Thank You, Houston Chronicle!

SABR Project Nicely Covered in July 20th Houston Chronicle

The SABR sponsored Early Houston Baseball History, The First 100 Years, 1861-1961 Project received a very nice full coverage in the July 20, 2011 edition of the Houston Chronicle yesterday. The article by Todd Hveem, with photo, appeared on Page 8 of the July Senior Living section of the paper and did an excellent job of describing this work as “a legacy project … something we (the researchers) want Houston’s children to own as part of their local heritage.”

There were a couple of factual errors reported that we hope to correct as quickly and as much as possible:

(1) The Houston Buffs did not become a minor league farm club of the St. Louis Cardinals on April 11, 1928. That was the date that the Buffs played their first Opening Day game in the shiny new Buff Stadium that had been built for them by the same major league club that already had owned them for several years, the St. Louis Cardinals; and,

(2) The first black player to break the color line and play for any previously all-white professional sports team in Houston was Bob Boyd – and not Bob White, as somehow reported in the Chronicle piece. It happened at Buff Stadium in May 1954.

Honest errors. Standing in need of further correction. This mention is my contribution to that end.

This morning, I heard from Mark Duquesnay, the grandson of Duke Duquesnay, one of the 1950 founders of Houston’s Little League program. Mark will be sending us some photos and material about his grandfather and that early effort. He had to find me through a Google search with some of the clues about my identity that were included in the Chronicle article, but not spelled out with a phone number or e-mail address.

The irony is this: I’ve never met any of the Duquesnays, but I remembered Mark’s grandfather as clearly as if it were yesterday. I was one of the five hundred kids who showed up at Canada Dry Park on the Gulf Freeway to try out for one of those few precious spots on the eight first year teams that had been set up to serve all of Houston, which even in 1950 was a city of over 500,000 people. I didn’t make it onto one of the teams, but I did remember Duke Duquesnay as the man who broke the news to us gently that we were going home without an assignment, but he left us with a strong word of encouragement to try again the following season.

None of my neighborhood pals made it either, but we didn’t wait until next year to try again. We went straight home to formalize the name of our sandlot club as the “Pecan Park Eagles.” We then recruited the 25-year old college age son of a neighbor to be our coach and then lined up three other Pecan Park groups to play against us in a league of our own kid-driven creation. Even though several of us melted into more adult-organized leagues by 1951, the 1950 Year of the Pecan Park Eagles remains my favorite childhood baseball season.

But I digress.

Those of us in the Early Houston Baseball Project would like to hear from you too. Duke Duchesnay may have been the most important figure in Houston’s early Little League history, but he may have missed him completely had it not been for the passion and persistence of his grandson reaching out to find me.

Now, I hope you hear me screaming at you here! – If you too have an ancient Houston baseball connection to Little League, Amateur or Semi-Pro Ball, Women’s Baseball, High School, College, or local Black Baseball history, even if it’s just an old photo or scrapbook, please get in touch with us through me and I will ask one of our research team members to contact you.

I’m Bill McCurdy, the project director for SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) in this matter, and I can be reached through my cell phone (713.823.4864) or through my e-mail address (houston-buff@hotmail.com).

And in conclusion, for now, ¬†as Elvis would say: – “Thank you. – Thank you very much.”

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2 Responses to “Thank You, Houston Chronicle!”

  1. Mike Mulvihill Says:

    Bill,
    Congrats on the nice recognition from the Chronicle. I remember Duke Duquesnay very well. He managed the Cubs in the first 2 years of Little League in Houston. They were our stiffest competition. I remember their ace pitcher was Ken Stevens who went on to play with St Thomas with us.
    Regards friend
    Mike Mulvihill

  2. ronald33 Says:

    Speaking of the Houston Chronicle,I have several old MAXINE MESINGER columns (regarding Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme) that I’d like to sell to a collector.

    And perhaps your readers would like to see those items,an
    interesting bit of Houston’s past (while I was growing up there.)

    I don’t see much of MAXINE on the Internet.

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