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NWSABR 11-5-11 Meeting Recap - Seattle, WA
Written by Mary Groebner   

The Northwest Chapter of SABR met on Saturday November 5, 2011 from noon to 5 at the Seattle Pacific University library. Attendance ranged from 25-35 members and guests throughout the meeting.

Chapter vice president Rick Solomon discussed planning and scheduling the late spring Seattle meeting that we try to coordinate with a Mariners home game. Chapter treasurer Tim Herlich noted that the chapter currently has $116 in the bank, and that proceeds from a book sale (books donated by chapter members to be sold at 20% of cover price during meeting breaks) would go into the treasury.  Tim thanked those who donated. 


Bill Woodward, discussing John Thorn's recent book: 'Baseball in the Garden of Eden'

Bill Woodward, discussing John Thorn's recent book: 'Baseball in the Garden of Eden'

SABR member and meeting host Bill Woodward made the first presentation.  Bill is a professor at Seattle Pacific University and is teaching a course in the history of baseball for the twelfth consecutive year. This meeting was an official session of the course; many of Bill’s students attended all or part of the meeting.  Bill reviewed and discussed John Thorn’s recent book “Baseball in the Garden of Eden.” He credited Mark Armour, who in a prior chapter meeting had noted that stories are told for many reasons, not just historical accuracy.  Thorn’s book addressed some of the stories that were about the competing creation myths of the game of baseball (e.g. Abner Doubleday, Alexander Cartwright) and their relationship to the larger narrative of baseball history. Bill noted that Thorn unearthed stories that were previously suppressed, specifically the embracing of baseball by the working class, who played it in an "ungentlemanly" manner.  As with any work by John Thorn, Bill noted that the book is tremendously well-researched and documented, with such gems as the original 20 rules of baseball written down by the Knickerbockers.  Thorn merged the true stories with the ones that are told for other reasons. Bill discussed how we need creation myths and how baseball’s creation myth (Doubleday) served a larger purpose, establishing that baseball was a truly American game invented by a true American hero. 

Bill then compared the myth with the actual reality, which was also exaggerated as an "urban adult innovation." Bill said the three steps  of the creation and evolution of baseball were:  1) writing down the rules in 1845, which was the actual Knickerbockers contribution to the game;  2) The "N.Y. game" spreads, helped along by Civil War soldiers from the North playing the game ane introducing it to others; and 3) enclosing the fields, which made charging for admission possible. The written rules established foul territory, nine players, and nine innings. Cartwright’s actual contribution was that he was the scribe and organizer, but Bill noted that there were really four founding fathers of baseball.  These were William Wheaton (who wrote the rules based on an earlier set he had written for the Gotham club), Doc Adams (revising the rules to create nine innings), William Tucker (who assisted Wheaton), and Louis Wadsworth (set on nine innings and nine players, while the Knickerbockers wanted seven and seven).  Bill concluded that "history changes all the time" because it is based on our analysis of the available evidence.


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 January 2012 10:56
NWSABR 8-27-11 Meeting Recap
Written by John Henshell   

Our annual meeting in Vancouver, B.C. was attended by 39 members and guests. It was held Saturday, August 27 at Nat Bailey Stadium, home of the Vancouver Canadians. Max Weder organized and hosted the meeting. Simon Pond and Brent Crowther, both from North Vancouver, were our guest speakers.

Brent Crowther, a burly 6’4” right-handed pitcher, progressed to AAA in the Colorado Rockies organization in 1995. Earlier that season, he won a dozen consecutive games in A ball. He threw four shutouts that year.

Crowther was a tenth-round draft choice by the Rockies from Simon Fraser University in 1994. His pro career began with Bend in the Northwest League.

Crowther told the entire story of his career to date. He asserted that he has no regrets about ending his pro career at 24. His life as a pitcher and involvement in baseball continued after that.

Brent pitched well for Team Canada in the Baseball World Cups from 1998 to 2005. He told us many stories from his career. He pitched for Canada's National Baseball Institute from 1990-1994. They played an exhibition series against the eventual world champion Toronto Blue Jays during a Labatt festival in Regina. Crowther said John Olerud was hitting .415 at the time (he hit .346 in August and .300 in September to win the batting title at .363). Olerud was not pleased when the big, nervous young righty unintentionally hit him. Other members of the Blue Jays were ready to attack him, but after the game, the fiery Todd Stottlemyre commended him for his moxie. We learned that several of the most interesting events of Brent’s career involved hitting batters.

Simon Pond was a corner infielder and outfielder. He was drafted out of North Vancouver High School by the Montreal Expos in the eighth round in 1994. After a long, slow climb through the minor leagues, he played in 16 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004. He also played in the Cleveland, Boston, Pittsburgh, and San Diego organizations. Pond was a left-handed hitter with a smooth, line-drive swing. He says he especially benefitted from the tutelage of hitting coach Merv Rettenmund in the Toronto organization.

Simon said that the mental part of the game was always tougher than the physical part for him. He was extremely focused on his goal of getting to the major leagues, and made all his career decisions with his objective in mind. Pond pressed when he got his big league shot, and infrequent playing time increased that pressure. He did hit a home run.

After a disappointing season in AA, Pond ended his career at age 29. He was a teammate of Crowther on the Canadian team in the 2004 Olympics.

Max recommended new books with a regional connection. “Pitchers of Beer: The Story of the Seattle Rainiers” by Dan Raley is illustrated with many photographs from the collection of Dave Eskenazi, who attended the meeting. The book has received many favorable reviews.

