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photo by Michelle Watson, CultureMap

HOUSTON-Now that the two week deadline has passed, the only words that can be said about the meeting with Houston Astros Owner Jim Crane and African-American News&Issues Chairman Roy Douglas Malonson is “Meeting Impossible.”

In every date scenario given to Jim Crane provided by Mr. Roy Douglas Malonson, Crane said he was open to meeting with Malonson at first, but balked at the dates and invitation to come to the Acres Home headquarters of the African-American News&Issues.

Instead, Crane insisted that Malonson come to him at Minute Maid Park on the dates Malonson provided to the Astros at their request.

We get it,” Publisher Roy Douglas Malonson said. “He really doesn’t want to meet with us and even more Mr. Crane does not want to come into this area of the Black community.”

The Houston Astros already have is the Urban Youth Academy at Acres Home housed at the Sylvester Turner Park and the newspaper offices is located within one mile from the baseball fields.

Is Jim Crane too busy to make time to come to Acres Homes and build a partnership with a local businessman and the Acres Home neighbors living in an around the park who support Astros Baseball?

Despite Crane’s unwillingness to meet in Acres Home, Malonson, who chairs the Acres Home Chamber for Business & Economic Development Inc, opened the doors up even further even inviting Jim Crane to be the guest speaker at its monthly business networking luncheon held in Acres Home at the Beulah Ann Shepard Building on Wheatley Street – a great opportunity for him to meet parents, business and religious leaders and others in the Acres Home community who help make these neighborhoods here great. The AHCBED chamber has served businesses and the community for 25 years.

Crane was even informed that he could talk no holes barred about any topic he wanted and without intimidation or screening.

He was given opportunities to come and speak July, August and September, but again the invitation was denied hands down citing Crane’s busy schedule. The Astros only said that they would send a consolation prize – a high ranking Astros executive (possibly someone Black) to speak – just no Crane.

In each case and at that point, “Meeting Impossible” has become just that.

Crane is just too busy to meet with the Black people in the Acres Home community. However, if we lined up at Minute Maid Park, he would gladly take our money for tickets and food at the ball park. He would gladly accept revenues from purchases of Astros memorabilia, hats, T-shirts, coffee cups, pennants, baseball bats and cards.

It is alright to entertain Mr. Crane and company by swinging a bat, running bases or hitting home runs.

If I could do all those things, I suppose I could get your attention and get a meeting,” he said.

We must applaud Gene Dias efforts to reach out to the community by providing hats and tickets to school children from the community, providing some tickets to the chamber for kids for the Civil Rights Game, for advertising the Civil Rights game with AANI and for Astros Manager Bo Porter and several Black players who came and visited the ball diamonds in Acres Home and spoke to kids at Sylvester Turner Park.

All that effort and no commitment for Jim Crane to make a short slot in his “busy” schedule for one little short visit to Acres Homes.

It is not appropriate to come here and meet with us, but it is fine to come to the ball park and have you take our dollars,” Malonson said. said. “This is not personal, it is business and in business terms, you can find and make time for the things that are important to you. I don’t believe he sees the community as a priority. We made time and gave options for our meeting, but Mr. Crane changed the options and rules by insisting I come to him.”

Just like a batter at the plate in a critical game, we made pitches to you and Strike 1 was the issue with press credentials. Despite swinging through that pitch, we felt there was still a chance to build a partnership in Acres Home.

Strike 2 was the insult of testing patience and not taking our desires and intentions to meet seriously. Despite watching the pitch go by, we truly remained flexible and kept the door open. After the visit by Gene Dias, optimism was high that things would move to next level and a meeting was evident.

However, Strike 3 came when Crane insisted that we come to Minute Maid Park only when we extended meeting dates and made it clear that it was about Crane coming to Acres Homes to meet with the community and establish a relationship with us, Acres Homes businesses and residents.

Not even District 18 Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and the state representative who bears the name of the baseball park and where the baseball diamonds for the academy are are housed, could not convince Mr. Jim Crane to make time to come into the District 18 to meet.

The African-American News&Issues contacted Congresswoman Jackson Lee and Representative Turner and asked for help on this matter and are awaiting responses to our request.

We get it,” Malonson said. “Believe it, we know the deal.”

Now, we are forced to make decisions about where things go from here.

From the very beginning, we made it clear that we wanted Mr. Crane to come here and meet with us in the community in order to build a positive partnership. We were patient and flexible as long as he came to the neighborhood.

My question is simple:Why won’t you meet with the Black community in Acres Home?”

We are interested respect and fairness.

Meeting Impossible”

We may never know the end to this saga, unless the man himself is willing to come from behind the ivory walls of Minute Maid Park and meet with us first and then show that the Black community matters and truly connect with the Black community in our neighborhood settings personally, whether it be Acres Home, Third Ward, Fifth Ward, Southeast Houston or Southwest Houston or other disadvantaged areas of this city.

Only one person can fix this situation. Mr. Crane coming to the “hood” and meeting.

Being Astros Proud means being showing that you care about all of us – not a few inner circle friends and big money season ticket holders.



Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues