As was mentioned last week, last Saturday brought the semi-Annual San Diego Ted Williams Chapter of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) meeting. The SD Central Library hosted, and we had about our average turnout (25-30 people).
I got downtown about 0910, armed with a large cup of coffee, my notebook, and an amplifier. Toting an amplifier through downtown early on a Saturday morning actually helped me blend in. I was amazed at the large number of people already formed up outside the library. I assumed they were waiting to get in until it became clear they were just … waiting.
Several of us got there early to set up; however, Pete Meisner of the library was all over it, having arranged chairs for the attendees and set up a podium for a wireless mike. We brought up a table for check-ins and other items, and moved 3 plush chairs to the front for Jodi, Geoff, and I to use during the round table. That took all of about 5 min, which was great for it left a lot of time for some small talk with a bunch of folks one only sees twice a year.
We delayed starting for 10 min to accommodate the fashionably late. Alan Mindell approached the podium and off we went.
Alan talked about the genesis of his book, The Closer. He’d started writing it 15 years ago, and has penned three novels to date. Chronologically he finished this book last, but it has become the first one published. The other two will be released at a future date. The book is set in 1999, in the One Wild Card Era. He talked about a specific plate appearance of his from I believe his junior year at UC Berkeley. Berkeley was playing at USC, then the #1 ranked team in the country. They were scoreless in the top of the 10th, when Alan came to the plate with the bases loaded and two out. He swung through a high 2-2 pitch he couldn’t lay off and struck out. That at-bat has kind of stuck with him throughout the years – he even said he can still see the pitch coming in his memory – and it served as the inspiration for one of the climactic scenes in the book.
He also mentioned one of the other players in the novel is loosely based on Albert Belle. No word on whether Alan’s character fires baseballs at photographers.
Like all good authors promoting their books, Alan brought copies of his to sell. I picked up a copy, as did several others, and look forward to reading it.
After a short break, the Bloggers Roundtable started. I’m never sure how these things will go before they start. I assume we’ve all been to one of those ‘all hands question and answer’ sessions at work, where the moderators scan the crowd for questions but the audience won’t volunteer any. Awkward. I had a list of 9 questions in my hip pocket – I did share them with Geoff and Jodi several days beforehand, it would be unfair not to – just in case crickets took over on the 8th floor. Those fears were unfounded.
For an hour the three of us fielded questions from the audience. All the expected ones got asked (“what do you think of the Chase Headley trade?” “Thoughts on the new GM and why folks turned down the opportunity to interview?”), as did multiple good questions on a wide range of topics. I had brought the amplifier to have a second microphone for the discussion but we didn’t need it at all. I learned a lot of things from my fellow panelists and the audience seemed to enjoy the give and take.
I know the Chapter Twitter account said it but I want to add my thanks to Jodi Paranal and Geoff Young for being a part of the Roundtable. It was fun for me and I hope it was an enjoyable experience for them as well.
Following another short break, Chapter member David Kinney talked about the Weiss Collection. One of the fantastic things about this Collection is the treasure trove of first-source baseball material in it. And it truly is a treasure trove. David brought copies of a Baseball Almanac from 1900, documenting the 1899 season. I imagine that is an extremely rare publication at this point in history. He brought other examples year in review publications from the 1900s and 1910s. Some of the cool things about these vintage magazines are the advertisements in them. One promoted the best glove on the market then, lined with ‘asbestos felt’. That’s not a typo.
He also showed Sports Illustrated magazines from 1952. Apparently there was a Sports Illustrated magazine before there was Sports Illustrated (est. 1954). And a magazine from the late 1940s called Baseball and Pinups, which as you’ve no doubt guessed included photos and articles on the Majors, interspersed with women in bathing suits – pinups, in the slang of the time.
Cataloguing all the items in the Collection is an enormous undertaking and the SABR Chapter has made great strides in that arena. It is most likely the Collection won’t be available to researchers until the cataloguing and inventorying is complete. If you’re interested in helping contact me and I’ll put you in touch with the right people.
Thanks to everyone who attended Saturday and we’ll look for you at our Winter meeting (Jan/Feb 2015).
Follow @SDSABR for chapter updates. SD SABR stuff appears on @PadresTrail as well for some reason…