Sports Quotes with the Memphasis on Funny

February 13, 2016
Dan Conaway Entrepreneurial Writer And Today's Guest Contributor to TPPE

Dan Conaway, Memphasis Columnist &
Entrepreneurial Writer, Memphis TN
And Today’s Guest Contributor to TPPE


Writer Dan Conaway is a friend of Rob Sangster, my writer friend since we worked together on “The St. Thomas Eagle” in high school, sometime after the Civil War.

Today Rob sent me a link to a weekly column that Dan writes. It’s called “Memphasis” – a catchy name for an apparently “most things Memphis” approach to column writing that we try to do here in allegiant support of our own sweetheart affectionate love for our dear city of Houston.

We could have identified ourselves here from our 2009 start as “The Houstoner” in tribute to our addictive support of “most things Houston,” but we fear that might have left the door open for too many wrong ideas about who we are – and what we do around here.  We are happy to be simply who we are, the lifelong seeker who survived his flight to a larger world, but never forgot or lost his connection to Pecan Park, the southeast Houston neighborhood where he grew up. Hail Houston! Hail Pecan Park! They are the same to me. And I am of them and always will be. And that includes liking the work of others as I stumble or am led to its discovery.

Dan Conaway writes a really nice weekly “Memphasis” column for the Memphis Daily News. Rob Sangster, my cool author brother of such really fine international action/intrigue novels, like “Ground Truth” and “Deep Time”,  just happened to think I might enjoy a column that Dan Conaway did this week on sports quotes, since The Eagle also had done something along those lines too, only  a few days ago.

I not only like Conaway’s selections, but I told Dan that I liked them even better than the ones I used in my own piece. He’s given me permission to use them here, but I simply wanted to make sure that these independently selected copyright-free by quotation lines were credited to Dan Conaway. He’s the one who wove them into a really fine column.  I will also close Dan’s list here with a quote by Memphis-born and bred Paul Berlin, the 85-plus years old radio disk jockey who still works the weekend FM airways with a selection of songs he once played for a lot of us Houston kids in the early to late 1950s during the birth years of sweet ballads shifting to rock and roll. You will also find the link to Dan Conaway’s website at the end of this column, with a parting question for Dan.

Paul Hornung's plans always contained a Plan B for recovery from early morning disappointments.

Paul Hornung’s plans always contained a Plan B for recovery from early morning disappointments.


By Dan Conaway for The Memphis Daily News

February 12, 2016

Talking-head post-game/primary/poll analysis:


“I won’t know until my barber tells me on Monday.” – Knute Rockne, when asked why Notre Dame had lost a game.


“I have discovered in 20 years of moving around the ballpark, that the knowledge of the game is usually in inverse proportion to the price of the seats.” – Bill Veeck, Chicago White Sox owner.


“Last year we couldn’t win at home and we were losing on the road. My failure as a coach was that I couldn’t think of anyplace else to play.” – Harry Neale, professional hockey coach.


“We were tipping off our plays. Whenever we broke from the huddle, three backs were laughing and one was pale as a ghost.” – John Breen, Houston Oilers.


“I found out that it’s not good to talk about my troubles. Eighty percent of the people who hear them don’t care and the other twenty percent are glad you’re having them.” – Tommy Lasorda, LA Dodgers manager.


“The film looks suspiciously like the game itself.” – Bum Phillips, New Orleans Saints, after a lopsided loss to the Atlanta Falcons.


The Pecan Park Eagle’s favorite: “The only difference between me and General Custer is that I have to
 watch the films on Sunday.” – Rick Venturi, Northwestern football coach.


On game/campaign plans: 


“I’m working as hard as I can to get my life and my cash to run out at the same time. If I can just die after lunch Tuesday, everything will be perfect.” – Doug Sanders, professional golfer

“When it’s third and ten, you can have the milk drinkers; I’ll take the whiskey drinkers every time.” – Max McGee, Green Bay Packers receiver.


“I have a lifetime contract. That means I can’t be fired during the third quarter if we’re ahead and moving the ball.” – Lou Holtz, then Arkansas football coach.


“My theory is that if you buy an ice-cream cone and make it hit your mouth, you can learn to play tennis. If you stick it on your forehead, your chances aren’t as good.” – Vic Braden, tennis instructor.


Player/candidate interviews/profiles: 


“Blind people come to the ballpark just to listen to him pitch.” – Reggie Jackson commenting on Tom Seaver.


“I tell him ‘Attaway to hit, George.’” – Jim Frey, Royals manager, when asked what advice he gives George Brett on hitting.


“I don’t know. I only played there for nine years.” – Walt Garrison, Dallas Cowboys fullback, when asked if Tom Landry ever smiled.


And Dan Conaway’s  favorite: “Because if it didn’t work out, I didn’t want to blow the whole day.” – Paul Hornung, Green Bay Packers running back, on why his marriage ceremony was before noon.


And our TPPE Additional Quote: “Memphis is a town of great ingenuity. It’s the only town in the country that’s both built on a bluff – and run on one too.” ~ Paul Berlin, Native Memphian, Lifelong Houstonian, and Houston’s Iconic Radio DJ.


