SABR Houston Convention Starts Wed., July 30

July 30, 2014

July 30-August 3, 2014
Royal Sonesta Houston
2222 W Loop S Fwy.
Houston, TX 77027
(713) 627-7600

We hope you’ll join us for what promises to be a spectacular SABR 44 convention in the summer of 2014 in Houston, Texas. Hotel and conference registration for the 2014 convention is now available. Click here for more information on SABR 44 registration rates, all-inclusive packages, single-day rates, and optional sessions.

Or click here to register for SABR 44.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014  – that’s tomorrow, at the point in time of this Tuesday night writing.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle wrote a beautiful article this morning about this convergence of 700 SABR baseball historians upon the Bayou City. The limitation is – you have to have either bought or borrowed a copy of the Tuesday, July 29, 2014 Houston Chronicle that still contained Section C, Sports, Page 2 – or else had the paper come your way for breakfast by home subscription and delivery  – or have been a paying subscriber to the Chronicle online daily digital version to have seen the whole piece for yourself.

Just in case – here’s the link to the Chron.Com digital version. If you do not qualify as a paying reader, the Chronicle online set up will tell you so after you’ve read a short teaser paragraph:

SABR is an acronym for the Society for American Baseball Research. It’s 6.000 members are worldwide by location, but, of course, heavily concentrated in the USA, the real cradle of baseball today. Although the idea is offensive to some history professionals, especially those with graduate school and university connections, to consider any others but themselves as historians, we take liberal disagreement with that position at the Pecan Park Eagle in the sense that we all carry a perception of history with us over time, even if it is clouded at times by particular circumstances in our lives. In that sense, we are all historians. As such it is up to all of us to “get it right” by breaking free of our own subjective errors and self-governing mythologies and to seek out the objective truth about history from our best available, first source research data facts – with as much help as we may muster from those who are trained as historians are willing to provide us. Some of us too have been trained in philosophies and procedures of research that are readily adaptable to the requirements of good historical study of social institutions as the American baseball culture.

The Larry Dierker (Houston) Chapter of SABR has just published a three-plus years research project on the early history of baseball in Houston through Bright Sky Press of this city. The result is a 368 page hard cover book. “Houston Baseball, The Early Years: 1861-1961″ is the only comprehensive history of baseball in Houston, actually, from the 1836 very beginning of our city through 1961, the last years of minor league baseball prior to the city’s 1962 ascension into the major leagues. 1861 was the earliest traceable year we found for the establishment of the first “Houston Base Ball Club.”

The book was researched and written by multiple SABR members, edited by Mike Vance, a dedicated Houston historian and Executive Director for the Houston Arts and Media group, enhanced by the transitional observations of iconic sportswriter Mickey Herskowitz on Houston’s growth from minor league to major baseball status, beautified by the colorful factually-based artwork of Patrick Lopez on all three of the city’s historical minor league parks, and made possible by the determined and dynamic leadership of SABR Chapter chairman Bob Dorrill and several supportive financial sponsors, plus the sponsorship of SABR National of the work.

"Buffalo Watching" By Patrick Lopez Travis Street Park

“Buffalo Watching”
By Patrick Lopez
Travis Street Park

Everyone who attends the SABR 44 Annual Convention in Houston will receive a complimentary copy of the “Early Houston” book. About the book, SABR Executive Director Mac Appleman had this to say to David Barron: “This book is a very unusual effort. They (the Houston chapter researchers) have done a terrific job.” Those of us on the local level also wish to thank the National SABR staff for sponsoring the publication and distribution of our work as an official SABR project. We shall be forever grateful for your support and confidence in the historical integrity and worthiness of our work.

The SABR 44 Convention is being held at the Royal Sonesta hotel in the Galleria area from Wednesday, July 30 through Sunday, August 03. These days will be jam-packed with panel discussions and special topic lectures, including a welcoming address by Houston Astros President Reid Ryan and other talks by former Presidents Tal Smith and Pam Gardner, and also Bob Watson   Larry Dierkerand. Player panels will be led by Bill Brown, Greg Lucas, and Bret Dolan and they will include former  players Roger Clemens, Bob Aspromonte, Hal Smith, Carl Warwick, Jimmy Wynn, Enos Cabell and Jose Cruz.

Convention attendees will also be treated to a banquet and trips to ball games of both the Houston Astros and Sugar Land Skeeters. Special topic discussions are too numerous to mention here, but they will include a look at the great 1931 Houston Buffs of Dizzy Dean and Joe Medwick, Hank Greenberg‘s time as a Beaumont Exporter in the Texas League of the 1930s, African-American baseball in Houston, Houston’s efforts to land a major league team in the 1950s, and the Astrodome.

If you love baseball, especially its rich linear history, please join us. Single day tickets are available and you don’t have to join SABR to attend. If you love baseball history, and you do allow yourself to join us, it could be the start of your life becoming a lot more fun.












