TERRE HAUTE —
When Terre Haute’s Brian Dorsett played professional baseball in the 1980s and 1990s, he traveled all over the country and stayed in cities of all sizes.
Selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 10th round of the 1983 amateur draft out of Indiana State University, the 6-foot-3 Dorsett worked his way through the minor leagues and played catcher, first base and occasionally designated hitter during an eight-year Major League Baseball career. Included were stints with the Cleveland Indians, California Angels, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs.
Once Dorsett retired as a player in 1996 — after compiling nine home runs, 51 runs batted in and 38 runs scored in the majors — he could have worked in the front office or on the field for any number of pro organizations.
But he chose to remain in his western Indiana hometown, where he was born and where he graduated from Terre Haute North High School in 1979.
Dorsett said he and his wife Gina purchased a home in Terre Haute after they started having children.
“We felt like we wanted to raise our family here because this was where her immediate family was living and this was where my immediate family was living … and we loved Terre Haute,” Dorsett told the Tribune-Star over the weekend.
“There were plenty of opportunities to leave… But family has always been important to Gina and I. We were both born and raised here.”
Now 49, Dorsett has been anything but silent since he again made Terre Haute his full-time home.
As anyone who’s read the Tribune-Star, watched Terre Haute television or listened to local radio in the last 10 years should know, he owns the Dorsett Mitsubishi auto dealership. Since he purchased it in 2000 and moved it into its current building in southern Vigo County in 2001, his voice has frequently appeared in TV and radio commercials.
“Drive it home with Dorsett,” anyone?
Unlike some retired athletes, Dorsett saved a good chunk of his money, so that made the transition from baseball player to dealership owner relatively smooth. (According to Baseball-Reference.com, he earned approximately $210,000 from the Cubs in 1996, his final major-league season.)
After Dorsett retired as a player, he worked with his father Larry at Dorsett Auto Sales in 1997.
“I had grown up in the business,” Brian Dorsett recalled, “and my dad gave me advice on how to move up in the business.”
The natural next step for a well-known, financially stable, recently retired pro athlete who had grown up around cars was to buy his own dealership and put his name on it.
“I felt like Terre Haute was a good place to build on from what my family had started in the used-car business,” Dorsett explained.
The dealership isn’t Dorsett’s only connection to cars in the Wabash Valley.
In early 2008, he became a partner with “Radio Voice of the Indy 500” Mike King and Indy Racing League driver Davey Hamilton in what is now known as Action Promotions, LLC, which is in its third season of promoting races at the Terre Haute Action Track.
Dorsett remembers telling King when he first approached him about joining the partnership, “I’m real interested.”
Dorsett is glad he and his partners could help revive interest in the track, adding that he wanted to show out-of-towners that Terre Haute had a lot to be proud of.
Just last week, however, Track Enterprises, Inc., took over promotional reins at the Action Track for the rest of 2010. But the Action Promotions partners will stay involved to make sure the remaining races go off without a hitch.
Dorsett said Track Enterprises, owned by longtime Midwest promoter and former Action Track promoter Bob Sargent, and the O’Connor family from Kokomo should do a good job of finishing out the racing season at the historic half-mile dirt oval.
“They have all the experience with the [track preparation] machinery,” Dorsett mentioned. “We, along with USAC [the U.S. Auto Club], thought this was going to be the best solution to put a good product out there for the fans.”
Dorsett said he plans to sit down with King and Hamilton later this year to discuss whether they want to help promote races at the track in 2011.
“It’s a bigger challenge than anybody could expect, but it’s something I’ll never regret,” noted Dorsett, who had been a racing fan since he was a child. “It’s been a labor of love.”
As if Dorsett didn’t have enough on his plate, he hosted an afternoon sports talk show called “The Drive” on ESPN Radio (WBOW-AM 1300 and WSDX-AM 1130) for about three years, working with different partners at times as well as flying solo other times.
“I really enjoyed doing it,” Dorsett insisted. “It was only one hour a day and sometimes I could do it from my office at the dealership.”
