Original 1962 Colt .45s Down to 19 Survivors

November 25, 2015
Bobby Shantz, 4/10/1962 Threw 1st Pitch in Houston MLB History Won 1st Game In Houston MLB History

Bobby Shantz, 4/10/1962
Threw 1st Pitch in Houston MLB History
Won 1st Game In Houston MLB History

The 11/21/2015 death of former Houston Colt .45 pitcher Ken Johnson has brought sharp attention to a number of us the fact that all of these figures from the early years of major league baseball in Houston have been disappearing all around us at accelerating rates with the passage of time.  After all it’s been a half century, plus one year, since Ken Johnson performed the amazing feat of losing the only nine inning no hitter by a single pitcher in baseball history – and it’s now been 53 years since our city began its foray into the big leagues as the Houston Colt .45s.

The following is a chart which accounts for all 43 of the men who spent time on the roster of the 1962 original Colt .45s. It breaks them down through 10 pitchers, 3 catchers, 12 infielders and 11 outfielders. Those figures added up to the 43 members of the club’s original year player group – and does not include the names of some more famous Colts of the Jimmy Wynn and Larry Dierker ilk who came to Houston after 1962.

This table is totally focused on the first 1962 originals who went out there and established our initially tenuous hold on Houston’s right to call itself a major league city. There were some good players on that club, they just weren’t old enough or young enough to put it all together as a team in 1962, but, look at the bright side. – In spite of having to start out with a bunch of young guys we found drowning in a baseball pool – and a few random other 0lder guys who signed on even though some of their baseball wheels were already falling off, the original Houston Colt .45s were still good enough to finish ahead of their brother expansion club buddies, the New York Mets, and the Chicago Cubs.

The chart is easy enough to follow. If a player is still alive, his age is shown in the “Age in 2015” column. The 19 ages you find belong to the player on tat same horizontal line. Interesting to note: At age 90, Bob Cerv and Bobby Shantz are the two oldest living 1962 alumni. Ernie Fazio is the youngest alum at 73.

These life and death facts were double-checked at both Baseball Almanac and Baseball Reference, the two dot-com giants in our baseball statistical sky. I also checked these figure with the independent work that Darrell Pittman has done on this same subject at Astros Daily and found that we were in complete agreement on the recorded state of things reported and known:

Of the 43 original 1962 Colt .45s, 24 are now deceased and 19 survive. And, as we all know, that’s going to really change at an accelerated rate in the next ten years, but keep in mind your personal recollection of all these guys if you’ve been around long enough to have seen them – or even read about their accomplishments. – Bobby Shantz, for example, will always be remembered as the first guy to throw a major league pitch in behalf of Houston – and who among us elder fans shall ever forget the day that Roman Mejias had at the plate in that same very first opening game.

Remember. Enjoy. Share. And do what you can to preserve your memories of Houston’s first major leaguers. Every man on this list is deserving of your supportive statements and actions.

The Original 43 Men Who Filled the Roster of the 1962 Houston Colt .45s /

01 39 John Anderson 1932-11-23 1998-12-20
02 30 Bob Bruce 1933-05-16 Age 82
03 33 George Brunet 1935-06-08 1991-10-25
04 31 Al Cicotte 1929-12-23 1982-11-29
05 36 Dick Drott 1936-07-01 1985-08-16
06 43 Turk Farrell 1934-04-08 1977-06-10
07 34 Dave Giusti 1939-11-27 Age 76
08 35 Jim Golden 1936-03-20 Age 79
09 36,40 Ken Johnson 1933-06-16 2015-11-21
10 39 Russ Kemmerer 1931-11-01 2014-12-08
11 31 Don McMahon 1930-01-04 1987-07-22
12 42 Bobby Shantz 1925-09-25 Age 90
13 33 Dean Stone 1930-09-01 Age 85
14 44 Bobby Tiefenauer 1929-10-10 2000-06-13
15 32,45 Jim Umbricht 1930-09-17 1964-04-08
16 36 George Witt 1930-11-09 2013-01-30
17 46 Hal Woodeshick 1932-08-24 2009-06-14
18 9 Jim Campbell 1937-06-24 Age 78
19 7 Merritt Ranew 1938-05-10 2011-10-18
20 8 Hal Smith 1930-12-07 Age 85
21 11 Joey Amalfitano 1934-01-23 Age 81
22 14 Bob Aspromonte 1938-06-19 Age 77
23 27 Pidge Bowne 1929-03-21 1997-06-03
24 18 Don Buddin 1934-05-05 2011-06-30
25 19 Ernie Fazio 1942-01-25 Age 73
26 17 Dick Gernert 1928-09-28 Age 87
27 16 Billy Goodman 1926-03-22 1984-10-01
28 18 J.C. Hartman 1934-04-15 Age 81
29 10 Norm Larker 1930-12-27 2007-03-12
30 15 Bob Lillis 1930-02-02 Age 85
31 26 Johnny Temple 1927-08-08 1994-01-09
32 19 George Williams 1929-10-23 2009-05-14
33 4 Jim Busby 1927-01-08 1996-07-08
34 17 Bob Cerv 1925-05-05 Age 90
35 22 Ron Davis 1941-10-21 1992-09-05
36 22 Al Heist 1927-10-05 2006-10-02
37 25 Roman Mejias 1930-08-09 Age 85
38 23 Jim Pendleton 1924-01-07 1996-03-20
39 24 Dave Roberts 1933-06-30 Age 82
40 21 Al Spangler 1933-07-08 Age 82
41 20,24 Don Taussig 1932-02-19 Age 83
42 20 Carl Warwick 1937-02-27 Age 78
43 24 Johnny Weekly 1937-06-14 1974-11-24




