Jimerson Shines at June 2015 SABR Meeting

June 23, 2015

“You never know how strong you can be, until being strong is the only choice you have left.”
~ Tupac Shakur

The June 2015 meeting of the Larry Dierker SABR Chapter in Houston last night, 6/22/15, at the Spaghetti Western Restaurant on Shepherd was both cozy and cool. Tony Cavender delivered an excellent book reviews of Charles Leehrsen’s new work, “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty”, as a serious attempt to extract the true great baseball star from some of the most prejudicial things that have been written previously about him, and Bob Dorrill and Mike McCroskey both spoke about the upcoming award of $3,500 in college scholarship assistance that has been made possible by the sale of our 2014 chapter publication, “Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-1961.”

Mike McCroskey presented a clever July 4th themed trivia quiz, one that eventually was won by one of “the usual suspects” in baseball trivia wonder, Greg Lucas.

Mike McCroskey also related a tale (I think) of his 1992 trip to the induction of Roger Clemens into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame., a year which also included the induction of Houston Buff 1951 slugger, Jerry Witte. (My apologies, Mike, if memory mis-serves here, but like many of the stories you tell, I walked away with the same old “second-guess” question: “Did Mike say he did that – or did he say someone else did that?” Please forgive me, Mike,  and feel free to write a corrective comment., as you wish.

We also learned by photo distribution from meeting program chairman Jim Kruez that SABR member Tom White was once a “star pitcher” for Vanderbilt University back in the day. Like the fabled Clark Kent of comic book fame, mild-mannered Tom White looked quite a bit like “Superman” in those photos. He was quite fit in appearance and all dressed out in killer baseball duds from back in the day.

The highlight of the evening was our lead-off man speaker, former Houston 2005-06 Astros outfielder,  Charlton Maxwell Jimerson.

The 35-year old Jimerson’s story is about the obstacles he had to overcome with the help of life’s healing forces (sometimes referenced by others as “The Grace of God”) working through other to achieve the success in life he has attained “against all odds.”  Jimerson credits his older only sister Lanette as the real parent of his childhood, the one who helped him master the waters of living, first with two drug-involved parents on the streets of Oakland, California and then with a helter-skelter single mom who was still drugging and moving out of necessity from one crummy lace to the next. Sister Lanette was Charlton’s guiding light to the fire that lived within him for something better in life than his two older brothers were reaching from the chaotic “take it, if you can get your hands on it” lifestyle that awaited so many “parent-less”  young black males on the inner city streets of America.

A talent for baseball was Jimerson’s vehicle to a destiny that goes far beyond the game itself. Had he not had this baseball this talent, he may have found a way to make it anyway, but that is an unanswerable question. It’s not what happened.

“Against All Odds”, the book, is about that struggle, challenge and victory in the life of Charlton Maxwell Jimerson, a still young man with great eloquence as someone who speaks deeply from his soul about the gifts that have become his road of life feast in ways that go far beyond the fact that he used his baseball talent to almost earn the college degree from Miami University that he now is completing at the University of Houston; that he wrote his name into the MLB record books when he homered in his first MLB time at bat as a pinch hitter for Roger Clemens; that he now faces a strong corporate future for his talent with numbers; that everything good for him is unfolding in Houston, the place that has grown into his home town since his days with the Astros; and that he will always have his memories of those two national collegiate baseball championships as a player for Miami, and the brief, however limited service time he spent as a one-inning defensive player for the 2005 only Astros pennant winner. And pile on the Clemens-pinch-homer in his first MLB time at bat the next season, and all of the great learning time he sent in the company of mentors like Jackie Moore, Phil Garner, and Tony Gwynn – just to name a few. – How much help does one guy need to get the key to the biggest city that life has to offer – the one that serves up self-respect in the truest meaning of that phrase?

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=200609040PHI

Former Astro outfielder Charlton Jimerson and former Astro President Tal Smith shared a happy reunion at the Spaghetti Western June 22, 2015 meeting of SABR in Houston.

Former Astro outfielder Charlton Jimerson and former Astro President Tal Smith shared a happy reunion at the Spaghetti Western Restaurant June 22, 2015 meeting of SABR in Houston.

In our view, SABR member Chris Chestnut asked Charlton Jimerson the question of the evening that opened the most light on this likeable young man’s character and basis for succeeding “against all odds”.

Chris Chestnut asked: “Charlton, when you are talking to young people today, what do you tell them you think is important for them to know?”

“I just tell them to remember that every decision they make and act upon is going to have consequences in their lives,” Jimerson answered, as he went on weaving his own mental trail of explaining what he meant.

We’ll have to put it in our own words: “Nothing we decide to do, or not do, comes free. In time, short time or long, everything we act upon. or fail to act upon, results in either a “ticket” to more choices – or a “ticket” to some place in which our choices are reduced to few, if any – to none.  In the end game, we get as much freedom in life as we are willing to take responsibility for having because, like the two sides of the same coin, freedom and responsibility are the inseparable partners of the same entity. “

At the still tender age of 35, we get the impression from his own words that Charlton Maxwell Jimerson understands everything we just expressed in our italicized expression of this ancient wisdom .

That impression is sustained by Jimerson’s decision to again quote Tupac Shakur at the conclusion of his last page book acknowledgements as a way of taking responsibility for the freedom he had given himself to write and name his memoir:

“This is the realest shit I ever wrote, against all odds.” – Tupac Shakur

God Bless Charlton! – God Bless Tupac! – And may God Bless us all!

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The .500 Win % Clubs Near 2015 MLB Mid-Season

June 22, 2015
Put that big flag pole from Tal's Hill somewhere! - We need a place to be reminded of either World Series Champions flag - or else - the flag pole itself to remind us of our last  World Series win!

Put that big flag pole from Tal’s Hill somewhere! – We need a place to be reminded of either our World Series Champions flag – or else – the flag pole itself to remind us of our last World Series win!

