Astros Win the Simple Math Projection

August 25, 2015
When it comes to winning...

When it comes to winning…
“There’s No Place Like Home!”
~ Houston Astros, 2015

If winning division titles were all a matter of simple probability projections on games left to play with about a month to go, based on home and road winning records to date, the Astros are in line to take the AL WEST in 2015. The math steps taken to arrive at this conclusion are fairly easy to follow below in tabular form. Of course, even for me, math of this nature always brings to mind one of baseball history’s major caveats about paying total attention to probability – and that reminder that features Bobby Thomson’s 1951 “Shot Heard Round the World” and NY Giants announcer Russ Hodges screaming “The Giants Win The Pennant”, ad nauseum, into the ether of recorded baseball history.

All we did here was to examine the the three contending clubs in the MLB-Com data bank, determining their home and road win percentages over all games played through 8/24/15. Then we applied those two H&R win percentages to the games that each club had left to play at home and on the road. Then we simply added these projected yet-to-be-played home and road records to standings to date to finish out the statistical look at how the three contending ALW clubs will end the season.

If were just up the math, the Astros will be rescued from their horrible road record by their lights-out exciting winning mark at home.

At any rate, here’s the same kind of math applied to 2015 that would have shown the Brooklyn Dodgers in late August 1951 as probably in line to win the NL pennant in a walk:


ASTROS 69 57 .548
RANGERS 64 59 .520 3.5
ANGELS 63 61 .508 5



ASTROS 45 21 .682
ANGELS 39 27 .591 6
RANGERS 28 30 .483 13




RANGERS 36 29 .554
ANGELS 24 34 .431 8.5
ASTROS 24 36 .400 9.5




RANGERS 23 .483 / 11 WINS
ASTROS 15 .682 / 10 WINS
ANGELS 15 .591 / 9 WINS





RANGERS 16 .554/ 9 WINS
ASTROS 21 .400/ 10 WINS
ANGELS 23 .431/ 9 WINS




ASTROS 89 73 .549
RANGERS 84 78 .515 5
ANGELS 81 81 .500 8

Wouldn’t it be a relief to somehow know that our Astros’ suspiciously jinxed record in winnable road games (like last night’s 1-0 Astros loss to the Yankees) was simply our human tendency for leaning our own negativity into the way we resolve failed hope and expectation as either the result of some conditional jinx (like playing on the road) or reading it as the foreboding voice of destiny’s doom?

Back on the sandlot, we had a simpler way of describing our disappointment with losing, when we weren’t too mad or mortified by whom we lost to – or how it happened. And that rationale hung simply in the air as: “That’s the way the cookie sometimes crumbles.”


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Come Alive to Be Alive and Stay Alive

August 24, 2015
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“Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

 ~ Civil rights leader Howard Thurman,  quoted in

I want to thank Mark Wernick for sending me that quote from Howard Thurman last night because it completely summarizes what writing this simple daily column especially has meant to me as I enter the fourth week of what I’m now hoping will be the downhill side of my visit by a guest who doesn’t seem to want to leave.

Writing here is the only thing that takes me completely into the here and now of my passion-fire for communication under extraordinary circumstances. It has nothing to do with pleasing people, writing perfectly, never making inadvertent factual mistakes, or even hitting the mark of hot news or whatever else may be of interest to my readership. – Of course, these were the perks of writing from a voluntary blog site for free, even before I got sick.

Now that freedom is my certified paycheck.

The only other places I get to feel this empowering state of freedom to be me in passionate peace, in transcendent disconnection from physical pain or anxiety about anything, are in quiet moments with family and friends and the people I see in my office.

As an Astros fan, of course, I am also swept up from the mire of aging and life’s physical adversities by no-hitters, walk-off homers and other such hits, and an Astros club that is roaring into New York tonight with a four-game bulge as the American League West division leader.

The larger point for all of us to me, regardless of age, but even greater, if you can get it early, is the point expressed so lucidly by Howard Thurman. Find your passion for life and go there. Live there. Be there. Be who that presence in the moment of creative ignition allows you to be.

As one who grew up in the practical-minded working-class Pecan Park neighborhood of southeast Houston, and as one coming of age in the 1957 new era of Sputnik and the blossoming concern about the space race, I could never forget the national challenge we all heard about the need for more scientists and engineers. – “That’s where the jobs are going to be” was the message then – and not “what are your aptitudes and interests – what do you feel passionate about?”

I was sort of spared. My interests were communications (journalism and broadcasting) and psychology. I only lost 50% of my passion, the parts that had to do with public communications. I couldn’t justify simply writing or talking about something as important in a world in which America needed us to do something about the Russians and the race for space. I guess I saw myself as moving into the mental health field as an attempt to do something about helping the casualties these changes in our culture were bound to produce.

Whatever it was, it was way, way too theoretical and grandiose. Fortunately, I felt a passion for my work and an ego that was adjustable over time to the realities of my much more modest place in the grand scheme of things as a mental health care professional.

It was my free ranging passion for fiction, poetry, lyrical composition, parody, and history, particularly baseball history and biography, that I had put on the shelf for so many decades. But these channels were fully returned to me with the coming of the Internet and all of the continuing evolution of communication media that are, so far, a major signature on change in the early 21st century.

I was lucky. New technology took me fairly straight to a place in which my passion for written communication could find its own niche.

My loss was time. And my unanswerable questions are all those that pertain to how my writing life might have changed my personal decision-making, had I been active with it in the forty years it slept in writing hunger. But that’s OK. No one’s life rolls forward on Teflon. Those who think theirs did simply missed some insight opportunities along the way.

If I were giving a commencement address to college or high school graduates today, these are the points I would stress:

(1) They would get to hear my take on the importance of Thurman’s quote about coming alive.

(2) Do something that you feel passionate about – not what you think your parents or the world needs to see about you.

(3) Self esteem comes only from what you think about you – not what others think of you.

(4) Watch out for the creation of early debt. Debt traps people into work that pays enough to meet the bills, whether they like it or not.

(5) If you are a high school graduate, be careful about floating a federal loan for your college education on a degree plan, if you already sense no passion for what your training to become – and only see it as a way to make “good money”.

(6) Watch out for greed. Greed is not a passion. It is an ego driven compulsion to control life with cash, based upon the underlying fear that “more control through more cash is never enough of either”.

(7) The quickest route to the discovery of your passion is to give of yourself to others in life in honest ways that never violate your integrity. Make that a part of your life – and your passion will find you.

(8) Education is not about graduating and then never having to go to school again. Education is about learning that our need to continue learning is forever – and about finding that sweet spot of personal passion that allows us to come alive, be alive, and stay alive.



All’s Well That Ends in Astros “W” @ MMP

August 23, 2015


Following a great SABR meeting at Minute Maid Park in which a full board room of members of the Larry Dierker Chapter listened actively to a really upbeat talk by Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and one of his key staff, 30-year old Brandon Taubman, the high energy felt there moved to the field in which most members sat together to first hear a beautiful tribute to Craig Biggio for his 2015 induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and then to watch Scott Kazmir, Jose Altuve, and Luis Valbuena lead the ALW  first place Astros to a 3-1 second straight win over the NLW front-running Los Angeles Dodgers.



Altuve opened the game with a triple and then scored when Carlos Correa was safe at first on a fielder’s choice error to make it 1-0 Astros. In the second inning, Luis Valbuena pasted a Greinke-served solo homer to deep right to push the Astros edge up to 2-0.

In the top of the 6th, Dodger shortstop Jimmy Rollins cracked the 500th double of his career and then scored on a a single by third baseman Justin Turner for what turned out to be LA’s only run of the game to cut the margin briefly to 2-1, Astros. It was a short-lived rally for the rich guys from Tinseltown,

Then Altuve came right back in the bottom of the 6th inning with a solo homer into the Crawford Boxes off the arguably NL-best pitcher, Zack Greinke to up the Astros ante back to two-runs at 3-1, a tally that would stand as the final score..

Houston goes for the sweep this Sunday afternoon, but it won’t be easy. Never is, no matter how it looks.

Young Lance McCullers is back from the farm to face off for the Astros against lefty Clayton Kershaw in the sweep quest, but didn’t we already mention the fat that it’s never easy?

Nevertheless, the Astros ow have a 4-game lead over the “new” second place team, the Texas Rangers, who defeated the Detroit Tigers on the road Saturday, 5-3. The Los Angeles Angels slipped to 3rd place and are now 4.5 games back after getting pasted at home, 15-3, by the surging Toronto Blue Jays.



Back to the Luhnow SABR talk for a moment. Jeff Luhnow was flying high Saturday – and why not? He’s been talking about “the plan” for four years of fairly uninspired play at the MLB level due to the new for rebuilding the talent pipeline. Over time, “2015” sort of slipped into something that sounded close to the answer to the question, “How soon can we begin to see the plan working better at the MLB level?”

Luhnow underestimated himself. We actually started seeing improvement in the Astros last year. And it got even incredibly better this year after the hiring of manager A.J Hinch and the addition of some key MLB-ready players and the coming of rookie sensation Carlos Correa.

Luhnow hoped for .500 or a few games better in 2015. What he got what was a speed horse club that hasn’t broken away from the pack, but one that has fought hard to keep a small lead in the ALW for most of the season.

“It’s helped that several of the clubs in our division have also had their problems,” Luhnow said as he smiled, as though to imply, “but we will take it any way we can get it.

Why shouldn’t Luhnow the man have been as pumped as a non-New England football? He’s talking to SABR with his club in first place  and coming off the previous evening’s no-hit win by Mike Fiers over the Dodgers, as one of the recently acquired players that our GM had only recently acquired to help with the stretch drive! – How super cool is that?

As the Reverend Red Barber might have put it, were he still around today to preach the gospel of baseball, “Mr. Luhnow and the Houston Astros have taken a great liking to the ‘catbird seat’ in recent days. – Yes, sir! – They surely have!”



Jimmy Wynn and Larry Miggins were both n attendance yesterday. Jimmy looked great, even showing up to surprise Bob Dorrill and yours truly with seat back rests from Yankee stadium with our special numbers on them. Bob Dorrill got # 3 for Babe Ruth; I received # 23, a number that Jimmy gave me years ago when we worked on “Toy Cannon” together. For that reason, number 23 is now very special to me. It’s as close as I can be to this wonderful friend without intruding upon the number 24 that will always mean “JIMMY WYNN” in Houston.

LARRY MIGGINS ST. LOUIS CARDINALS, 1948, 1952. HOUSTON BUFFS, 1949, 1951, 1953-54.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS, 1948, 1952.
HOUSTON BUFFS, 1949, 1951, 1953-54.

Bob Dorrill recognized Larry Miggins for being 90 years and two days old – and we all gave the wonderful Mr. Miggins a standing ovation. I later asked Larry how it felt to be 90 years and two days old?”

“About the same as it did when I turned 90,” Larry smiled.

Bob Dorrill told the group that we have been successful in adding two new vintage base ball clubs for the fall and that we will be playing a six-game, round-robin schedule with each other on three doubleheader weekends in October and November. Our older guys on the Houston Babies don’t have to worry about losing their jobs, but we could use an infusion of youth, if you know of any candidates that can both play and commit the time. After all, the Babies have neither a talent pipeline nor a Jeff Luhnow o deck to help us with our roster re-loading requirements.

Next month’s September SABR meeting at our regular site, the Spaghetti Western Ristorante on Shepherd, will not take place on the 3rd Monday of the month due to a conflict with an Astros home game during the heart of what we hope is still a playoff run for the club.

We also signed a get-well card for Marie “Red” Mahoney, who is now in the hospital with unspecified issues. Get well, Red! We miss you!

Next month’s meeting will be scheduled f0r either the 2nd or 4th Monday. Stay tuned for the decision via an e-mail from Chapter leader Bob Dorrill.

Stayed tuned. – And, Go Astros. Sweep the Dodgers.


Gaedel Rocks Spokane! Fiers Lights Houston!

August 22, 2015
Commissioned by the Eddie Gaedel Society,

Commissioned by the Eddie Gaedel Society, “Take A Walk Eddie” is the inspired work af Vancouver, BC artist and devoted Blue Jays fan Jennifer Ettinger – and it was presented August 19th to the roaring approval of the crowd at O’Doherty’s Irish Pub and Grille in Spokane, WA..

Friday night, August 21, 2015, was a night in which everything landed at once at The Pecan Park Eagle. – Beautiful news of the Eddie Gaedel Society annual meeting in Spokane on August 19th came soaring home in droves from Society President Tom Keefe – and at just about the same time all of us in Houston were sitting through, sweating out, and finally celebrating Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, 3-0, no-hit shut out of the Los Angeles Dodgers to handle, At one point, the two stories even crossed paths with each other here for me at home, but we will get to that.

First, to a brief but luminously beautiful report from Spokane about the party in Spokane I had to miss because of the damn shingles that I am still trying to shake. I am no longer totally reptilian in facial appearance, and I’m not contagious, but I am still having trouble opening my right lid as a 1.5 eyed-cat with occasional sensations of ants crawling on my face, just beneath the surface of the skin. My doctor explained that shingles is basically a neurologically attacking virus that causes the brain to misunderstand some of the data it receives – and, as result – I get to live briefly with the same kind of misread brain reports that earned the notorious Bugsy Siegel his nickname on the way to a bitter violent end. I am hopeful of skipping the last part.

At one point late Friday, I broke away from the televised version of the drama at MMP here in Houston to e-mail Tom Keefe with a question about the August 19th meeting. Without either of us saying a prior word about it, Tom shot back this response to my question: “ONE OUT AWAY! Stay tuned!”

Simpatico! Tom just knew what I had been watching in real time!

One windmill swinging strikeout later, I replied to Keene’s Houston/no-hitter supportive urging:

“Destiny Done Pumped our tires,

 Flying in as Michael Fiers,

 Houston Couldn’t Get Much Higher,

 C’mon, Astros, Light Our Fires!”

Once the game was over and the Astros 11th no-hitter in history was in the bag. Keefe responded to my question about the first performance of “The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” as the Eddie Gaedel’s new Anthem for the Ages:

“The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel was a big hit. The crowd went wild, much like tonight’s crowd in Houston!”

The digital video of the August 19th performance of the Anthem is still being prepped for distribution. Once we receive our copy from Tom Keefe, we will all be able to watch it here together for the first time. I’m just pleased to hear that it was so well received.

Artist Jennifer and Gaedel Society President Mike Keene unveiling

Artist Jennifer and Gaedel Society President Tom Keefe unveiling “Take A Walk Eddie” on August 19, 2015 at O’Doherty’s Irish Pub and Grille in Spokane at the 4th Annual Meeting of The Eddie Gaedel Society.

Here’s a link to how the Spokane Spokesman-Review covered the story of The Gaedel Society meeting:

There are now four chapter sites for The Eddie Gaedel Society: Chapter # 1 is located in Spokane, WA; Chapter # 2 is at the Eddie Gaedel Pub in Elburn, IL;  Chapter # 3 in LA held its first annual meeting at Griffin of Kinsale’s in Pasadena; and  Chapter # 4 was only recently designated in Evergreen Park, IL, where Eddie Gaedel is buried, and it operates under the stewardship of Rich Bird.

