Davis O. Barker: A Great Baseball Story

July 24, 2015

The title of this column could be taken either of two ways. It’s either the wonderful story of Davis O. Barker of Jacksonville, Texas, an extraordinarily talented researcher of ancient baseball history – or it is the almost gifted-over tale of a one-armed former Texas player who once served as an early business partner of Judge Roy Hofheinz and an ally of the latter’s early 1950 attempt to secure a big league club for Houston. That one led to Hooper’s involvement in a failed attempt to bring the St. Louis Browns franchise to Houston after the 1953 season, a move that actually went to Baltimore in 1954 as the rebirth of the Orioles.

In this case, “A Great Baseball Story” is the one that Davis O. Barker already has written in his careful notes and his own word constructions  about “Dick Hooper, A One-Armed Shortstop and An Amazing Texas Entrepreneur”. Barker could now turn this whole column into a treasured greater length and analytically explored book on baseball history – or he could simply rest in the knowledge that he has now written in a cogent time-milestone style format the incredible tale of William Newton “Dick” Hooper in oak-nut form for all time through this one singularly impressive Pecan Park Eagle Column.

Thank you, Davis O. Barker, for all the good things you do for the history of our game of baseball.

Sincerely, Bill McCurdy, The Pecan Park Eagle

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Dick Hooper An Amazing Below the Radar of Fame Texan

Dick Hooper
An Amazing Below the Radar of Fame Texan

“Dick Hooper, A One-Armed Shortstop and An Amazing Texas Entrepreneur”

By Davis O. Barker

Introduction ….

It is a baseball story …

It is a Houston-related story …

It is an interesting story …

Dick Hooper was a one-armed baseball player from Conroe who starred at Baylor and UT. He became one of those post-depression Houston oilmen ….

Though I have written a few vignettes concerning his baseball story, I have not written the entire tale (until now*). It was quite by accident that I put the baseball player’s story together with the oilman’s story and they were the same person … to my knowledge, his story hasn’t been told …

The featured photo is a picture from Hooper’s days at UT. The material that follows is a timeline of what I have located in various newspapers over the years.

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* Editor’s Note: There isn’t a single timeline feature here in the story of Dick Hooper that could not be greatly expanded in book form – and, in the process, other timeline facts most probably would also find the daylight of discovery. That’s simply the way of all complex story material. As for the essentials, this highlight story of the incredible Mr. Hooper has been ready for some time. And its author is Davis O. Barker.

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The Milestone Story Trail ….

WILLIAM NEWTON “Dick” HOOPER

Born: November 17, 1891 in Cass County, Texas

Died: September 4, 1960 in Houston, Texas

Burial: Oakwood Cemetery in Conroe, Texas

Dick Hooper is the son of Dr. William Nelson Hooper who relocated his family to Montgomery County near the turn of the century and set up a very lucrative practice as a physician and surgeon in Conroe. Before his death in 1927, Dr. Hooper was able to acquire substantial parcels of land in the area that would eventually be of great value when a major oil field was discovered. The Dr. Hooper Oil & Royalty Company, still in existence today, was established in his name.

January, 1905: As a young boy, Dick Hooper is seriously wounded by a shotgun blast while hunting. The injury results in the amputation of his left hand and arm below the elbow.

1908-1909: In spite of his injury, Hooper adapts to the loss, and, using his natural skills and personal tenacity as his firing pistons, he soon tars at shortstop for Conroe’s semi-pro team.

1910-11: Hooper attends Baylor University and is selected Captain and Coach of the Bears’ “Scrub Team”; during the summers, he continues to excel in the state’s semi-pro circuits.

Dick Hooper Baylor University Baseball, 1912

Dick Hooper
Baylor University
Baseball, 1912

1912: Dick Hooper joins the Baylor varsity baseball team and becomes a star outfielder on the conference championship team. He is selected to the All-Conference Team. Again demonstrating his adaptability and his fighting spirit, he supplements his income umpiring semi-pro games and often returns to Conroe during the summer to play with the local semi-pro team.

1913: Hooper transfers to the University of Texas, where he is ineligible to participate on the school’s varsity squad, but he is named captain of the “Texas Outlaws”, and independent team made up of Longhorn baseballers who are not eligible to participate in official games. He also umpires collegiate games in the Austin area. An he often returns to Conroe during the summer to play with the local semi-pro team.

1914-1915: Dick Hooper becomes a star centerfielder for the Longhorns, being chosen All-Conference in the second of those years. During the early summer of 1914, he is hired as a substitute umpire for the Texas League, working games in Austin when the regular umpire was unable to make it. As an umpire, he becomes a fan favorite and receives positive reviews from the players and management. Late in the summer he takes over as the Playing Manager for Lufkin’s team in the independent East Texas Tomato League.

1916: Dick Hooper is chosen by his club as the Longhorn baseball team captain, however, he is declared academically ineligible just two weeks into the season. In June 1916, he is signed as the bench manager for the Lufkin Lumbermen in the Class D East Texas League. Primarily performing as the third base coach, he also appears in a few games as pinch hitter and pinch runner. However, the league folds after about a month of play. It proves to be Hooper’s only professional baseball experience.

1917: During the spring, Hooper is hired as Head Baseball Coach at Southwestern University in Georgetown. During the summer, he is hired as an official umpire by the Texas League.

1918: Hooper serves as a collegiate umpire in games involving Texas colleges.

1919: Dick Hooper continues his umpire service, this time, as an umpire in El Paso in the outlaw Copper League, the El Paso City League, and he also works other semi-pro games in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. During the off season, he takes a job with the Federal government as a deputy collector in southwest region for the Internal Revenue Service.

