R.I.P. “Former Astro” Jerry Lewis

August 21, 2017

Left to Right: (1) Jerry Lewis takes the field as an Astros first baseman, planting a hug on base umpire Hank Soar; (2) Jerry congratulates home plate umpire Greg Olsen for getting it right; and (3) Lewis ignores the Tigers catcher.

 

Rest in Peace, Jerry Lewis. As you probably know by now, one of the great comedic talents of the 20th century left us yesterday morning, Sunday, August 20, 2017 when Jerry Lewis passed away in Las Vegas of natural causes at the age of 91. My family and I were fortunate to catch his live performance as Mr. Applegate in the Broadway road ensemble company that performed “Damn Yankees” at Jones Hall in 1995. Lewis was great as the devil incarnate deal maker that recruited aging fan Joe Hardy into becoming a major league star for his home team Washington Senators in exchange for his immortal soul. In the process, we real fans got our musical education into the fact that, whether it’s baseball or just the down in the trenches part of everyday life – “you gotta have heart, miles and miles and miles of heart!”

Where heart is concerned, Jerry Lewis had plenty of it. In fact, over time, the comic giant probably became as famous for his annual driving leadership of the Labor Day weekend telethons to raise funds for victims of muscular dystrophy.

Did you also know that Jerry Lewis has a place in the history of the Houston Astros? If not, here’s a link to the column we wrote for The Pecan Park Eagle about that lesser known moment in his life. It originally was published here on November 27, 2013:

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2013/11/27/1973-jerry-lewis-gets-a-hit-as-an-astro/

Goodbye, Jerry Lewis, and thank you. If people failed to learn anything about “heart” from following your life and career, they weren’t paying much attention.

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, AUGUST 20, 2017 

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 76 48 .613  
2 ANGELS 64 60 .516 12.0
3 MARINERS 63 62 .504 13.5
4 RANGERS 61 62 .496 14.5
5 ATHLETICS 54 70 .435 22.0

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, AUGUST 20, 2017 

ATHLETICS 3 – ASTROS 2. 

WHITE SOX 3 – RANGERS 2. 

RAYS 3 – MARINERS 0. 

ANGELS 5 – ORIOLES 4.

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, AUGUST 20, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 473 171 35 3 19 .362
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
2 ERIC HOSMER KC 470 148 23 1 20 .315
3 JEAN SEGURA SEA 395 124 23 1 7 .314
4 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 376 118 21 3 13 .314
5 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 392 121 20 0 18 .309
6 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 345 106 22 0 21 .307
7 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 460 140 39 5 18 .304
8 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 412 125 24 0 28 .303
9 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 340 103 17 0 6 .303
10 EDDIE ROSARIO MIN 393 119 27 2 17 .303
Other Top 40 Astros
17 YULI GURRIEL HOU 427 126 33 1 15 .295
21 JOSH REDDICK HOU 382 112 25 3 12 .293
32 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 411 114 30 5 15 .277

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS TEMPORARILY REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Downtown Houston Baseball Parking

August 20, 2017

 

Kathleen and Larry Miggins

 

August 20, 2017: Happy 92nd Birthday, Larry Miggins!

Happy Birthday, Larry Miggins! And may God continue to bless you and the entire Miggins family for all the goodness you and Kathleen and the entire Miggins family bring to the City of Houston and the hard core sweet-spot goodness of our local baseball community and its colorful, knowledgeable, caring for the long season game – and why the round ball and bat heart of summer means so much to all of us!

As easily as the movie in my childhood mind rewinds and plays of you and Jerry Witte coming to bat as the two big boppers of the Houston Buffs during that Texas League championship season of 1951, I will also continue to live whatever remains of my time in gratitude that you and Jerry Witte, my two biggest childhood baseball heroes, would eventually be around to welcome me into your lives – over time – as an adult good friend.

Thank you for making room for me.

Erin go Bragh!

 

Catch your breath!
This one happened in Seattle for an NFL game,
but we don’t want to go anywhere near 3-digits with Houston baseball.

 

Downtown Houston Baseball Parking.

Longer than a brief blog subject. Much irony involved.

Here are a few notes on the obvious eggs of past neglect that are now hatching:

(1) During the 1950s, the absence of sufficient, convenient, affordable downtown parking for baseball fans was a big factor in MLB clubs moving from New York and other places to areas in which parking was both available and controllable by price.

(2) In the late 1990s, when the Astros decided to abandon the Astrodome and move downtown, they did so without a plan in place for how they would control the area around the new Union Station site from being severely effected by commercial pricing exploitation by independent nearby property owners. As a result, new independent residential and commercial construction in the area has eliminated quite a bit of the parking space was available in the club’s first 2000 season downtown.

(3) The loss of parking space potential and the greed of these independent property owners has handled the rest. Parking for big games now goes for $40 per car in the nearest lots. A fan can either get there early and pay the big bucks – or else – park 6 to 10 blocks away from a $10 per car lot.

(4) Now it’s about to get worse. According to Astros President Reid Ryan, TXDOT has decided to expand the freeway to the east of Minute Maid Park in some way. I missed all the details, but I was told by SABR members who heard Ryan speak in full before my late arrival, that the freeway expansion will basically combine I-45 and I-59 into and even wider system and that it will effectively take over the parking areas east of the present structure – areas that had been under the control of the Astros.

