Dedication of the Dickie Kerr Statue at the Dome

October 24, 2014
Stan Musial was at the Dome for the Dickie Kerr Statue Dedication August 20, 1966 Photo Contribution from Mike Acosta of the Houston Astros

Stan Musial was at the Dome for the Dickie Kerr Statue Dedication
August 20, 1966
Photo Contribution from Mike Acosta of the Houston Astros

Thanks to Mike Acosta, Authentication Manager of the Houston Astros, The Pecan Park Eagle is now in possession of a photo and story from August 20, 1966 that makes this primary source column possible about how the Dickie Kerr statue  came to be – and how it reached dedication on August 20, 1966 at the Astrodome. The event was supported by a brief All Star Game between the MLB “Stars of the Forties versus the “Houston Old Timers.”

Regardless of their team assignments, the list of participants in the Old Timers’ Game included Stan Musial, Dizzy Dean, Carl Hubbell. Bob Feller, Allie Reynolds, Johnny Mize, Ernie Lombardi, Eddie Joost, Terry Moore, Howie Pollet, Enos Slaughter, Red Munger, Joff Cross, Gus Mancuso, Frank Mancuso, Johnny Keane, Harry Gumbert, Red Murff, Johnny Keane, Hal Epps, Nellie Fox, Mike Higgins, Monty Stratton,  Stan Hack, John Berly, Johnny Rizzo, Dingle Croucher, Pidge Browne, Larry Miggins, Jerry Witte, Grady Hatton, Johnny Temple, and Hal Smith. Frankie Frisch and Joe Medwick may also have been there, but the article is written in a way that allows some doubt about the attendance and participation of a few names – and it presents an equally unclear picture (to The Eagle, at least) in some cases about which players played for which team in the Old Timers’ Game. In the end of things, it didn’t matter. All these stars came to Houston that day to honor Dickie Kerr and to celebrate the history of the game of baseball.That mattered.

Wow! What a lineup any manager could form from a roster of these guys in their hay-days! And what a big Saturday Dome Date that must have been! 40,765 fans showed up to watch the dedication of the Kerr statue, the Old Timers’ Game, and the losing 1966 Astros as they defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 5-2, behind the complete game pitching of lefty Mike Cuellar. Unfortunately, I didn’t know much  about this big day beyond some vague hearsay memory until now because it occurred shortly before my return to Houston from graduate studies elsewhere – and at a time in my life in which my head was pretty much buried in an academic haze of other commitments by my attention span.

If you received our normal column notice, you also received an attachment copy of the “Old Timers’ Day” story about the Old Timers Game and the Dickie Kerr statue dedication. You will have to print it out in 8X10 to read it easily. If you did not receive the attachment, just e-mail me at houston.buff37@gmail.com and I will send it to you. The more this piece gets out there, the greater its chances for survival to the research needs of others in the future (with some caveats – as described below under NOTES.)

For the record, here’s how “Old Timers’ Day” described the Dickie Kerr Statue Dedication:

DICKIE KERR STATUE MEMORIALIZED TONIGHT

Wee Dickie Kerr, the little man who stood so tall in baseball’s most difficult hour, will be memorialized tonight.

A life-size statue of Kerr has been sculptured and will be unveiled and dedicated tonight by Stan Musial, Dick Peebles, Clark Nealon, Bob Ruhle and members of the Oldtimers lineups.

Kerr became famous in 1919 when he refused bribes by gamblers during the “Black Sox Scandal” and managed to win two games in that year’s wrld series despite the fcat that the other eight players in the lineup were deliberately trying to lose the game.

Wee Dickie passed away on on May 4, 1963, at the age of 69, and Bob Ruhle, then Sports Editor of the Houston Press, with the cooperation of Clark Nealon and Dick Peebles bean a campaign to collect money for a statue to memorialize Kerr. Fans donated mre than $3,000 that was turned over to the Houston Astros, who have recently arranged for the statue to be completed.

The Musial-Kerr relationship began in in 1940 when Kerr was managing the Cardinals Daytona Beach Farm Club. Due to a shoulder injury and Kerr’s insistence, Musial switched from the pitcher’s mound to the outfield when Musial was playing for Kerr. From there Musial went forward to become one of baseball’s greatest stars. Musial has always felt a great allegiance toward Ker and (he) purchased a home for the Kerrs when Dickie and Mrs. Kerr moved to Houston.

The Kerr statue will be permanently displayed in an appropriately in an appropriate location in the Astrodome and the names of the donors will be enraved on the base of the statue.

~ Old Timers’ Day, a Publication of the Houston Sports Association, August 20, 1966.

Former Houston Buff and St. Louis Cardinal Larry Miggina - a current member of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR - played in that 8/20/66 Old Timers' Game at the Astrodome.

Former Houston Buff and St. Louis Cardinal Larry Miggina – a current member of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR – played in that 8/20/66 Old Timers’ Game at the Astrodome.

NOTES: The 1919 Black Sox Scandal remains as the arguably most arguable subject in baseball history. The brief description of Dickie Kerr’s role glosses over factual questions about how much he may have known about any fix in motion and it also dramatizes Kerr’s role on the field with an “eight men out” that never happened as “Dickie and his fielders.”

Just to speak briefly about some of the less solid representations about the circumstances of Dickie Kerr’s virtuous role in the Black Sox Scandal, it is probable that Kerr was never offered a role in the alleged conspiracy by eight teammates to throw the 1919 World Series in exchange for money. Those eight men who were indicted for the alleged fix – and then found not guilty in a court of law – but then banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Landis in his dedication to making examples of those involved in baseball’s biggest reputaional black eye, even if it meant punishing the innocent with the guilty. also did not fill all the other positions on the field when Kerr pitched, as this report implies. Two of them, Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, were pitchers. And Catcher Ray Schalk and 2nd baseman Eddie Collins were every ounce as innocent as Dickie Kerr.