Famed No-Hit Loser Ken Johnson Dies

November 24, 2015


Had it not been for something that happened on April 23, 1964, former Houston Colt .45 right-handed pitcher might today be simply another blurred name on the pages of early Houston big league history.  The 6’4″ pitcher had been with Houston since its first 1962 MLB season when he took the mound to face the Cincinnati Reds at Colt Stadium, but it’s unlikely he had any better idea than the rest of us about what was about to happen.

I wasn’t in Houston when this one happened. I was living in New Orleans, finishing up my second year of graduate school at Tulane, but I got hooked on the voice of Gene Elston over the radio at my apartment and, based on what I was hearing, I was in no hurry to go to a social gathering where no one else there would give a hoot for the fates of my Colt .45s.

The game moved scoreless through six and, more importantly, Ken Johnson was pitching a no-hitter. – If only he could keep it up, I thought. – If only we could get him a run, at least.

Through eight, the situation held steady. 0-0, Reds-Colts, and not even whispering the possibility of hits for the Reds off Johnson was in style among Houston fans. Where is this thing going? Short of injury, it wasn’t likely the Colts would take Johnson out with a quiet no-no going. – And we didn’t even know the phrase “pitch-count” back in 1964.

“Where is this thing going to go?” Yes, it had to be the question on all our Colt fan minds. – And, much to our universal astonishment, we were about to find out in the ninth inning.

Top of the 9th

Reds pitcher Joe Nuxhall led of the top of the 9th with an easy 5-3 ground out from Bob Aspromonte to Pete Runnels.

Then Pete Rose reached first base on a bunt that pitcher Ken Johnson mishandled. With Rose hustling to first, Johnson threw the ball down the right field line, allowing Rose to make second on a two-base throwing error.

Rose on second base by any means was never good news. On this special day, however, that impression was about to be marked in bold type.

Chico Ruiz then smashed a ball that ricocheted perfectly off pitcher Johnson’s leg to Aspromonte who then quickly got the ball to Runnels at first for the second out.

Rose advanced to third on the play.

Vada Pinson then reached first on a bobbled routine grounder to the great Nellie Fox at send base. Rose scored on the play. Still no hits for Cincy, but the Reds were now up, 1-0.

Frank Robinson then lofted a fly ball out three to Jimmy Wynn in left field to end the carnage at 1 run, on 0 hits, 2 errors, and 1 runner left on base.

Bottom of the 9th

 Routine stuff. Nuxhall struck out Eddie Kasko and then got Nellie Fox on an easy ground out. Pete Runnels then reached on an error, but Nuxhall then got Johnny Weekly on a called strike three to seal Ken Johnson’s no-hitter as a 1-0 loss.


Ken Johnson died Saturday, November 21, 2015 at the age of 82 at his home in Pineville. Louisiana. Here is the link to his obituary:


Rest in Peace, Ken Johnson!

Here are some nice notes on Johnson’s career from SABR friend and colleague Mark Wernick that I also think you will enjoy too:

“In 1963, he had a 2.64 ERA and a 119 ERA+, yielding 204 hits in 224 innings. His W-L record that year was 11-17. His WAR that season was 4.1, and his career WAR was 20.4. The Colt .45s scored 2.8 runs per game for Johnson in 1963. They scored 2.9 runs per game for him in 1964, and they scored 3.0 runs per game for him in 1962. From 1962 – 1964, Johnson had 20 Ltuf, or tough lossses, according to baseball-reference. com. During those three seasons, he left games in position to record a win 11 times, only to have the bullpen blow the game. The other nine tough losses were quality starts that the team couldn’t win. Johnson is famous for being the only pitcher in MLB history to pitch a complete 9-inning no-hitter and lose it. He lost it in the 9th inning with the help of his own throwing error. I listened to this game on the radio. Johnson had more than his fair share of tough luck pitching for the Houston Colt .45s, but he did quite nicely later pitching for the Atlanta Braves.” – Mark Wernick, SABR Member, Larry Dierker Chapter.


Here also is a link to Astros Daily and their great coverage of Ken Johnson and the lost game no-hitter:





What If Instant Replay Were Built Into Life?

November 23, 2015
"....Sounded like CRUUUUZ to me! ... Let' see the replay!"

“….Sounded like CRUUUUZ to me! … Let’ see the replay!”

Remember the famous Yogi Berra quote about life decisions? It was short, sweet and sure to cause a few double takes and smiles from all who heard it: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Yogi really knew better. He understood that every option we take in life, as we often proverbially attest in moments of fear or faith, closes one door as it opens another. When Yogi decided to drop out of classwork in middle school and try out for a baseball job with the St. Louis Cardinals, he thought that he was trading something he didn’t want to do for something he loved. And he was right about that part of it. He hated the work part of school because he didn’t feel very good at it; he loved baseball because it was more playful than work – and he was good at it.

