Astros Price SABR Out of Fan Fest 2018

“Hey, Pinocchio! – Do you know what happens when you use a built-in excuse to explain one of your own stupid moves?”

“OK, let’s see if we can reverse this thing. Let me ask again. – Did you tell me the truth the first time I asked my question?”


The SABR notice from Jacob Pomrenke at our national office at SABR expressed it matter-of-factually, but with a tail-twisting apology for any inconvenience, or implicit disappointment, this news may cause any of us who have been planning to attend the Astros Fan Fest this coming weekend as has been our pattern every winter that the event has been held downtown since the club’s move to its present location in 2000. If memory serves, Fan Fest itself has been held there annually since 2001.

What was the message to volunteer members of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research?

Here’s what the SABR notice communicated:


“Bob Dorrill would also like to let everyone know that the chapter will not be participating in the Astros Fan Fest this coming Saturday, as the team has asked for a significant registration fee. Sorry for any inconvenience.”

Jacob Pomrenke

Notes: Jacob Pomrenke is the Director of Editorial Content for SABR at the organization’s national offices in Arizona. Bob Dorrill is the longtime volunteer leader of the Larry Dierker Chapter in Houston, and also a long-term season ticket holder of the Houston Astros, an ardent baseball researcher, and a passionate supporter of activities that promote the growth of public interest in baseball and the specific support of the Astros.


So the question hangs in the air. – What is this all about?

Why would the Astros initiate a participation fee that cuts off SABR support for both the club and the game of baseball by effectively price-blocking a SABR information and recruitment table at Fan Fest 2018 this coming Saturday, January 13th ? And please don’t give us that convenient the-devil-made-us-do-it excuse that MLB is requiring you to take such a market-stupid course – unless it really is true, of course. Frankly, it’s hard to believe that either the Astros or MLB could be too stupid to recognize the value of knowledgeable people who already are working for free toward goals that only serve the best expansive interests of both the Astros club and the wonderful game of baseball.

A SABR booth at Fan Fest is not there to profit from material sales, as most exhibitors are, but to make a connection with others that may want to join us in this not-for-profit good fight.

It’s about what our SABR people as volunteers do and what these efforts produce for the benefit of baseball. These energies course over many different fields, but they all flow on the same fuel.

Love of the Game.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle



5 Responses to “Astros Price SABR Out of Fan Fest 2018”

  1. Fred Soland Says:

    In a nutshell, it works like this. They have limited amounts of space. After a championship, the charge rates for that space escalate as more participants want to be a part of the event. The people who use the event to sell their wares are more willing to purchase the space. The Astros organization has never been one to miss out on a money making mission. Therefore, they told groups, such as SABR, they can sell that space to anyone, and they don’t feel the need to offer discounts. In the end, it is bad business to neglect those who were there when they had a crappy product to sell, just because times got good and they could cut a fat hog in the butt. It is one big money grab, but if you aren’t selling a product to allow you to recover the costs, those costs become prohibitive.

    This is the nature of the beast these days in the great game. Everyone has their hand out, and everyone wants their palm greased.

  2. Larry Dierker Says:

    MLB cares about $$$ not SABR. The Astros loved us when they were losing 100+ games. If I owned the team I would probably feel the same way but I don’t.

  3. Mark W Says:

    Thanks for your candor Larry. I kind of wonder if the owner of the team even knows about this development. Perhaps this is the sad price of winning a championship. We all love winning a championship. SABR gave this team the analytics that it has been using to achieve its success. But those volunteers, who love baseball so much that they remained loyal to their local franchise when it was wretched, are an expendable inconvenience in the days of wine and roses.

    I remember sitting at FanFest on a cold day in January manning the SABR booth and thinking, we may not have a great team, but we have a team that we support and promote because baseball is worth it. SABR volunteers don’t seek to saturate themselves on the intoxicating profits of baseball. SABR is a group of volunteers whose connection to baseball is a labor of love.

    One day in the future, maybe in ten years, maybe twenty, the Astros will be a bad team again, and the current proprietors will be long gone. But I strongly suspect that SABR will still be there, during and after the glory days, just like SABR was there before the glory days. FanFest, like the current ownership group, is just a small dip in the road. SABR is a keeper of the flame.

  4. Bob Hulsey Says:

    Hard to get upset without knowing what sort of fee we are talking about. Like Fred says, there is limited space and probably a lot more vendors this year who want that space. In past years, there was space to be charitable for a non-profit and this year there isn’t.

    Let somebody kick in the registration fee and then auction off one or two pieces of prime memorabilia during the FF to reimburse the cost. Or perhaps the registrant can use the tax write off.

    I’m sure the Astros see their success as the time to make a profit and I can’t begrudge them that. Rather than getting upset, adapt with the times. How did the Chicago chapter handle it when the Cubs probably did the same thing last winter?

  5. Larry Dluhy Says:

    Good idea…..If you get a booth and decide to do a raffle – I’ll donate some real nice autographed items to SABR

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