SABR 48 – The Closer

Let’s start our SABR 48 Saturday with a 1979 Pirates players’ panel featuring pitchers John Candelaria and Grant Jackson. Nothing like a cup of coffee and two former major leaguers telling stories out of school. Both personalities contribute to a fun session with tales from the field, the clubhouse and even from the streets of Montreal.

SABR48-Candy-Grant

Three different committee meetings follow, including BioProject, Nineteenth Century (which I attended) and Statistical Analysis. [If you’re not a baseball fan, you’re probably thinking — if you hadn’t already throughout this series of posts — “What’s wrong with this guy?”]

Now it’s time to learn how to perform baseball research with SABR’s Cecilia Tan. Very interesting discussion with a variety of authors of research articles. I’m impressed with how these folks are willing to dive into an extensive baseball research project and submit their results for SABR publication. I learn quite a bit from this session.

At noon I take time to soak in poster presentations. SABR offers this medium to present your research project without having to speak to a roomful of other researchers.

Friends from Virginia, a husband and wife whom I met through baseball [Imagine that!], display their poster on Pirates’ season openers. Great work, Lisa and Gordon!

SABR48-Poster-Lisa-Gordon

I attend Branch Rickey’s Pirate years, the Baseball and the Arts research committee meeting, Negro Leagues = Major Leagues presentation, and wrap up the day with Ford Frick’s 61* ruling by Dave Bohmer. There’s one more round of sessions; however, it’s a beautiful Saturday and there’s a new ballpark to visit.

We say our goodbyes, tip our caps to SABR 48, and then we’re on our way to West Virginia. A straight shot down I-79 gets us to Monongalia County Ballpark as the Pirates’ Class A short-season affiliate West Virginia Black Bears host the State College Spikes (St. Louis farm team) in a New York-Penn League tilt.

The artificial turf reminds me of Washington, PA, where the independent Wild Things play alongside I-70. The ballpark proves cozy featuring a few suites, standing room in right field (near the craft beer stand) and a beautiful mountaintop view.

Monongalia-County-Ballpark

The concession stands feature a variety of selections. While in line I notice a fan walking away with a fine-looking cheese steak and seasoned fries. I immediately call an audible and order one to accompany my WV-brewed IPA.

Black-Bears-Food

We enjoy our standing room tickets from beyond 1st base. The Pirates recent 2018 #1 amateur draft selection, Travis Swaggerty, collects three hits from the three hole and gets good jumps in centerfield.

As a bonus, the home team rallies from a 5-0 deficit to score 9 unanswered runs. We join the Black Bears and the crowd in celebrating the home victory with a post-game fireworks display.

Our final SABR 48 destination is one of Mitch’s go-to diners for Sunday brunch. Eggs-R-Us serves omelettes and the largest breakfast burritos I’ve ever seen.

Before I head back east on the turnpike we tentatively arrange our bottling at Copper Kettle Brewing. That’s when the curtain will officially fall on our SABR 48 experience (and where we’ll pick up next time). Thanks for reading!

SABR 48 Between Inning Brewmasters

The Copper Kettle Brewing Company offers more than 40 recipes from which to choose. We belly up to the bar to sample a few. We decide on a Kolsch-style ale to celebrate summertime.

Houghs

Mitch had previously brewed an English Brown ale so he knows the drill. We mix the batch, name our brew, design the bottle label and then return in 3-6 weeks to bottle and walk out with our cache of goods.

Following a quick, delicious lunch at a nearby establishment (and a Dogfish Head 60-Minute), we return to begin our brewing process. The CKB staff member asks for a volunteer, but I’m at the ready before he finishes his sentence.

Within the next moment I’m scooping out the precise amounts of Carapils, Munich and Pilsen grains. We’re even invited to chew on a few kernels.

Once that all leaches into our kettle of water, Chris is stirring while I gently pour in about two pitchers of malt extract. Finally, Chris measures out the Hallertau and Tettnanger hops to add to our concoction.

That’s our final step … for 3-6 weeks. Mitch says it’s a built-in excuse that I must return to Pittsburgh within that time frame.

To keep my impatient mind occupied, we depart for downtown to register onsite for SABR 48!

SABR 48 – Top of the 1st

As the curtain falls on another school year and my continuing education, I become increasingly excited for SABR 48 and our peripheral plans. I’m to pull up to Mitch’s place by 11 AM on Wednesday.

A few days before, he explains that we have lunch reservations at 1. Afterward we could drive downtown to register for SABR 48 and attend the opening reception. Of course, we’d leave enough time to visit a downtown pub in-between.

“Wait a minute. Lunch ‘reservations’? Do I need to bring a suit and tie?” Mitch chuckles into the phone and assures me that wouldn’t be necessary. Nonetheless, lunch would be a surprise for me.

Despite some driving rains along the PA Turnpike, I make decent time and park in front of Mitch’s home at 10:55 AM. After a little settling in, the three of us are on our way to my “surprise” lunch.

We park on a narrow street in a nondescript neighborhood. We walk toward Hough’s, an inviting taproom on Greenfield Avenue.

Houghs-OnTap

Except that Hough’s doesn’t open until 4 PM! So Mitch casually pulls open the door adjacent to Hough’s. I walk into a large room filled with brewing kettles, glass jars of ingredients and delightful aromas.

Welcome to my surprise: brewing our own batch of ale at The Copper Kettle Brewing Company! Because I enjoy hoisting back a craft brew now and then, I’d been asked many times whether I’d ever brewed my own. My response is always the same: “I don’t have the patience.”