Also note that most permanent commitments in baseball, as in most of life, are temporary. The Kerr statue did not even stay in place at the Astrodome through its own reign as home of the Houston Astros. At some point prior to 1999, the Dome’s last  year as an MLB venue, the Kerr statue moved to the Houston Sports Museum at Finger Furniture on the Gulf Freeway. We don’t know what happened to its plaque of sponsorship names – and the Pecan Park Eagle also remains in the dark, even now, as to the identity of its sculptor.

When the Houston Sports Museum was forced to close in 2013, because the Finger store was closing, the Kerr statue was taken over for display at Constellation Field by the Sugar Land Skeeters. Any new plans are unknown at this writing, but we are hoping that the piece will someday serve as one of the featured artifacts of a true Houston Baseball Museum.

Our Early World Series Observations

October 23, 2014
A 3rd World Series win in 5 years as Manager of the Giants could put Bruce Bochy on the running board for a "tears of joy" eventual ride to the Hall of Fame.

A 3rd World Series win in 5 years as Manager of the Giants could put Bruce Bochy on the running board for a “tears of joy” eventual ride to the Hall of Fame.

After two games at Kansas City, the 2014 World Series moves to San Francisco for three, starting Friday night, October 24th. Here are the broad swipe observations that jump off the page to us here at The Eagle, so far:

1) With Madison Bumgarner a possible three-time starter in a seven game World Series, the Giants have to remain the slight favorites until KC proves they can get to him.

2) Never count out the Royals on the road, The Orioles apparently did.

3) Both clubs have their own brands of never-give-up team drive. It’s fun to watch them go after each other, even if some pundits are always bored when a small franchise team from the Midwest reaches the Series, especially if their city’s initials are “KC”. Kansas City will never live down two facts: (a) The city is not located on either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans; and (b) the city was once noted for being the small town club that functioned as the MLB-level talent supplier and virtual farm club of the New York Yankees.

4) The stoic, mostly expressionless, sometimes puzzled look on KC manager Ned Yost’s face makes him an easy target for blame if the Royals don’t win the Series.

5) The grizzled, longshoreman port boss look of Giants manager Bruce Bochy keeps me looking for Terry Malloy to show up with blood on his face and jersey to pinch hit for the Giants at some crucial point in one of these games. (If you don’t know who Terry Malloy is, order a Netflix copy of the 1954 movie, “On the Waterfront.”

6) Hunter Pence seems well on his way to an eventual “leotard look” in the way he wears his uniform pants. Those Pence pants are now  worn well above the knees as those long black socks continue to demonstrate their apparently endless elasticity to the job of rising higher and higher.

7) The Kansas City Royals play the kind of baseball that the Houston Astros are hoping to play. They are fast and powerful on offense, fast, smart, and athletic on defense, and their Game Two pitching proved it was all that we knew it could be.

8) Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain may be the fastest guy in the big leagues. Unless I misunderstood, one of the TV guys said last night during Game Two that Cain was clocked at 20 MPH running the bases during the big 6th inning 5-run scoring explosion by KC.

9) Hunter Pence says he heard nothing from the fans as he was running the  bases following his 1st inning HR in Game One – and we believe him. That kind of hearing loss is common among intense people with normally short attention spans. Once they achieve their riveting goal, the neurological shock to the system may often cause a brief shutdown to the senses, particularly to hearing, because the person is going through an intense sensory overload in the wake of accomplishment and they cannot take on any more new information.

10) Something’s wrong with Tim Lincecum of the Giants. On the verge of getting through two scoreless relief innings in the 7th and 8th, he did something to hurt his arm and had to leave the game. The guy appears to have lost his mechanics and has now hurt himself trying to force his way back to the incredible level he used to occupy. The mop-up, look-see first Series appearance by Lincecum in Game Two was likely his last. We haven’t seen the reports on his injury, but it didn’t look good.

11) The Pecan Park Eagle has no dog in this fight. We just just want some good close action and a seven game contest. If Kansas City wins, it’s a win for Cinderella. If San Francisco wins, it will be their third World Series victory in five years (2010, 2012, and 2014) – and all with different player mixes under manager Bruce Bochy. By winning his third World Series in four tries (He got there once with the Padres) Bochy may have found his running board for an eventual “tears of joy” ride to the Hall of Fame.

 

 

A Demographic Homage to the Original Colt .45s

October 22, 2014
1962 Houston Colt .45s An Inventory of Whose Left

1962 Houston Colt .45s
An Inventory of Whose Left

Like the rest of us, our favorite baseball heroes and teams of the past are governed by the same rules of mortality that apply to us all. The following is little more than a tabular accounting of the original 1962 Houston Colt .45 roster on who is till with us and who has passed on. With the ready help of Baseball.Reference and of those ongoing stats they maintain on all of baseball – including the help supplied by the researching soldiers of SABR, the data of Baseball Reference.Com is about as up-to-date and complete as we have so far learned how to gather and make it readily available by team roster.

The following table chart tracks the birth and living/dead status of all 43 men who spent any active playing time on the roster of the original 1962 National League expansion club we all remember as the Houston Colt .45s. Unless someone died overnight on the morning of this writing, 10/22/14,  this data is as up-to-date as we can bring it to you. Here’s the chart for the 1962 Houston Colt .45s, Dead or Alive Status, for their Roster of 43 Players, As Examined through the Morning of Oct. 22, 2014, with help of Baseball Reference.Com.

1962 HOUSTON COLT .45S: A TABULAR DEPICTION OF THE LIVING AND DEAD:

PLAYER POS BORN 2014 AGE DIED DEATH AGE
Hai Smith C 12/07/30 84 Living —-
Norm Larker 1B 12/27/30 03/12/07 76
Joey Amalfitano 2B 01/23/30 80 Living —-
Bob Lillis SS 06/02/30 84 Living —-
Bob Aspromonte 3B 06/19/38 76 Living —-
Al Spangler OF 07/08/33 81 Living —-
Carl Warwick OF 02/27/37 77 Living —-
Roman Mejias OF 08/09/30 84 Living —-
Jim Pendleton OF 01/07/24 03/20/96 72
Merritt Ranew C 05/10/38 10/18/11 73
Billy Goodman INF 03/22/26 —` 10/01/84 58
J.C. Hartman SS 04/15/34 80 Living
Pidge Browne 1B 03/21/29 06/03/97 68
Johnny Temple 2b 08/08/27 01/09/94 66
Don Buddin SS 05/05/34 06/30/11 77
Jim Campbell C 06/24/37 77 Living
Al Heist OF 10/05/27 10/02/06 78
Dave Roberts UTIL 06/30/33 81 Living
Bob Cerv OF 05/05/25 89 Living
John Weekly OF 06/14/37 11/24/74 37
Dick Gernert 1B 09/28/28 86 Living
Don Taussig OF 02/19/32 82 Living
Ron Davis Of 10/21/41 09/05/92 50
Ernie Fazio INF 01/25/42 72 Living
Jim Busby OF 01/08/27 07/08/96 69
George Williams 2B 10/23/39 05/14/09 69
Turk Farrell P 04/08/34 06/10/77 43
Bob Bruce P 05/16/33 81 Living
Ken Johnson P 06/16/33 81 Living
Jim Golden P 03/20/36 78 Living
Hal Woodeschick P 08/24/32 06/14/09 76
Dave Giusti P 11/27/39 75 Living
Dean Stone P 09/01/30 84 Living
George Brunet P 06/08/35 10/25/91 56
Don McMahon P 01/04/30 07/22/87 57
Jim Umbricht P 09/17/30 04/08/64 33
Russ Kemmerer P 11/01/31 83 Living
Bobby Iiefenauer P 10/10/29 06/13/00 70
Bobby Shantz P 09/26/25 89 Living
Dick Drott P 07/01/36 08/16/85 49
Red Witt P 11/09/31 01/30/13 81
John Anderson P 11/23/29 12/20/98 69
Al Cicotte P 12/23/29 11/29/82 52

Check for what is mainly of interest to you, but here are few basic observations, for starters:

1) 21 of 43 (49%) are still living

2) Bob Cerv and Bobby Shantz are the oldest surviving Colts, in that order, at age 89.

3) Ernie Fazio is the youngest survivor at age 72.

4) At age 33, Jim Umbricht was the youngest original Colt .45 to die.

It would certainly be great if the Astros could go all out to arrange one last roll call for the surviving 21 men who made up our original major league team who are still with us, but that path may be fraught with travel expenses and the other big fact that some of these older guys who live far away may not travel so well these days. Still, it would be more than a nice gesture to see the club reach out to memorialize some of these far away people while they are still alive. The Walk of Fame at Minute Maid Park is certainly a nice tribute to the club’s total history, but it would also be great to do something special for guys like Bobby Shantz, the first starter in Houston’s MLB history, and Roman Mejias, the first Houston MLB player to have two homers in a single game – that just happened to also leave the park in local our club’s first major league game in history.

Let’s at least kick the idea around about what might be fitting and possible. In the end, it will always come down to this one wisdom about the fulfillment of possible options (the ones that aren’t controlled by compulsions and addictions): “Where there’s a will there’s a way. Where there’s no will, there’s no way.”

Happy Hump Day, everybody!

 

 

 

World Series Starts Tonight. Thank God.

October 21, 2014

This column is eight hours late because of an electricity power outage that hit our neighborhood about thirty seconds before we were able to complete its publication. The outage then stayed with us until a few minutes ago. For this “natural” act of our humans-in-error-again ways, we neither thank nor blamc God. As Frank Sinatra used to croon, “it was just one of those things.” Stuff happens.

The World Series   It all started with a round bound that stole the heart of a great nation.

The World Series
It all started with a round ball that stole the heart of a great nation.

Although it won’t be with us for more than seven games, tops, baseball returns tonight on its biggest stage, the World Series. And what a relief it will be from the tedium of Houston Texans football, in which our local club has been able to turn slow and fast offensive starts in two consecutive losses by two opponents who racked up Houston foe record-setting quarter 24-point totals that sealed Houston’s demise. Last night the Steelers did by scoring 24 points in a little less than three minutes prior to the half after the Texans had taken an early 13-0 lead and seemed on their way to victory.

At least, our football locals are playing consistently with Houston professional and collegiate teams in all sports. We are famous nationally for our “almost champions” game outcomes.

All we got out of last night’s 31-24 loss by the Texans to the Steelers was the sudden realization that, if they ever make a movie about the life of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, actor Omar Epps, the current star of television’s popular “Resurrection” series, is the only choice for the role. Take a glance at these two  look-alike photos:

Omar Epps Actor

Omar Epps
Actor

Mike Tomlin Steelers Coach

Mike Tomlin
Steelers Coach

The World Series is a whole other ticket for those of us who prefer baseball, of course. As per usual in these non-Houston events, The Pecan Park Eagle doesn’t really have a dog in this fight beyond the desire to see an exciting, well-played fight for the biggest trophy baseball has to offer. Hopefully too, it will the kind of series that allows us fans to remain in denial that baseball is about to end for late fall to early spring break of 2015. We don’t like the thought of of games involving our favorite teams will be out of reach again on a daily basis for almost five months. Although, we must add that the Comcast restriction on televised Astro games from many of us over the past two seasons has negatively vaccinated many of us from the old withdrawal symptoms. – It’s harder to miss what you’ve been denied for two whole seasons. Speaking personally, I still love the game of baseball and its history, but that ancient sandlot-born affection has nothing to do with the later idea that this marriage of affection to the sport has to include daily access to Astros games. I mean, I still like the Astros, even though I saw only one game in person in 2014. I just no longer am addicted or dependent on the idea that I have to see the Houston Astros play to enjoy baseball in so many other ways.

Who wants to be hooked on needful things?

