Trammell and Morris to Hall of Fame in 2018

December 16, 2017

Left: Alan Trammell
Right: Jack Morris
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Hall of Fame ~ 2018

Click the following link for the full induction story:

Jack Morris, Alan Trammell elected to Hall of Fame by Modern Era Committee

Our Pecan Park Eagle Commentary

Great news in our eyes. And good for the Modern Era Committee for retrieving two deserving former Tigers who slipped through gaping holes in the Baseball Writers net some time ago. Not sure what the circumstances were in each case that made this oversight possible, but it does show how baseball always will need a down-the-road-of-time plan for reviewing the oversight or unfair handling of candidates who performed well enough, but somehow got marginalized and blocked from entry by other factors, on and off the field.

The Modern Era Committee is going to have their hands full dealing with the aging of all those steroid era high performers who were never actually convicted of anything, but did look, talk, and behave in ways that made them seem to be awfully guilty, and, sometimes, by their own words, probably were guilty.

Of something.

Hopefully, when it comes to the steroid era suspects, time will also help baseball come to a reckoning which rises in discernment from something more than “keep ’em all out” to “let ’em all in,” but that’s another problem for another day.

Today it’s time for most of us to say: “Congratulations, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell! The Hall of Fame awaits your deserved and welcomed call!”

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

The Complete List of Houston MLB Managers

December 15, 2017

Yes, we know. Phil Garner’s # was 3 for most of his career, but what was it for the 74 games he managed the Astros late in 2004? Baseball America has him listed as “uk” for that partial first season as Houston’s manager.

 

Just in case it comes up again, here is the list of all managers in Houston MLB history, along with their records and uniform numbers. Please note that Harry Craft was not the last Houston manager to go with “1” as his identifying number choice, although “2” proved just as popular. Unless we miscounted, the numbers “1” and “2” both appear 8 times.

Also of interest is the fact that two short-term interim managers, Dave Clark (for 13 games in 2009) and Tony DeFrancesco (for 41 games in 2012) apparently managed in wrap-up seasons in which no one, including the managers themselves, was paying much attention to whatever the numbers were on their jerseys. Their numbers here are recorded as “uk” for “unknown.”

What we don’t get is – why weren’t they able to get Phil Garner’s # for the 74 games he managed the Astros in 2004 after taking over for Jimy Williams? Garner drew a “uk” for 2004, even though he very clearly wore # 3 for the other three seasons he managed the Astros (2005-07). A player probably already had uniform # 3 late in the 2004 year when Phil came in, but how hard could it have been to get the number from Garner as well as from the two others?

Sometimes it may just boil down to the question’s potential for embarrassment. If the person being asked takes it personally, they may be thinking something like: “Gee, if you don’t even recall my number, what else made me into a player or manager that left no impressions?”

Our consolation from this whole managerial number episode may be found in the following question: Is there anyone out there among Astros fans now who still doesn’t know that Astros manager A.J. Hinch wore # 14 on his way to leading the 2017 club to its first World Series victory?

BASEBALL AMERICA PRESENTS ~

Houston Colt .45s Managers

1962-1964

Managers & Finishes

Year Uniform # Manager Wins Losses WP Finish GB
1962 1

Harry Craft

64 96 .400 8th 36½
1963 1 55 95 .407 9th 33
1964 1 61 88 .409 9th 27
6

Lum Harris

5 8 .385
Houston Colt .45s Managers & Finishes

AND ….

Houston Astros Managers
1965 – 2018Managers & Finishes
Year Uniform # Manager(s) Wins Losses WP Finish GB Roster
1965 26

