Sitting Prettier: Altuve Deal

March 18, 2018

“Sitting Prettier”
Jose Altuve’s new contract numbers have added character to his smile.

Since “Sitting Pretty” of earlier this week, the Houston Astros and superstar mighty mouse second base star and batting champion Jose Altuve have agreed to some crooked numbers on a five-year extension of his present contract through the 2004 season. The deal comes down to about a $32.2 million dollar average annual salary for each of the seasons covered in Altuve’s 2020-2024 work beyond the present two already locked in years covering 2018-2019.

Hallelujah!  At least we can now all get some sleep in Houston and keep setting up the rest of the team we shall need to keep up these newfound championship ways in motion as our dynasty-building commitment.

What next?

How about getting the 2018 season started, asap? The televised version of the 2018 home and away season is looking more attractive by each passing day – and by each new “dynamic pricing” explanation for the increase in ticket prices.

We get it. It’s going to take a lot of dough to pay for the kind of baseball we fans say we want to see on a regular basis.

So be it. Let’s do it right. Or not even try. If that means some of us will not be able to attend as many games as we once did, so be it. But let’s do all we can to support the recruitment of new fans who can help by their attendance in person.

Otherwise, let’s not feign surprise if performance by the Astros over time falls as a result of fan abandonment reaction to higher ticket prices. As we all should understand from our tenures as students of Life’s Led Zeppelin School of Economics.

Lead balloons never get off the ground.

But what we have in Houston is no lead balloon. It’s real. It’s rough. It’s ready to go. And it’s already proven it can win – and with more winning players signing up this season than ever before to the task of taking another Houston Astros club to a second consecutive World Series championship.

It’s up to the Houston baseball community – from the ownership to the players to the hard-core embedded fans and all of the welcomed newcomers – to figure out the new match required here between ticket cost and demand and get it done. We deserve it.

Maybe the Astros can figure out a way for fans to earn ticket purchase credit by their measurable contributions to an effort called something like “Houston Astros Tickets Strong”.

Play with the idea, Astros. Come up with something. Maybe attendance by game and season could be goals that pay off in a price break for fans who contribute measurably to each.

Think about it. Take action. And let’s get it done.

Now that would be “Sitting Prettiest!”



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Baseball’s Three Generation Families

March 17, 2018

“Loved that Stance!”


The Baseball Family TreeGrandfather, Father & Son Major Leaguers

Courtesy of Baseball

Grandfather Father Son(s) Order

Gus Bell
1950 – 1964

Buddy Bell
1972 – 1989

David Bell
1995 – 2006
Mike Bell
2000 – 2000

Ray Boone
1948 – 1960

Bob Boone
1972 – 1990

Bret Boone
1992 – 2005
Aaron Boone
1997 – 2009

Joe Coleman
1942 – 1955

Joe Coleman
1965 – 1979

Casey Coleman
2010 – Active
Sammy Hairston
1951 – 1951
Jerry Hairston
1973 – 1989
Jerry Hairston, Jr.
1998 – 2013
Scott Hairston
2004 – Active
Grandfather Father Son(s) Order
Grandfather, Father & Son Major Leaguers

There have only been four of them, but these families have left their own rare and special mark upon baseball history. Of all the thousands who, at least, have either magically Moonlight Grahamed their ways into a single official game box score since the late 19th century – or were simply struck out once as pinch hitters on the same day they were informed of their assignment to Wilkes-Barre, we also have these four families whose DNA/baseball culture mixes were strong enough to produce three direct descendant  big leaguers in a row.

Most of us know of the two most royal ones on our Baseball Almanac list. The Boones and the Bells have been lighting up the headlines quite literally now for generations. The Boones have made the latest noise this current off-season with the announcement that Aaron Boone is taking over as the new manager of the New York Yankees.

The rest of the Boones and all the Bells ring the same. And that’s loudly. It’s hard to find many dark corners of history since the post WWII Era in which none of their names arise. And they’ve each gone father, son, and two grandsons each in the wake they’ve left in the big sea of hindsight. Mike Bell’s 19-game total MLB career was pretty much a bust, but, hey. the man got there as did his brother, his father, and his grandfather – and none of them were busts. Plus, we do not have open access to news of injury or personal issues that may have halted the youngest Bell so early in the game.

