Results tagged ‘ Learning Center ’

Happy Birthday, SABR

By Craig Muder

It began 40 years ago today – Aug. 10, 1971 – at the Hall of Fame Library.

Four decades later, the Society for American Baseball Research has grown into one of the most influential research organizations in the sport. And on Wednesday, SABR members new and old took time to celebrate where it all began.

More than two dozen SABR members gathered at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Learning Center to swap stories and memories. Tom Hufford, one of the original 16 who was at the inaugural meeting 40 years ago, gave the keynote address to a group of devoted members including MLB Historian John Thorn and researcher extraordinaire Pete Palmer.

“The great things about this organization,” said Hufford, who was a student at Virginia Tech when he joined SABR, “is that you learn things all the time.”

Today, SABR has more than 6,000 members in 35 chapters around the world – including the Cliff Kachline Chapter in Cooperstown. Kachline, the Hall of Fame’s longtime historian who passed away in 2010, was also among the first 16 members of SABR present at that initial meeting in 1971.

“In the spring of 1971, Bob Davids, who had freelanced for years for the Sporting News, sent letters to about 40 ‘statistorians’ – baseball fans who he knew to have a strong interest in the numbers of the game,” Hufford said. “He thought there might be about 25 to 30 people out there who would want to join an organization like this.

“Dues were $10. Cliff Kachline helped us organize that first meeting at the Hall of Fame a day after the 1971 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. And within a month, we had 50 members. Within a year, we were up over 100 – and we thought we might have something.”

Today, SABR has a new national office in Phoenix, Ariz. And the research produced by SABR members touches thousands of fans every day.

Forty years ago, that research began in earnest.

“I think SABR members feel like coming to Cooperstown is coming home,” said Marc Appleman, SABR’s executive director. “Being in SABR is wanting to share your love of baseball with others. And that’s what the Hall of Fame is about, too.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Lessons during Spring Break

By Samantha Carr

On Tuesday, a man donning a familiar Pittsburgh Pirates uniform No. 21 stood before a crowd of fans at the Hall of Fame and told the story of his life.

No, it wasn’t the real Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash while bringing relief supplies to Nicaragua following an earthquake in 1972. Instead, actor Greg Kenney performed his family-friendly performance of Roberto: Chat with an Angel.

“After a while, the powers that be allow you to come back and tell your story – as an angel of course,” he said.

The program is part of Youth Baseball Week at the Baseball Hall of Fame. With many kids out of school for Spring Break, the Museum has provided daily educational programs for kids of all ages through Friday.

Kenney who writes and performs about figures in history as part of Educate Us Productions has presented in 12 states over the past 11 years. At the Hall of Fame on Monday, Kenney told the story of Jackie Robinson in “Jackie: Cross the Line.”

Other programs throughout the week will allow visitors to recreate a baseball game radio broadcast, virtually connect to the Louisville Slugger Museum and learn about the science behind the game.

“I was known for my basket-style catch and my rocket arm,” Kenney said as Clemente.

Kenney told the story of Clemente’s upbringing, how he was faced with racism, and his successful career as a Hall of Fame baseball player. The wide-range of topics and stories showed kids and adults alike how Clemente overcame challenges to earn respect.

“My wife Vera gave me some advice when I first wanted to quit baseball,” said Kenney. “She told me ‘You never quit when you’re down – you have to give it one more try’. And that advice I want to pass along to my young friends at the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

A packed room in the brand new Learning Center at the Museum took those words to heart and learned about a man who not only won four batting crowns and smacked 3,000 hits, but was known for his humanitarianism, integrity and smile.

“There was one thing that made me very happy about playing Major League Baseball…the fans,” said Kenney. “The kids were the ones who truly made me happy because the kids really love baseball.”

Known for signing autographs for hours and always earning admiration from his teammates, Clemente won the hearts of baseball lovers during his career as Kenney won them all over again with his program. For kids on break from school, there are still important lessons to learn – and Kenney used baseball and the story of one of its legends to teach kids one on Tuesday.

“You have to keep on working to reach the goals you set for yourself in your life.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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