1921-1923: For three seasons, Dick Hooper manages the semi-pro team in Brenham. He likes the city so much that he makes Brenham his year round residence.

1924: It was a case of natural selection. for the people of his new home town. In the spring of 1924, Dick Hooper is hired as Head Baseball Coach at Brenham High School.

Then, as life so often does, events unfold to alter the course of this Texas dynamo of grass roots baseball. After the death of his father, and the discovery of oil on his most of his father’s extensive land holdings, the family of Dick Hooper talks him into returning to Conroe for the sake of operating the family’s new-found oil business. The business is extremely successful and its resulting Dr. Hooper Oil & Royalty Company still exists today.

At some point, at a time still unknown to us, Dick Hooper moves his main office to Houston.

In the mid-1940’s, Hooper and Judge Roy Hofheinz form a corporation that purchases several radio stations in the region. As technology advances, they consider acquiring a television station. The company is not a success, but the two entrepreneurs became long-time associates.

Early in 1950, Dick Burnett, East Texas oil man and owner of Dallas’ Texas League team, begins a move to create a third major league. Likely a South Texas interests to North Texas interests reaction in response, Hooper, Hofheinz, and other wealthy Texans begin to put together a group to bring a team to Houston.

When Burnett’s plan runs out of steam, a group headed by Hooper and William A. Smith, Houston banker, contractor, and oilman, contact former Houstonian transplant Eddie Dyer – former major league pitcher and current manager of the St. Louis Cardinals – to represent them in negotiations to purchase majority stock in the St. Louis Browns franchise and move it to Houston. The attempt proves fruitless, but when the Browns come up for sale a few years later the group again inquires about the team. Again they fail and the Browns move to Baltimore for the 1954 season. However, the seeds are forever planted in the concept of Houston having a major league team.

Dick Hooper passed away in 1960 and was buried in the family plot in Conroe.

In the late Seventies, his sister Lady Hooper Schaefer donated land worth about $2 mllllon to Baylor University in memory of her brother, Dick Hooper, a Houston oil man, and the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center was built at Baylor.

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Editorial Conclusion, The Pecan Park Eagle. Today, some fifty-five years past the death of Dick Hooper, his name continues to fly well below the radar of large scale public awareness, but the effects of his energies remain intertwined with our everyday lives.  Any fan of the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, Texas Longhorns, Baylor Bears, or Brenham Cubs, just to name his primary connections by direct contact or implied impact, knows him well. As do the lives and contributions of countless others out there who were inspired by this man to overcome their own ideas about personal disadvantage for the sake of reaching their own goals of accomplishment – against all odds –  the name of Dick Hooper shall live on through the impact it already has made upon the lives of us all.

It is our job to be good gardeners and giving innovators on the landscape of life that awaited us all when we got here – and to not allow any perception we hold about our personal disadvantage, or the cruel and violent actions of others, to deter us from the beautiful ongoing pursuit of possibility that is the life fully lived.

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A Club that Could WIn the 2015 AL West

July 23, 2015

“IF OUR CLUB PLAYS THE ’27 YANKEES, I’D HAVE TO SWITCH SIDES FOR THAT GAME, BUT MARK McGWIRE OUGHT TO BE ABLE FILL IN FINE FOR ME.” – BABE RUTH.

Speaking of building a little muscle and power into a lineup, do you think the Astros might have a chance at the 2015 AL West with this lineup of the greatest hitters of all time by career home runs?

The lowest total guy in the mix is Hornsby at second base, but what the heck? He also sports the second highest batting average in MLB history and is .577 slugging average is not too shabby either.

I could not resist moving Ernie Banks back to shortstop and leaving Alex Rodriguez on third. There’s not another power outcome that works better, in my opinion.

Our Pecan Park Eagle Greatest HR Power Lineup of All Time

POSITION PLAYER HR/BA/SA
CATCHER MIKE PIAZZA 427/.308/.545
FIRST BASE ALBERT PUJOLS 549/.315/.587
SECOND BASE ROGERS HORNSBY 301/.358/.577
THIRD BASE ALEX RODRIGUEZ 673/.299/.577
SHORTSTOP ERNIE BANKS 512/.274/.500
LEFT FIELD BARRY BONDS 762/.298/.607
CENTER FIELD WILLIE MAYS 660/.302/.557
RIGHT FIELD HANK AARON 755/.305/.555
DH BABE RUTH 714/.342/.690

Keep in mind too that the totals above are only completely good going into all games of Wednesday, July 22, 2015, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols are both still active and quite capable of changing their personal numbers before the clock strikes midnight. In case you are interested, and going into tonight’s games, Alex Rodriguez is now 4th on the career HR list and Albert Pujols just passed Mike Schmidt for the 15th spot.

As for a batting order on our Eagles Power Dream Team,, here’s how the Eagle chooses to line ’em up:

1) Willie Mays, CF

2) Rogers Hornsby, 2B

3) Babe Ruth, DH

4) Barry Bonds, LF

5) Hank Aaron, RF

6) Albert Pujols, 1B

7) Alex Rodriguez, 3B

8) Ernie Banks, SS

9) Mike Piazza, C

Here’s the greater challenge: Try to come up with a lousy batting order for these guys. – These guys could win a game against the 1927 or 1939 New York Yankee clubs, even if they had the Enron Field version of Jose Lima starting for them and the Minute Maid Park version of Chad Qualls pitching in relief against those two great teams.

