SABR Has Great Night at Skeeters Game

May 22, 2018

Thank You, Mike McCroskey,
For This Special Report
On the Larry Dierker SABR Chapter Banquet Meeting at the Sugar Land Skeeters Game at Constellation Field, Thursday, May 17, 2018.

Larry Dierker Chapter Meeting Recap
By Mike McCroskey

Twenty-one members of the Larry Dierker SABR chapter showed up on Thursday, May 17 at Constellation Field in Sugar Land for what, after a record setting day for hear, turned out to be a great night for baseball. Prior to the meeting our SABR group was hosted by the Skeeters GM, Jay Miller, for an impromptu meeting with new manager Pete Incavigilia. SABR favorite Deacon Jones and part-owner Kevin Zlotnik were, also, in attendance.

Topics were varied and ranged from Oklahoma State’s rivalry with the Texas Longhorns to Mike Schmidt singling off a speaker in the Astrodome. Jay and Pete spoke of their long affiliation with each other: Jay was ticket manager when Pete signed with the Texas Rangers, Jay was GM of New Orleans when Pete finally made the minors with the Astros, and now they are together again with the Sugar Land Skeeters.  Pete told a great story about how much former Astro Casey Candaele liked to prank everyone with the New Orleans team. He said after a night of drinking he got a phone call about 2 in the morning and the caller said it was Gerry Hunsicker. He said he answered, “Quit calling me, Casey, I know its you and hung up.” Phone rang again saying it was Gerry Hunsicker, and he hung up. The 3rd time it rang the voice said “Don’t hang up, Pete, this is really Gerry Hunsicker; at which point he realized his mistake and started talking about Candaele. Hunsicker replied that it was okay, he knew Casey, and Pete got called up to the Astros. That was the 1998 team that won 106 games before being eliminated after running into Kevin Brown and the Padres, despite having traded for Randy Johnson.

Skeeters -- manager

Pete Incaviglia was all smiles when he took over from Garry Gaetti this year as only the second manager in the history of the Sugar Land Skeeters.

Pete said that without a doubt his greatest thrill was hearing his name when being introduced at the 1993 World Series while with the Phillies. Even though they eventually lost to Toronto, “getting to play in a World Series is what every player dreams about and is why they put on their uniforms every day.”

In summation, the food was great and the Skeeters staff could not have been more hospitable to our SABR group. Our Q&A meeting lasted for about 45 minutes and the Skeeters got a well deserved round of applause at its conclusion. The Skeeters team spotted the Blue Crabs 5 runs in the top of the first, then spent the game trying to battle back from that deficit. The winning run was at the plate with two on in the bottom of the ninth before a fly ball to the outfield ended the 10-8 game. The weather cooled down around the 3rd inning and there were lots of tales of baseball and life floating out into the night air from our SABR members grouped together in left field throughout the game.

All in all, a very enjoyable evening.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

2017 Astros Edge 1927 Yankees @ MMP

May 21, 2018

Ruth and Gehrig
Murderers’ Row
The ’27 Yankees
Every Memory of Them is Linked in Greatness

It had to happen. All we needed was the cooperation of the baseball gods and the availability of the latest game player data on both rosters at the lights-out OOTP (“Out of the Park”) computer simulation baseball game – and here we are.

Our choice was to make it a winner-take-all one game contest at MMP — with no DH — under the rules that governed the game of baseball back in 1927. All we needed was a date in which the immortal souls of neither team were tied up with other game commitments. That wasn’t such a problem for the ’27 Yankees, but not for the reason you might think.

The ’27 Yankees may all be deceased from their previous earth-life forms, but that doesn’t mean they don’t continue to play soul-ball on their eternal level of spiritual continuation. In fact, the ’27 Yankees are currently holding down first place in the Beyondo Millennial League. It’s only their first season of play on that level, but with questions of time, net profiteering, and concern about the speed of the game no longer of any importance, baseball in the hereafter is finally free to be the game it needs to be — one that can hold the attention of eternal fans forever.

The current Beyondo Millennial League season began on January 1, 2001. It will end (so to speak) on January 1, 3001 — fulfilling the association’s commitment to playing a season that goes beyond a millennium of time by a single day.

Why? Why not? It’s sort of a base ball gods’ homage to clocks and all of the not-so-everlasting pain and reward heaped upon us by time during our period of physical aspiration and asphyxiation on earth.

