2009 Event Recaps

November 7, 2009 - Seattle, WA | August 15, 2009 - Vancouver BC | July 11, 2009 - PGE Park, Portland OR | May 16, 2009 - Safeco Field, Seattle WA | February 21, 2009 - City Hall, Tigard OR | January 24, 2009 - Safeco Field, Seattle, WA

November 7, 2009 - Seattle, WA

The Northwest Regional Chapter of SABR (NWSABR) met on Saturday, November 7, 2009, from 12:15pm until just after 5pm at Seattle Pacific University (SPU). More than thirty (30) members and guests were in attendance, including students from host Bill Woodward’s SPU class on the History of Baseball.

Speakers included special guests Pat Gillick (former General Manager of various ML teams including the Seattle Mariners) and Steve Cox (Seattle Pilots documentary filmmaker), as well as NWSABR members Bill Woodward, Monica Nucciarone, and John Henshell.

The meeting began with NWSABR Chapter President Tim Herlich formally debuting the brand new NWSABR website located at: http://chapters.sabr.org/nwsabr/. As Tim explained, Peter Garver of the National SABR office implemented the site, using the same general template as those used by other SABR regional chapters. Content was provided to Peter by Tim, chapter secretary Mary Groebner, and chapter member Dave Eskenazi (photos). Dave will continue to work with Peter to more fully flesh out the photo portion of the site, while Tim, John, and Mary will be trained to take over maintenance of the site. Many thanks to Peter Garver and the National SABR organization for their support. Please explore your new site. Suggestions/feedback welcome.

The first presenter of the day was SPU faculty and NWSABR member Bill Woodward. As he has done in prior years, Bill is once again teaching a class on the history of baseball from its beginnings up through the present. This year, Bill chose to segment the historical progression into particular eras, titled with biblical references. Several of Bill’s students were in attendance as he asked fellow NWSABR members for feedback/suggestions on elements to include or exclude from the course. Discussion focused specifically on era 6 (Pete, James & John 1977-1994), and era 7 (Numbers and Revelations 1994-present). Members wishing to provide further comment to Bill are encouraged to do so.

After a short break, NWSABR member Monica Nucciarone gave a presentation on her recently published book Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend (University of Nebraska press, 2009). Monica provided a brief overview of Cartwright’s life, and its intersection with baseball origins as told by oral history versus documented evidence. She also gave the chapter an update on what the reactions to her book have been thus far.

Featured speaker Pat Gillick was next up, introduced by Seattle Mariners Vice President Bart Waldman. Attendees were surprised to learn that after the young minor league pitcher’s playing career had ended, he had considered becoming an FBI agent. A job offer from the Houston Colt 45s front office redirected Gillick, who went on to have an impressive career working as General Manager for the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and Philadelphia Phillies, winning World Series for two of those teams while breaking a major league record for wins in a season (116, in 2001) for our own Seattle Mariners. Gillick continues to work as a consultant for the Phillies, and he and his wife Doris have chosen to make Seattle their permanent home. With no formal presentation, chapter members (and SPU students) were lucky to have a chance to ask numerous questions of this truly accomplished individual. Questions ranged from who influenced him most (former Blue Jays CEO Peter Hardy), to whether he thought there should be, or will be, instant replay (yes), to his best (Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar) and worst trades (yes, we talked about Jeff Cirillo), and how he goes about building teams (utilizing a mix of statistical evidence and more subjective knowledge, including that gathered from clubhouse attendants). Many thanks to both Pat and Bart for a fascinating discussion.

After another short break, NWSABR member John Henshell presented Part 2 of the ‘Reversing the Aging Process’ presentation that he had begun at the meeting held last February in Tigard, OR. In this presentation, John provided lists of players who had been arrested or convicted of specific types of offenses (domestic violence, DUI, assault) that may or may not be indicative of a performance-enhancing drug presence. Chapter members provided feedback (sometimes raucously) to John in preparation for Part 3.

Chapter president Tim Herlich then took care of some chapter business.

