First World Series: Boston (AL) vs. Pittsburgh (NL)

October 9, 2014
Game 4 of the 1903 World Series was played at Exposition Park in Pittsburgh.

Game 4 of the 1903 World Series was played at Exposition Park in Pittsburgh.

The first “World Championship Series” played out between the Pittsburg (with no “h”) Pirates of the National League and the Boston Americans 0f the American League between in eight games played between October 1st and October 13th of 1903. Boston won that first modern era Series by a tally of 8 wins to Pitts burg’s 3.

Here are a couple of news account excerpts about the first two games, simply to provide us with a taste of the more formal style of  sports writers at the turn of the twentieth century. Had we owned the time to continue this morning, you would also have been able to read some of the flowers that came with the words of these early baseball storytellers, but, alas, time is more precious for us in 204, even for people like me and The Pecan Park Eagle has other fish to fry this Thursday – away from the keyboard,

Here are the two contemporary news samples, followed by the excellent “facts in a bubble” table prepared for by Baseball Almanac on the first modern world championship  series:

GAME ONE: Thursday, October 1, 1903, Pittsburgh @ Boston, Pittsburgh Wins, 7-3 IN Series Opener.

Americans Got Case of Rattles in First Inning, and Phillippe’s Pitching Did the Rest.

(Special to The World)

BOSTON, Oct. 1 – Pittsburg won the first game of the world championship series with ease today from Boston by 7 runs to 3. Nothing but a case of rattles and the splendid pitching of Deacon Phillippe can be held out by Collin’s team as an excuse for their defeat.

~ New York World, October 2, 1903, Page 8.

_______________________________

GAME TWO: Friday, October 2, 1903, Pittsburgh @ Boston, Boston Wins, 3-0 Series now tied at 1-1.

10,000 PEOPLE SEE BOSTON DEFEAT PITTSBURG 3-0 IN 2D CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

BOSTON, Oct. 2 – Dougherty’s mighty bat and Dineen’s good right arm carried the Boston American team to a splendid victory over Pittsburg at the Huntington avenue grounds yesterday afternoon. Ten thousand people saw the home team win by a score of 3-0.

~ Boston Post,  October 3, 1903, Page 6.

_______________________________

FAST FACTS ON THE 1903 FIRST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES, COURTESY OF BASEBALL ALMANAC.COM:

As per usual, our thanks, appreciation, and recommendation of Baseball Almanac.Com go out to one and all as the beautiful twin sister of Baseball Reference.Com as the collective  Sine Qua Non of data and information to all in doing any kind of baseball research in this digital age. – Thank you “BA” – for being exactly what we need you to be –  a source of good information quickly that twenty years ago would have taken some time, labor, digging, patience, parking lot money, and shoe leather, plus the stamina to make it all happen with no fact-checking back up. Forget the “good old days.” We are just now reaching their shores as these words find their way to daylight.

1903 World Series1903 World Series Program
1903 World Series ProgramBoston Americans (5) vs Pittsburgh Pirates (3)

Game 1

Date / Box Score

10-01-1903

Location

Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds

Attendance

16,242

Game 2

Date / Box Score

10-02-1903

Location

Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds

Attendance

9,415

Game 3

Date / Box Score

10-03-1903

Location

Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds

Attendance

18,801

Game 4

Date / Box Score

10-06-1903

Location

Exposition Park III

Attendance

7,600

Game 5

Date / Box Score

10-07-1903

Location

Exposition Park III

Attendance

12,322

Game 6

Date / Box Score

10-08-1903

Location

Exposition Park III

Attendance

11,556

Game 7

Date / Box Score

10-10-1903

Location

Exposition Park III

Attendance

17,038

Game 8

Date / Box Score

10-13-1903

Location

Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds

Attendance

7,455

 

1903 World Series
Game 1
Line Score / Box Score

Team

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

Pittsburgh

4 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 7 12 2
Boston 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 3 6 4
Deacon Phillippe (W) Cy Young (L)
Jimmy Sebring (7th) None

 

1903 World Series
Game 2
Line Score / Box Score

Team

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

Pittsburgh

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 2
Boston 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 x 3 9 0

Sam Leever (L)
Bucky Veil (2nd)

Bill Dinneen (W)
-

None

Patsy Dougherty (1st)
Patsy Dougherty (6th)

 

1903 World Series
Game 3
Line Score / Box Score

Team

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

Pittsburgh

0 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 4 7 0
Boston 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 4 2

Deacon Phillippe (W)
-

Tom Hughes (L)
Cy Young (3rd)

None None

 

1903 World Series
Game 4
Line Score / Box Score

Team

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

Boston

0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 4 9 1
Pittsburgh 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 x 5 12 1

Bill Dinneen (L)

Deacon Phillippe (W)

None None

 

1903 World Series
Game 5
Line Score / Box Score

Team

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

Boston

0 0 0 0 0 6 4 1 0 11 14 2
Pittsburgh 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 6 4

Cy Young (W)
-

Brickyard Kennedy (L)
Gus Thompson (8th)
None None

 

1903 World Series
Game 6
Line Score / Box Score

Team

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

Boston

0 0 3 0 2 0 1 0 0 6 10 1
Pittsburgh 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 3 10 3
Bill Dinneen (W) Sam Leever (L)
None None

 

1903 World Series
Game 7
Line Score / Box Score

Team

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

Boston

2 0 0 2 0 2 0 1 0 7 11 4
Pittsburgh 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 3 10 3