Broadly stated, the goal of The Eddie Gaedel Society’s is getting Eddie Gaedel inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The first two problems are these: (1) There currently are no provisions for inducting anyone into the Baseball Hall Fame whose only official connection to organized baseball has been one time at bat in the big leagues; and (2) The Baseball Hall of Fame doesn’t respond very well to battering ram approaches at the front door.

As an invited member of The Eddie Gaedel Society, I certainly do not presume to speak for the organization, but I do think that there is a step that the Society should consider, and maybe they already have. I am new, however, – and too far removed from Spokane to presently know the Society’s plan, but I will offer this notion as a suggestion.

The Case for a Unique Case Induction or Honors Qualification

There are some people who have made exceptional unique contributions to the history and lore of baseball that we think are deserving of the Hall of Fame’s honor – and no one deserves to be at the top of that list more than Eddie Gaedel.

This is a time to establish a dialogue path with the Hall of Fame that begins with broad thinking about the unique candidates category. What hopefully follows from amicable talk, in which people give each other the broad right to disagree, is some kind of sane plan for making sure that people like Eddie Gaedel are duly honored with the Hall’s official commitment to their perpetual memory.

It’s a place to start. And it takes into account that there presently is no path for unique contributors like Gaedel – and that he is not alone in this regard. And obviously, as The Eddie Gaedel Society grows, the more the chance grows that the Hall of Fame will listen to our “cries from the wilderness” and consider a forum for substantive discussion – one that, without which, nothing will ever happen.

We have to work for the possible over a plan of action that is dedicated to the long haul of substantive change at the Hall itself.

If we are not willing to do that, than any kind of lighted torch approach at the gate will only lighten the sky – and not enlighten the minds of those we may be trying to reach.

All I know from my brief long-range exposure to Tom Keefe is that he is a man of great passion and caring for the game, a fellow of action who kicks up the dust of baseball history for the sake of bringing a higher level of equity to those he feels have been ignored far too long by the game’s hallowed institution of honor, the Hall of Fame.

Maybe it’s the populist lawyer in him, maybe it’s part of being the son of a judge, maybe it’s growing up in the west, or maybe it’s just the basic decency that exudes from him – even by electronic long distance – that makes him convey a certain Lone Ranger archetype searcher quality about his efforts. Whatever it is, Tom Keefe’s got it, and he is not going to give up on his pursuit of justice for Eddie Gaedel until equity prevails.

Stay tuned!

As for Mike Fiers, I can’t say much that already hasn’t been covered beautifully by this morning’s Houston Chronicle, but I will close with one more note to the man himself:

 “Dear Mike – Congratulations on becoming the 5th MLB no-hit pitcher in 2015; thanks for throwing the 11th no-hit game performance in franchise history; great job on your first career complete game, and, wow, what a way to land your first official win as an Astro. – Everyone in the Houston baseball family is both proud of you and happy for you. Thank you for bringing your great talents to the side of our good guys!” – The Pecan Park Eagle

When I signed off with Tom Keefe last night, I left him this note about our wonderful Houston Friday night:

“Yes, Tom, the stars tonight – are big and bright,

Deep in the Heart of Houston!”

 Hail, Eddie!

 Hail, Astros!


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Why Do We Think of .200 as the Mendoza Line?

August 21, 2015
~ THE MENDOZA LINE ~ Mario Mendoza's career batting average has become the symbol hitting futility over the past 30 years - but his actual career BA was .215 - not the .200 that most people think it was.

Mario Mendoza’s career batting average has become the symbol of hitting futility over the past 30 years – but his actual career BA was .215 – not the .200 that most people think it was.

Bill Borst of St. Louis, a colleague, academic and baseball author, professor of history and founder of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society and Browns Fan Club is responsible for raising this very fair question: “Why do we think of .200 as the Mendoza Line for career terminal batting averages?”

~ BILL BORST ~ Advocate for Historical Correction

Advocate for Historical Correction

In the nine seasons ((1974-82) that MLB infielder Mario Mendoza played his way into legendary status as the icon for the dropping off place in fatally anemic hitting, he needed only 680 total games to establish his career batting average of .215 as “The Mendoza Line” of batting proficiency failure.

Yes, we said .215 lifetime – not the .200 mark that probably most people who’ve even heard of “The Mendoza Line” think it is?

What happened to encourage a standard that was not only .015 points above the shudder-land drop into ugly averages that begin at .199 on their potential descent to .000?

Borst argues that, if we are going to think .200 as the jumping off the gravy train point, that we ought to get it right that .215 and Mario Mendoza were never the best mark and model for the archetype of baseball batting failure.

Look no further than Bob Uecker for a better named patron saint of puny batting. Borst suggests the wonderfully funny former catcher and modern day baseball broadcasting winner of the Ford Frick Award and movie broadcasting celeb in “Major League” as the accurately “statified” (our Pecan Park Eagle new word for it) performer on point to such an onerous accolade.

