Baseball BeatJuly 27, 2009
A Tribute to the Society for American Baseball Research
By Rich Lederer

The Society for American Baseball Research meets for its annual convention in Washington, D.C. this week (July 30-August 2).

Known as SABR 39, the schedule includes 42 research presentations by members, including incoming president Andy McCue (American League Expansion of 1961), Mike Emeigh (Bullpen Evolution, 1960-2008), Retrosheet founder David W. Smith (Does Running the Bases Harm Pitching Performance?), Steve Treder (The Value Production Standings, 1946-2008), Chris Jaffe (The Baseball Philosophy of Charles Comiskey), Phil Birnbaum (Do Players Try Harder When a Big Goal is in Sight?), and Mark Armour (A Tale of Two Umpires).

The schedule of events also includes MLB and Negro Leagues player panels, more than 20 committee meetings, a Library of Congress presentation, Retrosheet's annual meeting, an awards luncheon, and three ballgames (Red Sox @ Orioles on Friday night, the Potomac Nationals on Saturday evening, and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs on Sunday afternoon.

One of the many benefits of being a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (which I originally joined during the early 1980s and returned more than five years ago) is access to the organization's SABR-List Digest, a moderated research and information forum that is circulated via email to subscribers on a daily basis. In honor of SABR and its annual convention, I wanted to share highlights of the SABR-L for the past week.

  • While Washington, D.C. is the host city for this year's convention, Mark Pattison urges readers not to neglect "our neighbor to the north" and lists the top Baltimore baseball milestones as voted on by SABR members:

    1. September 6, 1995: Cal Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record at Camden Yards

    2 (tie). 1954: Major league baseball returns to Baltimore as the transplanted St. Louis Browns become the new Orioles

    2 (tie). April 6, 1992: Camden Yards opens, the first of the nouveau-retro style ballpark copied by major- and minor-league teams since

    4. October 15, 1970: Orioles win the World Series at Memorial Stadium; Brooks Robinson named Series MVP

    5. October 9, 1966: Orioles first World Series championship at Memorial Stadium

    6 (tie). February 6, 1895: Babe Ruth is born in Baltimore

    6 (tie). 1971: The Orioles boast four 20-game winners in their starting rotation: Dave McNally, Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson

    8. December 9, 1965: Frank Robinson, an “old 30,” joins Baltimore in a trade with Cincinnati for Milt Pappas, and wins the Triple Crown in ‘66

    9. 1988: The Orioles’ 21-game losing streak to start the season

    10. 1901: Major league baseball returns to Baltimore as the Orioles join the American League

  • Paul Lukas shares an article and two videos (part one and part two) about the design and production of Hall of Fame plaques, as well as a Q&A with HoF president Jeff Idelson about the selection of which caps go on the plaques.

  • Baseball Analysts guest columnist David Vincent responds to a question posed by Gary Collard, "Had anybdy ever hit leadoff and walkoff homers before Ian Kinsler did so on Sunday 7/21?"

    Billy Hamilton, 05/17/1893 @ PHI

    Vic Power, 05/07/1957 @ KC

    Darin Erstad, 06/25/2000 @ ANA

    Reed Johnson, 06/15/2003 @ TOR

  • Steve Nadel, who has attended games in 46 major league ballparks, reported that Mark Buehrle, the author of the 18th perfect game in MLB history last week, is the only pitcher to hurl three minimum batters faced (MBF) games. He provided links to Buehrle's gems on July 21, 2004 and April 18, 2007. Five years ago, the southpaw allowed two hits but retired both baserunners with double plays. In his no-hitter two years ago, he walked Sammy Sosa and immediately picked him off.

  • "Courtesy of our SABR buddy Stew Thornley," Bob Kerler provides a list of "all perfect games broken up with two out in the ninth (with single unless otherwise noted)":

    7/4/1908—George Wiltse, NY Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies, (hit George McQuillen with pitch; Wiltse finished with a 10-inning no-hitter)

    8/5/1932—Tommy Bridges, Detroit vs. Washington, Dave Harris

    6/27/1958—Billy Pierce, Chicago White Sox vs. Washington, Ed FitzGerald (2B)

    9/2/1972—Milt Pappas, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego, Larry Stahl (walk; Pappas finished with a no-hitter)

    4/15/1983—Milt Wilcox, Detroit at Chicago White Sox, Jerry Hairston

    5/2/1988—Ron Robinson, Cincinnati vs. Montreal, Wallace Johnson

    8/4/1989—Dave Stieb, Toronto vs. New York Yankees, Roberto Kelly (2B)

    4/20/1990—Brian Holman, Seattle vs. Oakland, Ken Phelps (HR)

    9/2/2001—Mike Mussina, New York Yankees at Boston, Carl Everett

    You can access additional no-hit esoterica compiled by Thornley.

  • Selected other topics over the past week included the history and development of the defensive shift, the whys and wherefores of Brooks Robinson's short-brim helmet, and the accuracy of a baseball scene in Public Enemies, the recently released movie about John Dillinger.

    The purpose of the Society for American Baseball Research, which was formed in August 1971, is to foster the research, preservation, and dissemination of the history and record of baseball. According to its "About Us" page, SABR shall carry out that mission through programs:

    1) To encourage the study of baseball, past and present, as a significant athletic and social institution;

    2) To encourage further research and literary efforts to establish and maintain the accurate historical record of baseball;

    3) To encourage the preservation of baseball research materials; and

    4) To help disseminate educational, historical and research information about baseball.

    You can sign up to become a member of the Society for American Baseball Research here.