The link to Dan Conaway’s column site:

Addendum from Dan Conaway, Saturday, 2/13/2016:

A Parting Question for Dan Conaway: Houston once had a print news writer  and early TV commentator named Ray Conaway. – Are you related?

Addendum from Dan Conaway, Saturday, 2/13/2016:

“Thanks, Bill, for the kind words. I’m not related to Ray but I’m glad the name has positive Houston history and no outstanding warrants. I’d also like to leave your readers with one more quote a friend reminded me of – from former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer, “He’s the kind of player you can give the ball to and a band starts playing. Whether it’s our band or theirs, you never know.” ~ Dan Conaway.


Thanks for the inspiration, Dan! On the rocky road search for everyday column freshness, this one was a twenty-foot can-kicking hoot of fun!

eagle-0range Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

The MLB 300 Wins Club and Roger Clemens

February 12, 2016
Roger Clemens is the only member of the 300 Plus MLB win club that is not in the Hall of Fame.

Roger Clemens is the only member of the 300 Plus MLB win club who is not in the Hall of Fame.


Rank Order of Totals for the 23 Pitchers with 300 Plus Career Wins:

1 Cy Young RH 511 316 .618 1890-1911 34
2 Walter Johnson RH 417 279 .599 1907-1927 32
3t Grover Alexander RH 373 208 .642 1911-1930 37
3t C. Mathewson RH 373 188 .665 1900-1916 32
5 Warren Spahn LH 363 245 .597 1942-1965 40
6t Pud Galvin RH 361 310 .541 1875-1892 31
6t Kid Nichols RH 361 208 .634 1890-1906 30
8 Greg Maddux RH 355 227 .610 1986-2008 38
9 Roger Clemens RH 354 184 .658 1984-2007 40
10 Tim Keefe RH 342 225 .603 1880-1893 33
11 Steve Carlton LH 329 244 .574 1965-1988 38
12 John Clarkson RH 328 178 .648 1882-1894 31
13 Eddie Plank LH 326 194 .627 1901-1917 39
14t Nolan Ryan RH 324 292 .526 1966-1993 43
14t Don Sutton RH 324 256 .559 1966-1988 41
16 Phil Niekro RH 318 274 .537 1964-1987 46
17 Gaylord Perry RH 314 265 .542 1962-1983 43
18 Charles Radbourn RH 309 194 .614 1881-1891 36
19 Mickey Welch RH 307 210 .594 1880-1892 31
20 Tom Glavine LH 305 203 .600 1987-2008 41
21 Randy Johnson LH 303 166 .646 1988-2009 45
22t Lefty Grove LH 300 141 .680 1925-1941 41
22t Early Wynn RH 300 244 .551 1939-1963 43

Two Observations:

(1) Count The Pecan Park Eagle among those who think that Cy Young’s 511 career wins is the most unbreakable important record in baseball. Today’s great pitchers make too much money to pitch themselves over the two decades it would take to even challenge Young. Twenty wins over twenty years only brings a guy to 400, still 111 wins short of the Cy-Master.

(2) Of the 23 men who have crossed the Rubicon mark of greatness by attaining 300 wins, only Roger Clemens of this totally retired group has been ignored by the Hall of Fame. – How long will Roger Clemens and others be denied this honor for merited accomplishment by the smearing shadow of allegations from the steroids era that were never proven in a court of law? Denial sucks and is no solution for anything – and treating someone like Clemens as a pariah on the basis of suspicion, without a trial, except for the one that many people carried out in their own minds, based on Clemens’s congressional testimonials, is not enough, nor is it fair or a real solution. If a player has not been convicted in a court of law, give him the honors he’s due for his accomplishments. – Treating people as though they no longer exist does not solve the problem.

We also think that baseball is guilty of enormous hypocrisy here. Back in 1998, baseball celebrated McGwire and Sosa for the way in which their incredible battle for the MLB home run title had helped the game and its fans forget the bad taste of the 1994 shortened season and cancelled World Series. We have always felt that they were implicitly giving other MLB players the unofficial green light to compete with McGwire and Sosa for the money and attention they also could earn by joining the wrecking ball attack on the power hitting record marks. Intended or not, Barry Bonds saw what he needed to do to outshine McGwire – and what do you know? Down came McGwire’s 7o HR mark and up went Bonds’ new 73 HR standard, as a few others also greatly improved their performance numbers – and pitchers learned that certain HGH products made for quicker recovery from arm injuries. I even remember an article about McGwire in which a reporter caught him rubbing something in his arm in the clubhouse as they were about to begin an interview and the “what’s that?” question came up. In words that read innocently, McGwire just told the guy that it was a cream he discovered that helped heal the soreness in his body quicker. I cannot remember what it was, only that it sounded like a topical HGH product.

Then what happened? The practice got too widespread to escape the attention of reporters who fed on stories of wrongdoing. Baseball leaders were soon pressured to publicly comment on the growing reports of illegal use of steroids by some of the biggest stars in the game. And baseball leaders responded as they often do under public pressure. They responded as Captain Renault did in “Casablanca” when he was ordered by the Nazis to shut down Rick’s Casino. When asked by Rick for his reasons, Captain Renault answered, “I’m shocked – shocked to find that gambling is going on here.” About the same time, a casino employee shows up with a handful of chips that he wants to deliver to the Free French police captain.

“Your winnings, sir!” says the casino employee.

“Oh, thank you very much!” says Captain Renault, as he quickly places the chips in his side jacket pocket.

That’s precisely how it struck me at the time. Baseball seemed to be feigning shock for a problem they had to have known was going on when McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds took the home run record into the stratosphere a few years earlier.

The players hadn’t changed. The owners had changed, at least, superficially. They did it under the force of public articles that were starting to surface about the use steroids in baseball. The leaders of the game could no longer practice denial in that other direction. Once they got past the public media rattles over Bonds, McGwire, Palmiero, Clemens, and, finally, Alex Rodriguez, baseball simply revealed that they had not really changed at all – they simply changed the direction of their preferred public position:

Before public exposure of the HGH issue, baseball simply pretended it did not exist. After its media exposure, baseball had to do some public saber-rattling as a goodwill gesture approach to the idea of problem-solving. By the time the problem fell from much public attention, baseball had installed some more stringent player use testing measures and penalties, but was left with the unfinished business of what to do with the suspected abusers during the HGH halcyon abuse days.

Baseball simply went to its always easiest card. Whereas, before the media blast, baseball had pretended the problem did not exist, they now pretend that all high profile suspects no longer exist.  Baseball may not see it that way, but psychologically, that is exactly what MLB is doing.

Under this plan of action, players like Roger Clemens will not be banned from baseball, but it is unlikely that he or any other highly suspected high achievers will be admitted to the Hall of Fame because of what was never proven or disproven. We are hoping that Jeff Bagwell will prove us wrong in the 2017 Hall of Fame, but if Bagwell does, it will only be cause all that MLB has on him is that he had the arms of Popeye during his latter playing years.

As for the recognition that people like Clemens deserve, they will show up on lists like the table we’ve prepared for this article, but that’s about it.


 eagle-0range Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas




Raymon Lacy Column from July 2014 Goes Viral

February 11, 2016
Matt Rejamaniak of SABR greets 91-year Raymon Lacy to the latter's speaking engagement at SABR on 7/14/2014.

Matt Rejamaniak of SABR greets 91-year Raymon Lacy to the latter’s speaking engagement at SABR on 7/14/2014.

Today is Thursday, February 10, 2016. In the last four days, a Pecan Park Eagle column on former Negro Leaguer and Texas public school coach and educator, then 91 year old Raymon Lacy, and his talk to the Houston SABR Chapter on July 14, 2014, has gone viral among the now very apparently widespread population of lives who have been touched by this wonderful and wise subject and recorder of history.

91-Year Old Lacy Rocks at Houston SABR Meeting

Check it out for yourselves, and make sure to read the handful of posts that people from all over the countryside have left in praise of their personal lessons from this man. The recorded comments are but a small number from the 1,221 people who have cyber-stopped by our place to read our 18-month old story on the man only this week, since Monday, February 8, 2016.

Unlike the direct access national media, FOX, and CNN, The Pecan Park Eagle news delivery is more like a note in the bottle that has been cast into the ocean of all cyber possibilities and distractions from delivery. The bottle has to finally wash ashore on the beeches of the people who care about that particular column subject, then be found and opened, and then spread like a wildfire to others who care. Such is the case here.

“Ladies and Gentleman from the World of Raymond Lacy, The Eagle has landed!”



Raymon Lacy SABR Speaker July 14, 2014



The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Quotes on Baseball as Love and Labor

February 11, 2016
"If it wasn't for baseball, I'd be in either the penitentiary or the cemetery." ~ Babe Ruth

“If it wasn’t for baseball, I’d be in either the penitentiary or the cemetery.”
~ Babe Ruth


“Love and work … work and love, that’s all there is.” ~ Sigmund Freud. As one of the few Freudian ideas that have survived over time under lighter intellectual assault,  the so-called “Father of Psychiatry” also noted that we all have only one emotional energy tank for fueling the needs of both love and labor, and that implicitly, things go better for us when we love the work we do.

Here is a small collection of quotes from baseball people, direct hits and side swipes, about love and labor, and work and play, in baseball:

“Do what you love to do and give it your very best. Whether it’s business or baseball, or the theater, or any field. If you don’t love what you’re doing and you can’t give it your best, get out of it. Life is too short. You’ll be an old man before you know it.” ~ Al Lopez.

“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.” ~ Yogi Berra.

“Nothing in baseball can bring me down to the level where I was growing up in Pine Bluff, crying and broke. This is fun for me. Whenever you see me slumping, nah, I don’t get upset; I’m all right.”~ Torii Hunter.

“You could be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball.”~ Cal Ripken, Jr.

