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Portland SABR meeting at the Hillsdale Library
Written by Mark Brunke   

The Pacific Northwest Chapter of SABR held a chapter meeting on Saturday, February 16 at the Hillsdale Library in Portland, Oregon. The meeting was attended by 24 members and guests. The attendees were evenly split between those from Portland area and Willamette Valley, and those members who drove down from Puget Sound. The meeting was run by new chapter Vice President Mark Armour, and featured three member presentations as well as special guests. The guests were former major leaguer Pete Ward as well as representatives from the new short season A-ball team, the Hillsboro Hops,  President Mike McMurray and General Manager K. L. Wombacher.

The first presentation was from Dan Schlewitz, and it sought to demonstrate a method for an objective presentation of ranking pennant races. Dan's method looked at the pennant races from 1903-1993, prior to the inclusion of wild cards. Dan looked at all the pennant races, and alloted a certain number of points to teams based on their ordinal placement in the standings beginning with games following the Memorial Day weekend from each year. Dan then provided a countdown of the pennant races that accumulated the most points.

The next presentation was from Neal Traven. Neal's was titled "All for one, one for all". Neal looked at the extremes of players who had only played one position for their entire career, and players who had played all nine positions in their career. He started with the four players who have played all nine positions in a single game, pointing out peculiarities in each of those games. Neal then looked at the 45 players who have played all nine positions in their career, and broke that down by time periods. Finally, he looked at the different players who have played the most games at a single position without ever playing any other defensive position, as well as showing the top players in that category at each position for both career and active.

Following a break, we welcomed Mike McMurray and K. L. Wombacher from the Hillsboro Hops, the new Class A Short Season club in the Portland area. The Hops play in the Northwest League, and had been in Yakima, Washington since 1990. Prior to that they were in Salem, Oregon. The Hops have been affiliated with Arizona since 2001. Mike and K. L. presented a few slides of the new stadium under constructions in Hillsboro. They expect it to be one of the best minor league parks in the Northwest. In addition, they provided some insight into life in the minor leagues, and many of the players they have sent further up the Diamondbacks system. Mike has been involved in the minors for 20 years, and K. L. has been with the Hops for 12 years, and is in his 9th as a GM.

The Hops were followed by our special guest Pete Ward. Pete played for 9 years in the majors, mostly with the Chicago White Sox, but he saw 8 games in his first year with Baltimore, and ended his career playing in 66 games for the 1970 Yankees. In between, he had his best years with the White Sox. Pete finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting in 1963 and 6th in MVP voting in 1964. He shared many stories of life in the minors and majors. Pete had played high school and college ball in Portland before signing with Baltimore and working his way up their minor league system. Pete also looked quite fit, wearing the same uniform he wore in 1970 with the Yankees.

Finally, Mike Rice covered the Mariners with an annual preseason roundtable. He looked at the 40 man roster, possibly expected starting lineups, and reviewed trades from the last couple of years and how those have impacted the current roster. He concluded by giving a review of the changes for the not only the teams in the AL West, but the changes to the division itself the possible impact of that (Houston). Finally, there was a discussion of what will success be for the Mariner's this year.

The next meeting of the chapter will be in Seattle on Saturday, May 25, 2013. The meeting will be held in the meeting room of the library at SPU. Further details will be posted on our events page. It will be an open meeting, so the members are encouraged to attend as well as the public.

SABR Day meetup in Victoria, BC
Written by Mark Brunke   

Martin Monkman in Victoria, British Columbia organized an informal meet-up for members in that area on SABR Day. He has provided the following recap:

SABR Day was celebrated by a small group in Victoria, British Columbia.  Five SABR members gathered for lunch at John’s Place restaurant, underneath the large painting of old Tiger Stadium. This was the first time that most of us had met one another, so much of the conversation was about our interest in baseball – just getting to know one another better. Our discussions touched on SABR events and baseball games attended, parks visited, and future plans (including the up-coming World Baseball Classic).

