Larry Dierker Chapter meeting recap – 10/15/2018

By Karen Walker

There were 42 members and guests of the SABR Larry Dierker Chapter present at the Spaghetti Western restaurant on a rainy night on October 15, 2018, for our monthly meeting in Houston.

Please take note of the next two month’s meeting dates as they are different:

– Monday, November 12, 7:00 p.m. at the Spaghetti Western on Shepherd Drive, on an upcoming new SABR book, It’s Time for Expansion Baseball, edited by Bill Nowlin and Maxwell Kates, as well as Colt 45 player panel. Bring $10 to purchase the book.

– Monday, December 3, 7:00 p.m. at Spaghetti Western, Ben Reiter will be our guest speaker; he made the Sports Illustrated prediction of the Astros winning the World Series in 2017 and wrote the very entertaining book Astroball

The suggested book to read is The Long Season, pitcher Jim Brosnan‘s diary of the 1959 season that he started with St. Louis before being traded midseason to the Redlegs. The focus is less on the games and more on the interactions with teammates, coaches, the manager, and trainer. Thank you to Tony Cavender for an advanced look at this classic book.

New members and visitors: Cheryl Zane (Houston Astros Fan of the Year), Bob Arena, Lauren Blackwell, Bob Joyce, Terry Russell, Mark Michetti, Norma McCurdy, Michael Velez, Patricia Valez, and Sue Harper.

Congratulations to Mike Vance and Josh Sullivan who won the contest of picking wins for the Astros this year at 103. Their prize is wings at Pluckers Wing Bar.

We currently have 129 members in our chapter. Chris Chestnut is in the process of contacting those whose membership has lapsed. Thanks, Chris!

Dick Bily is taking orders for navy Astros logo t-shirts for $10. To order, contact Bob Dorrill ( with your size and to arrange payment.

The major part of the meeting was spent with Julia Morales, the Astros sideline reporter for AT&T Sports Southwest. It was apparent that Julia absolutely LOVES her job. She has been the Astros sideline reporter for 6 years, starting back in 2013 when the Astros lost 113 games. Some of her favorite early memories are:

– Jose Altuve winning his first batting title

– Andy Pettitte pitching his last game at Minute Maid Park as a Yankee and Bill Brown calling the game.

– But nothing compares to the whirlwind year of 2017 and the calls for her to eat grasshoppers whenever the team was in a slump. That started the first week of the 2017 season when the Astros were in Seattle. Julia ate grasshoppers, a new menu item that year, and — poof! — the Astros won the game.

Julia was asked about her Kendra Scott earrings and she told us it started as a giveaway to media people in the Austin area, and Julia was ready to support her.

She was asked about Astros superstitions and a few that came to mind were:

– Jake Marisnick rubs dirt on himself on his way to the field

– Jose Altuve writes “God Loves You” in the back of the infield

– Everyone stays away from Justin Verlander when he starts

Other fun things that happen before games:

– A.J. Hinch picks out bats for George Springer

– Josh Reddick uses George Springer’s bat

Julia asked how it felt to be a woman in this man’s sport. She replied that she has been with these guys for so long now she doesn’t even realize she is the only woman on the plane. It’s just like a big family. She said before beginning a road trip, within an hour of the game they are all on the bus and the bus takes them right up to the plane. And usually before your seatbelt is buckled, the plane is taxiing away. Regular season is just the team and ancillary personal. But in the playoffs everyone goes: including wives, babies, strollers, and kids.

Julia re-lived her run as Dennis Eckersley’s “big head” in the outfield in Oakland. Her anxiety, how heavy that head was (50 pounds), and how she was afraid she would fall. But she made it and she was awesome. Julia also talked about how she loves her interviews with manager A.J. Hinch.

Kevin Rosell gave us a report on his attendance to the Analytics Conference in California. He got to sit next to Jed Lowrie’s wife and children on the plane.

Some memorable topics at the conference:

– Launch angle and velocity

– How players like Eric Hosmer and Alex Bregman being able to speak Spanish helps with the culture in the clubhouse

– How the Eduardo Perez HR was scored since he was unable to run the bases

– And the big one: baseball gambling is coming

The meeting ended with a really fun trivia quiz by Tom White on players who died in 2017. The contest ended in a tie in by Tal Smith and a group with Mike McCroskey, Cheryl Zane & Dick Bily.