Guest Columnist Max Kates and Norm King ~ at previous SABR function in Washington.
The 46th annual national convention of SABR has just concluded in Miami, Florida. Thanks to SABR member Max Kates and the intercession of his Larry Dierker SABR Chapter friend and member Mark Wernick, via an unsolicited request on our behalf, The Pecan Park Eagle is both blessed and pleased to publish the well written personal perspective of Max Kates on this biggest event in our SABR membership year. Hopefully, some of us from Astros and Rangers Country will make it to next year’s big convention in New York City – on that greatest island of all islands – the Isle of Manhattan!
Our thanks go out now to Max Kates for his fine report. And our thanks too to Mark Wernick for making Max available to The Pecan Park Eagle!
Reflections on the 2016 SABR 46 Convention in Miami, Florida
By Maxwell Kates
Guest Contributor to The Pecan Park Eagle
The convention began on Thursday morning with a welcoming speech by Marlins’ general manager Michael Hill. It was at the business meeting that not only the host city was announced for 2017, but also the host hotel and the weekend. SABR 47 is going to be held at the Park Hyatt in New York, June 28 to July 2. The theme of this year’s convention was South Florida and Cuba and the theme factored into a lot of the research presentations. All told I attended six presentations including one on “Dodgerland” by author Michael Fallon, one on the union’s boycott of Topps photographs in 1967 and 1968 with Mark Armour, one on the International League Miami Marlins, and one on the Havana Sugar Kings. Dave Smith won the Doug Pappas Award with “The Myth of the Closer” while Francis Kinlaw won the award for best poster presentation with his poster on the Herb Score beaning.
The first panel featured members of the 2003 World Champion Florida Marlins. Anchored by manager and storyteller extraordinaire Jack McKeon, the panel also included Marlins players Jeff Conine and Juan Pierre, along with broadcaster Dave Van Horne. It was a chronology of the Marlins’ unexpected run at the 2003 World Series, with stops at Wrigley Field for the infamous Game 6 and of course Yankee Stadium, narrated by Van Horne and illustrated with anecdotes by the players. Ozzie Guillen later appeared on a panel of Latino broadcasters and there was also a panel of Cuban players.
There were a lot of opportunities to get books signed. Some of the signed books I walked away with included Lyle Spatz’s book on the 1947 Yankees, Burton and Benita Boxerman’s latest on George Weiss, a new SABR book on the Cuban players by Bill Nowlin and Peter Bjarkman, Dodgerland, and Sam Zygner’s book on the minor league Miami Marlins, along with Jack McKeon’s autobiography.
Thursday night they did a screening of “Fastball” but I passed in order to have dinner with Bob and Susan Dellinger. Susan is the author of “Red Legs and Black Sox” and the granddaughter of Edd Roush. She directed a play during the SABR convention when it was held in Toronto. A number of the actors (including myself) joined us for dinner, along with token non-actor Paul Parker.
The keynote speech was handled a little differently this year. We had the luncheon and awards ceremony at the hotel and then boarded buses to Marlins Park. Prior to the game, Barry Bloom conducted interviews on the field with Don Mattingly, Andre Dawson, and Barry Bonds, while Tony Perez was interviewed by his son and Marlins broadcaster Eduardo. Bonds was surprisingly lucid and happy go lucky. There were no autographs or questions from the audience, probably both at Bonds’ request. We also listened to Claude Delorme about the engineering of Marlins Park. Delorme oversaw the construction of the ballpark.
One intrinsic highlight that could never have been scripted was that entering Friday’s game, Ichiro had 2,998 hits. Would he hit 3,000? Alas, Ichiro went 0-for-4 (so did Giancarlo Stanton) but Ichiro did execute an incredible 7-2 double play to save a run at the plate. It was an 11-6 victory for the visiting St. Louis Cardinals. The next night it was the Marlins turn to score 11 runs as they shut out the Cardinals (but Ichiro was still hitless).
Still with the 11 theme, that’s the number of conventions I attended. Houston (2014) is still #1 and Seattle (2006) #2 but Miami is definitely in the top four or five. Only drawback – the climate of Miami in July, the seemingly Frogger-like attempts it took to cross the street, and the proximity of the hotel to an incredibly unsafe neighbourhood. We were better off remaining in the hotel.
That being said, I arrived two days early in order to explore Miami and I’m glad I did. Tuesday I did a Big Bus Tour of the city of Miami with stops at the Vizcaya Museum, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, the Biltmore Hotel, the Venetian Pool, and Little Havana. Wednesday I did another Big Bus Tour of Miami Beach. There was a lot of Jewish interest on this tour, including the Jewish Museum of Miami, a very gripping Holocaust memorial, and the art deco Temple Emmanuel. We learned that 22% of Miami Beach is Jewish. That being said, I was surprised to learn that the Jewish population of Dade County has declined sharply and is now less than 100,000. Broward and Palm Beach, mind you, have made up for the decline.
Also on Wednesday, I met with a cousin of mine for lunch – he is a professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Miami who curated the main exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Miami. In fact, my family and I attended the opening of the exhibit at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach Gardens back in 1992. My cousin and I went to Wyndwood, a formerly very bad neighbourhood that is being gentrified – “hipsterfied” – and is now the home of the world’s largest collection of graffiti art.
What was the highlight? I can answer that in three words – MEETING ANDRE DAWSON. I somehow managed to get his attention as he was leaving the podium. If you ever met Mickey Mantle or any of his Yankee contemporaries – I think Bobby Shantz was your favourite – you know where I’m coming from. One of my first baseball games the Expos were playing the Cubs and when Dawson came to bat, my dad said “Watch this guy, he’s the best player in baseball.” The first pitch he saw went over the right field seats for a three run homer.
Hope this helps summarize the SABR convention. Hope to see you next year in Manhattan. MK.
Thanks again, Maxwell Kates! We hope to meet you in person next year too!
Bill McCurdy, TPPE
Publisher, Editor, Writer
The Pecan Park Eagle