Lum Harris

65 97 .401 9th 32

1965

1966 1

Grady Hatton

72 90 .444 8th 23

1966

1967 1

Grady Hatton

69 93 .426 9th 32½

1967

1968 1

Grady Hatton

23 38 .377 10th 25

1968

25

Harry Walker

49 52 .485
1969 25

Harry Walker

81 81 .500 5th 12

1969

1970 25

Harry Walker

79 83 .488 4th 23

1970

1971 25

Harry Walker

79 83 .488 4th 11

1971

1972 25

Harry Walker

67 54 .554 2nd 10½

1972

1

Salty Parker

1 0 1.000
2

Leo Durocher

16 15 .516
1973 2

Leo Durocher

82 80 .506 4th 17

1973

1974 18

Preston Gomez

81 81 .500 4th 21

1974

1975 18

Preston Gomez

47 80 .370 6th 43½

1975

7

Bill Virdon

17 17 .500
1976 7

Bill Virdon

80 82 .494 3rd 22

1976

1977 7

Bill Virdon

81 81 .500 3rd 17

1977

1978 7

Bill Virdon

74 88 .457 5th 21

1978

1979 7

Bill Virdon

89 73 .549 2nd

1979

1980 7

Bill Virdon

93 70 .571 1st +1

1980

1981 7

Bill Virdon

61 49 .555 3rd / 1st 6

1981

1982 7

Bill Virdon

49 62 .441 5th 12

1982

5

Bob Lillis

28 23 .549
1983 5

Bob Lillis

85 77 .525 3rd 6

1983

1984 5

Bob Lillis

80 82 .494 2nd 12

1984

1985 5

Bob Lillis

83 79 .512 3rd 12

1985

1986 22

Hal Lanier

96 66 .593 1st +10

1986

1987 22

Hal Lanier

76 86 .469 3rd 14

1987

1988 22

Hal Lanier

82 80 .506 5th 12½

1988

1989 18

Art Howe

86 76 .531 3rd 6

1989

1990 18

Art Howe

75 87 .463 4th 16

1990

1991 18

Art Howe

65 97 .401 6th 29

1991

1992 18

Art Howe

81 81 .500 4th 17

1992

1993 18

Art Howe

85 77 .525 3rd 19

1993

1994 2

Terry Collins

66 49 .574 2nd ½

1994

1995 2

Terry Collins

76 68 .528 2nd 9

1995

1996 2

Terry Collins

82 80 .506 2nd 6

1996

1997 49

Larry Dierker

84 78 .519 1st +5

1997

1998 49

Larry Dierker

102 60 .630 1st +12½

1998

1999 49

Larry Dierker

97 65 .599 1st +1½

1999

2000 49

Larry Dierker

72 90 .444 4th 23

2000

2001 49

Larry Dierker

93 69 .574 1st +5

2001

2002 22

Jimy Williams

84 78 .519 2nd 13

2002

2003 22

Jimy Williams

87 75 .537 2nd 1

2003

2004 22

Jimy Williams

44 44 .500 2nd 13

2004

uk

Phil Garner

48 26 .649
2005 3

Phil Garner

89 73 .549 2nd 11

2005

2006

3

Phil Garner

82

80

.506

2nd

2006

2007 3

Phil Garner

58 73 .443 4th 12 2007

15

Cecil Cooper

15 16 .484

2008

15

Cecil Cooper

86

75

.534

3rd

11

2008

2009 15 Cecil Cooper 70 79 .470 5th 17 2009
uk Dave Clark 4 9 .308
2010 2 Brad Mills 76 86 .469 4th 15 2010
2011 2 Brad Mills 56 106 .346 6th 40 2011
2012 2 Brad Mills 39 82 .322 6th 42 2012
uk Tony DeFrancesco 16 25 .390
2013 16 Bo Porter 51 111 .315 5th 45 2013
2014 16 Bo Porter 59 79 .428

4th

28

2014

1

Tom Lawless (1)

11

13

.458

2015 14 A.J. Hinch 86 76 .531 2nd 2 2015
2016 14 A.J. Hinch 84 78 .519 3rd 11 2016
2017 14 A.J. Hinch 101 61 .623 1st +21 2017
2018 14 A.J. Hinch 2018
Year Uniform # Manager(s) Wins Losses WP Finish GB Roster
Houston Astros Managers & Finishes | (1) = Interim Manager

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Great Quotes From Astros/Colts History

December 14, 2017


… but a lot of joyful tears do fall as a result of some things that baseball people say.

Every organizational society comes up with some sweet, funny, wise, identifying, deadly or dumb things people say over time and our Houston Astros (and Colt .45s, by extension) are no exception.

Whether they are the words of the owners, the front office people, the players, the opposition, the fans, or the media people who cover them, our Houston MLB bunch has produced its share. They simply cannot all be remembered by any single person or in the equally clear way.

Maybe this can be the start of the gathering process, starting with my own recollections in paraphrase, and with this invitation to the rest of you to also submit your own contributions or clarification of the facts surrounding anything you read here from me or any other individual contributor who kicks in their own copy of something once said or written.

Our first pitch in this game will be my list of quotes from individuals, strictly from memory, with no further research, but with the standing invitation for your additional contributions by comment – or correction. Any comment with something new that is printable on some civil, non-libelous or non-slanderous level – will then be moved up here with addendum credit to you by your full name and e-mail identity.

Fair enough? Here’s our (TPPE) initial list:

Great Quotes From Astros/Colts History

1) Unremembered Source, 1965. When the Astrodome interior was underway, complete with a palatial interior living quarters for Judge Hofheinz, someone complemented a friend on the Astros leader’s good taste in antiques as they watched the work at flurry pace. The dialogue supposedly went something like this:

Friend 1: “The Judge has good taste in antique furnishings.”

Friend 2: “Yes. He does pretty good for a man who orders antiques by the pound.”