The Coleman family pulls the steady cord when you look at their achievement records. If you go to Baseball Reference .com to research them, you may even see that steadiness in the eyes of each their photos. They were – all three of them – right-handed pitchers with steady records over several seasons. Grandfather Joe worked 1o years between 1942 and 1955, going 52-46, 4.38 as an all American Leaguer. Son Joe was 142-135, 3.70 over 15 seasons (1964-1979). Grandson Casey Coleman (2010-2012, 2014) was 8-13, 5.25 in four seasons. We don’t know if his recent absence from MLB is injury or performance related. Or maybe the family DNA battery simply ran out.

The Hairston family appearance here seems more fluky. At age 31, Sammy Hairston joined the Chicago White Sox on July 21, 1951 a one of the players coming over from the Negro Leagues in the years that followed Jackie Robinson. Hairston was there through August 26, 1951 and 2 for 5 as his total MLB record. If you hve to come late and leave early, may as well take a .400 BA with you on the waves good bye. And here’s fluky. If Sammy doesn’t get that whisky shot glance that summer, he and his family are not on this list today. Then comes Sammy’s son Jerry with a long career (1973-1989), followed by the direct grandsons of Sammy, – Jerry, Jr. (1998-2013) and Scott (204-Active).

Other families, like the early 20th century Delahantys, may have produced more direct family members as MLB siblings, but these four families, so far, are the first to do three joined direct descendant generations.

And who knows? Maybe one or more of these four families will make it four generations too.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


Sitting Pretty

March 14, 2018

“Sitting Pretty”

The 21st Century 2nd Baseman Induction Field

Of the five men already inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as 21st Century second basemen inductees, only Craig Biggio of the Astros (2015) achieved any recognition for good work at another position. The rest were pretty much pure blood pivot men up the middle on the old phantom tag plays that once begrudgingly and gratefully filled our scorecards. Biggio go moved from an All Star start early as catcher in the hope that the move up the middle. It must have worked. He got to play twenty years with one club, got to play in a World Series, and then went into the HOF full sail in the early years of his retirement.

Roberto Alomar (2011) served as the career co-spur to Biggio during their shared competitive careers and, indeed, he reached the HOF four years earlier than his Astros rival, with offensive stats that were slightly crisper, but not so much crunchier than the ones on Craig’ List for being the little tough guy who could take an HBP like few others, while also doing all he could to help kids with special issues of serious childhood disease. Alomar, on the other hand, would go into the Hall remembered by many as the guy who spat upon an umpire for rendering a decision he didn’t like.

Bill Mazeroski (2001) and Joe Gordon (2009) were both mid- 20th century players, but they were not forgotten by the Veteran’s Committee when it came time for each to either go-in or begone from the Hall of Fame honor candidate list. All though the arguments probably shall continue that playing hard and dramatically against the Yankees may have saved this honor for each man, especially for Mazeroski, the counter point defense always still flies that both guys were always better than their overall stats confirmed. Count us in that court on this question.

Maz played with a fire that had no quit in it. Gordon was cold steel strong – both for and against the Yankees – and he was an important cog in the 1948 World Series Championship year of the Cleveland Indians. As for Mazeroski’s contributions to the 1960 Game Seven Pittsburgh Pirates win over the Yankees, it requires no telling. If you have a baseball memory, all you have to do as a kid is grow up anywhere near Pittsburgh. You should know about Mazeroski before you finish the first grade. That is, assuming it wasn’t already covered in kindergarten.

During that long march for Cub fan generations across the desert of despair (1909-2015), one place that hope survived was always in the presence of some special player who came along to inspire. No one ever did that better, with more lift, than Ernie Banks, but 2nd sacker Ryne Sandberg (HOF 2005) did a pretty good job on the Moses Trail himself with this own precious skill for handling the fans’ hopes with honor and respect. He was a HOF guy in the making from the very start. He simply didn’t have the company he needed to do what the 2016 Cubs finally did when they finally gathered the right kind of troops and got it done.

Now here comes Jose Altuve, with a 7-season career in tow that now includes 3 league batting titles, a World Series victory, and all kinds of honors for all the things he’s done so well on the field – and with an average-per-season set of stats that mainly outshines his five older second base companions who already belong to the Hall of Fame.