(5) In other words, the Astros are now drawing closer to the situation that the Brooklyn Dodgers found themselves in 1957: They have a great ball club, but their fans live in the suburbs, and those fans are not protected from price gouging on limited parking space whenever they decide to engage the inconvenience of driving downtown to see a game.

(6) The current Astros ownership tries hard. They did not create the situation they now find themselves in and they are deserving of our support in the search for effective solutions.

(7) The Astros understand that they have to find a solution to the parking problem. But what can they do?

(7) And what are the chances now that the Astros still may end up seeking yet another way to move the club to a further away site – where cheap parking is both plentiful and controllable?

(8) Maybe Harris County needs to step back on that plan to repurpose the Astrodome.

(9) For a contrast, research for yourself how the Cardinals fought for control and protection against these kinds of potential private and public sector body slams before their own move to the current Busch Stadium in St. Louis. See how that plan has spared them the suffering that the Astros took with them like eggs waiting to hatch when they moved downtown under the implicit threat of leaving Houston, had they not gotten their way.

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF SATURDAY, AUGUST 19, 2017 

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 76 47 .618  
2 ANGELS 63 60 .512 13.0
3 MARINERS 63 61 .508 13.5
4 RANGERS 61 61 .500 14.5
5 ATHLETICS 53 70 .431 23.0

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF SATURDAY, AUGUST 19, 2017

 ASTROS 3 – ATHLETICS 0.

 RANGERS 17 – WHITE SOX 7.

 MARINERS 7 – RAYS 6.

 ANGELS 5 – ORIOLES 1.

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF SATURDAY, AUGUST 19, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 470 171 35 3 19 .364
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
2 JEAN SEGURA SEA 391 124 23 1 7 .317
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 466 146 23 1 20 .313
4 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 388 121 20 0 18 .312
5 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 372 115 21 3 13 .309
6 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 341 105 22 0 20 .308
7 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 456 140 39 5 18 .307
8 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 409 125 24 0 28 .306
9 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 340 103 17 0 6 .303
10 EDDIE ROSARIO MIN 388 117 27 2 16 .302
Other Top 40 Astros
17 YULI GURRIEL HOU 426 126 33 1 15 .296
19 JOSH REDDICK HOU 379 112 25 3 12 .296
36 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 408 112 30 5 15 .275

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS TEMPORARILY REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Most Famous Walk in Baseball History

August 19, 2017

Eddie Gaedel
St. Louis Browns
Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis
August 19, 1951

 

August 19, 1951. If you don’t know the story, and you’re in the LA area neighborhood today, try to drop in and check out how the Los Angeles Chapter of the The Eddie Gaedel Society and The Baseball Reliquary are commemorating the walk that little Eddie Gaedel took as a member of the St. Louis Browns back on August 19, 1951. It was the vertically challenged little baseball hero’s only time at bat in baseball, but it made quite a splash then – and it has since rippled into the 21st century as an even longer shift in the tides of baseball history.

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2017/08/18/socal-celebrates-gaedel-tommorow-aug-19/

Thereafter the happening, we’ve always been led to believe that American League President Will Harridge forbade the return of the little man – and others like him – from further serious participation in organized professional baseball. If he or the Commissioner ever expressed this mandate in writing, we’ve never seen the evidence of it. If it did exist, however, we doubt it would have the the lighter than air capacity to fly very far in 2017. Besides, when you look at what Jose Altuve (.362 BA) of the Houston Astros is doing today, it makes you wonder what else Mr. Gaedel had in him that he could only then take to the bars and then to his grave after his banishment from further playing time beyond that now famous date in August of 1951.

What’s that? You say that Jose Altuve is too tall to be brought into the picture here? OK. That’s fine. But then, how short does one have to be before he or she isn’t big enough to play major league baseball?

Don’t know the story of Eddie Gaedel? Google it. It won’t be hard to find. Everybody and his mother has been continuously writing about it for 66 years.

Here are the lyrics to the official anthem of The Eddie Gaedel Society, as written by yours truly and adopted and approved by Eddie Gaedel Society President Tom Keefe of the Spokane, Washington Chapter One in 2015:

The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel

(Verse, Melody and Chorus: to the tune of

“Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer”)

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

Verse:

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

And Wee Willie Keeler – as small as a flyspeck,

All little people who drew baseball paychecks,

But, do you recall,

The most famous baseball short guy of them all?

Melody:

Bill Veeck, the Brownie owner,

Wore some very shiny clothes!

And if you saw his sport shirt,

You would even say, “It glows!”

 

All of the other owners,

Used to laugh and call him names!

They wouldn’t let poor Bill Veeck,

Join in any owner games!

Chorus:

Then one humid summer day,

Veeck signed a tiny man.

He smiled like a kid in a Panama suit,

Squeaking, “Play me – when you can!”

Melody:

His name was Eddie Gae-del,

Inches short of four feet tall!

He never played much baseball;

He was always just too small!

 

He wasn’t small on courage,

Eddie saw the larger plan.

Took his heart out of storage,

Making him the bigger man!