Nearing mid-season by about a rough dozen games per team, we wake up on Monday, June 22, 2015 to find that 18 0f the 30 MLB clubs are playing .500 ball or better.

10 of the 18 “winning” clubs are American League members; 8, of course, are National League pennant contenders.

Things often change during the second hard stretch in the season schedule, but the probability remains that most of the ten playoff clubs (3 division winners in each league and 2 wild cards in each league that will have to sudden death each other to reach the first round of 4 team series competition in each league on the way to determining the World Series representatives for both the AL and NL groups will mostly come from 18 clubs shown here.

The six MLB division leaders are shown in bold types below, but none, not even the Cardinals, have insurmountable division leads that guarantee anything in the second half of the season. As per usual, injuries, the presence or absence of quality inning starters, the fatigue upon relief staffs when the starters falter, defense, consistent strategic hitting, luck, and the good or poor management of each club’s strengths and weaknesses down the stretch will prove again to be the major difference-makers as to which club ultimately survives as the last standing winner in October:

POS TEAM LEAGUE /DIV’N W L PCT GB
1 CARDINALS NL C 45 24 .652
2 ROYALS AL C 39 27 .591 4.5
3 ASTROS AL W 41 30 .577 5.0
4 PIRATES NL C 39 30 .565 6.0
5 RAYS AL E 40 31 .563 6.0
6 DODGERS NL W 39 31 .557 6.5
7 CUBS NL C 37 30 .552 7.0
8 YANKEES AL E 38 31 .551 7.0
9 TWINS AL C 37 32 .536 8.0
10 GIANTS NL W 38 33 .535 8.0
11 t RANGERS AL W 37 33 .529 8.5
11 t NATIONALS NL E 37 33 .529 8.5
13 ORIOLES AL E 36 33 .522 9.0
14 BLUE JAYS AL E 37 34 .521 9.0
15 TIGERS AL C 35 34 .5072 10.0
16 METS NL E 36 35 .5070 10.0
17 t BRAVES NL E 35 35 .500 10.5
17 t ANGELS AL W 35 35 .500 10.5

As to where the Houston Astros now stand as a winning prospect, we of The Pecan Park Eagle are still not sold on how the club will fare over the whole season. We believe in the strategy at play, but, after all these years of living and dying in Houston with what can happen late in the season, the proof remains in the October pudding.

We love the addition of Carlos Correa at shortstop and the storming weekly improvement in hitting from George Springer, and we do like the power bop that threads it way through the lineup. We simply don’t think we can hold up for a whole season without the acquisition of another quality starter, the proven coming of age of a guy like Lance McCullers and, hopefully, one of the others, plus strategic hitting that also comes from players who also hit for average. For now, as we saw in Sunday’s game at Seattle, Houston’s strategic hitting seems too reliant upon the long ball from one of our “hit or sit” ball crushers. Is there anyone out there who really believes Luis Valbuena could become the first AL HR leader with 40 to 50 dingers on the year and still fail to reach .200 as a season batting average?

Let’s remember too. – The Astros are doing a lot this year, so far, without the much bigger bat that Jose Altuve brought to the plate last year. We hope that he gets past the current hamstring sideline with a sudden discovery of his old batting champion magic of 2014. Altuve, Springer and Correa hitting on all cylinders at the top of the lineup could be just the combo tonic we need for strategic hitting that included savvy on the base paths running and some table-setting in Houston like we’ve never seen for the big boppers hitting behind them.

We are fans of Jeff Luhnow’s rebuilding strategy and have become big managerial fans of Astros mentor A.J. Hinch in a very short time of paying him any attention. I personally think that he and his staff have done a great job to date of managing the strengths and weakness of the club, but we also know that the wear and tear on pitching may be hard to conceal in the second half, if we cannot add quality to the starting rotation by the trading deadline. Harris, Sipp, and Qualls already are showing some fatigue and, if McHugh slips further as a starter, we are going to need more than one new quality guy up front.

That’s our Astros nutshell for the morning and there’s still ample reason to hope for good things. – Winning it all, however, would sure taste better in October than all of the soup that some writers will make with the theme of how much improvement the Astros made in 2015 as opposed to actually winning anything that mattered.

We think we can speak for many ancient Houston Astros fans when we say this: “Our days of dining contentedly on “consolation custard” are over!”

If you don’t believe us, check the turnstiles.

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Who My Dad Was To Me When I Was Very Young

June 21, 2015
Dad and Me 1939

Dad and Me
1939

Who My Dad Was To Me When I Was Very Young

1) He was the guy who stood tall in my first vivid memory of anything back in 1939, before I was even two years old, On a Sunday visit to see my Mom’s folks in San Antonio, my Uncle Albert fell from a tall tree in my grandparents’ back yard, but his neck caught in a limb fork and he was left hanging there, with his arms and legs dangling in desperation. I’ll never forget Uncle Albert’s scary moaning in the heat of danger. As a young teenager himself, at that time, he had put himself in a deadly spot, but that’s certainly not an analysis I was capable of making back on that day. All I could do is be scared for him.

The next part of this special first memory was seeing my dad tearing off his shoes and racing to that tree for a quick climb of his own. He brought Uncle Albert down under his arm, safe from death on that day. Mom and my grandma were both what I now recognize as hysterical, but my brief trauma memory ends with my visions of Uncle Albert staggering around the yard and spitting up. Even at that tender age, however, I did recognize that he was safe because of my dad.

2) He was the guy who took me to my first baseball game at the Bee County Fair Grounds in Beeville, Texas in the summer of 1941. At age three, I saw Dad in uniform for Beeville as the right fielder, even though I had no idea what was I was viewing at the time from the right field grandstands where Mom sat and I walked constantly up and down the wooden seat planks. I do remember one of his teammates yelling, “You’re the baby, Bill,” when he came to bat the first time, but I have no memory of what he did. My only game action memory of Dad that day was seeing him field what I now understand was a one-bounce base hit to right field and then seeing Dad throw the ball to what I only much later knew as second base.