  • We passed the hat, collecting donations to reimburse Tim for the floral arrangement sent for the funeral of beloved chapter member Paul Andresen. Any funds over the cost of the arrangement will go into the chapter treasury. As Paul was the treasurer, Tim solicited the membership for a new treasurer; no one immediately volunteered. If you are interested in serving as chapter treasurer, please contact Tim.
  • Much conversation took place over the idea, proposed by member Mike Rice, that we might name the NWSABR chapter after Paul – or – the alternate idea that we establish a chapter-specific award in Paul’s name. The latter suggestion seemed to have more resonance with those in attendance, but specific details (what the award would be given for, how often, etc.) remain to be discussed after more thought.
  • Tim also discussed future meeting dates; as usual, we intend to have a chapter meeting in conjunction with Seattle Mariners Fanfest (January 30, 2010), a President’s day weekend meeting in the Portland area (February 13), followed by a spring meeting (May 22). Site of the May meeting was open for discussion, with potential locations of Seattle (in conjunction with a Mariners game against the San Diego Padres) or Tacoma (in conjunction with a Tacoma Rainiers game vs. New Orleans). Further discussion to take place regarding this meeting. Comments/suggestions? Reach out to Tim or John.
  • John also asked whether the chapter would be interested in meeting in Portland this summer for a trip to PGE park in its last year as host to the Portland Beavers.
  • Chapter members were reminded that the annual SABR convention (SABR40) will be held in Atlanta this year (August 5-8), and that SABR41 is intended for somewhere in the Los Angeles area in 2011. Neal Traven put out the annual call for reviewers and judges as well as presenters.

Lastly, featured guest Steve Cox regaled us with very entertaining stories and video gathered during his work on a documentary about the 40th anniversary of the Seattle Pilots. Judging from the stories told and footage shown, NWSABR members eagerly await the release of this film, and congratulate Steve Cox on a solid accomplishment.

The meeting adjourned shortly after 5pm, with several members heading to local watering-hole Nickerson Street Saloon for additional discussion and refreshments.

Special thanks due to Bill Woodward and Seattle Pacific University for allowing use of their facilities.

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August 15, 2009 - Vancouver BC

Approximately thirty NWSABR members and guests attended the meeting, which was held at Nat Bailey Stadium courtesy of Vancouver Canadians owner and SABR member Jake Kerr. Featured guests were Ossie Chavarria and John Haar, pictured below. Chavarria was a former utility man for the Kansas City A's and Vancouver Mounties who also enjoyed a long career as an umpire. John was a standout UBC athlete, spent time in the minors for SF and NYY, and has contributed immensely to baseball in Canada. Both received universal acclaim from a very appreciative audience as two of the best speakers we've had.

John Harr and Ossie Chavarria
John Harr and Ossie Chavarria

After the meeting, many gathered at the residence of Max Weder and Jennifer Ettinger for a social BBQ, then returned to Nat Bailey to watch the Canadians come from behind in the bottom of the ninth to beat Tri-City 6 to 5. All in all, a great day of baseball and comradery! Thanks to Max Weder and Kit Krieger for organizing the entire event.

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July 11, 2009 - PGE Park, Portland OR

On Saturday July 11, 2009 NWSABR had an informational booth at the AAA All-Star FanFest held at PGE Park in Portland, OR.  Reaching out to potential members were chapter president Tim Herlich (and wife Leslie), chapter vice-president John Henshell, former chapter president Bob Russon, and chapter members Mike Lynch and Mary Groebner.  The booth displayed publications distributed by SABR available to members only, numerous books that had been written by NWSABR chapter members, a special Portland-baseball focused quiz from John Henshell and the requisite SABR brochures.  Several attendees signed up for the NWSABR mailing list, but many more took brochures or just stopped to chat and check in on what SABR really is.  Special thanks to Bob Russon for working out the logistical details and booth set-up/breakdown.