Chorus:


Then one day in Sportsman’s Park,

Eddie went to bat!

Took four balls and walked to first,

Then retired – just like that!

Melody:

Oh, how the purists hated,

Adding little Eddie’s name,

To the big book of records,

“ Gaedel” bore a blush of shame!

 

Now when you look up records,

Look up Eddie’s O.B.P.!

It reads a cool One Thousand,

Safe for all eternity!

Hail, Eddie!

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 2017

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 75 47 .615  
2 ANGELS 62 60 .508 13.0
3 MARINERS 62 61 .504 13.5
4 RANGERS 60 61 .496 14.5
5 ATHLETICS 53 69 .434 22.0

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 2017 

ASTROS 3 – ATHLETICS 1.

WHITE SOX 4RANGERS 3. 

MARINERS 7 – RAYS 1.

ORIOLES 9ANGELS 7.

 ********************

AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS 

THRU GAMES OF FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 467 169 35 3 19 .362
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
2 JEAN SEGURA SEA 386 123 22 1 7 .319
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 463 146 23 1 20 .315
4 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 338 104 22 0 20 .308
5 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 452 139 38 5 18 .308
6 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 384 118 19 0 18 .307
7 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 368 113 21 3 13 .307
8 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 405 123 23 0 28 .304
9 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 340 103 17 0 6 .303
10 EDDIE ROSARIO MIN 385 116 27 2 16 .301
Other Top 40 Astros
14 JOSH REDDICK HOU 376 112 25 3 12 .298
17 YULI GURRIEL HOU 422 125 33 1 15 .296
37 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 405 110 29 5 14 .272

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS TEMPORARILY REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Larry Dierker’s ’97 Astros Band

August 19, 2017

“Larry Dierker’s ’97 Astros Band”

(to the tune of Sgt. Pepper by the Beatles)

It was twenty years ago today
Larry Dierker taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile
So may I introduce to you
The act you’ve known for all these years
Larry Dierker’s ’97 Astros Band

We’re Larry Dierker’s ’97 Astros Band

We hope you will enjoy the show

We’re Larry Dierker’s ’97 Astros Band
Sit back and let the evening go
Larry Dierker’s Astros, Larry Dierker’s Astros
Larry Dierker’s ’97 Astros Band

It’s wonderful to be here
It’s certainly a thrill
You’re such a lovely audience
We’d like to take you home with us
We’d love to take you home

I don’t really want to stop the show
But I thought that you might like to know
Jose Lima’s going to sing a song
And he wants the band to sing along
So let me introduce to you
The one and only Billy Spiers
And Larry Dierker’s ’97 Astros Band

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

The Amazing Mr. Dierker. Unless you are a millennial by birth, you should remember the whole Dierker five-year “joy ride” as Astros manager from 1997 to 2001. You will also remember that Larry got there on the heels of a 32-year career as an iconic Astros pitcher, sports writer, and radio/tv broadcaster for the club before he stepped onto the field and became the most significant figure in the club’s greatest era for finally proving that the Astros could be a consistent winner in Major League Baseball. From 1997 through 2001, the Astros either won or tied St. Louis as co-champions of the NL Central in 4 of his 5 seasons under the field guidance of Larry Dierker, establishing a beach head on the public’s trust that winning would be the normal level of expectation in Houston – and not the once in a while aberration of a team that could not afford success on a steady annual basis.

During Dierker’s reign, 2000, the club’s first season at the downtown ballpark we now know as Minute Maid Park, was the only season that the Astros finished out of the money. The main reason we’ve always assigned to that bleep was that some of the players, mainly pitchers, and namely Jose Lima, had been too psyched out by the short porch in the new left field to keep their acts together. They crumbled in 2000, but then got it together to make another playoff run in 2001, Dierker’s last season before retiring from the chase.

And what a chase and great impact Dierker’s managerial era still has upon Houston baseball today. And it also must not go without saying. All Larry Dierker had to do, beyond hearing and heeding his call to greatness, was to survive a 1999 dugout collapse from a brain tumor that could have easily ended his life and made this whole topic of sporting accomplishment even less important in the grand scheme of things.

But Larry didn’t die. Thank God. And he did survive to achieve greatness as a manager. Of course, the gifts of Biggio, Bagwell, and Berkman helped him a little bit too long along the way, but even their individual greatness performances would have been too little had someone not pulled them all into a winning team – and that’s what the Houston Astros finally became under Larry Dierker. They became and have remained a winning team, even when losing during rebuilding was part of the plan for this great club that represents the Astros in 2017.

The consistent annual winning attitude was installed during the Dierker managerial era – starting in 1997.

Here’s how former Astros pitcher Shane Reynolds described Dierker’s contributions twenty years ago during his 3rd inning discussion in the booth with AT&T Sports.net broadcasters Todd Kalas and Geoff Blum. When asked what brought the ’97 Astros pitchers to greater success over more innings pitched than before, here’s exactly what Shane Reynolds had to say:

“What helped us the most was Larry Dierker. He took myself, Mike Hampton, Jose Lima, Daryl Kile, and Chris Holt aside in spring training and said, ‘Look, guys, you’re starting pitchers. If you get into trouble by the 4th inning, don’t look over your shoulder expecting me to come out and get you.  The best way for you guys to learn to pitch (as starters) is – when you get in trouble, figure it out. Eventually, you’re going to learn how to get yourself out of trouble. – And once that happens, it’s going to snowball.’ – And I think that’s what happened with us. We relaxed. We got comfortable.”