3) On Sunday, December 7, 1941, my dad was the guy who told me to go out the kitchen door to play in our backyard. Other family and friends were showing up to listen to the radio with Mom and Dad, but it made no sense to me. At 24 days short of my fourth birthday, it made no sense to me, but the departure from our normal Sunday schedule from that time was strong enough to register as a memory of mystery and curiosity.

4) Sometime in the summer of 1942, once I was beginning to get the idea that we were now “at war” with some people who didn’t like us, I followed the lead of some older kids in our Beeville neighborhood and went out into our dirt grade streets to look for metal we might collect on “Scrap Iron Day” in our town. I remember finally getting tired of digging empty holes with my little play shovel. I laid down in the road beside our house, trying to  make sense of why some other people could hate us so much that they wanted to kill us. – I called upon the only person that Mom and Dad already had told me had the answer to everything and just laid flat on my back, looking up at the cotton candy clouds of summer that drifted overhead. “God,” I asked, “if you are up there behind those clouds today, could you please tell me why these people from far away want to kill everybody in Beeville?”

About that time, I heard Dad’s shrill lip-whistle to come on inside for Saturday lunch. I always obeyed Dad, even though this time he had interrupted an important conversation I was having with God. I told Dad that I hoped God didn’t get his feelings hurt because I had not waited for his answer to my question. “It’s like I’ve been telling you, Billy,” Dad said, “God is everywhere. You can finish that talk with God after lunch when you are laying down to take your nap.”

5) On my fifth birthday, December 31, 1942, Dad moved the entire McCurdy family, which now included my one-year old brother, John Carroll McCurdy, to Houston. Dad had been disqualified for military service for medical reasons, but he still wanted to contribute to the war effort and he had taken a welding job at the Brown Shipyard in the Ship Channel area. We checked into the Alamo Courts Motel on South Main upon our twilight arrival in Houston from our auto trip from Beeville. Shortly thereafter, that same day, Dad took us to Prince’s Drive Inn at South Main and OST for our official new and forever Houstonian baptisms. I turned out to be the only “Born Again Houstonian” who has remained that “saved” – and I probably owe my lifelong loyalty of 72 years as a faithful adopted son of our great city to the Prince’s special burger sauce.

6) When I was seven, Dad was the guy who moved our family from renter status in the Heights to home ownership at 6646 Japonica Street in the Pecan Park neighborhood of the Houston Southeast End in January 1945. Across the street was the little city-owned sandlot that would become the principal shaper of so many childhood memories and dreams about a hopeful tomorrow. Thanks for the good move, Dad.

7) When I was nine, Dad took me and my five year old brother John to see the 1947 Houston Buffs play baseball at beautiful old Buffalo Stadium on Cullen Blvd., near the University of Houston. What a game-changer move in my life that one came to be. It turned on a switch that will never go out.

My love of the game has shaped any other worthwhile thing I’ve ever tried to do, whether I got there or not. Like baseball, life is an even longer season of rolling, often uneven success and intermittent morale assaulting disappointment. But totally like baseball, we have to hang in there in life and always fight back for the fulfillment of dreams that stir our souls. Whether we ever get there in some worldly self-measurable way is not the point. The points are – “hang in there and keep fighting back until you breathe your last.”  – Anything less is death itself.

Thanks, Dad, for everything, from early on. Everything I ever learned about fighting back, and adapting to new circumstances for the sake of love, I first learned from you!

Happy Father’s Day, William Oscar McCurdy ll !

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1920: Daring Texas Pilot Leaps into History

June 20, 2015

After you read the following story, which of these two actors would you have cast, when they were in their primes, to the movie role of “Wild Bill Long” from San Antonio, Texas: (Feel free to submit your own choice for an even better casting!)

Movie Role Candidate #1: ROBERT REDFORD

Movie Role Candidate #1:
ROBERT REDFORD

MOVIE ROLE CANDIDATE #2: TERRY THOMAS

Movie Role Candidate #2:
TERRY THOMAS

*****************************

Daring Pilot Fires Plane and Leaps to Safety in Parachute

For the first time in the history of aviation, a pilot yesterday deliberately set fire to his airplane, leaped from the blazing machine with a parachute and landed unscathed.

William Long of San Antonio, alias Wild Bill, taker of long chances in the ethereal blue, did the feat, while the longest crowd that ever thronged the beach front in breathless suspense. Ten seconds after the birdman trusted himself to the problematical safety of the parachute, the plane’s gasoline tank exploded and tore to pieces all that remained of the ship as it plunged into the gulf. Wild Bill. suspended beneath the slant umbrella, drifted inshore at the mercy of a smart sea breeze and landed on the roof of a house four blocks from the seawall. He climbed down, a smile all over his smoke-blackened features, turned over the chute to bystanders and went swimming.

The affair was a free attraction obtained by the Galveston Beach Association and the Galveston Commercial Association for the benefit of visitors to the beach.

~ Galveston Daily News, June 20, 1920, Page 2.

******************************

In the absence of high definition, high speed digital moving picture photography back in 1921, The Pecan Park Eagle congratulates The Galveston Daily News for assigning an excellent descriptive writer to the job of covering this awesome daredevil stunt from the early years of manned flight.

Given the cost of aircraft sacrifice that made this act the feat it needed to be, we have to presume that there was no repeat of the same performance on the same weekend, if ever.

Thank you again, Darrell Pittman, for sending along this wonderful early example of “America’s Got Talent” and splendid descriptive coverage.

eagleOne additional post-column publication thought about this event and date and their place in history: Since there were no prohibitive laws or “green movement” groups around in 1920 to stop a city from incorporating the “intentional” sinking of a flying vessel loaded with exploding hydrocarbon fuels on board a winged vessel as the central part of their plan to entertain the general public, perhaps, we may want to speciously designate June 20, 1920 and Galveston, Texas as the birthdate and birthplace of global warming.

Not So Famous Poorly Chosen Words

June 19, 2015

“And what did Pablo Sandoval do when he left the dugout to go to the bathroom in the middle of a game, Matt Lauer?”

Not So Famous Poorly Chosen Words

1) Matt Lauer, Today Show, NBC-TV, Friday, June 19, 2015: Leading into a light story he was about to report on Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval leaving the dugout to text women in the clubhouse during the game, Today Show host Matt Lauer reported this big news to the nation and three anchor colleagues sitting with him at the news desk as he spoke in this form:

“Later, (after getting a hit earlier in the game), during the seventh inning, he (Pablo Sandoval) left the dugout to go into the clubhouse to use the bathroom, and – do you know what he did? … No, not that!”

Note: Way to go, Matt! Whenever a player leaves the clubhouse to use the bathroom, the fans always want to know if it was for Number One, Number Two or some combination of both basic needs. If it was for Number Two, however, please spare us the gradiently differential data on how things went down.

2) A local Los Angeles radio station flash news report on a robbery arrest , sometime in the 1950s: “The arrest was made by Sargent Tom Williams, a defective of the Los Angeles Police Farce.”

3) Richard Nixon, speaking publicly at the Grand Opening of the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin after being shown with the much larger LBJ as the host was physically moving his Republican guest with pushes and pulls through the different public rooms: “A short while ago, as President Johnson was throwing me around the library …”

4) In 1972, with the initiation of federal revenue sharing with cities for the support of certain local projects, many Houstonians were wondering what then Mayor Fred Hofheinz was going to call this new program by name so that they could then submit bids for assistance or make recommendations on how the money was to be spent. Your humble writer here submitted a written suggestion for what we felt was an appropriate program name, but we never heard from the mayor, one way or another, in any active form. The fact that we never heard from the mayor at all about anything after this suggestion was our answer. We wonder why? All we said was, “Why don’t you call our local federal revenue sharing program by a name that everyone will recognize? Call it ‘Preparation H’.”

5) Years and years and years and years ago – before I was ever, ever, ever, ever married, a girl friend and I drove over to Matamoras, Mexico to do a little shopping in the market and then have dinner. On our way out of the hotel, my key chain broke and I hurriedly picked up the several items that had fallen to the floor and stuffed them in my pocket. We had a great morning. My girl friend bought a colorful little handmade bowl. We decided to place the turista purchase in the trunk of the car before lunch, but we found the trunk door partially unhinged when we got back to our parking space, I figured I had just failed to close it properly when we checked into the motel the previous evening. I closed it hard this time and we then went on from there to enjoy a great (what else?) Mexican food dinner at a little cafe near the square. The open, then solidly closed trunk would simply soon prove to be one more of the quirky circumstances that combined that fine day to set us up for an unforgettable experience.

On the our way back into the USA, we were stopped by US customs as part of a random check and pulled aside. And here came my time to misspeak again.

Customs Officer: “Do you have anything in your trunk to declare, sir?”

Yours Truly: “Just a little pot, Officer.”

Customs Officer: “Oh really? – Well, I think you had better open the trunk and let me see for myself.”

Yours Truly: “It’s not that kind of pot, Officer! I didn’t mean to …”

Customs Officer: “Just open your trunk, sir!”

Yours Truly: (now fumbling nervously for my trunk key in the handful of loose keys I had pulled from my pocket. It wasn’t there.)

Customs Officer: “Which one is it?”

Yours Truly: “It’s none of these, Officer! Would you believe my key chain broke as we were leaving the motel in Brownsville? – It’s got to be there – on the floor somewhere.”

Customs Officer: “Pull over, Sir! – You guys are in for a long afternoon!”

Indeed we were. Of course, this was fifty years ago  and things were slightly different then. With no cell phones, and no answer to a call for friends who were staying at the same Holiday Inn, US Customs allowed us to squirm for a couple of hours in our search for someone who could find and bring us the trunk key. Allowing one of us to go get it by taxi was never an option. Neither of us were going anywhere. And one other officer kept inferring that they could get that trunk door of my 1964 Ford Falcon open very quickly in their own way, if I didn’t come up with a key pretty soon.

What happened next probably wouldn’t happen today. The customs officer who stopped us finally walked over to us as the delay time crawled up to nearly three hours and handed me the ignition key to my car. “Look, young man, (yes, they used to call me that), we’ve been watching both of you pretty carefully for quite a while now, and you’ve both done a pretty good job of convincing us that you aren’t trying to smuggle dope by convincing us that you are just a couple of dumb ass tourists who would plant drugs in your own car trunk, then make dumb statements to us, and then spend the rest of the afternoon being good actors. – You guys are not acting. This was the dumbest thing I ever seen at this crossing. Now get out of here, – go find that damn trunk key,  – and never come back to Mexico without it! – Have you got that?”

Yours Truly: “Yes, Sir.”

Nuf sed. One of these days I may run out of self-flagellation stories from my youthful naivete and my apparently honest-to-a-fault need to keep telling them.

T.G.I.F – And GO ASTROS – Win ‘Em All this weekend and leave the Mariners “Sleepless in Seattle!”

The Indelibility of Seat-Carved Words

June 18, 2015

10_14_07-039

Tick-Tock Goes the Clock of Life

Last Friday morning was one of those days for the serendipity of quirky chain-linking events that sometimes leads, at least, to good material for an unusual column, but one that also bears some kind of more far-reaching effect that we simply are unable to fathom in the present moment.

I had gone to the Astrodome that morning to spend time with Jimmy Wynn as he helped a fellow named Steve Archer host a “seat stand sale” to the hundreds who came to the property that day to pick up souvenir seats from the Astrodome they had purchased earlier.

It was a big crowd of Astro fans who all brought with them their memories and affections for both the Astrodome and Jimmy Wynn, the only one there on Friday, June 12, 2015 who actually had played in that first Astrodome baseball game of a little more than fifty years ago on April 9, 1965.

Jimmy Wynn and the Astrodome. Both remain among us as living iconic symbols of Houston’s earlier commitment to all of the great unfolding promises of tomorrow. Many also chose to purchase autographed copies of “Toy Cannon”, the book that Jimmy Wynn and I wrote on his life back in 2010. And almost all of the fans who approached Jimmy thanked him for some special memory they still bore with them as a joy from his playing days in these latter years of us all.

Here comes the serendipity chain:

At the end of a long hot morning, Jimmy and Marie Wynn, and yours truly, prepared to leave. Before we left, however, among other things, Steve Archer, one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet, gave Jimmy Wynn a couple of seat panels that had come from the demolition of the original Yankee Stadium. It was pretty obvious from their more modern look and plastic materiality that these panels had come from the 1976 renovations and were not from the 1923 original seat installations.

Bingo!

Jimmy Wynn gave one of the seat covers to me as we were leaving – and one to take as his gift to Bob Dorrill. It’s simply the kind of guy that Jimmy Wynn is. I took Bob’s Yankee Stadium seat panel to him that night when we met in Sugar Land for our Houston Babies game against the Katy Combine at Constellation Field.

Bingo again!

Astrodome Seats 03

Astrodome Seats 01

Astrodome Seats 02

The seat panel I kept contained some deeply etched graffiti. The inscribed words in the above featured close up photo of them should be pretty clear, but they read as follows: “Mike J Kuen …. 9\11\83 …. New Haven CT”.

Eureka!

Remember Abraham Lincoln’s famous words from the Gettysburg Address? “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” Abe wasn’t thinking about Yankee Stadium at the time. Had he been aware of certain things to come, Abe would have known that thoughts carved into biodegradability-resistant material, no matter how mundane and banal, could remain unforgettable to all who saw them for a period of time approaching eternity.

Germination of The Plan.

With the enlisted help of friend and fellow researcher Darrell Pittman, we set out to try and find out if the same “Mike J Kuen” were still around today to be reminded of his past actions. We figured the risk rewards of this research were worth the effort. It figured to have been the act of a teenager or some other immature person who had long since outgrown the need and outlived the statute of limitations on prosecution for misdemeanor vandalism.

If it turned out to be someone who had graduated from carving plastic to carving people, we figured on pulling a quick “feet, don’t fail me now” retreat in abandonment of all further research.

We didn’t get far, so far.

Darrell found some contact numbers for a guy we located in Connecticut that we think, but do not know for sure, who may be our guy, but my attempts yesterday, and again today by phone fell way short of contact. Like many people today, this guy uses his voice mail to screen calls. Last night I got no response to my requests for a call back. Same today. It probably sounded like a prank or a lead in pitch to some kind of scam from a stranger in Texas with a larger plan – when all it really was, and is, was an attempt to let our true “Mike J Kuen” know that, however, slight it may have been, that his carved words into the history of Yankee  Stadium had not been forgotten.

Today I invited our subject to either call or correspond by e-mail, if, in fact, he was the one we have been seeking – and I plainly told him that I, in return, would send him digital copies of the stadium panel photos shown here. I also promised the man that I would not attempt to reach him again, if I did not hear further from him directly in response to today’s invitation.

It’s probably just as well that the search ends this way. Some people have a need for either forgetting or not wanting to recall the miscreant acts of their earlier adolescent lives – and, who knows, – maybe this just isn’t our guy and he doesn’t want the nuisance of dealing with something that lands on his voice mail completely foreign and unexpected.

I still can’t help but feel from this experience and that I would have made a lousy Sam Spade.

The serendipitous remains of this experience.

Barring further developments that we do not yet see, the Yankee Stadium seat panel etchings are just a reminder that many of us, as kids, did a few things in rebellion once upon a time in the course of growing up. We simply didn’t carve them into plastic, as one “Mike J Kuen” once did, for some stranger to pull out of the trunk of memories thirty-two years later from a buried past and ask questions about.

“Think Before You Ink” all you great young graffiti artists out there! You may be writing on something that you will live to regret memorializing some thirty years from now.

Analog Report, June 18, 2015.

We just heard from Bob Dorrill, the other eventual “stadium seat” recipient in this two-panel Yankee Stadium story. Bob spoke with Steve Archer today, to thank him, I’m sure. According to Bob Dorrill, Steve Archer confirmed that the panels we each received, indeed, are seat bottoms, not seat backs. Archer said the legs of some 2,000 seats were stolen some time ago, making the restoration of each complete former seat impossible.

Just another possible reason to support why the real “Mike J. Kuen”, whomever he may actually be, will not want to talk publicly about his inscription for the ages. He had carved his name into a part of Yankee Stadium that normally supports the human posterior – and he probably had to work between his own legs for several innings to get it there into the seat in the legible form it now remains.

American League All Stars of 1921

June 17, 2015
Galveston News AL All Star Picks June 19, 1921 Submiited by Darrell Pitman

Galveston News AL All Star Picks
June 19, 1921
Submitted by Darrell Pittman

OK, It’s 1921. There won’t be an MLB All Star Game for another twelve years, but so what? Baseball fans and writers have been picking league all stars by position from the earliest oozings of organized baseball and this early offering is no exception of one considered judgment. It doesn’t mean that everyone from that era would have been totally in agreement, but I “gotta” tell you, I wouldn’t have minded going to managerial war against the National League with these guys as my offensive cannons, defensive shields, and throwing arms of mass destruction.