Cy Young (W)

Deacon Phillippe (L)

None None

 

1903 World Series
Game 8
Line Score / Box Score

Team

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

Pittsburgh

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 3
Boston 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 x 3 8 0

Deacon Phillippe (L)

Bill Dinneen (W)
None None

 

1903 World SeriesHitting Statistics
Jimmy Collins 3b 8 36 9 1 2 0 5 1 .250 1 1 3
Lou Criger c 8 26 6 0 0 0 1 4 .231 2 3 0
Bill Dinneen p 4 12 3 0 0 0 1 0 .250 2 2 0
Patsy Dougherty p 8 34 8 0 2 2 3 5 .235 2 6 0
Duke Farrell ph 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 0 0 0
Hobe Ferris 2b 8 31 9 0 1 0 3 5 .290 0 6 0
Buck Freeman of 8 32 9 0 3 0 6 4 .281 2 2 0
Tom Hughes p 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0
Candy LaChance 1b 8 27 6 2 1 0 5 4 .222 3 2 0
Jack O’Brien ph 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 1 0
Freddy Parent ss 8 32 9 0 3 0 8 4 .281 1 1 0
Chick Stahl of 8 33 10 1 3 0 6 3 .303 1 2 2
Cy Young p 4 15 2 0 1 0 1 3 .133 0 3 0
Totals 282 71 4 16 2 39 34 .252 14 29 5
1903 World SeriesPittsburgh PiratesHitting Statistics
Ginger Beaumont of 8 34 9 0 1 0 6 1 .265 2 4 2
Kitty Bransfield 1b 8 29 6 0 2 0 3 1 .207 1 6 1
Fred Clarke of 8 34 9 2 1 0 3 2 .265 1 5 1
Brickyard Kennedy p 1 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 .500 0 0 0
Tommy Leach 3b 8 33 9 0 4 0 3 7 .273 1 4 1
Sam Leever p 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0
Ed Phelps c 8 26 6 2 0 0 1 1 .231 1 6 0
Deacon Phillippe p 5 18 4 0 0 0 1 1 .222 0 3 0
Claude Ritchey 2b 8 27 3 1 0 0 2 2 .111 4 7 1
Jimmy Sebring of 8 30 11 0 1 1 3 3 .367 1 4 0
Harry Smith c 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0
Gus Thompson p 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0
Bucky Veil p 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 2 0
Honus Wagner ss 8 27 6 1 0 0 2 3 .222 3 4 3
Totals 270 64 7 9 1 24 21 .237 14 45 9
1903 World Series Hitting Statistics

 

1903 World SeriesPitching Statistics
Bill Dinneen 3 1 4 4 4 0 2 35.0 2.06 29 28 8 8
Tom Hughes 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 2.0 9.00 4 0 2 2
Cy Young 2 1 4 3 3 0 0 34.0 1.85 31 17 7 4
Totals 5 3 9 8 7 0 2 71.0 2.15 64 45 17 14
1903 World SeriesPittsburgh PiratesPitching Statistics
Brickyard Kennedy 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 7.0 5.14 11 3 4 3
Sam Leever 0 2 2 2 1 0 0 10.0 5.40 13 2 6 3
Deacon Phillippe 3 2 5 5 5 0 0 44.0 2.86 38 22 14 3
Gus Thompson 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2.0 4.50 3 1 1 0
Bucky Veil 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 7.0 1.29 6 1 1 5
Totals 3 5 10 8 6 0 0 70.0 3.34 71 29 26 14
1903 World Series Pitching Statistics


Did you know that during Game 5 of the 1903 World Series, the Boston Americans hit five ground-rule triples due to an oversized crowd?

Players from Boston received $1,182.00 each for the series. Players from Pittsburgh lost the series yet received $1,316.25 each — thanks to the team owner giving his share of the gate receipts to the players.

Bill Dinneen started four of the eight games, completed all four of his starts, won three, had two shutouts and later became an American League umpire.

A Couple of World Series and Playoff Oddity Plays

October 8, 2014
Hornsby tags out Ruth on attempted steal to end 1926 World Series.

Hornsby tags out Ruth on attempted steal to end 1926 World Series.

(1) Why Did Babe Ruth Run the Yankees out of Their Last Shot in the 1926 World Series?

This one haunts forever, drawing an occasional column mention such as this one, but it will probably never go away or get put to bed in a way that puts to rest all the questions that never seem to die about it? W are talking, of course, about the fact that Babe Ruth ended the 1926 World Series his Yankees were playing against the Cardinals when, with two outs and Ruth on first from a walk in the bottom of the 9th, and slugger Bob Meusel at bat, with New York down 3-2, the Bambino decides to steal 2nd base against catcher John O’Farrell as he had done in Game Six. It wasn’t even close. Ruth reportedly got off to a slow start. By the time he slid into 2ns, fellow future Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby was there with ball in plenty of time to nail the Babe with a clear tag and end the Series.

Many home club fans at Yankee Stadium that day blamed Ruth for losing the World Series on bad judgment to run in the first place, based upon the circumstances. It’s still hard for many fans today who only have read about it in dusty old and shiny new books and articles not to lay it all on “George Herman” as well.

The perplexing “last out” event in 1926, of course, is far overshadowed by the legendary call in the 7th from Cards manager Hornsby to bring Old Pete Alexander into the game in the bottom of the 7th to face Tony Lazzeri of the Yankees with the bases loaded and two outs – and St. Louis nursing even then their 3-2 lead that hold up over time to be the final score. Alexander struck out Lazzeri in a performance that would even be recorded on his later Hall of Fame plaque as one of the great moments in World Series history.

Still, Alexander striking out Lazzeri in the 7th inning of Game 7 wasn’t the last out of the game. That one happened quietly on a decision by Ruth to put himself in scoring position in the 9th, even at the risk of killing the hope that the the Yankees had, by attempting an ill-advised attempted steal of 2nd base with two outs.

What was Babe Ruth really thinking – if at all?

Quentin Wong of Cardinals demonstrates wrong way to tag runner in 2014 NLDS against Dodgers.

Colten Wong of the Cardinals demonstrates wrong way to tag runner in 2014 NLDS against Dodgers.

(2) Colten Wong of the Cardinals Guilty of Classic Little League Mistake  in the 2014 NLDS.

When second baseman Colten Wong of the Cardinals blew that “upon further review” double play tag in Los Angeles the other day, I almost swiveled out of my swivel chair at home. Wong had been guilty of a mental error that was always an excusable teaching moment for me when I was coaching 6 to 8 year old players years ago. – “That’s OK, Johnny! Don’t cry! You just have to remember next time to either tag the runner with the ball to get him out, or else, have the ball in the glove when you tag him with the glove. – Anytime you hold the ball in your bare right hand, but only tag the runner with an empty gloved hand, the umpire is going to call him safe – just as he did here a few moments ago.

It’s too bad that political correctness now deprives us of the obvious irony that accompanied this particular situation, but you sort of had the feeling that the telecasting crew was thinking it, even if they couldn’t say it. I know I did – and my dear wife of a thousand years just happens to be Asian too. There just happen to be some broadcast people in this world who do not wish to turn their careers into an instant train wreck with a careless playful remark about the baseball acuity of Cardinal second baseman Wong.

Hopefully, Mr. Wong will remember what we constantly used to tell the 6-8 year old championship club members of the 1976 Shadow Oaks Indians in Spring Branch: On the tag of a base runner, we all have to remember: “There’s a right way and a wrong way!”

What’s the quirkiest thing you remember from a World Series or Playoff Game? And please share it with the rest of us, if you have a favorite anecdote in mind. You may likely find that you are not alone in that particular memory.

The World Series: My Personal Favorites

October 7, 2014
Which World Series would you like to travel back in time to see?

Which World Series would you like to travel back in time to see?

This one is wholly subjective, we know, but some unforgettable moments do tend to collect those subjunctives like a five-pound magnet dropped into a barrel of nails.In that regard, a number of my picks, if not all of them, are magnetized nails of all those others like ours that are pulled to the same place by the same attractive power of their signature  moments, teams, or people. Since I’ve never seen even a single World Series in person, my cherished influences come directly from television or historical readings:

Here’s my list of ten favorites we wish we could have seen in person, followed by a one word response, a  short phrase, or one sentence explanation:

1) 1960: Pittsburgh Pirates defeat New York Yankees in 7 games.  Comment: “Mazeroski.”

2) 1964: St. Louis Cardinals defeat New York Yankees in 7 games. Comment: “Cards surge past Phillie Phold; don’t stop til they cost Yogi Berra his job.”

3) 1955: Brooklyn Dodgers defeat New York Yankees in 7 games. Comment: “Dodgers finally reach ‘Next Year’ by winning their only Brooklyn-era World Series championship.”

4) 1956: New York Yankees defeat Brooklyn Dodgers in 7 games. Comment: “Don Larsen.”

5) 1905: New York Giants defeat Philadelphia Athletics in 5 games: Comment: “Christy Mathewson throws 3 shutout wins, allowing only 4 hits in 3 complete games.”

6) 1926: St. Louis Cardinals defeat New York Yankees in 7 games. Comment: “Grover Cleveland Alexander strikes out Tony Lazzeri in 7th inning of Game 6 with 2 outs and bases loaded.”

7) 1934: St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Detroit Tigers in 7 games. Comment: “Dizzy Dean, Joe Medwick,  and the Gashouse Gang rile and rule the Tigers.”

8) 1944: St. Louis Cardinals defeat St. Louis Browns in 6 games. Comment: “Only chance to see Frank Mancuso and the Brownies in a World Series.”

9) 1946: St. Louis Cardinals defeat Boston Red Sox in 7 games. Comment: “Enos Slaughter.”

10) 2005: Chicago White Sox defeat Houston Astros in 4 games. Comment: “Sometimes think we may have missed my only lifetime chance of seeing Houston play in a World Series.”

At any rate, what are your picks? Compared to our Pecan Park Eagle list, are there any fellow nails out there?

What Historic World Series Match Ups are Left?

October 6, 2014
A "Subway" Series" was never a possibility this year, much to the marketing chagrine of the now famous sandwich chain, but we had a brief shot at a "Freeway Series" until the Royals knocked that one out of the park too.

A “Subway” Series” was never a possibility this year, much to the marketing chagrin of the now famous sandwich chain, but we had a brief shot at a “Freeway Series” until the Royals knocked that one out of the park too.

The American League chose the neat and non-competitive route in their 2014 AL Division Series pairings. The Baltimore Orioles quickly rolled over the Detroit Tigers, 3 games to zip, and then, last night, the Kansas City Royals finished feeding on their three game slices of the team now best thought of at the drop of a hat as “The Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim.”

Other victims beyond the teams from Motown and Greater LA So Cal included all the potentially classic World Series match ups that would have been still on the table had the Tigers growled louder and the Angels soared higher on their roads to The Show.

Gone are the possibilities of another classic meeting between Detroit and St. Louis in the World Series. The Cardinal previously had beaten the Tigers the Gashouse Gang and Dizzy Dean in 1934 and then behind Tony LaRussa and Albert Pujols in 2006, but Detroit had prevailed behind Mickey Lolich over Bob Gibson and St. Louis in the 1968 thriller.

Also now missing are the possibilities for the Angels of a return to St. Louis with former Cardinals Tony Pujols and David Freese in a match up with the redbirds and former Angels pitcher John Lackey. It’s hard to imagine the warm reception that would have been in store for Mr. Pujols in Busch Stadium III.

Neither the Tigers nor the Angels have any World Series history with the NL’s Washington Nationals (ne: Montreal Expos) since that franchise has no World Series history (period). But, of course, the loss of the Angels denies us of the potential for a potential “freeway traffic jam” pairing between the two clubs sharing the Greater Los Angeles area as their common home. It’s neat to note, nevertheless, that the NL entry in this city hs never been known as either the “Brooklyn Dodgers at Los Angeles” or the ” Los Angeles Dodgers not-at-Anaheim.”

One more – and it’s an important one. The Giants would have relished a chance for revenge against the Angels, who once beat them for the latter’s only World Series appearance and victory back in 2002.

Take heart! – With the two NLDS series between the Dodgers and Cardinals knotted at 1-1 and the Giants holding a 2-0 lead and a home field advantage over the Nationals, a handful of great classic match ups are still out there as possible.

The most banal of these, but still interesting, would be a pairing of the Dodgers and Royals. The clubs have never met in a World Series before, but they both wear white home uniforms and grey road gear with royal blue lettering. Only the script on the jerseys and the attitudes of the players on each team are different. The Kansas City boys display the fire of that classic Midwestern underdog club that won’t stop biting, even if their chances for winning should somewhere die. The Dodgers possess a little more of that laid back West Coast sense of fame, entitlement, and latte-requirement from someplace better than Starbucks.

We also have the Cardinals-Orioles still on the table of possibility. That would be interesting to some of us who used to be Browns fans. Remember – the Oriole used to be the St. Louis Browns until they moved to Baltimore in 1954 and were reborn as the Orioles. Cardinals-Orioles would be the second World Series meeting of these two franchise since the “St. Louis Street Car City Series of 1944″ in which the Cardinals defeated the St. Louis Browns, 4 games to 2.

The Orioles versus the Dodgers is another live wire still possible as our connection. The Baltimore Orioles and the Robinson boys (Frank & Brooks) took the Los Angeles Dodgers of Walter Alston in a 1966 sweep.

Those are all that occur to us. Beyond the Cardinals, the Tigers never met any of the three other  surviving NL playoff clubs in a World Series. If you can think of any we’ve forgotten or overlooked, please feel free to add them below in the column comment section. Our goal here is always the eventual completion of truth – and not self-aggrandizing perfection on the first rattle out of the box.

Have a great week, everybody.

 

 

 

 

Our Jump-The-Gun-Sunday College Football Poll

October 5, 2014

 

Nothing that happens ast TDECU Stadium in 2014 has anything to do with tttoday's college football poll or selections of the first college football playoffs.

Nothing that happens at TDECU Stadium in 2014 has anything to do with today’s college football poll or selections of the first college football playoffs.

In the waning moments left before the MLB Playoffs resume this Sunday, we decided to dawdle away the morning doing something we’ve never done here with the latest college football polls – and that simply is – to beat them to the digital punch that now come so quickly in this high tech age of instant gratification personified.  My approach probably was no different that the one used by most official media participants – and that’s the scary point. – No one has the ability from total knowledge or the close experience of watching all the Division I teams across the nation. You simply pull together what you have seen, heard, or trained to think about the quality of SEC play over little leagues like Conference USA and start stacking up your choices in spite of limited exposure and unconscious regional biases you may hold for or against other areas or certain schools.

Playoffs are better for  their objectivity and so – college football at this level makes the NCAA’s long somnolent decision to “start” a playoff system this year with four teams as a starting point an improvement. Just doing this list today only amplifies the question, however, of how long it will take them to next figure out that “four is not enough.” The selective choice of those teams today, 10/05/14, for example, would leave the door open for a rage of objection – if you go my list. No doubt about it.

Our methodology for the following selections was admittedly marred  by the presence of subjective choice, in some instances, to place some teams with single losses ahead of certain teams that are still undefeated, but, for the most part, the teams with better records are ranked higher – especially if they were the big upset winners over all the big dog clubs that lost yesterday.

It will be interesting to see how this ranking by The Pecan Park Eagle compares to the official polls that come out later today:

The Pecan Park Eagle College Football Poll Through 10/05/14 – and a One-Time Shot at This Kind of Fun:

1)  FLORIDA STATE (5-0)

2) AUBURN (5-0)

3) BAYLOR (5-0)

4) MISSISSIPPI (5-0)

5) MISSISSIPPI STATE (5-0)

6) NOTRE DAME (5-0)

7) ARIZONA (5-0)

8) GEORGIA TECH (5-0)

9) TCU (4-0)

10) ALABAMA (4-1)

11) OKLAHOMA (4-1)

12) OREGON (4-1)

13) TEXAS A&M (5-1)

14) UCLA (4-1)

15) MICHIGAN STATE (4-1)

16) GEORGIA (4-1)

17) NEBRASKA (5-1)

18) OHIO STATE (4-1)

19) OKLAHOMA STATE (4-1)

20) KANSAS STATE (4-1)

21) EAST CAROLINA (4-1)

22) MISSOURI (4-1)

23) BRIGHAM YOUNG (4-1)

24) ARIZONA STATE (4-1)

25) MARSHALL (5-0)

 

And now – back to baseball!

