I’ve attended the annual Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) convention every summer since 2004, but often skip the awards luncheon because a) it’s awfully expensive for some mediocre chicken, b) sometimes there’s an actual baseball game going on at the same time, and c) if there isn’t an actual baseball game there’s definitely some drinking to be done.
My luncheon attendance also depends a lot on the keynote speaker. Marvin Miller and Jim Bouton were must-attends for me no matter the price, but some of the others haven’t really piqued my interest.
This year’s convention is in California and not surprisingly SABR has landed a big-name keynote speaker in agent Scott Boras, so I may have to attend simply because he’s been such a frequent topic here at Hardball Talk. Maybe he’ll even take some questions, in which case I can ask about his relationship with Jon Heyman or his current take on the wonderful Oliver Perez/Sandy Koufax comparisons. Or maybe even think of a worthwhile question. It’s not until July, after all.
Incidentally, I highly recommend going to the SABR convention. If you love baseball and hanging out for a few days with other people who love baseball, it’s tough to beat.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.