At any rate, the World Series takes center stage in Kansas City tonight. The 8-0 American League wild card Kansas City Royals will be hosting the feisty National pennant winning San Francisco Giants in the Best 4 of 7 Games World Series – and it ought to be a lot fun. The Royals haven’t been to a World Series since they won their only one over St. Louis Cardinals back in 1985, but they are good, fast, powerful, and high-spirited. And they have been the reputation  redemption of much maligned manager Ned Yost and a tribute to the success of small market city’s efforts in putting together a serious World Series contender. The San Francisco Giants, on the other hand, are a talented and scrappy team, much like the other two that manager Bruce Bochy guided to World Series victory in 2010 and 2012. To these guys, grabbing a third World Series trophy for both the City of San Francisco and manager Bochy, plus a ring for themselves is nothing less than a dedicated cause. Plus the Giants have two major historical connections to the Astros. Manager Bruce Bochy was, once upon a time, the Astros’ back-up catcher, and right fielder Hunter “Wear My Pants Above the Knees:” Pence is an ex-Astro system player who got traded away for either being too old or too expensive. I forget which dish was served for public consumption when Pence was moved to Philadelphia, before later coming to te Giants.

At any rate, it’s here. So, we hope you get home today in time to watch it from the start. And don’t forget to call in your order a delivery pizza. This is no night to eat out or cook.

Long live baseball! – And may the 2014 season finale have a full seven games left in its tank!

Why Baseball is First in Our House

October 20, 2014
Corey Robinson score what could have been the winning TD for Notre Dame against Florida State, but it was called by a confusing offensive pass interference call with seconds to go. As a result, #2 FSU defeated #5 ND, 31-27.

Corey Robinson scores what could have been the winning TD for Notre Dame against Florida State, but it was called back by a confusing offensive pass interference penalty flag with seconds to go. As a result, #2 FSU defeated #5 ND, 31-27.

After watching Notre Dame lose to Florida State Saturday on what should have been another of their “last play miracle wins” because of a murky call of offensive pass interference on what could have been the winning TD pass play at the very end of the game, I’m just all the more glad that the World Series in baseball starts tomorrow night. No regrets here. Baseball-seams red has always been the dominant color of my blood, as I’ve written in these columns ad nauseum for years. I admit to the rabid enjoyment of my UH Cougars in all sports, but that stems from another loyalty-red allegiance as an alumnus that is both immutable and forever – and not in competition with the sandlot-days foundation of my love for America’s Pastime – baseball.

What came through clear in the ND@FSU contest is how often football games are determined in the end on the basis of some flagged rules infraction that might not even  have been called by another crew. In this case, ND Coach Brian Kelly apparently was as confused as many of us were for why the call was made. Here’s a link to Coach Kelly’s observations and some good replay action shots of the TD that didn’t stand up as the winning play and the alleged violations that took it away:

http://www.businessinsider.com/notre-dame-penalty-10

That’s way too much subjectivity for me. Baseball, on the other hand, has always been much clearer about its rules for a much simpler and easier to watch game. Pitches or either balls or strike – and that’s the most subjective part of the game there is. Like old icon umpire used to say, “a pitch ain’t nothing until I call it,” but even that area has improved with the inadvertent oversight help from television and the looming threat to umpires that they may someday soon be replaced by laser technology that gets the calls right every time.

Balls in play are either fair or foul. Runners to first or any other bag on a forced play situation are either safe or out – as are any base runners attempting to advance in non-force out situations. Balls hit down the lines are either fair or foul depending on which sides of the chalk line or foul poles they land or pass by – and any ball that hits the line or foul pole is fair. With TV instant replays from multiple angles now in use a check on getting each close call made right, even that formerly troublesome area is clearing up like clouds of a passing storm.

In baseball, it’s simple and getting simpler with technological progress and its use in reviews of questionable calls. In football, it’s complicated because of the expanding rules on how players can make legal contact with each other in this constant collision of very large human beings. In baseball, it’s easy to see when a player makes a mistake called an “error”. In football, we usually only see a yellow flag on the field that tells us that someone in the game has made an error, but we usually have to wait for the referee to tell us what the error was – and who did it. Even then, we often do not remember seeing anything but a collision of bodies on the field.

In general, it’s not hard to get my point here. Baseball simply beats football for simplicity and clarity all over the place. For example, in baseball, (1) you never see a penalty for too many men on the field; (2) ss Yogi Berra once said too,baseball  teams don’t win with trick plays; and (3) home runs are not called back because one of the batting team members was simultaneously flagged for illegal use of the hands in the dugout when the ball went yard.

I could go on, but will spare you further groans and eye strain.

Have a nice Monday, everybody!

The Baseball-Football Comparison to Life Test

October 19, 2014
Which is Closer to Real Life? Baseball? Or Football?

Which is Closer to Real Life? Baseball? Or Football?

 

Not all of these observations fit easily into the question to be answered for each of the following ten questions : “Which of the following scenarios is closer to real life, baseball or football?” Just give each your best shot or go on to the next one. The Pecan Park Eagle will appreciate your own comment here on which sport you think is closer as a model for everyday life in America.

1) In baseball, you have to go out there and work your game hard everyday. You hardly ever get a day off, but when you do, it isn’t likely to be Sunday. In football, the only time  you work on the clock for your pay in an official game is once a week – and that’s usually on Sunday.

2) In baseball, you can celebrate a home run by flipping your bat in the air, taking a bow, and skipping around the bases like one of the characters from Oz on the road to the Emerald City. In football, your team is penalized after you score a touchdown,  if you then celebrate the fact by doing a little dance or anything else that hurts the feelings of the other team in a taunting kind of way.

3) In baseball, the fans may even applaud  you for walking to first on ball four. If you are caught walking during a football game, however, some 300 pound monster is going to squash you as though he were an 18-wheeler meeting up with you as he would a turtle that was trying  to cross the road.

4) In baseball, there are no tie games, ever, unless the Commissioner flubs the dub in an All Star game and makes both teams use up all their pitchers  before they go into extra innings of a tie game. During the regular season of the NFL, a game can still end  in a tie if two teams have the same score after one extra quarter of play.

5) In baseball, runs score by way of hits, walks, defensive player errors, batters hit by pitches, wild pitches, past balls, balks, and catcher’s and once in a blue moon other defensive player interference calls. In football, players can score by the deception of trick plays that surprise the defense.

6) In baseball there are no clocks, so far, on how long it takes to play each separate game. In football, the clocks control everything that happens.

