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.