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Hole in Bucket on Old Minor League Stats

July 22, 2015
FOLEY WHITE HOUSTON BUFFALOS 1910

FOLEY WHITE
HOUSTON BUFFALOES
1910

This article on Foley White shifted overnight. What was going to be another “mystery player” column now has transformed into a piece on a certain kind of error that may be, or seems to be, occurring at Baseball Reference.Com, relative to certain minor league players from the ancient years ago era who may have played fewer than ten games with certain clubs in the same year they worked for more than one team. Foley White, the player shown above in a T-Card depiction of him as a “Houston” player is our case in point. Baseball Reference.Com does not show him as ever having played fr Houston:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=white-001fol

When reader/researcher Davis Barker first sent us the picture card of Foley White, he noted that this player may have been the first Houston team member to ever adorn a baseball card. We at the Pecan Park Eagle, of course, immediately ran into the missing data at “BB-REF.COM” and jumped to the too-soon conclusion that we had another mystery player on our hands. – Who was the guy in the Houston uniform, if he was not “Foley White?” I couldn’t be Foley White. Our Baseball Reference source doesn’t show him as ever playing here. The fellow in the artful illustration had to be someone else.

Right?

Maybe not.

Before starting to work on the “mystery player” column, I e-mailed Davis Barker last night to see if he had anything further to contribute.

Did he ever?

I awoke this morning to the following e-mail response from Davis Barker. It is information that puts a whole new light on certain questions that need to arise any time with minor league players we may be researching back to the early 20th and 19th centuries, when data was sparse, reported unevenly and often missing from available news files. We mean no disparagement of the great job that Baseball Reference.Com has done with the early minor league years data. It’s just that this example points again to how, even in this wonderfully organized new digital era, it isn’t likely that anything we humans do will ever reach perfection.

“At any rate, here’s what Davis Barker said in response to the ews that we planned to write a “mystery player’ column this morning:

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El Paso (TX) Herald Tuesday, May 31, 1910 Submitted by Davis Barker

El Paso (TX) Herald
Tuesday, May 31, 1910
Submitted by Davis Barker

Again, one of those cases where the stats (on BaseballRef.com I assume) are also not exactly correct.  They are based on Reach and Spaulding Guides who are reported by league statisticians who are also sometimes remiss (not to mention the fact of Less Thans – ie: those in less than 10g aren’t included).  At any rate, and based on what I have observed AND Bill Ruggles again, Foley White spent part of 1909 and part of 1910 with Houston and part with Waco … you will find his stats on Waco’s … according to Ruggles notation, it should look something like this:

1909 Houston-Waco
1910 Waco-Houston
“Foley was sort of the region’s “Suitcase Simpson” on the day …. and a lot of his work is buried in being a consistent “Less Than” in league stats and therefore in obscurity … if you want me to followup in the next few days pulling together everything I can find in my files, please let me know.
ALSO …. It is possible that another Houston player may also be in the set …. but I haven’t seen a picture of one or have knowledge of one … BUT …. This is the question I can’t answer … in his Texas League experience he was generally a backup catcher, a Have-Mitt-Will-Travel type of guy, if you will … if that was true, then why did they choose him to represent Houston in this set?  Maybe he knew the photographer ….”
dob (Davis O. Barker)
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Our thorough Mr. Barker also has conveyed these two additional pieces of information since we began this column:
White was released by the Buffs in 1910 in the first week of July …
and … the back of his T-Card picture:
Back of Foley White card

Back of Foley White card

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Thank you, Davis Barker. We will happily take anything else you may find and post it on this column. We too share your question. How a short-timer like Foley White got his image depicted on a Houston baseball card is still a mysery, as is the question: Was the Foley White card the first of its kind in all of Houston baseball history?
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Herskowitz Is Our Houston Writing Icon

July 21, 2015
MICKEY HERSKOWITZ ~ IN HIS HOUSTON POST, BY-LINED, SALAD DAYS

MICKEY HERSKOWITZ
~ IN HIS HOUSTON POST, BY-LINED, SALAD DAYS

Mickey Herskowitz was our featured speaker at the July 2015 meeting of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR in Houston last night. Our Spaghetti Western restaurant sanctuary room on Shepherd Drive never rocked more FULLY with laughs and good information. Matt “The Handsome One” Williams, a local boy and former pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and yours truly were the other presenters on the card lined up by our chapter program manager, Jim Kreuz. Mickey was great; Matt was awesome; and yours truly probably would have done well to simply have yielded his time to his two seasoned baseball world program companions.

Matt Williams did a beautiful job describing the awe he felt facing the TV stars of his childhood on the New York Yankees at home in his MLB pitching debut in Toronto – and then again five days later in Yankee stadium. We will never forget the imagery of Matt going “cheek-to-cheek” in hero worship with the Lou Gehrig monument in the stadium outfield at the original Yankee Stadium – and then having to be reeled in by his coach in time to warm up for the game.

Mickey Herskowitz, as per usual, was one seamless flow of funny stories and comments as he poured over memories in much the same way he once wrote about them for about a half century in both the Houston Post and Chronicle. We had never heard the story previously of his Hungarian-born immigrant grandfather, but I will never forget it now. When Mickey was only 14 years old, and already working at Buff Stadium as the volunteer stat manager for Buffs broadcaster Lee Hedricks at AM radio station KATL, Mickey’s grandfather, who neither understood nor cared anything about baseball, used to stay up every night the Buffs were at home – just to hear announcer Hedricks’ sign-off comment – “we would like to close again tonight by once more thanking our 14-year old statistician, Mickey Herskowitz, for being here to help us bring you this game more fully.”

Grandfather Herskowitz simply wanted to hear his grandson’s name go out into the Houston broadcast night before he turned out the light and went to sleep.

Later in life, once Mickey had established himself as one of the top biographers in America, he took on the daunting job of writing for famous actress Bette Davis. Ms. Davis insisted that he change his first name for her book because she felt that “Mickey” was unbecoming of a writer of his stature. In short, her book became the only one that Mickey signatured as “Michael Herskowitz.” – He had no choice. Ms. Davis’s “suggestion” was really a “demand.” – Mickey says he always wondered what his grandfather would have thought about that move, but he already knew.

After thousands of breakfasts over the years, many of us preferred an order of two eggs over easy, bacon, toast, and Mickey’s column as the way we chose to start our day. As such, we had so many opportunities to chuckle quietly over his wit and awareness of little under-the-radar facts that immediately made sense as soon as he wrote them. I brought up a vivid example of such when I spoke last night. – Mickey once wrote about a night in which he and the late Howard Cosell had dinner together.

“Howard Cosell is the only dinner companion I’ve ever known who actually broadcasts the meal,” Mickey once observed.

How great an observation is that one? If you’ve ever heard Howard Cosell drone along on those old ABC NFL Monday Night Football telecasts, can’t you just imagine him doing the same thing that Mickey observed at dinner? In fact, this Cosell propensity to broadcast every waking moment of the day was used at the conclusion of that old Woody Allen movie, “Bananas”, when Cosell was called into the bedroom of Allen’s movie character to telecast the conjugal completion of his “happy ending” wedding.

When asked, Mickey also described the terror attacks at the 1972 Munich, Germany Olympics as the biggest moment in his reporting career. In Munich as a sports writer, Mickey Herskowitz suddenly found himself handed a primary role in reporting on the far more horrible state of human affairs –  and he handled it with all the clarity and professionalism of a seasoned war correspondent.

Mickey Herskowitz is – and always will be – a Houston icon – and a giant of the American world of media and literature. He covered it all – and he covered everything as well or better than anyone else that comes to this mind. And, in a curious way, it just may be that the universality of his work, ironically, has kept him from receiving the Baseball Hall of Fame’s highest award to any baseball media journalist, The J.G. Taylor Spink Award.

Now, if a Houston faction ever wants to get behind a movement, per se, The Pecan Park Eagle certainly will stand with you on promoting Mickey Herskowitz for that honor. From all his baseball books, columns, the delightful “Letters from Lefty”, and newspaper beat work coverage dating back to a 14-year old kid who once kept stats on the entire Texas League, there isn’t a Spink winner out there who has done more for baseball than Mickey Herskowitz!

By “coincidence”, I arrived home last night to find that good old Darrell Pittman had sent me a link to something Mickey Herskowitz had written about Apache Junction back in 1963. – Check it out. – And rack up another run of the idea floor by Mickey H!

ttp://www.azspringtrainingexperience.com/article/the-land-of-the-nonbreaking-curveball—sports-illustrated-march-11-1963

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Follow Up #1 on Hillsboro Phenom

July 20, 2015
The Light Shines a Little Brighter Today Our Mystery Guy is John Douglass ~ Courtesy of Contributor Davis Barker

The Light Shines a Little Brighter Today
Our Mystery Guy is John Douglass
~ Courtesy of Contributor Davis Barker

Our story on the 1899 Hillsboro, Texas Pitching Phenom named “Douglass” began yesterday with the column you will find at this link:

http://bill37mccurdy.com/2015/07/19/hillsboro-pitching-phenom-is-mystery-man/

We heard the same day from a reader and other researcher named Davis Barker of Jacksonville, Texas with this comment at the column site:

“The DOUGLASS you are referring to was JOHN DOUGLASS – he starred at the Univ of Texas in ’96, ’99, and 1900 … although he desired to make a living with his law degree, he was talked into playing briefly with Austin’s Texas League team in 1900, becoming the first UT player to play pro ball … if you desire to see the newspaper article this is based on, send me an email address and I will send it to you … I don’t think I can post it here.”

We  immediately accepted Mr. Barker’s offer and sent him an e-mail of interest in his supply of further information. Davis Barker came through with an immediate additional newsprint clip from the same summer of 1899 that contained additional confirming information on the full identity and life outcome that apparently unfolded for John Douglass, whose talent for pitching a baseball apparently was not matched by any passionate desire for greatness in the game:

Houston Daily Post August 15, 1899 Contributed by Davis Barker Jacksonville, Texas

Houston Daily Post
August 15, 1899
Contributed by Davis Barker
Jacksonville, Texas

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Mr. Barker also added the following information to the content section of his follow-up e-mail:

Am trusting Bill Ruggles’ old book (The Texas League) as source that he played with Austin in ’99 – over the last thirty years of research, while I haven’t found him to be perfect – it is a good place to start … stats were also limited in nature in those days.  … I will check further to see if I can find boxes to collect stats ….

 “JOHN STEVENS DOUGLASS (1876-1946) … got his law degree from UT in ’01
After his days in Hillsboro, he relocated to Galveston and served as claims agent for Santa Fe Railroad
Although passed over for many years, he was eventually elected to the UT Sports Hall of Honor”
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It is conceivable that a UT student athlete and pitcher with the talents of Mr. John Douglass did pitch for the 1899 Austin Senators of  the four-club Class C Texas Association, but the 19th century records of Baseball Reference, at this point, do not yet cover that specific association of minor league play. We will continue to keep the door open on this subject and, if merited, generate new ongoing columns of follow-up on our no-longer-a-total-mystery subject. The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, which also is not unerring, especially is that last decade of the 19th century period and first decade of the 20th century, doesn’t even show Austin as fielding a professional team in 1900. And that’s about all we know for sure this evening. Darrell Pittman and I, and everyone else who hangs out or gets involved here at The Pecan Park Eagle in this kind of research is still appreciative of the much extra light that Davis Barker has brought to our search for John Douglass.

Thanks, Travis! – And stay in touch!