7) In baseball, once a player leaves the game, he is out of that game forever. In football, a player can leave and re-enter the game as often as his coach wants him to play.

8) With the exception of batting out of order and the illegal use of pine tar on his bat, a baseball home run hitter cannot be denied his moment of glory by prior actions or the behavior of other people who may have contributed to his violation of the rules. He is on his own to celebrate. In football, however, a player may score a dramatic touchdown and still have that feat wiped out by a penalty call on some teammate for breaking a rule that often seems totally unrelated to the scoring play.

9) In baseball, management dresses identically to labor. In football, management dresses more like the fans who came to watch labor perform (although, that’s changing – as fans, not management, continue their trend for dressing more like the players or other mythical characters who support the team.

10) In baseball, most deeply red blooded fans would love to play right field on their team for one pitch against a dead-left field hitting right handed batter for the opposition – just for the sake of getting their name in the box score and the all time MLB record book. In football, however, no fan in his or her right mind would want to be in the game for a single bone-shattering possibility of involvement in the actual action.

 

PS: Can you find the time-traveling ringer in the following box score?

New York Yankees 4 – Washington Senators 2.

 

WASHINGTON SENATORS ab   r   h rbi
Rice, rf 3 0 1 0
Harris, 2b 3 0 0 0
Ganzel, cf 4 0 1 0
Goslin, lf 4 1 1 0
Judge, 1b 4 0 0 0
Ruel, c 2 1 1 1
Bluege, 3b 3 0 1 1
Gillis, ss 4 0 0 0
Zachary, p 2 0 0 0
  McCroskey, ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 30 2 5 2
NEW YORK YANKEES ab   r   h rbi
Combs, cf 4 0 0 0
Koenig, ss 4 1 1 0
Ruth, rf 3 3 3 2
Gehrig, 1b 4 0 2 0
Meusel, lf 3 0 1 2
Lazzeri, 2b 3 0 0 0
Dugan, 3b 3 0 1 0
Bengough, c 3 0 1 0
Pipgras, p 2 0 0 0
  Pennock, p 1 0 0 0
Totals 30 4 9 4
Washington 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 0
New York 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 2 x 4 9 1
  WASHINGTON SENATORS IP H R ER BB SO
Zachary L (8-13) 8.0 9 4 4 1 1
Totals
8.0
9
4
4
1
1
  NEW YORK YANKEES IP H R ER BB SO
Pigras 6.0 4 2 2 5 0
  Pennock W (19-8) 3.0 1 0 0 1 0
Totals
9.0
5
2
2
6
0

E–Gehrig (15).  DP–Washington 2. Harris-Bluege-Judge, Gillis-Harris-Judge.  2B–Washington Rice (33).  3B–New York Koenig (10).  HR–New York Ruth (60,8th inning off Zachary 1 on 1 out).  Team LOB–7.  SH–Meusel (21).  Team–4.  SB–Rice (19); Ruel (9); Bluege (15).  U–Bill Dinneen, Tommy Connolly, Brick Owens.  T–1:38.  A–8,000.

 

 

New Greg Lucas Book Is a Keeper

October 18, 2014

Greg-Lucas-Book

The new book by long-time FOX broadcaster Greg Lucas, “Baseball: It’s More Than Just a Game,” is a lot more valuable than the time it takes readers to work their ways through the 214-pages of of the facts presented and then clear by the bibliography that supports their authenticity.For me, it truly was – and still is – one of those books that “you just can’t put down.” – You can’t put it down because, once you get beyond the mere  considerable entertainment value that awaits any reader who lives, eats, and breathes baseball, it remains forever an excellent reference book on all the intricate parts that go into making up the body of the soulfully giant American game of baseball.

I even awoke this Saturday morning from a dream about the time my father hired me at age 14 for the first paying job I ever had beyond the nickles and dimes he paid me for extraordinary chores at home. Dad was the Parts Department manager for Bill Lee Studebaker on Lawndale near 75th in the Houston End back in 1952 and he had hired me to help him do the dealership’s annual stock inventory. In the dream, it was almost as though it were happening again. I could hear Dad’s instructions. I could even see what appeared to me as hundreds of little drawers that stacked high to the ceiling of the Parts Department with all the smaller items that a car needs to keep running properly.

“In these drawers, Son,” Dad said, “you will find all the small parts you could ever need to put together one of those whole cars you see out there on the showroom and, while that’s not your job today, remember the idea. Anything worthwhile is put together with a lot of lesser things that together add up to something bigger than each of the parts themselves.”

“Wow,” I thought this morning. “Dad might as well have been talking about Greg Lucas’ new book. It’s in many ways like the parts manual I found that day in 1952 that both identified and  filled in the connections on how the various parts fit together for all the different purposes that cooperatively propel a good working automobile in the way it is intended to go. Wow,” I thought again. That’s very close to a description of what Greg Lucas has done here with his book on baseball.

Greg Lucas Author

Greg Lucas
Author

There is nothing less in Greg Lucas’ wonderful new baseball book. It is an item by item inventory of all the essential smaller areas of history that go into making up the whole roll of growth that has evolved around the heart and soul attraction so many of us for the game of baseball over the nearly two hundred years that make up the identifiable history of the American game.

Jacques Barzun, the great French scholar, once said, if you want to know America, know baseball. We say, if you want to know baseball, know what’s in “Baseball: It’s More Than Just a Game.” Do that much and you will be closer to the heart and soul of the game we all love than ever before. Greg Lucas hasn’t missed a beat here, but not in a know-it-all way. When you read Greg’s book, you are reminded too of how much we all have in store for us in the area of our need for continuing education about baseball.

From the early history of the game in the 19th century to the development of organized baseball, from the bare handed playing days to the evolving equipment we know today, from changes in the rules to the formation of both universal and variable distances that exist on each ball field, from the personalities and performances of players coming of age to the kinds of ballparks where they played their games, from the dead ball game of a more conservative America to the unsurprising power game that exploded with Babe Ruth and the culture of the “Roaring Twenties,” readers will find the baseball that Barzun suggested people needed to know if they care to know America – and it’s all here in the Greg Lucas book for a reasonable price through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and other fine booksellers.

