1969. Time for the 9th annual Houston Baseball Dinner. And things have changed as they always do – as time goes by.
The dinner is still operating pretty much the same. Big names in baseball are still coming in to be honored by awards that continue to change in description from year to year. And the tickets price for a table seat at the then most famous hotel in Houston south of the downtown Rice, the Shamrock-Hilton, are still a fan friendly and affordable $12.40 each. Morris Frank is now the President of the local Baseball Writers Association of America Chapter and master of ceremonies for the dinner awards event, but one noticeable change now is a splintering f interest among out-of-Houston newspapers. Whereas, in the beginning, many national papers carried news of all the awards to be given by name and purpose, 1969 is different. Now papers are focusing on the one award or another that they feel is of interest to their readers and letting the rest go with a note that “six other awards” either will be, or have been, awarded, depending on the story date’s relativity to the January 31, 1969 dinner date.
After an extensive troll through our home digital news services, we were able to identify six of the seven awards made in 1969. The only one we could not find was the name of the Texas-born player who won the 1969 minor league player of the year nod that the Houston Chapter was starting to call the Jimmy Delmar Award. He’s out there somewhere, and in the immediately unavailable Houston news library files, for certain,; it’s simply not here now.
Here is our roll call on the major winners and big speakers at the 1969 Houston Baseball Dinner:
1) Marris Frank, Master of Ceremonies
2) Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell, delivered the keynote/entertainment speech on his new role in Congress in address called “The Mani in Washington.” It was the second straight year that Mizell had been called upon to bring some down-home wit and laughter to the Houston crowd.
3) Principal MLB team owner Judge Roy Hofheinz and Houston Astros Manager Harry Walker each spoke in attempts to rev up local fervor for the team’s chances in 1969.
4) Pete Rose was present to receive the Tris Speaker Award from Houston Post sports editor Mickey Herskowitz.
~ Baytown Sun, January 17, 1967, Page 11.
5) Lou Brock was in the house to receive the Johnny Keane Award.
~ Arizona Republic, January 22, 1969, Page 67.
6) Willie McCovey came this time to receive the Eddie Dyer Award, now described as the plaudit given to “baseball’s greatest slugger.”
~ Galveston Daily News, January 18, 1969, Page 5.
7) Mickey Lolich was rewarded for 1968 and his dominance of the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series with the Dickie Kerr Award.
~ Corpus Christi Times, January 13, 1969, Page 17.
8) Umpire Frank Seecory came to spend a civil evening with ballplayers as he awaited his receipt of the 1969 Bill Klem Award.
~ Cedar Rapids Gazette, January 23, 1969, Page 44.
9) Dennis Menke of the Astros received an award identified as the club’s “Most Valuable Player Award.” If they still called it the Jim Umbricht Award in 1969, the brand failed to carry forward to any of the numerous out-of-Houston Menke stories we discovered.
~ Abilene Reporter News, .January 26, 1969, Page 52.
10) And to whomever got lost in a history wall crack, but did win the 1969 Jimmy Delmar Award as the best Texas-born minor leaguer in 1968, we shall continue to search for your identity, even if we do not have it this morning.
Just a note from today’s search to all of today’s writers: Please write in whole thoughts, whenever possible. We do understand that most of you daily beat writers don’t write for history, but fifty years from now, some other poor research devils are going to be counting on what you can tell them about today’s history – and just as perplexed by what you don’t tell them. For example, if you are covering an awards banquet that is giving out seven awards, go ahead and identify them all with the names of each winner. You may think that no one cares to get the whole picture, but you would be wrong – even if took a half century to prove it.