The mystery for any of us who ever may have dreamed of having his kind of talent for baseball will always have no better than answer than the not-so-simply digestible fact that all of us are uniquely different in our aptitudes, abilities, and aspirations. – John Douglass chose getting his law degree and then going to work in Galveston as a claims agent for the Santa Fe Railroad over the possibility of a great career in baseball.

Really, John? …. Really?? …. Really???

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Addendum Information from Darrell Pittman:

Baseball Reference shows him (with one “s”) pitching one game for Austin, a  complete-game five-hit shutout, also going 1-for-4 at the plate, and they give the start and end of his career as June 3, 1899:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=dougla004joh

San Antonio Light June 4, 1899 Submitted by Darrell Pittman

San Antonio Light
June 4, 1899
Submitted by Darrell Pittman

What would have been a 4-0 victory for Austin was expanded into a 9-0 forfeit victory in favor of Austin as a result of the umpire’s ruling on the field debacle. Pitcher John Douglass still kept his one-game professional career stats, framed forever as a perfect undefeated 1-0 record and an ERA of 0.00. One other basic performance question remains unknown, according to Baseball Reference.Com. As for hitting and throwing, was John Douglass a righty or a lefty? I’m betting he was right handed. Had Douglass been a lefty, that probably would have been better publicized during that Turn of the 20th Century era as one of the “scientific” explanations for his unusual attitude about the game of baseball.

Thanks, Darrell Pittman, for the rapid expansion of everything we are learning about “The Curious Case of the Young Man Who Hated What He Did So Well!”

Hillsboro Pitching Phenom is Mystery Man

July 19, 2015
'HEY, DOUGLASS! IT'S OK TO TRY AND CONFUSE ME WITH THAT HIGH RIDER BUT DON'T CONTUSE ME AT AY TIME!

‘HEY, DOUGLASS! IT’S OK TO TRY AND CONFUSE ME WITH THAT HIGH RIDER BUT DON’T CONTUSE WHEN YOU TRY!”

Another Research Contribution By Darrell Pittman

Another Research Contribution
By Darrell Pittman

Who was “Douglass” of Hillsboro?

Darrell Pittman and I are both still researching the guy, but, so far, we haven’t come up with a tight fit identity. That wonderful piece of 1899 writing includes the frequent omission of the “phenomenal” pitcher Douglass’s first name. – Why include the first name in the story when everybody in 1899 north central Texas apparently already knew who good old boy “Douglass” fully was. Just as the newsmen of that era so often left out the name of a ballpark where the a big game was played, or any note of where it was located, because they simply did not include information that they presumed that their readers already had.

And, after all, newsmen of that time were not writing for history.

We do know this much. According to both Baseball Reference and Baseball Almanac, “Douglass of Hillsboro” never played on any level of professional baseball.

Our Pecan Park Eagle sources at “News Archives.Com” also have turned up nothing, so far, but we will continue to try different kinds of approach to research there.

Darrell Pittman has had a similar problem with his historical news services, but has turned up useful information through Ancestry.Com on likeable age appropriate candidates who were legal residents of Hill County, Texas, where Hillsboro is located, in 1900,  whose common surname was “Douglass.”  If Darrell’s source is correct, the first name for our “Douglass” mystery man was either James, John, Dan or Frank.

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Ancestry.Com List of Hill County Men Named “Douglass” in 1900:

Name Born Home in 1900
James G. Douglass 2/1874 Itasca, Hill County
John S. Douglass 3/1876 Justice Precinct 2, Hill County
Dan W. Douglass 2/1878 Justice Precinct 4, Hill County
Frank Douglass (John S.’s brother) 5/1878 Justice Precinct 2, Hill County

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If you wish to join us here at The Pecan Park Eagle in our search for the bigger truth about the Hillsboro pitching phenom named “Douglass,” please feel free to join us by comment on this latest adventure into the most arcane realms of baseball history.

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Senator Owner Sees Open AL Race in 1928

July 18, 2015
CLARK GRIFFITH, OWNER 1928 WASHINGTON SENATORS

CLARK GRIFFITH, OWNER
1928 WASHINGTON SENATORS
“YOU GOTTA HAVE HOPE!”

March 18, 1928. The air of spring is a powerful intoxicant. In baseball, it sometimes empacts how we view the near future of our favorite club, what we hope for, and, if we are the team owner, it very definitely has the power, along with our concern for the bottom line, how we want our team’s fans to see the case for fresh hope. Here, with a good example of the owner’s loaded lungs of spring and personal fiduciary investment, is how Washington Senators owner Calvin Griffith saw the coming of the 1928 season.

Keep in mind that the 1927 New York Yankees were the club that came to be regarded by many over time as the greatest club of all time. The ’27 “Murderers’ Row” Yankees won 110 games, while losing only 44. They finished 15 games ahead of the second place Philadelphia Athletics and 25 games up on the third place Washington Senators before sweeping the NL’s Pittsburgh Pirates 4 games to nothing in the World Series. And, oh yes, 1927 was Babe Ruth’s apex 60 HR year and also the season that Lou Gehrig chipped in 47 homers of his own.

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SENATOR OWNER SEES OPEN RACE AMERICAN LOOP

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Clark Griffith Is One Who Doesn’t

Believe Yanks Can Make It Runaway Affair

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Tampa, Fla., March 17. (AP) – Clark Griffith, president of the Washington baseball club, first a great pitcher in the American League and later a smart  manager in both the American and National, votes a straight and emphatic “no” on the resolution to turn the 1928 pennant over to the world champion New York Yankees.

“Not at all,” said the gray thatched baseball man with young eyes when asked if the Yankees could be considered “in.” “In spite of all that has been said of the murderous qualities tucked away in the Yankees’ bats, you can count the real hitters of the club on one hand.

