frances and nephew Marlon were also in attendance, sometimes offering their own recollections on aspects of Bill’s career.
After chapter president Tim Herlich took care of some chapter business, the meeting continued on with Seattle Pacific University (SPU) engineering student Ben Walker’s presentation of his Honors project, which dealt with the evolution of design in baseball bats, and impact of design/materials on batted ball speed. Chapter member Bill Woodward, a faculty member at SPU, was one of the supporters and readers of Ben’s work which we hope will be published at some future point in a SABR publication.
Following Ben’s presentation, Tony Blengino, Assistant to Mariners GM Jack Zdurienck engaged us with a question and answer session for over an hour. Tony is a long-time SABR member, though new to the Northwest Chapter. Topics discussed were wide-ranging from how Tony transformed himself from an accountant into a GM’s assistant, to minor league prospects and organizational philosophy to potential draft picks. 
Lastly, member Mike Rice led a quick discussion on the state of the Mariners and their minor leagues in what can only be considered a rebuilding year. 
The meeting adjourned at 5pm, with many members heading to local watering-hole establishments before returning to attend the Mariners-Red Sox game later that evening.
Special thanks due to Randy Adamack and the Seattle Mariners for allowing use of facilities at Safeco Field.


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Bob Russon 
Portland, President

Tip Wonhoff
Tacoma, Vice President

Mark Brunke
Seattle, Secretary

Tim Herlich
Seattle, Treasurer