The following table is constructed from the “162 Game Average Data Line” that rests at the bottom of each first offensive career chart for each batter listed in the Baseball presentation data. It shows what each of the 21st century inductees and Senor Altuve have done, if it could be displayed by the kind of season it would produce for each man if all his actual data were averaged over the number of seasons he has currently played. At age 27, and only 7 years down on what could be a long and most fruitful career, Altuve has a good chance of improving his comparison to the other set of five fixed average seasons that are listed for the HOF players shown with him here today.

There is other data we could have added, but beyond the variables we’ve chosen to use with our good old “BA” stat, the view of things gets a little harder to read easily at the scope our publication prints. So, we’ve kept it simple for the display:

Five 21st Century-HOF-Called Keystoners and One To Be

# 2nd Basemen AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA
1 Jose Altuve 652 93 206 40 4 14 66 44 76 .316
2 Roberto Alomar 618 103 185 34 5 14 77 70 78 .300
3 Ryne Sandberg 628 99 179 30 6 21 79 57 94 .285
4 Craig Biggio 618 105 174 38 3 17 67 66 100 .281
5 Joe Gordon 590 95 158 27 5 26 101 79 73 .268
6 Bill Mazeroski 581 58 151 22 5 10 64 33 53 .260

Our only big question in Houston is about the whereabouts of it all. Will Jose Altuve be another full career Houston Astro for the entire trip? Or will he be able to resist the Yankee/Red Sox/Dodger rush that we all know is coming, somewhere down the line?



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle



Our Houston Sgt Pepper

March 12, 2018

“We’re Larry Dierker’s Hous-ton SA-BR Band!


We’re Larry Dierker’s Hous-ton SA-BR Band!


We’re Larry Dierker’s One-and-Only Astros Mostly brand!

Join us and watch the summers flow!


We’re Larry Dierker’s only,

Larry Dierker’s only,

Larry Dierker’s only,

…. SABR Band!


It’s wonderful to see you!

We’re glad you can be here!


With the answers all-so-near!


So give our Bob Dorrill – a call!

Find out – it hardly costs at all!

Little less – if you’re young or old!

And the fun is always hot – not cold!


Act now – and let us take you to!

The smile to heal all baseball tears!





Asking members what SABR means to each of them is a little like that ancient philosophical question: “What happens when you ask a dozen blind men what an elephant feels like?” Of course, it depends upon what they each have been grabbing and holding onto over the years. It feels much bigger to those who have been moving around the gargantuan beast over time, but it’s still big enough to handle the needs of the one-spot grabbers too.

SABR stands for the “Society for American Baseball Research.” It formed in 1971, attracting the brain spectrum of people interested in baseball as both a great measurable sport and a serious cultural root in this country’s growth. The SABR members today fall into three distinct groups. As “blind men”, they may be only interested in the math generated by the game as it pertains to past performance comparisons or to the future analytic predictions of what it will take to build a championship ball club. Or they may be way to the other side, knee-deep in the poetic evolution of baseball as “the stuff and literature that baseball dreams are made of”. Or – believe it or not – they are the double dominant brain hemisphere people who enjoy the game for both the bite of its numbers and its story-generating power.

47 years into the mix, the gradient brain preferences of the average SABR member appear about as mixed as you might expect them to be – and with the growing realization among SABR people too that the common water table of interest between any two members is most often quickly discovered between any two members who both open their mouths to share with each other their common treks to the organization.

Today SABR has chapters world-wide. The USA locations usually are dedicated by chapter name to some former player of importance to the area. Houston has a great identity fit in Larry Dierker, the former great Houston pitcher and media guy, before going on to becoming the big winning manager in four of five early playoff series from 1997 through 2001. Today Larry Dierker is our guy on the masthead of baseball and life courage credit – and everything we could want in our own “Sgt. Pepper” leader of our Houston Chapter band. Active in our monthly SABR meetings, Larry also is a frequent presenter.

One more log on the fire for those who don’t know of it. Larry Dierker broke into the big leagues by starting a game against the San Francisco Giants at old Colt Stadium on his 18th birthday, September 22, 1964. The club was still known as the Colt .45s in that third and final year before the Astrodome opening.

Larry didn’t win that day, but he struck out the legendary Willie Mays the first time he faced him in the big leagues – and on his 18th birthday no less! Enough said.

We are – The Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR.