“Against ordinary pitchers, yes, but against real, outstanding, smart pitchers, no.

“A clever pitcher can stop the New York sluggers with a base on balls here and there, and when they are not piling up the runs, they will not be such terrors. They can be scored on plenty. The champions’ pitching staff is not a world beater.

“I confidently look forward to a race this year. I hope and believe we will be in it.

“I am as confident as I can be of anything at this time of year that we will get good pitching. I don’t know who the pitchers will be. That’s Bucky’s (Manager Harris) business but there are 14 out there working their heads off to get on the team and there will be a tough crowd to beat when they are finally picked.”

~ Associated Press, Wichita Daily Times, March 18, 1928, Page 13.

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Fall of 1928. The New York Yankees did win 9 fewer games in 1928, but they still repeated as AL champions, with a record of 101 and 153 that was still good enough to edge the second place Philadelphia Athletics by 2.5 games and 19 games over the third place St. Louis Browns. Mr. Griffith’s club, the Washington Senators, failed to live up to their owner’s hopes, slipping to fourth place in 1928, and 26 games behind the pennant repeating Yankees – or one full game further behind New York than they did in 1927. Ruth again led the big leagues in homers in 1928, but he also slipped from 60 to 54 in that single season.

The 1928 New York Yankees again swept the World Series – this time, avenging that seven-game loss they suffered in 1926 to the St. Louis Cardinals.

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From Here to Eternity, In Baseball and in Life: Hope returns every spring. It’s really with us everyday, if we are open to its scent in some new form. And we need to sense  it – no matter what we may be up against. It is the breath of life itself and the portal to all spiritual awakenings.

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Landmark Day at The Pecan Park Eagle

July 17, 2015
The Pecan Park Eagle Says:

The Pecan Park Eagle
Says:
“THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!”

I The Pecan Park Eagle Publishes Column # 2,000

Published Today, Friday July 17 ,2015

THE PECAN PARK EAGLE happily announces today that this is our 2,000th column publication since we started at WordPress six years ago on July 21, 2009. We piddled around with our entry into the blog world at Chron.com for about a year or so before finding this wonderful writer’s oasis, but none of those rookie/dabblings figure a twit into this little celebration and expression of gratitude to the growing numbers of you who apparently enjoy what we are doing here to some variable extent.

We have learned a few things along the way:

(1) Writing is my sweet spot. That need I’ve had to write since childhood was neither imaginary nor a mere phase in my life. I have to write almost on the same level that I need to breathe – and not because I think there’s something I have to say that’s all that original – or never been said before by far greater writers. I just need to do it as a soul music matter. I would do it, even if you were to never read anything I wrote. From the point of research through the blessed daily arrival of the muses who  line up all the thoughts and words for me, writing is simply where I find my daily sweet-spot swing at life. It’s where I live.

It’s me.

(2) Don’t worry about errors, but always strive to correct any violations of the truth, along with all the typos and double word repeats on articles like “the the” I so often leave on the trail in my moments of “writing rapture”. When you write this much on a daily basis, as in the long season of baseball, three things are certain: (a) you are never going to please everybody; (b) some people are going to arrive regularly to help make your glowing errors more public; (Your real friends will send you an early private e-mail and give you a chance to correct the error without expanding the public view of it.); and (c) The joy of writing is in the process of letting the subject work its way through you. No subject is worth it becoming like a piece of furniture you bought from IKEA. Those kinds of writing projects always leave you with less sanity and a piece of work that came with either too few or too many parts.

(3) Feedback from readers is sweet, whether you like what we do here, or not. And when I say “we” – I pointedly mean to include writers like the wonderful Bill Gilbert and all others who have either contributed as guest columnists or as generous volunteer researchers, like the terrific news historian and close friend, Darrell Pittman of Astros Daily. Thanks to all of you who contribute here – and that especially includes all readers who take the time to leave written comments. Greg Lucas, Tony Cavender, Rick Bush, Tom Hunter, Mark Wernick, Bob Hulsey, Miriam Edelman, Bob Dorrill, Marsha Franty, Mike Vance, Bob Copus, Tal Smith, Larry Dierker, Cliff Blau and Mike McCroskey all jump immediately to mind – but there are many others. – Please don’t get your feelings hurt, if you were not named here.

Thanks, readers and research supporters, for your growing numbers of active support for whatever we are doing here.

Since we have come to view each column produced here as a hit, and never an error – even if it is in error – we would like to show you briefly where column No. 2,000 now places The Pecan Park Eagle on the All Time Career Hit List:

ALL TIME CAREER HIT LEADERS

THROUGH JULY 17, 2015:

RANK NAME HITS
1 PETE ROSE 4,256
2 TY COBB 4,189
3 HANK AARON 3,771
4 STAN MUSIAL 3,630
5 TRIS SPEAKER 3,514
6 DEREK JETER 3,465
271 TONY TAYLOR 2,007
272 FRANK WHITE 2,006
273 DAVE BANCROFT 2,004
TODD ZEILE 2,004
275 SHAWN GREEN 2,003
276 PECAN PARK EAGLE 2,000
HAPPY 84th BIRTHDAY, JO RUSSELL!!! JULY 17, 2015 (YOU CAN SMILE NOW, JOE! THE ASTROS ARE WINNING AGAIN! - WE THINK!)

HAPPY 84th BIRTHDAY, JO RUSSELL!!!
JULY 17, 2015
(YOU CAN SMILE NOW, JO! THE ASTROS ARE WINNING AGAIN! – WE THINK!)

