UH Opener is Long Day’s Journey into Night

August 30, 2014
Twilight at TDECU came upon us beautifully, but nightfall and things on the field landed hard upon UH in their new venue opener.

Twilight at TDECU came upon us beautifully, but nightfall and things on the field landed hard upon UH in their new venue opener.

As a proud and usually happy UH alumnus, this editor of The Pecan Park Eagle doesn’t want to go all “Jerome Soloman” on my Cougars this morning, but the clearly visible  facts of our 2014 season opener against UTSA in our new TDECU Stadium merit some criticism.

By the time I arrived home after the game and finally went to sleep after two o’clock this morning, I was conscious of the whole long day’s journey into night was like walking through a daylight-into-darkness pure nightmare.

My good friend and Cougar brother, Sam Quintero, and I arrived on campus about five o’clock Friday afternoon, a full three hours before the scheduled eight o’clock kickoff before a national TV audience. That fact alone should have been our first admonition that a dish of the worst was about to be served in the land of ferocious felines. – The Cougars have a reputation for not doing squat on high profile TV – and laying eggs in these circumstances that smelled bad for years or forever. The 1979 Cotton Bowl loss to Notre Dame and Joe Montana is a prime example. UH led 34-12 with 7:30 left to play in that icy bowl game, but ended up losing 35-34 on the last play of the game. In the 1983 NCAA basketball championship game, the Cougar bunch known as Phi Slamma Jama with (then known as) Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler fell on the last shot of the legendary loss to North Carolina State.

UTSA, however, was no Notre Dame or North Carolin State. UTSA is just another member of the college “have-not” crowd that fills the UH football schedule, Unlike forty years ago, when UH was getting ready to join the old Southwest Conference, there are no names like George, Ole Miss, LSU, Miami, Florida State, UCLA, Penn State, or Michigan State in our sites. UH is in the Georgia State, Grambling State, Southern, UTSA, and American Conference league crowd of not-so-biggie foes these days. We are hoping that our new $120 million dollar stadium will help us as a step back into the big time, but that’s a long shot. None of the “have” clubs like UT or A&M want to see UH ever rebuild to “Tier One” status in athletics. – Why would they? – The Houston area is one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the country. The big schools want to feast upon the present situation without competition from another “have” school again based in the region. – As a purely competitive matter, who could blame them? – But that’s a much longer story than this one.

Let’s tab this one as a bizarre comedy of errors. Sam and I expected as much on some level. After all, it was the stadium’s grand opening and there were bound to be some kinks. And some of the things we experienced were just that – simple errors to be straightened out later. – Other discoveries appear to be more serious – and these have to do with the architectural construction of the stadium itself. We shall see.

TDECU is s  a major style lean into modernity from "The Rob," but there's more to a stadium than hoW it looks. - How it works ultimately IS what really metters.

TDECU is s a major style lean into modernity from “The Rob,” but there’s more to a stadium than hoW it looks. – How it works ultimately IS what really metters.

Early Going. Sam and I spent our early time on campus walking around the tailgating area, just soaking up the campus culture, watching the Cougar footballers and Coach Tony Levine arrive to dress out for the first time in their new hoe clubhouse, taking in the Cougar Band concert, and even grabbing some free turkey sandwiches that a student group was handing out to visitors prior to the game. We had to buy our own drinks and, as things turned out,   a $4.00 Coke turned out to be the front half of a first game kink to be resolved internally by UH after we notified the stadium security chief. – The Coke I bought to carry into the game had to be surrendered at our entry gate on the other side of the field because, as we only learned upon attempting to enter the stadium, the people who sell the outside drinks are actually competitors of the stadium concession people and their products are banned from entry. I took a few swigs of Coke Zero and gave it up to the stadium attendant. They need to increase their warning signage. Just a kink. Enough said.

Listening to the Cougar Band fired the blood at pre-game festivities.

Listening to the Cougar Band fired the blood at pre-game festivities.

Once Inside the Stadium. Once inside, we ran into two major issues that go way beyond kinks. They speak to problems with the functionality of TDECU Stadium itself and will need to be addressed:

Watching the happy pre-game Cougars streaming into their new digs for the first time was also fun too, while the pre-game joy lasted.

Watching the happy pre-game Cougars streaming into their new digs for the first time was also fun too, while the pre-game joy lasted.

(1) Handicap Unfriendliness. As a cardiovascular disease patient,  I purchased two season tickets for what I thought would be two aisle seats on the front row of Level Four in Section 304. I was also told that an elevator would be available to take me to these seats. That’s not how it worked out. We spent a long time looking for the elevator that would take us where to go and asked countless stadium employees for help along the way. No one we approached had good information (kink) and we then proceeded on a wild goose chase pursuit of the Holy Grail elevator that would take us where we needed to go. Some employees didn’t seem get the handicap aspect of the problem and invariably fell back on “you can always take the stairs.” (kink) “No, I cannot,” I kept telling these folks.

The Chief of Security finally told us to look for two elevators. “Don’t take tbe first one, that elevator will only connect you to level 3, where you are not eligible for admission among the suite holders. Take the second elevator, which only connect levels 2 and 4.” As the instructions turned closer and closer into something resembling an Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First?” routine, the frustrated, ut patient and friendly security chief finally invited us into inner sanctum of the suite level suites and put us on the elevator. Our 30 second ride up was highlighted by the opportunity for shaking hands with a very famous UH alumnus, Joel Osteen and his wife Victoria Osteen  of the internationally famous Lakewood Church in Houston. Both the Osteens were patient and friendly, even after I said to Mr. Quintero, “Hey, Sam, turn around and take a look at whose on this elevator with us.” – Joel was wearing a red Cougar tee shirt, but his famous smiling preacher good looks and manner were with him full glow. And, of course, Mrs. Osteen was also her normally beautiful self.

