Winning and losing streaks dominate September meeting

Ten chapter members and guests feasted on fine Italian cuisine in North Austin while the Cleveland Indians continued their dominant stretch, the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite their payroll, couldn’t buy a win, and the Houston Astros were on the verge of a sweep by the last-place Oakland Athletics.

The group discussed the meaning of these streaks. Does it mean that the Indians are a lock to win the World Series? No. Does it mean that the Dodgers are headed to another disappointing playoff exit next month? No. Does it mean that the Astros’ loss of the American League’s best record portends a dire outcome in October? No.

For the most part, most in our group recognize that anything can happen in the playoffs, so late-season streaks – winning or losing – don’t necessarily foretell playoff outcomes. For example, Jim Baker noted that the 2000 Yankees stumbled down the stretch (9-17 in September that year), but went on to win the World Series.

Jan Larson talked about his annual baseball trip, this year to San Francisco, taking in a Giants game and an Athletics game. His group experienced two records – the Angels’ use of an AL record 12 pitchers in an extra-inning win against the Athletics, and a record-high temperature of 106 degrees in San Francisco.

We also discussed the drama of the pursuit of the second wild card spot, especially in the American League. But some noted (ahem, Jim Baker) that these are .500-teams and sub-.500 teams vying for October glory. To be fair to Jim, most of the group seemed to be in agreement that having mediocre teams in the playoffs isn’t ideal for baseball.

This was the 130th consecutive month that the chapter has met.

In addition to baseball talk, chapter members and guests were treated to Jim’s crayon scoreboard creation on the paper table runner at Macaroni Grill (see photo above).

The next chapter meeting is scheduled for Oct. 28, the evening of Game 4 of the World Series. A watch party is planned at Jim Baker’s home in Cedar Park. More details to come about those festivities.

Members endure wet conditions, avoid rain out for August meeting

Ten chapter members braved steady rainfall from Hurricane Harvey to enjoy a Tex-Mex lunch and talk baseball on Saturday, Aug. 26.

In keeping with the MLB Players Weekend in which teams featured Little League-inspired alternate team jerseys with players’ nicknames, we proclaimed what nicknames we’d have on our team jerseys.

Like the players, most of our nicknames have interesting back stories from childhood, school and work experiences. Here’s a list of the nicknames we shared at the meeting: Jan (RAM Man); Bill (Stat Man); Ira (Bird); Dan (Dan-o); Ryan (Ryry); Mike (Pickle); Raeanne (Red); Jim (Bakes); Anne (Boo); and Gilbert (Mad Dog).

For some members (such as Ira Siegel, Mike Dillon and Jim Baker), their nicknames derived from their last names. Others were plays on first names or other characteristics.

Many thanks to Dan Walsh for sharing a baseball-themed crossword puzzle that he created. Fifty-seven of 132 clues are baseball related (marked on the clues in bold and italics). See below to download the puzzle.

The group also welcomed a new SABR member who attended her first Hornsby Chapter and SABR meeting, Anne Keene. She shared with us that her father, Jim Raugh, played minor league ball and trained with the Detroit Tigers from 1957 to 1960 and with the Minnesota Twins in 1961. She’s also shared a photo of her dad when he was a ballboy for a Navy team that Ted Williams played on in the 1940s. Accordingly, Anne said she is working on a book and is most interested in World War II-era ballplayers. The chapter is hoping to have Anne as a guest speaker at the Hornsby Chapter Winter Meeting in January 2018 (mark your calendars for Saturday, Jan. 13).

It was the 129th consecutive month that the chapter has met. Since December 2006, the chapter has met at least once a month, and sometimes, more than once.

We’ve not yet scheduled our September meeting, so watch for updates on the email list and Facebook page.

Dan Walsh baseball crossword puzzle

Please note that the download includes the puzzle and the answer key.

BasebALZ enjoys Alzheimer’s Night at Dell Diamond

Thirteen participants, volunteers and family members attended Alzheimer’s Night at Round Rock’s Dell Diamond on Monday evening July 31.  As often happens when we venture to Dell Diamond, the game went extra innings with the hometown Express taking a walk-off 7-6 win in the bottom of the 11th on a two-out, two RBI double by 3B Will Middlebrooks.

In addition to the exciting game, many of us enjoyed the “$1 hot dogs and sodas” promotion on Harry Potter Night at the ballpark.  Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

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)

March Lunch Meeting Wrap-up

Twelve Hornsby chapter members and guests met for lunch on Saturday, March 18 at the Third Base restaurant at US183 and Anderson Mill Road.

Topics of discussion included the World Baseball Classic and performance of the remaining teams – Japan, Netherlands, Puerto Rico and the pending USA-Dominican Republic elimination game.  Of special interest was the “international extra-inning” rule that attempts to shorten games by placing runners on first and second with no outs, beginning in the eleventh inning.  Spring Training was another hot topic, with chapter members discussing the performance – so far – of their favorite teams.

Jan Larson provided the quiz, a review of general baseball history and records.  The results were hotly-contested and Jim Baker walked away with the valuable prize – a Mark Saccomanno Corpus Christi Hooks bobble-head.

The April chapter meeting is TBD, but April 22 appears to be a likely date.  More information will be forthcoming.

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!