Jason Lane Is Back as MLB Starter

July 29, 2014
Jason Lane, Age 37 9th Oldest Stsrter In MLB History

Jason Lane, Age 37
9th Oldest 1st Time Starter
In MLB History

37-year old lefty Jason Lane today established himself as the ninth oldest man in baseball history to start his first MLB game as a pitcher. He did it  for the San Diego Padres and the path wasn’t easy. The road club Padres were playing against the always-tough-at-home Atlanta Braves  Not surprisingly, The Braves hung a 2-0 loss on Lane, but there could still be no crying in baseball this Monday, regardless of the defeat. Lane had already triumphed by simply showing up for the biggest rare moment in his incredible comeback as a big league pitcher.

Working six innings against the Braves, Lane’s fast ball was humming the plate at 90 mph and his slider was working effectively. He had walked none while striking out 2 and surrendering only six hits, but the safety that hurt him was the solo HR hit by Braves catcher Evan Gattis in the bottom of the 7th with none out that gave the Braves a 1-0 lead. The HR drove a tiring Lane from the game, inflating his season MLB ERA to 0.87 in three games. He had pitched twice previously in relief for the Padres in June before returning to the minors for further work.

Now the man who once hit 26 home runs for the 2005 for the NL pennant-winning Astros before his hitting fell apart over the two following seasons is back in the big leagues as a pitcher. He has a number of people to thank for helping him find the way back, but none more so than Skeeters club adviser Tal Smith and manager Gary Gaetti and the Sugar Land Skeeters. Our local Atlantic Independent League club and their deep-to-the-knees-true-blue talented baseball people gave Jason Lane the chance he needed  to begin his work back to the majors as a pitcher for the Skeeters in parts of both the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Jason Lane was 9-3, 3.17 with Sugar Land in 2012 and 8-4, 2.98 with the Skeeters in 2013. That success led to some bigger progress steps both thoe seasons through 2014 in AAA PCL action before the Padres decided to give the man the chance that culminated in his memorable start today.

Good Luck to Jason Lane as a late-in-baseball-terms pitcher. He did it once before as a pretty good collegiate pitcher at USC back in the day and now he has a chance to use that second set of baseball talents for as long as he can keep on doing what he did today – and for a team that can get him some runs.

Lane already holds a couple of lesser known records in baseball history as a position player. When the Houston Astros defeated the St Louis Cardinals on the road to take the 2005 National League pennant behind the pitching of Roy Oswalt, it was Astros right fielder Jason Lane that caught the lazy fly ball to right field that ended that clincher game. And it also was the last putout ever made at Busch Stadium II before they tore the place down to make  room for Busch Stadium III in 2006.

Methuselah starting pitcher Jason Lane is the same man that holds those two putout records –  and those marks, like Jason Lane’s participation in them, is in the books forever.


1965: Houston’s 5th MLB Dinner

July 27, 2014


No direct mention was found in old reports of the master of ceremonies for Houston MLB Dinner No. 5, nor could be find the ticket price. Last year, the price had jumped to $12.50 each from the $10.00 they each cost in the first years. Also, no mention was found of the dinner site. The first four were held at the Shamrock Hilton Hotel on South Main at Holcombe.

Here’s how Houston MLB Dinner No. 5 of Tuesday, January 19, 1965 was reported:



Cardinal Players, Former Manager Receive Plaudits

Ken Boyer 1965 Winner Tris Speaker AWARD

Ken Boyer
1965 Winner
Tris Speaker AWARD

 Houston (AP) - Ken Boyer and Tim McCarver of the St. Louis Cardinals and former manager Johnny Keane were among the eight guests of honor Tuesday night at the fifth annual Houston baseball dinner.

For a night, at least, Keane was not yet the manager of the New York Yankees, the World Series losers.

He was again the manager of the Cardinals and he watched as a movie projector brought back two of the magic moments of the October classic.

Homer Is Shown

There was McCarver, the 23-yearold catcher, racking a three-run homer over the right field fence, over the head of a back-pedaling Mickey Mantle, to win the fifth game of the Series.

And there was Boyer to club a grand slam in the fourth game on an Al Downing change-up, to beat the Yankees in that one, 4-3.

“Thanks for showing the movie,” said a grinning (Ken) Boyer, as he accepted the featured Tris Speaker Award. “I enjoyed seeing it again.”

The award was given to Boyer by Dick Peebles, sports editor of the Houston Chronicle and chairman of the sponsoring baseball writers’ chapter.

Dean Chance, the Los Angeles Angels’ right-hander, received the Dickie Kerr Award as the year’s outstanding pitcher, and his mastery over the Yankees helped make him so.

“He (Dean Chance) beat them (the Yankees) four times (in 1964),” pointed out Clark Nealon, the Houston Post’s sports director who introduced Chance.

The other awards went to:

Dean Chance 1965 Winner Dickie Kerr Award

Dean Chance
1965 Winner
Dickie Kerr Award

 (Johnny) Keane, who was given the Eddie Dyer Award – for leadership – by Mickey Herskowitz, sports editor of the Post.

(Tim) McCarver, who was presented the Rogers Hornsby Award as outstanding player in the 1964 World Series by Max B. Skelton, Associated Press correspondent.

Chuck Harrison of (the) San Antonio (Bullets) (received) the Jimmy Delmar Award as the outstanding Texan in the minors last year, presented by William Clayton of the United Press International.

Ernie Banks (received) a special award presented by Bob Rule, director of the Houston Golf Association (and) a former Houston sports editor.