The BML season schedule is only a tad more than 16 league games a century for ten centuries. The ’27 Yankees currently lead all others, but it’s awfully hard to call anything that moves this glacially slow as a pennant race. May as well be watching the standings here as you would Mount Rushmore — then asking the fellow watcher who was there before you: “Have you seen anything change since yesterday?”

And he sort of chuckles and mindlessly replies: “Well, I thought I had, but you can never be sure.”

Thursday, May 17, 2018 worked out great. The ’27 Yankees didn’t have another BML game on tap for four years hence and the Astros had a day off between the Angels and Indians on their 2018 schedule. Those of you who were swept up in the time warp/transcendent life space adjustments that made you one of those who got to attend the game in a very nearby parallel universe will have the rest of this life and next to be eternally grateful. All 40,234 of us who got to see the game will never forget it — glad that the Astros won — but surprised at how the thing played out.

Major surprise! The ’27 Yankees — “Murderers’ Row” — get one shot at the Crawford Boxes and whoa — Ruth, Gehrig, and the rest of the gang — all fail to go long ball. The New Yorkers get 7 hits, but 6 of them are singles, with catcher Pat Collins coming forth with the only extra base hit, a double. The Astros also failed to go long ball, but did manage a double by Correa and a triple by Reddick to go with their 9 singles.

For Openers. The Yankees got off to fast start against Astros starter Justin Verlander. Lead off batter Combs reached 1st when Astros 3rd baseman Alex Bregman mishandled an easy grounder. Then, after Koenig lofted an easy fly out to left, Babe Ruth smashed a hard single to right, moving Combs to 2nd base. Verlander then walked Gehrig to load the bases.

Meusel then lashed a single to left, scoring Combs with an unearned run that put the Yankees up, 1-0. Bases stay full.

Lazzeri then fanned swinging and Collins hit into a 6-4 force play on Meusel to retire the side.

Going to the bottom of the 1st, it was Yankees 1 – Astros 0.

Quick Recovery. With the great Waite Hoyt pitching for the ’27 Yankees, and already staked to a 1-0 lead, Springer led off the game for the Astros with a beautifully parabolic fly ball out to center field. Then Reddick walked – and was quickly moved to 2nd base by an Altuve single to center.

Correa next doubled into the left field gap, scoring Reddick from 2nd, and sending Altuve to 3rd. Then Hoyt got his mind back into the game. He retired Gonzalez on a can-of-corn to left – then opened a second can of hit-deprivation for Yulie Gurriel in center that killed two Astros geese on the scoring ponds and ended the first frame at Yankees 1 – Astros 1.

The Big Inning. The Astros harvested their winning edge in the bottom of the Third, but they had to fight hard for most of the game thereafter just to keep it. After Springer lead off with a 6-3 ground out, Reddick, Altuve, and Correa hit short field singles that loaded the bases.

Gonzalez then hit into a 4-6 force of Correa at 2nd base that scored Reddick from 3rd. Now, with Altuve at 3rd and Gonzalez at 1st, the Astros had taken their first lead in the game by 2-1.

Gurriel then singled up the middle, scoring Altuve from 3rd and sending Gonzalez to 2nd with an advantage over Hoyt that now stood as a 2-run difference. McCann then popped out to shortstop, ending the 3rd inning, but with the score now sitting at Houston 3 – New York 1.

One Late Yankee Charge. In the top of the 8th, with Harris now working into his 2nd inning of relief for starter Justin Verlander, Lazzeri struck out to start things. Then Collins unloaded the only Yankee long hit of the day, a double into the left field gap. Dugan then went down on a nubbing 1st base side roller on a 1-3 play that moved Collins to 3rd base with two outs.

Ray Morehart came in to pinch hit for Hoyt; he singled to left, scoring Collins. Combs then singled to left, and, on a ball that got away from left fielder Gonzalez, Morehart advanced to 3rd and Combs took 2nd. The Yankees had the tying and lead runs in scoring position. And Charlie Morton was brought in to pitch to Mark Koenig with two outs.

Morton got Koenig on a 6-3 ground ball out and the threat was halted. The game moved on to the bottom of the 8th with the teams now a measly run apart. It stayed that way through the entire 8th as the Astros were now staggering, but holding on. — Astros 3 – Yankees 2 through eight.