Reynolds added that pitching in the Astrodome from 1997 through 1999 did help him relax when he was faced with pitching himself out of trouble. The deep outfield distances must’ve been like having an extra outfielder for a pitcher in distress. It’s not hard to see how that 315′ wall in left field at the new downtown park gave some of the guys who counted too much on the Dome to be their extra fielder to relax in the new environs during that first season downtown, but that fact doesn’t detract from the appreciation that came through in the explanation that Shane Reynolds shared with the whole world today about his gratitude for the lessons he and the others learned from Mr. Dierker.

It was twenty years ago today
Larry Dierker taught the band to play

And did he ever teach them well!

Thanks for joining our side of the baseball wars on your 18th birthday, Sgt. Dierker. We treasure the gift of your living presence in the history of Houston baseball.

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

SoCal Celebrates Gaedel Tomorrow, Aug. 19

August 18, 2017

“Eddie Gaedel Day” Celebration, August 19, 2017, Arcadia, California

By on July 26, 2017 in news

L.A. Chapter of the Eddie Gaedel Society to Honor Baseball’s Mighty Mite

WHERE: Matt Denny’s Ale House Restaurant, Library Room, 145 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia 91006. Phone (626) 462-0250. Parking available in lot and on street.  Walking

Eddie Gaedel, August 19, 1951, Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis.

distance from Arcadia Gold Line station. Free and open to the public (food and drink extra). Space is limited to 25 attendees, so arrive early!

WHEN: Saturday, August 19, 2017, 7:00-9:30 p.m.

CONTACT: Jon Leonoudakis, President, Eddie Gaedel Society Los Angeles Chapter: jbgreeksf24@gmail.com, (818) 886-2998.

The Los Angeles Chapter of the Eddie Gaedel Society will gather at Matt Denny’s Ale House Restaurant, 145 E. Huntington Drive in Arcadia, where the annual “Eddie Gaedel Day” festivities will be held on Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. The event celebrates the life and times of Eddie Gaedel (1925-1961), who at 3’7” and 65 pounds was the shortest and lightest player ever to step to the plate in the major leagues.

The Gaedel Society has chapters stretching from Spokane, Washington to Dublin, Ireland. The Los Angeles Chapter collaborates with the Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary to curate this unique event.

“Brownie Brand,” painting by Ben Sakoguchi, in the collection of the Baseball Reliquary.

“We honor baseball’s biggest little hitter annually on August 19 to celebrate Gaedel’s major league at-bat on August 19, 1951, at Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis,” said Jon Leonoudakis, President of the L.A. Chapter. “We’ll be gathering in the Library Room at Matt Denny’s to raise a glass to Eddie, to tell stories, and to challenge attendees with a special trivia quiz featuring small prizes.  If we’re lucky, Eddie’s athletic supporter will make an appearance, courtesy of the Baseball Reliquary. There are also rumors that a rare holy card of Eddie will be distributed to attendees while supplies last.”

This is the third time around the basepaths to honor Eddie after the Los Angeles Chapter was established in 2015. “We had a great crowd last year, which included members of the Hollywood Shorties basketball team,” said Leonoudakis. “It was a festive event, bonding baseball fans, culture vultures, and students of history, just as Eddie would’ve liked.”

All are invited for a memorable evening of small talk, short speeches, and half-pint beers, and to join in the group’s mantra, “Take a Walk, Eddie!”

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

See The Baseball Reliquary website for further details:

http://www.baseballreliquary.org/2017/07/eddie-gaedel-day-celebration-august-19-2017-arcadia-california/

As a long time supporter and now as a member, The Pecan Park Eagle fully supports the creative wide-ranging efforts of The Baseball Reliquary to preserve and foster interest in the preservation of baseball history. Please give this effort your ow serious openness to learning more about their efforts and your own possible interest in becoming a connected contributor to the cause. For the best snapshot on activities and your own interests, please contact Executive Director Terry Cannon for further exploration.

http://www.baseballreliquary.org/events/

Come on. Let’s play ball and celebrate the myriad ways we do it. From here to the crack of doom.

Regards, Bill McCurdy, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

and brand new Baseball Reliquary member.

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 2017

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 74 47 .612  
2 ANGELS 62 59 .512 12.0
3 MARINERS 61 61 .500 13.5
4 RANGERS 60 60 .500 13.5
5 ATHLETICS 53 68 .438 21.0

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 2017 

DIAMONDBACKS 4 – ASTROS 0. 

RANGERS 9 – WHITE SOX 8. 

