Largest Winter Meeting Ever


The largest winter meeting of the Rogers Hornsby Chapter had a little bit of everything on Saturday, Jan. 12 – updates on the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, a statistical analysis of the psychology of umpires calling balls and strikes, the Texas League president’s perspective on his duties, a preview of the 2014 SABR convention and a review of 1840’s-era baseball in New York.

Fifty-one SABR members and guests gathered at historic Old Main on the campus of Texas State University for the seventh annual winter meeting – the largest attendance ever, including a dozen members from the Larry Dierker Chapter (Houston), which is hosting the SABR convention in Houston in 2014.

Longtime Astros broadcaster Bill Brown (pictured below) talked about his return to the television booth for the upcoming season, including his thoughts about the Astros chances in the American League West. He also brought and signed his memoir, “My Baseball Journey: A Sportcaster’s Story,” proceeds of which support the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias.

bill brown autographs

Tom Kayser, president of the Texas League (AA), talked about his activities and duties as a minor league official. He didn’t skip a beat when an unexpected power outage in Old Main darkened the windowless room on the third floor. While organizers scrambled to figure out what to do, Kayser kept the crowd entertained and answered questions about his duties. Shortly thereafter, the group relocated to a classroom with windows and continued with the meeting schedule.

Aaron Baggett, professor of psychology at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton, presented his research (co-authored with Grant Morgan of Baylor University) examining umpires’ objective and subjective tendencies when calling balls and strikes. Click here to see the presentation slides.

Connie Mack biographer and former SABR board member Norman Macht (pictured below) kicked off the meeting with another group ice-breaker activity that featured questions involving the names of vice presidents and baseball players. Macht also shared his involvement in the 150th anniversary celebration of Connie Mack’s birth in East Brookfield, Mass. To try your hand at Norman’s creative icebreaker quiz, click here or go to the Contests tab above and select “Quizzes.”


Bob Tholkes, a longtime SABR member active in the Halsey Hall Chapter in Minneapolis, traveled to Texas to avoid the harsh winter in the north. He shared his research about the New York Knickerbockers rules of baseball from the 1840s. His presentation can be viewed by clicking here.

Award-winning radio broadcaster Mike Capps of the Round Rock Express gave his assessment of players in the Texas Rangers’ farm system to watch out for in the coming year.

Bob Dorrill of the Dierker Chapter invited Hornsby Chapter members to participate and volunteer at the 2014 SABR national convention to be held in Houston. An exact date for the convention won’t be set until Major League Baseball announces the 2014 baseball schedule (expected later this year).

This was the Seventh Annual Winter Meeting held at Texas State University-San Marcos, and the sixth consecutive meeting held in Old Main, the oldest building on campus. Dr. Judy Oskam, director of the School of Journalism & Mass Communication, which is housed in Old Main, welcomed the group and shared her softball experience as a pitcher in elementary school.

Much thanks to Monte Cely, Jan Larson and Steve Fall for their hard work in preparing for the winter meeting and ensuring a smooth day on Saturday. Special thanks to “Baseball Jan” Opella for taking photos throughout the meeting, three of which are shared here. To view more photos from Baseball Jan, click here.

Special thanks also go out to those who were able to join us in San Marcos this year. If you missed us, we missed you! It’s never too early to start planning for next year’s winter meeting!

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