Friday Lagniappe

September 12, 2014

“Lagniappe” is a word I learned during my graduate school and post-grad year of work on the clinical faculty at Tulane Medical School in New Orleans a half century ago. It is a French derivative and it roughly means “small gift” – to both the giver and the recipient. South Louisiana news writers mostly used their lagniappe as the gift of small news that was both educational and entertaining in a way that met their  own needs to fill column space on slow news days. This isn’t really a slow news day here at The Pecan Park Eagle for we don’t view ourselves anyway as the “EXTRA! EXTRA!” breaking news source for anyone. As a result, some readers prefer to see our subject material as trivial – and it more often than not – plainly is – trivia delivered in an answer-included form,

Indulge  or pass. – It’s always up to each of us to choose where we graze our eyes, minds, and appetites:


ast End Park near Clinton Drive may been the site of 4-game weekend series in June 1930 between the Houston Black Buffs and the Galveston Black Sand Crabs.

ast End Park near Clinton Drive may been the site of 4-game weekend series in June 1930 between the Houston Black Buffs and the Galveston Black Sand Crabs.

June 4, 1930: Black Sandcrabs Play Black Pelicans Today.

The Galveston Black Sandcrabs will open a two-game series this afternoon with the New Orleans Black Sandcrabs at 3:30 o’clock at School Park. Special seats will be reserved for white customers. *

Saturday they will open a four-game series at Houston with the Black Buffs,

~ Galveston Daily News, June 4, 1930, Page 9.

* Makes one wonder if those “special seats” for whites were down the far right field line where blacks were often forced to sit during the more common example of minority group segregation. We doubt it.

For more information on Negro League baseball in the Greater Houston-Galveston area during the long era of segregation, check out “Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-1961″ at Barnes & Noble, Brazos Bookstore in Houston, or Amazon.Com. If you have any interest in Texas baseball history at all, you will be most glad you did. Our SABR publication by the Houston Larry Dierker Chapter is also available through Chapter Chairman Bob Dorrill. To order from Bob Dorrill, call 281-361-7874 or e-mail him at





An early sluggish offense, no running game, not much blocking, terrible kicking, poor tackling, and sorry special teams play were tough obstacles to overcome last night at BYU, but UH finally found their suspenders and stopped falling down on the job. The trouble was – the wake up call near the end of the first half didn’t come until UH found themselves at the bottom of a desert hole that was 23 runs deep. That’s when two takeaways and a “Hail Mary” delivered on the last play of the first half brought the UH Cougars back to a mere 23-15 deficit going back to the clubhouse.

Old Man Mo died on UH in the 3rd quarter and they took a goose egg with them to the 4th quarter as BYU used a field goal in the 3rd quarter to stretch their lead going into the last chapter to 26-15. When the Utah home boys then settled behind QB Taysom Hill and produced a clock-eating TD to boost the lead for BYU up to 33-15, all seemed lost, but it wasn’t. Here came UH again, taking the ball away and executing an O’Korn to Greenberry TD pass that narrowed the gap to 33-22. Houston again then took the ball away on an interception that looked more like a “purse snatch and grab at the mall” deep in BYU territory, but then choosing not to go for it on a 4th and short near the red zone, UH elected instead to kick the field goal that brought them back to 33-25 with the clock working against them. UH got the ball one more time, but deep in their own territory. They couldn’t do anything with it in another “three and out” and BYU seized the opportunity from the UH punt to gratefully run out the game clock.

It was a loss for UH, but they never gave up – and they gave #25 BYU all they could handle. The UH Cougars will get better from here. All signs point to it. We believe.





We forgot to report that UH took care of our sight-line complaints last week prior to the Grambling game. Our two seats are now located in the spacious front single line only section of the upper deck.  There is nothing to obstruct our view now. No one is in front of us. No one is behind us. We have one single bench seat and one folding chair spot next to it – and we are sitting adjacent to our friend, Sam Quintero, who decided to buy into the same hind of situation adjacent to our seats, The exchange cost m nothing as my UH acted swiftly to make sure that we were happy with our new arrangement. And I very much am.

Thank you UH for being a first class family.





Sunset at TDECU Stadium on the UH campus feels to us like the beginning of good things to come – and not the end of the day to a life already spent. We embrace this hunger for hope today as fully, if not more so, than we possibly could have done 68 years ago, when we first saw this same sky, staring back over the west side of the old stadium wall that pointed its end zones north and south. I was an eight-year old kid in 1946, the year of UH’S first football season, and I was only there a couple of times because our Pecan Park neighborhood was fairly close to UH and my late dad apparently saw going to see the Cougars play their first game as something we could do together on a rare weekend he wasn’t working.

Thanks, Dad! I didn’t appreciate it so much back then, but I sure do now.


Have a nice weekend, everybody!


Fun with College Football Fables

September 11, 2014
The Irish are the most secure ethnic group in America. Change the name of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to Fighting Whatevers - and watch what happens over night on Twitter.!

The Irish are the most secure ethnic group in America. Change the name of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to Fighting Whatever Others – and watch what happens over night on Twitter!

Thank you, Pat Callahan (STHS 1956) for most of the contributions listed below. This was fun, even if we did have to add or change a few, including the addition of one that spoofs my own precious UH for the sake of balancing the ridicule-wheel. With things like the Ray Rice mess dominating the sports headlines this week and those crazy Isis idiots running wild in the Middle East, we could all use a heavy dose of humor for the fact that, as a wise old friend of mine used to express it, life is sometimes revealed to  us as a tragicomic cosmic joke. We just better hope that this apparent peculiarity doesn’t also turn out to be the bottom line!”

Better still – keep the faith in something bigger and better than this gray plain – in a world where our souls and spirits can soar out of the grainy black and white images of our early lives and far into the watercolor burst of the creative life that awaits each of us who dare to seek its vision – at any stage of the journey. Find a light laugh or loud guffaw along the way, wherever you can, whenever you are able. – Life’s too sweet to swing and miss – and then sit down – to never rise again.

Rise up. The beauty of life belongs to those who keep getting back up and reaching for it again.