The annual dues for SABR are $65. If you are under 30, or over 65, your dues are $45. Cheaper rates are available for 3-year memberships, if you prefer.

A number of printed publications will come to you annually for no charge. The only thing you miss by not going to our monthly meetings is the chance to meet and hear directly from people like Larry Dierker, Jimmy Wynn, Tal Smith, Bill Brown, Greg Lucas, former Houston Buff slugger Larry Miggins, and, over time, practically every other living former Houston Astro and other former big leaguer who lives in our area.

One more thing. You do not have to be a baseball expert to fit in. We are a body of baseball fans, men and women who love the game because of how the game continues to touch our lives.

For more information about our monthly meetings in the St. Thomas High School area of town, please contact our Larry Dierker Chapter Director, Mr. Bob Dorrill. It you are willing to open the door on the best time in your life, Bob Dorrill will help you get it started today.

Just don’t procrastinate. If you had joined us this time last year, you too could have been there as we wished A.J. Hinch good luck in 2017!

Bob Dorrill Contact #s:

phone: 281-361-7874




Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle



Pick It: Shorter Games or Better Calls?

March 10, 2018

Today I love watching MLB games and knowing that the outcome is not going to be decided by a phantom-tag-of-second double play that cannot be challenged. Same goes for other calls like fair-foul, ground trap-glove catch, and which arrived as first at first – the fielder’s throw – or the runner’s foot?

The multi-camera angles, the HD picture quality, the ability to discern what actually happened on appeal are enough to silence almost all of the dissenting losers in these appellate decisions, barring the few Billy Martins and Earl Weavers who would still kick dirt on the shoes of God, were “He/She” the chief umpire for the day. Even the umpires get it. Technology is here to help them because they are human – and capable of human error. Technology is not there to criticize or condemn them for imperfection.

If you watch this first example in the linked YouTube video from different angles, the more you see that the Braves runner from third who is called safe at home on an infield throw to the catcher actually was tagged out a good two feet prior to reaching the plate. The run counts. And the home town Braves defeat the Pirates, 4-3.

In this game from an earlier season, there is no appeal. Bucs manager Clint Hurdle is practically apoplectic in rage over the call, but there is nothing to do but go home, with the winners even being among those who know they have been gifted, as will the home plate umpire quietly agree, once he gets to see the tape free of Hurdle’s hot breath on his neck.

All the umpire saw in real time was the runner evading the catcher. Even though the catcher was all over the runner like a controlling mother-in-law, the umpire simply could not see it. Maybe his mother-in-law had made the trip to Atlanta with him and his wife – and the umpire just needed to see somebody who was safe.

But seriously, folks….

Today I think this play could have been appealed and reversed, forcing the game to another inning of play in the search for a fair finish. As, indeed, it should be with any play in baseball that can be reversed, short of ball and strike calls. Even that one may meet up with its own laser technology someday. Or it may remain the one sweet area of totally human error risk in officiating. Protesting ball and strike calls on a runaway basis could ruin the game on several levels.

Besides (wink.wink), how could we play this game if we take away all of the umpires’ different strike zones. A laser call key that called them all the same would take away a manager’s ability to plan certain starters around their abilities to match the umpire’s usual strike zone.

Anyway, hope you enjoy these YouTube clips as much as we did.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Tragedy of Addiction: Sammy Stewart

March 9, 2018

On September 1, 1978, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Sammy Stewart set the MLB rookie mark by striking out 7 batters in a row in one game as a pitcher facing the Chicago White Sox.

Over the past half century, plus some single digit years, time span of my chosen career as a psychotherapist, I have been asked many times: What’s the difference between dangerous compulsions and addictions? The older book answer always was that “compulsion” is the psychological basis for repetitive destructive behavior, whereas, “addiction” is the physiological bond that ties the individual to the craving for particular substances or activities.

Today, with only a little more than five months left on the clock before my complete and final retirement from private practice at the end of the day, Friday, August 31, 2018, I prefer to describe the differences in these terms:

“Compulsion” is anything we do, seek, or avoid because we think we have no choice. Chances are, we do. We simply will not allow ourselves to see the alternatives because we “fear” changing our ways – or we think we will feel “guilty” for the disappointment that our change will cause us – or  others close to us.