Get it. You won’t regret it. And you will use it forever.

Thanks, Greg Lucas, for writing baseball’s much needed version of the important automobile parts manual. Everything you’ve included is good-to-go information about the game – information that will never be out of date and always close at hand to all of us through your book.

 

 

More Lesser Known Baseball Quotes

October 17, 2014
" I see great things in baseball. It's our game — the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us." ~Walt Whitman

” I see great things in baseball. It’s our game — the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.”
~Walt Whitman

Back in 24 hours by popular request. Thanks for your active leading interest and support, Jim Ball and Greg Lucas!

1) A good cigar is like a beautiful chick with a great body who also knows the American League box scores. ~M*A*S*H, Klinger, “Bug-Out,” 1976

2) Swing hard, in case they throw the ball where you’re swinging. ~Duke Snider

3) You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time. ~Jim Bouton, Ball Four, 1970

4) I’m going to write a book. This won’t be one of those tell-all-deals like Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four.” It’s going to be a family book. I’m just writing down a lot of things that go through my head, so there probably will be a lot of blank pages. (Quoted from it’s use by Greg Lucas in his wonderful new book, “Baseball: It’s More Than Just a Game.”)

5) I’m convinced that every boy, in his heart, would rather steal second base than an automobile. ~Tom Clark

6) Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up. ~Bob Lemon

7) Baseball players are smarter than football players. How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many men on the field? ~Jim Bouton, 1988

8) When they start the game, they don’t yell, “Work ball.” They say, “Play ball.” ~Willie Stargell, 1981

9) Baseball is the only major sport that appears backwards in a mirror. ~George Carlin, Brain Droppings, 1997

10) When you’re in a slump, it’s almost as if you look out at the field and it’s one big glove. ~Vance Law

11) That’s baseball, and it’s my game. Y’ know, you take your worries to the game, and you leave ‘em there. You yell like crazy for your guys. It’s good for your lungs, gives you a lift, and nobody calls the cops. Pretty girls, lots of ‘em. ~Humphrey Bogart

12) When we played softball, I’d steal second base, feel guilty and go back. ~Woody Allen

13) Baseball is a game where a curve is an optical illusion, a screwball can be a pitch or a person, stealing is legal and you can spit anywhere you like except in the umpire’s eye or on the ball. ~Jim Murray

14) Every hitter likes fastballs, just like everybody likes ice cream. But you don’t like it when someone’s stuffing it into you by the gallon. That’s what it feels like when Nolan Ryan’s thrown balls by you. ~Reggie Jackson

15) Baseball is the only place in life where a sacrifice is really appreciated. ~Author Unknown

16) Ideally, the umpire should combine the integrity of a Supreme Court judge, the physical agility of an acrobat, the endurance of Job and the imperturbability of Buddha. ~”The Villains in Blue,” Time magazine, 25 August 1961

17) I’ve come to the conclusion that the two most important things in life are good friends and a good bullpen. ~Bob Lemon, 1981

18) No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference. ~Tommy Lasorda

19) You don’t save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow it may rain. ~Leo Durocher, in New York Times, 16 May 1965

20) You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the goddamn plate and give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all. ~Earl Weaver

21) The strongest thing that baseball has going for it today are its yesterdays. ~Lawrence Ritter

22) That’s the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball. ~Bill Veeck, 1976

23) Baseball statistics are like a girl in a bikini. They show a lot, but not everything. ~Toby Harrah, 1983

24) It actually giggles at you as it goes by. ~Rick Monday, on Phil Niekro’s knuckleball, quoted in Sports Illustrated, 1 August 1983

25) What does a mama bear on the pill have in common with the World Series? No cubs. ~Harry Caray

 

26 Great Lesser Known Baseball Quotes

October 16, 2014
"The pitcher has to find out if the hitter is timid. And if the hitter is timid, he has to remind the hitter he's timid."  ~Don Drysdale,  quoted in New York Times,  July 9, 1979

“The pitcher has to find out if the hitter is timid. And if the hitter is timid, he has to remind the hitter he’s timid.”
~Don Drysdale,
quoted in New York Times,
July 9, 1979

1) Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things. ~Robert Frost

2) It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. ~A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The Green Fields of the Mind,” Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977

3) A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings. ~Earl Wilson

4) Baseball is a fun game. It beats working for a living. ~Phil Linz

5)  If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base. ~Dave Barry

6) There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem — once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

7) What is both surprising and delightful is that spectators are allowed, and even expected, to join in the vocal part of the game…. There is no reason why the field should not try to put the batsman off his stroke at the critical moment by neatly timed disparagements of his wife’s fidelity and his mother’s respectability. ~George Bernard Shaw

8) I don’t want to play golf. When I hit a ball, I want someone else to go chase it. ~Rogers Hornsby

9) Baseball is the only sport I know that when you’re on offense, the other team controls the ball. ~Ken Harrelson, Sports Illustrated, 6 September 1976

10) Watching a spring training game is as exciting as watching a tree form its annual ring. ~Jerry Izenberg

11) The designated hitter rule is like letting someone else take Wilt Chamberlain’s free throws. ~Rick Wise, 1974

12) If a horse can’t eat it, I don’t want to play on it. ~Dick Allen, on artificial turf, 1970

13) A ball player’s got to be kept hungry to become a big-leaguer. That’s why no boy from a rich family ever made the big leagues. ~Joe DiMaggio, quoted in New York Times, 30 April 1961

14) Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can’t get you off. ~Bill Veeck

15) Wives of ballplayers, when they teach their children their prayers, should instruct them how to say: “God bless Mommy, God bless Daddy, God bless Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth has upped Daddy’s paycheck by fifteen to forty percent.” ~Waite Hoyt

16) Nolan Ryan is pitching much better now that he has his curve ball straightened out. ~Joe Garagiola

17) I don’t care how long you’ve been around, you’ll never see it all. ~Bob Lemon, 1977

