The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is holding its 43rd annual convention this week in Philadelphia, and attending it was a very exciting experience.
On Thursday, the first full day of SABR 43, David Montgomery, the President of the Phillies, spoke to us about how glad he is that SABR 43 is being held in Philly. The last time SABR held its annual conference in the city was 1974. He also spoke about changes he has seen in Phillies baseball over the years and about the recent ballparks the Phils had played in. He also said several players on the Phils watch many tapes of pitchers that they will face that night. He said Chase Utley does the most the most of watching video. Montgomery gave a very interesting talk.
One of the first events at SABR 43 was the Annual Business Meeting, where the board discussed all of the things SABR has accomplished this past year. In the words of SABR president Vince Gennaro, the organization learned to be “pitchers, not throwers.” SABR also had a hugely successful year finding partners. This year the organization worked with the Baseball Hall Of Fame, Rawlings, and, of course, SI For Kids. Executive Director Marc Appleman said that SABR is very committed to kids and their families participating in events, so it was fun for me to represent SI Kids when he discussed how welcome children are at SABR. The meeting also decided that SABR 44 would be held in Houston, TX, and SABR 45 would take place in Chicago.
Another great event was the Phillies Player Panel, which was moderated by Phillies PA announcer Dan Baker. Gary “Sarge” Matthews, Brad “Lights-Out” Lidge and Dickie Noles all spoke on the panel. All three of these players are especially known as postseason heroes – Noles and Matthews each played in the 1980 World Series against the Kansas City Royals, while Lidge closed out the 2008 Fall Classic against the Tampa Bay Rays. Noles told me that his three favorite teammates on the 1980 team were Tug McGraw, Mike Schmidt, and Pete Rose. One attendee, a Dodgers fan (the team Matthews hammered in the 1980 NLCS), said he remembers Matthews giving him a dirty look when the man kept on calling Matthews a platoon player. He apologized and Matthews accepted the apology.
Lidge shared some memories, too. In the final game of the Phillies-Rays series, he said he got up to warm up in the bullpen but it was raining so hard that his first pitch flew into the stands. The weather was so bad that the game was delayed several days before it was finished. The game finally ended with Lidge on the mound, two outs in the ninth inning and the tying run at second. Tampa Bay sent in Eric Hinske to pinch-hit. Lidge got Hinske swinging at a slider that cut toward the dirt. The game was over, the Phils were world champs, and catcher Carlos Ruiz, outfielder Shane Victorino, first baseman Ryan Howard and the entire team started a dog pile with Lidge and Chooch on the bottom. This day was especially important for Lidge because that night he officially announced his retirement.
All in all, these three talks are just some examples of what made SABR 43 so much fun. SABR 43 continues until Sunday, August 2, so there is still time for fans walk in and register on-site.
Max Mannis is an 11-year-old special correspondent for sikids.com and a member of SABR. Catch his posts on advanced baseball statistics. To learn more about SABR and to join, visit www.sabr.org.
Photo: Max Mannis with Philadelphia Phillies president David Montgomery. (courtesy Max Mannis)