Chapter Event at Prince William a Royal Good Time

Twenty-three Bob Davids Chapter members and guests attended the annual minor league baseball game and meeting on Saturday, August 20th at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge Virgina. The day’s activities were started off with a Baseball Trivia session developed and presented by Babe Ruth Chapter President and Quiz Master Extraordinaire Bruce Brown, followed by a Question-and-Answer session with Potomac Nationals manager Tripp Keister and outfielder Alec Keller.

After the picnic dinner at the right-field picnic pavillion, the attendees were treated to a come-from-behind win by the Frederick Keys over the Nationals in a contest featuring several long home runs, with the Keys holding off a late comeback by the Nationals to win the game 7-6.

The Bob Davids Chapter Board would like to thank Bruce for affording us his time and efforts, and would also like to thank the Potomac Nationals team and staff for providing us with great speakers and the venue for a fine late afternoon and evening of baseball entertainment.

Summer time for Squibbin’

Members, look in your inboxes for links to our chapter newsletter, The Squibber. The latest issue includes the following articles:

  • MINOR LEAGUE OUTING IN POTOMAC: Still Time to Sign Up
  • HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN:  Annual Major League Outing a Success, by Mark Pattison
  • TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Upcoming Talks Scheduled, by Dave Paulson
  • DICK BOSMAN COULD PITCH:  Recalling the Ace of the Senators, by Jeff Stuart
  • SOUP TO NUTS ABOUT THE NATS:  New Book Covers if All, from A to Z, by Mark Pattison

Fall Squibber is Back

Members, check your email for the September 2015 edition of the chapter’s quarterly newsletter.  Articles include:

BOB DAVIDS WELCOMES BABE RUTH: New Baltimore Chapter Formed, by D. Bruce Brown
TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Upcoming Talks Scheduled, by Dave Paulson
MINOR LEAGUE MEETING PLANNED: Heading to Lancaster, by Dave Newman
BASEBALL INFO SOLUTIONS SEEKS SCOREKEEPERS:  Carolina League Assistance Needed, by Don Masi
LIVAN HERNANDEZ HAD FUN WITH THE FINE ART OF BUNTING, by Jeff Stuart

Submissions for future editions can be sent to Squibber editor Walt Cherniak at wcherniakjr@aol.com. Keep sending us those squibs, and those ideas for squibs!

SABR Day at Nats Park

by David Hughes

On Saturday, June 6, the Bob Davids Chapter met for its annual outing at a major league game, this year at Nationals Park.  The Nationals hosted the Chicago Cubs for an unusual 12:05 P.M. start.  The 70+ in attendance assembled at 9:30 a.m. fSamuel Mondry-Cohenor entry to the park then moved to the Roosevelt conference room for some discussion and to hear from our two guest speakers: Samuel Mondry-Cohen, Director, Baseball Research & Development for the Washington Nationals, and syndicated columnist, author, and life-long suffering Cubs fan, George F. Will.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, the son of a math teacher, and still well south of 30 years old, Samuel recounted his varied career experiences in organized baseball.  He has been, in order: the visiting team’s batboy in his home town, San Francisco; one of the visiting team’s clubhouse attendants there; an unpaid intern with the Nationals’ front office; a paid intern with the Nationals; a one-person analytics resource within the Nationals’ front office, and, finally the supervisor of a three-person analytics department, also charged with certain other data gathering activities for the Nats.  He reports to Adam Cromie, Nationals Assistant General Manager (also one of our recent speakers).

Samuel answered questions about his experience as a clubhouse guy (the tips could be good), the mechanics of data gathering, some of the analytical challenges that his group faces on a daily basis, and the various internal uses to which the organization puts his group’s work product.  His group had been preoccupied recently in anticipation of the amateur draft (which began June 8), and will then turn its focus toward analysis in anticipation of the July 31 trade deadline.