“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.”~ George Will.

“Baseball is a lot like life. It’s a day-to-day existence, full of ups and downs. You make the most of your opportunities in baseball as you do in life.”~ Ernie Harwell.

“When baseball is no longer fun, it’s no longer a game.”~ Joe DiMaggio.

“I ain’t ever had a job, I just always played baseball.” ~ Satchel Paige.

“The only thing I can do is play baseball. I have to play ball. It’s the only thing I know.” ~ Mickey Mantle.

“If it wasn’t for baseball, I’d be in either the penitentiary or the cemetery.” ~ Babe Ruth.

“If I didn’t make it in baseball, I won’t have made it workin’. I didn’t like to work.” ~ Yogi Berra.


Thank for for being a great selective source, BrainyQuote.Com.

eagle-0range Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Courtesy Players: In a More Genteel Time

February 10, 2016
"Now in the game temporarily as a courtesy runner for Wile E. Coyote at first base, it's...." ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros. Productions

“Now in the game temporarily as a courtesy runner for Wile E. Coyote at first base, it’s….”
~ Courtesy of Warner Bros. Productions


Courtesy Players

From a manual count of the list recorded on Retrosheet, we found 98 instances in which courtesy runners were legally permitted in MLB baseball history, dating back to the first confirmed time on 8/01/1877 in the St. Louis at Louisville game. The last legitimate use of a courtesy runner happened on 7/02/1949 in a game played between the St. Louis Browns at the Cleveland Indians.

Courtesy runners were banned from the game prior to the 1950 season, but the new rule apparently was “forgotten” one more time when a 99th and illegal instance slipped by the memories of both the officials and club management in a 8/10/1952 doubleheader that featured the Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh. This time, permission was granted for the use of of a “courtesy fielder.”

“In the top of the ninth of the second game of a twin bill, Pirates catcher Clyde McCullough was injured and could not continue. The Pirates two other catchers, Eddie Fitzgerald and Joe Garagiola, had already been used in the game as pinch hitters. With the approval of Cubs manager Phil Cavarretta, Fitzgerald was allowed to replace McCullough. The Cubs won the game 4-3. Under the playing rules in effect since the 1950 season, that was an illegal substitution that the umpires should not have allowed.” – Retrosheet.

Courtesy Mid-Play Runners

Retrosheet also reports two instances since the legal end of normal base-to-base courtesy running was “almost” totally eliminated in 1950 in which courtesy runners were allowed at mid-play points in which a runner incurred a serious debilitating injury. Here’s the verbatim report from Retrosheet on those two examples:


9/7/1977 (Brewers at Angels) – In the bottom of the 6th, Bobby Bonds was on 2nd base with one out and attempted a steal of third. Catcher Charlie Moore’s throw hit Bonds in the head, sending him to the hospital. The ball ricocheted out of play, but Bonds couldn’t make the trip home. Instead, substitute runner Gary Nolan (a pitcher) scored the run.

9/14/2005 (Red Sox at Blue Jays) – In the top of the 5th, Gabe Kapler was on first when Tony Graffanino hit a deep fly ball near the line in left that Kapler thought might be in play, so he started running hard. As he rounded second base, he ruptured his left Achilles tendon and sprawled on to ground. The ball went over the fence for a homer, but Graffanino wisely stopped at second base while Kapler was attended to. After many minutes, Kapler was loaded onto a cart and taken off the field. Alejandro Machado, appearing in his 4th Major League game, entered as a pinch-runner and scored his first Major League run in front of Graffanino.

~ Retrosheet.


It’s amazing in itself that the mid-play need for a courtesy runner only came up twice – and that both instances only arose after the general practice ban in 1950. In general, one might expect that mid-play running injuries would have happened far more often than twice in 120-130 years of official play. Perhaps other examples are either awaiting discovery, or else, they now find themselves buried beyond hope of any recorded discovery among the facts available for some of those ancient games.

Courtesy Relief for Defensive Players

Although courtesy replacements for offensive players were far more common in the history of courtesy player use, it’s not hard to see the rule coming into play for the aid of defensive players, going all the way back to the Elysian Fields days of the 1840s, even if evidence is not present to confirm it.

Common sense prevails where factual proof is unobtainable. If you have ever played in a summer amateur league in some of the places that are available, you will know that what we say here is true.

Imagine the games at Elysian Fields of New Jersey back in the 1845 Cartwright Rules and Knickerbocker Club days. Imagine further a time or two there when a defensive player may have plead his case for nature-call mercy at the start of an inning because of all the beer he consumed coming over from Manhattan across the Hudson River. Under those most dire circumstances, surely somebody would have been allowed to temporarily “fill in” on the field for a few minutes as the pleader attended to the “un-filling” of his bursting bladder.

The Pecan Park Eagle loves the fact that we have historians who care enough about the game of baseball to gather this massive and still ongoing bank of data on a subject like the arcane history of the courtesy player. And why not? It too is part of baseball history. It too is simply another of the many ingredients that have gone into making baseball “the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Keep the faith, friends. Each day you hear from The Pecan Park Eagle is also another day closer to Opening Day!



eagle-0range Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas




A Retrosheet Rash from 2014 – Safe or Out?