If Joel Osteen could both recruit and coach football, the Cougars might have entered this season as the ten consecutive times defending national champions!

After about a forty minute search, we finally reached Section 304, with no clear memory of how we got there. The only thing clear was the fact that the construction of TDECU Stadium did not cure the handicap access problems that existed in the now demolished Robertson Stadium. If anything, the lack of clear and easy to us elevators has only made the problem worse.

Cougar hopes were high until shortly after the game started.

Cougar hopes were high until shortly after the game started.

(2) My Season Seats Were Not What I Paid to Get. When I purchased my season tickets over the phone this past off-season, I thought, and was led to believe, that I was buying two front row aisle seats with an unobstructed view of the field on the south stands, east goal line. – What we learned I got was far less. It was not front row, but on an elevated section of the stands above the true row that hung below, but did not show on the seating chart. We still had to climb a short steep staircase to find the assigned seats – which were located directly behind the pipe rails on the landing e had just ascended to get there. The structure mess of the pipes totally obliterated any clear site of the field. The architectural planning of this structure also assured that we would watch the game through a constantly moving flow of people up and down the landing in front of us, some of whom stopped to simply stare at the field from the landing while we stared at their backs.

What a mistake on the tickets (kink – I plan to insist upon a change or refund. They weren’t even the two aisle seats I was promised. We had seats 28 and 29. An unused seat # 30 existed to my left as the aisle place.) Here’s the serious part. – No buyer in their right mind would purchase these “behind the landing” seats a second time, once they knew what they were getting – and there are at least eight landings on the upper deck that have the same kind of sight-line blockages.

To the best of my memory, this landing sight-line blockage does not exist at Rice Stadium, NRG Stadium, or Minute Maid Park – nor did it even exist at dear Old Robertson. but it is a definite design flaw at the new TDECU Stadium that works along with access problems for the handicapped in reaching this third level as a serious coupling of design flaws.

This is the view I thought we would have of the field from my newly selected seats/ - It wasn't even close.

This the view that I thought we would have from my new seats. – It wasn’t even close.

Summary. We Houston Cougars are a resilient bunch. Sometimes on the athletic field we fail when the odds seem to be in our favor, but the reverse is true too, and, I think, in even greater everyday proportions. As Cougars, we are dedicated to overcoming and accomplishing the really important goals – in the right ways. – and that’s what becoming a Tier One level university is all about. We also have the ability sometimes to succeed in spite of ourselves.

Hat’s off to life and the limitations of our human failings.

Hat’s off also to Coach Larry Coker and his UTSA Roadrunners! – They gave our UH  Cougars a 27-7 lesson in much deserved humility last night, but count on us coming back too is some way – and, hopefully, sooner than later. And let’s get started on accepting and resolving the design problems that we all thought were going to be addressed with the construction of the new campus-based football venue. The lack of adequate elevator carriage, the problems it creates for the handicapped, and the botched sight-lines created by the landings design are far greater problems of functionality than mere kinks to be  ironed out. They should have been seen and addressed during the stadium architectural design phase of this important university project.

"EAT 'EM UP, COUGARS!"

“EAT ‘EM UP, COUGARS!”

Better days are always possible with  the breaking of the next dawn. In the meanwhile, let's try to grab the lessons of the only real time we ever occupy - the always powerful moment of the here and now. - Eat those up too, Cougars! for the are the real "em" of our famous phrase!

Good  Night, Houston!

 

 

 

 

 

Induction Day is Informative and Fun

August 29, 2014

Corcoran-Induction Day at Cooperstown_ final flyer tem-pic on lef

Dennis Corcoran Author Induction Day at Cooperstown

Dennis Corcoran
Author
Induction Day at Cooperstown

What Hall of Fame baseball player quit his job as a scout for the team that employed him when they failed to take his strong advice and draft Derek Jeter?

The answer to that Hall of Fame players question and scores of other unusual queries about Hall of Famers is available in a fine little book by SABR member Dennis Corcoran. It’s called “Induction Day at Cooperstown: A History of the Baseball Hall of Fame Ceremony” and it is a 270 fact-packed pages paperback publication by McFarland in 2010. We met Dennis during the recent National Convention of SABR in Houston and bought a copy from him – and much to the satisfaction of our reader’s baseball history palate.

“Induction Day” is a detailed look at the way the selection process has grown in Cooperstown, for better and worse, since its 1936 inception. One may be left with the impression that, except for the earlier Joe Jackson “eight man out”  White Sox ban,, the Pete Rose gambling scandal ban and the more recent still- burgeoning steroids era tainting of numerous recent stars, that the Hall missed few, if any, no-brainer candidates for induction. It also should be obvious too that at times the Hall inducted a few “good, but not great” players because of their popularity, political power, sympathy for an early death, or durability to remain in the majors over time. Rabbit Maranville jumps to mind. Ross Youngs does too. Youngs was inducted with career statistics that were really no greater than contemporary fellow Texas-born outfielder Curt Walker. The difference was the fact Youngs died from illness while involved in his career as a member of the big market New York Giants. Walker played most of his career with Cincinnati and died quietly in retirement many years later.

