Italian fare and baseball talk at the halfway mark for the July meeting

Fourteen chapter members and guests met for an Italian lunch on Saturday and gabbed about the Astros’ dominance in the American League, Jeff Bagwell’s upcoming Hall of Fame induction and potential trade deadline deals.

Bill Gilbert brought an interesting trivia quiz in which all answers were members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame (including soon-to-be and recently inducted members). Tom Thayer won the quiz and received a Baseball Hall of Fame trivia book as a prize.

Other topics included the practice of stadium naming rights, significant sporting events at the Houston Astrodome, the All-Star game and instances of east coast bias in baseball coverage (for example, ESPN.com’s headline about “Ex-Yankee Robinson Cano” winning the All-Star game). We also talked about Buck Showalter’s ability to build strong clubs that go on to the World Series without him. Orioles fan and baseball writer Ryan Pollack joked that he’s waiting for Showalter to depart.

The chapter continued its consecutive monthly meeting streak with this, the 128th consecutive month with a meeting.

Also, your humble reporter apologizes for leaving out a vital piece of information from the June 2017 meeting summary: Tom Wancho was the winner in Jim Baker’s manager quiz. Apologies for the oversight and congratulations to Tom!

The August meeting has not been scheduled, so look for information on the group email list and the Facebook page soon.

June meeting features Express win, bbq

Fourteen chapter members and guests dined at Salt Lick BBQ and watched the Round Rock Express beat the New Orleans Baby Cakes, 4-2, on Saturday, June 3.

The Express-Baby Cakes game included several players with Major League experience, such as Jurickson Profar (with the Texas Rangers), Will Middlebrooks (with the Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres and briefly with the Milwaukee Brewers), and Brandon Barnes (with the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies).

Jim Baker also noted that Baby Cakes third baseman Steve Lombardozzi is related to Domenick Lombardozzi, an actor most notably known for playing Det. Thomas “Herk” Hauk on HBO’s “The Wire.”

It was the 127th consecutive monthly meeting for the chapter. Jim Baker provided an interesting quiz on naming all 30 of the current Major League managers. Other questions included naming the managers with the most wins, most losses, highest winning percentage, and highest career postseason winning percentage. In addition, Jim asked us to name the five current managers who did not play in Major League Baseball.

Various topics of discussion included the Houston Astros’ hot streak, Edinson Vólquez’s no-hitter (first no hitter of the 2017 season), and the Texas Rangers’ struggle with one-run games this season, in sharp contrast with their record-setting performance in such games last season.

UPDATE: The July meeting will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 22, at Macaroni Grill at the Arboretum (9828 Great Hills Trail, Austin).

 

 

Express fall in group’s first outing to the ballpark in ’17

Thirteen chapter members and guests enjoyed a gorgeous night for baseball and saw the Round Rock Express fall 5-1 to the Oklahoma City Dodgers on Saturday, the group’s first outing to Dell Diamond this season.

A tight 1-1 game through 6 innings involved good pitching performances from Dillon Gee for the Express and former Major Leaguer Justin Masterson for the Dodgers. But the Dodgers tagged Tanner Scheppers for four runs in the 7th inning to secure the victory.

Meanwhile, Gilbert Martinez, taking his usual stroll around the ballpark recognized Wesley Wright, a relief pitcher in the Express bullpen. Wright, a lefty reliever for the Houston Astros for six years, has since pitched for the Blue Jays, the Cubs, the Orioles and the Angels. Wright pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the Express.

Ryan Pollack (pictured below) represented the group well by twirling his way during the Chicken Dance. Jennifer Kaufman appreciates Ryan’s happy dance moves.

Prior to the game, many in the group joined for a barbecue dinner at The Salt Lick.

This was the chapter’s 126th consecutive month with a meeting.

Next chapter meeting will be a return engagement at Dell Diamond on June 3. More information will be forthcoming from Jan Larson.

(Photos by Gilbert D. Martinez)

Bill Gilbert swings a big bat at April meeting

Eleven members and guests met for Mexican food and baseball chatter in southwest Austin on Saturday.

Topics included the start of the new season, including the good baseball thus far by the Houston Astros (in sharp contrast to their start in April last year), Manny Machado’s spike-ful slide into Dustin Pedroia’s calf the night before, and the New York Yankees’ surprising start in a so-called rebuilding year.

Dan Walsh provided a quiz based on the two 2016 editions of SABR’s Baseball Research Journal. Bill Gilbert trounced the competition with a score of 9 out of 12 (note: previous report of 11 of 12 was author’s error). Tom Thayer took second with 8 points, and Jim Baker took third with 5 points. Others may or may not have scored any points on this quiz, but they could not be reached for comment after the meeting. Dan also provided trivia prizes – Bill won a mini-bat with Babe Ruth’s signature; Tom won a baseball trivia book; and Jim won a replica of an advertisement for Ken-Wel brand gloves. Many thanks to Dan for the quiz and prizes.

Next meeting will be dinner and a ballgame at the Dell Diamond on Saturday, May 6. Watch for information about tickets from Jan Larson in the coming weeks.

 

 

Chapter celebrates 8th Annual SABR Day

Thirteen chapter members and guests joined SABR members across the country to help celebrate the Eighth Annual SABR Day.

The two most recently elected members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame were on our minds as Craig Lukshin wore his autographed Tim Raines Montreal Expos jersey, and I wore a Jeff Bagwell t-shirt featuring a silhouette of his distinctive crouching batting stance. Other notable attire included Ira Siegel’s Eddie Gaedel Society t-shirt.

Our next meeting will be on Saturday, Feb. 18, with a location to be determined.

Baseball tales abound at 11th annual winter meeting

Baseball stories involving Yogi Berra, Tommy Lasorda, Andre Dawson and Dizzy Dean were among the gems shared at the 11th Annual Rogers Hornsby Chapter Winter Meeting on Saturday, Jan. 14, at Texas State University.

Thirty-nine chapter members and guests enjoyed presentations by Dr. Bobby Brown, former World Series champion with the Yankees and retired cardiologist; Mark Saccomanno, former Astros first baseman who hit a homerun on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues; Mike Capps, entering his 18th season as broadcaster for the Round Rock Express; and Bo Carter, longtime college sports information director who co-authored a book about Dizzy Dean, and Sara Kirby Burke, daughter of longtime broadcaster Gene Kirby who collected and wrote much of the text in the Dizzy Dean book.

In addition, chapter member Jim Baker presented “Stadia Mania,” a quiz involving images of ballparks, and led the group to select baseball season predictions for 2017. The group, more or less, predicted a rematch of the last World Series, Cubs-Indians, with Cleveland chosen to win it all in 2017.

The group also held its own Hall of Fame vote. Using the same ballot as the one used by eligible baseball writers, our group elected only one to the 2017 class: Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell, by 89.2 percent of the vote. Tim Raines, in his last year on the ballot, was one vote short with 73 percent of the vote. Other notables in our vote included: Ivan Rodriguez, 67.6 percent, Edgar Martinez, 54.1 percent and Roger Clemens, 48.6 percent.

Larry Dierker Chapter member Joe Thompson made a call for anyone interested in helping out with research about Mexican-Americans in baseball in Central Texas. Thompson has helped on a book project that discusses Mexican-Americans in baseball in Houston and El Paso and sais that those books are set to be published in the summer.

Many thanks to everyone who joined us on Saturday. Please consider joining us at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, when the Hornsby Chapter celebrates SABR Day. Watch for more information on our email list.

(Photos by Ryan Pollack)

 

Chapter members celebrate end of 2016 season, offseason

Eleven chapter members gathered in South Austin on Dec. 17 to catch up on the World Series, MLB awards and offseason moves.

Bill Gilbert brought his Astros and 2016 season trivia quiz, which included some general baseball trivia, too. Jan Larson bested the crowd with an impressive showing.

Many thanks to Monte and Linda Cely for the delicious homemade desserts. This was also the 121st consecutive month with a meeting for the chapter.

The group also looked forward to the 11th Annual Winter Meeting, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 14, at historic Old Main on the Texas State University campus in San Marcos.

Ryan Pollack and the leadership team have assembled an impressive lineup, featuring Dr. Bobby Brown, former player and president of the American League; Mike Acosta, authentication manager with the Houston Astros; Mike Capps, director of broadcasting with the Round Rock Express; Mark Saccomanno, former Astros player; and Bo Carter, co-author of “Dizzy: Dean of Baseball and My Podnah.”

Hope to see y’all at Old Main on Jan. 14!

Chapter celebrates 10 years of consecutive meetings

Thirteen members and guests celebrated 10 years of chapter monthly meetings at Stiles Switch BBQ in north Austin on Sunday, Nov. 13.

The Hornsby Chapter has had at least one meeting each month since December 2006, extending its consecutive monthly meeting streak to 120 months.

At Saturday’s meeting, we discussed a wide range of topics, including the dramatic end of the World Series, the offseason trade market and whether bullpen use in the postseason will change how managers utilize their relief pitchers in the coming season.

We also offered our condolences to Cleveland fan Tom Wancho. Last time most of us saw him was at the World Series Game 4 watch party at Jim Baker’s house in Cedar Park when the Tribe took a 3-1 lead in the World Series. Alas, winning three is no guarantee to win the clincher.

In addition, Jim Baker, Predictatron coordinator, presented Jan Larson with an official Rogers Hornsby Chapter certificate for winning the 2016 Predictatron contest. Baker also presented Bill Gilbert with a certificate for his 2008 win, Raeanne Martinez for her back-to-back wins in 2014 and 2015, and Gilbert Martinez for his win in 2010.

baker-to-bill-gilbert predictatron-certificate

Please mark your calendars for the 11th Annual Rogers Hornsby Chapter Winter Meeting, which is set for Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, on the campus of Texas State University in San Marcos. Hope to see you there!

Meanwhile, our next monthly meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at Serranos in the Southpark Meadows shopping center (corner of I-35 and Slaughter Lane) in south Austin.