February 9, 2016

aa question marks

On July 31, 2014, the home team Miami Marlins took the field in the Top of the 8th to defend a 1-0 lead over the visiting Cincinnati Reds. A play would occur this inning that would alter the score after a six minute plus replay review conference with the MLB “Supreme Court” in New York. The question here, as so often is the case in baseball, is – within the rules as they applied to this situation in 2014, was the runner safe or out?

Here’s how it went down:

Top of 8th, Reds Batting, LHP Mike Dunn replaces RHP Tom Koehler as Pitcher for the Marlins to start the 8th.

B1: RHB Zach Cozart reaches 1st on an error by 2nd baseman Jordany Valdespin.

B2: RHB Devin Mesoraco pinch hits for starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. ~ Mesoraco singles to left; Cozart moves to 2nd.

B3: RHB Billy Hamilton reaches 1st on error by pitcher Dunn on bunt attempt; Cozart to 3rd; Mesoraco to 2nd; bases now full

[RHP Bryan Morris replaces LHP Mike Dunn as pitcher for the Marlins with the bases full of Reds and nobody out.]

B4: RHB Kris Negron strikes out; bases still loaded; one out.

B5: RHB Todd Frazier flies out to RF Giancarlo Stanton for the 2nd out, as Cozart attempts to score from 3rd base. As Cozart nears the plate, Miami catcher Jeff Mathis moves into the running lane with the freshly received ball to make the tag. – Cozart makes no attempt to slide. He simply runs outside the lane to avoid the tag, apparently confident that catcher Mathis is illegally blocking his right to the lane on his way to the plate. Catcher Mathis tries a sweep tag, but doesn’t come close. The HP umpire then calls Cozart for running out of the base line, immediately prompting a review from New York request by the umpire crew chief, Mike Winters.

Six minutes later, New York reverses the call, calling Cozart safe because they felt that catcher Mathis was blocking the lane, forcing Cozart to run outside. The ruling change also changed the score. The game is now tied at 1-1.

Miami manager Mike Redmond goes berserk over the ruling change and is ejected. The game resume with the score now tied at 1-1, with 2 outs, instead of the retired side play that initially protected the Miami one-run lead; Hamilton is the runner at 1st; Mesoraco reached 3rd on the play at the plate.

[Hamilton steals 2nd base; the Reds now have runners at 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs.]

B5: RHB Ryan Ludwick singles to center, scoring Mesoraco from 3rd and Hamilton from 2nd; The Reds now lead, 3-1, with Ludwick on 1st and 2 men out.

B6: RHB Brayan Pena flies out to Stanton in right field to end the inning:

Top of the 8th Tote Board: The Reds finish the inning with 3 runs, 2 hits, 2 errors by Miami, and one runner left on base. The lead holds for another inning and one half as the final score: Cincinnati Reds 3 – Miami Marlins 1.

It all turned on that reversal of the call at home from out to safe in the 8th.

Here’s the entire seven minute clip on the play, including a few repeated looks, and the tension that built as the time lapsed deeper on the New York review. Was Cozart out for running out of the baseline in clear violation of catcher Mathis’ right to be there with the ball? ~ Or was Cozart simply using his head to run out of bounds because it was clearly Mathis breaking the fairly new rule against blocking the plate without the ball in hand?

We personally thought the play should have stood as originally called. It seemed clear to these eyes that the catcher had the ball in his glove, no matter how briefly, before Cozart reached HP and veered to the outside.

And is this play better understood today than it was two years ago, when the new rule governing the presence of the catcher in the lane was even newer?

Here’s the YouTube link. Please check in with your own opinions on the ruling.



Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas


Super Bowl Monday Lagniappe

February 8, 2016
Marie "Red" Mahoney Texas Baseball Hall of Fame

Marie “Red” Mahoney
Texas Baseball Hall of Fame

Marie “Red” Mahoney, Rest in Peace. A “Celebration of Life” memorial service for the late Marie “Red” Mahoney of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame was held on Saturday February 6th at the Heights Funeral Home, 1317 Heights Boulevard in Houston. A visitation for friends and family was planned from 2:00 to 3:00 PM followed by the Memorial Service at 3:00 PM. We were unable to attend due to a longstanding family commitment Saturday, but Red remained close to our hearts and positive thoughts at service time, as she is every night in prayer. Houston’s shining star from the women’s “league of their own” era will glow forever for as long as we have baseball historians, local and national, on the job and eager to keep the record clear about her pioneer contributions.

“Goodbye, Red, but know this too: You are always in our hearts, even though you’re far away.”