“Addiction” is the harder stuff of physical craving. Whatever it is, if we are now addicted to it, we no longer have any choice but to seek its satisfaction at whatever cost to self or others that now rolls from it. The physical addiction must be halted, over hours or days, or however long it takes, by restraint from access to the source that feeds it. Then we have to see if there’s enough person left to work the long hard walk to sober recovery with all the help we can muster.

It isn’t easy – for anybody involved in the treatment process because we are all, patient and treatment team members alike, in a slightly different way, taking up arms against the force behind every Gothic villain you ever read about in literature.

Addiction is the appetite that uses the human body to get what it wants at any cost it requires.

I’m saying all these things today in the hope that you will keep them in mind before you read the following link to the tragic story of Sammy Stewart and his death from addiction. The odds were against him finding religion or recovery on his own. And Sammy Stewart was a guy who had made greater contact with powerful people who may have wanted to help him. Didn’t happen. Usually doesn’t. The cold wild eyes of addiction see a well-intentioned do-gooder coming at them from a mile away.

When he died, Sammy Stewart was far down the road of either spending the rest of his appetite life as the small town family monster, the guy under the bridge, the fellow who went off to the state asylum and never came back, or the man who got sentenced to the penitentiary, where he later got killed by another inmate. As his story turned out, Sammy turned out to be the guy who showed up dead at home. He could as easily have been found dead wherever the appetite had taken him that day or night.

In Sammy’s case, we will just have to console ourselves in the fact that he didn’t take more people with him on the way out.

Addiction. So sad. Now all we have to is bury a fellow who was once the young pitcher from Baltimore that struck out a rookie record seven batters in a row during his first 1978 major league game against the White Sox.

Addiction. It is the cancer of mental illness.

Addiction. Wish we could get some powerful people behind programs that might save a few more Sammy Stewarts than we now do.



Thank you, Rob Sangster, for bringing the death of Sammy Stewart to my attention.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

First Game of the Houston Babies: 1888

March 8, 2018

Fair Grounds Base Ball Park
Site of Houston’s 1st organized professional baseball game.
March 6, 1888

Houston Daily Post

Wednesday Morning

March 7, 1888:



Cincinnati Giants Cross Bats With Houston

But Fail to Shut Out the Babies.

How the Locals Showed Up in Their First Game.

A large crowd was at the Base Ball Park yesterday afternoon to witness the maiden game of the Houston club as pitied the Giant Reds, of Cincinnati. The grounds were in a miserable condition which will account for the large score. The players occasionally had to look around in the little lakes which dotted the grounds, to find the ball. The game was commenced at 3:30 o’clock with the visitors at the bat, and Flood in the box for the locals. He was held by Lohbeck. Flood’s speed surprised the Giants, but owing to a sore finger he could not control his balls or get in any of his deceptive curves. Lohbeck showed up rather weak behind the bat. He appeared to be too stiff to handle Flood’s uncertain delivery, but he worked hard and won the favor of the crowd by his honest industry; and when he limbers up in legs and arms so that he can reach second from home plate he will doubtless prove a strong back stop. Craig covered first in brilliant style, and the throwing of Horan from short to first was admirable. He also made some pretty stops. Dougherty (Flaherty in left is correct) and Dauthett (in center) made some brilliant catches. Howard held down second very well. But, like every other man in the team, (all) appeared to be stiff. All of them were off on pick-up. Vogel covered right very well.

In Detail

First Inning – Nicol hit safe for first and went to third on (a) wild pitch of Flood to first/ McThee’s two-bagger over center brought in Nicol. Fennelly struck out and McThee scored on Lohbeck’s pass ball. Riley bruised the air three times and retired. Kappel hit to Horan and was thrown at first, retiring the side. Howard hit to McThee and was thrown out at first. Dougherty (Dauthett is correct here) and Flaherty both struck out and retired the side.

Second Inning – Horan made a brilliant stop at short and threw out Keenan at first. Tebeau couldn’t find Flood’s ball and so retired. Carpenter was struck by the ball and took his base, and advanced to third on Lohbeck’s pass ball. Sirad hit safe and brought in Carpenter. Nice hit to Horan and was thrown out at first. Side retired.

Murphy went out on (a) fly tap to Riley. Vogel hit to Sirad and was thrown out at first. Flood waited to see where the ball was going and was thrown out at first by Carpenter, thus retiring the side.