George’s childhood home was in central Illinois, and he said that like all of his friends at the time he had a choice of becoming a Cubs fan or a CardinalsGeorge Will fan.  Most of his friends chose to be Cardinals fans and they grew up to become “happy adults who are liberals.”  He chose the Cubs and grew up to be “a dyspeptic conservative.”  His Cubs allegiance seems to have led him down some dark baseball alleys.  His Little League team’s sponsor was part of the Mittendorf Funeral Home group.  The team’s primary “color” was black.  George’s playing days ended, as they had for many of us in the room, when the dimensions of the diamond went from 60’x60’ to 90’ x 90’.

As George noted, Cubs history is littered with disappointment and strange historical threads.  Among other things, he referenced the “Bartman game,” and it’s clear that he’s seen too many Cubs disasters for too many seasons.  George recalled that the recently deceased Lennie Merullo (heretofore the last living Cub to have played in the World Series) had once committed four errors in one inning.  Lennie thereafter called his son, born that very day, “Boots.”  George also told of the Wrigley family’s concern about stories of a vendor in the bleachers who was infamous for short-changing fans.  The vendor, one Jack Rubenstein, subsequently left Chicago for Dallas, Texas.  There, under the name “Jack Ruby,” he ran a night club and became notorious for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald.  One of the Cubs’ spring training forays to Catalina Island was the reason that Ronald Reagan, then a radio voice of the team, ventured to California where he took the screen test that changed history. (more…)

Spring 2015 Squibber Sprouts

The April 2015 edition of the chapter newsletter, “The Squibber,” is now available. Members, check your email for a plain text copy of the newsletter and instructions on how to get a .pdf version.

Submissions for future editions can be sent to Squibber editor Walt Cherniak at wcherniakjr@aol.com. Keep sending us those squibs, and those ideas for squibs!

Articles include:

– Details on “SABR Day at the Nats,” the biennial chapter gathering for a game at Nationals Park, on Saturday, June 6, 2015, with guest speaker George F. Will
– Back-to-back Rookies of the Year, by Jeff Stuart
– What It’s Like to Play Single-A Baseball, by Greg Larson
– Museum discounts of interest, by Patrick Dickerson
– Talkin’ Baseball upcoming schedule, by David Paulson
– D.C. Grays fundraiser, by Thom Loverro
– Other chapter news and notes

TRIVIA QUESTION:  In the 10 seasons the Nationals have played in Washington, who posted the highest single-season on-base percentage? (more…)

2015 Chapter Gathering Engages More Than 150 Participants

by David Hughes

We didn’t have a hot stove around which to gather and discuss the latest signings, to rehash the 2014 playoffs, to voice our hopes for the 2015 versions of the Nationals and the Orioles, or to complain about the nasty cold in the Great Outdoors.  So the second floor ballroom at the Holiday Inn in Rosslyn served as a substitute.  More than 150 chapter members and guests gathered there on Saturday, January 31, 2015, for the 44th Annual Meeting of the Bob Davids Chapter, SABR’s first chapter.

Mark Pattison called the session to order at about 9:30 a.m.  The first matter on the docket was the business portion of the meeting (the elections of three officers).  Nominations had closed prior to the meeting.  Running unopposed were David Raglin (Vice-President—2-year term) and Barry Sparks (At-Large Board Member—2-Year Term), and the membership elected them on a voice vote.

The election for Treasurer (also a 2-year term) was contested.  The two candidates, challenger Gary Levy and incumbent David Paulson, each gave short presentations in support of their candidacy, followed by a secret ballot conducted using paper ballots.  Dave Paulson was reelected as The Treasurer.