We were joined by Holly Jones, the General Manager of the Victoria HarbourCats of the West Coast League.  The HarbourCats are an expansion franchise in the league, which features collegiate players drawn from across the United States and Canada. The team begins its inaugural season in June 2013. Holly fielded a number of questions about the club, ranging from player recruitment to media relations. The club seems poised for a very successful season, with strong season ticket sales and a number of highly-rated college players already signed. The HarbourCats will also be hosting the WCL All Star Game in July, and given the quality of the players in the league, there’s already a buzz in the scouting community.

Another highlight was member David McDonald’s vintage baseball cards. Dave brought a number of cards featuring the players of the Victoria Bees of the Northwestern League, dating from 1911.  It was amazing to see these century-old artifacts. There were some chuckles over some of the archaic language used to describe the players, but just as interesting were the things that haven’t changed in a hundred years.

Although it was a small group and very informal, it was great to connect with other SABR members. We pledged to get together again soon; attending a HarbourCats game as a group seems a likely prospect.

January 26 Meeting at Safeco Field
Written by Mark Brunke   


The Pacific Northwest Chapter of SABR held a meeting on January 26 at Safeco Field in Seattle. The event was one of several local chapter gatherings going on across the country as part of national SABR Day activities. In addition to the meeting itself, several NW SABR members volunteered at an informational booth during the Seattle Mariners Fan Fest.  One of the exciting things to see was the ongoing construction in left field, as the Mariners are moving in the fences this year. The view above is from behind our booth along the third base line.


The Seattle Mariners provided a great group of guests for the 35 members in attendance. We were able to meet, listen to and ask questions of each of the guests. First up was Chris Gwynn, the Mariners new Director of Minor League Operations. Chris spoke about his new position and his impressions of the Mariners minor league system and some of its top players. Chris was followed by Assistant General Manager Jeff Kingston. Jeff has spoken to the NW SABR group for several years in a row now, and its always good to hear his observations.


 Jack Zduriencik followed and gave some insight into various aspects of his position.  Jack talked about the Mariners' recent decision to move in the fences, as well as the expectations he has of some of the young players. Eric Wedge then spoke to the group. Heading into his third season as the M's manager, Wedge provided a candid assessment of the team and expressed a great deal of faith in the talent of the club, expecting to improve both run production and wins this year.


The final guest of the afternoon was the Mariners Baseball Operations Analyst Wesley Battle. Wesley talked about the methods and processes by which the Mariners develop and use technology and statistics across all facets of the organization, and the role the analysts have in developing tools for the coaches, scouts, and managers throughout the organization.


The local chapter members who volunteered for the SABR informational booth at Fan Fest were Tip Wonhoff, Mark Brunke, Bob Russon, Bill Woodward, Tim Jenkins, Bob Webster, Mike Rice & Rick Solomon. We would also like to thank the members of the Mariners organization who assisted us in having our meeting again at Safeco Field. Corporate Business Assistant Kristin Harwood provided invaluable assistance in helping us set up our NW SABR Booth and  Marketing Manager Camden Finney did a fantastic job in coordinating our guests with the Mariners Front Office.





Two more items of note. In addition to our regular Chapter Meeting, members in Victoria, British Columbia organized a meetup, and the recap of that can be seen in the Recaps section.


Finally, David Eskenazi exhibited items from his collection of Northwest baseball history in the Diamond Club section in Safeco Field. David is also a member of NW SABR, and there is an online exhibition of photos on our Chapter site. That can be accessed here.


The next Chapter Meeting will be held February 16 at 12:15 PM at the Hillsdale Library in Portland, Oregon. This meeting will be open to the public so all are encouraged to attend. Information about all upcoming events can always be found on the home page of the NW SABR Chapter.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:18
November 3, 2012, Meeting in Seattle
Written by Mark Brunke   

The Northwest Chapter of SABR held a meeting in the conference room of the Seattle Pacific University library from 12 to 5:30 PM on Saturday, November 3, 2012.

The meeting was attended by 36 people, including nine who were attending their first SABR meeting.

