Another Call to Vintage Ball

“Rule’ in the Houston Babies as lovers of the 1860 base ball game!

This is a Good Time to Organize Your Own Vintage Base Ball Club.

Because of the long hot summers we endure in Houston, our local vintage base ball clubs have been moving more and more to a split season independent scheduling of games in the spring and fall. If only two more clubs could choose to form now, we would have enough teams to justify a round robin schedule of three separate Saturday games between four teams, or even expand it to a six game schedule if all clubs agreed and play it for the fall championship – and our first official local championship.

If you have any interest in baseball and discovering again the greatest fun you had with baseball since your sandlot days, please get in to ouch with Bob Dorrill by e-mail and we will do all we are able to help you organize your plans for a club that both plays and dresses for the 1860 rules that once governed the game.

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 leader 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.

We’ve also said this before. – The man is retired. He had to be retired. Otherwise, he could not have had the time he needs 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 since then, the 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 centuries. 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, sparked into lively and friendly-fierce competitive existence by Tom and Dave Flores & Company, came into being about four years ago and have been 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 the other celebrations at the George Ranch State Park near Sugar Land, 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 refuse to give up what we know is true. If we can reach those of all ages who do have some actual ability to play the modern game, that they are going to love vintage baseball. It truly is a spiritual rejuvenation for older players and a great bonding experience for younger players. Our Babies club, for example, ranges in age from late adolescence to mid seventies.

If you can still play, the experience will go beyond making your day. It is life itself again in full bloom.

We need some focus on 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 vintage base ball game 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.

The George Ranch State Park, south of Sugar Land, is our favorite setting for the pastoral atmosphere it lends to the 1860 base ball rules game.

The George Ranch State Park, south of Sugar Land, is our favorite setting for the pastoral atmosphere it lends to the 1860 base ball rules game.

A Proposal.

Here’s a brief staring point suggestion, one we’ve mentioned in an earlier column on this same subject: 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 Saturdays in the spring and again, another three Saturdays in the fall. At the end of those six games, the two clubs with the best overall records could play on a seventh total of all Saturdays for the championship – one that would be followed by the awarding of championship and runner-up trophys – and a league celebration party.

Here’s one of many links that explains the rules of 1860 base ball:

http://www.shoelessjoejackson.org/vintage-games-rules-and-terms.php

If think you may be interested in organizing or playing for a vintage baseball club in the Houston area … contact Bob Dorrill for further information at BDorrill@aol.com

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2 Responses to “Another Call to Vintage Ball”

  1. Tom Flores Says:

    thanks for a good read Bill!

  2. ألعاب Says:

    Greetings from California! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone
    during lunch break. I really like the knowledge you provide here and can’t wait to take a
    look when I get home. I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, awesome blog!

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