Spiritual Settlement Sustained. Surprise? Maybe not. Colin McHugh was brought in to pitch against the last Yankee hope for another long missed earth-bound victory. — Holey Moley!! — McHugh retired Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on consecutive 4-3 ground outs to Altuve in short right field each time — and then he walked Meusel to keep Yankee hopes alive — if only for one more batter. But what a ride it was.

Lazzeri took two straight towering fouls down the left field line. Either ball would have given the Yankees a one-run lead, had either stayed fair, but neither did. Both were foul and the third time was even less charming. It was a high and helpless lazy fly ball out to left.

Gonzalez caught the ball for the final out of the game and then immediately stopped in his tracks, removed his cap, and pointed it reverently toward Lazzeri and the Yankee dugout – as all the other Astros fell in line with that same gesture from wherever they were standing in the field — or in the bullpen — or near the dugout.

“Not everybody gets to play the ’27 Yankees,” Jose Altuve said reverently in the moments that followed. “All we won tonight was the game itself. I’m still shook up for having this one chance to even be on the same field with these guys.”

Then it happened. The lighted field scene before us began to crinkle, melt, and disappear, even as we fans spoke to each other as to the chances we were all awakening from the same deep dream.

As we all filed out of the soon darkened place we all know as MMP, it was simply time to go through the one post-game practice routine that comes with all the regular earthly Astro games we attend. It was time to find our cars and go home.

We leave you with the data nuts of it all:

Line and Box Score Material

2017 Astros 3 ~ 1927 Yankees 2, @ MMP, Thurs., May 17, 2018

1927 NYY            100 000 010 ~ 2 R, 7 H, 2 E.

2017 HOU           102 000 00x ~ 3 R, 11 H, 4 E.

Combs, cf 5 1 1 0 0-1 .200
Koenig, ss 4 0 0 0 1-0 .000
Ruth, rf 4 0 2 0 1-0 .500
Gehrig, 1b 4 0 0 0 1-1 .000
Meusel, lf 4 0 1 1 1-0 .250
Lazzeri, 2b 5 0 0 0 0-2 .000
Collins, c 2 1 1 0 2-0 .500
Dugan, 3b 4 0 0 0 0-1 .000
Hoyt, p 2 0 1 0 0-0 .500
Morehart, ph 1 0 1 1 0-0 1.000
Moore, p 0 0 0 0 0-0 .000
TOTALS 35 2 7 2 6-5 .200
Hoyt (L, 0-1) 7.0 9 3 3 1-4 3.86
Moore 1.0 2 0 0 0-0 0.00
TOTALS 8.0 11 3 3 1-4
Springer, cf 5 0 0 0 0-0 .000
Reddick, rf 4 2 2 0 1-0 .500
McHugh, p 0 0 0 0 0-0 .000
Altuve, 2b 4 1 3 0 0-1 .750
Correa, ss 4 0 2 1 0-0 .500
Gonzalez, lf 4 0 0 1 0-1 .000
Gurriel, 1b 4 0 1 1 0-0 .250
Bregman, 3b 4 0 1 0 0-0 .250
McCann, c 4 0 2 0 0-0 .500
Verlander, p 2 0 0 0 0-2 .000
Beltran, ph 1 0 0 0 0-0 .000
Harris, p 0 0 0 0 0-0 .000
Morton, p 0 0 0 0 0-0 .000
Kemp, ph/rf 1 0 0 0 0-0 .000
TOTALS 37 3 11 3 1-4 .297
Verlander (W, 1-0) 6.0 4 1 O 4-4 0.00
Harris (H1) 1.2 3 1 1 1-1 5.40
Morton (H2) 0.1 0 0 0 0-0 0.00
McHugh (SV) 1.0 0 0 0 1-0 0.00
TOTALS 9.0 7 2 1 6-5

2BH: Collins, NYY (1); Correa, HOU (1)

3BH: Reddick, HOU (1)

HR: None

SB: Ruth, NYY (1)

E BY NYY: 2; Koenig, Gehrig (1 each)

E BY HOU: 4; Altuve, Bregman, Gurriel, Gonzalez (1 each)



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle





What We Have Here is Failure to Communicate

May 20, 2018

Minute Maid Park
Friday, May 18, 2018
Complements of AT&T Sports Net

Well, it’s happened another glaring time. Unfortunately, it will undoubtedly happen again, given the fact that this ballpark fan behavior lesson remains safely hidden in one those brain sections that registers regret in most of the perpetrators, all right, but with no personal penalties to the offender that might alter future behavior for the good of the game.