Third Inning – McThee hit to Howard and was thrown out at first. Fennelly fell a victim to Horan’s unerring throw to first. Riley was given his base on being struck with the ball, went to third on a pass ball and scored on Murphy’s fumble of Kaflle’s easy tap. Keenan’s safe hit brought in Kaflle, and Tebeau retired, the side trying to find Flood’s balls. Craig took his base on balls; stole second. Lohbeck flied out to Nicol. Howard sent a corker over short and scored on Douthett’s two-bagger to left. Flaherty was thrown out at first and retired the side.

Fourth – Carpenter hit safe, stole second. Seran flied out to Dauthett. Nicol hit safe and brought in Carpenter, took second on Flood’s wild throw to first stole third and scored on (a) pass ball. Fennelly hit to Flood and was thrown out on first. Murphy flied out to Tebeau Vogel hit safe. Flood was thrown out at first and Craig followed suit.

Fifth – Riley reached first on Howard’s error, and stole second. Kappel took two bases on Dauthett’s misjudgment of his pretty fly. Carpenter was thrown out at first by Craig, who left his base to field the ball. Serad flied out to Vogel. Lohbeck was given base on being hit, but was caught trying to steal second. Horan struck out and Dauthett flied out to Kappel.

In the sixth inning the locals indulged in a series of errors, and the reporter closed his book. At the close of the ninth inning the score stood 22 to 3 in favor of the visitors. This tabular score will show who did the work:

(First Game Box Score for the Original Houston Babies

From the Game They Lost to Cincinnati on March 6, 1888

by the score of 22-3 and as it was reported in the Houston

Daily Post the following day, March 7, 1888.

Here’s the previously described ‘Tabular Score’)

Howard, 2b 4 1 1 1 1 2
Dauthett, cf 4 0 3 3 0 1
Flaherty, lf 4 0 0 1 0 0
Murphy, 3b 4 0 0 2 0 2
Vogel, rf 4 0 1 1 0 0
Flood, p 4 0 0 1 10 6
Craig, 1b 3 1 0 11 1 0
Lohbeck, c 3 0 0 7 4 2
Horan, ss 2 1 1 0 1 1
TOTALS 32 3 6 27 16 14
Nicol, rf 7 4 3 1 0 0
McThee, 2b 7 4 4 2 4 0
Fennelly, ss 6 1 1 0 0 1
Riley, 1b 6 3 1 13 0 0
Kappel, cf 6 3 1 1 0 0
Keenan, c 6 2 4 8 2 0
Tebeau, lf 5 1 1 1 0 0
Carpenter, 3b 6 3 3 1 1 0
Serad, p 6 1 2 0 9 2
TOTALS 55 22 20 27 16 3


 Runs Earned – Cincinnati 8 – Houston 2

Base on Balls – Cincinnati 4 – Houston 2

Struck Out – Flood 7 – Serad 5

Left on Base – Cincinnati 7 – Houston 4

Two Base Hits – McThee 2, 4 players (Kappel, Serad, Dauthett, Horan), 1 each

Three Base Hit – Fennelly

Pass Balls – Lohbeck 6, Keenan 1

Wild Pitches – Flood 3

Stolen Bases – Howard, Dauthett, Craig (1 each), Cincinnati 8

Umpire – Kid Baldwin

Time of Game: 1 hour and 45 minutes


Eagle Notes

Thanks again to Darrell Pittman for sending this material to us. I haven’t seen this game report in years. Back then we didn’t even know that the ball park involved was the one that came to be known by several identifiers, including “The Travis Street Ball Park” as depicted in the wonderful Patrick Lopez watercolor shown today as our lead in print. The park site today is all commercial, but an historical plaque marks its site at Travis and McGowan, south of downtown, where it is officially remembered as the Fair Grounds Base Ball Park. Mike Vance deserves all the credit in the world for the discovery and confirmation of this site’s significance and for all the progress that’s been made in plaque-marking our city’s important baseball history sites.

Thanks, Mike.

I hope you were not too confused by my attempts to clarify that the original Post writer who did this story twice used the name “Dougherty” when his attentions turned toward two actual players in this first game. Apparently the names “Dauthett” and “Flaherty” – the two actual first game players effected – were sufficiently close enough in sound or sight to ignite a 19th century neurological association slip in the writer’s brain that was strong enough to confuse his account over time – beyond the turning of two additional new centuries.