II. FRIDAY, JULY 17, 2015: HAPPY 84th BIRTHDAY, JO RUSSELL!!!

Happy Birthday today to – the undisputed long-time Queen of the Houston Baseball Fan Community, Ms. Jo Russell. Jo and her late husband, Allen Russell, the long-time successful President of our wonderful old Texas League club, the Houston Buffs, almost single-handedly rescued the annual Houston Baseball Awards Banquets for a period over 25 years through 2011, and who served together even earlier as prime movers in the establishment of the “Orbiters” – the first active Houston Astros Fan Club – and also for all her service as a champion of numerous other local good causes in Houston – this little powerhouse energy lady today reaches another landmark – her 84th birthday. In site of all the selective minefields we each find in aging, Jo Russell is still peddling as fast as she can in support of the Houston Astros and she still continues to make the monthly meetings as an important active member of SABR’s Larry Dierker Chapter in Houston, most of the time.Her regular attendance at SABR meetings and Astros home games are simply testimonies to Jo’s indomitable spirit and her deep love for the game of baseball.

Jo Russell is precious to all of us as a good friend of baseball, a wonderful personal friend and one of the nicest, funniest, most decent people anyone could ever hope to meet. My apologies, Jo, for not being able to come up with a smiling photo. All my smiling photos are now inconveniently archived because they pretty much all go back to the last time the Astros were still in the running on your birthday. Maybe this birthday greeting will complete the hex on losing and help Astros GM Jeff Luhnow find us another Top Gun starting pitcher, another hard throwing reliever and a guy who knows what to do with that stick he carries to the plate.

We don’t have Mayor Parker in on this note due to short preparation time, and it’s too late to call her at home, but let’s do this anyway: We, hereby, unofficially declare Friday. Jul 17, 2015 as – Jo Russell Day in Houston! – Can we get a show of support hands for that one?

Have a wonderful day, dear friend!

~ The Pecan Park Eagle

CATCHER IN THE RYE - NOT EXACTLY WHAT J.D. SALINGER HAD IN MIND, BUT THE IMAGED LIKENESS OF A YOUNGER HOLDEN CAULFIELD IS PASSABLE.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE
– NOT EXACTLY WHAT J.D. SALINGER HAD IN MIND, BUT THE IMAGED LIKENESS OF A YOUNGER HOLDEN CAULFIELD IS PASSABLE.

III. HOLDEN CAULFIELD IS 64 YEARS OLD TODAY! – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU TOO, HOLDEN!

(EVEN IF IT’S YOUR FIRST REALLY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! IT’S OVERDUE. DON’T YOU THINK?)

Speaking of Miriam Edelman, another old dear friend and colleague from our Texas Medical Center salad days sent me this link today to a beautiful baseball poem called “American Summer” by Edward Hirsch, followed by a story notice too that Thursday, July 16, 2015 was the 64th anniversary of the 1951 publication of “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger.

“Catcher” and “Holden” remain my favorite novel and character of all time. The imagery of that young man is so strong in me  that it summoned the muses to write a snippet of dialogue featured here as our closing on this column.

And why not? – I’ve met Holden Caulfied in my office many times over the past half century.

We will go out on this one also  – with best wishes to all of you for a landmark Friday of your own:

Confidential Excerpt from a First Therapy Session

with 16-year old Holden Caulfield

Therapist (after long period of silence): “Are you OK about being here today, Holden?”

Holden: “I’m here.”

Therapist: “But was it your idea?”

Holden: “I don’t have ideas. – I have parents.”

Therapist: “OK, then why did they think you needed to be here?”

Holden: “Didn’t they tell you? They think I’m nuts!”

Therapist: “What do you think?”

Holden: “I think my lousy childhood would drive anybody nuts!”

Therapist: “So, if I hear you right, your idea is that your ‘lousy childhood’ is driving you ‘nuts’, as you say, and that’s your problem?”

Holden: “You’re not hearing me at all. I already told you once. I don’t have any ideas. I have parents.”

Therapist: “Then what’s their problem?”

Holden: “Me. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be sitting here, jerking off a whole hour of our lives together in this boring office!”

Therapist: “Do you have someplace you’d rather be?”

Holden: “Not really. Oh sure. – I could just be back at the house in our crummy neighborhood – jerking off the clock alone with the TV until dinner time – or whenever my old man gets home and is not too drunk to eat with Mom and me. Sometimes, he thinks he is up to it, but he just slides out of his chair and starts snoring on the dining room floor.”

Therapist: “That sounds pretty awful, Holden! – How do you deal with that?”

Holden: “You got any weed?”

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Hornsby 1922 Deal Is MLB Roof-Raiser

July 16, 2015
After hitting .397 with 21 HR in 1921, Rogers Hornsby held out for $25,000 in 1922. The Cardinals wanted him to be happy with $17K. Hornsby finally settled for a figure between $20K and $ $25K and then batted .401 with 42 HR in 1922.

After hitting .397 with 21 HR in 1921, Rogers Hornsby held out for $25K in 1922 after the Cardinals offered $17K. Hornsby finally settled for a figure between $20K and $ $25K and then batted .401 with 42 HR in 1922. – Talk about a club getting some bang for their buck! Cardinal leader Branch Rickey never met a star he couldn’t poor-mouth down the scale at salary negotiation time.

______________________________

CARDINALS’ BRIGHTEST STAR COMES TO TERMS

By Associated Press

St. Louis, Mo., March 9 (1921) Rogers Hornsby, leading batsman in the National League (in 1921), who has been holding out (on his salary for 1922), late this afternoon agreed to sign a contract and will depart for the Cardinals’ training camp at Orange, Tex., in time to participate in the exhibition game at Dallas Saturday with Cleveland, it is announced.

The agreement was reached after a long conference with Manager Branch Rickey. Terms of the contract were not made public but it is understood that the salary is between $20,000 and $25,000, with a clause increasing the salary if the club finishes first, second or third in the league race. Hornsby has been demanding $25,000 and the club recently offered to give him $17,000

The contract makes Hornsby the highest paid player in the (National) league.

~ THE GALVESTON DAILY NEWS, FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 1922

Thank you again, Darrell Pittman, for the news clipping that inspired the presentation of this column.

______________________________

As non-economists, we are not specifically sure how those 1922 dollars translate into a baseball season salary for 2015, but we seriously doubt that 1922’s .401, 42 HR hitter Hornsby’s salary would even come close to today’s MLB minimum wage. For most, if not all, of his big league administrative career, Branch Rickey reportedly had a bonus clause in his contract with employers in St. Louis and Brooklyn that paid him for money he saved in player negotiations. And he didn’t just haggle down the big stars; he did it with any player asking for a better deal than the club (Rickey) had offered.

The late Bobby Bragan told me that his trade from the early 1940s Philadelphia Phillies to the Brooklyn Dodgers was really the biggest moment in his career. In one fell swoop, he had gone from the arguably most horrible club in the big leagues – to the up and coming contender Dodgers, thanks to Brooklyn GM Rickey. When Bragan later expressed some unhappiness with Mr. Rickey’s salary offer for the following season, it became a very brief uprising. “If you’re not happy with the Dodgers, Bobby,” Rickey supposedly told Bobby, “I can always arrange for your return to the Phillies. They’ve already let me know that they wouldn’t mind having you back.”

Enough said. Bragan signed for whatever the Dodgers were willing to pay him from there. And he remained a Dodger during the major event that deeply altered his life forever. The 1947 arrival of Jackie Robinson ultimately caused Alabamian Bragan to re-arrange his thinking about race, discrimination, and prejudice – and to blossom into one of the best teachers of the game and, even more importantly, a lifelong supporter of causes to help young people.

In my book, the best baseball people are not just the guys, players or administrators, that cut the best deals for themselves alone, but for those who, like the late Bobby Bragan and the still very present Jimmy Wynn, Larry Dierker, Craig Biggio and now, young Carlos Correa too, just to name a few, who all have dedicated – and just started giving – so much energy and money of their own to programs helping disadvantaged members of our communities, – and especially, kids.

Keep it up, guys!

______________________________

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Deep Time By Rob Sangster is Great Read

July 15, 2015

“DEEP TIME”
BY
ROB SANGSTER
2015

Deep Time found its breath in Ground Truth. Now its principal character lives on to fight another day of compelling, fast-moving story action, with much of it darkly unfolding in a literal ocean of mystery and intrigue. Jack Strider quickly arises again as the character-to-care-about, as he did in Ground Truth. Now he surfaces in Deep Time, this time, from the ocean’s great unknown, with all its ancient fears of the deep, and some new ones to consider, as well.

Jaws gave us the teeth of the monster to worry about; – Deep Time gives us the minds of men to fear.

The pace is wonderful, the plot reaches the mind-numbing scary level, and the cast of characters are so real that they once more scratch that primordial wish that many of us share for the triumph of good over evil. Congratulations to the author on another “can’t-put-it-down” masterful job of dangerous plot writing.

Rob Sangster is the best new “undiscovered” mystery/suspense writer in America” today. – Deep Time should be the cure for that issue.

~ Bill McCurdy, The Pecan Park Eagle, a NetGalley.Com Review, July 2015

“GROUND TRUTH”
BY
ROB SANGSTER
2012

Check out a previous Pecan Park Eagle column, Ground Truth: By Rob Sangster at the following link:

http://bill37mccurdy.com/2012/10/17/ground-truth-by-rob-sangster/

ROB SANGSTER TODAY! Living Proof That Age is Just a Number!

ROB SANGSTER TODAY!
Living Proof That Age is Just a Number!

Back in the fall of 1955, neither of us could see the unfolding of the different paths our lives were about to take beyond St. Thomas High School, but our choices of universities may have been the first hint. Rob headed for Stanford in the fall of 1956. I took the Gulf Freeway to UH. – Rob found the river that rolled through law school. My stream carried me into the world of psychology and a lifetime of clinical mental health work.-  Rob’s life spanned the mountaintops of the globe and literally carried him to the seven wonders of the world. I remained in Houston as one of those who found awe in the Eighth Wonder of the World. – Rob has ended up living a half year at his home on the Nova Scotia coastline and the other six months at a second home in Memphis. I’m still a 12-months a year, 24/7, one house Houstonian.

In spite of these differences in our life scripts, the writing waters that started for both of us as reporters for the St. Thomas High School Eagle in Houston have swept both of us back together in contact through the Internet. I could not be happier to have my old Eagle brother and fellow writer back in my life.

And, just a note to all of our other St. Thomas classmates. – Rob would dearly love to hear from all of you who care to write. His e-mail address is rob@sangster.com

I guess the signs of Rob’s adventurous life-to-come were there at St. Thomas back in the day. I remember looking across the aisle at Rob during Civics class once as we all practiced endurance at a monotone lecture after lunch on organizational structure. I thought Rob was taking notes until I took a closer look at the elaborate four-letter script he had finished composing in favor of heavy embossing the thing in bold black ink reinforcement.

It read: “Chairman of the Bored”.

Hope all of you will consider purchasing “Deep Time” through Amazon.Com. You will be in for a super cool introduction to the most unforgettable ongoing fictional hero since Travis McGee. His name is Jack Strider, but he moves with all the same worldly mental and physical high energy as his creator, a fellow named Rob Sangster.

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