Houston/Larry Dierker Chapter meeting recap – 10/13/2014

From Bill McCurdy at the Pecan Park Eagle, about the Larry Dierker Chapter’s meeting on October 13, 2014:

SABR Oct. 2014 Meeting is Pumpkin of Fun

Nothing scary about it – if you want to discount the fact that yours truly took the October meeting f our Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR to another level on the heels of enlightening, incredible, and organizational presentations by Tal Smith on the “Pace of Game” experiment conducted  by the independent Atlantic League this past season, the visionary model plan for the future of the Astrodome, expressed and shown to all by native Houstonian Mike Acosta, and chapter chairman Bob Dorrill’s new much-needed organizational plan for solidifying and sharing responsibility by committee for setting the programs, agendas, and guests  for our monthly meetings –  and another committee for the study and development of new relevant organizational projects. Bob Dorrill also revealed the much nicer and more authentic vintage baseball uniforms that our chapter’s Houston Babies will be wearing thanks to the profits from our silent auction at the SABR 44 national convention in Houston this past summer.

The elaborate and importantly detailed findings of Tal Smith’s report on the Atlantic League’s “Pace of Game” study are available through his office as Administrative Adviser to the Sugar Land Skeeters Club. They were a little extensive for memory by this reporter as listened with a fork of lasagna moving from plate to mouth during his presentation (Sorry, Tal!), but we did hear every word and retain the important theme of everything he had to say. – It isn’t the length of games that is baseball’s concern today so much as it is the action or pace of what’s going on during the game. Like it or not, baseball needs to keep pace with concerns for its appeal to the action–minded general public that pays the bills in the 21st century. – And we need to make changes with the greatest level of consensus among the powers-that-be as to what can be done to modernize the beat of baseball action without sacrificing the fundamental integrity of the game that will no doubt be celebrating the 200th anniversary soon enough for the Cartwright rules for the games at the Elysian Fields back in the 1840s.

Tal noted that baseball presently is a game in which the ball is actually in play off a struck ball, attempted stolen base, or errant throw only 20% of the time. The rest of the game, baseball appears to the novice fan as little more than a repetitive action  of pitch and catch between pitcher and catcher. Those of us who have played, slept, eaten, and breathed the game for decades know that there’s always more going on than a game of catch, even in a 1-0, two-hit game, but we will not be around to pay baseball’s bills in the future – and the game today faces much competition from football, basketball, motor sports, and personal health athletics to take anything for granted about its attraction moving deeper into the 21st century and forward.


In our featured photo, Bob Dorrill is wearing the new uniform of the Houston Babies vintage baseball club. The hat is one of those caps that the Pirates wore back in 1979 – the kind with the shorter bill and flat top. As I recall, the Babies cap is grey with dark blue horizontal stripes. It’s quite nifty and the materials too appear to much cooler than the ones used on our team’s first batch of grey and red jerseys. And these uniforms  come with the matching pants, as well.

Bob’s administrative appeal last night was for all of our help in building our monthly meeting agendas and searching for do-able major projects that we can handle as a group commitment to action. He’s already led the charge for the wonderful local history book we wrote and published this year and he virtually singlehandedly landed the SABR 44 National Convention that we hosted in Houston this past summer to much national acclaim for our efforts. In each of those cases, we, the members,  have rallied to make those projects the successful products they each became. And, as most of you know, that early Houston baseball history book was a dream f mine for years. I just couldn’t do it alone and handle my “day job” simultaneously, but I could do it with the encouragement of Bob Dorrill, as a group project with all of you who joined in the research and writing effort, and with the indispensable drive and editorial skill of our Mike Vance – the man who pulled “our” book into one first-rate and cohesive piece. – We shall be forever grateful to Mike Vance for all he did in that regard.

That being said, my focus now returns to Mr. Dorrill. Without Bob Dorrill, we would not have had the past decade of great meetings with every imaginable presentation by the reachable members of the Houston baseball community. We would not have had the support for the foundation of the Houston Babies in 2008. We would not have had the early Houston history book because I would have kept it to myself – and produced a work that would have been far more limited in scope. We needed everything we could bring to the table to make it the book it became, but we did. We brought it. And no one worked harder than Mike Vance to make it happen. But it all started with Bob Dorrill being Bob Dorrill, the man who established an environment of trust that made everything that grew from there possible. And then, to cap off 2014, our chapter got to host the national convention of SABR in Houston – and give copies of “Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-191″ to all of our convention visitors. – WOW! – My head still swims at the thought of it.

Where would we be today as a chapter without the base inspiration that is the energy of Bob Dorrill?  Well, as far as I’m concerned, we’d be somewhere. But there would have been no Houston book, at least, not the comprehensive one we produced. And no National Convention of SABR 44 in Houston. When I attended my first SABR convention in St. Louis back in 2007, I was the only active member of the Larry Dierker Chapter there. Bill Gilbert was present too, but by that time, he had moved to Austin.

How did we go from one Houston representative at a SABR convention in 2007, and usually none,  to hosting the national convention in 2014? Easy answer. Bob Dorrill. Bob made contact with National. And when Bob Dorrill makes contact, his super-genuine caring and knowledge of the game, and his total likeability comes rushing at you like a baseball tide.  It’s been my observation that Bob Dorrill cannot walk across the room in a public place without meeting at least two new people on his way to somewhere else. It happens at conventions, dinners, hotels, and, even airports. He can’t help it. It’s just who he is.

The problem with being a rare bird like Bob is that people begin to think you can do it forever, but you can’t. And Bob’s tired – and he has a right to be. He’s not “I want to quit” tired, but he is definitely “I need help” tired.  And we need to give him that help by organizing some active meeting plan and chapter project study committees. So far, Mike McCroskey has been the only public volunteer – and his choice was for the project study group.

We need everyone’s support because, right now, we do not have an organization that handles anything. We simply wait around for Bob Dorrill to come up with something. Well, we need to wake to the reality here. We can’t count on Bob Dorrill – or any other one person –  to be around forever. If anything, God forbid, should happen to Bob Dorrill right now, or if he should just get tired of doing all these things on his own (which he is), we would have to either start over from scratch or just kill the group from being the real baseball community it wants to be. – and maybe go back to just meeting for coffee at the Galleria every once in a while.

Please give it some thought and get in touch with Bob Dorrill as a volunteer for either meeting plan or project search committees.

Read the full recap and view more photos of the meeting here: http://bill37mccurdy.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/sabr-oct-2014-meeting-is-pumpkin-of-fun/