Super Bowl Monday. Several media types yesterday suggested that the Monday following each Super Bowl should be declared a national holiday. The reasons are multiple: (1) Even the non-drinking fans are hungover from the food they ate and the energy they spent on the Super Bowl game the previous day. (2) a A national holiday would also spare the fans from the guilt of going to work on Monday without the energies needed to earn their pay (Wink. Wink.) Maybe so. But how about moving the Super Bowl to a Saturday date. – Then the day-after would be Sunday – a day that was intended for rest and travel home from distant places. Besides, in this era of penalties for the absence of parity in any form, “Super Bowl Monday” for football fans would cry out for something similar for the fans of other big sports when Game Seven of the MLB World Series or the NBA Championship Finals was set to be played on any date preceding a normal work day.

The Denver Texans. Congratulations to the Denver Broncos and all of their former coaches and players from the Houston Texans. The Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, yesterday, in a game that owes most of the credit to the shrewd defense of former Texan and now Bronco coordinator Wade Phillips and to the field leadership of the game’s MVP, Bronco linebacker Von Miller. Congratulations also to Denver Head Coach Gary Kubiak. With his team’s victory, the former Texans Head Coach won a Super Bowl in hist first year at the helm, becoming also the first Super Bowl Head Coach in history to win a ring for a team in which had once played. The great Peyton Manning also deserves credit for keeping the offense out of deadly trouble in a game dominated by defenses. Manning did have an interception, but it did not lead to any Panther points. The Denver win earned Manning his second Super Bowl win and the 200th win of his playing career as a quarterback.

The Super Bowl Score. Our published pre-game guess yesterday was Denver by 27-17. Denver won by 24-10. Do the math. Had Denver kicked one more field goal, and had Carolina scored one more touchdown with a single PAT, we would have had it on the nose. That’s close enough for a self-congratulatory pat on the back for luckily guessing that the No. 1 defense in the NFL would hold down the production of the best scoring club in the league. – Don’t you think?

Nationwide Is On Your Side. That little seven syllable Nationwide jingle that Peyton Manning plays with on the commercials with new parody words got into my head at one point. He almost lost control of a ball on a hand-off up the middle, but recovered it in time.

That play left my brain with a thought that found its way into a whispered singing version of: “Al-most-lost-the-G-D-ball!”

Astros-Emojis 01

Astrodome History News. Good friend and fellow SABR compadre Sam Quintero passed on a few facts to me this morning that simply whets my appetite for reading more by acquiring my own copy of James Gast’sThe Astrodome: Building an American Spectacle”: (1) John Wordman, an employee of Monsanto, is credited with giving the new ersatz grass the name “Astroturf”. (2) When the Astros came to Monsanto, the material that would be given the name “Astroturf” already existed and was in place on an experimental basis at some small college back east. (3) When Monsanto offered to fix the increased acceleration of balls hit sharply off the new turf, Judge Roy Hofheinz apparently told Monsanto to leave the fast rug hop alone. He wanted it to just as it was – faster and harder to play – we suppose. – The Gast book is available through Amazon at $13.42 for paperback and $9.99 for the Kindle version.

The Judge Did It! After I published the information from James Gast’s book about some fellow named John Wordman being the originator of the term “AstroTurf,” I received this corrective comment from the one fellow in the world who should know best about these matters of proper credit, Mr. Tal Smith.

Tal reports what we have long thought was true about the origins of the name. I have taken the liberty of moving the entire body of his comment and repeating it here – with a bold type embellishment of the name credit correction:

“For the record, I was directly involved in the initial examination (which was conducted at the Moses Brown private school in Providence, RI) and subsequent testing of the artificial turf developed by Monsanto’s Chemstrand subsidiary. It was Judge Roy Hofheinz who coined the term “Astroturf” to describe and promote the revolutionary playing surface. Monsanto and Chemstrand had previously called their product “Chemgrass.” Prior to its installation in the Astrodome the turf had been experimental with no commercial application.”

~ Tal Smith, former President of the Houston Astros and Club Supervisor of the Astrodome’s Construction and Corrective Measures to the Roof Visual Problems and Resultant Need for an Artificial Playing Surface.”


Have a nice Monday – even if you do have to work.


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas




The Bi-Polar Bad News Bears

February 7, 2016
Meltdowns Happen.

Meltdowns Happen.


The Bi-Polar Bad News Bears are an amazing collection of short-lived manic-depressive delusions and biochemically vacillating bursts. As a team, they are an abrupt and fruitless full use of the body’s entire endorphin supply – and they do it faster than a shooting star.

Endorphins, as you may know, are the bodily substance that is essential to the incubation of “the stuff that dreams are made of” as Sam Spade so obliquely and eloquently explains them at the conclusion of “The Maltese Falcon” without actually mentioning the inherent ingredient behind the power of the carved black bird. Endorphins are the heart of pleasure in all we enjoy in life, from the pursuit of our personal passions – to the compensatory taste of joy that we sometimes find in comfort foods like ballpark hot dogs.

The problem with frequent bi-polar mood swings, from totally on and flowing to totally off and drained dry, is that the difference in behavior is always more apparent to others who know them than it is to the host person going through the rapid mood swings.

The manic or “upside” phase that drives a bi-polar endorphin flooded person on a weekend to engage in joyful, but serious consequential decisions and actions on a Saturday and they hit the mood actor like a fall to earth from a great height by Monday morning. These changes are nothing to write off as easily as a head cold.  Fortunately, bi-polar patterns are controllable with medication and therapy today.

Unfortunately, for the bi-polar patient, the piper must still be paid for the tab on harms created for him or her self and others prior to the time of getting help – and, of course, forevermore, as well.

The Bi-Polar Bad News Bears are not an attempt to overlook or make light of a serious medical condition. The following roster is simply another “made up” team of players who might be able to fill the teams with real MLB historical surnames that depict either the rise, fall, or mood state range that is possible under the influence of this condition. Only one of the members of our fantasy team is there as an actual success story survivor of the disease. As the only one here with a famous full name, he  won’t be hard to find. The rest of the players are on board because their surnames suggest some connection to bi-polar factors.

Based upon the MLB performance records of all, but our big time player, it is hard to see this club having any “up” period of significance beyond a single time at bat by our one star in about three times at bat out of ten.

Here is The Roster of the Bi-Polar Bad News Bears:

C Herman Pitz 1890 90 284 47 .165 43 9 0 39
1B Pop Joy 1884 36 130 28 .215 12 0 0
2B Juan Melo 2000 11 13 1 .077 0 1 0 0
3B John Happenny 1923 32 86 19 .221 7 10 0 0
SS Hal Quick 1939 12 41 10 .244 3 2 0 1
LF Kenny Hottman 1971 6 16 2 .125 1 0 0 0
CF Jimmy Piersall 1961 121 484 156 .322 81 40 6 8
RF Harry Dooms 1892 1 4 0 .000 0 0 0 0
DH Steve Filipowicz 1948 6 26 9 .346 0 3 0 0
LHP Jerry Upp 1909 7 4 2 2 1 1.69 12 13
RHP Dave Downs 1972 4 4 1 1 1 2,74 3 5


Our Super Bowl Biases ~

Have a fun Super Bowl Sunday, everybody! NFL football may not be MLB baseball, but the game today is a lot more exciting than anything that NBA basketball, NHL hockey, or whatever they call the professional soccer league has to offer. Let’s see Peyton Manning go out with a win today that ties him with brother Eli Manning of the Giants at two Super Bowl wins each. ~ We also would enjoy seeing Denver Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Denver Defense Coach Wade Phillips show what they could have done here in Houston, if only the Texans had not passed on Peyton Manning in 2012 because they already had a QB by the name of Matt Schaub. – We offer that support in spite of the fact that Gary Kubiak himself was in favor of going with Schaub and not signing Manning during that latter period of his tenure as head coach of the Texans. We assume that everything that has happened since that time has seriously corrected the judgment of Gary Kubiak on the value of having even an “old” Peyton Manning as his team’s QB.

Here’s my Sunday Morning Prediction: Denver 27 – Carolina 17.


Pecan Park Logo

Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, and Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas




The Top 20 MLB Season Walk Leaders

February 6, 2016
Jimmy Wynn of the Astros is tied for 14th place on the list of MLB season walk leaders.

Jimmy Wynn of the Astros is tied for 14th place on the list of MLB season walk leaders. – Jeff Bagwell is tied for the 12th spot.


If there’s one idea that describes most of the men on the all time MLB list of Top 20 Season Walk Leaders, it is that all, but four of them had tremendous power. Only the three “Eddies” (Yost, Joost, and Stanky) and Jimmy Sheckard were simply little guys who knew both the strike zone and the arts of getting into the pitcher’s head about less explosive concerns. – Eddie Yost was so good at working the base on balls calls that he even drew his “the Walking Man” nickname from those skills.

The other guys on the list were bashers – and they all shared the ability to strike terror in the hearts of pitchers who knew darn well what probably would happen if they received a pitch too good to miss. As most of you know too, that fear of these batters grew with runners on base in a close game.

Barry Bonds and five others were the only men to ever receive the extreme strategic response to that fear of what might happen if they were allowed to hit with men in scoring position – but none of the others were on the top 20 season walk leader list. Bonds and company were given intentional walks with the bases loaded, a strategy dedicated to the idea that giving up one run for certain was preferable to the probability of giving up four with a grand slam. In chronological order, the six players given such passes are Abner Dalrymple (1881), Nap Lajoie (1901), Del Bissonette (1928), Bill Nicholson (1944), Barry Bonds (1998), and Josh Hamilton (2008). In all six cases, the pitching team went on to win the game with the help of this unorthodox strategy.

