Larry Dierker Chapter meeting recap – 2/20/2023

Forty-three (43) members and guests of the Larry Dierker Chapter gathered in person and via Zoom for the February 20, 2023, chapter meeting at the Spaghetti Western restaurant in Houston. Click here to watch a video recording on YouTube.

President Joe Thompson opened the meeting and gave the good news that José Altuve wants to be an Astro “for life!” so everyone should be a SABR member for life!  

Joe had sent out an email about a week before the meeting and posed the question on the chapter Facebook and Twitter pages and at then at the meeting if José Altuve would reach 3000 hits in his career.  Altuve is entering his thirteenth season and currently has 1935 hits.  The responses online and at the meeting pointed to Altuve reaching the 3000-hit milestone before calling it a career.  One chapter member responded by email before the meeting the exact date when Altuve would reach 3000 hits: September 2, 2029.  We shall see!      

David Jerome announced that his book Bill Virdon: A Life in Baseball has been published. David mentioned that he will be at SABR 51 in Chicago and other places to sell and autograph the book. Tal Smith wrote the foreword and former players Larry Dierker, Craig Reynolds and Enos Cabell all contributed to the book.

Speaking of SABR 51 (July 5-9 in Chicago), Joe reminded the group that registration for the event is now opened.  The early discounted rate for SABR members who register before June 5, 2023 is $339.  The all-inclusive package includes registration, one ticket to White Sox-Cardinals game on Friday, July 7, a ticket to the awards luncheon, and a ticket to the welcome reception.  All interested in attending (SABR members or non-members) should visit for more details.

The chapter had a booth at Astros FanFest held on January 21, 2023 at Minute Maid Park.  The Astros announced at Fan Fest that our chapter’s very own Bill Brown and former Astros 2B Bill Doran would be the 2023 Astros Hall of Fame inductees.  The official induction ceremony for the two will be held on August 12.  Everyone in the chapter sends out well-deserved congratulations to these two Astros legends.  

Joe recapped the January chapter meeting featuring Alyson Footer and Jimmy Scruggs.  He also talked about the chapter’s SABR Day event held on February 4, 2023 that featured Bill Brown.  Brownie talked about his first and recently published baseball fiction book, Swinging for Glory.  Recordings of the January chapter meeting and the SABR Day in America can be found on the chapter’s YouTube page (  

Joe announced the speakers for the next few months. Gerald Sanchez and Mike Acosta, the radio voices of the Sugar Land Space Cowboys will be the special guests for the March 20 chapter meeting.  On April 17, 2023, Justin McKinney will be our special guest. He is the author of Baseball’s Union Association: The Short, Strange Life of an Early Major League.  

The newest edition to the chapter newsletter is available.  See the latest edition on the chapter website:  The next edition of the newsletter is scheduled to be released just soon after opening day.  All who are interested and want to share a baseball story should send their contributions to Tony Cavender and Scott McCay.

The chapter meeting then moved to that evening’s speakers.  Longtime journalist, author, and ghostwriter, Dan Good flew in from New York to speak with the chapter about his book on Ken Caminiti: Playing Through the Pain.  Dan mentioned that the book took ten years to write.  It has received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was a Casey award finalist as one of the year’s best baseball books for 2022.  A few things of note that Dan said about Caminiti are worth mentioning.  Dan said that Ken’s talent was often overlooked.  He said that Caminiti stood out above players in his era because every time people watched Caminiti play, he often did something astonishing.  One of the other reasons that he does not get the credit he deserved, Dan mentioned, was because he played for the Astros and later the Padres.  Caminiti won his MVP while with the Padres in 1996.

The next two presentations were handled by Mike McCroskey and Chris Chestnut.  Mike asked the group if it was against the rules for a player to catch a ball while inside the dugout.  He told a story of a game he attended on May 16, 1993 that involved Ken Caminiti.  The Astros were playing the Dodgers.  Caminiti caught a foul ball in the Dodgers dugout.  A video was shown of this catch. The rule now is that a player may reach in but not step in the dugout.

Chris Chestnut then gave a presentation that showed the best homerun hitters in baseball history and how they fared against good and bad pitching during their best homerun year.  Chris used WAR (Wins Above Replacement) as his methodology in comparing the best homerun hitters.  The players he used was Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Giancarlo Stanton, Yordan Alvarez and Aaron Judge.  The analysis showed that Yordan and Aaron Judge hit the majority of their 2022 homeruns off of bad pitchers.  

The trivia contest was given by Mike McCroskey.  The subject of the quiz was to name the career leader in homeruns by the first letter of the last name.  The winner of the contest was Vince Travato who will handle the March quiz.  

A few members of the chapter will be participating in a fantasy baseball league for 2023.  People interested in participating should email Bob McCann or Joe Thompson for details.  

Joe concluded the meeting by reminding everyone that Gerald Sanchez and Mike Acosta will be the special guests for the March 20 chapter meeting.  Don’t miss it!

— Joe Thompson