And it was also physical. And outside. And it was something he did with other guys his age who talked the same language. You didn’t have to sit inside and look for the answers to baseball in books as you felt the pull of your mind and soul constantly floating out the window to play ball among the green of the grass and the blue of the sky after the three o’clock bell finally rang.

About dropping out of school, Yogi never said it, but he could have: “How could I ever get the right answers in school? I couldn’t even get the right questions!”

The usually insightful Cardinals passed on signing Yogi Berra in favor of signing his buddy neighbor catcher from the Hill, Joe Garagiola. Nobody’s perfect, right? Not even the Cardinals, but Yogi had taken his branch of that fork of the road – and the Cardinals had then quickly helped him find another path that would lead him to a Hall of Fame baseball career as a New York Yankee. Had Yogi simply stayed in school – done nothing to change the course he was on – that would have been a choice too. And maybe most of us would have never heard of him today. Maybe he would even be alive today, a little old Italian man, sitting on the porch of the house in “The Hill” section of St. Louis where he grew up, just lazily gazing his way down the street during his still-breathing wait for eternity. – Maybe.

For Yogi, and the rest of us, life unfolds by our active and passive decisions to pursue few or many forks in the road, and all trails lead us to either the destiny we seek for ourselves by the risk of active choice – or to the fate that awaits us from the passive, safest choices we may make about the direction of our lives. The condition that all choices bear with them is a thing called consequence. If we don’t understand that there are real consequences to all we do and fail to do on some gut-level early, we may never get to be – what we always hoped to be.

From watching the constant use of new HD quality stop action and slo-mo video in TV football this past weekend, I noted that each game coach gets two or three challenges on questionable referee calls made on the field. If he challenges and the technology has captured photos that prove him right, the unfavorable play on the field will be reversed, maybe even saving his team directly from immediate defeat and a lifetime of regret. The protesting coach suffers no penalty consequence if the technology proves him to be right.

On the other hand, if the recorded visual evidence cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the referee’s original call was wrong, “the play call on the field will stand” – and the protesting coach will be charged a team timeout – and be denied the right to further protest about anything.


I got to thinking. – What if this incredibly accurate replay equipment could be wired to our personal lives? – And what “if” everyone had three protests they could launch with God – or their higher universal power – about issues that have arisen for us  in any of these areas:

  1. the things we did, or did not do, in the name of love;
  2. the things we did, or did not do, in the name of money: or,
  3. the things we did, or did not do, with our particular talents and passions.

What if we could use all of our three protests in any way we chose in one or all of these areas, and what if we also possessed access to the human life equivalent high-tech replay equipment that could tell us:

  1. Was our painful reason for protesting due to the fact that life had been unfair to us in this instance; or,
  2. Was our pain largely caused by our own behavior and choices of action or non-action in this matter?

Bottom Line: If the equipment concluded that our pain and disappointment was clearly caused by factors of life outside any contributions from our own behavior, we would be entitled to a 100% reparation payment for our pain and suffering. On the other hand, if the high-tech instant replay found that our own attitudes, thoughts, and behavior made any kind of personal contribution to the consequence of our own misery, our protest would be denied – and we would be forced to recycle over and over through the same protested lesson until we got it right, took full responsibility for our own actions, and made amends to any we had harmed along the way.

Upon further review…wow again!

As it turns out, there is another reason for Thanksgiving gratitude this season. Maybe it’s just as well that this new HD judgment equipment works only on contested sporting games only.






The Real Tal’s Hill Issue

November 22, 2015


 2015 Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros posted a 20-8 record this season. He was 6-8 on the road, but an amazing unbeaten 14-0 at home. The amazement extended to many writers feigning or failing to see why he did so well at home. “What is there about this ballpark that makes for Keuchel’s huge success at home?

If you really want to know, we suggest, pay attention next season to how effectively Keuchel gets batters on long fly outs to CF. Keuchel is the kind of pitcher who was almost tailor-made for Minute Maid Park. He somehow knows the way to use that larger CF portion of the field as the place where would be homers now go to die. Now that a year’s delay in the demolition of Tal’s Hill has been pushed back until after 2016, there is still time to do a really effective study next year of how many extra HR will be leaving the field of play once the proposed new dimensions are in place, bringing the deepest part of cf in closer from 336 feet to 404 feet.




The new fence is expected to be curved and not straight across, as The Eagle has depicted in these two views of the same MMP field. That’s not what matters. What matters is that MMP is about to be transformed into the biggest HR band box in baseball, once the removal of Tal’s Hill has finally taken place.


Here are the current MMP fence area distances from home plate:
  • Left field – 315 feet
  • Left-center – 362 feet
  • Center field – 435 feet
  • Deepest point – 436 feet
  • Right-center – 373 feet
  • Right field – 326 feet

Bottom Line: In 16 full MLB seasons, there have been no serious injuries at MMP due to the presence of Tal’s Hill and the flagpole in center field. The primary motivation here is not so much its removal for player safety, but for the creation of more revenue stream space. Nothing wrong with that either, unless it turns MMP into the kind of HR band box that no worthwhile pitcher will want to call “home.”