His guests included Cam Cameron, Steve Weatherford, Tony McGee, Dick Vitale, Bobby Leonard, Larry Bird and Tommy John as well as a few well-known race drivers.
Dorsett already had accumulated some media experience by helping broadcast Indianapolis Indians games on TV since the late 1990s, a job he had dreamed of doing since he was a youngster.
When Dorsett played for the Class AA Huntsville Stars in 1985, he practiced for his future broadcasting adventures by doing fake interviews with the bus driver and providing fictional commentary for NASCAR races while the team took long rides to its next game.
Back to the present, Dorsett and ESPN Radio parted ways Jan. 1.
“My commitments in 2010 were changing,” he explained. “It made it easier to transition into managing the Rex [by not doing the radio show].”
Oh yeah, there’s also the Terre Haute Rex, the Prospect League baseball franchise for college players that debuted this summer. Dorsett was hired in January to manage the team.
“It’s a big commitment,” he reflected, “but it’s one I really enjoy.”
Last Wednesday, for example, Dorsett left Terre Haute at 10 a.m. for an evening game at Quincy, Ill. For weeknight home games, he usually arrives at Bob Warn Field at 3:30 or 3:45 p.m.
Even though Dorsett no longer has the radio gig, how does he balance family responsibilities, the car dealership, Action Track decisions and the Rex?
“I’ve got an awesome wife,” he emphasized. “She’s tremendous. I’ve also got a great business relationship with my dad and my managers and employees at the car dealership.”
Dorsett admitted that he’ll need to miss the July 14 Indiana Sprint Week event at the Action Track because he’ll be managing a Rex game at the Dubois County Bombers. But that’s to be expected, especially considering the new promotional arrangement at the track.
Back to the Rex, Dorsett said the toughest part of managing so far has been seeing players improperly execute the fundamentals of baseball.
“We’re having to teach them a lot about having to be an everyday player,” he said.
As with any baseball manager, Dorsett acknowledged that he becomes animated with his players on occasion to get their attention after they do something wrong.
“You want to make sure that when you pick those spots [to advise players on how to perform better],” he said, “it’s something the whole team can benefit from.”
Even when Dorsett becomes aggravated by a mistake on the field, he never wants to show up a specific player.
“We [on the coaching staff] feel like we’re teaching them about the game,” he said. “If we have to correct them and we have to be a little louder or more demonstrative than usual, we try to end it on a positive note.”
One of the Rex players that Dorsett manages is his son, Brandon, a right-handed pitcher.
“When he was younger, playing Little League and Babe Ruth, I was fortunate enough to coach him in that,” Brian Dorsett reflected. “Now doing this [with the Rex], it’s an extra blessing… It’s a pretty special opportunity that I’m thrilled about.”
Overall, Dorsett is thankful for being able to work with Gene Crume, president of the ISU Foundation (which owns the Rex), and Roland Shelton, general manager of the team.
“I love it,” Dorsett stressed. “Being a player and being a manager are completely different, though. I think losses come a little bit harder as a manager than as a player. You want the kids to enjoy that gratification when you do win. You get close to them and you want them to enjoy it all.”
Dorsett also expressed gratitude to Wabash Valley fans for being so supportive of this new team, which comes off its mid-season break Thursday with a home game against the Richmond River Rats.
“We have to have some entertainment in Terre Haute,” he pointed out. “Baseball is just a great form of summer entertainment.”
TERRE HAUTE —
When Terre Haute’s Brian Dorsett played professional baseball in the 1980s and 1990s, he traveled all over the country and stayed in cities of all sizes.
- Terre Haute Rex
Terre Haute Rex future up in the air
The future of the Terre Haute Rex is up in the air like a shattered wooden bat.
The team just finished its fourth season as a member of the Prospect League, one of many collegiate summer leagues around the nation. The team is owned by the Indiana State Foundation and president Ron Carpenter has publicly said, both before and after the season, that the Rex is no longer part of his organization’s mission.