Bill Gilbert: Astros Finish 2014 with 70 Wins

October 5, 2014
Veteran SABR Baseball Researcher & Writer Bill Gilbert Wraps Up His Thoughts on the 2014 Houston Astros Baseball Season.

Veteran SABR Baseball Researcher & Writer Bill Gilbert Wraps Up His Thoughts on the 2014 Houston Astros Baseball Season.

Astros Finish 2014 Season with 70 Wins
By Bill Gilbert
 
            The Houston Astros compiled a record of 70-92 in 2014, an improvement of 19 games over their record in 2013.  Only the Los Angeles Angels with a 20 game improvement did better, and the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox won only one more game than the Astros in 2014.  But it could have been better.  The team finished the season with a six-game swoon, winning only one and scoring only 12 runs.
 
            One of the characteristics of this rebuilding team is an inability to finish.  The 2013 season ended with a 15-game losing streak, and the 2014 Astros were unable to finish numerous games during the season when they had the lead in the late innings.
 
            The Astros improved in essentially every phase in 2014 from their historically bad season in 2013.  The Astros finished with the worst record in the major leagues for three straight years coming into the 2014 season.  This year, they finished ahead of three teams, Texas, Colorado and Arizona and with the same record as Minnesota.  By finishing ahead of the Texas Rangers, they did not finish in last place in the American League West division for the first time since they moved to the American League.
 
            Statistically the .Astros improved to finish 25th in batting average, 25th in pitchers ERA and 25th in fielding percentage.  It’s still not good and well below the major league average but it’s moving in the right direction.  The team scored an average of 3.88 runs per game but allowed 4.46. The starting pitchers compiled a respectable ERA of 3.82 but the bullpen was a major league worst with an ERA of 4.80.
 
            The highlight of the season was the performance of second baseman, Jose Altuve.  He led the American League in batting average (.341), hits (225) and stolen bases (59), and was among the league leaders in doubles (47).  But Altuve needs help.  A batter at the top of the order with Altuve’s numbers should also lead the league in scoring runs.  Altuve wasn’t even close.  Mike Trout led the AL with 115 runs and Altuve had only 85.  Both players reached base 266 times.  This illustrates the ineffectiveness of the middle of the Astros batting order. which was comprised of players with alarmingly high strikeout totals (Chris Carter, Jon Singleton, George Springer, Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez).  The Astros led the AL in striking out which doesn’t help to score runs.
 
            The Astros had a few notable accomplishments in addition to Altuve’s banner year.  Chris Carter hit 37 home runs, second in the AL behind Nelson Cruz.  Pitchers, Collin McHugh (11-9, 2.73) and Dallas Keuchel (12-9, 2.83) both had ERA’s under 3.00.  Rookie George Springer hit 20 home runs in less than three months before an injury in July took him out for the remainder of the season.
 
            September was a good month for the Astros before the collapse at the end.  The highlight was a nine-game road trip to the West Coast against the three top teams in the West Division where the Astros went 5-4.  Altuve batted, 367 in September and rookie catcher Max Stassi, Marwin Gonzalez and Robbie Grossman all hit over .300 for the month.  The top three starting pitchers all had excellent months.  McHugh was 4-0, 1.59, Keuchel was 2-0, 1.66 and Scott Feldman was 0-2, 1.91.  The team was 11-13 in September and both scored and allowed 3.46 runs per game.
 
            Three former Astros, all let go without compensation by General Manager, Jeff Luhnow, played important roles in helping their new teams reach the post-season.  Foremost was outfielder, J.D. Martinez released by the Astros in March, who batted .315 with 23 home runs for Detroit.  Steve Pearce, let go by the Astros in 2012 batted .293 with 21 home runs for Baltimore and left-handed pitcher, Fernando Abad, also let go in 2012 pitched in 69 games for Oakland with an ERA of 1.57.
 
            The Martinez case is troubling.  He spent three years in Houston’s minor league system, batting well above .300 at every stop before being promoted to Houston from Class AA in July, 2011 along with Altuve.  He performed well in his first exposure to the major leagues but slipped in 2012 and 2013 and frequently looked lost at the plate.  No one in the Astros system was able to get him back on track, but after being released and signing with Detroit, he looks like a completely different hitter.
 
            The Astros achieved some modest success in the minor leagues in 2014.  Class A Lancaster won the California League Championship and short-season Tri Cities (Albany NY) lost in the finals.
 
            Attendance at Minute Maid Park increased slightly in 2014 with an average paid crowd of 21,628 compared to 20,594 in 2013.  This is still well below the crowds of over 30,000 that were typical in the glory years in the middle of the last decade.  Resolving the television problem would go a long way in re-energizing the fan base.

            Further improvement will be expected next year.  In the rebuilding blueprint that I put together two years ago, I projected the Astros would be respectable in 2014 with 70-80 wins and would contend in 2015 with 81+ wins.  After a major setback in 2013, that I didn’t predict, the team reached the bottom end of my projection in 2014.