MARINERS (DAY OFF, SHORE LEAVE)

ANGELS (DAY OFF, CHOIR PRACTICE)

ATHLETICS (DAY OFF, YOGA CLASSES)

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 463 167 35 3 18 .361
2 JEAN SEGURA SEA 381 122 22 1 7 .320
3 CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
4 ERIC HOSMER KC 460 145 23 1 20 .315
5 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 334 104 22 0 20 .311
6 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 380 118 19 0 18 .311
7 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 452 139 38 5 18 .308
8 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 368 113 21 3 13 .307
9 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 401 123 23 0 28 .307
10 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 340 103 17 0 6 .303
  (Other Astros Below)    
19 JOSH REDDICK HOU 373 110 25 3 12 .295
20 YULI GURRIEL HOU 418 123 33 1 15 .294
40 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 401 109 29 5 13 .272

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Want an Eddie Gaedel Holy Card?

August 17, 2017

The Eddie Gaedel Holy Card

 

Preceding our usual daily Astros “homer minded” stats on the AL West division and AL league pennant races, here’s a terrific update from Terry Cannon, Executive Director of the Baseball Reliquary out in the Los Angeles area. If you happen to be in LA this coming weekend, you will want to know about plans to celebrate the 66th anniversary of little Eddie Gaedel’s one-time appearance as a lead-off batter/pinch hitter for the St. Louis Browns at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis on April 19, 1951. There’s also a great video report on the recent Induction ceremony at the Hall and a lot of other information on some interesting baseball history plans by the Reliquary this coming fall. If you would like more information, please get in touch with Terry soon. Remember. Life is short. This is no time to be bashful.

A Message from Terry Cannon of The Baseball Reliquary ~

Friends & Reliquarians:

Greetings from the Baseball Reliquary!  Our next public event will be this Saturday, August 19, beginning at 7:00 p.m.  In collaboration with the Los Angeles Chapter of the Eddie Gaedel Society, the Baseball Reliquary will present a very special celebration of the life and times of pinch-hitting legend Eddie Gaedel at Matt Denny’s Ale House Restaurant in Arcadia.  We’ll be meeting in the Library Room, which comfortably seats 25 people, so please plan to arrive early.  We have lots of interesting activities planned, including a trivia contest hosted by Jon Leonoudakis, president of the L.A. Chapter of the Eddie Gaedel Society.  We’ll also be distributing Eddie Gaedel holy cards (see attached photo) to all those in attendance.  For complete details on this Saturday’s festivities, visit:

http://www.baseballreliquary.org/2017/07/eddie-gaedel-day-celebration-august-19-2017-arcadia-california/

If you are unable to attend but would like to receive the Eddie Gaedel holy card, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: The Baseball Reliquary, P.O. Box 1850, Monrovia, CA 91017.  Unfortunately, due to the limited quantity of cards printed, this offer can only be extended to current members of the Baseball Reliquary.

We are pleased to announce that this year’s 19th annual Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day was an enormous success, and far exceeded our expectations with a SRO crowd of over 200 people on hand — many of whom said this was by far the best ceremony that they had attended.  If you visit the Baseball Reliquary Web site, you will find links to articles about the ceremony, as well as the transcripts for Dave Mesrey’s memorable keynote address and Lisa Nehus Saxon’s brilliant introduction of Vin Scully’s induction.  You can also view the official video of the ceremony on YouTube at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrULgrf6-Ag&feature=youtu.be

On the exhibition front, the Baseball Reliquary currently has a display on view through August 30 in the Humanities Wing of the Pasadena Central Library.  We are featuring a shrine to Babe Ruth and a new multimedia artwork by Greg Jezewski.

Then, from September 2-October 26, we present a brand new exhibition, “Baseball: A Global Pastime,” at the Arcadia Public Library.  On Saturday, September 23, at 2:00 p.m., in conjunction with this exhibition, the Baseball Reliquary will host a panel discussion including former major leaguer Roger Repoz discussing his experiences playing baseball in Japan, author and historian Byron Motley sharing stories about baseball in Cuba, and former international baseball scout Mark Garcia.  More details on this event will be forthcoming.

To view additional details on all the Reliquary-sponsored programming through the end of the year, visit:

http://www.baseballreliquary.org/events/

Sincerely,
Terry Cannon
Executive Director
The Baseball Reliquary
www.baseballreliquary.org

e-mail: terymar@earthlink.net

 

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2017

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 74 46 .617  
2 ANGELS 62 59 .512 12.5
3 MARINERS 61 61 .500 14.0
4 RANGERS 59 60 .496 14.5
5 ATHLETICS 53 68 .438 21.5

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2017 

ASTROS 9 – DIAMONDBACKS 5.

ANGELS 3 — NATIONALS 2.

MARINERS 7 – ORIOLES 6.

RANGERS 12 – TIGERS 6.

 ROYALS 7ATHLETICS 6.

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

 AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 459 167 35 3 18 .364
2 JEAN SEGURA SEA 381 122 22 1 7 .320
3 CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
4 ERIC HOSMER KC 460 145 23 1 20 .315
5 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 330 104 22 0 20 .315
6 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 451 139 38 5 18 .308
7 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 377 116 19 0 18 .308
8 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 368 113 21 3 13 .307
9 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 398 122 23 0 28 .307
10 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 340 103 17 0 6 .303
  (Other Astros Below)    
18 JOSH REDDICK HOU 373 110 25 3 12 .295
19 YULI GURRIEL HOU 414 122 32 1 15 .295
36 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 397 109 29 5 13 .275

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

What’s Riding on the Next Big Astro Signing?

