Mike Acosta (L) and Bob Dorrill (modeling the new Houston Babies uniform after the SABR meeting last night. uniform)
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.
Tal Smith (L) was a major speaking figure at our recent SABR44 Convention in Houston.
Mike Acosta has done the best job that any of us have ever seen in preparing a visionary model of how the Astrodome can be honesty re-purposed as a significant venue for public usage and a usual business asset to both the neighboring Houston Texans and Houston Rodeo. Everything Mike spoke of – and demonstrated by his incredibly accurate and visually detailed model for space usage seem to simply ooze from both his intelligence, heart, and soul. At no point did I feel that I was listening to one of the numerously available and calculating egos in our community that either wanted to profit from the dome’s dire straits financially, or be ego massaged for the ages as “the person who saved the Astrodome.”
Mike Acosta is the real deal. He’s a native Houstonian who recognizes that he grew up in a much smaller city, but that part of the job here of saving the Dome is winning over support from the new millions of others who have no knowledge or historic connection to the Astrodome as both the architectural symbol of Houston, but one of the world’s important landmark edifices. With his own hands, since March of this year, Acosta has built an uncanny scale likeness that details the Astrodome can be converted to a facility that meet multiple needs as an ancillary arena for use by both the Rodeo and the Texans, a place that preserves history, and a facility that promoted health and family enjoyment as a public park. – How wonderful is that idea? It’s especially wonderful that Mike Acosta recognizes that the need to fit the new usage of the Dome into the business las f its two very close neighbors is essential to their vital support for something that likely will not happen without them. The Acosta plan is giving the Texans and Rodeo something of far greater value than the convenience of a few more parking spaces that could come through demolition. Mike Acosta’s plan increases the revenue stream potential for both organization.
And Acosta’s selling points are very appealing: The building already exists and its superstructure is strong. It is also now free of bonds, even those that came from the Oiler demand for more seat construction in the late 20th century. It’s doable – and it benefits everyone – especially and including those future Houstonians from the 22nd century who will grow in their appreciation for what Houston does now with one of its greatest architectural assets.
Thank you, Mike Acosta, for being who you are. You make the name “Houston” proud.
Mike Acosta created this model of the Astrodome this year to display various floor looks of how the modified structure could look as it performs various functions. Unlike its iconic reality, this model of the Astrodome comes with a removable domed roof.
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.
SABR Chair Bob Dorrill
Houston’s Baseball’s King of Ubiquity.
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.
August 19, 1951
Well, Eddie wasn’t exactly present, except in spirit. Yours truly of The Pecan Park Eagle was there to announce that he has been drafted into the Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1 because of their discovery of his “Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” and resultant desire to adopt it as the anthem of their group at annual meetings starting in 2015. We gave the song a shameless singing presentation before the group at SABR last night. No one stood, but they all applauded and seemed to like it. So, I thank all of you for that as I bounce around from singular and plural third person referencing of myself to first person singular in the final statement on this subject.
Ben Brink, our 9-year old new member prodigy, prepared a twenty question trivia quiz that was worthy of whomever your favorite baseball writer may be. Tom White again was the trivia contest winner but there were few high scoring survivors in his stratospheric company. – You “did good,” Master Brink, you did good!.
Our November Meeting Schedule: Our November meeting also will be be held, as it was this time, at the Spaghetti Western Restaurant on Shepherd, a few blocks south of I-10, the Katy Freeway. We will be returning to our long time regular night of Monday, but on the third Monday of the month due to holiday season schedule issues at our chosen venue. The day, date, and time are Monday, November 17, 2014 at 7 PM. - Come early and join us for some great Italian fare – or order when you get here at the meeting. Service is available through our time at the restaurant and, although ordering food is up to you, order something. We aren’t getting this great meeting space for free. If enough of us don’t order, no host restaurant is going to welcome us for long. So, bring you appetite and your wallet. The prices are very reasonable. And the food is bon appetit.
We hope will see you Monday, Nov. 17th on what we hope will remain our normal night to meet once every month..
Have a Happy Hump Day, Everybody!