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.


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!




Short Pants and Short Players

October 14, 2014
Hunter Pence San Francisco Giants

Hunter Pence
San Francisco Giants

Short Pants

Many of you already know how much I hate the fact that baseball players today, and some since Ted Williams, prefer to wear their uniform pants all the way down around the ankles. All those “Bagwellians” (my term for them) who do so are out of line with the intent, spirit, and design of baseball uniforms by their effective burial, in many cases, of unique uniform sock design. (See the socks of the St. Louis Cardinals whenever possible for a good example of this judgment. Just as good – bu with less heritage behind them – the bright orange socks of the new Houston Astros game wardrobe.

The reason we bring this up this morning is because of our attention to Giants right fielder in the current NLCS competition. Hunter has been one of our favorites for honoring the spirit of the uniform socks since his days in Houston as an Astro – and  for a surplus of reasons that include the fact he’s tall – and tall guys, like Ted Williams, often behave as though they think that too much sock exposure makes them look silly. Pence seems to understand that the sight of uniform socks do not make a tall man silly – that only the man can make himself look silly in uniform by his inexplicably goofy way of throwing a baseball or expressing an opinion. Hunter Pence seems to validate that point almost every time he takes the field. And no matter what he has done, until now, it has seemed OK by me.

Even now, I may be blowing a new concern out of proportion because I’ve only seen what I hope is a mere apparition in Hunter Pence’s new uniform style in the current Giants-Cardinals series and that’s this: When Hunter Pence now stands in to hit against the Cardinals, he seems to have moved his pants up on both legs from – just below the knees – to just above the knees!!!

Hunter! – If that’s what you are doing, you’ve gone too far! Wearing the lower elasticized hem of your uniform pants just above the knees was never the intent of their uniform design!

Please, readers, pay sharp attention to how Pence wears his pants today in the game at San Francisco and let us know what you think! – Is he or isn’t he – now wearing them above the knees?

If he is (wearing is pants too high), he’s found another way to pass himself off as one of baseball’s silliest, quirkiest, sufficiently talented, and most likeable players in the big leagues!

Of course, I could be wrong. In one of those minor ironies of everyday life, I’m going in for my annual eye exam in about one hour from this keyboard sizzler topic.

Happy Tuesday, everybody. – I’ll be “seeing” you!

Eddie Gaedel Sportsman's Park August 19, 1951

Eddie Gaedel
Sportsman’s Park
August 19, 1951

Short Players

Back in early September, yours truly was duly honored by the Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter No. 1, as their first draft choice for membership into the organization dedicated to the honorable memory of MLB’s most vertically challenged player in history, Eddie Gaedel of the St. Louis Browns. As most of you, or all of you, probably already know, Gaedel was the midget player that club owner Bill Veeck sent to the plate on August 19, 1951 to face Bob Cain of the Detroit Tigers as a pinch hitter for the lead off batter at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. Gaedel drew a four-pitch walk and then retired forever.

A column on Eddie Gaedel that I wrote here for The Pecan Park Eagle some time ago came to the attention of the Gaedel Society’s president, Tom Keefe, who also liked the song  parody I had written back in 1999 to commemorate the bravest little man in the history of the game. It is repeated here, with a couple of minor editorial improvements for descriptive performance sake:

The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel

(Sung to the melody and chorus tunes of “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”)

By Bill McCurdy, 1999


Bill Veeck, the Brownie owner,

Wore some very shiny clothes!

And if you saw his sport shirt,

You would even say, “It glows!”


All of the other owners,

Used to laugh and call him names!

They wouldn’t let poor Bill Veeck,

Join in any owner games!


(Chorus) Then one humid August day,

Bill Veeck had to – fidget!

Got an idea that stirred his soul,

He decided to sign a – midget!


His name was Eddie Gae-del,

He was only three feet tall!

He never played much baseball,

He was always just too small!


(Chorus) Then one day in Sportsman’s Park,

Eddie – went to bat!

Took four balls and walked to first,

Then retired – just like that!


Oh, how the purists hated,

Adding little Eddie’s name,

To the big book of records,

“Gaedel” bore a blush of shame!


Now when you look up records,

Look up Eddie’s O.B.P.!

It reads a cool One Thousand,

Safe for all eternity!


Hail, Eddie!


In short form, President Keefe liked the “Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” enough to hopefully adopt it as the organization’s anthem. The Gaedel Society plans to so sing it as a whole group chorus group number at their annual meeting in Spokane, Washington at O’Dougherty’s Irish Pub next summer. I’ve been told that the song sounds even better after both the singers and the audience have downed a few beers.