18) It’s hard to win a pennant, but it’s harder losing one. ~Chuck Tanner

19) Back then, my idol was Bugs Bunny, because I saw a cartoon of him playing ball — you know, the one where he plays every position himself with nobody else on the field but him? Now that I think of it, Bugs is still my idol. You have to love a ballplayer like that. ~Nomar Garciaparra

2o) The best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until the ball stops rolling and then pick it up. ~Bob Uecker

21) It ain’t like football. You can’t make up no trick plays. ~Yogi Berra

22) I was such a dangerous hitter I even got intentional walks in batting practice. ~Casey Stengel, 1967

23) During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball. ~Mickey Mantle, 1970

24) Sandy’s fastball was so fast, some batters would start to swing as he was on his way to the mound. ~Jim Murray, on Sandy Koufax

25) The designated hitter rule is like letting someone else take Wilt Chamberlain’s free throws. ~Rick Wise, 1974 *

* I tried sneaking Rick Wise in twice for emphasis, but Greg Lucas caught what I was doing. As a result, here’s # 25a, just to keep us in line with our advertised title of 26 separate quotes. :-)  …

25a) Good pitching will beat good hitting any time, and vice versa. ~Bob Veale, 1966

SABR Oct. 2014 Meeting is Pumpkin of Fun

October 15, 2014
Mike Acosta (L) and Bob Dorrill (modeling the new Houston Babies uniform after the SABR meeting last night. uniform)

Mike Acosta (L) and Bob Dorrill (modeling the new Houston Babies uniform after the SABR meeting last night. uniform)

Nothing scary about it – if you want to discount the fact that yours truly took the October meeting f our Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR to another level on the heels of enlightening, incredible, and organizational presentations by Tal Smith on the “Pace of Game” experiment conducted  by the independent Atlantic League this past season, the visionary model plan for the future of the Astrodome, expressed and shown to all by native Houstonian Mike Acosta, and chapter chairman Bob Dorrill’s new much-needed organizational plan for solidifying and sharing responsibility by committee for setting the programs, agendas, and guests  for our monthly meetings –  and another committee for the study and development of new relevant organizational projects. Bob Dorrill also revealed the much nicer and more authentic vintage baseball uniforms that our chapter’s Houston Babies will be wearing thanks to the profits from our silent auction at the SABR 44 national convention in Houston this past summer.

Tal Smith:

The elaborate and importantly detailed findings of Tal Smith’s report on the Atlantic League’s “Pace of Game” study are available through his office as Administrative Adviser to the Sugar Land Skeeters Club. They were a little extensive for memory by this reporter as listened with a fork of lasagna moving from plate to mouth during his presentation (Sorry, Tal!), but we did hear every word and retain the important theme of everything he had to say. – It isn’t the length of games that is baseball’s concern today so much as it is the action or pace of what’s going on during the game. Like it or not, baseball needs to keep pace with concerns for its appeal to the action–minded general public that pays the bills in the 21st century. – And we need to make changes with the greatest level of consensus among the powers-that-be as to what can be done to modernize the beat of baseball action without sacrificing the fundamental integrity of the game that will no doubt be celebrating the 200th anniversary soon enough for the Cartwright rules for the games at the Elysian Fields back in the 1840s.

Tal noted that baseball presently is a game in which the ball is actually in play off a struck ball, attempted stolen base, or errant throw only 20% of the time. The rest of the game, baseball appears to the novice fan as little more than a repetitive action  of pitch and catch between pitcher and catcher. Those of us who have played, slept, eaten, and breathed the game for decades know that there’s always more going on than a game of catch, even in a 1-0, two-hit game, but we will not be around to pay baseball’s bills in the future – and the game today faces much competition from football, basketball, motor sports, and personal health athletics to take anything for granted about its attraction moving deeper into the 21st century and forward.

Tal Smith (L) was a major speaking figure in our recent SABR44 Convention in Houston.

Tal Smith (L) was a major speaking figure at our recent SABR44 Convention in Houston.

Mike Acosta:

Mike Acosta has done the best  job that any of us have ever seen in preparing a visionary model of how the Astrodome can be honesty re-purposed as a significant venue for public usage and a usual business asset to both the neighboring Houston Texans and Houston Rodeo. Everything Mike spoke of – and demonstrated by his incredibly accurate and visually detailed model for space usage seem to simply ooze from both his intelligence, heart, and soul. At no point did I feel that I was listening to one of the numerously available and calculating egos in our community that either wanted to profit from the dome’s dire straits financially, or be ego massaged for the ages as “the person who saved the Astrodome.”

Mike Acosta is the real deal. He’s a native Houstonian who recognizes that he grew up in a much smaller city, but that part of the job here of saving the Dome is winning over support from the new millions of others who have no knowledge or historic connection to the Astrodome as both the architectural symbol of Houston, but one of the world’s important landmark edifices. With his own hands, since March of this year, Acosta has built an uncanny scale likeness that details the Astrodome can be converted to a facility that meet multiple needs as an ancillary arena for use by both the Rodeo and the Texans, a place that preserves history, and a facility that promoted health and family enjoyment as a public park. – How wonderful is that idea? It’s especially wonderful that Mike Acosta recognizes that the need to fit the new usage of the Dome into the business las f its two very close neighbors is essential to their vital support for something that likely will not happen without them. The Acosta plan is giving the Texans and Rodeo something of far greater value than the convenience of a few more parking spaces that could come through demolition. Mike Acosta’s plan increases the revenue stream potential for both organization.

And Acosta’s selling points are very appealing: The building already exists and its superstructure is strong. It is also now free of bonds, even those that came from the Oiler demand for more seat construction in the late 20th century. It’s doable – and it benefits everyone – especially and including those future Houstonians from the 22nd century who will grow in their appreciation for what Houston does now with one of its greatest architectural assets.

Thank you, Mike Acosta, for being who you are. You make the name “Houston” proud.

The "Acostadome" Mike Acosta created this model of the Astrodome this year to display various floor looks of how the modified structure could look as it performs various functions. Unlike its iconic reality, this model of the Astrodomei comes with a removable domed roof.