Bob Russon manning NWSABR booth at PGE Park
Bob Russon manning NWSABR booth at PGE Park
Maury Brown after visiting NWSABR booth manned by Mike Lynch, Leslie & Tim Herlich, and Mary Groebner
Maury Brown after visiting NWSABR booth manned by Mike Lynch, Leslie & Tim Herlich, and Mary Groebner
Mike Lynch, Leslie & Tim Herlich, and Mary Groebner manning the booth (John Henshell taking photos)
Mike Lynch, Leslie & Tim Herlich, and Mary Groebner manning the booth (John Henshell taking photos)

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May 16, 2009 - Safeco Field, Seattle WA

The Northwest Regional Chapter of SABR (NWSABR) met on Saturday, May 16, from 12 noon to 5pm at Safeco Field. Approximately twenty-five members and guests were in attendance. Featured guests were Tony Blengino of the Seattle Mariners, former major league ballplayers Bill North and Joe Staton, and SPU engineering student Ben Walker.

Former Major League ballplayers Joe Staton (called up by the A.L. East champion Detroit Tigers during the heat of the 1972 pennant race and again late 1973, played with the Mexican League champion Mexico City Reds in 1974) and Billy North (center fielder on the World Champion Oakland A's of 1973-74 and NL pennant-winning Los Angeles Dodgers of 1978) led off the meeting. Joe and Billy are native Seattle-ites and graduates of Garfield High School.

They shared memories of their careers, as well as thoughts on various issues affecting baseball today and answered questions. Additionally, they spoke passionately of their desire to ‘give back’ and help at-risk area youth through their involvement in the Revive Baseball in the Inner-Cities (RBI) program. Joe is Board President of the Central Area Youth Association; Billy provides hitting instruction to area youth. Together, they are hoping to find funding to construct an indoor hitting facility to complement the RBI program in Seattle. Bill’s mom Frances and nephew Marlon were also in attendance, sometimes offering their own recollections on aspects of Bill’s career.

After chapter president Tim Herlich took care of some chapter business, the meeting continued on with Seattle Pacific University (SPU) engineering student Ben Walker’s presentation of his Honors project, which dealt with the evolution of design in baseball bats, and impact of design/materials on batted ball speed. Chapter member Bill Woodward, a faculty member at SPU, was one of the supporters and readers of Ben’s work which we hope will be published at some future point in a SABR publication.

Following Ben’s presentation, Tony Blengino, Assistant to Mariners GM Jack Zdurienck engaged us with a question and answer session for over an hour. Tony is a long-time SABR member, though new to the Northwest Chapter. Topics discussed were wide-ranging from how Tony transformed himself from an accountant into a GM’s assistant, to minor league prospects and organizational philosophy to potential draft picks.

Lastly, member Mike Rice led a quick discussion on the state of the Mariners and their minor leagues in what can only be considered a rebuilding year.

The meeting adjourned at 5pm, with many members heading to local watering-hole establishments before returning to attend the Mariners-Red Sox game later that evening.

Special thanks due to Randy Adamack and the Seattle Mariners for allowing use of facilities at Safeco Field.

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February 21, 2009 - City Hall, Tigard OR

The Northwest Regional Chapter of SABR (NWSABR) met on Saturday, February 21, from 12 noon to 5pm at Tigard City Hall. Approximately twenty members and guests were in attendance. Featured speakers were Portland Beavers play-by-play announcer Tim Hagerty, and members Mark Armour and John Henshell.

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January 24, 2009 - Safeco Field, Seattle, WA

The Northwest Regional Chapter of SABR (NWSABR) met on Saturday, January 24, from 12 noon to 3pm at the Ellis Pavilion of Safeco Field in Seattle during Mariners Fan Fest. Approximately thirty members and guests were in attendance. Featured speakers were Seattle Mariners new General Manager Jack Zduriencik and Manager Don Wakamatsu, V.P. of Communications Randy Adamack, 1st Base Coach Lee Tinsley and V.P. of Legal and Government Affairs Bart Waldman. A great deal of gratitude is in order to Kevin Martinez and the Seattle Mariners organization for providing the speakers and the venue for this meeting.

More information about the meeting can be found in the 2008-2009 Annual Report.

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