Here’s my starting lineup, based upon each player’s 1921 stats:

1) George Sisler, 1st Base (,371 BA, 18 3BH, 12 HR, 104 RB1, 35 SB), St. Louis Browns

2) Ty Cobb, LF (.389 BA, 197 Hits, 37 2BH, 22 SB, 101 RBI) Detroit Tigers

3) Tris Speaker, CF (..362 BA, 183 Hits, 52 2BH), Cleveland Indians

4) Babe Ruth, RF (.378 BA, 204 Hits, 177 R, 168 RBI, 39 2BH, 59 HR), New York Yankees

5) Eddie Collins, 2nd Base (.337 BA, 38 3BH, 3 HR), Chicago White Sox

6) Larry Gardner, 3rd Base (.319 BA, 187 Hits, 32 2BH, 120 RBI), Boston Red Sox

7) Everett Scott, SS (.262 BA, 151 Hits), Boston Red Sox

8) Ray Schalk, Catcher (.252 BA, 0 HR, 47 RBI), Chicago White Sox

9) Stan Coveleski, RH Pitcher (23-13, 3.37 ERA, 99 K) Cleveland Indians

Closer, if needed: Walter Johnson, RH Pitcher (17-14,  3.51 ERA, 143 K, Washington Senators

Don’t Discount Babe Ruth Too Soon, AP Writer

June 16, 2015

On June 19, 1921, The Galveston Daily News reported the following on San Antonio’s Joe Connolly and his 3-HR Texas League game:

Galveston Daily News June 19, 1921 Submitted by Darrell Pittman

Galveston Daily News
June 19, 1921
Submitted by Darrell Pittman

It wasn’t really a case of minor leaguer Joe Connolly bragging upon himself for having done something that even the up and coming HR “phenom”, Babe Ruth, had done by this date in history. The Associated Press writer who flipped this quick thumb-to-nose salute to Babe Ruth for never having yet, as of that June 19, 1921 date, done what Joe Connolly had done that previous day for the Sa Antonio Bears in a losing cause to Shreveport. Left handed batting Connolly had pounded out 3 home runs is one game, albeit, in a losing 11-10 cause.

Joe Connolly Major Leagues 1921-1924

Joe Connolly
Major Leagues
1921-1924

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=connol002jos

Connolly would begin his brief, spotty major league career (1921-24) that same season, but he would never hit 3 home runs in a single big time game. In fact, “3” would be the total of his MLB homers over the face of a four-season big league career.

Meanwhile, as history notes, Babe Ruth would go on to have four “3-HR games” in the big leagues, with the first two of those momentous occasions occurring in the 1926 and 1928 Worlds Series actions against the same club, each time, the St. Louis Cardinals.  The third 3-HR Ruthian game came least conspicuously of the four against the Philadelphia Athletics during the 1930 season and his fourth and last 3-HR splurge came as probably the most famous of them all for its place and timing in the career of baseball’s greatest historical figure.

Babe Ruth's 4th and Final 3-HR game came dramatically in 1935 at the tail end of his grea career as a slugger.

Babe Ruth’s 4th and Final 3-HR game came dramatically in 1935 at the tail end of his great and fabled MLB  career as “THE”  legendary slugger.

On May 25, 1935, and now playing out the last gate-attraction dregs of his fabled career briefly as a Boston Brave in the National League, Ruth his three home runs in a game at Forbes Field, with one being a prodigious shot, just days prior to his retirement for all time after a game at Cincinnati. The 3-HR game in Pittsburgh would have been the ideal time for the Babe’s cold turkey end as a big leaguer, but real life did not play out as it did in the 1948 movie, “The Babe Ruth Story”.

If you care to check out Babe Ruth among the others in the MLB 3-hr Games Club, check out this link:

http://www.baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?103023-3-home-run-games

The Babe never had 4-HR big league game, but his Yankee teammate, Lou Gehrig, did reach that mark on one occasion.

It didn’t matter. Several players have broken some of Babe Ruth’s most iconic records. They simply couldn’t be Babe Ruth, even when they tried and beat his numbers on the field.

If there’s a “There Will Never Be Another Babe Ruth Club” out there, sign me up.

Astrodome Abandoned to Skid Row in 2000

June 15, 2015
The Astrodome Friday Morning June 12, 2015

The Astrodome
Friday Morning
June 12, 2015

It’s not like the old days. of course, but the run of special times at the Astrodome plays on.

Last year, we were among those who purchased a pair of Astrodome seats in the 2014 first public  sale. Then, on June 4, 2015, Bob Dorrill and I went to the Astrodome to pick up two special stadium seats for Jimmy Wynn. And earlier, at the April 9, 2015 50th Anniversary Party to celebrate the Houston Astros’ first game of all time in the then brand new Astrodome, and against Mickey Mantle and the New York Yankees, no less, we were among the approximate 30,000 fans who flocked to the Astrodome to see again and pay homage to the “old girl” we all know better as “The Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Front: Jimmy and Marie Wynn Back: Steve Archer & Shawn Bouley Astrodome Seat Stand Sale June 12, 2015

Front: Jimmy and Marie Wynn
Back: Steve Archer & Shawn Bouley
Astrodome Seat Stand Sale
June 12, 2015

June 12, 2015 was a special morning we spent with Jimmy and Marie Wynn at the Dome Seat Stand Sale conducted by Steve Archer of Philadelphia and ably assisted by NRG Properties Manager Shawn Bouley. Jimmy and I were even able to sell quite a few copies of our “Toy Cannon” book to a very appreciative audience – and Steve and Shawn did everything they could to make us all feel welcomed. It was great just watching the fans approaching Jimmy Wynn to say hello, thank him, and share their memories of him. – And almost all of the fans  mentioned one of Jimmy’s most famous monster homers, especially the ball that he launched into the gold seat section in high left field so long ago.- No doubt about it. – Jimmy Wynn is one of the most loved figures in all of Houston’s sports history.

But there have been other memories in months – and some new ugly realizations.

April 9, 2015 was a bittersweet beautiful day. I got the impression from crowd chatter that most people who had come that day had brought with them every thought and emotion imaginable in the life space that exists between the portals of “hello” and “goodbye”. A good many of us, I think, or project, (take your pick), approached the party as a conveniently unexpected encounter opportunity to run into, one more time, that special young love that was lost to our reach so many years ago. How would it be to see the Astrodome up close again? We knew going in that her youthful electricity was now spent, but, let’s be fair. She’s fared no worse than many of us to the physical ravages of aging.

