At the end of the day, SABR 44 had rolled through an upbeat, entertaining, and educational day at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Thursday, July 31, 2014. Some of the later day and evening action even spread to Constellation Field, home of the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Independent Baseball’s Atlantic League, where quite a few convention attendees were transported by bus to see a game and experience the great hospitality of the game at the this level of play.
Here’s a quick pictorial on parts of the day and a few written memories worth recalling forever. Too much in content, it’s too bad any of it had to be lost. Hopefully, everything was recorded. From our lone experience, however, the great tales and facts came pouring forth in great abundance and The Pecan Park Eagle was not taking written assignment notes.
My Favorite Remembered Quote from Reid Ryan: “My dad, Nolan Ryan, always loved saying that we should never allow our memories of yesterday’s failures to get in the way of the lessons we now bring to our focus on tomorrow’s successes.”
Jimmy Wynn: “My daddy always said, ‘If you want to drive a Chevy, hit singles; if you want to drive a Cadillac, hit home runs. – I chose Caddys.”
Carl Warwick: “When young Jimmy Wynn joined the Colt .45s club in 1963, I was playing center field and Al Spangler was playing in left. Not long after we had a chance to watch Jimmy field and hit with power. Al turne to me one day and made this comment: ‘You know something, Carl? That kid is probably going to be good enough to take one of our jobs – and I think it’s going to be you – because he’s too good to play left field.’ ”
And that’s exactly what happened, but the Colt .45s traded Warwick back to St. Louis where he arrived in time to help the 1964 Cardinals win the World Series in seven games over the Yankees and set a record of his own with three pinch hits in the World Series.
“Thanks for making that opportunity possible for me, Jimmy,” Carl said to Wynn this morning.
Mickey Herskowitz once observed the workers zipping in place the new sections of the first AstroTurf infield. It inspired him to write the following in his column on the installation: “Now Houston has the only infield in baseball that contains its own built-in, infield fly.”
Hal Smith is the same guy who homered for Pittsburgh in the bottom of the 8th of Game Seven in the 1960 World Series with the Yankees that gave the Pirates a brief 9-7 lead that again collapsed when New York tied the game in the top of the 9th, setting up a fellow named Bill Mazeroski with a Series-ending walk off homer in the bottom of the 9th that helped bury the memory of Hal’s brief heroics. Hal Smith also hit the first HR in Houston’s first MLB game on Opening Day, but even that landmark quickly found the shads when teammate Roman Mejias followed him with two homers in the Colts’ first winning game.
Bob Aspromonte collected the first hit and run in Houston MLB franchise history and he did it as the very first Houston batter in history in that first Opening Day of 1962. He once twice delivered on a promise of hitting a home run for a young Louisiana kid named Billy Bradley, and each time, they were grand slams. Later on, when Aspro was having his own visual problems from an exploding car battery, little Bill Bradley decided to return the promise by dedicating a game he was due to pitch in youth baseball to the health recovery of Aspromonte. The kid three a 7-inning no-hitter in his hero’s honor.
Greg Lucas simply did a beautiful job of bringing out the best in all these icons of Houston’s earliest MLB years.
Roger Clemens is Roger Clemens; Mike Gustafson is the President of the College Baseball Hall of Fame; Jim Gilligan is the long-time baseball coach at Lamar University. and Mike Vance is the Executive Director of Houston Arts and Media. Reports from attendees all say that the panel was lively, dynamic, and entertaining – and that Roger Clemens was very giving and well received.
Early reports from Sugar Land were all on the side of favorable from our visitors from other places in the USA. Mark Wernick later left this fine report on the night in Sugar Land as a comment, but we decided also to bring it up here as a very excellent addition to our total report on today’s covered activities – and keep in mind too, we could not cover all the fine talks and panel presentations at SABR 44 today. Any unmentioned miss on a convention program event is simply due to our human limitations. We couldn’t be everyplace at the same time.
Here’s The Mark Wernick Report on The SABR 44 Night in Sugar Land:
Bill, we received a full briefing on Skeeters history from Tal Smith, Deacon Jones, and a fellow whose name I didn’t catch when it was drowned out by the din of the PA system blasting music and a very loud announcer. But what we were able to hear was very interesting. We even were given a recap of the Jason Lane story you already had shared yesterday.
The Skeeters topped the Bridgeport Bluefish, 6-3. There was a bit of official scorer controversy when what looked clearly to be a solid line drive single to left just under the fully extended glove of the Bridgeport third baseman was called an error, thus preserving a no-hitter in the sixth inning. As a result, Clint Everts, Sugar Land’s pitcher, entered the ninth nursing a 6-0 no-hit shutout. His performance in the seventh inning suggested signs of fatigue. He hit the first batter, was tagged for a controversial line-drive foul that kicked up chalk (by some reports) along the third base line, and endured two more base runners via infield errors – one by him with an errant throw – before escaping a bases loaded, no-out jam with a strikeout and double-play. After being tagged with a blistering double into the gap for the “first” hit in the ninth inning, he ended up yielding two runs before being pulled, and was charged with a third run after his relief permitted an inherited runner to score on another hit. I wondered about his pitch count and the motivation for leaving him in the game after the seventh.
It was interesting to see former major leaguer Tomo Ohka pitching for Bridgeport. He lasted into the 8th inning, never breaking a sweat. He appeared to be lobbing the ball lazily to the plate, and the radar gun routinely clocked him in the low 50s. I think several of his pitches were under 50 mph because the radar gun didn’t pick up their speed.
Constellation Field is a terrific place to see a ball game. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Great company, great outing.
Stay tuned for further SABR 44 feedback tomorrow.
Tags: SABR 44 7/31/14