Max and Jennifer Ettinger hosted a get-together at their home following the meeting. The day’s activities concluded with a return to the ballpark for the Canadians game.


NWSABR 8-6-11 Meeting Recap
Written by John Henshell   

NWSABR held a meeting Saturday, August 6 from 1:00 to 5:00 in a suite at PK Park in Eugene. As the Eugene Emeralds were our hosts, registration was required, and 13 of the 17 people who registered attended the meeting.

Jim Watson and Dan Schlewitz made member presentations. Matt Dompe and Onalee Carson of the Emeralds spoke about their careers and job duties and enthusiastically answered our many questions.

Jim is a member of SABR’s Ballparks Committee. He is also involved in a local organization that is trying to save Civic Stadium (see He shared several lists of ballparks built between 1910 and 1946. Civic Stadium is one of the few wooden parks that were built with WPA assistance and haven’t been demolished. Civic Stadium was built in 1938 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It could be sold or preserved for a variety of possible civic uses. Jim showed pictures of how historic parks have been preserved for uses other than pro baseball after they had been replaced for that purpose.

PK Park opened last year. It is shared by the Emeralds and the University of Oregon baseball team. Onalee informed us that the Emeralds are drawing well– a 14-game winning streak helped. The team experienced growth in sponsorships and ticket sales both years. We concurred that the stadium and setting are very attractive, and it has been successful.

On the other hand, it has artificial turf and brown carpeted baselines. Jim and other members pointed out that it is away from downtown and out of walking distance for many residents. Civic Stadium has charm and historical significance, including serving as a home park for many future major league stars, such as Mike Schmidt, Mario Soto, Larry Bowa, Eric Davis, and Mike Sweeney.

Some of the preserved wooden ballparks are being used for amateur sports. Those of us from the Portland area winced when Jim mentioned soccer as a possibility. Jim has mixed feelings about certain possible uses and welcomes your thoughts.

Dan analyzed the post-WWII rosters of the original 16 teams to determine if player movement is greater in the free agency era than in the pre-agency era. He said, “The research started out of hearing people say, ‘Well, in my day, we always knew the lineups for every team and players didn't hop around from team to team like they do today.’ The research involves finding out much of that is true and how much of that is really conventional wisdom.”

Dan focused on teams that had the same regular player at a position for three or more years. He looked at the same number of seasons before and after free agency. His conclusion is that roster churn has not increased. In fact, team consistency is a tad greater in the latter era.

Dan also found that teams are most likely to retain players at key defensive positions and least likely to retain players at the opposite end of the defensive spectrum. History shows that supply-and-demand is a factor in player retention.

Not surprisingly, Dan also learned that teams with the greatest consistency were successful. However teams with the greatest churn weren’t necessarily unsuccessful.

Matt and Onalee wear Emeralds shirts and many hats. Each is a jack or jill of many trades, with both having heavy responsibility for sales.

Matt’s title is Director of Corporate Sales. He is also the PA announcer and will get to broadcast some games. He has spent six years in professional baseball. His interesting experience includes high-level work for the Australian baseball league. This is Matt’s first year in Eugene. Matt said many people break into professional baseball by attending the job fair at the winter meetings.

Onalee has loved baseball since she was a little girl. Her enthusiasm and knowledge of the game delighted us. She is Director of Tickets and Community Outreach. She works directly with the players, handles public relations, makes presentations in the community, and can be seen helping throughout the park before and during games. Onalee is in her second season with the Emeralds after working for the Boise Hawks. As a reporter, she had an opportunity to cover the St. Louis Cardinals in spring training. She was intimidated by the prospect of interviewing Tony LaRussa, but found that working with him was easy. Albert Pujols was pleasant to interview, too.

Mark Brunke talked briefly about his baseball history blog: It covers the Seattle Indians’ 1924 season.

John Henshell previewed a presentation about the 1970 NY Yankees. He told the details of how Horace Clarke broke up three no-hitters in the ninth inning in a one-month span.

We concluded the meeting with live trivia. Dan Schlewitz served as quizmaster and Ken Ross and Mel Poplock umpired. Many of us correctly answered several questions.

This was our first meeting in Eugene was since 2000 and our first south of Tigard since we met in Salem in 2002.

After the meeting, 16 members and family members watched the Emeralds play the Tri-City Dust Devils. Those of us who were interested stood in a long line to get free Mat Latos replica jerseys. Latos won 14 games and finished eighth in the NL Cy Young voting last year. He won just three games in a couple of stints with the Ems, but his statistics were good.


The home team lost 1-0. Weather was perfect, the game was short, and the Emeralds remarkably professional operation is typified by the fact that the complete play-by-play is on the team’s Web site:

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 August 2011 08:38
Tacoma Fan Go-Round
Written by John Henshell   

Rick Solomon, Stan Opdike, and John Henshell staffed a SABR table at Tacoma Fan Go-Round. The event was held Sunday, May 1 at Cheney Stadium from 1:00-5:00. Billed as "A celebration of Tacoma/Pierce County’s baseball and softball history," the main attraction was autograph sessions with former Tacoma AAA players. Gaylord Perry and Don Larsen headlined the long list of former Tacoma players who went on to have major league success, and signed autographs at the event.

Cheney Stadium is newly remodeled for this season, and looks nice, clean, and new. The luxury boxes are much more like the ones at Safeco Field than those at the recently deceased PGE Park in Portland. All seats are reasonably close to the field.

We discussed baseball and SABR with people who stopped at our table. Some took membership brochures and cards with the URL of this site.


Last Updated on Monday, 13 June 2011 06:08
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.


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