Larry Dierker Chapter meeting recap – 8/28/2023

Larry Dierker Chapter meeting recap
August 28, 2023

A recording of the August 28, 2023, chapter meeting can be found on the chapter’s YouTube page here:

Early in August, Tal Smith generously donated over sixteen boxes of books from his personal collection to the chapter.  Mike McCroskey brought two of the sixteen boxes to this month’s meeting.  Before the meeting began, President Joe Thompson announced that all in attendance could go through the first two boxes and pick out the books that they wanted.  It was announced that in the coming months more boxes will be brought to each meeting so chapter members can pick out the books that they want.  The chapter would like to thank Tal Smith for his generous donation to the chapter and all he has done for the chapter over the years.     

An energetic group of thirty-three (33) chapter members and guests gathered in person at the Spaghetti Western Italian Restaurant and via Zoom for the August 28 chapter meeting.  President Joe Thompson welcomed all members and guests to the meeting.  After welcoming everyone and making a few chapter announcements including reminding all that the most recent edition of the chapter newsletter was now available for all to read, Joe welcomed the main speaker of the evening.   

The featured speaker of the evening was Hugo Mojica, Program Manager, Community Affairs, of the Houston Astros Foundation. He talked about all the great work the Houston Astros Foundation has done over the years. He mentioned that the foundation supports ninety nonprofit organizations. Some of the organizations and causes that Hugo mentioned are the Houston Food Bank, the Sunshine Kids, Medical Bridges, Child Cancer Awareness, Acres Home Baseball Academy, various softball teams, and the homeless population.  He also mentioned that the foundation recently awarded $5000 in Grand Slam scholarships. The foundation has over 3700 volunteers, who volunteered over 20,000 service hours last year. One of the most successful on-going fundraisers for the foundation is the 50/50 raffle at the Astros and affiliate baseball games that raised $4.1million dollars last year.

Mike McCroskey was the next speaker of the evening.  He gave a brief book review on Duke Snider’s autobiography, The Duke of Flatbush. Mike mentioned that Edwin Donald Snider got his nickname Duke of Flatbush from his dad.  He was a center fielder and played most of his career with the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers. After finishing the review, Mike graciously donated the book to the chapter.

Matthew Rejmaniak was the next speaker of the evening.  He attended the Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference in Detroit, Michigan. He mentioned that the Detroit Tigers had their first black baseball player in 1961. Matthew was able to see an old ballpark that was used by Negro league teams. Matthew said the conference was held in a great venue with great presentations. Turkey Stearns daughter and granddaughter attended a meet and greet. Turkey only played for the Negro Conference.  Finally, Matthew mentioned the “42 for 21” committee, set up by Gary Gillette, Ted Knorr, and Sean Gibson to publicize deserving Negro Leagues & Black Baseball candidates for upcoming Hall of Fame elections.  The website for the committee for all those interested is (

Several Members spoke about the SABR 51 annual conference held in Chicago.  Most of the attendees mentioned the fabulous weather in Chicago during the convention, and how refreshing it was considering the brutal summer Houston has had.  Each member that attended shared some of their favorite moments from the convention, including some of their favorite presentations, and the historic ballpark tour.  Some of the favorite speakers of the convention mentioned were Maybelle Bair, Mike Veeck, Chase Carpenter, and Ozzie Guillen. Other favorite events that were mentioned were the annual Larry Dierker chapter convention dinner which this year was held at Harry Caray’s restaurant.  Thanks to Maxwell Kates for setting up the last few chapter convention dinners.  Initial plans are already being made for the SABR52 chapter convention dinner held next year in Minneapolis.  The convention will be held from August 7-11, 2024.  If anyone has any recommendations for restaurants in Minneapolis, please let the chapter know.     

The SABR Trivia this month was provided by Koby Farries.  President Joe Thompson brought six gifts back from the Chicago convention.  The top six finishers of the trivia contest, starting with the winner Vince Trovato, were able to pick the gift they wanted.  The top six finishers were Vince Trovato, Nick Clarke, Herb Whalley, Bob Dorrill, Mike McCroskey and one of the chapter’s newest members, Ian Kleppinger.  Vince Trovato will give the trivia contest during the September meeting.

The meeting closed with a reminder that the next chapter meeting would be held on Monday, September 25.  Two more boxes of books from Tal Smith’s generous donation will be made available that evening.  The guest speakers for the evening will be Jay Verrill, Astros Vice President, Business Strategy and Analytics, and Greg Randolph who will give a book review of Evan Drellich’s newest book, Winning Fixes Everything: How Baseball’s Brightest Minds Created Sports’ Biggest Mess.

It will be an exciting meeting next month.  Do not miss it. 

Be well everyone and Go Astros!

— Joe Thompson