Chicago (Emil Rothe) Chapter SABR Meeting – April 14, 2007

Location: Chicago History Museum, Clark Street & North Avenue, Chicago

Attendees: Merle Branner, Barry Evans, Rich Hansen, Stuart Shea, Dave Stevens, Mark Fimoff, Judith Testa, Abbey Botkin, Jim Walker, Peter Yee, Dave Zeman, J.D. Gershbein, Gary Crawford, Wayne Stivers, Ryan Rutkowski, plus several unidentified guests of members.

Chapter officer Richard Smiley, who normally writes the minutes, was not in attendance.


1. With 20 members in attendance, the meeting began at 12:30pm. This was our first meeting here since the museum reopened. Thanks to Stuart Shea for arranging the room. We were given an overview, by Elizabeth Garibay of the CHM, of the many programs and activities sponsored by the museum. Elizabeth told the group about the new changes and programs the museum has to offer. We were also told that the museum was open to us after our meeting to go through.

2. Rich Hansen made several announcements concerning upcoming SABR-related events: The SABR National in St. Louis, MO on July 26-29, 2007; the upcoming June 9 chapter meeting at the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (which will include guest speaker Judith Testa discussing her book Sal Maglie's Southern Seasons--the Making of "Sal the Barber”); and the August 11 meeting at the Kane County Events Center to see a Cougars game.

3. Dave Zeman led the first topic, “How to Get Your Book Published.” Dave discussed the process he went through in publishing The Baseball Rookies Encyclopedia with Dave Nemec in 2004. This was Dave’s first book. His first experience with the publisher, Brassey’s, actually came after he applied there for a job.

Judith Testa and Stuart Shea also commented on their publishing experiences, differences in advance policies, and editing practices. Getting known is critical for a first-time author. Spending time at book industry conventions or the SABR national convention book room is a good first step.

4. Jim Walker was the next presenter with “Everything but the Game: A Photographic Essay.” A frequent presenter, Jim gave a light hearted view of the game with his slice-of-life slide show of his travels to several parks. This was followed by a discussion of the wave of new parks and the end of the multi-purpose stadiums.

5. Mark Fimoff followed with a different type of slide show: “Truth in Labeling: Deadball-era Photo Captions.” A new member of SABR, Mark quickly became involved with the pictorial committee. As described in a previous chapter newsletter, Mark reviewed some of the photos from the Bain collection (from the Library of Congress) that were reviewed by SABR. He described his research techniques to identify errors in the captions of each of five photos he reviewed, such as the players, dates, and parks. Mark also presented his review of several of the photos in the CHM photo collection. Unfortunately, over the years, many of these errors have made their way into books.

6. Barry Evans reviewed the results and conclusions of the member survey conducted by Richard Smiley. 20% of the members (65 of 325) responded. The results will be posted in full on the chapter website.

Briefly, the survey suggests that members would prefer bimonthly meetings, and that they last two hours. Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon are the preferred times. Lack of transportation to the meetings appears to be a problem for some members. Members prefer meetings to be held either in Downtown Chicago or on the North side of Chicago, and would prefer that meetings not be held in the Southern suburbs. Nearly all members had no objection to paying a small fee for the use of a meeting room. Most members also had no objection to hosting a meeting at a restaurant or sports bar. Members are most interested in ballplayers, managers, ex-players, scouts, and executives, speak to the chapter.

In addition, members like having authors present their books and chapter members present their research. Nearly half the respondents expressed interest in taking part in chapter activities in some way outside of attending meetings. Members favor having officer succession handled through nomination and showed little interest in having the chapter become a formal not-for-profit entity.

7. Merle Branner proposed moving ahead with chapter officer elections, in that the membership survey had addressed this point.

After some questions from the floor, it was confirmed that the national office does not have guidelines on how to hold elections, what positions are needed, or whether to have elections at all. Most chapters do not have a formal process. We discussed some of the steps needed to proceed with elections and agreed to continue this process.

Merle Branner reframed her motion to “That we start the change in leadership process with self-nominations of officers which would consist of Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer, and we will define their duties.” Ryan Rutkowski seconded this motion. It went before the group for a vote. Nobody opposed the motion, which therefore passed.

There were no specifics offered, and none accepted, at this point as to how the positions would be defined, how the election process will be carried out, or whether we should benchmark against other chapters’ work.

At this point, discussion between some members concerning chapter finances and how they should be administered became somewhat intense. All parties agreed to carry over discussion until the next meeting.

8. The silent auction was very successful in helping to fund postage and duplication for mailings. $60.00 was raised and collected by Merle Branner.

9. All were encouraged to attend the National Convention, Seymour Conference, and other local events.

10. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jon and Marge Daniels and hope that Marge returns to good health. It was great to see Jon again, even if he was wearing his Cardinals World Series jacket.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:00PM

Meeting minutes prepared by Rich Hansen and Merle Branner and synthesized by Stuart Shea.