Of course, we’re talking about fans reaching over the rails on balls hit down the lines and causing interference with a fair ball in a way that alters the outcome of the play. It happened in the bottom of the seventh Friday night withe Astros batting, runners on 1st and 2nd, their game with the Indians tied 1-1, and Tony Kemp batting from the left side.

Kemp crunched a double that was clearly fair down the right field line, but bounding into foul territory down the line as these kinds of hits so often do.

It was a clear double, with two runs apparently scoring that would have given the Astros a 3-1 lead, but for the reflexive stupidity of a single male fan down that right. A guy in an orange jersey leans almost vertically his own length over the wall with his own glove to try and snare the live ball hit. The ball hits the bottom of his glove and bounds away, creating a fan interference call that now hurts the Astros, the team his game costuming says he was there to support in the first place.

Since the first runner on second base advanced only the same two bases in distance that batter Kemp’s double created for himself, that run got to stand. The runner who scored from first base, however, was now no longer entitled to a three base improvement from first. He was forced to go back to third base, subtracting the second scored run, and reducing the Astros’ lead from 3-1 to 2-1.

Luckily, the penalized runner did score anyway before the inning was done, but that’s no justification for the fan’s stupid behavior. I don’t find it cute. Never have. And never will. Baseball doesn’t need dumber fans. Nor more obsessive ones. But we could use some more intelligent ones. And penalty rules that sting enough to teach people the rules they now disregard for the sake of grabbing a souvenir.

Minute Maid Park
Friday, May 18, 2018
Compliments of AT&T Sports Net

I loved the look on the face of Friday night’s offender’s wife or girl friend. She’s obviously a much more knowledgeable baseball fan, at least, when it comes to the fan interference rules. AT&T Sports Net caught the closeup of the man, just as he’s been pulled back into the stands from his descent into game interference. His lady bears into him with that look of every wife who’s ever needed to pigeon-hole her husband while she lays out the particulars of her husband’s latest failure in their relationship.

At any rate, we bear the happy Astros couple no harm. In fact, we thank them for bringing this ancient issue to light. It has been needing a remedy for many years, especially since the MLB marketing people figured out that the availability of ballpark freebie souvenirs is also a feeder channel to the increase in expensive souvenir purchasing by the same fans.

So, what do we do?

Clubs need to have the guts to support the only rule that could make a difference: If a fan interferes with a ball in play, they shall be summarily ejected from the game and be asked to leave the premises immediately. Offenders who refuse to cooperate, shall be subject to police ejection and a municipal court misdemeanor fine for failing to cooperate.

If all else fails, perhaps, we can resurrect Strother Martin, the old chain gang warden from the movie “Cool Hand Luke”, to mediate issues at Minute Maid Park with contentious fan interference defendants who decide to appeal their ballpark expulsion orders.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle




Starting Nine for the Windsor Royals

May 19, 2018


The Duke of Earl will serve as manager of the newly formed WIndsor Royals club, if they can get their British act off the ground and running in the fine arts of American Baseball play.

Congratulations, Harry and Meghan! Now that the royal wedding’s over, we dedicate this lineup to the both of you. Now it’s your turn to start knocking out a few additions to the already complex line of succession to the Royal Throne of England.

I didn’t exactly wake up to see the Royal Wedding this morning, but that’s pretty much how it worked out, even to the point of inspiring some research into the creation of today’s most recent lineup column, which are always fun for me, even if that’s as far as the merriment goes.

“Now Playing Ball for the Windsor Royals ….”

Mel Queen Pitcher 1966-1972 1967 14-8, 2.76
Hal King Catcher 1967-1974 1970 .260, 11 HR
Tom Prince 1st Base 1987-2003 1991 .265, 1 HR
Howard Earl 2nd Base 1890-1891 1890 .247, 7 HR
Ray Knight 3RD Base 1974-1988 1979 .318, 10 HR
Harry Lord Shortstop 1907-1915 1911 .318, 10 HR
Zach Duke Left Field 2005-2018 2011 (pitcher) .300, 2 HR
Duke Snider Center Field 1947-1964 1954 .341, 41 HR *
Ray Noble Right Field 1951-1953 1951 (catcher) .234, 5 HR
  • It’s OK for this club of Royals to have two Dukes, even if one of them only uses “Duke” as a first name, as long as the one first-named “Duke” happens to be Duke Snider. Somebody’s got bat somebody in – even if that only happens when this one great hitting “first-name’s-Duke” star knocks it out of the park.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Larry Miggins: A Man for All Seasons

May 18, 2018

Larry and Kathleen Miggins
St. Patrick’s Day 2017


During the early 1940s, our very own Houston SABR baseball treasure was a student at Fordham Prep in New York City, where excelled in baseball, basketball, and football — eventually earning a football scholarship as a tight end, offense and defense in those days, of course, to play for the University of Pittsburgh.