Corcoran’s fine work allows the readers to evaluate for themselves what has contributed most to the business of getting a candidate of some note inducted or denied admission into the Hall as an honoree. How many players made it on sheer ability alone that might have been rejected had the voters paid much attention to their bad character and violent or shady behavior toward others? How many inductees at other times were merely good players as performers, but forceful social presences in the company of those who held the votes for their induction approvals? How often did the Veterans Committee, under the “Chum’s Club” influence of leaders like Frankie Frisch, simply put the hustle on getting their own friends and others they liked into the Hall?

“Induction Day” doesn’t suggest what you should consider, as the previous two paragraphs here may be guilty of doing, but it beautifully outlines how people got into the Hall of Fame over time and leaves the matter up to us to decide from  our own levels of error-tolerance to answer the big questions we all wish could be settled forever, but most likely will not: Has the Hall of Fame inducted members who do not belong? Has the Hall,  and does the Hall now, keep out candidates who do belong?

Corcoran gives us a steady framework on how the Hall of Fame induction process has shifted in response to changes in the cultural zeitgeist from its earliest times. The process has never been perfect. How could it have been? Any voting process that fails to elect Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb unanimously on the first ballot has already spent its possible run at perfection and shot its wad on the first swing of the bat.

By the way, the answer to that question we posed back there at the start is Hal Newhouser. Hal was working as a scout for the Houston Astros when they bypassed his strong suggestion that they draft Derek Jeter and decided instead upon drafting third baseman Phil Nevin. Newhouser had been planning on retirement at the end of the season, anyway, but the Astros apparently helped Hal make an even earlier exit.

The “Induction Day” book is available from Amazon for $35.00. A better way to go, if you are interested, is to order your copy directly from the author’s stock at the discounted price of $28.00

If you order a book from Dennis Corcoran, just send a $28.00 check or money order for the book and shipping (no cash or credit cards, please) to:

DENNIS CORCORAN

90 WESKORA AVENUE

PLEASANTVILLE, NEW YORK 10570

Please refer all additional questions to the author, Dennis Corcoran, at the following e-mail address:

djcinductionguru@gmail.com

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

Congratulations, Eddie Gaedel!

August 28, 2014
Eddie Gaedel St. Louis Browns Sportsman's Park August 19, 1951

Eddie Gaedel
St. Louis Browns
Sportsman’s Park
August 19, 1951

Great News for You, Mr. Eddie Gaedel!

The Pecan Park Eagle has just received an unsolicited comment from Mr. Tom Keefe, the founder and President of The Eddie Gaedel Society. President Keefe discovered your modest ballad while perusing the archives of this esteemed Eagle history patron and now hopes to get his group to sing it at their fifth annual meeting next year at O’Doherty’s Bar in Spokane, Washington. Of course, we gave Mr. O’Keefe our best wishes in the the fond hope that they, indeed, shall do so. Sung to the theme and choral notes that back “Rudolph the Reed-Nosed Reindeer,” the song is both exalting in praise for you, Eddie, and also factual. It is also easy to sing if people have the words in front of them in the company of good friends, a shared love of you, a few beers, and a tavern state of mind.

Thank you too, Tom Keefe! “The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” deserves to be immortalized by the group that now bears his good name and accomplishments down the hall of celebratory nights and far into the corners of all places that exist through the ages as memorials to the great ones! – To not get it done next year would be tantamount to Eddie having struck out back on August 19, 1951. We cannot allow that to happen!

That being said, here it is again, “The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel!”:

The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel
(All verse stanzas are in regular shade type and are sung to the main tune of “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The two chorus stanzas, shown in bold type, are sung to the chorus tune from “Rudolph” that goes with “Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say, etc.”)

by Bill McCurdy, 1999.

Bill Veeck, the Brownie owner,
Wore some very shiny clothes!
And if you saw his sport shirt,
You would even say, “It glows!”

All of the other owners,
Used to laugh and call him names!
They wouldn’t let poor Bill Veeck,
Join in any owner games!

(chorus)
Then one humid summer day,
Bill Veeck had to – fidget!
Got an idea that stirred his soul,
He decided to sign a – midget!

His name was Eddie Gae-del,
He was only three feet tall!
He never played much baseball,
He was always just too small!

(chorus)
Then one day in Sportsman’s Park,
Eddie went to bat!
Took four balls and walked to first,
Then retired – just-like-that!

Oh, how the purists hated,
Adding little Eddie’s name,
To the big book of records,
“Gaedel” bore a blush of shame!

Now when you look up records,
Look up Eddie’s O.B.P.!
It reads a cool One Thousand,
Safe for all eternity.

"I'll be listening for you next year at O'Doherty's in Spokane and my hearing now is just as great as my perfect OBP career was in 1951!"!"

“I’ll be listening for you next year at O’Doherty’s in Spokane – and my hearing now is just as great as my perfect OBP career was back in 1951!”!”

Kathleen Miggins’ Astrodome Telephone Tale

August 27, 2014

Kathleen Dome

They are two of my dearest friends in the whole world – and Irish Catholic as any married couple of a thousand years and twelve children later could ever possibly hope to be. Their devout Faith has born them through the greatest most core values of joy – and it has also carried them through the grief of every loving parent’s worst nightmare come true, the loss of their two oldest sons, Rory and Larry Joe, before them. The Miggins family is very close, God’s Love in motion at all times, if you please. They have, what we all may have, if we choose to live as the Miggins family does – in humble strength – always working to do the right thing in their contacts with the world, but sometimes encountering the jaded side of life that is not their normal contact patter between family, friends, and other close acquaintances.

