Vintage Base Ball in Greater Houston is Calling You to Help Organize New Teams and Get In on the 1860 Rules Base Ball Fun!
A Brief Local History. The Houston Babies are now in their seventh year of reincarnation. Starting in 2008, the heavily SABER-loaded, but not exclusively SABR rostered vintage base ball club came into being in honor of the first professional base ball team in Houston, the 1888 Houston Babies of the brand new Texas League. Yours truly served as the club’s original, and still titular-status General Manager.
Bob Dorrill was, and still is, the Babies’ Field Manager and the real driving force and operational General Manager behind the sustainable health and success of the Babies’ modern history. Behind Bob Dorrill’s leadership role as the director of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR, his coordination of the publication needs of the first and only ancient history book on baseball in Houston, his planning for the 2014 National Convention of SABR in Houston, his work for the “Save the Astrodome” group, his involvement with the Houston Astros as a season-ticket holder, his voluntary service activities through his church, and, last, but not least, his devotion of time to family. We think Bob sleeps about four hours a night – and still wakes up with a smile and a handshake for all who deserve it.
The man is retired. He had to be retired. Otherwise, he could not have had the time he does to accomplish what’s really important to a passionate pursuit of life.
That being said, the Houston Babies of 2008 got started playing several games against the already established Montgomery County/Lone Star College Saw Dogs.
Over the years, the field opposition first expanded to include clubs from Boerne, Texas, the Boerne White Sox and Tusculum Freethinkers, and the Richmond Giants.
It did not take us far into our new page of vintage base ball history on a local basis to discover that scheduling games would suffer some of the same problems suffered by the early base ball clubs of the 19th century.
The Saw Dogs and Giants both blossomed and faded – and the still very active Boerne clubs were simply too far away to schedule on a frequent basis. – And we mean no fault to Boerne on that score. Located near San Antonio, the Boerne White Sox have been willing travelers to the Houston area for vintage games on several occasions. Our Babies, on the other hand, have never traveled farther than Sealy, Texas to play a game.
Our good friends, the Katy Combine, were sparked into lively and friendly-fierce competitive existence by Tom and Dave Flores & Company about four years ago and they have become our regular running mates and gentlemanly foes at tourneys and festivals played everywhere from the Combine’s home field at Katy, to the spring festival games in Sealy, to the vacant lot next to the Galvez Hotel at the beach in Galveston, to other celebrations at the George Ranch State Park near Sugar Land, and even to Constellation Field, home of the professional Sugar Land Skeeters.
Weather permitting, we also are hoping to expand play into the Hempstead, Texas area in the foreseeable future.
We could not have made this progress without the active help of the Katy Combine. They are wonderful competitors and worthy adversaries who have more often than we care to remember – handed our Babies club its tail on a silver platter.
The Combine and the Babies, for now, also are the only solvent ongoing vintage base ball clubs in the greater Houston area.
We need some real focus on the growth of this really rewarding exercise/hobby. In our brief experience, we have learned that vintage base ball, played without gloves by the 1860 rules, is about the closest thing we have to a time machine for recreating the joy of sandlot baseball from childhood. We’ve also learned from our real time experience with the Houston summer heat, that a vintage base ball game is best enjoyed on Saturdays in the early spring and late fall.
Back in 2012, vintage base ball and our Houston Babies received some nice coverage by Channel 13, but we weren’t prepared then to follow up the tout with a plan for reaching others. Now we seem to have reached a point in which a marketing plan of some broad input and support will be needed to keep things rolling toward a situation of easier, more interesting schedule-making. Otherwise, some of us are concerned for the sport’s ongoing future. If vintage ball fails to take hold and grow in Houston, it will not be for want of the joy it brings, but because we failed to get enough support behind the activity to make it attractive to others on a broader scale.
Once people play this game, they want to keep playing it. It’s like a second childhood – without all the negative and judgmental connotations that phrase contains in our culture. You have fun again. – You don’t worry about taxes or business problems – or all those other things you may waste time trying to control – like the decisions of your near adult and adult children. – You just find joy – as you once found it as a kid – and you get to inhale the deep breath of fresh air that comes from knowing that – love lives forever!
Houston Babies (foreground) prepare for a vintage game against the Katy Combine at George Ranch State Park near Sugar Land.
A Proposal. Here’s a brief staring point suggestion: If we could get two more active vintage ball clubs going in our area, we could have our then four clubs play each other on three doubleheader Saturdays in the spring and again, on another three doubleheader Saturdays in the fall.
At the end of those six games, the two clubs with the best overall records could play on a seventh Saturdays for the championship – one that would be followed by the awarding of championship and runner-up trophies – and a league celebration party.
For those who love baseball, but no little to nothing about the 19th century game, here’s one of many links that explains the rules of 1860 base ball:
If you have questions about the rules, or if you think you may be interested in organizing or playing for a vintage baseball club in the Houston area:
(1) Please Contact either …
Bob Dorrill (Houston Babies) @… email@example.com
Dave Flores (Katy Combine) @… firstname.lastname@example.org
It doesn’t matter which club leader you contact, we are all in this Greater Houston Area Vintage Base Ball Association expansion movement together!
(2) Make plans to come out an watch the Houston Babies and Katy Combine play at Constellation Field in Sugar Land prior to the Atlantic League game that follows the same night in the home of the Sugar Land Skeeters. Come early and stay late. Give yourself a chance to see a vintage ball game and make contact with the leadership of the two groups who will do all they can to help you get started learning the game and starting your own teams.
Do yourself a favor too. Allow us to help you find the fun you have been missing out on. – And, oh yes, our clubs dress in the uniforms of that earlier period in the game’s history! We can teach you easiest, best ways of outfiiting your own clubs and getting sponsorship support for the few “balls and bats” equipment you will need.
The date and time for the Constellation Field game is Friday, June 12, 2015, at 5:15 PM. Stay tuned here for further details on how you get in the stadium as we approach the game date – or make contact now with either Bob and Dave and give either your e-mail address or phone number for more direct, and probably earlier information on plans as they develop for that evening.
Huzzah!!! – That means “hurrah” in the 19th century etiquette language of emotional expression for athletic joy!!!