Larry also played baseball at Pitt, but passed on basketball because of the conflict it presented to his scholarship time on the gridiron. And this was in the days in which a young man of 6’4″ in height was considered tall enough to be a dominant force.

Basketball Force? Miggins could shoot too — once totaling 38 points in a single game. And in baseball, Miggins played third base in those days, taking infield grounders and playing catch with one of the Pitt voluntary coaches — a fellow named Honus Wagner.

Well, this winter, the For Prep football people decided it was a high time they recognized Mr. Miggins for all he did in behalf of their good name on the gridiron back in 1943. They selected 92-year old Larry Miggins for induction into the Fordham Prep Football Hall of Fame.

In his usual humble way, Larry Miggins shared this news with us in Houston at the SABR April 2018 meeting. Fordham wanted Larry and his wife Kathleen to come to NYC for the induction at the annual banquet of their Gridiron Club on May 5, 2018.

As things turned out, Larry wasn’t up to the travel requirement this time, but he did appear on video to deliver this very charming and honest acceptance speech to the offer of this honor.

Do yourselves a favor. Pick out a ten minutes time span you may listen in peace. Then turn on the sound to your video replay equipment in advance and click the link below to watch and listen to Larry Miggins accepting this deserved honor in digital person.

Once you click the link and reach the site’s home page, simply click the middle bar — the one noted as “Larry Miggins ’43 Gridiron Hall of Fame Induction Speech” — to see and hear Larry talk it through from the heart — as he does everything else.

Then, when that’s done, do yourselves another favor and read the eloquently thorough article that David E. Skelton wrote on Larry Miggins in behalf of the SABR biography project in 2015.

Larry Miggins turns 93 on August 20, 2018.

God Bless You, Larry! — And May God Bless us for the time He has given us with you!

You are very, very loved — and my own love for you started back in my Pecan Park Eagle days. From that ancient personal time, I am still able to run mental images of you walking to the plate at Buff Stadium, bashing line drives over the left field wall. I just never dreamed back then that you would still be in my life seventy years later.

What a wonderful world this has turned out to be.

Thanks, old friend and hero. From the bottom to the top of our shared Irish being-ness, I thank you too — for being you.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Tommy John World We Live In

May 17, 2018



“When they operated, I told them to add in a Koufax fastball.

They did, but unfortunately it was Mrs. Koufax’s.”

– Tommy John, N.Y. Yankees, recalling his 1974 arm surgery


Can you imagine what it must have been like for Tommy John? Or still may be? He went into baseball as a pretty fair pitching prospect, but a common career-ending injury to his arm transported him to a medical doctor who performed a radical surgery on John that not only saved his place as an MLB pitcher for a while longer, It also forever set up his name — “Tommy John” — to become more the identity of this particular surgery than it ever was as the name of the first pitcher who saved his career because of it.

When we hear today that arm injury to a current big league pitcher is going to cause him to miss the rest of this season and possibly most or all of next year because of “Tommy John”, we all know what that means. There is no time wasted blaming the former pitcher named “Tommy John” for the ballplayer’s bad news.

“Tommy John” is surgery first — a ballplayer barely. But it works in our minds and that’s apparently what counts.

At any rate, the “Tommy John” human expression of humor, about coming back to the game with the fastball speed of “Mrs. Koufax”, did pull me back to all the other human beings who have lost their identities to other matters in life, and we’re not talking anything possible in a single column. It would require more of a book, or a book series, to cover all the streets, airports, and cities in America alone that take their identities directly from adopted or applied human names.

JFK and LaGuardia airports in NYC are great examples. But how about the City of Houston?

Texas History teaches us that Texan Army General Sam Houston won the Battle of San Jacinto in eighteen minutes over General Santa Anna and the Mexican Army on April 21, 1836 at a site just east of present day Pasadena. Today that win is celebrated as Texas Independence Day.

