Larry Dierker Chapter meeting recap – 5/23/2024

Thirty-two members and friends of the SABR Larry Dierker Chapter gathered in person and over Zoom on May 23, 2024, for the chapter’s monthly meeting. The chapter held its first-ever in-person chapter officer and bylaws election on the night of the meeting.

The results of the election were announced in a May 25 email. The chapter bylaws were passed and are available for members to see on the chapter website ( The following chapter officers were voted in this year and will assume office on June 1, 2024. Each will have a term of two years.

  • President: Joe Thompson
  • Chapter Secretary: Gloria Rubac
  • Newsletter Editor: Tony Cavender
  • Vice President, Communications: Patrick Petty
  • Vice President, Special Projects and Events: Mike McCroskey

The special guest for tonight’s meeting was David Jerome. David mentioned that he drove through a heavy rainstorm to attend the meeting the night before. For those of you who do not remember David, he along with Bill and Shirley Virdon were our special guests back in May 2021 when meetings were still being held exclusively online. It was one of the largest and most engaging chapter meetings I can remember as a SABR member. If you would like to relive that special meeting, please click on this link to watch it.

During that meeting, David announced that he had worked with Bill and Shirley on a biography of Bill Virdon. In March 2023, David published his book on the former Astros manager, Bill Virdon: A Life in Baseball.

David spent the entire meeting telling stories about Bill Virdon, his wife Shirley, and the project. His report was quite exciting as he went through Virdon’s whole life in baseball and what a life it was. He went to his first baseball game when he was one week old! His whole life was baseball. He was a player, a coach, and a manager. His wife Shirley was by his side for the whole ride. Before he died at age 90 in 2021, the couple celebrated their seventieth (70) wedding anniversary.

A few key stories during Bill’s life and athletic career are worth mentioning. Bill was a star athlete in high school in several sports including baseball, basketball, football, and track. David spoke about Bill’s race for the hitting title in 1956 with Hank Aaron. David credits Bill with several key plays that determined the outcome of the 1960 World Series. In Game 1 of the series, Virdon caught a long fly ball off the bat of Yogi Berra that determined the game. In Game 4 of the series, Virdon accounted for three runs. In Game 7 of the series, Tony Kubek was injured during an almost sure double play. Virdon hit a ball that some have said hit off a stray rock and injured Kubek. Virdon made it to first base and Hal Smith then hit a three-run homer.

The interviews for the book with Bill and Shirley began in January 2020. David mentioned that most of the time he would meet with Bill, he would have to do most of the homework and confront Bill with things he found. Bill would then admit it by saying “I guess I did that.” David met with Bill and Shirley at least two to three times a week. David wanted “I guess I did that” to be the title of the book but the publishers decided against it. The book chapters were completed by October 2021. Bill and Shirley and his family read the manuscript. David read the preface to the book to Bill and Shirley on November 22 and then he mentioned that Bill passed away the next morning.

David spent the rest of the time speaking about Bill’s managerial career and the project. Bill Virdon managed the Pirates, Astros, Yankees, and Expos. Another interesting tidbit about Virdon’s managerial career was that he is the only manager in Yankees history to never manage a game in Yankees stadium. During Virdon’s time as Yankees manager, Yankees stadium was being rebuilt. Bill Virdon is the winningest manager in Astros history, and he loved his time as an Astros manager!

David was asked about Virdon’s favorite club, and he mentioned that even though he loved his time as an Astros manager, the Pirates organization was the organization nearest to his heart. This is why David mentioned that he is surprised that Virdon is not in the Pirates Hall of Fame.

The next in-person and Zoom chapter meeting will be Monday, July 15. Our guest will be Matt Dahlgren, the grandson of baseball player Babe Dahlgren. When Babe Dahlgren passed away, he left behind a nearly completed manuscript. He wanted more than anything to tell his story. Matt’s book, Rumor in Town: A Grandson’s Promise to Right a Wrong.

— Chapter Notes Provided by Chapter Secretary Gloria Rubac and Chapter President Joe Thompson