On the program, Dave Smith batted leadoff with a presentation that dealt with answers to questions and issues that he and his colleagues at Retrosheet (http://www.retrosheet.org/) had developed themselves or fielded from media during the 2014 season.  Here are a few of the tidbits.  For instance, you know that Tony La Russa guided his teams to three World Series titles, six league championships and twelve division titles in 33 seasons (2,728-2,365, .536).  But did you know that La Russa’s managerial record by month was incredibly consistent, with winning percentages of .520 or better in each of the months of March through October?  We learned that only four pitchers (Derek Lowe, A.J. Burnett, Dan Haren, and Barry Zito) have wins against all 30 current teams.  Dave also discussed the phenomenon of the series held from May 2-4, 2014, in which all of the starters for the Tigers collected a hit in each game of the three-game series against the Royals in Kansas City.  Not only was that unusual on its face; checking back to 1950, there had been no other cases of this happening.  Finally, we’ve all heard that games are often decided if a team is leading after seven innings, but were you aware of how often that has proved to be the case?  Dave disclosed that in 2014, it was true 92% of the time.  It was no surprise that the Royals led the way with a record of 72-1 (98.6%).  But even the relatively hapless Astros “worst” record was 57-11 (83.8%).  The A’s were the best when trailing after seven innings (13-55, 19.1%), while the Dodgers were the worst (1-53, 1.8%). (more…)

Winter 2014 Squibber Lands

The latest issue of The Squibber, the chapter’s quarterly newsletter, has landed in members’ email boxes. Articles included are:

1.      ANNUAL CHAPTER MEETING ON JAN. 31:  ‘Hondo’ on Tap, by Mark Pattison
2.      TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Upcoming Talks Scheduled, by Dave Paulson
3.      REFLECTIONS ON A SEASON JUST PAST:  No Series, But a Great Ride Anyway, by Bill Lewers
4.      ‘BASEBALL AS IT WAS’:  New Chapter Member Launches Baseball History Podcast, by Brian Wright
5.      THE ‘FOLLY FLOATER’: Before Yankee Antics, Hamilton Was a Nat, by Jeff Stuart
6.      LOOKING FOR OLD MAGAZINES?: Skip McAfee Might Be Able to Help
7.      BOBBY BURKE PITCHED THE LAST WASHINGTON NO-NO:  Zimmermann Gem Recalled 1931 Masterpiece, by Gary Sarnoff
8.      A LONG, RICH HISTORY”:  Professional Baseball in Baltimore, by Jimmy Keenan

Submissions for future editions can be sent to Squibber editor Walt Cherniak at wcherniakjr@aol.com. Keep sending us those squibs, and those ideas for squibs!

Who was Bob Davids?

The Mid-Atlantic chapter of SABR is named after Dr. L. Robert Davids, a veteran of World War II, a long time federal employee, and a frequently published author on topics including Congressional history and baseball. In 1971 he invited a group of individuals who shared his interest in baseball history and statistics to meet in Cooperstown, New York — resulting in the formal establishment of the Society for American Baseball Research. He continued to actively support SABR until his death in 2002.

bobdavids

For more on Dr. Davids’ life and accomplishments, please read his official SABR biography.

Please join us in remembering our friend and founder.

A photo gallery featuring pictures of Bob can be found here: (more…)

Chapter Function Filled With Fun and Facts

Did you …

– Ever wonder about who has the dubious distinction of throwing the most pitches in the first inning of a game since pitch counts became a reliable statistic?

– Ever hear the one about Syd Cohen, who also played professional baseball under the alias “Pablo Garcia”?

– Know that the presence of a Fussell Ice Cream advertisement in a ballpark scorecard meant that you had to be scoring that game in Washington, D.C.?

– Know that the same guy played with Larry Bowa and Denny Doyle, roomed with pro football Hall of Famer Bob Griese in college, and had the dubious distinction of being flattened at home plate in the minor leagues by none other than Mr. October?

– Ever wonder how the terabytes of “Big Data” collected during MLB games can yield useful information for the purpose of putting a lineup together against a particular pitcher in a particular park?

– Know that authenticated, new information about the life and times of Babe Ruth is still surfacing as recently as last year?

Well, if you had attended the Bob Davids Chapter’s 40th Annual Meeting on January 25, 2014, you would have learned the answers to these and many other questions during an entertaining seven hours of presentations, anecdotes, baseball trivia, reminiscences and camaraderie, not to mention lively question and answer sessions with our speakers and presenters.

But first, the Chapter did a little business.  The membership re-elected D. Bruce Brown as President, Don Seaman as Secretary, and Mark Pattison as an At-Large Board Member, all starting two-year terms.

With a paid attendance of 135, the meeting heard Amy Tetlow Smith, summarize the research she did on “Scorecard, Advertisement and Social History,” a presentation that had received an honorable mention at SABR 43 in Philadelphia.  Amy described the systematic analysis of the advertisements she and her husband Dave had catalogued while analyzing thousands of scorecards from the 19th century to the present and how the changing product lines reflected wider societal changes across the country. (Amy’s detailed research can be found on the Retrosheet site.) Although Amy’s solo performance proved a tough act to follow, Dave Smith, a perennial favorite, scored his usual big inning with a sampling of his famous insights to milestones and oddities of the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Vince Gennaro, SABR’s national president, reprised the award-winning presentation he made at the national convention this year in Philadelphia with an updated rendition of “Analyzing Batter Performance Against Pitcher Clusters.”  Analyzing pitchers using five factors, Vince provided examples of how manager could employ such analysis to try to determine the most favorable match-up opportunities for his roster against any specific pitcher in a given ballpark.

Del Wilber, Jr., President of the Perfect Game Foundation, followed with a discussion of his father Del’s decades long career in professional baseball, a career that included experiences as a player, coach, manager, and scout.  Del also described his own athletic career that included a short two-sport stint at Purdue University, and minor league stops in the Phillies’ organization.

After lunch, Vince Gennaro talked about the current state of SABR, and answered questions from the assembled group about the successes of SABR’s recent history and the need for continued improvement in its delivery of service to membership as well as its contributions to the overall baseball community.  Thereafter, Ned Rice of the Baltimore Orioles discussed the application of sabermetric analytics in today’s baseball operations.  Film maker Aviva Kempner discussed additional footage associated with her film “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg,” along with some entertaining recollections of the adventures of former Washington Senator Syd Cohen (a/k/a “Pablo Garcia”).  Mike Gibbons and Sean Herne, representing the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum and the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, noted that the day marked the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s first professional contract.  Mike and Sean talked about the upcoming birthday bash for the Babe (February 6), discussed some newly discovered facts and memorabilia associated with the Babe’s life, and talked about the plans for events that will coincide with the Bob Davids Chapter’s MLB game this year (June 7, at Camden Yards).  To wrap it up, a guest from the Connie Mack chapter, Brian Englehardt gave a research presentation about the history of baseball in Reading, PA, focusing on Lee McPhail and his Reading Brooks.

All in all it was a great way to spend a SABR Day next to the proverbial “Hot Stove.”  Oh, by the way, the pitcher who threw the most pitches in the first inning of a game since pitch counts became a reliable statistic is none other than Bartolo Colon.  Needless to say, it wasn’t his best start that year.

Be of good cheer.  Spring Training is just a few short days away.

Autumn 2013 Squibber Arrives

Members, check your inbox for the Bob David Chapter’s latest quarterly newletter, The Squibber. This month’s articles include:

  1. NOT YOUR GREAT-GRANDFATHER’S ORIOLES: Inaugural A.L. Season Kicked Off in Baltimore, by Fred Glueckstein
  2. TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Upcoming Talks Scheduled, by Dave Paulson
  3. A ‘SUN-Y’ DAY IN HAGERSTOWN: Recapping this Year’s Minor League Outing, by David Hughes
  4. CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA REPORT: Harrisburg’s Mirowski Completes Sparkling Relief Season, by Barry Sparks
  5. REPORT FROM BETHESDA: Holiday Baseball Auction Coming Up, by Bill Hickman

Comments and suggestions for future editions can be directed to Squibber editor Walt Cherniak at wcherniakjr@aol.com.