The Irony of San Jacinto probably is the fact that the previously described battle was both the first and last time that anyone got anything done anywhere near “Houston” in eighteen minutes. Today, in 2018, I can’t even drive from home to my office in eighteen minutes, — and I live only five miles away.

Houston street names are often the result of names put forth by elected officials who just happened to think of a name from their own histories that was different enough to stand out among the other nearby street names. Gessner Road on the west side, for example, was a name supplied decades ago when that north-south passage was little more than a two-lane passage through a still fairly agricultural part of the county and not the “new downtown” Houston it is becoming.

Harris County Commissioner Squatty Lyons suggested “Gessner” when he recalled having a classmate by that name at then Reagan High School years earlier. There was no other distinguishing reason beyond the fact that Lyons remembered the name and that it fit the name distinction needs during a year in which that sort of thing was declared as important.

We do have a baseball byway in Houston. The Nolan Ryan Expressway, a north-south artery on the southeast side of town, has proved an apt name for the several miles long section of State Highway 288 that runs near to Minute Maid Park, the home of the Houston Astros, but it certainly hasn’t “Tommy Johned” the old Alvin Strikeout King’s primary ownership of that identity.

Personally, I would like to see the Katy Freeway, from downtown Columbus, Texas, given back its local bullet train parallel track, – all the way to downtown Houston with three strategic stops along the way in Sealy, Katy, and Gessner for passengers prepared to travel at bullet-train speed over short distances. Call it the Larry Dierker49Fastball Line and make it so workable that consumers will reference themselves as being Dierkered to the office for a special meeting with the boss.”

Then just watch the suburbs between here and Columbus continue to grow at an even faster rate.

Along those same lines —

Maybe, if they can get sign-off approval from former Astros great Jimmy Wynn, they could christen that bullet train’s Houston to Dallas ride as The Toy Cannon. Sounds pretty strong and fast to me. What do you think? Of course, if we could get the Dallas people to sign off on the other side, this would be a great place for a railed extension of The Nolan Ryan Expressway as the north to south version of the trip. After all, Nolie and Son did sort of come back to Houston when all was said and done. Did they not?

Lou Gehrig’s Disease comes to mind far easier for what it is in reality. We doubt that many people know it’s scientific name, — or likely would there be many of us shouting out the answer to this question: “What is a more common name for a disease catalogued as “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis”?

That’s it for now from our side, but we would love your help in further Tommy Johning the world with the individual name identities that are more associated with the action or event itself than the formal name that goes with whatever it may have been called in scientific or legal language.

Have a hope-floating night, Astro friends, as we slide toward the weekend home series with the Indians. If we could simply “Justin Verlander” all our Astro starters into pitching the kind of game that the original “JV” threw against the Angels on the wings of a 2-0 complete game shutout on Wednesday night —  and get the same results — where do you suppose we might be this coming November 1st?


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


Drew Blake’s Entry: Greatest HR Ever!

May 16, 2018

And Drew Blake didn’t even have to call the shot he hit to his own dad in his last collegiate game.


Infielder Drew Blake Hits HR to His Dad in Lasr College Game

Note: Just another example of why baseball mythology sticks so hard, so fast. — It’s because even the real stories of baseball, like this one, are so often incredible to the nth degree.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


Maxwell Kates: Greatest Play I Ever Saw

May 15, 2018

While in Montreal over the Mother’s Day weekend, author Kates had a chance to visit with two other historically inclined friends, historical researchers Mike and Anne Vance of Houston.

Perhaps, Maxwell Kates will spare some space for a future article and do a piece on Mike Vance’s Greatest Play, which, of course, will always be the lovely and brainy Anne Vance.



By Maxwell Kates

Author Maxwell Kates

We live in apologetic times.

It seems that every time you open a newspaper, somebody is apologizing for their own transgressions or those of their fore bearers. Today it is my turn. Most of the subscribers to the Pecan Park Eagle live in the Houston area and naturally support the Astros. I realize that in one of my earlier columns this year, I violated a sacrosanct axiom while discussing baseball in Houston. I wrote a laudatory article about Jim Edmonds.

Yes, I watched Game 6 of the 2004 National League Championship Series the same way all of you did. I should have known better. And although the Astros did come back to defeat those same St. Louis Cardinals the following year on their way to the World Series, it still does not erase the sting. I can empathize.