At any rate, I’ve now received my membership card and official society tee shirt and am looking forward to helping commemorate Gaedel as the most unique of all the former old St. Louis Browns.

Yesterday, I was also pleased to learn from President Keefe that St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill Dewitt, whose family was involved with the Browns during the Gaedel game, has also accepted his own invitation into the society as a second “out of Spokane’ member. We could be building a forceful wave for the memory of Eddie Gaedel on every beach and shore wherever baseball is played.




Cards’ 5-4 Win Game 2 of NLCS was Classic

October 13, 2014


Cardinal in Tree

The Pecan Park Eagle doesn’t usually cover or comment on real time game action. More than enough people are doing that already, but this time, we simply couldn’t resist a word or two, even if every one of them is flat out obvious – starting with the title to this brief piece.

A classic Cardinal performance, it was! And they’ve been doing this sort of thing since 1926,

3rd Baseman Matt Carpenter, a lefty batter, blasted his 4th HR of the playoffs to give the Cardinals and starter Larry Lynn an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 3rd. The youngster from Elkins High School in Houston now has half his season total 8 homers during the regular 162-game schedule, apparently reserving his focused power for this playoff timed, really important game section of the MLB battle for the big prize. Put in even clearer terms, Carpenter now has 4 HR in 24 times at bat during these 2014 playoffs. He had  HR in 595 times at bat during the 2014 regular season.

Rookie pinch hitter Oscar Taveras crushed the second Cardinal lefty HR to right n the bottom of the 7th to pull St. Louis back into a 3-3 tie with San Francisco.

Lefty-hitting 1st baseman Matt Adams then launched another solo HR drive to right field in the bottom of the 8th to put the Cardinals back on top, 4-3. The Cards would lose that lead in the top of the 9th when pinch runner Matt Duffy of the Giants scored from 2nd base on a wild pitch by Trevor Rosenthal of the Cards to tie the game at 4-4. Rosenthal would then load the bases with a walk, but youngster Seth Maness would come in to pitch and  coax a one-hop grounder back to the mound that would end the last Giants threat and set him up to quickly become the winning pitcher.

With righty Sergio Romo now pitching for the Giants in the bottom of the 9th, Cards 2nd baseman Kolten Wong waited until the 2nd pitch before he slammed his way into the books as the 4th Cardinal lefty in this game to deposit a solo HR into the right field stands at Busch III. This one was the 5-4 game-winner that ties the NLCS at 1-1 as the Cards and Giants now move to San Francisco to resume the Series on Tuesday.

Aside from the sobering loss of star catcher Yadier Molina to a leg injury in the 6th, it was a great night for the Cardinals. An injury to Molina’s right oblique leg muscle while batting in the bottom of the 6th kept him from even leaving the batter’s box on an easy double play ball. The injury forced the Cardinals to bring in back-up catcher Tony Cruz, whose inability to block two wild pitches from Cardinal relievers played a part in the last two runs that SF would score. If Molina is unable to play the rest of the Series, which now seems highly probable, it will be interesting to see if Cards manager Mike Matheny stays with the inexperienced Cruz or goes with the wisdom of veteran A.J. Pierzynski, whom they signed as a back-up for this very possibility of injury to Molina.

Either way, this game is in the books as a memorable thriller. We cannot remember ever seeing another playoff game in which the winning team won because of four one-run homers to right field by lefty batters.




Who Were The Houston Apaches?

October 12, 2014
Searching for the Houston Apaches! (Personified here by an oil canvas that a cousin, Myrtle Hunt, painted back in the 1930s.)

Searching for the Houston Apaches!
(Personified here by an oil canvas that a cousin, Myrtle Hunt, painted back in the 1930s.)

Who were the Houston Apaches baseball team?

The question came up this week when an  e-mail from friend and fellow baseball history lover Darrell Pittman passed it along to me in behalf of someone who had written to him with the very same query. We don’t, or I don’t, even know who this stranger was, but that’s OK. – The question had been raised and neither Darrell nor I, nor anyone else so invited, knew the answer beyond the wild guessing stage. It was pretty easy to surmise, if they did once exist, that they played at the myriad sub-fully professional organized baseball level as either an amateur club, or one with a few compensated in some way player or players, or otherwise, as a full-blown semi-pro team.

The basic question about their existence was easy enough to confirm. The Pecan Park Eagle used their digital News Archival website program to find numerous references to games played and announced for the Houston Apaches from 1948 through 1960, mostly from reports in the Galveston Daily News, but a few from the Baytown Sun. (Our website resource, unfortunately, doe not include the archives of Houston print news sources at this time.)