Bob Aspromonte (received) the Jim Umbricht Award as Houston’s most valuable player, presented by John Wilson of the Houston Chronicle sports staff.

Tom Gorman (received) the Bill Klem Award as the top umpire, presented by Jimmy Delmar, well-known Houston baseball figure.

The night’s most solemn moment came when Aspromonte accepted the trophy which now bears the name of Umbricht, the Houston pitcher who died last April of cancer.

About 900 fans attended the dinner.

~ Lubbock Avalanche Journal, Wednesday, January 20, 1965, Page 64.


Other Photos of 1965 Award Winners …

Johnny Keane 1965 Winner Eddie Dyer AWARD

Johnny Keane
1965 Winner
Eddie Dyer AWARD



Ernie Banks 1965 Winner Special Award

Ernie Banks
1965 Winner
Special Award

Tom Gorman 1965 Winner Bill Klem Award

Tom Gorman
1965 Winner
Bill Klem Award

Tim McCarver 1965 Wiiner Rogers Hornsby Award

Tim McCarver
1965 Wiinner
Rogers Hornsby Award

Chuck Harrison 1965 Winner Award

Chuck Harrison
1965 Winner
Jimmy Delmar Award

Atlantic League Acts on Pace of Play

July 26, 2014
"I was a rookie when I reached 1st back on an error in the 3rd  inning. Now it's only the 6th inning and we are still tied at 0-0. If this were soccer, the game would have been over hours ago and somebody would've been awars the win on points."

“I was a rookie when I reached 1st back on an error in the 3rd inning. Now it’s only the 6th inning and we are still tied at 0-0. If this were soccer, the game would have been over hours ago and somebody would’ve been awarded the win on style points.”

The following is a verbatim report from the Atlantic (Independent) League on their determination to speed up the pace of play in baseball games, effective August 1st of this season. All of these measures seem reasonable, all contain a system of discrete measurement, all hold consequences for a player and his team if they are not abided, and everyone of them are going to require umpires, or additional field over-site staff, to work harder and keep track of those items that must now be monitored to keep the re-education process of positive change alive.

I’ve long believed, for example, that Rule 8.04 (requiring the pitcher to deliver the ball within 12 seconds when the bases are unoccupied) was a good one, but that it only lasted for as long as the umpires paid it clear and consistent enforcement attention. Once the umpires began to wilt on the steady grind and heat of a long season, it fell by the wayside as a rule that no one any longer took seriously.

Aside from the changes here that allow for an automatic pinch runner for catchers and the signal to first on intentional walks that no longer requires clubs to risk throwing a wild pitch in the normal four ball tosses, the biggest challenge for arbiters is going to be  keeping up and maintaining a uniform attention to these rule enforcements. We don’t need change that expands upon the problem of the strike zone –  a change of pace program that depends entirely upon the way an individual chief umpire in the game decides to enforce the measures in place.

We may need some kind of official that keeps track of time and penalty ball/strike calls for violators in a way that doesn’t distract the home plate umpires as they continue their long–time search for the universal strike zone while also handling fair/foul, and safe/out calls – and settling player disputes.

Here’s the Atlantic League report. Your comments today especially will be appreciated:


Atlantic League Ratifies Six Measures to Improve Pace of Play

The Atlantic League has announced that it has ratified six measures to begin August 1 and continue for the remainder of the 2014 season.  The ALPB will test the effectiveness of the new rules and their ability to speed up games and keep fans engaged.  All rules will be subject to future evaluation by the Pace of Play Committee and the ALPB Board of Directors.

After thorough evaluation, the Committee recommended the following six measures be adopted by the Atlantic League for immediate implementation during the balance of the 2014 ALPB season:

 ”Limited Time-Outs” Rule: The defensive team will be limited to three “time-outs” per game, in which mound visits or on-field conferences take place with the current pitcher.  Pitching changes will not be counted as “time-outs,” and in the case of extra innings, one additional “time-out” will be permitted at the start of the 10th inning and every three innings thereafter. Umpires will enforce a strict forty-five second time limit on said “time-outs.”  If the umpire’s warning is disregarded by the defensive team and play continues to be delayed, the umpire shall declare a “ball” for the batter at the plate.  This will limit the number of times play is interrupted by on-the-field conferences.\\

The “Substitute-Runner for the Catcher” Rule: When a catcher reaches base safely as a batter, the manager will immediately a substitute-runner who is not currently in the line-up to take the catcher’s place on base.  This ensures that the start of an inning is not delayed while waiting for the catcher to suit up.

Reduced Number of Warm-Up Pitches: Reduce the number of preparatory “warm-up” pitches at the beginning of an inning, or when a relief pitcher enters the game, from eight pitches to six, within 60 seconds. Timing is consistent with Rule 8.03 stating preparatory pitches shall not consume more than one minute of time.

Automatic Awarding of an Intentional Walk: When a manager or catcher on the defensive team indicates to the home plate umpire they wish to issue an intentional base on balls, the batter is to be automatically awarded first base without the need for the pitcher to deliver four balls.

Directing Umpires to Apply and Enforce Rule 6.02 and Rule 8.04: The Atlantic League office shall intensify its directives to the umpires and direct them to be more diligent applying and enforcing Rule 6.02 (restricting batters “stepping out” of the batter’s box) and Rule 8.04 (requiring the pitcher to deliver the ball within 12 seconds when the bases are unoccupied).