~ BOB UECKER ~ The Uecker Line Nominee

The Uecker Line Nominee

Bob Uecker batted exactly .200 in a six-year (1962-67) 297-game catching career in the big leagues. His average alone speaks for the relative-to-Mendoza shorter length of his career – and for Borst’s recommendation that we start thinking of .200 as “The Uecker Line.”

Makes sense to me, except for the fact, right and wrong, that we’ve had 30 years to hear, read  and convince ourselves that “The Mendoza Line” and .200 are one and the same – which they measurably are not.

Bob Uecker might have made this possible comment on Mario Mendoza’s .215 average as the standard for a measurable hitting nadir in a career, had he been asked. If you remember Uecker’s call on that wide wild pitch in “Major League”:

“Mendoza gets the call – but it’s a tad high!”

Bill Borst describes “The Uecker Line” (.200) in these words:

“The Uecker Line”  signals career futility and a future that centers upon never having anything more than bad views and cars that break down.”

Thanks for a wonderful suggestion, Bill Borst, even if the weight of hearing “Mendoza Line” and .200 mentioned and written about together too often over the past three decades works against people’s resistance to abandoning their comfort zones, even when they are being asked to correct what was never true in the first place.


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The Complete Houston-St. Louis Trade Record

August 20, 2015
October 24, 1974: The Houston Astros purchased Jose Cruz from the St. Louis Cardinals.

October 24, 1974: The Houston Astros purchased Jose Cruz from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Baseball Reference.Com has a neat little feature that allows researchers to compare the complete historical trade record between any two MLB franchises, including all sales, trades, and “players-to-be-named-later” assignments that may have occurred. Of course, it does not include reference to players who also have played for both teams by free agency decision – or the names of players who may have played for both teams as the result of intervening trades involving other teams on their ways to playing for both comparative clubs.

At any rate, here’s a link to the complete trade record between the Houston Colt .45s/Astros and the St. Louis Cardinals that also appears below without the mechanism that will allow you to try the measure with two others clubs.

To me, it is interesting from several perspectives: (1) It’s a chance to pick your favorite gains and losses in dealing with Cards over the years. The name “Jose Cruz” in 1974 jumps out at me as our biggest Astros gain of all time in dealing with St. Louis. As for biggest Astro losses, I don’t see an earthquake, but losing Joaquin Andujar for Tony Scott in 1981 tips my scale. Andujar posted two 20-win seasons for the Cards; Scott hit one partial season at .293 before going to squat.

(2) It’s also interesting, even if it is incidental, that since GM Jeff Luhnow left St. Louis for Houston in December 2011 that the two clubs have swung only one minor deal for Tyler Greene in August 2012. Then. Since that time? Nothing.

(3) Oh, yes. – We did harvest Mike Cuellar from the Cards in 1965, but the Astros traded him and his biggest pitching harvest as a four-time 20-game winner and twice blessed 18-game “W” man to the Baltimore Oriole prior to the 1969 season.

Have fun!

Trades between Houston Astros & St. Louis Cardinals

August 9, 2012: The St. Louis Cardinals sent Tyler Greene to the Houston Astros as part of a conditional deal.

August 19, 2010: The Houston Astros traded Pedro Feliz and cash to the St. Louis Cardinals for David Carpenter.

August 22, 2007: The Houston Astros sent Danny Ardoin to the St. Louis Cardinals as part of a conditional deal.

August 31, 1988: The Houston Astros traded Denny Walling to the St. Louis Cardinals for Bob Forsch.

March 31, 1986: The St. Louis Cardinals returned Mark Ross to the Houston Astros as part of a conditional deal.

December 9, 1985: The Houston Astros sent Mark Ross to the St. Louis Cardinals as part of a conditional deal.

March 16, 1983: The Houston Astros traded Geoff Meadows (minors) to the St. Louis Cardinals for George Bjorkman.

June 7, 1981: The Houston Astros traded Joaquin Andujar to the St. Louis Cardinals for Tony Scott.

June 8, 1978: The Houston Astros traded Bob Coluccio to the St. Louis Cardinals for Frank Riccelli.

December 9, 1977: The Houston Astros traded Ron Selak (minors) to the St. Louis Cardinals for Randy Wiles.

November 23, 1976: The Houston Astros traded Jerry DaVanon and Larry Dierker to the St. Louis Cardinals for Bob Detherage and Joe Ferguson.

June 25, 1975: The Houston Astros traded Mike Easler to the St. Louis Cardinals for a player to be named later. The St. Louis Cardinals sent Mike Barlow (September 30, 1975) to the Houston Astros to complete the trade.

April 8, 1975: The Houston Astros purchased Tom Dixon from the St. Louis Cardinals.

December 13, 1974: The St. Louis Cardinals purchased Mick Kelleher from the Houston Astros.

October 24, 1974: The Houston Astros purchased Jose Cruz from the St. Louis Cardinals.

August 15, 1974: The Houston Astros traded Claude Osteen to the St. Louis Cardinals for a player to be named later and Ron Selak (minors). The St. Louis Cardinals sent Dan Larson (October 14, 1974) to the Houston Astros to complete the trade.