Here’s a small sample of what we’ve learned about the Houston Apaches, so far, from an era in which political correctness was not even in play as a commonly understood expression. If “Apaches” offends any of you readers as a club nickname, let’s see if your adroitness on this subject will find the one among these few stories that pales all others:

(1950) TC Falstaffers To Play Apaches
The Texas City Falstaff baseball team, which plays independently, will take on the Houston Apaches next Sunday at 3 p.m. at Terminal Field in Texas City.
The Texas City team has won ten and lost three so far this season.
Manager of the team is Ben Rodriguez while John Berry is the captain and Manuel Garcia the scorekeeper.
~ Galveston Daily News, August 2, 1950, Page 17.

(1951) Texas City Pearl Beats Houstonians

Texas City, April 22. – Mgr. Rudy Farias’ Pearl Beer team of Texas City downed the Houston Apaches here today, 11-7. Jim Velasquez, John Berry, and Hacido Zaragoza led the beermen at the plate, belting out two safeties each. Rudy Ramos was the winning pitcher, but he received help in the final frame from Dick Humphries, former Galveston White Cap player. Pearl will meet the Houston Aztecs in Texas City next Monday.

~ Galveston Daily News, April 23, 1951, Page 13.
(1953) Manuel’s Loses
Manuel’s Cafe suffered an 8-5 loss at the hands of the Houston Apaches in a baseball game played at Heard’s Lane Sunday.
Tony Gonzales’ two-run double was the biggest blow hit by a Galveston player. Manuel’s out-hit their foes, 12-9. The loss makes their record 1-1 for the season.
~ Galveston Daily News, May 18, 1953, Page 13.
(1954) Merchants In Game With Houston Team
The Baytown Merchants, semi-pro baseball team, attempt to strengthen a won two, lost two record when the team meets the Houston Apaches at Oiler Park Tuesday night.
Game time is 8 p.m.
Joe Martinez will handle the pitching chores for the Baytown team.
~ Baytown Sun, May 11, 1954, Page 8.
(1957) Chinks Play Today
The Chinks’ 1011 Club baseball team plays the Houston Apaches at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Heard’s Lane in an exhibition game.Pedro Perez, who formerly pitched for Monterrey in the Mexican League, will pitch for the 1011 Club. Albert House will catch.~ Galveston Daily News, July 16, 1957, Page 13.
We would like to know more than who they played and what the scores were. If you know anything about the Houston Apaches, their organizers and players, their playing fields in Houston, and their league associations, if any – or anything at all beyond what’s reported here, please leave a comment in the section that follows this column on the website. We will be sure to pass it on to Darrell Pittman and the unknown (to us) person who raised this question in the first place. Much obliged. – The Pecan Park Eagle


“Who IS this Guy?”

October 10, 2014


When was the last time you were out somewhere in public and suddenly recognized a face in the crowd you absolutely knew, but just as rapidly failed to grasp, not merely their name, but the context in which you knew them as well.

Was this a personal acquaintance or a public face I’m now fixing my attention upon? Am I simply imagining that I “know” this person? Maybe they simply remind me of someone I do know personally, or as a public figure, a movie or television actor, or even an athlete? Who knows? – Not me this time. Haven’t a clue. This is frustrating. I need to let it go, but I can’t. Too much curiosity is now hard at play.

Before you start guessing something along the lines of “I’ve seen McCurdy in action for myself. He was probably at a family reunion – or, perhaps, a luncheon gathering with some of his SABR friends. ” At least, give me a few moments to explain my experience with this mind-maddening phenomenon from yesterday. I think it falls somewhere short of Alzheimer’s, but you never know.

Today is my dear wife’s birthday and, yesterday, I had taken her to lunch and then to the Galleria in Houston to exchange an apparel gift from our niece in Palm Beach, Florida who had sent the item she purchased there at their local Sax Fifth Avenue. My wife simply needed to exchange it for the correct size and we were told that the local Sax store could handle it for us here in Houston, which proved true.

While I stood with Norma at the exchange counter as she worked it out, a “thirty something” Hispanic couple drifted by us. The woman was leading the way on a browsing expedition. The man followed quietly behind, pushing a  baby stroller, moving quietly, and patiently stopping each time his apparent wife to pick up and thoroughly examine an item of clothing. That sight registered with me even before the burning desire to know the identity of this man with her even arose. I had not even looked at him that carefully at first. His “blur” recognition was nothing special. He was a man about my 5’10” height. He had a stocky build and I recall having the impression I frequently reach with strangers: “This man doesn’t work out anymore than I do, apparently,” I thought to myself.

I turned to Norma and asked, “Do you remember years ago when we were dating – and I would go mall shopping with you and pretend to like it – just so we could have the time together?”

“How could I forget?” Norma smiled, as she quickly added, “but don’t worry, Honey, you don’t have to do that anymore. You don’t have to go shopping with me to prove you care – and this trip to the Galleria for the gift exchange will not trap you back into doing something you hate.”

How neat is Norma, guys? – To me, she’s the greatest! And I need to get this story told so we can be on our in celebration of her birthday today by going out to do the things we enjoy together.

Back to the stranger focus. – When I looked  back at the man pushing the baby stroller, we briefly made eye contact, but there was no sense of recognition in his eyes that matched the “I know this guy” bells that were now suddenly bombing my brain like the bells of Notre Dame in Paris.

“Who the hell is he? – Is he a personal acquaintance? – Someone I’ve seen in the Chronicle? – A character actor from the movies or TV?” – No clues jumped out at me. And the quiet, strolling family soon moved out of the room and out of sight. I walked over to the exit archway they took, just to see how far they had moved away – and in the hope that something would jar my memory, but there was nothing there, and they had now moved over a couple of rooms down the long wide corridor, – “I may never know who that guy was” finally landed as my moment of reluctant acceptance, but what else could I do?

Plenty. – I started running movies and TV shows in my head. “Maybe, he appeared as a Cuban undercover cop or drug dealer on the old CSI Miami TV series,” I considered. “Maybe,” I thought, but there was no smack  of certainty or “AHA!” to my ruminations.

It wasn't character actor Luis Guzman, but that private guess also came with a sense this baby stroller guy was famous for something and not just a forgotten personal acquaintance.

It wasn’t character actor Luis Guzman, but that private guess also came with a sense that this baby stroller guy was famous for something and not just a forgotten personal acquaintance.

“Was that character actor Luis Guzman?” I briefly thought. Probably not. Guzman has been playing thugs and drug dealers all the way back to “Miami Vice” in the late 1980’s. No way he’s still as young as the dutiful and patient baby-strolling dad here at Saks appears to be. – But the question still begs for the answer it cannot find in my memory bank: “WHO-IS-THIS-GUY-???”

Finally, a breakthrough opportunity came my way. The apparent wife of our mystery figure had drifted back into the room where Norma was still going through the red tape of her gift exchange. She was alone, having left her mystery (not to her) husband and the baby back there in the Christian Dior section, I suppose. I just had to speak up and ask the lady about her man.

“Excuse me, Ma’am,” I said. “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I saw you and your husband pass through here just a few moments ago.  If you don’t mind, can you tell me, does he play for the Houston Astros?

The lady smiled as though she seemed pleased I had asked.

“Well, he used to play for the Astros, but no more,” she told me. “His name is Wandy – Wandy Rodriguez.”

“Wandy Rodriguez?” I repeated with some excitement. “Well, please give him this old fan’s best wishes, and  good luck to both of you and your family in Pittsburgh!”

I didn’t recognize Wandy in street clothes, but maybe you can see a little of why I thought he may have been actor Luis Guzman before I did the age calculation on that improbability – and Mrs. Rodriguez came back and spared me from carrying this mystery to my bed pillow last night.

Gotta go now. It’s time to spend these waking hours celebrating her birthday with my wonderful and brave little sweetheart.

Have a nice weekend, everybody!

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.


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.



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



Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds



Game 2

Date / Box Score



Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds



Game 3

Date / Box Score



Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds



Game 4

Date / Box Score



Exposition Park III



Game 5

Date / Box Score



Exposition Park III



Game 6

Date / Box Score



Exposition Park III



Game 7

Date / Box Score



Exposition Park III



Game 8

Date / Box Score



Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds




1903 World Series
Game 1
Line Score / Box Score


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


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


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


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)


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


1903 World Series
Game 3
Line Score / Box Score


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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:


2) AUBURN (5-0)

3) BAYLOR (5-0)



6) NOTRE DAME (5-0)

7) ARIZONA (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)


16) GEORGIA (4-1)

17) NEBRASKA (5-1)

18) OHIO STATE (4-1)


20) KANSAS STATE (4-1)


22) MISSOURI (4-1)



25) MARSHALL (5-0)


And now – back to baseball!


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