Directing Umpires to Control the Pace of Play: ALPB umpires shall be reminded that they control the pace of play and that they need to exercise that control and move the game along in a timely manner.  The umpires shall adhere to the entire strike zone as defined in Rule 2.00 and observe that definition when calling pitches balls or strikes.

Rick White, President of the Atlantic League said, “We are excited to put these new efforts in place and observe how they impact the pace of play.  We hope that these measures, along with others being considered, not only enhance the game for the Atlantic League but serve as a model for other leagues.”

The Pace of Play Committee is chaired by Tal Smith, former President of the Houston Astros and comprised of former MLB executives and players with over 250 years of collective experience in the Major Leagues, including Pat Gillick, Roland Hemond, Joe Klein, Cecil Cooper, Bud Harrelson and Sparky Lyle. Through July 11, 2014, they reviewed ideas and suggestions from various sources. For more on the Pace of Play Committee, visit


Have a nice weekend, everybody. – Hope you’re not in a hurry to get there and get home before midnight.


1964: Houston’s 4th MLB Dinner

July 25, 2014
Umpire Jocko Conlan pulled double-duty at the 4th annual Houston MLB Dinner, srving as both the MC and the recipient of the Bill Klem award.

Umpire Jocko Conlan pulled double-duty at the 4th annual Houston MLB Dinner, serving as both the MC and the recipient of the Bill Klem award.

After a ticket price of $10.00 each for the first three annual Houston MLB Dinners at the Shamrock Hilton Hotel on South Main, the per ducat price jumped 25% to $12.50. Even more shocking was the news that the reigning king of Houston MC’s, Morris Frank, for the first time in his life, bought his own. – What is the world coming to?

Also, as has become the case in the early history of these Houston Baseball dinners, the lineup of honored stars is again sprinkled, if not saturated this time, with the presence of future Hall of Fame members.




Morris Frank to Make History at Baseball Fete

Houston, Tuesday, January 21, 1964,

Morris Frank, the Sage of East Texas, took the night off as MC in Year 4, even buying his own banquet ticket  for the first time in 61 years.

Morris Frank, the Sage of East Texas, took the night off as MC in Year 4, even buying his own banquet ticket for the first time in 61 years.

 At least a football lineup of starting Baytown baseball fans will be at the Shamrock (Hilton) at 6 p.m., Tuesday ((tonight) for the annual Houston Baseball dinner sponsored by the city’s baseball writers.

Eleven reservations had been made by Baytown fans.

One of the principal reasons for extreme baseball interest as well as the sellout possibilities at the dinner is (that) a history-making event will be recorded. 

Morris Frank of the Houston Chronicle, famed Texas humorist, raconteur, master of ceremonies and after dinner speaker, has bought his own ticket.

It is the first time in history that the former sage of Lufkin ever bought a ticket to a dinner.

How he will react has the fans on edge.

It will be Frank’s final appearance before leaving for engagements in Gadsden, Ala., Philadelphia, and New York.




Since the Baytown Sun has no paid circulation in either of (any of) these spots, it will not prejudice talker Frank’s opportunity to crash these engagements without having to buy a ticket.

“This is the first time in 61 years I ever bought a ticket,” Morris said Monday at a preliminary luncheon, “but I figure that anything I do not do more than once in 61 years cannot become a habit.”

Baseball greats like Whitey Ford, Ron Perranoski, Jackie (Jocko) Conlan, Hal Woodeschick and Willie Mays will try to help Frank get his $12.50 worth.”

~ Baytown Sun, Tuesday, January 21, 1964, Page 2.




Wednesday, January 22, 1964 …

Major Leaguers Get Awards at Houston Baseball Dinner

By Kenneth Carr

Houston (UPI) – Houston baseball writers Tuesday night passed out awards to Los Angeles pitcher Sandy Koufax and other major leaguers at their 4th annual major league dinner.

Dodger relief pitcher Ron Perranoski received the annual Dickie Kerr award for 1963 for Koufax who was unable to make the banquet.

Other major leaguers honored included Willie Mays, Whitey Ford, and Hal Woodeschick.


1963 COLT .45’S

Mickey Wright Honored

The Associated Press honored female golfer Mickey Wright as woman athlete of the year and St. Louis Cardinal manager Johnny Keane as manager of the year.

Umpire Jocko Conlan received the Bill Klem award.



Perranoski left the dinner with his own award - a bronze fire hose nozzle for his relief role. Mays received the Tris Speaker award and Ford the Eddie Dyer award for spirit in the game.

Umpire is MC

Woodeschick, who came out of nowhere last season in the National League, won plaudits as an outstanding reliefer for the Houston Colts.

(Jocko) Conlan acted as master of ceremonies at the $12.50 a plate dinner, and (he) brought down the house with his anecdotes.

He told the audience (that) he was responsible for putting paper cups in the concession stands at Ebbets Field. He said he feared a repetition of a soda bottle barrage he got in his early days as an umpire.



Houston Colt owner Judge Roy Hofheinz said (that) ticket sales were ahead of last year, showing the interest in Houston’s nearly completed domed stadium. The stadium will be air conditioned. 

Colt General Manager Paul Richards predicted a good year  for the (1964) Colts and said that some of his young players would come into their own.

~ Brownsville (TX) Herald, Wednesday, January 22, 1964, Page 6.


As for Jocko Conlan …

Carl Warwick of the Colt .45′s tells this great story about the night he was hitting against Gaylord Perry at Colt Stadium. According to Carl, saliva was flying off the ball as it made funny dips and dives at the plate. Finally, a pitch hit the dirt and rolled behind the catcher. And Carl says he could see it picking up a ring of dirt from the spit that had been on the ball. Then home plate umpire Jocko Conlan picked it up with two fingers and threw it out of play in exchange for a fresh ball.

Conlan had a smile and a comment for Warwick as he returned to his position behind the plate.

“Kind of humid tonight, isn’t it, Carl?” Conlan offered.

1963: Houston’s 3rd MLB Dinner

July 24, 2014


Born in the era when baseball’s greatest stars were still available for honors without first asking “how much am I going to get paid for this appearance?”, the 3rd annual Houston Baseball Dinner was taking place for the third consecutive year at the Shamrock Hilton Hotel in Houston on Tuesday, January 22, 1963. In all due respects to the fact that we no longer may be able to afford such a banquet lineup without price-gouging the heart of baseball support, the average fans that most of us are, totally out of the picture, these times remain a part of the history that brought baseball to Houston.

It’s too bad that some social conditions cannot live forever. As a changing society, we continue to kill off all the sandlot connecting elements of our American culture that once bonded older generations to baseball as our national pastime. We should not be surprised that the day may be coming when baseball loses the tenuous hold that it still enjoys with some elements of the younger generations. And, if the game finally dies in response to the same old faces of greed that we see in its owners and players that we see everywhere else, its demise may not be mourned by younger generations who grew up knowing nothing else but situations in which 18 year old first round draft choices get hosed out of 1.5 million dollars in their promised signing bonuses to the point that they couldn’t possibly think of signing for a mere 5 million bucks. – Try selling that hard-luck story to those of us who were sandlotters and members of our local club’s “knothole gang.”

For history alone, here’s a brief account of the third annual Houston MLB dinner in 1963. The Pecan Park Eagle isn’t sure that there is even enough interest in this subject to continue beyond today, but we shall think about it. Let us know if the subject holds any interest for you.


(3rd Annual MLB) Houston Baseball Dinner (January 22, 1963)



Houston keeps the baseball spark alive during the off-season when the Houston Sports Assn. and the Houston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Assn. stage the third annual dinner Tuesday night (tonight, January 22, 1963).

Fast becoming a major attraction of the “hot stove league,” the fete will honor such outstanding baseballers as Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees, Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Dick Groat of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Berra will be the recipient of the Tris Speaker Award – given for long service to baseball. Drysdale will be awarded the Dickie Kerr Award, as the outstanding pitcher in the major leagues for 1962, and Groat will receive the Eddie Dyer Award for hustle and courage.






1963 AWARD



Others to be be honored are Dusty Boggess (the recipient of the Bill Klem Award) as the outstanding umpire in the major leagues, Bob Lillis as the most valuable (Houston) Colt .45 for the past season, and Glenn Vaughan as the outstanding Texan is the minor leagues during 1962.

The fete will get away in the Emerald Room of the Shamrock Hilton at 7 p.m. and a sellout crowd of 1,000 is expected although a few tickets (at $10 a piece) were still available Tuesday morning.

~ Galveston Tribune, Tuesday, January 22, 1963, Page 7.


Boggess Retires at Houston Dinner

After receiving the Bill Klem Award, the native Texan with a 22-season umpiring career who spent the past 19 of those years in service to the National League, arbiter deluxe Dusty Boggess surprised everyone by announcing his retirement from the podium, after first making sure that everyone understood his gratitude for the Klem Award.:

On the Klem Award: “My friends – if I have any  this is the happiest moment of my life.” – Dusty Boggess.

On Retirement: “Tonight I’m retiring from the National League. My eyes are growing old and my legs are getting tired. I’d rather go out when I’m on top, and have you say, ‘he is a pretty good umpire,’ than have you say, ‘he used to be.’ ” – Dusty Boggess.

(Lyndon Ross) Dusty Boggess, 59, graduated from high school in Waco, Tex. and broke into pro baseball as an infielder in 1921.

~ Auburn (NY) Citizen Advertiser, Wednesday, January 23, 1963, Page 18.















1962: Houston’s 2nd MLB Dinner

July 23, 2014
The most recent Houston Baseball Dinner in 2012 celebrated the city's 50 years in the big leagues.

The most recent Houston Baseball Dinner in 2012 celebrated the city’s 50 years in the big leagues. Hey! – Let’s not stop the celebration there!

Why does The Pecan Park Eagle do one more consecutive story on the history of Houston’s MLB winter baseball dinners? Because it’s history, just as we stated. If it were  important enough to make headlines all over the place years ago, it ought to be sufficiently important that we remember these events even now. Otherwise, what’s the point of honoring people of the game if it’s only to build attendance at a fancy banquet? We, the baseball community, have to be capable of honoring greatness with both class and memory of the deepest contributors to the game. And, as you read the list of people who were honored at the second Houston MLB Dinner in January 1962, please note – there seems to be no shortfall of greatness among the career performer honorees.