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Nick Johnson knew his day in Prospect League baseball Sunday was going to be special. He may not have counted on it being so suspenseful.
Wolfe's big hits help REX split with Danville on Saturday
Brian Wolfe had the two big hits Saturday afternoon as the Terre Haute Rex defeated the visiting Danville Dans 5-4 in the first game of a two-city Prospect League baseball doubleheader.
Rex roll to 5-0 victory over Sliders
While the Terre Haute Rex playoff hopes are all but dashed, that’s not going to change how the Rex (28-27) attempt for finish the season.
The Rex started the Wednesday night 11.5 games behind Danville in the Western Division, well out of the playoff hunt in the Prospect League. But that has not changed their approach to the game.
While the team’s playoff hopes are all but dashed — the Gems needed to win just one of its doubleheader against Hannibal on Wednesday to clinch — that’s not going to change how the Rex (28-27) attempt to finish out the season.
Terre Haute Rex bounce back to get Saturday split
In a lot of ways — good and bad — Saturday was a pretty good representation of the Terre Haute Rex season in Prospect League baseball.
Rex pitchers shut out the last-place Springfield Sliders in 17 consecutive innings of a doubleheader at Bob Warn Field; Terre Haute pitching has dominated Springfield often this season.
Kempf is rock of the Rex
Wherever his baseball career takes him — and like probably every player in the Prospect League, he has thoughts of playing beyond college — Kyle Kempf will probably use the same approach that won him a job with the Terre Haute Rex approximately 14 months ago.
Rex can’t derail Dans’ run
The hottest team in Prospect League baseball showed why it is Friday night at Bob Warn Field as the visiting Danville Dans knocked off the Terre Haute Rex 4-1.
Rex end skid with extra-inning win at Springfield
The Rex defeated the Springfield Sliders 11-7 in 10 innings in a Prospect League game on Sunday.
Great start, disappointing finish for Rex
Terre Haute falls off pace in Prospect League West Division
Rex offense struggles vs. Cavemen
Fresh off of splitting a double header against the Springfield Sliders on Sunday, the Rex fell to 20-17 on the season with a 4-1 loss to the Hannibal Cavmemen (15-20).
Danville shuts down Terre Haute Rex
Three Danville pitchers combined to shut down the Terre Haute Rex 7-1 at Bob Warn Field on Saturday night.
The loss dropped the Rex 31⁄2 games behind co-leaders Danville and Quincy in the Western Division of the Prospect League.
Rex fall short on Fourth of July
The Terre Haute Rex came up short at Bob Warn Field on Thursday night.
Vigo County natives come up big in 10-inning Rex win
The Terre Haute Rex needed a strong pitching performance from John Robert Patterson and got it. But it was Tyler Wampler’s fly ball to shallow center field that gave the Rex a 3-2 win over the Hannibal Caveman at Bob Warn Field Tuesday night.
Wampler progressing nicely this summer with Terre Haute Rex
A few more heads perk up than usual when a ball bounds or scoots across the Bob Warn Field turf toward Tyler Wampler. Even the most routine grounder can translate into a silky smooth play Terre Haute Rex fans don’t want to miss.
Gardner and Rex reach for big goals
Being a four-year starter in one of Indiana’s premier high school baseball programs was a long way from the highest goal Cody Gardner set for himself.
So the 2012 Terre Haute North graduate has continued to improve his skills and his talents in the approximately 13 months since he graduated, first at Wright State and this summer with the Terre Haute Rex.
Rex fall to Gems in first half of Tuesday's doubleheader
Despite getting a three-run homer from Brian Wolfe in the third inning, the Terre Haute Rex lost to the Quincy Gems 6-3 in the first game of a Prospect League baseball doubleheader Tuesday night.
Rex fall to Danville in 10th inning
The Danville Dans took advantage of Terre Haute Rex errors and walks Monday night to pull out a 5-2 win in extra innings in Prospect League baseball at Bob Warn Field.
Rex regain first place with 8-2 win at Springfield
Two former Vigo County high school baseball players played big roles Wednesday night as the Terre Haute Rex regained first place in the West Division of Prospect League baseball with an 8-2 win over the Springfield Sliders.