You see, the National League team I followed growing up was the Montreal Expos. They too had their dreams shattered by a home run in the National League Championship Series, 1981 to be precise. Imagine for a moment that a freelance writer from Los Angeles, let’s call him Stan Mauch (né Stanley Moskowitz from Brooklyn) wrote an article praising the player who sunk the Expos with that home run. Here is how it goes:

April 25, 1976, Rick Monday Wins Capture the Flag.

The greatest play I ever saw was on April 25, 1976 at Dodger Stadium. I remember it well; my son Jeremy was eight years old and it was his first baseball game in person. The Cubs had taken a 1-0 lead when in the bottom of the 4th, he elbowed me and asked “Dad, why are those people trying to burn the flag?” I looked on the field in horror and indeed, two men looked like they were about to incinerate Old Glory. Ted Sizemore popped out to Manny Trillo and out of nowhere, there sprinted Rick Monday to save the flag. A raucous ovation followed when Monday came to bat in the top half of the 5th. The Dodgers won the game 5-4 in the bottom of the 10th but all anyone could remember was Rick Monday’s dramatic play. You can imagine how thrilled Jeremy became that winter when the Cubs traded Rick Monday to the Dodgers. Now he has three boys of his own and they all refer to the stars and stripes as “Rick Monday’s flag.”

Stan Mauch

Los Angeles, California

Rick Monday and His Flag

Now imagine for a moment there existed a baseball nostalgia newspaper in Montreal called the Poutine Park Pigeon. The paper is edited by the eminent psychologist Dr. Guillaume Lecourdis (rhymes with “McCurdy”), who decided to pick up Stan’s article about Rick Monday. Now imagine my reaction when I read Stan Mauch’s article. Some of you know that I like to write letters to the editor. Therefore, here is my rebuttal to the Rick Monday article:

Dear Mr. Mauch:

I read your article entitled “The Greatest Play I Ever Saw” with great interest. That being said, it would appear that your knowledge of baseball in Montreal is a little general. You see, Rick Monday is hated in Montreal. Even though the Expos have been gone for fourteen years, Monday continues to be vilified amongst their fans.

This is Gene Mauch — the Little General

In the 9th inning of the deciding Game 5 of the 1981 NLCS, Monday a hit solo home run to put the Dodgers ahead of the Expos, a lead they never relinquished. As Gary Carter said years later, “we were going to watch the World Series on television.” Of course there were other factors at play. The Expos merely tied, not led, when Monday hit the home run. Montreal put two baserunners on in the bottom of the 9th, only to leave them stranded. Steve Rogers, who gave up the home run, was the ace of the starting rotation but may never have pitched in short relief in his life. Closing the deciding game of a playoff series was most definitely an unfamiliar experience.

The fact remains that in sports, as in life, perception is reality. To the casual baseball fan in Montreal, Rick Monday is the reason the Expos were denied their most likely opportunity at a World Series appearance. They never made another postseason after the Rick Monday home run.

October 19, 1981: The Rick Monday Pitch

When the Dodgers returned to Montreal in 1982, Rick Monday and Steve Yeager went to a bar. The owner insisted that they leave because six patrons wanted to pulverize Monday. He was frequently hassled while clearing customs at Dorval Airport, and when he returned to Montreal as a broadcaster for the Dodgers nearly fifteen years later, a fan recognized him and said “You ruined our franchise!”   No, I was not that fan. Almost forty years after the fact, Game 5 of the NLCS continues to live in infamy in Montreal as “Blue Monday.”


Maxwell I. Kates

1981 Montreal Expos Reunion

In conclusion, this article was written to signify that Jim Edmonds stinks. What really happened during that SABR game in 2004, Edmonds went back to right field to catch the ball but some fan in the stands yelled “Yo la tengo!” This distracted Edmonds, forcing him to drop the horsehide, which he then booted towards second base. Meanwhile, Jason LaRue circled the bases happily and ultimately crossed the plate. He was credited with a double and two errors by Edmonds. The debable in right field rattled St. Louis reliever Jason Isringhausen to the point that he beaned Jacob Cruz. Pinch hitter John VanderWal was then able to add to his already generous collection of pinch home runs, this one a walk off. Reds 8, Cardinals 7. Talk about revisionist history!



If you’d like to learn more, Danny Gallagher is writing a book called “Blue Monday” about the monumental game in Expos history. Danny has also contributed the Montreal Expos essay to the anthology on baseball’s expansion teams co-edited by the author and Bill Nowlin. Look for both volumes to be completed before 2018 draws to a close.