As a Houston Buff in 1951, Larry Miggins once refused to escort a beauty contestant to home plate for an introduction because he felt she wasn’t modestly dressed. That young lady, Kathryn Grandstaff, was later best known as actress Kathy Grant and the wife of singer Bing Crosby. But to Larry, back in 1951, she was a woman who was making a public appearance “almost naked.”  – She was wearing a one-piece early 1950s women’s bathing suit.

Most of you from SABR, and those of you who are longtime readers here, also know Larry’s story about the time at Columbus, Ohio in which he helped an umpire reverse a double call and turn it into a HR against his own club because the doubtful umpire asked him as the left fielder” “Did that ball bounce off the wall in play – or did it go over the fence and bounce back on the field. It cleared the fence Larry told the umpire. He could not tell a lie – even if it meant absorbing the unhappiness of his own manager and teammates.

We could go on and on, but the point is made. Larry Miggins is a great storyteller, but guess what? “You ain’t heard nothing yet” until you have had a chance to hear of one of his dear wife Kathleen Miggins express in her own brogue and Irish point of view. She sent me a story a couple of days ago that I begged her permission to share with the readers here. She needed some reassurance that the two new words that were added to her vocabulary by a stranger from this experience would not reflect upon her own soul by committing them to public print. As best I could, I shared my view with Kathleen that she was merely reporting the words chosen for use by the man in this story. And that he any negative reflection, if there was any, was upon him. – It was our best answer. We are The Pecan Park Eagle, not the Vatican, but our reasoning made good sense to dear Kathleen. – There is nothing wrong about sharing a funny story publicly if it makes some people smile and harms no one.

The “I Love Lucy” writers would have loved this scenario for their classic sit-com. I can just see Lucy Ricardo suddenly finding herself in the same situation that Kathleen Miggins is about to describe and behaving pretty much the same way. She would try to be of help. But let’s allow Kathleen to tell the story in her own words. If you enjoy the story, please leave a comment upon this column so that Kathleen may know that you did::

_________________________________________________________________________

My Astrodome Telephone Tale

By Kathleen Miggins

          Bill, my gift today is to relate a true incident at the Astrodome, where I think I saved a marriage.
          It was late August and the baseball season was winding down so Larry and I decided to treat Ourselves to a trip to the Dome to enjoy a game.  Michael was our youngest child and a student at St.Thomas High school and on the football team.  At some time during the Astros game, I realized that I had not left a note for Michael and, as many of us still remember, cell phones were not so much the property of the  general public in those days.  
          There was a bank of public telephones in the casual area of the section where we had our seats, so I decided to call home and leave a message for the lad. When I got to the phone I gave instructions to Michael — “Dad and I are at the Dome — your dinner is in the warm oven — lock the door — turn on the lights in living room — get on with the home work — write down all phone messages — call your sister Eileen if you have any problem —- we should be home promptly after the game —”
          Meanwhile, there was a young man at the next phone cubicle and he was very loud and agitated, seemingly having a flaming argument with someone. I had no interest in eavesdropping, but I had the uncomfortable feeling that he was listening to my narrative because he was looking at me rather quizzically!!!
          Brace yourself, Bill, for a rather indelicate turn of events.
          As soon as I had finished speaking with Michael, I hung up the receiver and turned to walk away. That is when he tapped me on the shoulder and in a very gruff voice he said to me, while handing me the receiver of his phone, “Lady,” he says, “will you tell my wife that I am not at a TITTY BAR!!!”
          I could hardly refuse, calling to mind the parable of the Good Samaritan,
          It took me a few seconds to compose myself as I absorbed this new two-word addition to my general vocabulary.
          “This ‘lady in distress’ must be rescued at all costs,” I thought.
          I took the phone and introduced myself, explaining that I, a total stranger to this man beside me at the Domed Stadium had asked me to reassure his Wife of his innocent whereabouts!!!
          “Many a word at random spoken may sooth or wound a heart that’s broken.”
           I hope I convinced her that he was, indeed, at the Dome, but who knows for sure?
          Why did the man pick me? Was I just conveniently available? And what was the final outcome for this marriage?
 
          I often wonder if the man might have detected a trace of the brogue upon my tongue.
           Do you think they kissed and made up, as in  — “All is forgiven?” Or did they go the way of — “Have fun and stay in touch?” 
           ” Nothing is denied well directed effort “.
________________________________________________________________________________

You did the right thing as far as I’m concerned, Kathleen. I’ve often wondered about the hundreds of people I saw professionally  during my career as a therapist, although I never had anyone pull me into a marriage conflict as your stranger at the Astrodome phone bank did in this instance. In general, none of us have the power to help people who don’t want our help – and neither can we help those who say they want help, but still refuse to take responsibility for their own behavior in a problematic relationship.

As for your lady in this case, all I can think of at this moment is Jimmy Durante’s great old and mysterious sign-off message:

“Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!”

 

 

Insults with Class by the Egos of Fame and Power

August 26, 2014
Margaret Dumont: "I've never been more insulted in my life!" Groucho Marx: "Relax, Madam! The evening is young!"

Margaret Dumont: “I’ve never been more insulted in my entire life!”
Groucho Marx: “Relax, Madam! The evening is young!”

Thanks to a good friend who sent this item to me this Tuesday on a slow news day, one filled with uninspiring visitations with the Muses and far too many laborious home chores to sit long enough into the delightful glide that is research and writing. …

Insults with Class by the Egos of Fame and Power

   A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.”  “That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”“He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” Clarence Darrow

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

“Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” – Mark Twain

“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends..” - Oscar Wilde

“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.” – George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second …. if there is one.” – Winston Churchill, in response.

“I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.” - Stephen Bishop

“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” – John Bright

“I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.” - Irvin S. Cobb

“He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.”- Samuel Johnson

“He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.” – Paul Keating

“In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily. - Charles, Count Talleyrand

“He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.” – Forrest Tucker

“Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?” – Mark Twain

“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” – Mae West

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”- Oscar Wilde

“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.” - Andrew Lang

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” - Billy Wilder

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But I’m afraid this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx

Do Major Sports Team Owners Feel Entitled?

August 25, 2014

Funny-Fat-Cats-16

We make no claims here for financial genius. We live among the ranks of those who simply try to make sure that we keep whatever money we do have invested in accounts that either pay a good interest rate, or else, have  a good history for nice periodic dividend payments.

Owners of major league baseball, football, and basketball teams, however, seem to possess a genius for profit that resides well beyond the rest of us mortals. It seems as though major American sports club owners can lose money for years and never win anything, but in the end, sell their clubs for a something that feels and sounds like a gazillion per cent profit for whatever they paid for it – even if they sell it in the middle of one of the worst financial recessionary periods in recent American history.

Two simple examples speak to the point.

In Baseball – John McMullen bought the Houston Astros in 1979 for $ 18 million dollars. Thirteen years later, after twice coming close to a pennant in 1980 and 1986, he sold the franchise and its ancillary interests to Drayton McLane, Jr. for $ 117 million dollars. Under McLane, the Astros got a new stadium downtown in 2000 and their only pennant ever in 2005, but, after nineteen years of ownership, Drayton sold the club and all its baggage to Jim Crane for – what? – $ 680 million dollars and a forced move to the American League. – That $ 680 million may have come down a little as a result of the “AL or Else Nothing” ultimatum from the Commissioner’s office, but it still closed by a healthy dollar neck above $ 600 million – even with the television network albatross that continues to block 60% of the market from seeing the team play at home still in effect through late August 2014, the third season of baseball black out on the home screen for the majority of local Houston fans.

In Basketball - In 1981, Donald Sterling bought the San Diego Clippers for $ 12.5 million dollars and moved them to Los Angeles. In 2014, Sterling was forced to sell his NBA holdings as a result of some blatantly stupid racist remarks and, even though he fought accepting the biggest profit in the history of American professional sports, Sterling finally was forced by the courts to accept the $ 2 billion dollar bid from new owner Steve Balmer.

I sort of get it. – At what point do major sports franchises come home to roost under the normal rules of reality that apply to the rest of other businesses? Seems to me it will only be when they lose all of their big revenue sources from television dollars – and that factor seems to have less to do with actual game attendance than it does with the notion that, as long as advertisers are selling their wares in some measurable way as a result of TV commercials, the networks will want to keep the TV money flowing. – That only ends when – people stop buying those TV-advertised products and services in a measurable way that then causes advertisers to pull their money away from, let’s say, baseball game advertising – and into pouring it elsewhere – and not necessarily into another sport. Advertisers and networks would pour the money into the reincarnation of “I Love Lucy” with a new cast, if they thought they could get more bang for their buck in so doing.

If you are in business for yourself in a non-sports product or service area, imagine what it would be like to have a revenue stream like sports television advertising. Think what you could do. – You could afford to pay your key employees top dollar salaries and bonuses while continuing to charge high prices to your customers for whatever you were selling – regardless of quality – and whether you were getting many store calls or not. As long as the advertisers and the networks thought their deal with you was helping them, you might even get sucked into the entitlement cycle yourself – and start treating that TV money as though you could always count on it being there.

Watch out! As soon as the advertising begins to measure out as failure, it’s gone. And so is the possibility of a franchise increasing in value over time simply because the clock moved.

 

Mike McCroskey 1 – Roseanne Barr 0.

August 24, 2014
"I BELIEVE I CAN FLY ... I BELIEVE I CAN TOUCH THE SKY ..." - MICHAEL McCROSKEY.

“I BELIEVE I CAN FLY …
I BELIEVE I CAN TOUCH THE SKY …”
- MICHAEL McCROSKEY.

Thanks to a delightful, if unexpectedly submitted in the  guise of an e-mail to this editor, the following account from surprise guest columnist Greg Lucas supplies The Pecan Park Eagle with the heartwarming story of our own SABR brother, Mike McCroskey, and his National Anthem singing debut last night before a real professional baseball game at a real baseball venue, courtesy of Ira Liebman and the Sugar Land Skeeters at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. Prior to last night, the deserving Mr. McCroskey has only sung The Star Spangled Banner at vintage baseball games of the Houston Babies before crowds of, perhaps,  35 to 40 fans, tops.

Way to go, Michael – and thank you, Greg Lucas, for penning your own name to this small, but important  piece of Houston area baseball history!

 

MIKE McCROSKEY SINGS PRE-GAME NATIONAL ANTHEM AT CONSTELLATION FIELD PRIOR TO A SUGAR LAND SKEETERS GAME

By Greg Lucas, Guest Columnist of The Pecan Park Eagle

Spread the word… Mike McCroskey is available for more of those high paying national anthem singing gigs.  He wowed the crowd at Constellation Field Saturday–and gave his discoverer, Ira Liebman, a great sigh of relief–when he showed up and whipped out all the right notes and words.

"ONCE UPON A VERY LONG TIE AGO, MIKE MCCROSKEY WAS BORN. ..."

Said Liebman, “Mike underwent a grueling audition process and, in my judgement, he was ready for the big stage.  We had him sing some of Julie Andrews parts from “The Sound of Music” to gauge his range. He knocked it out of the park, excuse the pun, with “The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music.”  We knew he could handle the high parts in the Anthem.”
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Dressed in a Larry Dierker-like Hawaiian shirt, McCroskey confidently tore the microphone from the hands of the Skeeter intern who was helping him and strode confidently in front of home plate. When his rendition of Francis Scott Key’s song ended, McCroskey had to work his way through a crowd of admirers holding autograph books and pleading to have him pose for photos.  “I can’t handle all this now folks,” McCroskey was heard to say,”These folks have a game to play.”
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So, the legend begins. …

"Hey! We need a little help back here" That blonde-headed feller just blew out one of the light towers with his high notes!"

“Hey! We need a little help back here” That blonde-headed feller just blew out one of the light towers with his high notes!”

"He didn't really blow out all the lights with his singing, but he did just about explode both my ear drums!"

“He didn’t really blow out all the lights with his singing, but he did just about explode both my ear drums!”

"Wish I'd have been there to have seen that arch light blow out!"

“Wish I’d have been there to have seen that arch light blow out!”

"IT DON'T MATTER WHAT YOU DID, OR DIDN'T DO, McCROSKEY! - I'M COMING FOR YA! - YOU GOTTA BE A BETTER PICK THAN TOM ARNOLD!"

“IT DON’T MATTER WHAT YOU DID, OR DIDN’T DO, McCROSKEY! – I’M COMING FOR YA! – YOU GOTTA BE A BETTER PICK THAN TOM ARNOLD!”

 

"AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOO, MIKE McCROSKEY! ~ OUR LITTLE GROUP AT THE HALL OF FAME REGRETS WE CANNOT BE THERE IN PERSON THIS SUNDAY, 8/24/14, TO WISH YOU THAT SPECIAL SALUTATION, BUT WE ARE ALSO SURE YOU UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE OUR COMMON REASON FOR NOT BEING PRESENT LAST NIGHT FOR YOUR BALLPARK SINGING DEBUT!"

“AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOO, MIKE McCROSKEY!
~ OUR LITTLE GROUP AT THE HALL OF FAME REGRETS WE CANNOT BE THERE IN PERSON THIS SUNDAY, 8/24/14, TO WISH YOU THAT SPECIAL SALUTATION, BUT WE ARE ALSO SURE YOU UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE OUR COMMON REASON FOR NOT BEING PRESENT LAST NIGHT FOR YOUR BALLPARK SINGING DEBUT!”

Ed Delahanty and the Power of Gravity

August 23, 2014
Ed Delahanty: The 1903 death of this future Hall of Famer remains one of the great unsolved cold cases in baseball history.

Ed Delahanty: The 1903 death of this future Hall of Famer remains one of the great unsolved cold cases in baseball history.

As a matter of course in reading all kinds of ancient baseball history, enough of it, done continuously over time, and you eventually will form your own orbital-steady contact with the story of Ed Delahanty, the ancient Hall of Fame left fielder who died tragically in 1903 after being put off a train for being “drunk and disorderly” at Fort Erie, Canada, at the International Bridge near Niagara Falls that leads to Buffalo, New York.  Some said he was brandishing a knife on the train after having consumed several whiskies that night and threatening other passengers.

At any rate, after the ejection, “Big Ed” as he was often called, apparently decided to cross the expansive rail ridge on foot, but never made it. About a week later, they found his body a short distance downstream, but were never able to determine if Ed Delahanty slipped, jumped, or was pushed off the bridge into the waters below. One account from a later secondary witness suggests that he was last seen being followed by another mysterious figure who was never identified.

Since Delahanty’s body was found without the wallet and jewelry he was known to have had on him at the time of his disappearance, the cause heats up for robbery/murder, but that suspicion alone does not rule out the possibility that he was simply relieved of these personal valuables after his dead body was first discovered. The Ed Delahanty Death lives on as a cold case for the ages. Back then, they either could not, or did not try to determine his exact cause of death. Was it caused by the impact trauma of his fall? Was it the result of drowning? Or was there any evidence of prior trauma from an assailant that might lend credence to the possibility of murder? No one knows today because nothing was ever determined back then.

On July 2, 1903, an investigative writer named Mike Sowell published an investigative study of the Delahanty conundrum  in a work entitled “The Mysterious Death of Big Ed Delahanty.” It was published again by McMillan Publishing Company in 1992. The Sowell Study considers the evidence for all possibilities, but, as it stands to this day, nothing was ever determined that approaches certainty.

The death remains a big confirmation of one rule of wisdom that many people have to learn to survive the delusion of immortality and indestructibility that often accompanies the narcissistic vision of their young adult years. That is – that “being in the wrong place at the wrong time under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol can get you killed.”

Big Ed Delahanty didn’t make it. That’s all we know for sure.

Ed Delahanty was most deserving of his Hall of Fame induction in 1945. In sixteen seasons as a big leaguer (1888-1903), Ed batted over .400 on three occasions, winning two batting championships and finishing with a career lifetime batting average of .346. It’s just too bad, as always is the case, that his own vulnerability to cutting his life short won out over his talent for hitting a baseball.

Willis A (Papa) Teas San Antonio, Texas 1938

Willis A (Papa) Teas
San Antonio, Texas
1938

I can never think of Ed Delahanty without thinking of an answer my maternal grandfather, Willis Teas,  once gave me to a question I asked him when I was about ten years old. We had just met “Pappa” at Union Station in downtown Houston on one of his train trips to visit us from San Antonio. He and I were walking ahead of Mom and Dad on the short trip from the track area to the same great depot hall that now serves as the grand foyer of Minute Maid Park.

“Papa,” I asked, “would a fall from the top of Union Station over there absolutely kill you every time?”

“No,” Papa said with a chuckle as he responded to my early life search for absolute answers with a sense of humor that often embarrassed me for asking  what then felt like a stupid question. “It wouldn’t kill you every time, just the first time. Remember, Billy, we only die once. Remember too, it isn’t the fall from a high place that kills the person falling. – It’s the sudden stop when the body hits the pavement that does him in.”

Papa Teas Reincarnate Houston, Texas 2008

Papa Teas Reincarnate
Houston, Texas
2008

I loved Papa Teas, but it’s a small wonder that I didn’t grow up to be a smart ass too.

 

 

A Seems Like Yesterday 1993 Astros Game

August 22, 2014
CRAIG BIGGIO SECOND BASE 1993 HOUSTON ASTROS

CRAIG BIGGIO
SECOND BASE
1993 HOUSTON ASTROS

There is nothing particularly historical about this brief report on an Astros game from a recent Astros yesteryear summary. It’s just another reminder to all of us, even to us buried-to-the-nose Houston Astros fans,  how fragile our time here is and how quickly, as the old C&W song reflects, that “it’s funny – how time slips away. Like all memories that eventually fade into this category, once we are old enough to have the experience, it bears the oscillating qualities of seeming both like ancient history as well as only yesterday in a matter of mere nanosecond change, moving forward through time.

Yesterday, Last Night, our local baseball  hopes rode on the back of this community-shared recognition: Craig, Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Ken Caminiti, ages 27, 25, and 30 in 1993, are all very good ballplayers. Just watch our progress as they each mature and the Astros add a few more talents like them. For that matter, the club already had variable degrees of hope too for roster mates Mark Portugal, Luis Gonzalez, Scott Servais, and Eric Anthony

Re-live the dream that was still in motion when the following very ordinary game unfolded in the Houston Astrodome on July 2, 1993.

We Astros fans didn’t mope. – We had hope. – Miles and miles and miles of hope.

________________________________________

 

JEFF BIGGIO FIRST BASE 1993 HOUSTON ASTROS

JEFF BAGWELL
FIRST BASE
1993 HOUSTON ASTROS

July 2, 1993 ~ The Astrodome ~ Houston Astros 7, St. Louis Cardinals 1.

Astros cool off Cardinals

Associate Press

HOUSTON ~  Things finally fell apart for (St. Louis Cardinals pitcher) Joe Magrane.

Magrane (7-7) held Houston hitless until the fourth, when the Astros scored five runs on four hits. Magrane, who had a five-game winning streak snapped, gave up five runs on four hits in four innings.

Magrane was making it look easy on us early,” manager Art Howe said. “But then we put the big inning together.”

The big hit was Scot Servais‘ three-run homer.

Mark Portugal (6-3) was the winner, giving up one run and eight hits while striking out eight in seven innings.

Craig Biggio opened the fourth with a walk and moved to second on a single by Luis Gonzalez. Jeff Bagwell drove in Biggio with a single and Gonzalez scored from third when Ken Caminiti’s grounder forced Bagwell at second.

Servais hit his eighth home run of the season after a walk to Eric Anthony.

“I had a decent breaking ball and it was sinking well,” Magrane said. “I had a walk to start the inning, but I was thinking that a double play ball would get us out of it. The way I’ve been throwing and the way I’ve been holding runners, I was confident. I was in a situation where I thought I made the big pitch. I made a bad pitch to Servais – I got the change-up up. I didn’t execute.”

It was only the Cardinals’ second loss in their last nine games.

~ Associated Press, Altoona (PA) Mirror, Saturday, July 3, 1993, Page 24.

________________________________________

KEN CAMINITI THIRD BASE 1993 HOUSTON ASTROS

KEN CAMINITI
THIRD BASE
1993 HOUSTON ASTROS

The Box Score, Courtesy of Baseball Almanac.com:

Baseball Almanac Box ScoresSt. Louis Cardinals 1, Houston Astros 7
St. Louis Cardinals ab   r   h rbi
Gilkey lf 4 0 1 0
Alicea 2b 4 0 0 0
Jefferies 1b 4 1 2 0
Zeile 3b 4 0 1 0
Jordan cf 4 0 3 1
Brewer rf 4 0 0 0
Pagnozzi c 4 0 0 0
Oquendo ss 3 0 0 0
Magrane p 1 0 0 0
  Woodson ph 1 0 1 0
  Lancaster p 0 0 0 0
  Pena ph 1 0 0 0
  Guetterman p 0 0 0 0
  Olivares p 0 0 0 0
  Perry ph 1 0 1 0
Totals 35 1 9 1
Houston Astros ab   r   h rbi
Biggio 2b 3 2 0 0
Gonzalez lf 3 1 1 0
Bagwell 1b 2 1 1 2
Caminiti 3b 4 1 1 1
Anthony rf 2 1 0 0
Cedeno ss 4 0 0 0
Servais c 4 1 1 3
Finley cf 4 0 1 0
Portugal p 3 0 0 0
  Jones p 0 0 0 0
  Edens p 0 0 0 0
Totals 29 7 5 6
St. Louis 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 9 2
Houston 0 0 0 5 1 0 1 0 x 7 5 0
  St. Louis Cardinals IP H R ER BB SO
Magrane  L (7-7) 4.0 4 5 5 2 1
  Lancaster 2.0 1 1 0 2 2
  Guetterman 1.0 0 1 0 1 0
  Olivares 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals
8.0
5
7
5
5
3
  Houston Astros IP H R ER BB SO
Portugal  W (6-3) 7.0 8 1 1 2 8
  Jones 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
  Edens 1.0 1 0 0 0 0
Totals
9.0
9
1
1
2
9

E–Jordan (2), Guetterman (1).  DP–Houston 1.  PB–Pagnozzi (6).  2B–St. Louis Jordan (2,off Portugal).  HR–Houston Servais (8,4th inning off Magrane 2 on, 2 out).  SF–Bagwell (7,off Guetterman).  SB–Jefferies (22,2nd base off Portugal/Servais); Caminiti (6,2nd base off Magrane/Pagnozzi); Biggio 2 (11,2nd base off Guetterman/Pagnozzi,3rd base off Guetterman/Pagnozzi); Gonzalez (13,2nd base off Guetterman/Pagnozzi).  WP–Portugal (5).  U-HP–Ed Montague, 1B–Mark Hirschbeck, 2B–Mike Winters, 3B–Bruce Froemming.  T–2:36.  A–35,582.

Baseball Almanac Box Score | Printer Friendly Box Scores

1991: Houston Dinner Honors Darwin Twice

August 21, 2014
BY 1991, MILO HAMILTON WAS WELL ON HIS WAY TO BECOMING A LEGENDARY MC OF BASEBALL DINNERS IN HOUSTON.

BY 1991, MILO HAMILTON WAS WELL ON HIS WAY TO BECOMING A LEGENDARY MC OF BASEBALL DINNERS IN HOUSTON.

 

Preface - Thanks to Bill Gilbert, the Houston Baseball Dinner historical columns are back in the saddle again. With the information Bill Gilbert has contributed from his 1991 dinner program, we are able to describe the 1991 Houston Baseball Dinner with all of its baseline information, except for the cost of tickets. The price had gone to $25 per dinner place in 1989, but we cannot presume what they may have been in 1991. And remember too, we are still searching for data on any dinners held in 1986 and the one we know for certain happened in 1990. In the meanwhile, we have put those two years aside until either a later library research or the sudden appearance of programs for 1986 and 1990 falls into our laps.

The 1991 banquet was formally identified in Bill Gilbert’s copy of the 1991 event program as the “1991 Houston Baseball Dinner” (HBD). The event was co-sponsored by the Houston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), the Astro Orbiters Booster Club and the Houston Sports Association (HSA). John Kelley served as General Chairman of the event and Milo Hamilton again served as Master of Ceremonies for the dinner and evening of baseball award presentations.

The 1991 HBD was held at the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston on February 7, 1991.

Names of the sponsorship of tickets purchased by table order were included in the program and one of those identified sponsors was our very own SABR and Baseball History National Treasure – Mr. Larry Miggins.

(And by the way, for those of you who may not have known, Larry Miggins celebrated his 89th birthday yesterday, August 20, 2014. God Bless You again, Larry!)

Here is our list of award honorees for the 1991 Houston Baseball Dinner without the addition of unavailable timely quotes or further comment from us beyond the headlined one. It appears that Danny Darwin became the first honoree in the entire history of the HBD to take two awards at the same dinner.

Here’s what we have to report, with thanks again to our invaluable partner in this research effort – Mr. Bill Gilbert. – Thanks, Bill!

1991 Houston Baseball Dinner (HBD) Award Winners:

WAYNE GRAHAM RICE BASEBALL COACH 1991 WINNER COLLEGE COACH OF THE YEAR

WAYNE GRAHAM
RICE BASEBALL COACH
1991 WINNER
COLLEGE COACH OF THE YEAR

BILLY HATCHER HOUSTON ASTROS 1991 WINNER SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

BILLY HATCHER
HOUSTON ASTROS
1991 WINNER
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

DANNY DARWIN HOUSTON ASTROS TWO 1991 AWARDS (1) NL 1990 CONSORT CONTROL PITCHER (2) 1990 ASTROS MVP

DANNY DARWIN
HOUSTON ASTROS
TWO 1991 AWARDS
(1) NL 1990 CONSORT CONTROL PITCHER
(2) 1990 ASTROS MVP

ROGER CLEMENS BOSTON RED SOX 1990 AL CONSORT CONTROL PITCHER

ROGER CLEMENS
BOSTON RED SOX
1990 AL CONSORT CONTROL PITCHER

ALLEN RUSSELL 1991 WINNER LONG AND MERITORIOUS SERVICE TO BASEBALL

ALLEN RUSSELL
1991 WINNER
LONG AND MERITORIOUS SERVICE
TO BASEBALL

DOUG DRABEK HOUSTON ASTROS 1990 HOUSTON AREA MLB PLAYER OF THE YEAR

DOUG DRABEK
HOUSTON ASTROS
1990 HOUSTON AREA
MLB PLAYER OF THE YEAR


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