To make our experience with being around the Dome in the presence of so many others of good spirit, and that image especially includes all the parents of young children who were all trying to use the gathering as a time to try and teach their kids what “the great hall that changed the game of ball” once was like, the atmosphere was one of hello to an old love that never really went away. She simply got chewed up by the politics of abandonment that ensued from the gut-wounding demands for more seats by Bud Adams of the NFL Oilers.

Adams got his extra seats, unfortunately, but it cost the Astrodome its magical scoreboard – and it soured the inner sense of uniqueness that even the grand old Dome had over all the other multipurpose venues she prototyped in her first decade of life. And, even after all that concession to one man’s greed, Adams still abandoned Houston and the Dome, taking his cookies to Nashville – and, sadly, now leaving Drayton McLane with an aesthetic dislike for the boring new look of the Dome’s interior that now nicely leveraged our fear of also losing the MLB Astros to relocation too – unless public monies could be used to build a new retro-looking baseball park downtown.

McLane got his wish too, but he didn’t really do this to us. A lot us supported the idea of a venue that looked more like the baseball park of our nascent dreams. We too had become bored with the sameness look of the Dome, but that was bound to happen over time with age and familiarity. The stationary roof guaranteed that after thirty years of regular use, that all games would come to look alike, with controlled indoor lighting and no variable weather to break the haze of “same look/different day” that over time had gone from excitement to boredom – and  with no option available for openness on good weather days to open up things to the sky because of the permanent roof, stirring the ambient excitement.of the now too drab interior could only have happened with an imaginative proactive plan for internal change. That never really happened on the scale it required – and people were simply unaware that just around the corner of the 21st century lay the makings of a digital technology explosion that could have provided the Astrodome with all the internal changes it needed to keep fans entertained by the uniqueness of varied visual touches that would help keep the interior exciting on a dynamic basis.

That’s right. The Astrodome didn’t need abandonment in the latter years of the 20th century. She needed the equivalent of a mid-life makeover. She had reached the age of needing a facelift beyond the flowers that Mr. McLane, to his credit, had tried to use as bright spots on the dull walls of a drab interior.  It just wasn’t enough. And the loss of the great scoreboard for Mr. Adams’ extra seats most probably was the dagger to the heart of our aging beauty. After the big scoreboard was removed and the extra Oilers seats were installed, it was virtually all of us who acted in support of building what is now Minute Maid Park who became contributors also to the dire straits that are now  the Astrodome’s current state of dilapidation. And that last sweep includes team owners, our local governing bodies, special business interest groups – and us fans too. Ugly, but true.

All of us – we allowed the construction of the new baseball park without insisting upon an Astros exit plan that would have spelled out a proactive business agenda for what then would become of the Astrdome. Never happened. We all jumped away to our new ballpark like kids dropping an old toy for the new and shiny one – or an old wife for a young one. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t remember a single article or community discussion of any consequence about the future of the Astrodome back in 1996-99. And we missed our best shot at a plan that could have given her an earlier, full to partial renewal – by either saying goodbye to Mr. Adams before we allowed him to force the loss of our scoreboard – or in conjunction with the Astros’ plan to move downtown, insisting upon an acceptable new business plan for the Dome as a condition for approving any public monies for a new baseball venue. We just didn’t do it. Nobody did.

Maybe this is what that one older stranger I heard muttering really meant when I passed him on the sidewalk beside the Dome back on April 9th. The man was just standing there, facing the Astrodome, with arms folded, as he stared intently at our mammoth architectural icon , shaking his head – and muttering to no one in particular beyond himself.

“This never should have happened,” the man spoke into the wind, without even so much as breaking the stillness of his concentration.

This time, if this really is a last ditch opportunity to get it done, we had better get it right. Otherwise, our “true love” for the Astrodome doesn’t go away. It just converts into an unrecoverable grief over our loss of this first-of–a-kind love to our collective misunderstanding of what all those abandonment symptoms and actions were really about back in the 1990s. And the loss of true love doesn’t really ever go away. It haunts the soul of the grieving survivor like the meanest demon from hell.

Astros-Emojis 01

Houston Babies Fall, 7-2, to Katy Combine (Again)

June 13, 2015
~ SEEMED LIKE OLD TIMES ~ LIKE LIKE THE FATHER OF PLAY-BY PLAY RADIO DID BACK IN THE 1920S, IRA LIEBMAN OF THE SUGAR LAND  SKEETERS BROADCAST THE BABIE-COMBINE GAME FROM FIELD LEVEL.

~ SEEMED LIKE OLD TIMES ~
LIKE LIKE THE FATHER OF PLAY-BY PLAY RADIO DID BACK IN THE 1920S, IRA LIEBMAN OF THE SUGAR LAND SKEETERS BROADCAST THE BABIES-COMBINE GAME FROM FIELD LEVEL.

The Katy Combine played beautifully at Constellation Field yesterday, June 12, 2015, earning every sweet sip of bubble wine they took from the victory cup of having again bested, busted and otherwise pushed aside the Houston Babies, 7-2. The Babies fought the good fight, but they couldn’t resist hitting too many high floating one-bounce outs – and they suffered an excess number of foul tip one-bounce grabs by the Combine catcher for easy retirements at the plate to have much hope for a win of their own.

The game was played in splendid good sportsmanship between the two stalwart and strongly committed 1860s vintage base ball clubs of the Greater Houston area – and the hope lives on that we shall continue to recruit others to a level of participatory appreciation for the soaring impact our hobby-game has upon the sandlot spirit that never died within any of us from earlly childhood to now – and from ere to eternity.

We remain dedicated to the plan of developing two more teams. With four teams, we will bring spring and autumn round robin schedule league play to Greater Houston Vintage Base Ball and be able to play our way into a championship game, perhaps at Constellation Field, between the two clubs that finish the year’s schedule with the best records.