The “Acostadome”
Mike Acosta created this model of the Astrodome this year to display various floor looks of how the modified structure could look as it performs various functions. Unlike its iconic reality, this model of the Astrodome comes with a removable domed roof.

Bob Dorrill:

In our featured photo, Bob Dorrill is wearing the new uniform of the Houston Babies vintage baseball club. The hat is one of those caps that the Pirates wore back in 1979 – the kind with the shorter bill and flat top. As I recall, the Babies cap is grey with dark blue horizontal stripes. It’s quite nifty and the materials too appear to much cooler than the ones used on our team’s first batch of grey and red jerseys. And these uniforms  come with the matching pants, as well.

Bob’s administrative appeal last night was for all of our help in building our monthly meeting agendas and searching for do-able major projects that we can handle as a group commitment to action. He’s already led the charge for the wonderful local history book we wrote and published this year and he virtually singlehandedly landed the SABR 44 National Convention that we hosted in Houston this past summer to much national acclaim for our efforts. In each of those cases, we, the members,  have rallied to make those projects the successful products they each became. And, as most of you know, that early Houston baseball history book was a dream f mine for years. I just couldn’t do it alone and handle my “day job” simultaneously, but I could do it with the encouragement of Bob Dorrill, as a group project with all of you who joined in the research and writing effort, and with the indispensable drive and editorial skill of our Mike Vance – the man who pulled “our” book into one first-rate and cohesive piece. – We shall be forever grateful to Mike Vance for all he did in that regard.

That being said, my focus now returns to Mr. Dorrill. Without Bob Dorrill, we would not have had the past decade of great meetings with every imaginable presentation by the reachable members of the Houston baseball community. We would not have had the support for the foundation of the Houston Babies in 2008. We would not have had the early Houston history book because I would have kept it to myself – and produced a work that would have been far more limited in scope. We needed everything we could bring to the table to make it the book it became, but we did. We brought it. And no one worked harder than Mike Vance to make it happen. But it all started with Bob Dorrill being Bob Dorrill, the man who established an environment of trust that made everything that grew from there possible. And then, to cap off 2014, our chapter got to host the national convention of SABR in Houston – and give copies of “Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-191″ to all of our convention visitors. – WOW! – My head still swims at the thought of it.

SABR Chair Bob Dorrill Houston's Baseball's King of Ubiquity.

SABR Chair Bob Dorrill
Houston’s Baseball’s King of Ubiquity.

Where would we be today as a chapter without the base inspiration that is the energy of Bob Dorrill?  Well, as far as I’m concerned, we’d be somewhere. But there would have been no Houston book, at least, not the comprehensive one we produced. And no National Convention of SABR 44 in Houston. When I attended my first SABR convention in St. Louis back in 2007, I was the only active member of the Larry Dierker Chapter there. Bill Gilbert was present too, but by that time, he had moved to Austin.

How did we go from one Houston representative at a SABR convention in 2007, and usually none,  to hosting the national convention in 2014? Easy answer. Bob Dorrill. Bob made contact with National. And when Bob Dorrill makes contact, his super-genuine caring and knowledge of the game, and his total likeability comes rushing at you like a baseball tide.  It’s been my observation that Bob Dorrill cannot walk across the room in a public place without meeting at least two new people on his way to somewhere else. It happens at conventions, dinners, hotels, and, even airports. He can’t help it. It’s just who he is.

The problem with being a rare bird like Bob is that people begin to think you can do it forever, but you can’t. And Bob’s tired – and he has a right to be. He’s not “I want to quit” tired, but he is definitely “I need help” tired.  And we need to give him that help by organizing some active meeting plan and chapter project study committees. So far, Mike McCroskey has been the only public volunteer – and his choice was for the project study group.

We need everyone’s support because, right now, we do not have an organization that handles anything. We simply wait around for Bob Dorrill to come up with something. Well, we need to wake to the reality here. We can’t count on Bob Dorrill – or any other one person –  to be around forever. If anything, God forbid, should happen to Bob Dorrill right now, or if he should just get tired of doing all these things on his own (which he is), we would have to either start over from scratch or just kill the group from being the real baseball community it wants to be. – and maybe go back to just meeting for coffee at the Galleria every once in a while.

Please give it some thought and get in touch with Bob Dorrill as a volunteer for either meeting plan or project search committees.

Eddie Gaedel Sportsman's Park August 19, 1951

Eddie Gaedel
Sportsman’s Park
August 19, 1951

Eddie Gaedel:

Well, Eddie wasn’t exactly present, except in spirit. Yours truly of The Pecan Park Eagle was there to announce that he has been drafted into the Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1 because of their discovery of his “Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” and resultant desire to adopt it as the anthem of their group at annual meetings starting in 2015. We gave the song a shameless singing presentation before the group at SABR last night. No one stood, but they all applauded and seemed to like it. So, I thank all of you for that as I bounce around from singular and plural third person referencing of myself to first person singular in the final statement on this subject.

Trivia:

Ben Brink, our 9-year old new member prodigy,  prepared a twenty question trivia quiz that was worthy of whomever your favorite baseball writer may be. Tom White again was the trivia contest winner but there were few high scoring survivors in his stratospheric company. – You “did good,” Master Brink, you did good!.

Our November Meeting Schedule: Our November meeting also will be be held, as it was this time, at the Spaghetti Western Restaurant on Shepherd, a few blocks south of I-10, the Katy Freeway. We will be returning to our long time regular night of Monday, but on the third Monday of the month due to holiday season schedule issues at our chosen venue. The day, date, and time are Monday, November 17, 2014 at 7 PM. - Come early and join us for some great Italian fare – or order when you get here at the meeting. Service is available through our time at the restaurant and, although ordering food is up to you, order something. We aren’t getting this great meeting space for free. If enough of us don’t order, no host restaurant is going to welcome us for long. So, bring you appetite and your wallet. The prices are very reasonable. And the food is bon appetit.

We hope will see you Monday, Nov. 17th on what we hope will remain our normal night to meet once every month..

Have a Happy Hump Day, Everybody!

 

 

 


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