More detailed study is needed in 2016 of how many additional HR the proposed changes are going to make possible. We think an honest full season look at these numbers will answer the question of why Dallas Keuchel was able to go undefeated at home and finish with a 14-0 record at MMP. Keuchel is one of those guys who uses the “K” in tandem with an uncanny ability for retiring batters on long fly balls to the present death valley distances of MMP’s “Polo Grounds” like configuration.

All we are asking for here is a full season accounting in 2016 – not the one sentence brush off we’ve already received from the Astros that (paraphrasing here) “we’ve checked out the extra homer question and it’s not going to be so bad”. If these fence distance changes will harm the effectiveness of any Astros pitcher like Dallas Keuchel, many of us fans don’t want them.



UH Does What It Had To Do

November 21, 2015
UH Football Coach Tom Herman Gets a Raise to $3 Million as 1st Step in Gradient Annual Increases in His Pay.

UH Football Coach Tom Herman Gets a Raise to $3 Million as 1st Step in Gradient Annual Increases in His Pay from Donor Sources.

When UH Board of Regents Chair, Tillman Fertitta, spoke of Cougar Football Coach Tom Herman‘s raise to $3.0 million dollars a year, he described the action as essentially “a good start” in a plan for annual increases from private donors that would both enhance the university’s prospects of keeping their present “hot prospect coach,” but to also establish, once and for all, finally, that the University of Houston no longer has any intentions of being a stepping-stone position for talents like their two previous head men. Former Cougar player Art Briles used his UH coaching tenure to land his current successful gig at Baylor. And Briles, of course, was followed by Kevin Sumlin who rode his Cougar horse, aka an inherited UH QB named Case Keenum into the  “hot coach” limelight. Jumping from UH to College Station, Sumlin walked into the presence of another QB inheritance at Texas A&M in his first season on the job there. Freshman QB Johnny Manziel would lead the Aggies to an impressive start in their first year in the SEC . In the process,  Manziel would win the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

By comparison, Tom Herman didn’t inherit any “ready-to-go” national talents when he took over this year, 2015, at UH, but he came here from his National Championship year as offensive coordinator for Ohio State as being something akin to a “quarterback whispering” mentor with young talent like the Cougars’ Greg Ward, Jr. Herman’s talent for teaching, and his wisdom of what college age players do not yet know about themselves, have been almost as amazing as a magic show. In less than a full season, Ward has learned the joys and dangers of being a running QB who could also pass with skill and accuracy into one of those rare bird leaders who almost compiles as much running yardage per game as he does passing. And what happens if Ward gets hurt? We found that out last Saturday night in a most amazing way. Back up QB Kyle Postma came on in relief when Houston got way behind Memphis, 34-14, and he led the Coogs to a crazy, but exciting 35-34 win at the wire.

Houston is now 10-0-0 and ranked as high as #13 in the country by AP. They may or may not go undefeated, but the jury is already in on the man who established the winning focus culture at UH. It’s like none we’ve really seen since the days of our revered Bill Yeoman, but even Yeoman never tasted this kind of success this early in his first season at the helm.

Tom Herman appears to be one of those once-a-generation phenoms. And, even if that impression is something of a waltz into hyperbole, we will happily settle for the next level of appraisal: There may be other young coaches out there who are just as talented as Tom Herman, but “nobody does it better!”

UH knows it – and so does every other big school looking for magic at their own place. Hopefully, the difference this time is both the actual character of Tom Herman and all he said at his UH hiring about wanting to be part of Cougar Nation and that special thing we are building, plus, this time, UH donors are finally putting their money where their mouths always are.

Words are beautiful, but action is the real speaker of the house in all lands of opportunity..

OK, we know that Herman can get more than the $3 million we will be paying him, but this increase, as Fertitta made clear, is just the first step in an annually increasing plan for making sure that Tom Herman’s salary remains competitive with the rest of the field. The other part, of course, is our man’s passion for being the Moses who leads UH out of the desert of football’s second tier competition.

The following is simply a table which compares Tom Herman’s old salary to some of the top head coaching salaries, coming into the 2015 season. The new “3 mil” starting point figure will give UH a position that fits the company of all others. And, to borrow our university motto, – “in time” – we will reach that goal of being on parity with all others.

My source for the other salary data  in  is this chart is the  Dallas Morning News. Unfortunately, this source does not include data for private schools like Baylor or TCU:


Some of the Highest Paid Coaches in College Football in 2015

# School Head Coach Annual Salary
1 Alabama Nick Saban $ 6,870,000
2 Oklahoma Bob Stoops $ 6,000,000
3 Texas Charlie Strong $ 5,100,000
4 Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin $ 5,000,000
5 LSU Les Miles $ 4,300,000
5 Ole Miss Hugh Freeze $ 4,300,000
7 Auburn Gus Malzahn $ 4,100,000
8 Arkansas Bret Bielema $ 4,000.000
8 Miss. State Dan Mullen $ 4,000,000
8 South Carolina Steve Spurrier * $ 4,000,000
11 Oklahoma State Mike Gundy $ 3,700,000
12 Missouri Gary Pinkel * $ 3,525,000
13 Florida Jeff McElwain $ 3,500,000
14 Georgia Mark Richt $ 3,203,600
15 Texas Tech Kliff Kingsbury $ 3,100.000
16 Kentucky Mark Stoops $ 3,000,000
17 Houston Tom Herman ** $ 1,350,000


  • Steve Spurrier resigned during the 2015 season.
  • Gary Pinkel resigned after the 2015 season.

** Tom Herman’s salary for 2015 was the first one above $ 1 million a year for UH. His raise to $3,000,000 is a major competitive jump for UH..

The above tabular chart is not intended as an accurate display of all the national salaries in this range from top man Nick Saban. It leaves out the west coast schools, the Big Ten, Notre Dame, Baylor TCU, and Stanford from the private school sector.

Bottom Line: The Herman raise had to take place for UH to become the serious force in college football they were becoming prior to the collapse of the Southwest Conference in 1995.

Have a nice weekend, everybody!



Houston SABR Names Award for Bob Dorrill

November 19, 2015



The monthly meeting of the Larry Chapter pf SABR met in Houston on Monday, November 16, 2015 at the Spaghetti Western Ristorante on Shepherd Drive three days ago. Astros veteran play-by-play broadcaster, baseball historian and author Bill Brown entertained the members with a personal report of his years of service to the “Big Red Machine” days of the mid-1970s Cincinnati Reds. Bill was followed by a rousing positional report from our also treasured former FOX SW broadcaster, baseball historian and author  Greg Lucas on the need for simpler, more meaningful attention to stats that are both easier to grasp and more informative as to what each player actually contributed to victory. – The point could easily be made in Greg’s behalf that Babe Ruth’s then record 60 HR in 1927 might have meant nothing to victory – had they hypothetically all occurred in the bottom of as many 9th inning laughter-margin run losses with non body in a futile cause. – Tony Cavender also delivered one of his always timely book reports and we  concluded the meeting with a trivia quiz prepared by Greg Lucas. Tom White and Herb Whalley tied as the night’s quiz champions. Because Tom has prepared the next quiz more recently, Herb Whalley will prepare the quiz for our next meeting. – All in all, it was another fine program, thanks to our chapter producer, Jim Kreuz.

Member Notes:

Bob and Peggy Dorrill were absent due to a family cruise trip

Marie “Red” Mahoney was absent due to her ongoing recovery from a serious fall.

The young red-headed “wunderkind” of baseball history (whose name I unfortunately cannot recall) was present with his father to say goodbye. The family is moving to the State of Washington and promising to re-connect with SABR there.

Jo Russell was present and looking well, even though she has been through own health challenges recently. No matter what, the spirit of Jo Russell shines through all adversity and her connection and passion for Houston baseball history never wanes.

Mike McCroskey did a great job filling in for Bob Dorrill as the evening’s MC. He also led the successful presentation of a proposal we had discussed prior to the meeting. Our 19 attending members gave unanimous straw vote approval to our proposal that the second annual SABR Award to someone who represents the fulfillment of our organizational ideals and service, henceforth, shall be known as “The Bob Dorrill Distinctive Service to SABR Award.” In the interest of keeping this column short of dissertation length, let’s just say that the man’s energy in all areas of chapter speak for themselves. Had it not been for Bob Dorrill, it’s doubtful that we would have found the mobilizing focus to research and write “Houston Baseball, The Early Years: 1861-1961” (2014) nor would we have been awarded the very successful SABR National Convention in Houston that same year – and that doesn’t even include all the effort he puts into managing our SABER-soaked vintage base ball club, the Houston Babies. – The man’s a cyclone of social accomplishment – and most deserving of our recognition of him in this light.

Our last note is about Larry Miggins. Sadly, Larry had serious fall at his voting site a couple of weeks ago. He broke a femur  and has had to undergo surgery and the placement of a metal support rod in his leg. He is also now at St. Dominick’s Rehab Center on Holcombe, but his state of being and the intensity of his current rehab plan leave no time or space for visitations until the Miggins family gives us the signal. In the meanwhile, feel free to drop him a note or card. – I’m sorry, but I have neither the address nor the correct full name of St. Dominick’s as I write this morning. And I will do my best to let you know more – as I learn more , but start the prayers and positive thoughts for Larry’s full recovery now. Thanks!

Next SABR Meeting Date:

Our next SABR meeting is set for Monday, December 7, 2015 at the Spaghetti Western Ristorante on Shepherd.

We could not meet on December 14th because the restaurant already had our usual roo place reserved for a Christmas Party that week.

Note to Bob Dorrill, Jim Kreuz: I am presuming that one of you will confirm 12/07/15 with Spaghetti Western.

COME SEE THE HOUSTON BABIES THIS SATURDAY AT GEORGE RANCH STATE PARK. – We have a definite vintage base ball game scheduled for 10 AM on Saturday, November 21st and we may even have a 12 NOON game, if all our opponents show up. – We would love to have your support.





Freeze the Heartaches, Burn the Tears

November 18, 2015
BUG SAYS: "Hey, Astros! Remember the Top of the 8th in Game 4 of the ALDS?- That's why this litle song is about getting better in ways the club can be better in 2016. If we don't, fans are ging to be asking, Uh..... Ejat's up, Doc?' "

BUG SAYS: “Hey, Astros! Remember the Top of the 8th in Game 4 of the 2015 ALDS?- That’s why this new little song by The Pecan Park Eagle is about getting better in ways the club can really be better in 2016. – If we don’t, fans are gonna to be askin’, ‘Uh…. tsk…tsk…tsk.What’s up, Doc?’ “


Freeze the Heartaches, Burn the Tears

By Bill McCurdy

~ A C&W Tribute to Our New and Improved Astros Team and Hope ~

Freeze the heartaches, burn the tears,

Ain’t been this damn good in years,

Need a starter with strong gears,

Just a tad ‘bove Mikey Fiers!


We could use some corner men,

With good bats and fielding skin,

Contact pop in bats so thin,

Good for goosin’ runners in!


Freeze the heartaches, burn the tears,

Ice man closer – welder nears,

Bat on shoulder ice – is nice,

Bring that burner, roll the dice!


Fill the bunkhouse – load the ‘pen,

Do not fear – your own – brung in,

Must have good stuff – not just motion,

Just to git us – ‘cross this ocean!


Freeze the heartaches, burn the tears,

‘Stros can win for years and years,

Juice our club from fore to aft,

Next time Royals – git the shaft!


Freeze the heartaches, burn the tears,

Set ‘em all back on their rears,

Angels’ dust and Rangers’ dangers,

Are to live as – Series strangers!


Freeze the heartaches, burn the tears,

Freeze the heartaches, burn the tears,

Freeze the heartaches, burn the tears,

Freeze the heartaches, burn the tears!



The Odds of a Daydream/Nightmare Comeback?

November 17, 2015
In Time.

In Time.


What Are The Odds of a Daydream/Nightmare Comeback? The answer in sports, of course, is dependent upon our ability to specify the key details of the “comeback” situation we are trying to evaluate. The situation that vividly came to light in college football this past Saturday, especially for two universities in the cities of Houston and Memphis, was this one:

What are the odds of a college football team that is trailing by twenty points in the 4th quarter of coming back to win the game?

Playing at home last Saturday night, the Houston Cougars fell behind, 34-14, when the Memphis Tigers scored early in the 4th quarter. From that point, the improbable unfolded. Kyle Postma, an untested back up quarterback for the Cougars, then led his team to 21 points on three unanswered touchdown drives that gave Houston a 35-34 lead over Memphis with about 1:27 minutes left in the game. When UH then survived a desperate Memphis drive that only expired when the Tigers missed a 42 yard field attempt goal with seconds to go, the Cougars had performed the near-impossible, coming back from a twenty point deficit in the 4th quarter to win, 35-34, in a stunning expansion of their season record to 10-0-0, vaulting Houston the next day to an AP ranking of #13 in the nation.

According to one game story, UH was the 343rd college football team this season to trail by 20 or more points in the 4th quarter, but only the first this year to launch a comeback rally that actually won the contest, 35-34.

Reference was also made to the fact that once Houston fell to a 20-p0int deficit, that they then had only a 2.7% probable chance of winning the game. Assuming that this percentile appraisal was not simply pulled from the air, it means that someone had to research the entire history of college football and calculate all of the times in history that a “20 plus point deficit in the 4th quarter” got turned around and converted into a victory.

Bottom Line: It only happens 2.7% of the time in all of college football history and, this year, UH was the first in 243 such 4th quarter deficit situations (0.oo4%) that it has happened in 2015. That translates into extremely rare, extremely joyful for winning UH; and extremely painful for losing Memphis.

Not so fast, Cougar-Haters! – This is not a mere disconnected UH gloat from one of the elder mountain lions of 1946, who saw the first Cougars play football during the early times of his own cub days. None of us ancient ones need to gloat when the soulful satisfaction of such a win generates an inner glow of fandom joy.

And besides, this past weekend came bearing karmic qualities. Older Cougars already knew the taste of the “Memphis yang” that emanates from this “Cougar yin”. – We learned it bitterly on the frozen tundra of the January 1, 1979 Cotton Bowl – when the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and Joe Montana came back in the last seven minutes of the minus eight degrees day to reverse an identical by score 4th quarter deficit of 34-14 to snatch an identical 35-34 final score comeback win on the last TD and extra point in the game.

We already knew exactly how the Memphis Tigers and their family of fans were going to feel Sunday when they got home and awakened from the stunning upset of the night before. A casual Internet search of the Memphis newspaper sports pages since Saturday bore out all assumptions. The Memphis people were going through the same shock, denial, self-blame, and disappointment that we Cougars tasted in the Notre Dame collapse of 36 years ago.

The Memphis people will also soon enough pass through a delusional period in which they swear to never forget the lesson of their stunning loss to the Cougars. The problem with this consolation is that wisdom absorbed from pain is always an individual soul experience. When the success of your team athletic efforts are so dependent upon absorbing the lessons of painful experience, it gets pretty tricky to maintain that “wisdom” when your club also needs to absorb dozens of new 18 year old players who weren’t there with you to absorb the major  lessons of catastrophic disappointment.

The best way to summarize my point here is to simply tell you what happened Saturday night as we were all joyously filing out of the stadium after the game. As we awaited an elevator in the company of a young (all decked out in red UH gear) Cougar couple and their pre-school son, I couldn’t wait to share the story I’ve tried to tell here today. When I led off with a statement about how much the Memphis game struck me as an exact reversal of our 1979 “ice bowl” loss to Notre Dame, I was stopped by the young Cougar dad’s first question:

“What’s an ice bowl?” The young UH man quickly asked.

About that same time, the elevator door opened.

“After you,” I motioned to the young man and his family.

A two-level elevator ride wasn’t enough time to condense via adrenaline into the kinds of words I’ve tried to use here.



Hot Stove Pickins’ #1: 2016 Astros Roster

November 16, 2015
Who will be taking the field for the Astros in 2016?

Who will be taking the field for the Astros in 2016?


Between now and Opening Day next April, a lot of change may occur in today’s picture. If the Astros were going into the start of next season now, however, here is The Pecan Park Eagle’s first humble brush on who has to be back as  the foundation of our hopes and what we would to see happen to make the club stronger. Here’s the general plan that guides our thinking in November 2015:

  1. The Untouchables. Six players are vital to 2016, even though only two of the six names we show in our chart below in bold type (Altuve and Correa) have proven already that we need to hold on to them until the day of their Cooperstown inductions to achieve success.
  2. Essential Acquirements. We need a serious upgrade at 3rd base and 1st base – and we wouldn’t finding, if they exist, a catcher who could play offense and defense at a high level.
  3. Contact Hitters; their resume’ sign reads: “Will single for work!” We need some table-setter hitters who can put the ball in play and steal bases and not be so dependent upon power hitters that strike out too much. (More plainly said, we need the kind of lineup that Kansas City used to beat us in the top of the 8th at MMP in Game 4 of the ALDS.
  4. Patch Pitching Holes. We need another top-level proven starter; a scary fast closer with a good change-up and control; and a better job from the middle relievers in finding outs – not bats.
  5. George Springer needs to stay healthy and rise above mediocre bat production to take his rightful place along side Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa as the only three truly untouchable career “Three Amigos” among our Astros.

As I said earlier, the following is only a first look at the immediate future from our “Eagle’s Eye” location. Only the keepers for 2016 are shown in bold type. All others may be subject to change via trade or changes we cannot yet see from this time distance to spring. I didn’t say much before about Joel Castro, but we do really wish that the guy who is evolving into one of best catchers with the softest hands in the game were not also on the opposite course of becoming one of the worst hitters in baseball at the same time.

One more thing – if you are looking for a familiar name on the following projected roster that you don’t see – please rest assured that their absence from sight or discussion here is not result of accident nor the consequence of forgetfulness. Sometimes the absence of words is a more stronger statement than a “stick-a-fork-in-him-he’s-done” dissertation.

Our Early Pickins’ Look at the Resources and Needs of of the 2016 Houston Astros on 11/16/2015:

5 Starting Pitchers

  1. Dallas Keuchel (BL/TL) (20-8. 2.48)
  2. Colin McHugh (BR/TR) (19-7, 3.89)
  3. (To Be Determined) -maybe Scott Kazmier; but probably a new steady guy, by trade or free agency
  4. Lance McCullers (BL/TR) (6-7, 3.22
  5. Mike Fiers (7-10, 3.69) or Scott Feldman (5-5, 3.90)

5 Relief Pitchers

  1. Tony Sipp (BL/TL) (3-4, 1.99) – if he will sign as a free agent with the Astros
  2. pick one, sign one, trade for one
  3. pick one, sign one, trade for one
  4. Set up man – Luke Gregerson (BL/TR) (7-3, 3.10) (31 Sv)
  5. Closer – Find him. Burner preferred.

2 Catchers        

  1. Jason Castro (.211 BA, 11 HR)
  2. Hank Conger (.229, 11 HR)

6 Infielders

  1. 1st Base ~ Find One, Pick One, Sign One, Trade for One
  2. Jose Altuve (.313, 15 HR) … DUH!
  3. 3rd Base ~ Find One, Pick One, Sign One, Trade for One
  4. Carlos Correa (.279, 22 HR) … DUH AGAIN!
  5. Luis Valbuena (.224, 25 HR) 3b-1b
  6. Marwin Gonzalez (.279, 12 HR) utility
  7. Jed Lowrie, (.222, 9 HR) utility

6 Outfielders

  1. George Springer (.276, 16 HR)
  2. Colby Rasmus (.238, 25 HR)
  3. Carlos Gomez (.255, 12 HR)
  4. Preston Tucker (.243, 13 HR)
  5. Jake Marisnick (.232, 13 HR)
  6. Robbie Grossman and L.J. Hoes are the leading candidates for the wide-open 6th OF spot – or even possibilities for taking away the 4th or 5th spots from Tucker and Marisnick.

1 Designated Hitter

  1. Evan Gattis (.246, 27 HR)





The Morning After Memphis

November 15, 2015
UH 35 - MEMPHIS 34 10 WIN,S 0 LOSSES, 0 TIES NOVEMBER 15, 2015

UH 35 – MEMPHIS 34
NOVEMBER 15, 2015

It was the greatest Cougar game some of us have ever seen – and some us go back to the earliest times that the University of Houston first dressed out in pads and helmets to take on the world of college football. As a lifetime Cougar, whose fandom era roughly covers the entire period of our involvement in the sport itself, that head over heels endorsement of last night’s coronary cashier is not intended as any fading appreciation of the 1967, 37-7, conquest of Michigan State at their house – nor does it lessen the joy that remains in our hearts every time we sip again upon the memory cocktail of that 1976, 30-0, beautiful autumn day defeat of Texas in Austin during our first year in the Southwest Conference. Those were iconic milestone games for UH.  Last night achieves a special place of greatness on several levels because of its timing in UH football history.

  1. The Needs of the Great Big Now. We needed to show the rest of the college football world that we could win the big game with all of everything on the line – even if we had to do it in the dramatic comeback style we rode out on to victory behind the Mighty Not-so-Much-of-a-Mouse quarterback we all now know as Kyle Postma . We fans were the ones busy humming “here he comes to save the day!” Postma was far too busy making improbable plays and erasing the smirks that had begun to hover under those Memphis blue helmets.
  2. Building a Full Impact Bond with Coach Herman. Cougar Nation needed to pack the house – not only for one game itself, but to show UH Coach Tom Herman that we really are ready to get into the trenches of action for showing our appreciation and support for everything he is doing for us in our determined commitment. – We need for him patiently to believe in us as much as we believe in him and what he is now doing for the University of Houston. We are still not going to get 42,000 people out there next week, no matter how much we’re winning, if the next foe is “Southern,” but,, as more name schools like Oklahoma begin to appear on our UH schedule, the more regularly sellouts are going to increase for home games at TDECU Stadium..
  3. Solidifly the support of UH Leadership. We want our regents and fund-raising  leaders to know that last night’s SRO crowd also says that we expect them to come through with a plan for incrementally increasing Coach Herman’s annul salary and benefits so that he will think longer than five minutes about leaving UH for “money alone” and “the future of my family.” If it’s just about money, it doesn’t work. We need our coach to feel a bond with UH as Coach Yeoman once did. We didn’t lose Coach Yeoman to another rich school because they had a bad year. Our coach had become a member of  the Cougar Nation family by the time that those earlier referenced Michigan State and Texas games came along.
  4. Curing Fan Negativity. Last night was a big help to all of us Cougar fans who are old enough to remember the Notre Dame 1979 Cotton Bowl win over our Cougars. That disaster – and the 1984 Phi Slamma Jama choke in the finals of the NCAA basketball tournament – are responsible for most of the fan belief that these disappointments were a sign of UH’s participation in the so-called “City of Houston Sports Team Curse.” – We weren’t cursed last night. In fact, the bottom line numbers on UH’s comeback win over Memphis last night were identical, in reverse, to the numbers put up by Notre Dame and UH in the January 1, 1979 Cotton Bowl.
  5. The ND>UH/UH>Memphis Ironies:

In 1979, UH led ND, 34-14, with 7:30 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Last night, Memphis led UH, 34-14, with 14:51 left in the 4th quarter.

In 1979, ND came back to defeat UH, 35-34, on a touchdown pass by Joe Montana, followed by the extra point that came on the last play of the game. Last night, UH scored on a 7-yard run by QB Postma with 1:27 left in the 4th quarter to give UH a 35-34 lead that also would hold up as the final score.

42,159 Fans Filled TDECU Stadium to Overflowing th see the UH Memphis Game. November 14, 2015

42,159 Fans Filled TDECU Stadium to Overflowing to see the incredible and exciting UH-Memphis Game.
November 14, 2015

Family Note: When Memphis took that 34-14 lead early in the 4th quarter, my wife Norma “suggested” that we leave early to get out of the cold and beat the traffic. Our grown son Casey and I vetoed that “suggestion” with the rationale that it was far too early to give up. Because nether were with me at the time, I quickly advised them of the 1979 Cotton Bowl scenario, adding that “the temperature that day was a little cooler than a breezy 62 degrees. – It was -8 degrees and even the seats that were unoccupied were covered with ice. I even made this bold prediction to both of them: “We’ve got time and – this time – the Cougars are going to win the game, 35-34!”

Sweet Norma and me Memphis@UH Game November 14, 2015

Sweet Norma and me
Memphis@UH Game
November 14, 2015

After the thrill ride that followed in celebration on the field and in the stands, and I included that potentially game-winning field goal try by Memphis with two seconds left that went right by about one-foot only as part of the adrenaline-pumper, we all went into joyful shouts and hand slaps with every over member of the pandemonium patrol. There is no curse at UH. – There never was. – And never will be. – The only curse that can really stop any of us – is not to believe in the possible!

When we finally all settled down some before our crowded exodus, I had one more thing to say to Mama, but I said it with a joyful smile: “Norma,” I said, “now that the miracle has hatched, I have to tell you, – if we had left the game at the point of being down 34-14, and missed everything we just saw and were a part of – I would have never forgiven you – or myself – for listening to you!





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