I don’t know who Dougherty was. Maybe he was another player that had nothing to do with this game – or even the 1888 season. Or maybe he was a landlord or a bill collector in the Daily Post writer’s daily life at the time Houston played this humble start to its first season and also as a charter member of the original Texas League. The Cincinnati Red Stockings, not Giants, were a big league club, passing through town and looking for some practice games against minor league foes. And the Houston Babies were easy pickings on March 6, 1888 against a club like Cincy.

Note too. The “Babies” nickname was not used in this first Texas League pre-season game story. The Babies had to be nursed into its acceptance over time.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

1966: Dome Collapse Prediction Squelched

March 7, 2018

Today’s story is remindful of that neon psychic-for-hire sign that still burned for a while at night at that otherwise pretty much abandoned strip mall on Highway 6 west of Houston years ago. It had a question mark built into it too, as memory serves. The irony in this instance is fairly obvious as the only question that deserves a chuckle-muffled smiling answer: If the psychic-in-residence at the Highway 6 mall is really any good at making predictions, how come they didn’t see this business site failure coming?

The main story today was fed to The Pecan Park Eagle by frequent contributor Darrell Pittman from a March 6, 1966 story from the Houston Post that had been resurrected in more recent times by J.R. Gonzalez for his Bayou City History series in the Houston Chronicle. And this one is all about squelching rumors that a big national psychic had predicted city’s still new Astrodome was on the way to having its roof cave in on a certain date.

Put that one in the “didn’t happen” box as you also stay open to this possibility: Maybe Mrs. Jeanne Dixon – or one of her disciples – devolved into the same hard times psychic that was still working the Highway 6 area in more recent times.

Come on, 2018 season! – Hurry up and get here!


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Dodgers Photography of Rich Kee

March 6, 2018

For our TPPE readers everywhere, especially those of you in the Greater Los Angeles area and other parts of Southern California.

Who says “the best things in life are free”? We do. As does anyone else with any familiarity with the beautiful photographic work of longtime Dodgers photographer Rich Kee. You are invited to attend for free next week as Rich Kee presents and narrates a slide presentation at Whittier College. Try to be there, if at all possible. The details follow from here, in words and pictures.

– Bill McCurdy, Publisher, The Pecan Park Eagle and Member, the Baseball Reliquary.


The Institute for Baseball Studies and the baseball Reliquary present “The Stories Behind the Images: The Dodgers Photography of Rich Kee,” a slide presentation and discussion by the man who had the good fortune to serves as the Los Angeles Dodgers team photographer in the 1970s and ’80s, on Tuesday March 20, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at Villalobos Hall, 13507 Earlham Drive, Whittier, California, on the campus of Whittier College. The event is open to the public and free of charge. Light refreshments will be served.


Ron Cey (Photography by Rich Kee)


In addition to recent work, Rich Kee, a graduate of the prestigious Brooks Instititute of Photography, will share a selection of his iconic images and stpries from two decades that were highlighted by the transition from Walter Alston to Tommy Lasorda, a record-setting infield, Fernandomania, and a World Series championship in 1981. Rich Kee will be introduced by former baseball executive Fred Claire, who served as the Dodgers’ general manager from 1987 to 1998.


Steve Garvey (Photography by Rich Kee)

“The Stories Behind the Images: The Dodgers Photography of Rich Kee” is made possible, in part, by a grant to the Baseball Reliquary from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

For further information, phone (626) 791-7647 or e-mail terymar@earth For directions and parking, phone (562) 907-4803.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


Baseball Concerns in 1962

March 5, 2018

“When I was 24, it was a VERY good year!”
~ Bill McCurdy, The Pecan Park Eagle

Puzzling Questions Face Baseball Chiefs

By The Associated Press

(Sarasota Herald Tribune, Page 42, March 11, 1962)

Baseball faces up to some big questions in 1962.

Can the downward trend in attendance be checked?

Can the quality of play be maintained despite the dilution in talent caused by adding two new clubs in the National League on top of the two added in 1961 in the American League?

Does professional football seriously threaten to displace baseball as the national pastime?

Can the minor leagues be saved, and stabilized, so as to provide a training ground for major league players?

These questions have sparked some deep, serious thinking in high baseball places.

Attendance Problems

The attendance problem looks to be the most critical. Last year there was a close, thrilling race in the National League but attendance dropped from the 1960 figure of 10,684,963 to 8,731,502.

Until the last month there was an unexpectedly good race in the American League between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers, plus the excitement of the (1961) Mickey Mantle-Roger Maris home run duel. Attendance rose from the 1960 figure of 9,226,526 to 10,163,916 – but 1,860,233 of this came from the new clubs at Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Even counting the new clubs the total attendance of the two leagues fell 5 per cent and not counting them it fell 15 per cent.

Night Ball  

For the last 15 years (1946-1961) attendance in each league has ranged around 9,000,000, with half of this credited to night ball. This is a static condition in a rapidly expanding national population. That isn’t healthy either.

Meanwhile minor league attendance has withered away until now it is a question of heavy subsidization by the major leagues to maintain the minor league training ground so necessary for the development of major league stars.

Some baseball men think all the attendance problem needs is a fair break in the spring weather plus rousing races in both leagues. Undoubtedly either or both would help.

But in the long run baseball is bucking the trend away from spectator sports and towards participation sports such as golf, fishing, hunting, bowling, and the like.

Better, brighter stadiums with ample parking facilities would undoubtedly help. Such as are now available in Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and under construction in New York and Houston.

But a good stadium cost $15 million and up, and baseball can’t afford it. Public generosity must be relied on, instead, and there is a limit to this.

Professional football has been able to utilize television to build up interest but baseball has not been so fortunate. Away-from-home games of football teams are televised, allowing the teams to follow them, and then home games are blocked out, creating ticket demand.

It has not been possible to create such a productive pattern in baseball. For instance, because the New York market is so rich that high television fees can be paid, all home games of the New York Yankees are televised, and this will be the case with the New York Mets as well. Some, but no all away-from-home games are brought back to New York TV screens. Due to spirited bidding, the revenue to the Mets will exceed $1 million. This can make up for a lot of empty seats.

Few Games 

Most other clubs televise only a few games during the season, plus, of course, the “game of the week” of the networks.

Despite a certain envy of football for making such good use of television, and having an unlimited pool of talent developed by the colleges, baseball can afford to be tolerant of fast growing football.

But what if professional football decided to cut down on exhibition games and start its season extra early, say in mid-August, instead of September. That could create a real tussle for the entertainment dollar.

Baseball’s final problem is the minor league situation. Everyone recognizes that these must be maintained as a training ground. College baseball does not do the job in producing talent that college football does. The eventual hope is for a realignment on geographical lines, elimination of the weakest attendance cities, and sufficient subsidization by the majors to keep afloat.


Eagle Notes. Assuming them to be basically well stated for 1962, what went further wrong with them, around them, and through them ever since over the past 56 years is worth, at least, a dozen books by some of baseball’s deepest thinkers.

Our ideas about where they got it gradiently wrong in 1962 include these:

Talent Dilution wasn’t coming to baseball from their own expansion. It was coming from all the athletes, including for the first time, opportunities for American blacks to play in the MLB who were rapidly choosing the NFL and NBA more often in preference to the years of working their ways to the big leagues through the farm club system. College was the way to go for athletes desiring a faster shot at the money being offered them by the NFL.

TV Marketing savvy by the NFL may have been underestimated by MLB back in 1962. The game of football was far more photogenic on the TV small screen and the NFL seemed to understand that their much fewer regular season games (14 or 16 in football on Sundays to 162 for baseball all week) also made it easier to market the NFL package then it did the harder-to-show TV baseball game from the hinterlands on an August Wednesday afternoon. When a sport plays far fewer games, mostly on Sundays, it’s simply easier to sell the value of each game.

The Digital Age. None of us really saw in 1962 how home computers, the Internet, and all the tentacles of the new digital social media were going to turn all our lives inside out by 2018. 95% of us didn’t even know such a day was coming.

New Pricey Single Game Tickets. Based upon a sharp increase in prices for individual 2018 game tickets in Houston, it’s going to be interesting to see if even the World Champions can build and hold a large enough TV fan base to include some who will still buy individual game tickets upon occasion to make those price increases worth the loss they now invite.

Wait for Spring. The only totally wrong baseball people referenced in this 1962 report are those who thought “a fair break in the spring weather plus rousing races in both leagues” was all that was needed.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle