Who are we?
As the Chicago-area chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), the Emil Rothe Chapter serves Chicagoland and beyond. It was first formed in 1976 by Rothe, a writer and researcher who reportedly saw more than 1,000 games featuring his beloved Cubs. He served as SABR’s vice-president in 1975-76 and co-hosted the 1976 SABR national convention in Chicago.
Chapter members gather regularly for meetings, ballgames, and informal lunches. All baseball fans are invited to attend our events and connect with us on our social media channels. To become a member of SABR, click here.
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By Jon Daniels
In July 1981, my wife Marge and I went to the SABR Convention held in Toronto. I was pleasantly surprised how well she socialized with the other attendees. By the end of the convention she was ready to join SABR. We made a side trip to Cooperstown and met up with Bob Davids and other SABR officers at the Hall of Fame Library. At that gathering she handed over her membership check to Executive Director Cliff Kachline and officially become a member of SABR. Little did I know at that time, how significant her contributions would be to the Emil Rothe Chapter.
The history of the Chicago Chapter goes back to November 17, 1976 when Emil Rothe hosted the first meeting of 10 members at his home. Earlier in that year in June, Chicago had hosted for the second time the Annual SABR Convention. Emil organized that conference which attracted 45 members. Emil became a member of SABR in 1973 but had been writing baseball articles for publications such as Baseball Digest many years before. Being a retired junior high school teacher provided him with plenty of time to continue his research (primarily on his favorite team the Cubs) and to organize chapter meetings. In 1983, SABR bestowed upon Emil the SABR Salute for his contributions to baseball research.
In early 1982, Marge and I, along with Barb and Rich Topp, attended a chapter meeting in which Emil expressed his desire to transition chapter leadership. The four of us, led primarily by Marge and Barb, decided to take on the chapter responsibility. On November 20, 1982, we hosted our 1st chapter meeting at the 1st Congregational Church in Berwyn. Over the next 10 years, we organized regular meetings that usually attracted at least 50 members. Our player guests included Dick Kokos, Moe Drabosky, Rich Nye, Bob O’Farrell, Marv Rothblatt, and Bob Will. Marge’s SABR involvement went beyond meetings as she with the able assistance of Barb prepared a Chapter Meeting Manual for new chapters and contributed significantly to the revision of SABR’s by-laws.
The highlight of the couples’ tenure was organizing the 1986 SABR National Convention at Loyola University. A record 479 members and guests attended the convention which would be the last one held at a college campus. The chapter was one of the first to prepare a special publication for a conference.
The 56-page journal commemorated the 80th anniversary of the 1906 Cubs-White Sox World Series. Conference activities featured a Cubs game and a tour of Comiskey Park. Player Panel guests included Chico Carrasquel, Johnny Klippstein, Double Duty Radcliffe, and Nelson Potter. During the annual meeting, Marge was elected to the Board of Directors.
On November 19, 1989, at the suggestion of Rich Topp, the chapter was named the Emil Rothe Chapter.
In December 1994, Marge and Barb relinquished chapter responsibilities to Bill Slankard. During Bill’s 3 years as Chair, the chapter broadened its activities to include a newsletter (Editor Dave Mundo) and outings to nearby ball games. Since 1998, Rich Hansen has chaired the chapter and continues to have regular meetings with traditional activities, such as presentations and quizzes, plus a social media presence with Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. He has been ably assisted by Vice Chair Richard Smiley, Secretary David Malamut, and Treasurer Peter Yee as the chapter continues to be very active.
Note: First published as “The Emil Rothe Chapter from the Beginning” in March 2019 chapter newsletter.