Vive Le Baseball!



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

2018 Astro Starters are “Houston Hellacious”

May 15, 2018

The Houston Astros
2018 Starting Rotation

Our apologies, but other life matters are drawing upon our energies these days. And don’t give up. We never do. We’ll be back soon enough. Clicking fire on 7.2 units of our full 8 original cylinders.

In the meanwhile, your patience and prayers are appreciated. As I hope most of you know by now, beyond my sweet wife, Sweet Norma, my great thinker son, Casey, and other close family and friends, I live for the success and greater glory of UH, baseball, now with the Houston Astros, but earlier — with my memory of those special days in the Houston east end with the Pecan Park Eagles and Houston Buffs — reading, history, and the importance of life as a full slate of lessons in spiritual growth. (That ought to be enough for now, don’t you think?)

Tonight we are simply taking an up-to-the-moment snapshot look at the results of our Houston Astros five-man starting rotation. Personally, I wouldn’t trade this bunch for any other aggregate group in the 2018 big league camp.

Look at what these guys are doing. going into the games of Monday, May 14, 2018:

Astros Starter Results Through Games of Sunday, May 13, 2018

Justin Verlander 9/9 0 4 2 59.2 8 30 4 13 77 1.21
Gerit Cole 8/8 1 4 1 56.2 9 30 3 12 86 1.43
Charlie Morton 8/8 0 5 0 48.2 11 30 6 17 62 2.03
Dallas Keuchel 9/9 0 3 5 51.0 20 49 8 15 45 3.10
Lance McCullers 8/8 0 5 1 46.0 19 39 3 19 52 3.17

Our top three ERA guys are also 1, 2, and 3 in the AL – and maybe in the whole MLB too. Interesting too, these Top 3 Earned Run Prophylaxis specialists all have given up exactly 30 hits.

Morton and McCullers both started as our #4 and #5 guys, but each is now tied at “5” with the most wins each.

If the World Series were only the best two out of three — and, if you could only carry two starters — my no-brainer picks would be Verlander 77K and Cole 86K. Those two could find the strike zone on a mosquito if you handed the buzzing varmint a tooth pick and sent him up to the plate to hit rather than bite against these giant baseball hummers.

Go Astros! Let’s De-Wing the Angels on the Coast tonight!

Note. Are you old enough to remember when newspaper sports pages used to carry daily, easy to read stat reports on hitting and pitching? As a kid, I used to wake up on the nourishment of changes in the numbers from one day to the next. Now I’m lucky if I can find the current up-to-date game box score and the magnifying glass I will need to read the tiny print they use in rag print row these less imaginative newspaper days.

The Pecan Park Eagle
1st Gooney Bird “It Makes No Sense” Award
To The Houston Chronicle Sports Page Management


We’re going to have to present our first Pecan Park Eagle Gooney Bird “It Makes No Sense” Award to the publishers of sports in the Houston Chronicle. Why publish anything for money that is going to leave readers asking themselves “why did I just waste my time trying to read that crappy presentation when all I walked away with was a sense of being cheated out of both time and money? – This time it’s on you, Houston Chronicle. Next time, it’s my fault for giving you an undeserved 2nd chance.”



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle




Jim Umbricht’s “Stuff” @ Auction til May 18

May 11, 2018

We normally avoid sites, but our Maryland-based SABR friend and historic Cubs fan — Bill Hickman — sent me the following heads up this morning about an auction going on right now for some possessions of the legendary Colt .45 pitcher Jim Umbricht, who died of cancer in April 1964, six months after his last appearance and retirement by the club.

Two items are involved in this online bidding at Heritage Auctions:

Jim Umbricht’s
1962 Houston Colt .45
Western-cut Travel Suit

(1) The Umbricht western-cut travel suit that 1962 Colt .45s were required to wear on road trip travel flights;


Jim Umbricht’s
1963 Colt .45 Teammate-signed
Classic Home Jersey

(2) Umbricht’s 1963 Colt .45 jersey, signed by all his teammates.

AUCTION DEADLINE! Today is May 11, 2018. The auction ends in six days.

We have no stake in how you use this information beyond historical interest and bemusement, but, thank you, anyway, Bill Hickman for helping those of us from Houston to feel that we’ve now been in the big leagues long enough to see some of our historical player dress and equipment items be treated at auction as though they had been exhumed from a recently discovered ballpark parking lot tomb.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle