I’ve been a SABR member for a few years but never made it to a meeting until this past weekend. When I wondered aloud on Twitter what took me so long, one person quipped, “Because they’re at 9 a.m. on a Saturday.”
Yeah, that might have something to do with it.
Now that I’ve been, though, I’m convinced that sleep can wait its turn. The entire program lasted four hours, but I could have stayed all day listening to stories. I cannot remember the last time I geeked out that hard.
I won’t rehash everything that happened — it would take too long — but here is some of what stuck with me:
- Although Roberto Clemente is regarded as an icon and many current players don’t recognize the name Maury Wills, it wasn’t always that way. During their playing careers, Wills was the more popular of the two.
- Ernest Hemingway loved baseball. At age 13, he penned a charmingly awful poem that references Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, Frank Schulte, and Heinie Zimmerman of his hometown Chicago Cubs.
- Later in life, while living in Cuba, Hemingway set up a makeshift ballfield where local kids would play and he would pitch to them. We got to see a photo of kids playing on that field (as well as a handwritten copy of the poem).
- During my presentation, audience members informed me that Jack Harshman, the great minor-league slugger (192 home runs) who later took part in the best pitchers duel of the 1950s, attended San Diego High School.
- One woman remembered well the Padres’ 21-inning loss to Houston in 1971 (best duel of the ’70s). She recalled that in the nightcap, the home club received a little help from the fog to salvage the split. About 500 fans (herself included) remained at the conclusion, eight hours after the first pitch of the first game had been thrown.
- Since this wasn’t a media event, I won’t get into specifics of what Jason McLeod said during his talk. I will say that he was candid and incredibly accommodating. McLeod answered every question we had, whether it was about the ballclub’s direction, industry trends, draft issues, international markets (plural, because Latin America and Asia are very different), or what have you.
- Having seen Jed Hoyer and McLeod speak in person in the last week, I’m feeling good about the Padres now and into the foreseeable future. These are smart cats who appear to be more interested in getting things done than in blowing smoke up everyone’s… well, they like to get things done.
- Emmett Ashford, MLB’s first black umpire, worked the Pacific Coast League from 1954 to 1965. Some audience members recalled watching him at Westgate Park and noted his showmanship. Ashford was known for throwing himself into his work and left an impression on everyone who watched him.
- Several members spent an entire game watching only the umpires and reported on their experience. They talked about position and movement on certain plays, knowledge of the rules and how to interpret them, and everything else that goes into officiating a baseball game. Unless you are specifically focusing on the umpires, you may not be aware that most of this is even happening. My two takeaways were this: First, umpiring is a lot harder than we may think it is. Second, I’m going to try spending at least a few innings during a game this year watching only the umpires. Who knows, I might learn something.
Thanks again to everyone at the Ted Williams Chapter for attending and listening to my ramblings. It was great to be a part of the festivities.
If you are a SABR member who hasn’t attended a meeting, I encourage you to come down and join us. If you aren’t a SABR member, go fix that.
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And in other news…
- Predicting Salary Inflation For 2011 (FanGraphs). Jesse Wolfersberger shows us, among other things, that since 1991, “MLB salaries have increased at a higher rate than the stock market, the gross domestic product, or the consumer price index.” So, yeah, I’m in the wrong line of work.
- Testing SIERA (Baseball Prospectus). Matt Swartz plays with acronyms, er, I mean future ERA predictors.
- Book review: BA Prospect Handbook (Watson Files). Dan shares some Padres-related tidbits from the best prospect guide out there.
- Review of Hitting Prospects, James Player Rater 1995 (FanGraphs). And as a reminder that prospects don’t always pan out, here we have Marc Newfield, Melvin Nieves, and Ruben Rivera… the outfield of our discontent.
- FDR and the Pacific Coast League’s San Diego Padres (RJ’s Fro). This one is worth it just for the photo of men in suits standing outside the entrance to Lane Field.
- Storytime from the Padres Town Hall Meeting 2011 (Gaslamp Ball). It sounds like this was a cool event. Pretty much the entire Padres brain trust was there.
- San Diego Padres 2011 Awards Dinner (Friarhood). Steve Adler shares his thoughts on last week’s shindig.