All the more reason to ask – why was such a successful, respected, and well-supported annual event in the ongoing life of the Houston baseball community so abjectly cancelled for want of support from the Houston Astros in 2013? The only answer that resoundingly echoes is the one we’ve already suggested: the kind of stupidity that most easily flows from self-absorbed administrators who fail to understand the fans and their investment in the local baseball culture.

Now that the Houston Astros have experienced a change at the top hired administrative level, and brought baseball culture savvy Reid Ryan into the picture as club president, it’s time to right an obvious still correctable wrong and bring back the annual winter baseball dinners this coming off-season of 2014-15. If you agree, please e-mail Mr. Ryan your support for the idea at …

Please note too that the second Houston MLB dinner was held even earlier than Houston’s first big league season as the Colt .45’s – and again it drew a crowd of one thousand fans into direct contact with the club, the baseball community, and some of the greats of the game. That is not the kind of connection that a club should ever build and then throw away, regardless of whatever other circumstances outside the team’s control may have contributed to the recent poor decision to simply fall away and say nothing publicly about the dinner’s demise. The Houston club needs to take it over and make sure it happens and still listens to the voice of the fans. who thrive and multiply on he basis of this contact.


Baytown Sun, January 10, 1962, Page 13 …

Houston Baseball Fete –


By Fred Hartman

Houston (SP) -  More than a thousand Houston baseball fans honored “The Champs” Tuesday night and recognition went to the state champion Robert E. Lee Ganders as well as the immortals of the game. 

Coach Don Treuhardt and his Ganders occupied a center table and were given a rousing ovation when presented by emcee Morris Frank, who turned in another major league performance at the second annual major league baseball dinner at the Shamrock-Hilton Hotel.

Warren Spahn, Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle received awards from Houston sportswriters, and each responded to add merriment and color to the dinner.



But it remained for Lefty Gomez, the old New York Yankee, to steal the show with a great baseball talk in ultra-Gomez fashion.

President Warren Giles of the National League made his second straight appearance at the dinner, again applauding Houston for its aggressiveness in becoming a major league city. He said “the hole in the ground” that he saw at the new stadium site was the prettiest construction he’d ever seen in Houston. 



Bart Shirley, a former Corpus Christi Ray athlete who once helped beat the Ganders in a football playoff game, was extolled as baseball’s brightest rookie of 1961. Now a shortstop in the Ls Angeles Dodger organization, young Shirley was given the award by Fred Hartman of the Baytown Sun.

Baytown again showed it was ready for major league baseball with three tables of fans joining the other hundreds to usher in the 1962 hot stove season – even though the temperature hovered around the 20-degree mark outside.

Spahn, pitcher for the Milwaukee Braves, said he’s glad to hear Musial may retire after the 1962 season.

“I just want to play one year when that guy isn’t around with his big bat,” Spahn said.

“These three men (referring to Spahn, Musial and Mantle) are tops in their profession,” Giles, president of the National League said. At the appropriate time, each will have a place at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.”



Spahn got the Dickie Kerr award for being the (1961) year’s top pitcher. Musial got the Tris Speaker award for his outstanding performance over the years. The St. Louis Cardinals outfielder holds more records than any other active player.

Mantle, the New York Yankee outfielder, got the Eddie Dyer award for being baseball’s most courageous player in 1961.

Musial said earlier he plans to make the 1962 season his last.  He made no reference to that Tuesday night, but he did say he is “probably a couple of years past my prime.” *



* As you probably know, Stan Musial would not retire until after the 1963 season, missing his chance to have been a member of the 1964 Cardinals club that took a seven game World Series from the New York Yankees. Had he been there in 1964, and if the Cardinals had still won with that change in their roster, it would have been Musial’s first participation on a World Series winning club since 1946.












1961: Major Award at 1st Houston MLB Dinner

July 22, 2014
Dickie Kerr Won the 1st Tris Speaker Award at the 1st Houston MLB Dinner, Jan. 10, 1961.

The smiling face in the photo is Tris Speaker. Dickie Kerr Won the 1st Tris Speaker Award at the 1st Houston MLB Dinner on Jan. 10, 1961.

As we reported yesterday, the first annual Houston Winter Baseball Dinner, indeed, was held on January 10, 1961. We have since been able to locate a story on the principal award that took place at that initial first MLB banquet in our town. Here it is:



Tris Speaker Award Goes to Dickie Kerr

By Max B. Skelton

Houston, Tx. (AP) - Dickie Kerr, the honest winner of baseball’s most embarrassing World Series, is the first winner of the annual Tris Speaker award.

Dickie Kerr

Dickie Kerr

 Kerr, who pitched two victories against Cincinnati in the 1919 Black Sox World Series that some of his Chicago White Sox teammates said they tried to throw, got the award Tuesday Night as (NL) President Warren Giles and several National League managers welcomed Houston into the National League at the city’s first major league dinner.

Kerr was chosen for his contributions to baseball. One of them was seated at the head table – a onetime Class D pitcher named Stan Musial whom Kerr converted into one of the great hitters of all time.