That being said, here’s an often up-close-and-loaded-with character pictorial of the Houston Babies personnel who were able to participate in yesterday’s game. And these shots include pictures of our on-the-DL shortstop, Jimmy Disch, and the loyal daughter and courtesy runner for her father, Meghan McCroskey – without whom, her dear and often brash, but good natured father, Michael “Piano Legs” McCroskey, would never so much as get to first base – let alone get the double that later converted to only the Babies second run of the day when his surrogate runner daughter came in to score on his behalf.

The Pecan Park Eagle hopes you enjoy your individual, collective, and residually ambient visit with the 2015 Houston Babies in imagery!

FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2015 IT WAS A GREAT DAY FOR 1860 RULES BASE BALL AT BEAUTIFUL CONSTELLATION FIELD IN SUGAR LAND, TEXAS!

FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2015
IT WAS A GREAT DAY FOR 1860 RULES BASE BALL AT BEAUTIFUL CONSTELLATION FIELD IN SUGAR LAND, TEXAS!

For the first time, the Babies-Combine game got big digital HD screen coverage at beautiful Constellation Fied.

For the first time, the Babies-Combine game got big digital HD screen coverage at beautiful Constellation Field.

BOB DORRILL HOUSTON BABIES MANAGER

BOB DORRILL
HOUSTON BABIES
MANAGER

ALEX SCHMELTER HOUSTON BABIES RIGHT FIELD GRANDSON OF BOB DORRILL

ALEX SCHMELTER
HOUSTON BABIES
RIGHT FIELD
GRANDSON OF BOB DORRILL

MIKE McCROSKEY HOUSTON BABIES CATCHER-PITCHER

MIKE McCROSKEY
HOUSTON BABIES
CATCHER-PITCHER

MEGHAN McCROSKEY HOUSTON BABIES COURTESY RUNNER DAUGHTER OF MIKE McCROSKEY

MEGHAN McCROSKEY
HOUSTON BABIES
COURTESY RUNNER
DAUGHTER OF MIKE McCROSKEY

ALEX HAJDUK HOUSTON BABIES LEFT FIELD SON OF LARRY HAJDUK

ALEX HAJDUK
HOUSTON BABIES
LEFT FIELD
SON OF LARRY HAJDUK; BROTHER OF ZACH HAJDUK

LARRY HAJDUK HOUSTON BABEIS 1ST BASE-PITCHER FATHER OF ALEX AND ZACH HAJDUK

LARRY HAJDUK
HOUSTON BABEIS
1ST BASE-PITCHER
FATHER OF ALEX AND ZACH HAJDUK

PHIL HOLLAND HOUSTON BABIES 2ND BASE

PHIL HOLLAND
HOUSTON BABIES
2ND BASE

BILL HALE HOUSTON BABIES PITCHER-3RD BAS-CATCHER

BILL HALE
HOUSTON BABIES
PITCHER-3RD BASE-CATCHER

BOB STEVENS HOUSTON BABIES RIGHT FIELD

BOB STEVENS
HOUSTON BABIES
RIGHT FIELD

BILL McCURDY HOUSTON BABIES GENERAL MANAGER

BILL McCURDY
HOUSTON BABIES
GENERAL MANAGER

KYLE BURNS HOUSTON BABIES CENTER FIELD

KYLE BURNS
HOUSTON BABIES
CENTER FIELD

ROBERT PENA HOUSTON BABIES C-SS

ROBERT PiNA
HOUSTON BABIES
CATCHER-SHORTSTOP

ROBBIE MARTIN HOUSTON BABIES CENTER FIELD

ROBBIE MARTIN
HOUSTON BABIES
CENTER FIELD

BEAUTIFUL CONSTELLATION FIELD HOME OF THE SKEETERS SUGAR LAND, TEXAS

BEAUTIFUL CONSTELLATION FIELD
HOME OF THE SKEETERS
SUGAR LAND, TEXAS

MARK HUDEC HOUSTON BABIES 3RD BASE

MARK HUDEC
HOUSTON BABIES
3RD BASE

TWP FOUL-TIP-BOUNCE-CATCH-OUTS FOR THE BABIES ARE CAPTURED ON THE BIG SCREEN PASSING EACH OTHER ON TRIPS TO AND FROM THE DUGOUT.

TWO FOUL-TIP-BOUNCE-CATCH-OUTS FOR THE BABIES ARE CAPTURED ON THE BIG SCREEN PASSING EACH OTHER ON TRIPS TO AND FROM THE HOUSTON BABIES DUGOUT.

JIMMY DISCH HOUSTON BABIES SHORTSTOP (DL) TODAY'S "BLIND TOM"

JIMMY DISCH
HOUSTON BABIES
SHORTSTOP (DL)
TODAY’S “BLIND TOM”

HOUSTON BABIES POST-GAME TEAM PICTURE CONSTELLATION FIELD JUNE 12, 2015

HOUSTON BABIES
POST-GAME TEAM PICTURE
CONSTELLATION FIELD
JUNE 12, 2015

IRA LIEBMAN PLAY-BY-PLAY MAN FOR THE SUGAR LAND SKEETERS AND PLAY-BY-PLAY MAN AND OUTFIELDER FOR THE HOUSTON BABIES

IRA LIEBMAN
PLAY-BY-PLAY MAN
FOR THE SUGAR LAND SKEETERS
AND
PLAY-BY-PLAY MAN AND OUTFIELDER
FOR THE HOUSTON BABIES

HOUSTON BABIES CELEBRATE SUNSHINE AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS ON A DAY IN WHICH THE ONLY BAD THING WAS A 7-2 LOSS TO A TEAM OF GOOD SPORTS, THE KATY COMBINE.

HOUSTON BABIES CELEBRATE SUNSHINE AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS ON A DAY IN WHICH THE ONLY BAD THING WAS A 7-2 LOSS TO A TEAM OF GOOD SPORTS, THE KATY COMBINE.

 

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, EVERYBODY!


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