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.


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.

Summer 2013 Squibber Reaches Members

Chapter members, check your email for the latest edition of our quarterly newsletter, The Squibber. Articles in this edition include:

  1. All-Star Memories:  The Rain, the Park and the 1969 All-Star Game, By Jeff Stuart
  2. Golf Tourney Planned : Event Will Benefit Perfect Game Foundation, by Del Wilber
  3. Talkin’ Baseball:  Upcoming Talks Scheduled, by Dave Paulson
  4. Special Movie Screening:  Aviation Theatre Recognizes Penny Marshall and “A League of Their Own,” by Mark Pattison
  5. Summer Minor League Meeting:  Chapter to Convene in Hagerstown
  6. Atlantic League Update:  League Seeks New President, by Barry Sparks
  7. Nats-Braves Tickets Offered:  SABR Block Available, by Dave Raglin
  8. Report From Bethesda:  Big Train Leads the Pack, by Bill Hickman
  9. The Essentials of Batting:  New Book Examines What Makes Hitters Successsful, by Andre Lower

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

Chapter Spends a Sun-ny Day in Hagerstown

by David Hughes

The annual minor league outing for SABR’s Bob Davids Chapter took place on August 17, where 25 chapter members gathered for a South Atlantic League game at Hagerstown Municipal Stadium.  Thanks go to event organizer David Newman.

Municipal Stadium is a historic ballpark and, despite its age, has a certain rustic charm.  The evening’s activities began in the picnic area, with Eli Pearlstein (Suns’ Director of Media Relations, Radio Announcer, and general public information officer) addressing the group and leading a Q&A about the team, the stadium, his job, and his career experience and aspirations.  Eli acknowledged that he has a long way to go to achieve his career goals, and he is working his way up from the bottom rungs.  Unfortunately, while Eli (and virtually everyone else present) knew the significance of two of the stadium’s three retired numbers (located on decals on the wall in the right field corner, two of the numbers are “42” for Jackie Robinson and “24” for Willie Mays), he could not answer for the third number on the wall, “50” (a few days later, an outside source provided the answer: the “50” is for John Henry Moss, highlighting his 50 years of service to the South Atlantic League).  A fourth decal on the outfield wall commemorates the late Nick Adenhart, former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher who played many years of youth baseball in the Hagerstown area.

After Eli’s presentation, chapter President Bruce Brown moderated an impromptu trivia contest.  The champion crowned that evening was Paul Sekula, with the prize being a DVD of “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.”  After a hearty ballpark buffet, we had the opportunity to watch Brett Mooneyham (Nationals’ 3rd rounder out of Stanford, 2012) face those pesky Tourists from Ashville, including the league’s then-leading hitter, 20-year old Rosell Herrera (Rockies’ free agent, Dominican Republic).  Mooneyham was dominant in the game, as he went 7 innings with 9 Ks.  Hagerstown won the crisp, 2:15 contest, 4-0, before an announced crowd of 1,139.

Nationals Park Hosts Davids Chapter

SABR Day at Nats’ Park was a lot of fun . . . except for the game, in which the Nationals offense managed ten strikeouts (against Kevin Correia and assorted other bums, no less) and no walks.

Chapter president Bruce Brown emceed the proceedings, which kicked off with a lively session with Nats’ Director of baseball operations Adam Cromie. Then local radio/TV host and baseball guru Phil Wood and Mike Wallace (former MLB pitcher [http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/wallami01.shtml] and sidekick on Wood’s show) regaled us with humorous stories out of Washington baseball history (good and bad, mostly tragicomic). There a followed a great buffet spread and then off to the seats . . . where yours truly roasted. Sunstroke . . . in Section 319 . . . it made for a tough finish to a great afternoon.

Postgame concert with Blues Traveler was surprisingly good (didn’t stay to the end). I had thought most of those guys were drawing Social Security by now.

Thirty-eighth Bob Davids Chapter Meeting a Success

The Bob Davids Chapter of SABR held its 38th annual meeting in Rosslyn, VA on Saturday, January 28th, the third time the chapter’s annual event coincided with SABR day. More than 130 members and guests attended.

After re-electing the chapter’s Board members, the group decided to form a chapter trivia team to challenge other chapters at SABR 42 in Minneapolis. The rest of the day was dominated by a series of engaging presentations:

  • David Vincent, Bob Davids Chapter Board member, Chapter Historian and Emcee for the proceedings, kicked things off with a great presentation on pitchers who hit home runs.  This set the appropriate tone and we were off and running. (see his presentation)
  • Bob Savitt, former Bob Davids Chapter President, having recently published his book, The Blue Ridge League (Images of Baseball) gave a succinct synopsis of his in‑depth research of a league that overlapped with the boundaries of our chapter, geographically if not chronologically.
  • Jim Hannan, former Washington Senators pitcher regaled us with stories from his career, but even more impressive is the work he has done and is doing on behalf of other retired players, particularly through the Alumni Association.
  • Dave Smith, Retrosheet icon, recounted some of the questions posed to him during the 2011 baseball season by the media and the research they prompted him to do.  Those results are always interesting and we are indeed fortunate to have Dave as a regular contributor at our meetings.
  • Steve Sclafani, is the founder and CEO of the Baseball Factory, a recognized leader in player development and college placement.  Baseball Factory alumni include Roy Halladay, Josh Hamilton, Ryan Zimmerman and more than 250 other major leaguers.  Steve told us how his organization scouts and develops young players, helping them (and their parents) plan appropriately for a possible future in baseball.
  • Andy Bradley, alumni player and now head coach of the very successful baseball program at Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C., told us of his coaching philosophy.  Andy’s dad, Tom, pitched in the majors for seven seasons and was the head baseball coach at the University of Maryland.  Great job by the conference’s youngest coach, a title he has held for the past eight years.
  • Tom Hanrahan, chapter member, presented a well-devised formula for comparing the relative values of the game’s best pitchers and batters. (see his presentation)

Finally, the always popular chapter raffle, bolstered this year with items donated from the Bob Davids estate, raised over $600 for the chapter coffers.