August 16, 2017

Jose Altuve
The Key to the Astros’ Long-Term Credibility

 

What will be the next big Astro signing? On the one hand, it’s as simple as this well-known acknowledgement:

It’s a lot easier for us fans to spend the ball club owner’s money and line of credit than it is for the owner to cover any major deal that doesn’t work out as hoped. Often times, as in situations like these armor-up for the playoff deals, we really mean these “desperate” major “baseball stud” acquisition deals when a club floats out the spending dough and risks the loss of a future Hall of Famer from their farm system of tomorrow’s box of roster assets.

Right, Boston Red Sox?

The fans can walk away from a fall off the sheer cliff of baseball disappointments and get their kicks anew from complaining about why the prices of everything keep going up at the ballpark, even though the team blew their big opportunity to reach or win the World Series last season in spite of all that super-star talent they acquired. Ownership, on the other hand, now has to scramble to live with the dents they’ve put on their normal cash flow by all the money they spent upon a failed effort to win it all.

So, why do clubs put themselves in that spot in the first place? Why would a club like the Astros go out now – a half month after the trade deadline passed – and make a deal for an aging Justin Verlander that on surface first appears to be only guaranteed to help the Detroit Tigers, as in – an incredibly large salary dump and young talent acquisition?

Why do it? The answer is just out there to either embrace or kick to the curb.

Right now, in 2017, the Houston Astros are having the kind of season that could change the face of the franchise forever from – one of the competitive horses in the annual race that allows the big winning and free spending clubs like the Yankees, Dodgers, or Red Sox to thrive as the only serious potential champions each year – at least – to a humble acceptance of  the Astros as new kids on the block of baseball’s River Oaks neighborhood.

The value of the franchise, if it so ascended, could make principal owner Jim Crane look like a genius for buying into MLB – and also boost him up a few spots on the billionaire tree, should he decide to then turn around and immediately sell the club.

Would winning a single World Series be enough reward in itself?

It wouldn’t be enough for the fans to “simply” win the 2017 World Series and never return. Crane will be under the gun, immediately, if the Astros do win, to show that this was not merely another of those “one and done” championship clubs (aka the old Florida Marlins) that followed “veni, vidi, vici” with a back up the truck garage sale of the talent they bought to get there – ever so briefly.

Astros fans would not want to fall back right away into the same re-building pattern that got them here this time. They will be looking for signs that the club plans to stabilize and continue to improve from their current levels of skill and ability.

And how will the fans know pretty quickly if this “hold-our-ground-and-continue-to-build” pattern is in place?

Easy.

The litmus test will be obvious. In fact, it’s there now, even if the Astros do not win the World Series this year. The Astros still have to go through agent Scott Boros and lock Jose Altuve into what could turn out to be the largest long-term contract ever signed by a future Hall of Famer in his early prime. And maybe they will not be able to re-sign Jose Altuve because they simply are not the Yankees, Dodgers, or Red Sox.

If the Astros do not re-sign Altuve, the fans will walk away disbelieving anything else the Astros say thereafter about commitment to winning – even if they first seem to understand the club’s explanations that “baseball is a business – and we just couldn’t afford to keep Jose Altuve.”

The heart will overrule the head in this matter, even if the “business” explanation for such a loss is based on solid facts.

Lots of luck with whatever marketing plan the Astros deploy on the heels of unthinkably losing Altuve to another club.

So, how does all of this stuff tie back into a late and expensive Astros acquisition of veteran star pitcher Justin Verlander?

  1. Signing Verlander could be the difference between winning the World Series this year. Win or lose their first World Series championship, the inflation that such a result brings to the club’s value should more than cover the cost of his salary pay-out. It will ascend anyway for simply getting there.
  2. If the goal is to build hope among Houston fans for the future of the Astros as a repetitive contender, however, the man who must be signed is not Verlander, but Jose Altuve. Houston fans are tired of slogans and allusions to future greatness. They now expect delivery.
  3. Sign Verlander for the delivery help he may bring to 2017. Sign Altuve because he is our franchise hinge pin on the Astros’ credibility in their plans for long-term greatness – and beating out the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, and all others for the little Venezuelan’s future services at a signing is part and parcel of the goods the club stands to receive in return for so doing.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 73 46 .613  
2 ANGELS 61 59 .508 12.5
3 MARINERS 60 61 .496 14.0
4 RANGERS 58 60 .492 14.5
5 ATHLETICS 53 67 .442 20.5

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017

ASTROS 9 – DIAMONDBACKS 4

MARINERS 3 – ORIOLES 1.

RANGERS 10 – TIGERS 4.

NATIONALS 3 – ANGELS 1.

ATHLETICS 10 – ROYALS 8.

 ********************

AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 455 165 35 3 18 .363
2 CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
3 JEAN SEGURA SEA 376 119 22 1 7 .316
4 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 326 103 22 0 20 .316
5 ERIC HOSMER KC 456 143 23 1 20 .314
6 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 373 115 18 0 18 .308
7 JOSE RAMIREZ CLE 451 139 38 5 18 .308
8 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 364 112 21 3 13 .308
9 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 340 103 17 0 6 .303
10 JONATHAN SCHOOP BAL 449 136 30 0 26 .303
11 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 393 119 23 0 28 .303
20 JOSH REDDICK HOU 368 108 25 3 11 .293
21 YULI GURRIEL HOU 409 120 31 1 15 .293
39 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 393 107 29 5 13 .272

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Welcome To Houston, Tyler Clippard!

August 15, 2017

Tyler Clippard
August 14, 2017
Prior to his Astros debut

Welcome, Tyler Clippard! And thanks for your debut “clip art” presentation on “how to get in and out of a jam in three outs, no less”.

Clippard made his Astros debut in the bottom of the 8th in last night’s 2-0 loss to Arizona at their place. The outing proved to be a sequential presentation of perspiration and inspiration and, fortunately for our good guys, it occurred in that order. After giving up a lead-off ground rule double to deepest right center by lefty batter Jake Lamb of the D-Backs, Clippard then sewed the seeds of “uh oh” by walking right handed Paul Goldschmidt.

The game was still on the line when new Astro Clippard came in to pitch the bottom of 8th.

With runners on first and second and no outs, Arizona now threatened to squeeze any hope for an Astros rally in the 9th, but our man Tyler had another idea for the clip art conclusion of his first night of work as an Astros reliever.

With 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, Clippard checks Lamb at 2nd base before striking our batter Marte to to end the inning with no harm done.

First he got former Astro and Tiger J.D. Martinez on a high pop fly to Yuli Gurriel in fair territory near first base. Then he did the same thing to Daniel Descalso on a high foul pop fly out to Gurriel, also near the bag. The icing then came when when Clippard struck out lefty Ketel Marte to retire the side with no further damage done. Unfortunately, the icing was only good for Houston players finger-licking after the D-Backs put down the Stros in the 9th to take the cake and seal their 2-0 win over their visitors from the Bayou City.

Colin McHugh (0-2) looked good, giving up only 2 runs on 6 hits in 5.2 innings of work, but D-Backs starter Zack Greinke (14-5) did a Rembrandt job on the Astros for 6.2 innings to earn the deserved win for the desert varmints.

Welcome again to Houston, “Clip Art” – and keep up the good work!

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF MONDAY, AUGUST 14, 2017 

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 72 46 .610  
2 ANGELS 61 58 .513 11.5
3 MARINERS 59 61 .492 14.0
4 RANGERS 57 60 .487 14.5
5 ATHLETICS 52 67 .437 20.5

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF MONDAY, AUGUST 14, 2017

 DIAMONDBACKS 2 – ASTROS 0.

 ORIOLES 11 – MARINERS 3.

 RANGERS 6 – TIGERS 2

 ROYALS 6 – ATHLETICS 2.

 ANGELS (day off for earth angels and barber shops)

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF MONDAY, AUGUST 14, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 451 163 34 3 18 .361
2 CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
3 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 326 103 22 0 20 .316
4 JEAN SEGURA SEA 372 117 22 1 17 .315
5 ERIC HOSMER KC 452 141 22 1 19 .312
6 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 446 139 38 5 18 .312
7 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 360 112 21 3 13 .311
8 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 369 113 18 0 18 .306
9 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 388 118 22 0 28 .304
10 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 340 103 17 0 6 .303
18 JOSH REDDICK HOU 363 107 25 3 11 .295
23 YULI GURRIEL HOU 404 118 31 0 15 .292
38 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 388 105 29 4 13 .271

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

 

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Death to Flying Things in 1953

August 15, 2017

Manager Jack Chapman of the 1889 Syracuse Stars (shown here in street clothes) was one of two 19th century players nicknamed “Death to Flying Things” for his defensive skills. The other, Bob Ferguson, is pictured below.

Bob Ferguson

At any rate, this column is not about Chapman or Ferguson, but how their identity nicknames reached all the way into the mid-2oth century to strike a chord with at least one kid player who read about them enough to love their nickname and what it represented to him nearly seventy years later.

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

Death to Flying Things in 1953

By Bill McCurdy

It’s hot. Hot as hell. This is good old humid Houston in August, where practically everything painfully hellish starts with an “H”. They couldn’t spell August with an “H” so they spelled it with the weather. And that was hot enough.

A singular bead of sweat rolls down the in-seam skin area of your right leg, ‘neath the blousy grey woolen baseball pants you wear, as you stand, feet apart in center field, just waiting for anything that may come your way in the game that’s about to start.

“Death to Flying Things!”

The war cry of a legendary 19th century player you’ve only read about has become your private battle cry at the start of every new game. Everything that comes your way needs to be pursued with all you’ve got, as though it were the last damn out needed by the winning side of a seven game World Series. You never let up. Letting up is giving up. There is no other way to put it.

Five batters into the game, nothing has come your way, but a single to right and two walks, sandwiched around two strikeouts, has left the bases loaded and a big cloud of early threat by the visiters – who are still knocking hard at the door.

“They must be stopped. We’ve gotta have another “K”, or else, a batted ball that we can turn into a run-stopping out. – Hang loose. – Stay ready.”

You decide to play shallow, even though the #6 batter is a lefty with both the power and the appetite for towering long fly balls. You and your coach decide to play him shallow because you’ve both seen him dink some singles to the shallow reaches of right and center when he wanted – and neither of you want to invite that now by playing him too deep. Besides, you are better at going back for a long fly ball – and nobody’s any good at catching an unreachable liner single under normal outfield defensive depths.

The key to success here is intuition and luck.

On a 2-2 pitch, you decide to start moving in with the pitcher’s delivery. Lucky for you. The lefty swats a line drive that is about four feet high off the ground, but moving intently to a normal base hit touchdown to the right side of 2nd base in shallow center. Your already-in-motion body has continued to accelerate from its with-the-pitch early start. You can see the blur of the rapidly descending ball aiming for the ground to your approaching left side. Your early departure from a short field spot has given you a chance that otherwise never exists.

You go into a hard slide on your left leg, with your left-handed glove extended out and moving as though its upward extended pocket were riding the surface like an emergency vehicle to a potential disaster scene. Your every interactive eye-to-hand bodily movement is now controlled by the laws of physics and a part of the brain that cannot be called into play at will. It’s either there. Or it isn’t.

The memory of it all is precious. And it belongs to you forever.

The glove pocket arrives just in time to prevent the descending ball from touching the ground. Your gloved hand quickly closes around any hopes the motion-energized ball also may have for pushing through your grasp and reaching the ground anyway. You hold on to the sucker. It’s an out. It has to be. After the catch, you leap to your feet in joy. And the umpire quickly flashes the right-handed out sign in confirmation. No matter how small the game, it’s now officially an out – forever – and more importantly – it is a scoreless inning for your adversaries. And the summer league game can now move to the bottom of the 1st, still 0-0 between the home team and the visitors.

“Death to Flying Things!”

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

The “K” Is Back! Clip-Art Help also on The Way!

August 14, 2017

Dallas Keuchel

Position: Pitcher

Bats: Left  •  Throws: Left

6-3, 205lb (190cm, 92kg)

Team: Houston Astros (majors)

Born: January 1, 1988 in Tulsa, OK us

Draft: Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 7th round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft from University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR).

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/k/keuchda01.shtml

**********

Dallas Keuchel is back. Big time. His 2-1 mastery of the Texas Rangers on Sunday also made a virtual Nostradamus out of Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who virtually told the world to look for this happening after watching the improvement in Keuchel’s 4-game work that led up to this start. The result finally earned the Astros ace his 10th win of the season (10-2, 2.77) for a 6.2 inning stretch in which he gave up only one earned run on 6 hits while posting 7 strikeouts to 3 walks.

We are not surprised. Just grateful.

Welcome back, Dallas!

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

Tyler Clippard

(During his “Yankee Clippard” Days)

Position: Pitcher

Bats: Right  •  Throws: Right

6-3, 200lb (190cm, 90kg)

Team: Houston Astros (minors, 40-man)

Born: February 14, 1985 in Lexington, KY us

Draft: Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 9th round of the 2003 MLB June Amateur Draft from J W Mitchell HS (New Port Richey, FL).

 **********
Clippard has a 48-41, 3.04 ERA record for 11 seasons in MLB (2007-2017). Except for 8 early starts, almost all of his 609 game appearances have been in relief for six different MLB clubs. He did pretty well against the Astros during their recent 3-game sweep loss to the White Sox and that just may have been the “make the deal” button on his desirability by the Astros.

As soon as I read of the trade, the phrase “Clip Art” came to mind as a play on our newest Astros’ name – and as an appropriate nickname for an effective pitcher, especially for a reliever as a substitute for other human forces already in play from his predecessor.

Definition

Baseball Clip Art: The final product of a pitcher whose deceptive body motion, slight of hand, and artful release of a variably thrown at different speeds baseball most often leads to the same result: The winning picture for the club placing this force into motion just got a lot clearer and brighter.

If anything, pitching in baseball may be one of the best demonstrations in all competitive sports for showing how science and art come together to produce an effect that is amazingly exhilarating when it is performed by a player of your own club, but terribly frustrating when it is performed by some Darth Vader from the other team.

Welcome to Houston, “Clip Art” Clippard!

Our MMP Louvre awaits your first demonstration.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/clippty01.shtml

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, AUGUST 13, 2017 

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 72 45 .615  
2 ANGELS 61 58 .513 12.0
3 MARINERS 59 60 .496 14.0
4 RANGERS 56 60 .483 15.5
5 ATHLETICS 52 66 .441 20.5

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, AUGUST 13, 2017

 ASTROS 2 – RANGERS 1.

 ANGELS 4 – MARINERS 2.

 ATHLETICS 9 – ORIOLES 3.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, AUGUST 13, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 447 162 34 3 18 .362
2 CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
3 JEAN SEGURA SEA 368 116 21 1 7 .315
4 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 322 101 21 0 20 .314
5 ERIC HOSMER KC 448 140 22 1 19 .313
6 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 360 112 21 3 13 .311
7 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 442 137 37 5 18 .310
8 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 366 113 18 0 18 .309
9 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 384 117 22 0 28 .305
10 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 340 103 17 0 6 .303
20 JOSH REDDICK HOU 360 106 25 3 11 .294
22 YULI GURRIEL HOU 400 117 31 0 15 .293
38 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 385 105 29 4 13 .273

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle