Dave Horger’s love affair with baseball began when he was a kid.
Now, at 72, he still gets a game in whenever he can. But he doesn’t have to travel any farther than his garage.
Horger has invented what he calls “the world’s greatest baseball” game. He has a copyright on the name, which is Base Hit.
The tabletop game allows a player to hit a ball, which is a painted bean bag pellet, and put it into play. The simplified game requires a roll of a dice to determine whether it’s a strike, ball or hittable pitch.
The complicated version has a rating system for players’ power, speed and batting average.
A game may take 30 minutes.
“Pace of play is not a problem with this game,” Horger said.
Horger has always been a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, having grown up near the Pennsylvania state line in East Liverpool. Forbes Field in 1938, where the Pirates used to play, was most recently on display in his garage.
He also has made Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston.
The game makes Horger feel like a kid again.
“No matter how old you are, when you play this game, you have no choice but to become a 12-year-old,” he said.
He said in 1962, when he was 12, his parents bought him and his brother a golf game on a Styrofoam board with sand traps and water hazards. But being a baseball fan, he wanted to convert it to baseball game.
When he came to Bowling Green in 1979, he decided to put time into the development of his own diamond, which he called Horger Field. A board been in his garage ever since, with a green felt field, right field stands, a fence and players at their respective positions.
He used to only play with his brother, but now plays with a friend who lives in Western Pennsylvania. They would play over 100 games each summer, keep records of fair and foul balls, as well as home runs.
“Once you hit the ball out of the park, you’re hooked. You want to do it again,” he said. “It’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be.”
The ballpark is always open, he said, and he has had Major League players and Bowling Green State University athletes stop by to play.
“Everybody that plays it, everybody says they want it,” he said. “My hope was to sell the game to a toy company. I’m still hoping, I haven’t given up yet.”
He had a brochure developed and sent to approximately 35 toy companies but did not get a single response.
Horger said he has been trying to sell the game to toy companies for about 40 years.
In talking to toy brokers, their first question was always was it a video game. Since it’s not, Horger’s been told that he is wasting his time trying to sell it.
Toy brokers have told him baseball just isn’t popular, Horger said.
Horger said that baseball is still the national pastime, although many may argue it’s now football.
In the 1950s, there was no debate that baseball was the national pastime. Of the 16 teams, 10 drew 1 million fans or more to the stadium annually in that decade. Three teams drew 2 million, including the New York Yankees, the Milwaukee Braves and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Horger said he found a World Series ticket stub for the Dodgers and Yankees in 1955 where a mezzanine seat cost $7.55.
Prices for tickets to the World Series games in Philadelphia this fall were $3,000.
“That’s crazy but if they’re willing to pay, that shows that baseball must be kind of popular,” Horger said at a recent Bowling Green Kiwanis Club meeting.
Horger came to Bowling Green in October 1979 and worked on air with WFOB radio. He then went to 88.1, the BGSU station.
He is known as the “voice of the Falcons,” announcing 13 years of basketball and 12 years of football from the late 1980s to 2003. He was instrumental in starting “The Morning Show” in 2007.
He remembers the year he and Cathy were married as the year won the Cy Young Award: 1988.
Horger was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2013.
“It came out of left field. It knocked me off my feet and right off the air.”
Baseball, Horger said, helped him get through the most difficult time of his life.
When nothing else was normal, he knew for three hours a day he could watch or listen to a baseball game.
“Baseball is there if you want it and baseball is there if you need it,” he said.