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Hall of Fame

February 3, 2011

Research group gathers at Hall

BY BILL DEANE

Not many people are thinking about baseball in late January, with snow piled on the ground, basketball and hockey seasons in full swing, and football’s Super Bowl less than a week away.

But more than 20 baseball enthusiasts gathered at the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Bullpen Theatre on Jan. 29, to participate in the second annual “SABR Day.’’

SABR (pronounced “saber’’), an acronym for the Society for American Baseball Research, was founded in Cooperstown on Aug. 10, 1971.

Cliff Kachline, historian of the Baseball Hall of Fame at the time, hosted a gathering of 16 serious baseball fans and historians at the National Baseball Library on that day, and an organization was formed.

As it approaches its 40th anniversary, SABR boasts nearly 7,000 members worldwide, with more than 50 local chapters in North America, Europe and Asia. SABR has had 39 annual conventions throughout the U.S. and Canada, and produced scores of publications.

SABR Day was conceived as a day for all local chapters to meet for a “hot stove’’ gathering, helping diehard baseball fans make it through the long winter.

After many informal gatherings over the years, the Utica-Cooperstown SABR chapter was formally organized in 2000, with Cliff Kachline still a vital presence. After Cliff’s death on June 28, 2010, the chapter was renamed in his honor.

The Jan. 29 local meeting was to include video-conferencing with two other SABR groups. Technical difficulties cut off the Cleveland connection, but Cooperstown was hooked up with San Francisco for nearly two hours.

A tour guide for the San Francisco Giants gave locals a virtual tour of AT&T Park, and shared a highlight video of the 2010 World Series, during which the Giants defeated the Texas Rangers for the world championship.

Afterward, Hall of Fame education program staffers Anna Wade and Julie Wilson, along with Librarian Jim Gates, shared World Series and Giants’ artifacts and displays with the San Francisco group.

Before the interactive program, the Kachline chapter had brief presentations by several of its members. Dick Hunt of Clinton, (president of the chapter) and Cooperstown organizer Jeff Katz discussed the chapter and the day’s agenda.

Peter Henrici spoke about quirks in early Hall of Fame voting, and noted that it was the 75th anniversary of the very first Hall election.

Rich Cohen of Hamilton spoke about former Giants’ owner Peter McGowan, who gave great cooperation in various events to honor 1904-14 Giants’ pitcher and Hamilton native Hooks Wiltse.

Jim Gates talked about various projects and events involving both SABR and the Hall. I delivered a challenging trivia quiz created by “Horsehide Trivia’’ quiz-master Scott Brandon for the occasion.

The Cliff Kachline chapter meets three or four times a year, and visitors are welcome. The next meeting is set for Sunday, July 24, Hall of Fame Induction day, at 6:30 p.m.

at Tillapaugh’s Funeral Home in Cooperstown. For further information about the local group, contact Jeff Katz at JKKatz@stny.rr.com; and about the organization itself, visit the website at SABR.org.

BILL DEANE is a Cooperstown resident and longtime SABR member.

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