            Meeting the 2015 projection will be a reach unless they add some players to fill in some holes. Also, McHugh and Keuchel need to build on their breakout 2014 seasons. Springer has to recover from his injury and be available for the entire season and disappointing rookie prospect, Jon Singleton, needs to fulfill expectations. The Astros must also adjust to a new manager, A.J. Finch, their fifth manager in the last three years
 
Bill Gilbert
10/2/14
The Pecan Park Eagle wants to thank Bill Gilbert for his level and steady analysis of the Houston Astros throughout the 2014 American League baseball season and we look hopefully forward to his continuing input in 2015, plus any other time between now and then, or whenever else, he so wishes to grace these digital pages with any other baseball commentary that occurs. For those of you who may wish to contact Bill Gilbert directly, he can be reached at the following personal e-mail address:  billcgilbert@sbcglobal.net

Rene’ Cardenas Nominated for 2015 Frick Award

October 4, 2014
We Support Rene' Cardenas for the 2015 Ford C. Frick Award

We Support Rene’ Cardenas
for the
2015 Ford C. Frick Award

The Ford C Frick Award for 2015 could go next year to the man who broadcast the first Spanish-language baseball games in big league history back in 1958 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His name is Rene’ Cardenas, the same man who took over the Spanish-language Play-By-Play broadcasting for the Houston Colt .45’s/Astros in their first 1962 season. The Nicaraguan-native later worked for the Texas Rangers before returning to the Astros in 2007. At age 84/85, depending upon the actuality of his poorly recorded birth year, makes Cardenas and Dick Enberg the  only two living candidates for this next Frick Award by the Baseball Hall of Fame at the Summer of 2015 Cooperstown induction ceremony.

Over the years, Rene’ Cardenas has been a landmark trailblazer for extending the sounds of major league baseball to millions in the Spanish-speaking world that otherwise would have missed the thrill of how it feels to follow the action of big league ball as it unfolds to the ear, play-by-play. It wold be impossible to calculate how many extra fans were attracted to baseball because of Rene – or to really know how many Spanish-speaking athletes were encouraged to the pursuit of MLB careers because of the fire they felt from his words over the airways. His leadership and participation with the Astros in spreading the Spanish-language voice of the game to Central and South America only amplifies the possible reach of his influence upon others who only speak Spanish.

The Ford C Frick Award for Broadcasting is determined each year by a vote among the living survivors chosen for the honor in previous years. Cardenas ought to get support from Houston’s two previous Frick winners, Milo Hamilton (1992) and Gene Elston (2006). He may also get some electoral help from the great Vin Scully (1982) of the Dodgers, His problem comes from the fact that he’s up against a deceased list of famous men who are on the ballot this year. The downside for dead men candidates is that they don’t draw crowds to Cooperstown nor do they make memorable or witty acceptance speeches.

The two living and eight deceased nominees for the 2015 Ford C. Frick Award are: Richie Ashburn, Billy Berroa, Rene’ Cardenas, Dizzy Dean, Dick Enberg, Ernie Johnson, Sr., Ralph Kiner, Ned Martin, Joe Nuxhall, and Jack Quinlan.

Rene’ Cardenas was a previously unsuccessful candidate for “The Frick” in 2011 and 2012, but he was inducted into the “Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum” Hall of Fame in 2002. And The Pecan Park Eagle strongly believes that his trailblazing influence as the pioneer and ongoing strong influence of play-by-play broadcasting to the Spanish-speaking world sets him apart and above all other candidates this year, no matter how famous they were as players or longevity broadcasters.

Do You Want to Help Rene’ Cardenas? If you know any of the previous Ford C. Frick winners, or even if you don’t, and you wish to support Rene’ Cardenas for the honor, find a way to send the voters an e-mail or old-fashioned letter of support for Rene’ prior to the December 2014 vote they will be taking on next year’s choice. A list of all previous winners, dead and alive, is available at the following links (We do not have their contact info, but if you get it, please post it below as a comment on this post):

http://baseballhall.org/awards/ford-c-frick

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_C._Frick_Award

Have a nice weekend, everybody!

 

 

 

UH Finds New Way to Pull Old Cougar’s Tail

October 3, 2014
GREG WARD, JR OF UH . CAPS 19 YARD RUN FOR WINNING TD AGAINST CFU WITH 24 SECONDS TO GO, BUT LOSES THE BALL INCHES FROM THE GOAL LINE FOR A TOUCHBACK THAT GIVES THE 17-12 GAME WIN TO CENTRAL FLORIDA.

GREG WARD, JR OF UH . CAPS 19 YARD RUN FOR WINNING TD AGAINST  UCF WITH 24 SECONDS TO GO, BUT LOSES THE BALL INCHES FROM THE GOAL LINE FOR A TOUCHBACK THAT GIVES THE 17-12 GAME WIN TO CENTRAL FLORIDA.

It figures. I just lost one of the most heartfelt, but thoughtful columns I’ve ever written on the amazing cruel loss history suffered by UH and other “Houston” teams as a result of the latest sadistic script that kept the Cougars from defeating Central Florida  – just as the ball disappeared last night from the fingers of Cougar QB Greg Ward, Jr. as he was about to deliver the winning TD with time running out.

Here’s how that part went down. I have neither the time or energy to recreate what came to me in the original moment of writing. All personal frustration here does is enhance my affinity for what Cougar QB Greg Ward, Jr. must have felt on a far greater level for his role in the play that cruelly sealed the Cougar loss. It’s one thing to lose a column that you think is done. Quite another to lose a game that you think you’ve won.

With less than a minute to go, the Cougars trailed UCF, 17-12, Greg Ward, Jr. was playing quarterback in relief of ineffective starter John O’Corn and had brought UH back to within striking distance on the UCF 38 with a couple of minutes to play. Ward passed and ran the Cougars down to the 5 yard line for a first and goal, but a penalty pushed them back to a first and 20 from from the 20. Then, with less than a minute to go, Ward took of on an elusive zig-zaging run down the left side toward the goal line. Sensing the oncoming presence of UCF tacklers coming from the right side, Ward went flying like a two-handed horizontal Statue of Liberty toward the goal line plane of victory. He was a couple of feet away when a UCF tackler hit his right arm from the right side. The ball began to slightly wobble in his hands.

By the time the ball reached the magic victory plane, it had separated itself from Ward’s grasp, crossing the line solo, with Ward’s reaching fingers still traveling inches behind it on the same flight plane. When the ball hit the turf inside the goal line, it bounced out of bounds to the left for a touchback. The ball went over to Central Florida with 24 seconds left on the clock and the visitors used it up to win the game as a result of the most sadistic “anti-Houston” (grain of salt here, please)  game script that I think I’ve ever experienced. Since my failed expectations are most heavily weighted on the UH side, I understand and respect others may disagree with my choice. – But try to cut me this much slack. It only happened last night. I would imagine that Longhorn or Aggie fans might feel a little of the same torture tomorrow, should either lose to Baylor or Mississippi State in any way that was similar to the road that Fate had in mind for my Cougars last night.

Ouch, dammit!

The common thread in all of the great painful Houston losses I wrote about in the lost column this morning had to do with these factors in summary: It isn’t losing that hurts. It’s allowing expectation to transform itself into a certainty of winning before the actual game is completely finished that hurts so bad. Once we are convinced that victory is ours and we lose on a late or last play, the steep splinter and rock-filled slide down from Expectation Mountain to Disappointment Valley is totally assured.

As of last night, I know from personal fan experience now  that the pain of Fate can also be delivered in lethal dosages that are also as quirky as one of those childhood good buddy “what if” questions:

“Hey, Randy! – What would you do if you were diving toward the goal line in a football game one day – and I was the guy on the other team that knocked the ball out of your hands before you crossed the goal line – and it cost your team the game? – Would you still be my buddy off the field? – Or would you just hate me enough to want to get me back for being a good player? – Uh, Randy, – put the baseball bat down! This is baseball season and we’re on the same team! – There’s no sense in trying to hurt somebody for something that was just a made up question! – Randy! – Randy! OK, you better stop it! – I’m going to hit you back hard if you don’t stop waving that bat in the air!”

Have a nice weekend, everybody! And good luck to you Aggies and Longhorns!

Earlier than our actual UH defeat, a left side profile of Cougar mascot Shasta burning up in the sunset skies over TDECU should have been fair warning that something very bad and quite evil was coming and very soon.

Earlier than our actual UH defeat, a left side profile of Cougar mascot Shasta burning up in the sunset skies over TDECU should have been fair warning that something very bad and quite evil was coming and very soon.

R.I.P., George “Shotgun” Shuba

October 2, 2014
Geore Shuba shakes hands with Jackie Robinson in Jersey City after Jackie hits his first HR in organized baseball in the 3rd inning of his first game, 4/18/46.

George Shuba shakes hands with Jackie Robinson in Jersey City after Jackie hits his first HR in organized baseball in the 3rd inning of his first game, 4/18/46.

george-shuba-brooklynjpg-0cfdcba6c50beb40 George “Shotgun” Shuba, one of the last Boys of Summer, died at his home in Youngstown, Ohio this week, Monday, 9/29/14. Had he lived until 12/13/14, he would have been 90 years old.

Outfielder Shuba never hit for any great stats as a major leaguer.  Over the course of his seven all Dodger big league seasons (1948-50, 1952-55) Shuba batted only .259 with 24 homers in 355 games, but he was there as a member of the 1955 only World Series victory that the Dodgers ever earned during their years in Brooklyn.

In spite of his limitations on the numbers side of productivity, Shuba was a valuable clutch player on numerous occasions for Brooklyn. His nickname is derived as a description of the way he sprayed those shotgun blast singles to all parts of the outfield at what now seems like almost every time that Brooklyn needed him to come through for them as a clutch hitter.

The linked article below was sent to me this morning by Neil Miggins, one of the sons of our very own SABR member brother and good friend, Larry Miggins, 89, whom we also cherish as a former Cardinal, one of the very last surviving members of Houston Buffs, also, as one of the last survivors of those who played in Jackie Robinson’s original break of the color line in 1946, and a sterling human being and an almost mythical Houston figure of Irish good cheer and storytelling!  We personally also have to add treasured good friend to our list of affections for Mr. Miggins.

The article by Richard Goldstein beautifully eulogizes how teammate George Shuba reached out to become the first white teammate of Jackie Robinson at Montreal during the 1946 season to shake his hand for the 3rd inning, 3-run homer he hit for the Royals against Jersey City  on Opening Day at Jersey City, April 18, 1946. The photo shown  here and on the Goldstein story stands out as testimony to the sincerity of Shula’s total acceptance of Robinson as the first black player in organized baseball to break the dreadfully ugly and unfair baseball color line in the 20th century.

Larry Miggins was the star of a feature by the Houston Chronicle upon the release of the movie "42" in 2013.

Larry Miggins was the star of a feature by the Houston Chronicle upon the release of the movie “42” in 2013.

As many you already know, our Larry Miggins played 3rd base for the Jersey City Giants that day – as did center fielder Bobby Thomson, only five seasons away from his famous heartbreaking home run for the parent 1951 NL playoff New York Giants against Robinson’s future parent Brooklyn Dodgers at the Polo Grounds with his “shot fired ’round the world.” By that time, Mr. Miggins was wrapping up his 1951 season as a member of the Cardinals’ AA Texas League club, the 1951 league champion Houston Buffs.

That’s also Miggins as the Jersey City 3rd baseman on 4/18/46, applying the late tag at 3rd on a safely stolen base by Robinson n his first game. Larry Miggins also likes to “kid” (At least, we think he’s kidding.) that two of Robinson’s other four hits that day, bunt singles down the third base line, were made possible by the deep position that he had taken in defense of Jackie’s lethal stroke of the ball that afternoon.

Here’s the link to the well-written story on George Shuba by Richard Goldstein:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/01/sports/baseball/george-shuba-whose-handshake-heralded-racial-tolerance-in-baseball-dies-at-89.html?hpw&rref=obituaries&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpHedThumbWell&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0

 

 

 

Harvey: “What Happened to Houston vs. Dallas?”

October 1, 2014
"Houston YES - Dallas NO!"

“Houston YES – Dallas NO!”

 

"Dallas YES - Houston NO!"

“Dallas YES – Houston NO!”

Randy Harvey wrote an interesting commentary in the Houston Chronicle this morning on the absence of venom in most Houston vs. Dallas sports rivalries these days. He touches quite accurately upon the lone exception, the Rockets and Mavericks of the NBA – where enmity has been heated by back and forth trash talk between Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. That ne may heat up a little in 2014-15 with the free agency signing of former Rocket Chandler Parsons by the Mavericks this past summer. – Our take on this example is that it seems to grow more from the way leadership people have said publicly unflattering things back and forth than it does from anything rooted in a Houston vs. Dallas vein. – It was more like the rivalry that the Astros felt with the Dodgers when they had to both contend with competition on the field and the always running mouth of LA manager Tommy Lasorda.

As childhood memory serves, the Dallas Eagles and Houston Buffs of the AA Texas League were fierce rivals on the fan level, as were the NFL Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers. The Eagles-Buffs rivalry fed from an ancient feeling of separation and competition between Texas’ two largest cities on every level of competition for attention, identity, esteem, and economic domination. It was a blanket that covered all. People born or settled in Houston stayed in Houston. People who were born or moved to Dallas stayed in Dallas. Most of us among the people in Houston that we knew never had even traveled to Dallas. We just “knew” from our talk with older Houstonians that people from Dallas were “a bunch of stuck up snobs who were long on words and short of real working ability for anything useful. They may as well not have hands because cannot build or fix anything with the ones they’ve got.”

On the other hand, word got back to us too. – Dallas people thought Houston was little more than “an overgrown hick town.” As one story along those lines went: “Every time East Texas piney woods towns get run over  with too many people, they just run them off to Houston to live in that larger mound of city hicks.” – Stuff like that just made us so mad, as it surely must have stirred the pot up in Dallas with their own tales about what the  hicks in  Houston said of them.

By the time in 1960 that Dallas got both the Cowboys of the NFL as an expansion team and the original Texans as their city’s first AFL team, Houston got the Oilers as their first professional club in the new AFL, as well.

In short, Dallas fans threw most of their support to the NFL Cowboys. The assumption of many was that the AFL would be short-lived – and that when it failed, a few of the stronger clubs might be absorbed by the NFL, but that one of those would not be the Dallas Texans. The city already had the Dallas Cowboys. Meanwhile, down in a more diverse and transiently populated Houston, many new Houston residents and Grade A NFL fans chose to also follow the Cowboys rather than the Oilers for similar reasons to those who picked that same way in Dallas. These Houstonian Cowboy fans wanted to support a Texas team that they felt sure would win the eventual survival battle. In other words, the Cowboys bore a cachet of higher esteem than either the Dallas Texans or the Houston Oilers because they already the real deal – the NFL.

By the time of the first Super Bowl in 1967, the Dallas Texans had been run off to Kansas City. They had been rechristened as the Chiefs and become the champions of the AFL  that would lose to the Green Bay Packers of the older NFL in that first playing of the big post-season. By 1970, the AFL would merge into the NFL and emerge renamed and slightly reconstructed as the American Football Conference of the NFL.

Bottom Line: Even with the AFL-NFL merger of 1970, the Houston-based Cowboys remained Cowboy fans – and they have raised their children and grandchildren in that same allegiance. And today, with television and the Internet, plus all of the corporate mobility and homogenization of city cultures by franchise food and other retail stores, the art of generating a really hot geographic rivalry seems more improbable with each passing year.

Astros fans today could get very worked up over beating the Rangers in the World Series, but that isn’t going to happen now that both clubs are in the same league. That being said, we have to ask, “So what?” It isn’t geographic competition that stirs the souls of Houston fans. It’s the desire to win it all in the World Series against anybody! – As for the “Silver Boot” award, you can take that boot and shove it! – Who needs it?

Thank you, Randy Harvey, for stirring up the subject.

 


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