Now let’s move on to some college football fun fables:


Ohio State’s Urban Meyer speaks on one of his players: “He doesn’t know the meaning of the word fear. In fact, I just saw his grades and he doesn’t know the meaning of a lot of words.”


Why do Tennessee fans wear orange? So they can dress that way for the game on Saturday, go hunting on Sunday, and pick up trash on Monday.


What does the average Alabama player get on his SATs? …. Drool.


How many Michigan freshmen football players does it take to change a light bulb? None …. That’s a sophomore course.


How did the Iowa football player die from drinking milk? The cow fell on him.


A University of Arizona football player was almost killed yesterday in a tragic horseback-riding accident. He fell from a horse and was nearly trampled to death. Luckily, the manager of the Wal-Mart came out and unplugged the horse.


What do you say to a University of Miami Hurricane football player dressed in a three-piece suit?  – “Will the defendant please rise.”


What is the most common excuse for academic failure among University of Houston football players? – “Every time I went to the library, all three of our books were checked out.”


If three Florida State football players are in the same car, who is driving? – The police officer.


How can you tell if an Auburn football player has a girlfriend? – There’s tobacco juice on both sides of the pickup truck.


What do you get when you put 32 Arkansas cheerleaders in one room? – A full set of teeth.


University of Michigan Coach Brady Hoke is only going to dress half of his players for the game this week. – The other half will have to dress themselves.


How is the Kansas State football team like an opossum? They play dead at home and get killed on the road.


How do you get a former Illinois football player off your porch? – Pay him for the pizza.


What are the longest three years of a Oklahoma University football player’s life? …. Freshman I, Freshman II, and Freshman III.


What is the first thing those 5 star recruits want to know when they arrive on the University of Texas campus as freshmen? – “Coach Strong, will the hot coed who brings my breakfast in bed each morning be the same girl that comes in the night to whisper in my ear that I’ve been selected as a Heisman finalist?”


How many Texas Aggie linebackers does it take to eat an armadillo? Answer: Two: – one to eat the armadillo – and one to watch for cars.


 What are the Rice Owl prospects for the 2014 football season? – Beyond those who reside at the tiny braniac college on South Main, who gives a hoot?


Have a great Thursday, folks – and “GO COUGARS! BEAT BYU on national TV tonight! … Pretty please! *


* The UH Cougars are a long shot tonight, but my loyalty is what it is. I can still hope against probability – even when the odds are stacked way, way against my Alma Mater. The only sure thing is that the Cougars will win tonight – since “Cougars” is the nickname for both BYU and UH.










The Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1

September 9, 2014
This Eddie Gaedel statue was unveiled at the Society's 2013 Third Annual Meeting at O'Doul's Irish Grille & Pub in Spokane WA on August 19. 2013.

This Eddie Gaedel statue was unveiled at the Society’s 2013 Third Annual Meeting at O’Doul’s Irish Grille & Pub in Spokane WA on August 19. 2013.

The plaque on the above featured statue reads as follows:



AUGUST 19, 2013





AUGUST 19, 2013

Like the little big man it honors, The Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1 sprang up like an overnight not-too-high ascending mushroom in the larger world of baseball joy back in 2011. One imaginative good fellow named Tom Keefe of Spokane, Washington was its founding father and he remains to this day in the to-the-edges-of-significance in baseball history, the organization’s only president.

We first heard from Tom Keefe last month, August 25, 2014, after he surfed his way onto our blog column archives at The Pecan Park Eagle and discovered “The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” that we wrote years ago and published here for the first time on April 24, 2010.

“I hope we can get the crowd to sing this at next year’s 5th annual meeting of the Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1 at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille and Pub here in Spokane (on August 19,2015),” Keefe wrote. “Eddie (Gaedel) deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame!” Well, even if you personally have some misgivings about any player going into the Hall of Fame whose only active history was one plate appearance and a four-ball walk, real blue-root baseball fans will hardly argue with O’Keefe’s passion for the idea of baseball honoring its smallest competitor of all time for his perfect record. Gaedel the batter never struck out, but how could he have done so? He never even saw a called or missed swinging strike. Our cultural angst among the purists, we humbly shall argue, is best summed up in these lines from our “The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel:”

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.

Today I find myself happily drafted as the first Texas delegate member of The Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1. As such, I have accepted and since received a lot of written information on the club, plus my very own membership tee shirt and card, compliments of President Tom Keefe.  In return, I will do what I am able here in Houston to spread awareness to others about the benefits of belonging to The Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one over-riding reason to belong to any baseball cause support group and that is this – Does belonging to the organization contribute to my joy in life in general and to my joyful memories of the sandlot days in particular? I don’t have time for anything that turns play into work – or joy into agony – but the Gaedel Movement sounds like nothing  shy of adventure.

And to me, Tom Keefe and his Gaedelians sound like fun. – Let the recess from all strife begin – and let it last forever, whether I can get to O’Doherty’s next August 19th – or not – and I hope I can make it. Whether I do, or not, please accept my hope and best wishes for a group singing of “The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” by The Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1 next August 19th – or at any other time the group convenes to lift a few and toast the man. Also, let me know if you need any coaching on matching the lyrics with the melody.

For more information on the Eddie Gaedel Society and get in touch with President Tom Keefe. You will find Keefe’s contact info at the website.

BOOK SIGNING TONIGHT! Have a nice Tuesday, everybody – and if you are in Houston tonight, drop by the Brazos Bookstore on Bissonett at 7:00 PM. Mike Vance, Bob Dorrill, and I will be there to discuss and sign sold copies of our new book, “Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-1961.”






Teddy’s Amazing Last Day ’41 Run at Clear .400

September 8, 2014
No batter has hit .400 or better since Ted Williams did it in 1941 - and that was 73 years ago.

No batter has hit .400 or better since Ted Williams did it in 1941 – and that was 73 years ago.

There has never been any doubt in my mind as a fan from childhood. Ted Williams’ last day assault upon a clearly above and beyond .400 average in 1941 was the cockiest, most confident, amazing display of personal belief in his own huge talent that any ballplayer ever has, before or since, displayed on a single day in baseball history.

Starting with the fact that he didn’t have to do it. Going into the last day of scheduled games on September 28, 1941, Williams was already at the mathematical equivalent of .400 with 179 hits in 448 official times at bat. Those numbers yield a five-digit figure of .39955 – and those round clearly into the traditional three-digit batting average of .400 by all the rules that govern approximated consequences in digitally averaged terms.

Teddy could have stayed in the dugout on the last day of the 1941 season and had his technical .400 batting average for the season that way. The problem for Teddy Ballgame – and many others of us, as well – would have been Williams living forever with the fact that – if you take the numbers out to five spaces – the “4” at the start of that string fades messily away into a “.3″ – followed by “9955” – and who wants that as the prize?

Ted also understood on some clear to visceral level, even at the youthful age of 23 years, that he would have to listen to the question in his mind and certainly too in the cacophony of requests from mindless baseball writers from there to eternity about why he didn’t take his chances for nailing down a final average on the last day by playing and getting enough hits that elevated his season record clearly beyond the .400 level.

A lot of us would have felt the same way, but how many of us would have had the faith in our abilities to succeed in that pursuit by risking all on the last day?

Remember too – the Boston Red Sox were scheduled to play a doubleheader with the Athletics at Philadelphia on the last day, September 28, 1941 and the club was in second place in the AL, but way out the pennant race on the way to a 17-game finish behind the champion New York Yankees. The two games left were simply a run-on-the-table of scheduled business and Sox manager Joe Cronin was leaving the decision all up to Williams on what to do.

Sit them both out. Pay one. Play two. – “Mr. Williams, it’s all up to you” seemed to be the manager’s stance. Cronin too seemed to recognize that the decision was larger than his normal managerial authority. Had the Sox been tied with the Yankees going into this last day DH, of course, it would have been a totally different matter and Williams would have played for the good of the team with no melodrama at play about his own personal goals.

As most of you know, Ted Williams played both games and almost literally tore the cover off the ball. In Game One, Williams went 4 for 5 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI, plus a 5th inning HR off the right-handed A’s starters, Dick Fowler, It was Ted’s 37th and league leading homer of the 1941 American League season.

Williams pushed over the .400 line good and hard in Game One alone. His 4 for 5 moved his season totals up to 183 hits in 453 official times at bat for a .404 (.40397) season batting average. No need for Ted to play the second game. He had his over-the-“.4″-top mathematical batting average then – with no need to play the second and final game. Besides, the Red Sox beat the Athletics in Game One by 12-11, What was the point of Williams taking any further risk?

None, but Williams played Game Two, anyway. His motor was running and he apparently knew that he was in that zone that he found more often than most hitters ever do, even for brief moments. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that the hitting groove in which Ted Williams mostly lived was more of a station that most hitters only find by aberration, if at all. His all out assault on .400 was about the expression of his lifelong wish, even if it never became inarguable – “to be remembered as the greatest hitter that ever lived.

In Game Two, A’s right-handed starter Fred Caligiuri shut down the Red Sox, 7-1, but Ted Williams still touched him up for a 2 for 3 result that included his 33rd double of the season. Those game stats pushed Ted’s final season batting average up to the .406 (.40570) that are as synonymous to Ted Williams as  the “56”  is to Joe DiMaggio and “60” is to Babe Ruth for different, but related reasons.

Baseball history certainly isn’t about always remembering the major achievements of  the big stars, but neither is forgetting them a good idea. Back in less media prolific times, those of us who grew up in the far away from the big leagues hinterland sandlots of the game got our first taste of these early baseball heroes from books and a sadly now missing national baseball paper known as The Sporting News. Now it’s becoming a real possibility that we may soon have a book or, at least, a written profile on every legionnaire who’s ever played the game. And that’s good, but so was the amazing story of that last two games of the 1941 season in Philly.


Baseball Almanac Box ScoresBoston Red Sox 12, Philadelphia Athletics 11
Boston Red Sox ab   r   h rbi
DiMaggio cf 5 1 3 0
Finney rf 4 1 0 0
Flair 1b 5 2 1 2
Williams lf 5 2 4 2
Tabor 3b 4 2 2 1
Doerr 2b 5 3 2 3
Newsome S. ss 3 0 1 1
  Foxx ph 0 1 0 0
  Carey ss 0 0 0 0
Pytlak c 4 0 1 1
Newsome D. p 2 0 1 0
  Wagner p 3 0 1 2
Totals 40 12 16 12
Philadelphia Athletics ab   r   h rbi
Collins rf 5 2 2 1
Valo lf 5 3 2 1
Richmond 3b 5 2 3 2
Johnson 1b 4 1 2 2
Chapman cf 5 0 2 1
Davis 2b 4 1 1 1
Suder ss 5 1 2 0
Hayes c 3 0 0 0
Fowler p 2 0 0 0
  Miles ph 1 1 1 1
  Vaughan p 1 0 0 0
  Shirley p 0 0 0 0
  McCoy ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 41 11 15 9
Boston 0 0 0 0 3 1 6 0 2 12 16 3
Philadelphia 0 0 2 0 9 0 0 0 0 11 15 3
  Boston Red Sox IP H R ER BB SO
Newsome 4.2 13 11 11 3 5
  Wagner  W(12-8) 4.1 2 0 0 2 0
  Philadelphia Athletics IP H R ER BB SO
Fowler 5.0 8 3 3 0 0
  Vaughan 1.2 5 7 6 3 0
  Shirley  L(0-1) 2.1 3 2 0 2 0

E–DiMaggio (14), Finney (14), Tabor (30), Davis 2 (7), Suder (21).  DP–Philadelphia 4. Suder-B. Johnson, Richmond-Davis-B. Johnson, Richmond-Davis-B. Johnson, Davis-Suder-B. Johnson.  2B–Boston Tabor (29), Philadelphia B. Johnson (30).  3B–Boston Flair (1); Doerr (4), Philadelphia Valo (1); Richmond (1).  HR–Boston Williams (37,5th inning off Fowler 0 on); Tabor (16,5th inning off Fowler 0 on).  SH–S. Newsome (13); Davis (3).  Team LOB–7.  Team–9.  U–Bill McGowan, John Quinn, Bill Grieve.

Baseball Almanac Box Score | Printer Friendly Box Scores

Baseball Almanac Box Scores

Boston Red Sox 1, Philadelphia Athletics 7

Boston Red Sox ab   r   h rbi
DiMaggio cf 4 0 1 0
Finney rf 2 0 0 0
  Fox rf 2 0 1 0
Flair 1b 4 0 0 0
Williams lf 3 0 2 0
Tabor 3b 3 0 0 0
Carey 2b 3 0 1 0
Newsome ss 3 0 0 0
Peacock c 2 0 0 0
  Pytlak c 1 1 1 1
Grove p 0 0 0 0
  Johnson p 2 0 0 0
Totals 29 1 6 1
Philadelphia Athletics ab   r   h rbi
Valo lf 3 1 1 0
Mackiewicz cf 4 1 1 0
Miles rf 4 1 2 1
Davis 1b 3 1 0 0
McCoy 2b 3 1 2 0
Brancato 3b 4 0 2 2
Suder ss 3 1 1 0
Wagner c 4 1 2 2
Caligiuri p 4 0 0 0
Totals 32 7 11 5
Boston 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 1
Philadelphia 3 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 7 11 0
  Boston Red Sox IP H R ER BB SO
Grove  L(7-7) 1.0 4 3 3 0 0
  Johnson 7.0 7 4 4 4 1
  Philadelphia Athletics IP H R ER BB SO
Caligiuri  W(2-2) 8.0 6 1 1 1 1

E–DiMaggio (15).  DP–Boston 2. Tabor-Carey-Flair, Philadelphia 1. McCoy-Suder-Davis.  2B–Boston Williams (33).  3B–Philadelphia Mackiewicz (1); Suder (9).  HR–Boston Pytlak (2,8th inning off Caligiuri 0 on), Philadelphia Wagner (1,2nd inning off Johnson 0 on).  Team LOB–5.  Team–5.  CS–Brancato (5).  U–John Quinn, Bill Grieve, Bill McGowan.

Baseball Almanac Box Score | Printer Friendly Box Scores

1992: Houston Dinner Picks Bagwell as MVP

September 7, 2014
Located at the corner of Kirby Drive and 610 South, the Sheraton-Astrodome Hotel was originally built by Judge Roy Hofheinz as the Astroworld Hotel.

Located at the corner of Kirby Drive and 610 South, the Sheraton-Astrodome Hotel was originally built by Judge Roy Hofheinz as the Astroworld Hotel.

The 1992 Houston Baseball Dinner picked up again on February 11, 1992 at the Sheraton-Astrodome Hotel, the former Astroworld Hotel that had been built just down Kirby Drive from the Eight Wonder in the early glory days of and by Judge Roy Hofheinz. The annual baseball dinner was again sponsored by the Astro Orbiters Booster Club, the Houston Chapter of the BBWAA, and the Houston Sports Association. John Kelley served as Dinner Chairman of the Awards function and Astros broadcaster Milo Hamilton, a 1992 winner of Cooperstown Ford Frick Award for broadcasters was on hand to liven things up as Master of Ceremonies,

Milo Hamilton again served as the HBD Master of Ceremonies in 1992.

Milo Hamilton again served as the HBD Master of Ceremonies in 1992.

In pictures and words, here is a visual parade of how the evening honored several presumably deserving awards recipients over the course of the night:

1991 rookie Jeff Bagwell was chosen as the Astros' 1992 Dinner MVP based upon his 1991 first season record of a .294 BA and 15 HR.

1991 rookie Jeff Bagwell was chosen as the Astros’ 1992 Dinner MVP based upon his 1991 first season record of a .294 BA and 15 HR.

Chuck Knoblauch of Bellaire, Texas was chosen as the outstanding MLB Player from the Houston area. Chuck hit .281 as a rookie for the Minnesota Twins in 1991.

Chuck Knoblauch of Bellaire, Texas was chosen as the outstanding MLB Player from the Houston area. Chuck hit .281 as a rookie for the Minnesota Twins in 1991.

Long-time baseball writer Clark Nealon was recognized by the HBD in 1992 for his long and meritorious service to the game in Houston.

Long-time baseball writer Clark Nealon was recognized by the HBD in 1992 for his long and meritorious service to the game in Houston.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Greg Swindell was celebrated as the AL Consort Pitcher of the Year for 1991.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Greg Swindell was celebrated as the AL Consort Pitcher of the Year for 1991.

Houston's Mr. Versatile and Clutch, Casey Candaele, was given the "Mr. Hustle" award for 1992.

Houston’s Mr. Versatile and Clutch, Casey Candaele, was given the “Mr. Hustle” award for 1992.

Future manager of the club's 2005 and only World Series team, Phil Garner was recognized at the 1992 dinner with the Astros Orbiter Award.

Future manager of the club’s 2005 and only World Series team, Phil Garner was recognized at the 1992 dinner with the Astros Orbiter Award.

and, last, but not least …

Jose Cruz, Jr. of Bellaire, an oufielder like his father, was introduced as amember of the pre-season HAC Pre-Season High School All Stars.

Jose Cruz, Jr. of Bellaire, an outfielder like his father, was introduced as a member of the pre-season HAC Pre-Season High School All Stars.

The 1992 dinner program notes that two of our friends and stalwart SABR members, Bill Gilbert and Larry Miggins, were both table sponsors at the 1992 Houston Baseball Dinner.

Special thanks again to Bill Gilbert for supplying us with information we needed to create this next succession in the history of the Houston Baseball Dinners through 1992. We shal next cover the 1993 dinner when that information also becomes available.

Have a peaceful Sunday, everybody.




Babe Ruth’s MLB HR Titles By Year

September 6, 2014
The Sultan of Swat

The Sultan of Swat


1914: Gavvy Cravath, Phillies – 19

1915: Gavvy Cravath, Phillies – 24

1916: Wally Pipp, Yankess; Cy Williams, Phillies; and Dave Robertson, Giants – 12 each

1917: Gavvy Cravath, Phillies and Dave Robertson, Giants – 12 each

1918: Babe Ruth, Red Sox and Tilly Walker, Athletics, 11 each

1919: Babe Ruth, Red Sox – 29

1920: Babe Ruth, Yankees – 54

1921: Babe Ruth, Yankees – 59

1922: Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals – 42

1923: Babe Ruth, Yankees and Cy Williams, Phillies – 41 each

1924: Babe Ruth, Yankees – 46

1925: Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals – 39

1926: Babe Ruth, Yankees – 47

1927: Babe Ruth, Yankees – 60

1928: Babe Ruth, Yankees – 54

1929: Babe Ruth, Yankees – 46

1930: Hack Wilson, Cubs – 56

1931: Babe Ruth, Yankees and Lou Gehrig, Yankees – 46 each

1932: Jimmie Foxx, Athletics – 58

1933: Jimmie Foxx, Athletics – 48

1934: Lou Gehrig, Yankees – 49

1935: Hank Greenberg, Tigers and Jimmie Foxx, Athletics – 36

The Home Run King reign of Babe Ruth began simply enough. He started out as a partial season call-up pitcher in 1914 by the Boston Red Sox during an era in which few players collected double digit totals as home run hitters – least of all pitchers – and. among pitchers, least of all were those who got called up for four game appearances as pitchers. Babe Ruth’s power as a hitter during his six years with the Red Sox (1914-1919) pushed him more and more into the everyday lineup as an outfielder because of his hitting. By 1918, Ruth had taken his first shared season HR title for the most HR in the season and by 1919, he hit those MLB-leading 29 total that fired the imaginations of all about his even greater power possibilities. It was enough to provoke his infamous sale to the New York Yankees and germinate the seeds of a championship drought in Boston that would come to be known as “The Cure of the Bambino.”

Ruth would go on to win or tie for the major league HR season leadership title in nine of the fifteen years (1920-34) he played for the years. 1935 was his too little, too late swan song partial season with the Boston Braves. Of course, he won no titles in that short time on the roster, but he did have that unforgettable late active duty game against the Pirates in which he blasted three mighty home runs at Forbes Field as one last majestic reminder of his contribution to baseball’s survival of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.

Like so many others among us fans, Babe Ruth has always been my favorite baseball player of all time. The only thing that kept him from his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest pitchers of all time was the great – no, not just great – but his peerless hitting for power and average. His explosiveness forced him into action as an everyday player who spent the better time of his 22-season MLB career bashing the best offerings of some of his former rival mound rivals – and all the younger ones who came up after them once the Babe roared into the 1920s as baseball’s first really true and dangerous slugger.

1922 was a quirky year in Ruth’s career in the sense that it was one of those rare times that the babe lost both the MLB and AL home run titles to others. As noted in the chart, Rogers Hornsby of the Cardinals had his breakout year by leading the big leagues with 42 homers, and Ken Williams of the Browns beat him out for AL HR title by a tally of 39 to 35.

By winning the 1922 AL HR title, Ken Williams help set up a recent Twitter comparison between the 1922 St. Louis Browns and a within-the-grasp possible matching accomplishment by the 2014 Houston Astros.

In 1922, left fielder Ken Williams of the Browns won the American League home run title with 39 and Hall of Fame first baseman George Sisler led the league in hitting (.420), most hits (246) and most stolen bases (51). The 2014 Astros can become only the next AL team to complete that same leadership parlay if left Fielder Chris Carter wins the league HR title and second baseman Jose Altuve holds on to his leads for the highest league batting average, most total hits, and most stolen bases.

Here’s the reference link we received from Darrell Pittman of Astros Daily on the  possibility of this accomplishment:

We shall see. And soon.

Meanwhile, back to the central thought behind this whole column. – Before him, here never existed a player on the MLB scene like Babe Ruth. Once he left, no other player has since come along who could wear his shoes and accomplish what he did – sometimes – or maybe all the time – in spite of himself.  The Babe was one of a kind – and baseball should be forever grateful that he came along, especially, when he did.

Thanks again also to both Baseball Reference and Baseball Almanac for being our constant fact-checking support system on articles of this nature.

Have a nice weekend, everybody!





Bob “The Other” Allen Comments on Bo Porter

September 5, 2014


Welcome, Bob Allen!

The problem is – you are not the same Bob Allen that either the readers or  I, the publisher, truly expected. You are Bob Allen, “The Other” – your own self-description in the e-mail I just received – along with with your apology  for the misunderstanding. Here’s what you, “the other” Bob Allen, today’s columnist, had to say:


          “My bad. I am not the Bob Allen from Channel 11. I am the Bob Allen from SportsMediaInk. This has happened many times in the past, so don’t feel guilty. The Dynamo crossed our credentials several years ago, and the Astrodome people also mixed us up. Bob and I have known each others for many, many years and this has always been a situation that we have both laughed at. I didn’t send the picture because I didn’t have one on the computer. I will get one to you ASAP. So sorry for the confusion. You aren’t the first, and you won’t be the last.
          “The other”
          Wow! I was going to convey these remarks privately to “The Other” Bob Allen, but have decided that they need to be said publicly to the more famous Bob Allen and all our Pecan Park Eagle Readers for falling into the error of assuming a truth that never existed, but one that you, Mr. Bob “The Other” Allen, could have prevented, given the  long history of your mistaken identification you have acknowledged tonight, An earlier plain and simple “by the way, I’m not the Bob Allen from Channel 11 you probably think I am. Do we still have something to talk about, Bill?” would have worked just fine. That would seem to have been a good way to have avoided this incident and all future misunderstandings with other trusting souls. Let me be the last to suffer the cutting edge of a real life sit com plot.
          That being said, some bells don’t ring, even though I forgive you, if not yet myself, but the answer here is as clear as the punchline advice you offer to Jeff Luhnow in your article: You have to warn people upfront who have never seen you. “Do it once, shame on me. Do it twice, shame on you.” If this thing has been going on for years and you are still celebrating how funny it is, it kind of puts the damper on your credibility for giving advice along those same lines without taking it yourself. Don’t you think?
          Your article was well written, but does not reflect the views of The Eagle. It’s still capable of standing on its own stated point of view. Around here, we never ask writers to only write pieces that speak for us, or match our own points of view, but when it comes to the “mistaken identity” vulnerability, it seems to me that you owe it to both the well-known Bob Allen, yourself, your business hosts, and the readers to make it very clear with each piece from the start as to who you are – and who you are not.  Either that – or adopt a pen name.
          I’m not angry, Bob the Other. I’m just embarrassed and frustrated that we could not have avoided this misunderstanding from the git-go. I would have still run your article had I learned your true identity.
          My apologies to Bob Allen of Channel 11 and to all our readers for this very avoidable publication error.

          If you’ve lost faith in us, we don’t blame you, but go easy, if possible. We try. We just make mistakes sometimes..

          Sincerely, Bill McCurdy, Publisher and Editor, The Pecan Park Eagle




Bob Allen—SportsMediaInk

Some said it came as a surprise. But those who frequent the media cafeteria and press box knew better. There were rumors. There was talk. There was speculation. And it all pointed to a change in leadership for the Houston Astros, at one level or another.

As recently as Sunday, before the last game of the Texas Rangers series, one media person was overheard to say that, “Porter is going to be gone. It isn’t a question of whether, just when.”

18 hours later, at about 10:30 AM, Labor Day Monday, the announcement was made.

Bo Porter, the man owner Jim Crane said would lead the Astros to the playoffs and beyond, was fired. Fired with little ceremony. Just fired. He had been Astros’ manager since the start of the 2013 season after working for the Washington Nationals as third-base coach.

Not only that, but the man who had shared coaching duties alongside Porter for the first 300 games of the New Era, bench coach Dave Trembley, was also relieved of his duties with the team.

The new victim, or manager, depending on how you look at it, will be Tom Lawless, a 35- year veteran of the game as a Major League player, Minor League manager and coach. Lawless served the manager at Triple-A Oklahoma City earlier this season while Tony DeFrancesco was on medical leave. Until yesterday morning, Lawless was serving as a roving infield instructor.

Trembley will be replaced by Adam Everett, who spent parts of 11 seasons in the Majors as a shortstop, including seven with the Astros (2001-07). Everett rejoined the organization last season as a Minor League infield instructor.

“Bo’s passion and energy are unparalleled, and his desire to win unquestioned,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said in his announcement of the firing. “This decision was not made because of our current level of competitiveness in the Major Leagues. I recognize that our win-loss record is largely a product of an organizational strategy for which I am responsible. Rather, I made this decision because I believe we need a new direction in our clubhouse….We wish Bo and his family well, and feel he will be successful in future endeavors.”

That’s how these things are usually put. “Thanks, but, no thanks.”

Actually, few around Minute Maid Park, perhaps including Porter himself, really felt that he could or would last the long haul. And when rumors hit the papers last week that there were differences between Luhnow’s ideas and Porter’s strategies, the writing was on the wall. The only question was, were the rumors due to someone telling someone else something? Or did they stem from one of those Washington, D.C. style “leaks?” Whether or not the idea was planted or just slipped out, it amounted to a death knell for Porter.

In fairness to Luhnow, there were many who disapproved of Porter’s managerial style, particularly his undying reliance on the infield shift and the “lefty-lefty, righty-righty” use of his bullpen, a style that extended games to ridiculous lengths time-wise, and wore out pitchers before mid-season. But management knew what to expect when they hired him, so they needn’t go there.

The front office also has traded away many of the “prospects” they once bragged so loudly about. And for what? More prospects. When do they quit being prospects and start being Major League players?

Porter never had a real Big League team with Big League talent. And he wasn’t going to get one any time soon. Neither will the new manager.

The fact is that the problems with this team lie not in the manager, but with management. Right now, the Astros are the laughing stock in baseball. They have traded away significant talent, they seem to have no real direction, have spent no money, coaxed young players into signing long-term, low-paying agreements in return for a trip to The Show.

Also, their claim that the young players who have joined the team are an example of the progress the franchise has made is a totally false statement. In truth, the Jon Singletons and George Springers, are not products of Luhnow’s efforts, they are his inheritance from the previous ownership. Remember, Luhnow failed to get the team’s number one draft pick (and others) under contract.

And now they want to raise ticket prices?

Even the hiring of Porter was like a suit that never fit, not from his introduction to the team, to Opening Day last season, to Sunday after the Astros downed the Rangers 3-2 for their 59th win of the current campaign, eight more than in all of 2013. And they still have a month left.

So, this obviously wasn’t about wins and losses. It was about respect. The fact that there were differences between Porter and Luhnow simply meant that the GM didn’t like the way the skipper was running the team, either in the dugout or the clubhouse, where Porter was more of a high school Rah-Rah guy than Luhnow could be comfortable with. He deemed it unprofessional.

Thus, Luhnow, being of the higher rank, exercised his authority. Thus, Porter was canned.

The big fish eats the little fish.

Crane issued a statement the claimed, “This was not an easy decision to make. We wish Bo nothing but the best in the future. Jeff has my full support moving forward. Our goal to bring a championship to Houston remains.”

Since the Astros’ search for a new manager is to begin immediately, one is prompted to ask, “Who would be foolish enough to take this job?” Even great, Hall of Fame managers like Joe Torre, Billy Martin, Walt Alston and Casey Stengel got fired. And they all had great teams to manage. What poor guy would want to come to Houston knowing full well that his time would be in the hands of Jeff Luhnow and Jim Crane?

It seems a legitimate question since, later in the day, Luhnow indicated that the new manager would likely come from the original list of candidates in place when Porter was chosen. That means that all of those second, third, fourth, etc. choices must still be available. If no one else has hired them over the last two years, what does it say about them?

It probably says that they, too, will be small fish to be gobbled up at the whim of management.

Just remember, Mr. Luhnow, there is one who also outranks you. You picked the wrong guy once. If you do it again, you will probably be the next in the unemployment line.

Fool Jim Crane once, shame on you. Fool him twice, you’re fired.

Worst Three Losses in Houston Sports History

September 4, 2014
April 4, 1983: Lorenzo Charles dunks the winning basket for NC State in their 52-50 victory over Houston in the NCAA final game at Albuquerque.- Coach Valvano launches into insanity run as the face of shock in celebration.

April 4, 1983: Lorenzo Charles dunks the winning basket for NC State in their 52-50 victory over Houston in the NCAA final game at Albuquerque.- Coach Valvano launches into his insanity run as the face of shock finally yields to celebration.

Sometimes the pain of a loss stems from the sport you care about. Sometimes it shoots up from the pain of your emotional connection to the team that just lost. Sometimes the pain electrifies the nervous system like sciatica from the way a game was lost. Other times, the pain drops you to the floor from the nanosecond flashback memory of what was moments ago at stake and up from grabs, but now is lost forever. Most of the time, most probably, its a painful poisonous cocktail that includes a generous dash of all these ingredients – and then some. If you’ve ever struck out with two away and the bases loaded and victory or defeat hanging in the balance in the bottom of the ninth, with your dad and favorite uncle watching, you will know what I mean when I write of this excruciating pain.

Along this dismal line, I always come up with the same three picks whenever I start to review my choices for the three most painful losses in Houston sports history. Realizing, too, that we all have our own least favorite memories in this regard, the “Big Three” for me are spread out, one each, for baseball, basketball, and football. Here they are in chronological order:

1) Sunday, October 12, 1980, The Astrodome, Houston, Texas, Baseball: The Philadelphia Phillies defeat the Houston Astros, 8-7, in ten innings of the Game Five finale of the 1980 NLCS to take the National League pennant and go on from there to defeat the Kansas City Royals to win their first World Championship and first appearance in the big annual Series since 1915. – The Astros had a 5-2 lead going into the top of the 8th inning with Nolan Ryan pitching, but let it all slip away when the Phillies pecked in 5 runs in the 8th and then won in the 10th. – It still hurts to write about it. If you need more turning point down slide details, please feel free to look them up for yourselves.

2) Monday, April 4, 1983, University Arena, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Basketball: North Carolina State scores on the last shot of the game to defeat the heavily favored Houston Cougars and the Phi Slamma Jama fraternity of Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler for the NCAA Division-1 collegiate basketball championship of 1983. For more information, check out this distant past column from the archives of the Pecan Park Eagle:

3) Sunday, January 3, 1993, Rich Stadium, Buffalo, New York, Football: This was the NFL Playoff game that saw the Houston Oilers and QB Warren Moon grab a 35-3 lead in the 4th quarter, only to do a sudden steep cliff free-fall at that point that allowed the home team Buffalo Bills to out-score them by the same one-sided 35-3 margin the rest of the way for 38-38 tie at the end of regulation play. The seal to the frustration of the Oilers may have been that the greatest comeback in NFL history had been engineered by back-up QB Frank Reich, who was playing in the absence of injured starter Jim Kelly. With Madam Mo firmly entrenched on the bench of the Bills, the Oilers then lost in OT on a sudden death field goal, 41-38. – Almost 21 years later, I still refuse to totally wrap my mind around the fact that this game actually happened.

At any rate, those are my Big 3 picks in this category of Houston’s worst sports disasters. – How do my picks fit with your choices?


Bill Gilbert: Astros Win; Manager Loses.

September 3, 2014
Bill Gilbert's August 2014 Report on the Houston Astros Baseball Season.

Bill Gilbert’s August 2014 Report on the Houston Astros Baseball Season.

Astros Fire Manager after Posting Winning Month in August

By Bill Gilbert

(Bill Gilbert is a regular monthly reporter for The Pecan Park Eagle during the Houston Astros baseball season and an occasional commentator here in columns about all things baseball. As the former Chair of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR and a still current member of the same organization’s Rogers Hornbby Chapter in the Austin area, The Eagle is happy to publish his always well-considered independent reports and commentary..-Editor)

In the final game in August, the Houston Astros rallied for 2 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Texas Rangers, 3-2 to post a record of 15-14 for the month, matching their previous best month in May. The next day, Manager Bo Porter was fired by General Manager, Jeff Luhnow, and replaced by minor league instructor, Tom Lawless.

The Astros have a record of 59-79 with one month remaining and have already exceeded their win totals in each of the last three years. They are on pace to finish with a record of 69-93, an 18 game improvement over 2013.

The Astros played the entire month without outfielders George Springer and Alex Pressley who were on the disabled list. Meanwhile, outfielder J.D. Martinez, released by Luhnow without getting anything in return, is hitting .307 with 18 home runs for Detroit. Picking up the slack were Jose Altuve with a batting average of .325 and 7 stolen bases in August and Chris Carter with 12 home runs. The team scored an average of 4.21 runs per game in August while allowing 4.00. For the season, they have scored 3.96 runs per game while allowing 4.63.

Altuve enters the final month of the season leading the American League in batting average, hits and stolen bases. Carter has 33 home runs and is challenging for the league lead held by Nelson Cruz with 36.

The pitching also improved in August. Three of the five starting pitchers had excellent months. Collin McHugh was 3-0 with an ERA of 1.91, Scott Feldman was 4-2, 3.32 and Dallas Keuchel was 0-2, 3.21 but the Astros were victorious in 3 of his starts. Chad Qualls picked up 5 saves in 6 opportunities. Highly touted prospect, Mike Foltynewicz, made his major league debut in August with 9 relief appearances and flashed some 100 mph fastballs reminiscent of Billy Wagner.

The Astros continued their success against the Texas Rangers taking 5 of 7 games in August to retake the Silver Boot for the first time since 2006 with a record of 16-10. Another highlight was a tough 10-game road trip to play the Red Sox, Yankees and Indians. The Astros won 5 games on the trip including 2 out of 3 at Yankee Stadium.

The minor leagues finished the regular season on Labor Day with only 2 of the 7 Astro domestic farm teams entering the playoffs. The two top farm clubs, AAA Oklahoma City and AA Corpus Christi failed to make the playoffs


1941: DiMag Stopped, But Elmer Riddle Wins

September 2, 2014
The Yankee Clipper signs for fans. From May 25 through July 16 in 1941, Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 straight games at a .406 pace to establish a record, as most of you know, that still stands today.

The Yankee Clipper signs for fans. From May 15 through July 16 in 1941, Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 straight games at a .406 pace to establish a record, as most of you know, that still stands today.

DiMag Stopped, But Elmer Riddle Wins


Smith, Bagby Snap  String at 56



By Charles P. McMahon

Cleveland O., July 18 (1941) (UP) – Three men stopped the great Joe DiMaggio last night in the presence of 67,468 persons conscious of being on-lookers while history was made.

The gangling youth with the long nose and snapping eyes was in the course of compiling of of baseball’s most remarkable records. He had hit safely in 56 consecutive games, surpassing a record so good it had stood for 44 years.

Wee Willie Keeler, its compiler, had hit safely in 43 (years later corrected to 44) games. But Ty Cobb, George Sisler, Tris Speaker, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig – all in that succession of immortals that came after – hadn’t been able to touch his record until DiMaggio came along.

Out for 57th

Now, under the harsh white lights bathing the playing field at Cleveland stadium, he was out to hit in his 57th game and most of the thousands in the stands where there to watch  him do it, believing that no could stop him, certainly not the  aging pitcher who had never amounted to much anyway, the Cleveland Indians had put on the mound against his New York Yankees.

But pitcher Al Smith had confidence in himself. This David pitted against Goliath had been a National League cast-off only two years ago and his entire career had been one of half successes mingled with failures. Tonight he had been given the chance of  stopping the hitter that no other pitcher in the American League, including his teammate, Bobby Feller, had been able to stop.

“Robbed” by Keltner

First inning, DiMaggio up. A fast ball, high and outside. DiMaggio let it go for a ball. Then a curve, breaking low over the outside corner. The superb supple body of DiMaggio swung, bat met ball with solid  impact,and the ball hurtled into the infield at such a velocity that it was a blurred streak to the onlookers. The crowd’s roar was cut short, for Third Baseman Ken Keltner stabbed it backhanded and flung it to first. He was the first of the three men who were to stop DiMaggio.

Fourth inning, DiMaggio up. A fast ball, low and outside. Ball one. A fast ball over the outside corner. DiMaggio let it go by and the umpire cried, “Strike!” A few boos from the stands. A curve, breaking inside. Ball two. A fast ball, outside. Ball three. A curve, breaking over the outside corner. DiMaggio took a terrific swing, missed, and the crowd roared. Strike two. A fastball. He swung, fouled. Old Al Smith was trying hard. His next, a curve, broke inside, and DiMaggio walked.

Hits to Keltner again

Seventh inning, DiMaggio up. The first pitch was a waist high curve and DiMaggio whacked it to Keltner who threw him out.

The other Yanks fell on Smith in the next inning and he was taken out, but  he was the second of the three (Indians) who stopped DiMaggio.

Eighth inning, DiMaggio up. Out there on the mound was Jim Bagby, Jr., son of the great pitcher who pitched Cleveland to a pennant in 1920, a tall youth who had never been any great shakes. He had put three men on base and here he was pitching to the great DiMaggio with the bases loaded.

Fastball, outside. Ball one. Fastball, inside. DiMaggio fouled it. A curve, breaking wide. Ball two. A fastball and DiMaggio swung. It was a pathetically weak grounder which Shortstop Boudreau grabbed and snapped to the second baseman, starting a double play.

Takes it good naturedly

He (Bagby) was the third of the three (Indians) who stopped DiMaggio.

The Yankees won the ball game, nevertheless, 4 to 3.

DiMaggio took it in good grace.

“The streak doesn’t mean a thing,” he said. “That seven game lead we took over the Indians means more.But that Keltner certainly robbed me of one hit. That boy can field them.

“I do feel relieved, however, now that it’s all over.”

“I admit that I’ve been under a strain, even after the records were broken. But that’s gone now. And I’ll be out there now, still trying to get my base hits to win games. That’s all that has counted, anyway.”


~ Charles P. McMahon, United Press, Moorhead (MN) Daily News, July 18, 1941, Page 5.


Baseball Almanac Box ScoresNew York Yankees 4, Cleveland Indians 3
New York Yankees ab   r   h rbi
Sturm 1b 4 0 1 0
Rolfe 3b 4 1 2 1
Henrich rf 3 0 1 1
DiMaggio cf 3 0 0 0
Gordon 2b 4 1 2 1
Rosar c 4 0 0 0
Keller lf 3 1 1 0
Rizzuto ss 4 0 0 0
Gomez p 4 1 1 1
  Murphy p 0 0 0 0
Totals 33 4 8 4
Cleveland Indians ab   r   h rbi
Weatherly cf 5 0 1 0
Keltner 3b 3 0 1 0
Boudreau ss 3 0 0 0
Heath rf 4 0 0 0
Walker lf 3 2 2 1
Grimes 1b 3 1 1 0
Mack 2b 3 0 0 0
  Rosenthal ph 1 0 1 2
Hemsley c 3 0 1 0
  Trosky ph 1 0 0 0
Smith p 3 0 0 0
  Bagby p 0 0 0 0
  Campbell ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 33 3 7 3
New York 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 4 8 0
Cleveland 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 3 7 0
  New York Yankees IP H R ER BB SO
Gomez  W(8-3) 8.0 6 3 3 3 5
  Murphy  SV(7) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0
  Cleveland Indians IP H R ER BB SO
Smith  L(6-6) 7.1 7 4 4 2 4
  Bagby 1.2 1 0 0 1 1

E–None.  DP–Cleveland 1. Boudreau-Mack-Grimes.  PB–Hemsley (3).  2B–New York Rolfe (13); Henrich (10).  3B–New York Keller (7), Cleveland Rosenthal (1).  HR–New York Gordon (15,7th inning off Smith 0 on), Cleveland Walker (4,4th inning off Gomez 0 on).  Team LOB–5.  SH–Boudreau (8).  Team–7.  U–Bill Summers, Joe Rue, Ernie Stewart.  T–2:03.  A–67,463.

Baseball Almanac Box Score | Printer Friendly Box Scores






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