SABR Day lunch in Austin part of global celebration

(Panoramic photo by Gilbert D. Martinez)

Fourteen chapter members and guests joined SABR members around the globe to celebrate the Ninth Annual SABR Day on Saturday in Austin.

While the group enjoyed a hot Italian lunch at Macaroni Grill in the Arboretum, the lack of free agent signings during the Hot Stove offseason dominated the conversation. Some commented on the Milwaukee Brewers activity – trading for Christian Yelich and signing Lorenzo Cain in recent days, bringing some warmth to the stove

Speaking of the offseason, some of us wondered whether many of the current free agents would sign one-year deals to play this season. With spring training just around the corner, time appears to be running out for these free agents.

The group also discussed the Hall of Fame announcement, revisiting familiar topics such as who’s deserving and who’s not.

In addition, SABR headquarters asked chapter leaders to get feedback about a proposed name change to the organization. The name change – from the Society for American Baseball Research to the Society for the Advancement of Baseball Research – would retain the acronym, but proponents say the new name would more accurately describe the organization as a whole and recognize baseball as an international sport.

Lunch attendees had a variety of views about the proposal, and perhaps in typical baseball fashion, you could describe our views as 1-6-3. 1: Mike Dillon said he was happy either way. 6: Jim Baker, Ryan Pollack, Raeanne Martinez, Monte Cely, Jan Larson and this author – were all in favor of the name change, with some suggesting that if a change was going to be made, perhaps a more dramatic change would be warranted. 3: Tom Wancho, Ira Siegel and Chuck Kaufman preferred the current name and would rather that the name not change.

This feedback will be shared with SABR headquarters. Other Hornsby members may contact me (email: gmartinez46 AT mac.com) with their thoughts.

To see how other chapters around the nation and the world celebrated SABR Day, check out this link: http://sabr.org/sabrday

Our next chapter luncheon will be at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, at Serranos (MoPac and U.S. 290 in southwest Austin). More details and request for RSVPs will be forthcoming in early February.

Astros World Series memories, Cuban beisbol and Ted Williams dominate 12th Annual Winter Meeting

Branch B. Rickey (Photos by Gilbert D. Martinez)

Baseball memories dominated the 12th Annual Winter Meeting on Saturday – reminiscing about the Houston Astros’ memorable World Series win, hearing about beisbol in Cuba, learning about volunteer opportunities with RBI Austin and electing just one player in our mock Hall of Fame vote.

Keynote speaker Branch B. Rickey (pictured above), president of the Pacific Coast League, returned to the winter meeting to share anecdotes about his career in Major League and Minor League Baseball. He talked about the difficulty of enforcing rules, such as those that punish players for leaving the dugout during brawls. He also shared some background in how San Antonio will feature a Triple-A team in 2019, and what that means for the other PCL teams.

Anne Keene, author of The Cloudbuster Nine

Nearly 50 chapter members and guests also heard from author Anne Keene (pictured above), the daughter of former professional baseball player Jim Raugh. She talked about baseball in the 1940s and a little-known Navy team that featured Ted Williams. Her father was a batboy on that team, which also featured Johnny Pesky and Johnny Sain. Her forthcoming book, The Cloudbuster Nine, is scheduled to be published on May 1 and can be pre-ordered on amazon.com.

LIsa Carter, digital content producer with KHOU and Texas State alumna

KHOU Digital Content Producer and proud Texas State alumna Lisa Carter (pictured above) shared her perspectives and photos from the 2017 World Series, in which she covered every game in Los Angeles and Houston. She talked about receiving a call from her editor immediately after the Astros won the American League Championship Series, which gave the Astros their ticket to the World Series. Little did she realize that she would be on a plane the next day to cover the first game of the World Series in Los Angeles.

Monte Cely, Caribbean World Series correspondent

Chapter member Monte Cely (pictured above) talked about his week-long trip to Cuba in September with other SABR members to watch baseball and learn about the Caribbean island nation, noting that even though politics may divide our countries, it’s beisbol that unites us. Highlights of his trip included meeting the son of legendary Cuban player Martin Dihigo and Cuban national team star pitcher Pedro Luis Lazo.

Mike Capps, the voice of the Round Rock Express

Award-winning journalist, broadcaster and voice of the Round Rock Express, Mike Capps (pictured above), returned to the winter meeting to give his insight about the Express and outlook for the Texas Rangers in the upcoming season. He said he’s looking forward to adding San Antonio to the travel schedule for the Express in 2019 and beyond. He expressed concern for the Rangers’ chances, especially in a division with a strong Astros team and an improved Angels squad. He suggested that Rangers fans hope that their team can play .500 ball during most of the season, giving them a shot at a Wild Card spot, that Rougned Odor returns to form and that the Rangers find effective starting pitching, whether through trades, free agent acquisition or from the farm system.

As has been the practice at the winter meeting recent years, Jan Larson conducted a Hall of Fame election for everyone in attendance at the meeting. At the end of the meeting, he shared that our meeting participants elected only one player to the Baseball Hall of Fame – Chipper Jones, who was selected on 27 of the 31 ballots. Twenty-four votes (or 75 percent) were needed to be elected. Close calls on our ballots included Jim Thome (19 votes) and Curt Schilling (18 votes). Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina all had 16 votes. Barry Bonds and Vladimir Guerrero had 15 votes each, and Trevor Hoffman had 12 votes. All other names on the ballot were in single-digit vote totals or had zero votes. Also, there were an average of 7.1 selections (out of a maximum of 10) on each ballot. The official Hall of Fame vote is scheduled to be revealed on Jan. 24.

Ira Siegel (right) and Jordan Boessling, volunteers with RBI Austin

Chapter member Ira Siegel talked about his volunteer work with RBI Austin, an affiliate of MLB’s RBI program. In addition, Jordan Boessling, who also volunteers with RBI Austin, talked about working with underserved communities in Austin and helping teach baseball and provide opportunities for young people. More information about RBI Austin can be found at their website: http://www.rbiaustin.org/

Jim Baker, ice-breaker extraordinare

Jim Baker (pictured above) kicked off the meeting with an entertaining group activity – Name the Player, Name the Car, which featured advertisements and promotions of baseball players posing with motor vehicles.

Many thanks to everyone who attended another very successful day of baseball chatter at the Winter Meeting! Also, well wishes are in order for Ryan Pollack, who coordinated the agenda for the Winter Meeting but was unable to attend because of illness. Get well soon, Ryan! And, much appreciation to Raeanne Martinez for arranging and organizing lunch from Which Wich.

This was the 134th consecutive month in which the chapter has met, a streak dating to December 2006.

In honor of the Ninth Annual SABR Day, the chapter is planning on gathering for lunch at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at Macaroni Grill at the Arboretum in north Austin. More details of this and other SABR Day events around the country can be found at this link: http://sabr.org/sabrday

More pictures from the winter meeting:

Mark Wernick’s Houston Colt .45’s official program
Jeremy Schmidt brought two baseballs signed by Houston Buffs players
Anne Keene brought Ted Williams memorabilia
Gilbert D. Martinez brought his scorecard from World Series Game 5 in which the Astros outlasted the Dodgers, 13-12, in 10 innings

 

December Lunch Meeting

Join us on Sunday, December 10 at 12:30pm at Serranos-Mopac at 5030 Highway 290 West, Austin, TX 78735 (near intersection of MoPac & 290).  M0nte Cely’s wife Linda will be providing her annual batch of holiday cookies, brownies and Jim Baker’s favorite, “buckeyes.”

Please RSVP to Jan Larson at jan.a.larson@gmail.com if you plan to attend.

The Twelve Days of Astros

It’s been one month since the Astros capped an amazing 2017 campaign with their franchise-first World Series championship. In honor of this amazing season, I’ve written a song about it. Like to hear it? Here it go! (cap tip to Calhoun Tubbs).

The Twelve Days of Astros

On the first day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
An Astros championship team

On the second day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the third day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the fourth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the fifth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the sixth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the seventh day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the eighth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Eight fielders fielding
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the ninth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Nine J.V. victories
Eight fielders fielding
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the tenth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Ten thrilling innings
Nine J.V. victories
Eight fielders fielding
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the eleventh day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Eleven games a winning
Ten thrilling innings
Nine J.V. victories
Eight fielders fielding
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the twelfth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
A Twelve Midnight ending
Eleven games a winning
Ten thrilling innings
Nine J.V. victories
Eight fielders fielding
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

November meeting filled with talk of Astros victory and Cuban baseball

Bill Gilbert and Gilbert Martinez recall the Astros thrilling postseason (Photo by Ryan Pollack).

Fourteen chapter members and guests wore gear representing seven professional sports teams – the Astros, Dodgers, Mets, Orioles, Cardinals, Cienfuegos Elefantes, and Cleveland Browns – and the chapter’s BasebALZ Alzheimer’s reminiscence project at the November chapter meeting on Saturday.

Monte Cely, donning an Elefantes cap, created and shared a trivia quiz about Cuban baseball history, which Dan Walsh won. For his efforts, Dan was awarded a Minor League Baseball signed by the son of National Baseball Hall of Fame member Martin Dihigo. Jim Baker (in his usual Mets gear) and Chuck Kaufman tied for second, receiving a Che Guevara bookmark and Cuban peso, respectively.

Monte also shared some details from his trip to Cuba with the SABR Cuban Ball group in September. Two dozen SABR members spent a week in Cuba, attending baseball games and taking in Cuban culture.

Other topics included the MLB Awards (such as Jose Altuve’s dominant selection as AL MVP over Aaron Judge), the postseason and thrilling (for some) World Series. We also briefly discussed Bill James’ essay about the Altuve/Judge MVP vote and WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which appear to be his first public statement about that particular statistic. Here’s a link to his critique: https://www.billjamesonline.com/judge_and_altuve/

Astros fans Bill Gilbert, Raeanne Martinez and this author wore Astros championship gear recognizing the team’s dramatic postseason run. Linda Cely, who often bakes a tray of desserts for chapter holiday gatherings, wore a Cardinals shirt. Ryan Pollack, analyst and writer for The Hardball Times and coordinator of the chapter’s annual winter meeting, was clad in an Orioles shirt. Tom Wancho, who joked that the group should expand conversation topics beyond baseball, wore a Cleveland Browns shirt. Dodgers fan Jerry Miller donned a 1988 World Series Champs shirt. Man of many caps Jan Larson was nearly unrecognizable when he appeared cap-less.

Ira Siegel wore a shirt with the logo for BasebALZ, the Hornsby Chapter’s reminiscence project, which just completed its seventh season of programming. Read more about those activities by clicking here: http://www.sabrhornsby.org/2017/11/basebalz-wrap-up-2017/

Predictatron impresario Jim Baker presented this author a framed certificate for winning the chapter’s regular season Predictatron by virtue of successfully selecting the Houston Astros as 2017 World Series Champs. Had the Los Angeles Dodgers won the Series, then runner-up Bill Gilbert would’ve taken the Predictatron title. As a result of winning their divisions, Gilbert Martinez and Wells Oliver will have the Predictatron divisions named in their honor for the 2018 season.

This was the 132nd consecutive month in which the chapter has met, a streak dating to December 2006.

Meanwhile, planning for the 12th Annual Rogers Hornsby Chapter Winter Meeting in San Marcos continues. Save the date: Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. We hope to see you then at Texas State’s Old Main building!

We’ve also set the date for our next monthly chapter meeting. It will be at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at Serranos (5030 W. U.S. Highway 290) in Southwest Austin.

Gilbert Martinez with the certificate recognizing his 2017 Predicatron Championship (Photo by Charles Kaufman).

Dodgers even the World Series with the Astros at chapter watch party

A dozen chapter members and guests gathered at Jim Baker’s house on Saturday and saw the Los Angeles Dodgers even the World Series with the Houston Astros two games apiece.

Dodgers fans Jerry Miller (pictured below) and Dan Walsh cheered on their Dodgers, while Astros fans had little to shout about in the 6-2 win by the Dodgers in Game 4, played at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Jim Baker provided tasty pulled pork sandwiches and sliders. Raeanne Martinez baked delicious brownies accented with Astros-orange sprinkles. Many thanks to Jim, Raeanne and everyone who brought snacks, beverages and goodies to our watch party.

We also had a score-prediction contest won by Jerry Miller who forecast a 6-4 Dodgers win. Two others also picked the Dodgers to win by two runs, but Jerry was the only one to get the Dodgers’ tally correct. For his effort, Jerry won a program from the inaugural year of the Round Rock Express.

Now, with a deciding World Series Game 7 on tap for Nov. 1, we get maximum baseball. No one knows who will prevail, but I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about at our next meeting in November (to be determined).

 

 

 

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.