Kerr was near tears as he faced the crowd of nearly a thousand at the banquet after he learned he won the award.

“I can hardly speak,” he said. “But I’m so happy that in 1962 we in Houston won’t have to look at television to see major league baseball.”

Kerr is now a construction office manager in Houston – a city that has a franchise for major league play in 1962.

“In baseball’s darkest hour, this man stood as a symbol of shining light,” said Clark Nealon, sports  editor of the Houston Post when he gave the award to Kerr.

Nealon, who presented the award to Kerr in behalf of the Houston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, said Kerr has always refused to discuss the 1919 scandal.

“Dickie Kerr is not eligible for the Hall of Fame, but he is a man who belongs in any baseball Hall of Fame,” Nealon said.

Speaker, the first Texan to enter the baseball Hall of Fame, had a lifetime batting average of .344 after a 22-year career in the American League.



1961: HSA Begins Annual Winter Baseball Dinners

July 21, 2014
Morris Frank served as Master of Ceremoniies at the first and several other Houston Winter Baseball Banquets from 1961 forward.

Morris Frank served as Master of Ceremoniies at the first and several other Houston Winter Baseball Banquets from 1961 forward.

 How could such a grand annual pre-season celebration by the hard core Houston baseball community, the Annual Houston Winter Baseball Dinner, have been allowed to disappear without notice a couple of years ago? The simplest explanation unwinds from our ability to understand the workings of time’s hands on so many best laid plans in life. It began with a major push of support from the new MLB ownership of Houston baseball in the National League. It died from the apathy of new Houston club ownership in either 2011 or 2012. I’ve even now forgotten the exact year, but it just stopped, without fanfare or notice. The apathy of a new Astros club president, fortunately now departed, apparently had a lot to do with it. The man failed to understand that any need for change in the way the club was run did not include killing a major lifeline of fan support.

The moral of the story is simple for other baseball club administrative aspirants: We don’t care if you went to Harvard and earned an MBA from there, if you don’t understand how baseball fan allegiance to a baseball club works over time, get the hell away from trying to run our baseball club. Your self-absorbed ambitions are better served in politics.

On a more temperate note, here’s a story from the Baytown Sun about plans for the first Houston Baseball Banquet in 1961. Two notes are important here: (1) with all due respects to the front line efforts of Jimmy Delmar, and although although he isn’t mentioned in the article by name, former Houston Buff President Allen Russell was the behind-the-scenes other prime mover in getting the annual banquets started according to all the persons from that era that I’ve consulted about the event’s beginning; and (2) the group would quickly establish the Dickie Kerr Award as the prize they would annually give to the MLB outstanding pitcher from the previous season. From what we have been able to learn, it appears that Warren Spahn of the Braves took the first one at the second winter banquet in 1962 for his 21-13, 3.02 ERA record in 1961. It is possible that the Kerr Award may have begun in 1961, but we were unable to find an out-of-Houston resource that carried a post-banquet report on the specific awards of that evening. A check of the Houston news files from one of our brick and mortar local news repositories is needed.

Now here’s the article from back in time:


First Time for Houston


HOUSTON (12/20/60) – Houston’s first annual major league baseball dinner will be the Shamrock-Hilton Hotel Tuesday, Jan. 10 (1961) celebrating this city’s entry into the National League in 1962, the Houston Sports Association announced Saturday.

Jimmy Delmar, one of Houston’s staunchest baseball boosters and long-time player, manager, and semi-pro baseball leader, will be general chairman of the dinner. Morris Frank, newspaper columnist and sage of East Texas, will be master of ceremonies.

Warren C. Giles, president of the National League, has formally accepted an invitation to be the principal speaker.

All seven managers of the National League have been invited to be the guests of the HSA and Danny Murtaugh, manager of the world champion Pittsburgh Pirates, was the first to wire his acceptance.

 The Chicago Cubs have not yet named their manager and as soon as he is announced he will be added to te guest list.

Several other outstanding baseball players, past and present, have been invited to attend, including a member of the Pittsburgh club and one of the World Series stars.

One of the high spots of the dinner will be the establishment of an annual award to be given each winter to a baseball player or official for an outstanding contribution to the game.

George Kirksey of the HSA saw the winter baseball dinner as an important link between the Astros and deep core Houston fans.

George Kirksey of the HSA saw the winter baseball dinner as an important link between the Astros and deep core Houston fans.

 George Kirksey, executive vice-president of the Houston National League club, said that the HSA hopes to make the Houston dinner one of the highlights of the Winter baseball banquet circuit each year. Most of the major league cities hold dinners during the winter with the Baseball Writers Association in each city sponsoring the affair.

“We will introduce the Houston National League front office organization to the fans at our dinner,” said Kirksey, “as well as introduce the National League president and many of the National managers and stars to the fans at the same time.”

Among the Houston National League club’s personnel which will be formally introduced to Houston fandom will be General Manager Gabe Paul; Bobby Bragan, director of player personnel and farm clubs; Tal Smith, assistant farm director; Bill Giles, administrative assistant; Paul Florence, veteran scout; Grady Hatton, minor league manager and scout; Red Murff, scout; and others.

