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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
NWSABR annual report June 24, 2011
Written by John Henshell   

The Northwest chapter is SABR’s largest geographic chapter, but a small one in terms of number of members. We are scattered from Alaska to the California border and the coast to the Rocky Mountains. Travel distance limits our group activities and participation at meetings, but we’ve had a busy, event-filled year with good participation.

Our first event of the past year was a Portland Beavers doubleheader against the Salt Lake City Bees August 1 at lame-duck PGE Park in Portland. Ten members and one spouse attended. Although it was an informal outing, we did have a trivia quiz with the theme, “prominent major leaguers who played for the Beavers in the past 50 years.” Tim Herlich was the winner. We billed the activity as the “last chance to see the Beavers,” as the stadium was subsequently converted into a soccer-only facility and the AAA team was sold and relocated.


The chapter met August 21 in Vancouver B.C. The meeting was hosted by Max Weder. Tim Herlich and John Henshell briefly addressed the group.

Ian and Colin Dixon were our featured guest speakers. Ian played in the Yankees organization from 1961 to 1964, the last years of the team’s lengthy glory era. Colin, Ian’s son, also played 3B. He was in the Red Sox organization from 1989 to 1995.

Max concluded the meeting with a trivia quiz. After the meeting, most of the group went to the home of Max and Jennifer Ettinger for pizza, beverages, and more baseball talk. The day of baseball activities was concluded with the Vancouver Canadians game against Boise that evening.


NWSABR next held a meeting November 6 at Seattle Pacific University. Art Thiel of was our special guest. Art mostly talked about the Mariners. He presented historical information and his knowledge of key personalities to explain the unraveling of the 2010 season.

Jeff Bower presented “The Worst Offensive Teams since Expansion.” He used advanced statistical analysis to rank each team in offensive ineptitude. John Henshell researched all rookies who hit for low averages since Mike Schmidt to answer the question, “Will Justin Smoak be a successful major league hitter? What history says.” Mark Armour discussed the building of the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals.

Our discussion of chapter business included whether to change our tradition of having the Portland winter meeting be Presidents’ Day weekend, as it is so soon after the Mariners FanFest. The consensus was to continue the tradition.


At the beginning of the year, John Henshell succeeded Tim Herlich as chapter president. His term is 2011-2012. Tim continues as treasurer. The chapter does not maintain a bank account, but occasionally solicits donations from members to cover petty cash expenditures for meetings or mailings.

Mary Groebner continues as chapter secretary. She documents our meetings in words and images and is Webmaster.

In February, Rick Solomon succeeded John as vice-president and president-in-waiting. Our chapter tradition is to alternate the presidency between Washington and Oregon residents with the chapter leader responsible for planning meetings and events in his or her state.


The chapter engaged in concurrent events at Mariners FanFest 2011 at Safeco Field in Seattle. FanFest ran the weekend of January 29-30. Tim Herlich coordinated the event with the Mariners and scheduled the volunteers: Bill Woodward, Chuck de Grasse, Herman Gilman, John Henshell, Mark Brunke, Bob Webster, Stan Opdyke, Stephanie Hall, Tim Herlich, and Tim Jenkins. We collected information from 29 people who wanted to learn more about SABR and chapter events.

Also during FanFest, Dave Eskenazi hosted a gallery of historical Seattle baseball photos from his collection. The room was adjacent to the Dave Niehaus memorial, and both drew large crowds.


January 29 was National SABR day, and we were again fortunate to conduct our meeting at the ballpark with a full slate of high-level guests provided by Mariners. About 35 members and guest attended.

John Henshell thanked the Mariners and thanked Tim Herlich for his work in coordinating the FanFest booth and meeting, and his excellent service as president. John briefly discussed chapter business, including the then-open vice-president position, and introduced a new program: member-host-a-member. He encouraged members to offer spare bedrooms or couches to out-of-town members to make traveling to meetings more affordable and as part of SABR’s spirit of sharing and a way to get to know other members.

Guest speakers were Special Assistant to the GM Tony Blengino, GM Jack Zdurenciek, Assistant GM Jeff Kingston, Director of Player Development Pedro Grifol, and Manager Eric Wedge. Each guest talked about their work, gave progress reports, and answered many questions.

Jack Zdurenciek discussed why he hired Eric Wedge, and Wedge raved about his coaching staff. Tony Blengino, who is a chapter member, presented a detailed case for why the Mariners would be better this year. At press time, he appears prophetic, as the team has exceeded expectations by recently hovering around .500. Grifol discussed prospects and the draft process. Kingston talked about contracts and team-building philosophy.


Our Portland winter meeting was held February 19 and 25 members and guests attended.

John Simpson made a presentation about his book, "The Greatest Game Ever Played in Dixie”. It’s about the Nashville Vols 1908 season and championship game. Steve Steinberg and Lyle Spatz co-authored the book “1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York.” John and Steve each discussed their research and showed historical photos as they told stories from their books.

Mike Rice hosted our annual hot-stove Mariners roundtable. He titled his presentation, “The 2011 Seattle Mariners: Some Years It’s Hard to Get Excited.” As always, each attendee predicted how many wins the Mariners would have in 2011.

Oregon Sports Hall of Fame member Dwight Jaynes was our guest speaker. He talked about working for the Portland Beavers in the early 1960s and some of the team’s famous players, Beaver history and his analysis of why Portland again lost the team, and his early awareness of sabermetrics. Based on his experience working for newspapers, radio, television, and a Web site, Dwight discussed the future of sports journalism.

John Henshell presented several items of chapter business. Renaming the chapter to honor Dave Niehaus drew strong favorable response, but was inconclusive and left for the forthcoming chapter member survey. A draft of the survey yielded feedback and suggestions, which were subsequently incorporated. John concluded with a brief remembrance of baseball people who died during the offseason, and focused on Seattle’s Dave Niehaus and Ron Santo.

Neal Traven and Mike Rice both aced the circular trivia quiz.


We SABR members love measurement, and the chapter is taking some steps to measure our own success. We hope to establish goals. In March, we published a membership survey using a free online service. The purpose of the survey was to improve the quality of the chapter’s service to members, or at least ensure that what we have been doing is what members want us to do. The most important thing we wanted to learn is why people don’t come to meetings. More than half said it’s because of family or work conflicts, and most of the rest say it’s too far to travel.

The results were encouraging and informative. The e-mail messages went to 280 members. We had about 51 responses to the survey. The survey had 25 questions, which were broken into three categories: meetings, chapter membership, and interconnectedness.

Not enough members favored renaming the chapter in honor of Dave Niehaus, and too may were opposed to make the change. Other results indicated clear action plans. For example, members embraced the idea of polls to learn what other members think. We completed our first poll, which was selecting an all-time Mariners team.

Mary and John put together a list of FAQs and answers. We are waiting for the SABR office to add them to our chapter Web site.


Rick Solomon, Stan Opdyke, and John Henshell staffed a SABR table at Tacoma Fan Go-Round. The event was held May 1 at newly remodeled Cheney Stadium. 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.

We discussed baseball and SABR with people who stopped at our table. Some took membership brochures and cards with our chapter URL.


Our most recent meeting was May 7 in Seattle. Rick Solomon coordinated the meeting and 20 members and a guest attended.

Stan Opdyke made a presentation about the great baseball announcers in New York City in 1953. Mark Armour described the background for the blockbuster trade between Houston and Cincinnati after 1971 season. Joe Morgan went on to a Hall of Fame career, which made the eight-player deal lopsided in favor of the Reds. Mark plans to reprise this presentation at the national convention.

Mike Rice explained how Similarity Scores work and cited interesting results of the formula. He found that superstars rarely have high Similarity Scores with other players. Ron Cey and Robin Ventura have the most similar offensive careers of any pair of players.

John Henshell presented the results of the NWSABR member survey and an appropriate plan of action based on the results. He also reported the results of our first online member poll. Rick concluded the meeting with a group discussion of the Mariners season so far. After the meeting, many members headed to Safeco Field to watch the White Sox- Mariners game.


The chapter has two meetings scheduled in August. We’ll meet in Eugene, Oregon, and Vancouver, B.C.

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 June 2011 09:50
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