Oklahoma Chapter/Society for American Baseball Research



The OklahSABR_logo-header2016oma Chapter of SABR was formed in May 2011. The chapter meets 2 to 4 times per year to share baseball-related experiences, memories, and knowledge. SABR members, guests and interested non-members are welcome. Meanwhile, please feel free to explore our site. Meaningful comments are always appreciated.

Howard L. Johnson, Chapter President



SABR-OK’s first met this year on February 24, 2018 in Binger, OK. We gathered at the Johnny Bench Museum (202 W. Main Street) at 11 AM. The museum contains a number of interesting artifacts from Bench’s youth, as well as his playing days and selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Among the more significant momentos were each of his All-Star Game bats, his entire collection of Gold Gloves, and his first National League MVP trophy. After the museum visit (largely self-guided) we re-convened at the nearby Binger Community Center (208 W. Main Street) for lunch, and a visit with Bench’s longtime friends (and the museum management) Buddy and Janet Britton, along with their daughter Sherry Hunt.The Brittons are retired school teachers who have known Bench from his boyhood years in Binger and Ms. Hunt was a recipient of an academic scholarship from the Johnny Bench Foundation. SABR-OK is grateful to our hosts for making the the meeting both informative and enjoyable.


SABR-OK offers its heartfelt thanks to Hank Coiner for arranging, hosting, and guiding the attendees to the various Mickey Mantle related sites around Miami and the Tri-State region. In Commerce we visited a restored Mantle family home where a young Mickey took “batting practice” thrown by his father and grandfather as well as the Mantle Memorial and sites of the various fields (some still in use) where the Commerce Comet played youth baseball. The trip extended to Baxter Springs, KS where Mickey played youth baseball and Joplin, MO where he spent his second professional season in 1950.
Hank entertained and informed us with anecdotes about the Mantle family and Mickey’s life in the area, both as a youth and during Major League off-seasons. Hank’s guidance included copies of some Mantle family documents. The side trips to view various “Bonnie and Clyde” crime spots interspersed with Mantle sites added to the groups enjoyment of the tour.
Additional kudos go to Kal Zitterkob for providing some statistical detail extracted from his stockpile of historical information on minor league ball in Oklahoma and to Ron Elliott for providing transportation and assuming driving responsibilities for a group of seven.

NE Oklahoma SABR-OK member Hank Coiner has put together an interesting tour for our next SABR-OK event.

We will meet at 1:30pm, June 24, 2017 in Miami, Oklahoma for a 60-mile roundtrip to Miami, Baxter Springs, Joplin and back. (details below)

Sites to be visited: 

1.  Pro ballpark locations in Miami.  
2.  NEO A & M, site of the Juco World Series (once).  Roger Ward was the coach.  Mickey Mantle memorial in Commerce. 
3.  Field of Dreams and whiz kid fields, Baxter Springs.
4.  Joe Becker, Joplin, rebuilt but field is the same as when Mantle played there. 




1:30pm – 4:00pm (we’ll carpool from Miami and leave at 1:45pm)  

We’ll try to take as few vehicles as needed.   

Call 405-625-1745 if you will want to join the caravan in progress.

 Meet at Subway near the I-44 Turnpike (1:30pm)

700 E. Steve Owens Blvd. Miami, OK

 Please RSVP to (oldwx@yahoo.com) by Thursday June 22 on if you’ll be joining us in Miami.


The Oklahoma Chapter of SABR met January 21, 2017 at Stillwater, OK
within the confines of Allie P. Reynolds Stadium on the campus of
Oklahoma State University. A group of 17 enthusiasts heard remarks from
head baseball coach Josh Holliday, assistant baseball coach James Vilade,
Dr. Justin Moss, horticulture professor and member of the turfgrass
breeding team in the Division of Agricultural Sciences and and Natural Resources,
and athletic fields superintendent Todd Tribble.

Coach Holliday stressed the importance of the lifetime value of a university
degree as a recruiting tool when in competition with professional teams
for accomplished athletes. He answered numerous questions related to running
a college baseball program, including the manner in which the NCAA
allowable funding of 11.7 scholarships is spread through a roster of
30 to 40 players.

Coach Vilade contrasted his college coaching experience with his extensive
experience in professional baseball both as a coach and scout. In response
to a question, he further stressed his committment to the nonprofit  Keeper of the Game and its outreach to “kids and young adults with special needs and disabilities.”

Professer Moss described some of the science behind OSU’s development
of bermuda turfgrass products which are used extensively on athletic fields
around the world, including on OSU’s basball, softball, and soccer fields
and even at the Beijing Olympics.

Mr. Tribble expounded on the problems and time commitment in maintaining athletic fields undergoing heavy use and described some of his methods for presenting
fields with a “warm-weather” look throughout a season whose first half
is conducted in a late winter – early spring environment. His presentation
concluded with a trip onto the field itself.

The chapter very much appreciates the cooperation of OSU personnel who
gave up a portion of their weekend to educate a small group of fans. A special
“Thank You” is extended to SABR member Ron Elliott and Wade McWhorter, OSU Assistant Director for Athletic Communications for organizing the event.


A new research report TOP and TOE 2016 Leaders by Howard Johnson has been posted.


OK-SABR met Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016 at Bricktown Brewery, 11909 E. 96th St. North, Owasso, OK. A guest presentation: Playing between the Lines: An Examination of Negro League Baseball in Oklahoma, 1892 to 1965, was presented by W. Jacob “Jake” Cornwell.  Mr. Cornwell has spent the last three years crisscrossing the state conducting interviews and research on the little-known history of black professional baseball in the state.  The meeting was well attended and the presentation engendered many comments and questions from the audience. OK-SABR thanks Mr. Cornwell for an interesting, informative, and provocative talk. We further extend our thanks to SABR member Kevin Johnson for organizing and promoting the meeting. OK-SABR will meet again late summer, most likely in the vicinity of Oklahoma City.

Note from author and chapter member Pete Pierce: “Red Dirt Baseball-The Post-War Years 1946-1961 has been published and is available through Amazon and book stores.  Red Dirt Baseball-Boom and Bust 1920-1942 is with the publisher and should be available late Spring.  I’m revising and expanding Red Dirt Baseball-The First Decades 1904-1919 (2013) by adding chapters on Bartlesville, Enid, McAlester, and Muskogee.  It will be published later this year.  Some time in 2017, a one volume abridged version of Red Dirt Baseball will be out.  If you’re in the Norman area, I’ll be teaching History of Baseball daily at 8 am beginning May 16.  No room assignment yet.  SABR members are always welcome to drop in.”

A new research report by Howard Johnson is available at:

2015 TOP and TOE Leaders


SABR-OK/Chisolm Trail Museum Event 10-17-2015, 12:30 PM

SABR-OK met at the Chisolm Trail Museum in Kingfisher at an event co-hosted with the museum spot-lighting its on-going exhibit featuring the life and times of Carl Mays, one-time Kingfisher resident and Major League pitcher. Mike Sowell, author of The Pitch That Killed, a detailed account of the story behind the pitch that killed Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman in August 1920. The event was also attended by members of the local community. In addition to Mr. Sowell’s remarks, Kyle Arrington, Mays’s grand-nephew, provided the group with further insight into Mays’s personality and the impact of the event on his (Mays’s) life.

The next OK-SABR chapter meeting will probably be in Tulsa at a date to be determined.

Hank Coiner’s book, containing a chapter on the 1921 Miami Indians and the Southwestern League is available for purchase from him for $10. For more information, contact Hank by e-mail at ‘coiner (at)  cableone.net.



The Chisolm Trail Museum in Kingfisher, OK has a display that should be of interest to OK-SABR members. The exhibit, entitled “Carl Mays – from Kingfisher to the Big Leagues” tracks Mays’s career from his sandlot days in Kingfisher County, OK through his days in the Major Leagues. Artifacts related to Mays and to early-day town baseball in Kingfisher County are on display. The museum is located at 605 Zellers Drive in Kingfisher (turn west on Highway 81 at either Overstreet or Seay Avenue and follow the signs). Museum hours are 10AM-5PM, Tuesday-Saturday. The exhibit will be in place through the summer. Howard Johnson and Ken Fischer viewed the exhibit on June 6 and recommend it to our members.

********* Oklahoma Chapter Meeting  Review ****************

The Oklahoma Chapter met on January 24 at the Chandler Baseball Camp. Discussions were informal but included: Hank Coiner’s research on professional baseball in northeastern Oklahoma during the early 20th century, Butch Schoenhals’s research on the mechanics of hitting, the current state of professional baseball in Oklahoma and, of course, members’ expectations for the upcoming major league season. Attendees who had not previously visited the camp were led on a guided tour by Butch Schoenhals. Members also viewed a film provided by Ken Fischer from his collection. We extend our thanks to Mike Bay for allowing us to meet at the camp and to Butch Schoenhals for making arrangements and serving as host.

The Oklahoma Chapter met on August 16 at the McNellie’s Pub near ONEOK Field in Tulsa for dinner, baseball talk and a brief business meeting followed by a visit to the ballpark to watch a Texas League contest between the Tulsa Drillers and the Frisco Rough Riders. The history of minor league baseball in northeastern Oklahoma was the main topic of conversation as several of the attendees are researching that topic. Additionally, Howard Johnson and Ken Fischer reported on their experience at the recent SABR national meeting in Houston.  Our appreciation is extended to Kevin Johnson for arranging the event.

The new owner of the historic Chandler Baseball Camp, Mike Bay, hosted our May 17, 2014 SABR-OK meeting at the camp site in Chandler, OK. Butch Schoenhals showed a short, professionally-produced film, narrated by Bobby Richardson, made some years ago about the camp. Following the film, Fred Vint led the group on a walking tour of the grounds, showing the state of the on-going rehabilitation of the camp, providing some interesting tidbits about the camp’s history, and discussing the camp management’s plans for operations once the renovations are completed. After the tour, Howard Johnson reviewed some work he is doing to incorporate base-running data into his offensive production model. Productive discussion followed.

The group tentatively agreed to next meet  August 16, 2014 in Tulsa.

Many thanks to Mike, Butch, and Fred for their hospitality. We had a great time.

All SABR events are open to the public.

********* Oklahoma Chapter Meeting  Review ****************
A small group of us met on August 24 with invited guest Jim Bryan. Jim shared some of his experiences as the former radio play-by-play man and more currently as a datacaster and official scorer with the Oklahoma City Redhawks. The group then engaged in general baseball talk emphasizing the availability of detailed historical baseball data on the internet. Howard Johnson presented his analysis of individual base running since 1947 as drawn from the play-by-play data produced and made available by Retrosheet.org, thus encouraging further discussion.






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