May 11, 1974: The Houston Astros purchased Jay Schlueter from the St. Louis Cardinals.

December 9, 1973: The St. Louis Cardinals traded Mike Nagy to the Houston Astros for Jay Schlueter.

October 23, 1973: The Houston Astros purchased Mick Kelleher from the St. Louis Cardinals.

August 18, 1973: The St. Louis Cardinals traded Dave Campbell and cash to the Houston Astros for Tommie Agee.

June 8, 1973: The Houston Astros traded Stan Papi to the St. Louis Cardinals for Ray Busse.

November 28, 1972: The Houston Astros traded Ray Busse and Bobby Fenwick to the St. Louis Cardinals for Skip Jutze and Milt Ramirez.

August 8, 1972: The St. Louis Cardinals purchased Keith Lampard from the Houston Astros. (Date given is approximate. Exact date is uncertain.)

April 15, 1972: The Houston Astros traded Lance Clemons and Scipio Spinks to the St. Louis Cardinals for Jerry Reuss.

November 3, 1971: The St. Louis Cardinals traded Bob Stinson to the Houston Astros for Marty Martinez.

June 13, 1970: The Houston Astros traded Jim Beauchamp and Leon McFadden to the St. Louis Cardinals for George Culver.

November 20, 1969: The Houston Astros returned Ron Willis to the St. Louis Cardinals following previous purchase.

August 8, 1969: The Houston Astros purchased Ron Willis from the St. Louis Cardinals.

February 12, 1969: The St. Louis Cardinals purchased Byron Browne from the Houston Astros.

October 11, 1968: The St. Louis Cardinals traded Tommy Smith (minors) and Johnny Edwards to the Houston Astros for Dave Adlesh and Dave Giusti.

June 15, 1968: The Houston Astros traded Ron Davis to the St. Louis Cardinals for Hal Gilson and Dick Simpson.

June 15, 1965: The Houston Astros traded Chuck Taylor and Hal Woodeshick to the St. Louis Cardinals for Mike Cuellar and Ron Taylor.

February 17, 1964: The St. Louis Cardinals traded Jim Beauchamp and Chuck Taylor to the Houston Colt .45’s for Carl Warwick.

February, 1963: The Houston Colt .45’s traded Bobby Tiefenauer to the St. Louis Cardinals for Don Ferrarese.

May 7, 1962: The Houston Colt .45’s traded Bobby Shantz to the St. Louis Cardinals for John Anderson and Carl Warwick.

October 15, 1961: The Houston Colt .45’s purchased Bobby Tiefenauer from the St. Louis Cardinals.

October 13, 1961: The Houston Colt .45’s purchased Al Cicotte from the St. Louis Cardinals.


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No Golden Goose Back in Old MLB Days

August 19, 2015
Even the great Willie Mays fell under the spell of ownership penury during the reserve clause era.

Even the great Willie Mays fell under the spell of ownership penury during the reserve clause era.

Thank you, Bill Brown and Alan Ashby, for bringing up the subject of how MLB salaries were settled back in the reserve clause era – and thank you, Tal Smith, for spiking the dialogue with you disclosure that it once cost the Houston franchise only $78 to sign catcher John Bateman after he impressed the club in a tryout camp somewhere between Houston and Galveston. The $78 reimbursement to Bateman for his travel expenses from his home in Oklahoma to the proving ground was enough to deliver the young man and all of his future options over to Houston for as long as they wanted to keep, trade, sell or release him.

And it was not the rookies alone who suffered under the system of those times. As Bill Brown pointed out, San Francisco Giants star and future Hall of Famer Willie Mays signed his first six-digit contract prior to the 1959 season, agreeing to play that season for $160.000 – a raise of $110,000 over his $50,000 salary for 1958.

Remember, back in those days, when the club had total control of a player forever, if they chose to keep him, there was no need for multi-year guaranteed money contracts. Clubs insisted that each year’s salary be determined on the basis of a player’s performance the previous season. If a club did not like a player’s salary demands, they could trade, sell or release the player – or simply let him stew the whole season as an unpaid, but still controlled asset. A good player could attempt to leverage the club’s fear of having to play the season without a valuable talent, but, in the end, even the greats could only sign for the club’s offer, hold out, or look for work out of baseball.

Advantage club every time.

To justify his big raise in 1959, all Willie Mays had to do was hit .347 and 29 HR in 1958, along with leading the NL with 121 runs scored and stolen bases with 31.

In 1960, Willie Mays’ salary took a ten grand pay cut to $150,000. The reasons? Most probably because his 1959 batting average dropped from .347 in 1958 to .313 in 1959; his HR totals dropped from 31 to 27; he failed to lead the league again in runs scored, even though his 125 runs total for 1959 was actually 4 runs more than it was in 1958, the year he did lead all others.

In 1961, Mays did lead the NL with 190 hits, but his batting average raised only .oo6 points from .313 to .319. That seemed to justify another whack of $80,000 from Willie’s salary for 1961. His pay for 1961 would be $70,000.

During Willie Mays’ 22-season MLB career (1951-52, 1954-73), he played 10 seasons for salaries that hit six figures, with his $160,000 for 1959 being his top payment season on the books – and not including endorsements or other residual revenue sources he may have developed.

According to Baseball Reference (dot) Com, where most of the data used in this column emanates, the grand total on Willie Mays’ career income by player contract salary is $1,945,000. That figure looks even smaller in relation to some current one-season salary figures:

Willie Mays’ Career Salary Earning Compared to 2015 Average Salary and Minimum Pay Data

Willie Mays’ Salary

22 MLB Seasons

MLB Average

2015 Salary

MLB Minimum

2015 Salary

$1,945,000 $3,386,212 $ 507,500

Nobody ever said life was fair.

____________________ (c)

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Last of the Living Former Browns

August 18, 2015


In 1902, the original Milwaukee Brewers moved to St. Louis and became the St. Louis Browns. From 1902 through 1953, the St. Louis Browns, won only a single American League pennant and that was in the 1944 WWII year in which much of their Brownie good fortunes were attributable to the fact the Yankees and several other clubs were missing key players to military service while the St. Louis entry fared well with older players and draft-deferred flat foots. The Browns lost to their St. Louis NL rivals, the Cardinals, in six games in the 1944 World Series.

Over the years, the Browns were known best for finishing last or next to last; the great Hall of Fame first baseman George Sisler, who also led the city’s greatest AL club, the 1922 Browns, to a one-game finish behind the Yankees; the single pennant of 1944; Willard Brown hits the first American League HR by a black player for the 1947 Browns; the Barnum & Bailey world of new-in-1951 owner Bill Veeck; the August 19, 1951 appearance of 3’7″ Eddie Gaedel as a pinch hitter; Satchel Paige; Fan Manager Night, also in 1951 under Veeck; and Ned Garver winning 20 games for a last place Browns club that won only 52 games the entire season.

The Garver feat led to one of the most memorable anecdotes in baseball history. When Garver asked for a raise in 1952, owner Veeck is said to have turned him down with a very simple explanation: “No way. We could have finished last without you.”

After a couple of years of falling attendance, more losing baseball, chicanery with also suffering Cardinals, and political pressure from the AL owners who wanted to get rid of Bill Veeck, the Browns were sold to Baltimore interests after the 1953 season. They were re-christened as the Baltimore Orioles in 1954.

The St. Louis Browns Historical Society and Browns Fan Club has existed since 1984 for the purpose of keeping alive the memory of the St. Louis Browns baseball club. The Pecan Park Eagle wants to thank current president Bill Rogers for sending us this new list of the current surviving Browns players. With death of former shortstop Bud Thomas on Saturday, August 15, 2015, the list of living former Browns now has dropped to only twenty names.

The 20 Surviving St. Louis Browns Players

Through 8/16/2015                                   

From Oldest to Youngest by Name, Birthdate, and Age in 2015

01) Chuck Stevens 07/10/18 – 97
02) Tom Jordan 09/05/19 – 94
03) Dick Starr 03/02/21 – 94
04) George Elder 03/10/21 – 94
05) Neil Berry 01/11/22 – 92

06) Johnny Hetki 05/12/22 – 93
07) Jim Rivera 07/22/22 – 93
08) Tom Wright 09/22/23 – 92
09) Billy DeMars 08/26/25 – 90
10) Ned Garver 12/25/25 – 90

11) Frank Saucier 05/28/26 – 89
12) Johnny Groth 07/23/26 – 89
13) Ed Mickelson 09/09/26 – 89
14) Roy Sievers 11/18/26 – 89
15) Hal Hudson 05/04/27 – 88

16) Al Naples 08/29/27 – 88
17) Billy Hunter 06/04/28 – 87
18) Joe DeMaestri 12/09/28 – 87
19) Don Larsen 08/07/29 – 86
20) J.W. Porter 01/17/33 – 82

______________________________ (c)

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Living Browns Dwindle Down to Precious Few

August 17, 2015
Bud and Janet Thomas With Stan Musial At the Annual Browns Banquet St. Louis, 2003

Bud and Janet Thomas
With Stan Musial
At the Annual Browns Banquet
St. Louis, 2003

Former St. Louis Browns shortstop John Tillman (Bud) Thomas died of natural causes at age 86 in Sedalia, Missouri on Saturday, August 15, 2015. Bud’s passing brings a touch of irony also to the taste of sadness that those of us knew him even slightly felt for a really good man, now gone.

Bud’s death occurs only four days shy of August 19, 2015 – and the big celebrations planned by the Eddie Gaedel Society for the one and only under four feet tall vertically challenged little person ever to have achieved one plate appearance in the big leagues on that same date in 1951. Thomas’ own debut for his one 1951 tail-end season big league career came exactly two weeks after Gaedel’s only game. Bud Thomas only played 14 games himself in that one-and-done big league one-season tour, but he did go 7 for 20 – imprinting his name in the record books with a .350 limited service career batting average. – Not bad for a guy who went on from baseball to becoming a superstar educator and world class wood carver.

We also wrote a column on Bud Thomas for The Pecan Park Eagle four years ago:

Eddie Gaedel was gone from the big leagues after one game in 1951. Bud Thomas was gone from the big leagues after 14 games in 1951. The St. Louis Browns disappeared into baseball history altogether after 1953. And now the surviving members of the fabled American League club that left the midwest to become the Baltimore Orioles in 1954 are down to a precious few.

The death of Bud Thomas leaves only 20 living survivors of the American League St. Louis Browns franchise that played as such from 1902 through 1953. St. Louis Browns Historical Society President Bill Rogers is checking that number for me. We should have that confirmation sometime on Monday, August 17th. When we do, the number and names of the list will be added here to the column.

St. Louis Browns Historical Society and Fan Club President Bill Rogers also recently sent me this photo show of the 2013 Browns luncheon in St. Louis. Check it out. One of them is Don Larsen, the only former Brown to also later play as a Houston Colt. 45 and Astro. Catcher Clint Courtney did go to spring training with the 1962 original Houston Colt. 45’s, I think, but he didn’t make the club. Former catcher Les Moss also served the Astros as a pitching coach some years later. – You will find a number of other familiar names in the slide show, and they all are now attached to some quite less familiar faces, if your memories of these older Browns players are all from ancient baseball cards:

Watch out for the sands of time, folks. When it comes down to our material presences and impressions on the social and physical landscape of this planet, the sands of time eventually take us all – and all we do in physical imagery form. Better that we remember the multi-colored electricity of life’s great energy daily – and never lose heart in the power of Love on the day that darkness comes to us personally on this physical plain. Any day may not have to be so dark, if we can honestly accept that God is Love – and that Love never really dies. It remains, even when those who love us leave via death – and it stays – to whatever extent we are able to embrace the concept of forever that is the driving force we embrace in the only time zone that ever really exists – the here and now of each ever-changing moment in the day.

God Bless You, Bud Thomas, old friend! And May God Bless our Memory of the St. Louis Browns – and all else that we hold dear as a spiritual force of Love and Life.

______________________________ (C)

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Aug. 19, 1951: Eddie Gaedel Walks into History

August 16, 2015


The Pecan Park Eagle will be there in spirit in Spokane too on August 19th – even if we cannot be there in person, as planned.

Go, Eddie, Go!

In case you have not yet heard it yet, which is probably a safe guess, the new anthem of the Eddie Gaedel Society, verse and chorus, is presented below – hopefully for your amusement and edification. It’s simply one of our little pieces of pure joy indulgence in the game of baseball and a modest ode to one of my personal favorite characters in the game’s history.

We are hoping to receive a digital transcription of the choral video that performs it for its first official performance at O’Doherty’s  Irish Grille & Pub in Spokane, Washington this coming Wednesday, August 19, 2015, the 64th anniversary of Eddie Gaedel’s singular appearance as an MLB pinch hitter for the St. Louis Browns against pitcher Bob Cain of the Detroit Tigers as the lead-off man in the bottom of the 1st inning of an afternoon game at Sportsman’s Park.

Gaedel Society Founder and annual banquet organizer Tom Keefe is responsible for initiating the entire tsunami of energy  that has risen from the deep as a monster wave of love in honor of the one and only Eddie Gaedel.

Thanks, Tom! – Faith moves mountains a lot faster when someone shows up to lead the effort with a shovel. And you are the living proof of that truth.

Addendum: Here’s a link also to  how how the new Los Angeles Chapter of The Eddie Gaedel Society plans to celebrate o August 19, 2015. If you live in that area, you may want to check out their contact information or simply join them in the fun.

Hail, Eddie!


The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel

The Now Official Anthem of The Eddie Gaedel Society

(Verse, Melody and Chorus: All may be sung to the tune of

“Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer”)

By Bill McCurdy, 1999. (Minor Revisions, 03/15/2015)


You know Pee Wee and Scooter and short guys named Patek,

And Wee Willie Keeler – as small as a flyspeck,

All little people who drew baseball paychecks,

But, do you recall,

The most famous baseball short guy of them all?


Bill Veeck, the Brownie owner,

Wore some very shiny clothes!

And if you saw his sport shirt,

You would even say, “It glows!”

All of the other owners,

Used to laugh and call him names!

They wouldn’t let poor Bill Veeck,

Join in any owner games!


Then one humid summer day,

Veeck signed a tiny man.

He smiled like a kid in a Panama suit,

Squeaking, “Play me – when you can!”


His name was Eddie Gae-del,

Inches short of four feet tall!

He never played much baseball;

He was always just too small!

He wasn’t small on courage,

Eddie saw the larger plan.

Took his heart out of storage,

Making him the bigger man!


Then one day in Sportsman’s Park,

Eddie went to bat!

Took four balls and walked to first,

Then retired – just like that!


Oh, how the purists hated,

Adding little Eddie’s name,

To the big book of records,

“ Gaedel” bore a blush of shame!

Now when you look up records,

Look up Eddie’s O.B.P.!

It reads a cool One Thousand,

Safe for all eternity!

Hail, Eddie!

______________________________ (c)



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