Back in June, the Toronto Blue Jays stopped into my hometown of New York City for a series against the Yankees. And that gave me the chance to visit the Blue Jays clubhouse and ask many of them about tips they have for young baseball players. I actually spent two days talking to players for what was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had as a journalist.
Like a lot of 12-year-olds, Dawson Batts loves to play baseball. What sets him apart, though, is that he was born without a left arm. But that hasn't stopped the Fayetteville, North Carolina, tween from excelling on the diamond.
Last weekend, Dawson played in the National Youth Baseball Championships All-Star Challenge. (He was there representing MVP Nations Baseball.) He got some time at the plate and got in an at-bat. How'd he do? Watch and see:
From Wookie first pitches to minor leaguers dressed like droids, baseball clearly has an unhealthy obsession with Star Wars. So it was only a matter of time before someone got around to Force-ifying the 32 Major League Baseball logos. And the one to do it is Mark Avery-Kenny, the designer who reimagined NHL logos as Simpsons characters. LIke his last set, his Star Wars baseball logos are a home run (sigh). He posted them all on his Instagram page, but here are a few of our favorites:
SABR 44 wrapped up on Saturday with the most anticipated day of the conference for many attendees because two panels were held at Minute Maid Park, the home of the Houston Astros. The first was a fun storytelling panel, and the second was a bit more focused on the analytical side of the game.
The first panel was moderated by Astros broadcaster Bill Brown (the TV voice of the Astros for almost 30 years) and featured Larry Dierker, Alan Ashby, and Art Howe. Dierker spoke about one of the greatest thrills of his life, which was striking out legend Willie Mays when Dierker was only 18. They also shared their stories about how they got to the majors.
A quick addition to my previous post about Friday’s events at SABR 44:
The last panel of the day focused on women in baseball, which was moderated by SABR Board member and history professor Leslie Heaphy, who is an expert on the topic. It had been an exciting day for Leslie, because at the luncheon right before the panel she was given the Bob Davids Award.
The panelists covered many topics about women and their various roles in the sport, past and present. They were unanimous that baseball is moving toward appreciating all people for their expertise and skills and away from sexism that got in the way when women first started out in the media.
The second day of SABR 44 in Houston was just as exciting as day one.
Early in the day, author Rebecca Herman spoke about researching the different leadership styles of MLB managers and some of the most important skills needed in the clubhouse, like honesty, open communication with players, and being a teacher.
But the morning’s highlight was a panel focused on the 1980 Astros, remembering the team that was the first ever Astros team to make the playoffs. Tal Smith, the General Manager of that team told me that his favorite moment of that season was beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in a one-game playoff:
Jose Cruz was an infielder on that 1980 Astros team. He retired holding many franchise records. After the panel, he told me hat it meant to him to be on the Astros’ first playoff team:
Happy two million strikeouts, Major League Baseball! On July 27, Danny Salazar punched the milestone strikeout in Kansas City when Norichika Aoki went down swinging in the bottom of the seventh.
While individual landmarks are achieved throughout the majors on a frequent basis, this collective milestone combines the efforts of hundreds of pitchers. Every major leaguer who has ever taken the mound and notched a strikeout was a part of this moment.