Prettyman getting comfortable as boss
At first glance, it would be easy to look at first-year Terre Haute Rex manager Ronnie Prettyman and expect him to have a difficult journey during his maiden voyage as a baseball manager.
Managing in the Prospect League isn’t the easiest job in the world.
Rosters change constantly, especially early in the season when players are still reporting from their college teams. The travel is arduous — a night game in far-off Quincy, Ill., could be followed by a home game, followed by a game at equally far-off Hannibal, Mo. The players have to acclimate themselves to playing every day after having played a maximum of five games a week at the college level.
Loss drops Rex into first-place tie
In a battle for first place in the West Division of the Prospect League baseball standings, the Terre Haute Rex fell just short Monday night at Bob Warn Field.
Sliders’ frustration against Rex continues
The Springfield Sliders probably curse the departure of the Dubois County Bombers from the Prospect League more than most.
What do the Bombers, who now ply their trade in the Ohio Valley League, have to do with the Sliders, or for that matter, the Terre Haute Rex?
When the Bombers left the Prospect League it created a situation where the Prospect League’s West Division teams — the Rex and Sliders both being members — had one less opponent to play in intradivision play.
Sanchez stays hot to lead Rex to victory
Hot seems to be the right temperature for Terre Haute Rex Ricky Sanchez.
After going 3-for-5 in the Rex win on Tuesday at Hannibal, Sanchez drove in four runs with a two hits Wednesday in Terre Haute’s 6-5 win over the same Cavemen at Bob Warn Stadium.
The win allowed the Rex to maintain a one-game lead on Quincy in the Prospect League West Division standings.
Sanchez, a catcher and outfielder out of Notre Dame, started the night hitting .355 and was 2-for-3 at the plate with a double.
Rex fall at home to Sliders
Zack Evans drilled the second Terre Haute Rex home run of the season Sunday, smashing a line drive into the trees in left field. The ball left Bob Warn Field in a hurry, but the solo shot was not enough to overcome a 3-1 deficit to the Springfield Sliders.
Rex looking to return to pitching dominance Sunday against Springfield
During a 7-1 start and franchise-best seven-game winning streak, Terre Haute Rex pitching was the catalyst. Through eight games, the Rex led the Prospect League with an earned-run average of 1.11.
Even after giving up 10 runs Friday night in a 10-6 loss to the Quincy Gems, the Rex (7-2) are still the league leader in ERA at 2.09.
Terre Haute Rex win franchise-record seventh straight game
Having begun its fourth season as a member of the Prospect League, the Terre Haute Rex summer baseball team had never won seven games in a row.
That is, until now.
Rex pull even with Gems in first place after 14-inning win
It took 3 hours, 45 minutes on Tuesday at Bob Warn Field, but the Terre Haute Rex got even.
The Rex avenged their season-opening loss to the Quincy Gems, and the 5-4 victory in 14 innings also pulled the team even with the Gems atop the Prospect League West Division standings.
Rex down Cavemen for fourth straight
Five Terre Haute Rex pitchers scattered six hits and four walks over nine innings on Sunday. All 10 baserunners were left stranded by Hannibal, and the Rex hurlers combined for a shutout of the Cavemen.
Rex keep rolling with third straight victory
The formula didn’t have to change Saturday night as the Terre Haute Rex extended their winning streak to three games in Prospect League baseball.
Wampler's three hits, three RBI lead Rex to win at Springfield
Tyler Wampler was 3-for-4 and had three RBI as the Terre Haute Rex earned its maiden victory of the 2013 season with a 6-0 victory over Springfield at Robin Roberts Field.
Rex edged by Quincy in season opener
Kurt Kudrecki’s defense made a couple costly miscues, and his lineup managed just five hits through seven innings against Quincy, as the Gems held on for a 4-3 victory in the season opener for the Terre Haute Rex.
- More Terre Haute Rex Headlines
- Terre Haute Rex future up in the air