Here’s the list, thanks to Baseball Reference.Com:

The Top Twenty MLB Season Walk Leaders Table

# Player Bats Age Walks Year
1 Barry Bonds L 39 232 2004
2 Barry Bonds L 37 198 2002
3 Barry Bonds L 36 177 2001
4 Babe Ruth L 28 170 1923
5t Mark McGwire R 34 162 1998
5t Ted Williams L 28 162 1947
5t Ted Williams L 30 162 1949
8 Ted Williams L 27 156 1946
9t Barry Bonds L 31 151 1996
9t Eddie Yost R 29 151 1956
11 Babe Ruth L 25 150 1920
12t Jeff Bagwell R 31 149 1999
12t Eddie Joost R 33 149 1949
14t Barry Bonds R 38 148 2003
14t Eddie Stanky R 29 148 1945
14t Jimmy Wynn R 27 148 1969
17t Jimmy Sheckard L 32 147 1911
17t Ted Williams L 22 147 1941
19 Mickey Mantle B 25 146 1957
20t Barry Bonds L 32 145 1997
20t Harmon Killebrew R 33 145 1969
20t Babe Ruth L 26 145 1921
20t Ted Williams L 23 145 1942


Interesting to Note:

  • Barry Bonds leads all others in the Top 20 Season Walk list with six appearances – and he was over age 30 for each of those, achieving the all time record for season walks with 232 in 2004 at age 39.
  • Two former Houston Astros, Jeff Bagwell (12t in 1999) and Jimmy Wynn (14t in 1969) both made the Top 20 List.



Culture of the Sandlot Grit and Grime

February 5, 2016
Eagle Field Former Home of The Pecan Park Eagles

Eagle Field
Post WWII Home of
The Pecan Park Eagles


We were just dirty, grimy little kids. Puberty had not yet knocked. We weren’t into “putting on social airs” for anybody in the sandlots of Houston’s east end. We just were “the way we were” at Eagle Field, that little quadruple house lot city tract of land that still exists today as Japonica Park. Besides, this was good old Houston in the late 1940s summertime. None of us had ever heard the term “air conditioning” in our part of town. Everybody we knew sweated normally in the Houston heat and humidity. Back in that day, those two qualities were the almost indistinguishable conditions of Houston indoor and outdoor air from late April to early October.

Heat? Humidity? Even those who showered in the morning prior to work or school couldn’t escape the facts. After a ten minute June ride in a car, even with all the windows down, you were going to start sweating and stinking again anyway by the time you reached your destination – so, we kids reasoned, what was the point of the bath in the first place?

And nobody wore shoes, even to the Saturday kid double feature at the Avalon Theatre on 75th, just north of the Lawndale intersection. The Avalon provided one special wrinkle to our preferred barefoot state. You had to get used to walking on the melted candy that other kids had dropped in the aisles and seat rows for weeks upon weeks of summer fun. They never cleaned the floors. It filled every rodent way seat file in the joint. What a party the Avalon’s unofficial residents must have enjoyed once the Avalon home of Roy Rogers, the Bowery Boys, and Charlie Chan shut down each evening ’round midnight.

The Avalon, however, was no big challenge to our dressing or hygienic preferences. Our calloused feet were as hard as rocks and as tough as leather – and none us individually smelled any worse than anyone else. Everybody eventually gashed a foot, once or twice, as a result of broken class or tin cans in the weed patches we all traversed, but, beyond the blood, that was nothing serious. Everybody expected it to happen to them too, sooner or later. And we all healed up on our own and kept on playing.

Tee shirts, blue jeans, and underwear were our standard attire for us guys, except for Sundays, when bathing, dressing up, and wearing shoes were the Lord’s Day penalty our parents attached to the business of going to church. Dads also were home on Sundays, enforcing an ordered way of life that did not quite exist during the rest of the week.

Of course, Sundays also were fun, especially the ones in which our destination was Buff Stadium, but we also enjoyed Sunday family dinners at Weldon’s Cafeteria on South Main or a first suburban-run A-movie at the Santa Rosa, Wayside, Eastwood, or Broadway theaters. My younger brother John and I both understood too the grown-up way of thinking – that you had to clean up and wear shoes for those kinds of places.

Come Monday morning again, however, it was back to the sandlot, where down and dirty was our way of life. Beads of sweat were our adornments, like so many pools of body ornamentation, collecting the grass, grit, and grime we rolled in on the ground – making sensational catches – or sometimes griming together in the wrestling matches we seemed to need to use up the energy that remained from a full day of baseball.

Then, on various linear-lined days that descended upon all of us from that Houston era, everything changed. First, puberty hit us all. Then came affordable home air conditioning. We now had two compelling reasons in Pecan Park for cleaning up, caring about our attire, our personal hygiene, and wearing shoes.

Before home A/C, the relative comfort of being inside wasn’t that much of a relief from the heat and humidity of being outside. Once we had home A/C in one room, we wanted it in all rooms. Then we had to have it in our cars too. And it wasn’t too long from then that people seemed to only want to go places that were air conditioned. I even remember one time at Buff Stadium in the 1950s hearing this older woman saying to a man I presumed was her husband: “Wouldn’t it be great if they could figure out a way to air condition Buff Stadium?”

“That’ll never happen,” the man responded. “Unless they also can figure out a way to play baseball indoors, that ain’t going to happen.”

Ancient Greek philosopher Plato once said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” He might have added that puberty is the reason that boys start taking baths, and he also could have thrown in the not-far-fetched theory that our addiction to air conditioning in Houston is what inevitably necessitated the construction of the Astrodome.


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