The meeting began with a welcome from Bill Woodward, our host, SABR colleague, and Professor of History at SPU. Many of the new attendees were Bill's students and their family members.

Rick Solomon discussed chapter business. He announced this would be the last meeting for John Henshell as President. The chapter gave John a hearty round of cheer as he is finishing his current two-year term in that capacity preceded by two years’ service as Vice-President. VP Rick Solomon becomes President in January. Mark Armour is our Vice-President-elect. Mark and John are both from Oregon, and Rick is from Seattle. The chapter's tradition is to have the leadership roles alternate between Washington and Oregon. Tim Herlich provided a report of the chapter treasury, which is free of usury at the present time and in a healthy condition. We held a book exchange to spur donation efforts and it raised $32.

Scheduled guest Mel Stottlemyre had to cancel for health reasons, but we hope to have him for a future meeting. Our first presentation, Tim Herlich's “1964 American League Pennant Race,” would have dovetailed nicely into Mel's appearance. Tim covered how teams finished in the 1963 season and off- and in-season roster changes that would influence the 1964 Pennant Race. The season had a number of memorable characters, including Charlie Finley, erstwhile journalist Jim Brosnan, and amateur harmonica player Phil Linz. Tim showed how the August 11 call-up of rookie Mel Stottlemyre saved the Yankees. The White Sox, Orioles, and Yankees finished within two games of each other, trading the lead in a round-robin fashion until the Yankees finally emerged on top.

In the second presentation, Melissa Booker looked at “Corporate America's Best Example of Business Intelligence: Major League Baseball”. Melissa gave an overview of business intelligence, a term used to describe the way companies collect and organize data at different levels for usage in supporting decision-making. Melissa modified a presentation she usually gives to business management, and showed how baseball's unified system of information and measurement allows managers to make instantaneous, sound decisions. The Reds fan cited George Lee “Sparky” Anderson as the greatest user of business intelligence. Melissa noted how “Captain Hook” would always have the most recent and relevant information necessary to make the right decisions, and this was reflected by the success of the Reds and Tigers under Anderson.

Mark Brunke gave the next presentation, on “The Spread of Baseball in the Pacific Northwest to 1890.” Mark began by giving an overview of the Spread of Baseball project, which is currently underway at The Spread project is an attempt to locate the first games and clubs to use New York rules in each state, as well as document any predecessor games related to baseball. Mark coordinated efforts for the Northwest, and included information found by fellow sleuths Bob Webster, Melissa Booker, Michael Lynch, and Terry Gottschall. Mark showed how the Northwest had a competitive amateur baseball environment from 1866 on in Portland, Walla Walla, and Victoria. For the final part of the presentation, he used a photograph of Seattle's first club, the Alkis of 1876-79, to show how the players had each brought a background of organized baseball with them as they migrated to Seattle.

Next, Rob Garratt presented “Matthew Fox & the Move West by the Giants and Dodgers.” Rob described the influence of Fox and his company, Skiatron, on baseball's decision to move west. Fox was an early proponent of pay-per-view broadcasting, and he was a behind the scenes player in the decision making of both Horace Stoneham and Walter O'Malley.

The final member presentation was Mike Rice's “Who Really Belongs in the Hall of Fame.” Mike looked at all the members of the Hall of Fame elected by the BBWAA, and then used a stepwise methodology to see who should “really” be included. Mike looked at WAR, Black Ink, Grey Ink, Hall of Fame Monitor, and Hall of Fame Standards measurements. Mike's methodology gradually grew to include most of the elected players in the Hall. The definitions of each of the measurements can be found on Mike's inclusions, exclusions, and methodology generated passionate discussion.


John Henshell hosted a discussion of the state of the Mariners based on our recent chapter poll. NWSABR members were sent the poll results after the meeting.

The next meeting will be in late January, so please check back for details.


Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 12:42
New book published on Ernie Kershaw
Written by Mark Brunke   

From NW SABR member Len Corben comes news just in time for the August 11 summer convening of NW SABR in the fairest metropolis of western Canada, Vancouver:


THE PITCHING PROFESSOR: The Life and Times of Ernie Kershaw, One of Professional Baseball’s Oldest-Living Former Players By Ernie Kershaw and Len Corben

There are very few books published about baseball in Vancouver, British Columbia or even in the Pacific Northwest. This book, fresh off the press in August 2012, is one of the few. Baseball fans will love it, taking the reader back to ball games played during the Great Depression and to the World War II years.

Ernie Kershaw played ball a long time ago… long before B.C. produced Jason Bay of Trail, Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, Jeff Francis of Delta or Justin Morneau of New Westminster and, yes, long before Larry Walker of Maple Ridge and even well before Ted Bowsfield of Penticton, the “Yankee killer” who beat New York’s 1958 World Series champions three times during his rookie season with the Red Sox.

We’re talking the 1930s and 1940s when Kershaw was a star hurler in Vancouver. Even then British Columbia was a hot bed of baseball on the West Coast.

Kershaw was “The Pitching Professor,” a longtime West Vancouver High math teacher and a clever right-hander whose mound repertoire was described by Vancouver Sun sportswriter Hal Straight as featuring “Curves, he has more than the Cariboo Highway.”

The old Vancouver Senior City League in the ’30s and ’40s was supposedly an amateur circuit, though the better players were paid with wads of money they’d sometimes find stuffed in their shoes. The league operated out of old Athletic Park under Vancouver’s popular “Mr. Baseball” Bob Brown. Many of the players came from U.S. colleges to play all summer. Some came directly down from the Pacific Coast League, baseball’s top minor league.

Kershaw was born in Ladner, B.C. and pitched in some very memorable games in the Vancouver Senior City League. In the book, he recalls tales of the real characters in that league, people like Coley Hall, Johnny Nestman, Ernie Paepke, Wimpy Quinn, Norm Trasolini, Jimmy Watters and others you may never have heard of but who provided fans with great entertainment with their stellar play and quirky antics.

One of Ernie’s biggest games was winning his pro debut in 1939 as a 29-year-old rookie. It came in the inaugural home opener of the Vancouver Capilanos in the class-B Western International League, a 5-hit, 4-0 shutout over Yakima Pippins. However, as historic as that was, perhaps his biggest accomplishment was beating the Pacific Coast League’s league-leading Seattle Rainiers 5-3 during an exhibition game organized as a fund-raiser for the war effort in 1940. Ernie was so loved by the fans that an “Ernie Kershaw Night” was held for him in 1941 when he left to do duty with the RCAF.

Ernie just died in February 2012 at the age of 102, making him one of the very oldest-living former professional baseball players. As Ernie lay on his deathbed shortly before passing away, his son said, “Dad, I guess this is the bottom of the ninth for you.” Ernie, in reply and humorously summing up his long life, quipped, “It’s more like the bottom of the 12th.”

Kershaw wrote the book with Len Corben, one of the premier sports researchers and historians in Greater Vancouver and whose special passion is baseball. He has written stories for numerous publications. His Corben’s Corner sports column appeared in the North Shore Citizen in the 1960s and ’70s and his Instant Replay sports history column has been featured in the North Shore Outlook since 1999. He’s also written a book called Instant Replay: A Century of North Shore sports stories.

THE PITCHING PROFESSOR: The Life and Times of Ernie Kershaw, One of Professional Baseball’s Oldest-Living Former Players ($24.95) is 184 pages and includes 135 photos, many from Kershaw’s own scrapbook and from the vast collection of Seattle’s David Eskenazi who has amassed one of the West Coast’s best collections of baseball memorabilia. 

To order a copy of the book (which has been printed in a very limited quantity), or for more information, contact Len Corben at (604) 988-0455 or by e-mail at

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 16:12
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Chapter Officers

Bob Russon 
Portland, President

Tip Wonhoff
Tacoma, Vice President

Mark Brunke
Seattle, Secretary

Tim Herlich
Seattle, Treasurer