General Chairman Delmar, who started out in baseball in 1920 as batboy for Kid Elberfield, the original “Tabasco Kid” and then manager of the Little Rock club in the Southern Association, has been closely identified with baseball in Houston for a quarter of a century.

He headed up the Pro-Amateur Baseball Federation for five years, was President of the Gulf Coast Victory League during World War II, was manager of the Grand Prize semi-pro baseball team which won many state titles and finished third in the national tournament in Wichita, Kansas in 1940, and is the past president of the Athletic Committee of the Chamber of Commerce. As a player he was a pitcher.

The dinner will be held in the Emerald Room. Tickets will be priced at $10.00. Committees and other details of the dinner will be announced later.

~ Baytown Sun, December 20, 1960, Page 9.



Dickie Kerr Statue: A Brief History

July 20, 2014
August 20, 1966: Stan Musial presided over the dedication of the Dickie Kerr Statue at the Astrodome in Houston.

August 20, 1966: Stan Musial presided over the dedication of the Dickie Kerr Statue at the Astrodome in Houston. – Port Arthur News, Sunday, August 21. 1966, Page 23.

The Dickie Kerr statue was dedicated as a tribute to the late and sadly alone and lamented hero of the integrity-tainted 1919 World Series Chicago White Sox on August 20, 1966 as part of the Second Annual Old-timers Game played at the Astrodome in Houston. Kerr had passed away in his Houston home only three years earlier at the age of 69 on May 4, 1963 and buried at Forest Park Lawndale, the final resting place of so many other big name Houstonians in baseball and other fields.

Because of the Kerr statue dedication of this special artwork by the donor group into the care of the Houston Astros at the Astrodome, Kerr’s great friend, Stan Musial, had agreed to participate in the Old-Timers game as part of the dedication ceremony. Wish we had a good copy of Musial and the statue as shown above, but we shall settle today for any attainable graphic of that special moment. Here above we see Musial in the moment that followed his unveiling of the Kerr statue prior to the 1966 Astrodome Old-Timers game.

Who were the donors who made the statue possible?

According to the Abilene Reporter News and the Port Arthur News, the statue had been designed and completed from funds donated by fans to a movement organized by Houston sports media after Kerr’s death from cancer. Dick Peebles of the Houston Chronicle and Clark Nealon of the Houston Post appear to have been the prime media movers of the fundraising project. We were unable to locate the name of the actual sculptor.

National League President Warren Giles was also on hand with Musial to help preside over the special occasion.

As an interesting aside, even though we have no specific information about the actual pace or score of the Old-Timers game played that day, former Cardinal pitchers Dizzy Dean and Howie Pollet had been announced as opposing starters for the two sides.

August 20, 1966: Astros star Jimmy Wynn gets an autograph from Dizzy Dean prior to the Old-Timers game.

August 20, 1966: Astros star Jimmy Wynn gets an autograph from Dizzy Dean prior to the Old-Timers game.

In a brief period of research today, The Pecan Park Eagle could find no specific documents that specified that the gift of the statue had been donated to the Astros in exchange for their protection, presentation, and preservation of this artwork at the Astrodome, and it simply may have been one of those high-spirited matters of agreement that fails to spell out the item’s future once the glow of the moment fades and other priorities arise and people who had been in charge as givers and receivers either die or move away. All we know is that, over time, and some time prior to the Astros’ move downtown to their new ballpark, the Dickie Kerr statue ended up at the Houston Sports Museum operated by the Finger Furniture family at their store that once rested on the site of old Buff/Busch Stadium.

With the Houston Sports Museum now closed, we presume that the statue is now on “loan” display from Finger’s by the Sugar Land Skeeters at Constellation Field.

Bust View of the Dickie Kerr Statue.

Bust View of the Dickie Kerr Statue.

If anything, this trace history of the Kerr statue, which, indeed, is a quite handsome likeness of Dickie Kerr, is a great argument for specifying the duties and responsibilities of ownership in written legal terms that spell out the expectations that should be attached to the job of perpetual care and presentation of important historical artifacts.

The Skeeters are taking good care of Dickie Kerr’s bronze-plated image. Dickie has been in security placement in the Constellation Field Press Box recently, but he will be back out in front of the stadium by the time our SABR convention visitors make their trip to watch a Skeeters’ game on July 31st.

If you have other information or comment about the history of the statue, please let us hear from you.


Additional Information from Tom Hunter ….

The Musial House Gift to Dickie and Cora Kerr …

Tom Hunter has supplied us with a link to this excellent article of insight into the  relationship between Stan Musial and Dickie Kerr and how the Houston house gift came to be. The photo of Dickie and wife Cora Kerr in front of their Houston home is also available within the linked article by Andrew H. Martin by clicking onto the sub-link contained within the article shown as “blown away by gift”.

Here’s the Andrew H. Martin article link:

And here’s a poor quality free-hand shot of the house photo contained within the previously noted sub link:


Dickie and Cora Ker in front of their Houston gift home from Stan Musial. Musial was upset when attempted quiet gift to old friends became public a few short years after the fact.

Dickie and Cora Ker in front of their Houston gift home from Stan Musial. Musial was upset when his attempted quiet gift to old friends became public a few short years after the fact.


Thank you so much, Tom Hunter, for these important additions to the Dickie Kerr story.






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