2) GM Paul Richards, on His Firing as GM by Judge Hofheinz. Someone was attempting to console Richards by deflecting his attention to the Judge’s occasional bad decision-making.

Consoling Person: “You gotta remember, Paul. Sometimes the Judge is his own worst enemy.”

Paul Richards: “Not as long as I’m alive, he’s not!”

3) Pitcher Turk Farrell, 1963. On being given another chance to start after losing 20 games in 1962:

Turk Farrell: “Don’t you realize how good I had to be to even get the chance to lose 20 games last year?”

4) Catcher John Bateman, 1964. On dropping a high foul ball in a night game at Colt Stadium:

John Bateman: “I lost it in the moonlight.”

5) Writer Mickey Herskowitz, 1966. While watching the new AstroTurf infield being zipped into place at the Astrodome in sections:

Mickey Herskowitz: “And now the Astrodome has the only zipped in place, built-in infield fly in baseball.”

6) Writer Mickey Herskowitz, (1967, we think). Upon the completion of Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas, a new big almost covered stadium in Texas. They left a hole in the roof near the center roof part of the structure.

Mickey Herskowitz: “And now Dallas can boast that they are the new home to the world’s first half Astrodome.”

7) Writer John Wilson, 1967: Upon an extended time of watching little Jimmy Wynn blast home runs at the Dome as though he were a physical giant of a man:

John Wilson: “Jimmy Wynn plays the game as though he were a ‘toy cannon.’ The Toy Cannon is the best name I  can put on the man for those who haven’t seen Jimmy Wynn play ball.”

8) Pitcher Joaquin Andujar. Why is baseball the most exciting sport?

Joaquin Andujar: “I can sum it up in two words. It’s because – you never know.”

9) Sports Illustrated (2014)

SI: “The Houston Astros will win the World Series in 2017.”

Goodnight for now.

That’s all we’ve got for starters – and most of what we easily remembered occurred early in our big league history. Now comes the fun part. As you both can and will, help us fill in the blanks on a history that is far more deserving of substance than white blankness on the page of Astro Quotes over time. TPPE will hang with you in this effort, and we will continue to add our own further recollections as they also occur.

ADDENDUM STARTING 12/14/17)

10) UH Football Coach Bill Yeoman (1966) – Submitted by Wayne Chandler, formerly of the Houston Astros.

Wayne A Chandler Says:

Bill, I remember when we finally agreed to replace Astroturf with newer Astroturf, we invited all the sports entities to a down-on-the field inspection and press conference.

After most coaches and athletes had begrudgingly made favorable comments, someone asked UH Coach Bill Yeoman.

Bill just shook his head and said, “Oh, we don’t care. We like this place. We’d play on nails!”

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

What Was Harry Craft’s 1962 Uniform Number?

December 13, 2017

“TURN AROUND,
HARRY,
TURN AROUND!”

 

Yesterday I was contacted by a former member of the 1962 Houston Colt .45s. Someone close to the late first manager of the 1962 Houston Colt .45s had contacted him for the number that the late Harry Craft had worn on the back of his uniform in that original first season as the first skipper.

Guess what. – Neither of them remembered or knew the answer. Guess again. – Neither did I. Guess a third time. – Neither did any of my valuable local research friends. – And keep going. – Neither Baseball-Reference.com nor Retrosheet had this information, although B-R had the player uniform numbers. Apparently the Colt .45s had so many transient players that some uniform numbers got recycled.

Bob Hulsey of Astros Daily poses an interesting theory – and he calls it what it really is – no more than a guess: “The lowest numbers were for managers and coaches and that, therefore, in theory, Craft was #1 with his coaches wearing #s 2-6. Player-coach Jim Busby wore #4 and the original catchers wore 7,8 and 9.

Rule out 15, 23, and 44 from Craft’s player days. These three numbers were all worn by Colt players Bob Lillis (15), Jim Pendleton (23), and Bob Tiefenauer (44).

Why is our record of managerial #s so poorly recorded, if at all? I must defer to more experienced research in this area, but these folks are not sitting here with me tonight. My guess is that it goes back to when teams started wearing uniform #s in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It was to help fans and reporters track players in the field – not managers in the dugout. Heck, some managers, mainly Connie Mack always wore a three-piece suit. He didn’t even wear a uniform. Player-managers, in fact, may have been the only team field bosses who were assigned #s for sure. I simply don’t know the rest — nor do I specifically know if managers Miller Huggins or Joe McCarthy of the great Ruthian Yankees ever had #s on their backs. I just think our poor record of managerial #s is tied to the first premise I stated above. – Numbers weren’t assigned to help track the movements of managers. Thus, there never has existed much attention to managerial numbers and their historical place in the scheme of numbered things.

The More General Problem. As anyone engaged in social research soon gets to discover: writers from the past are not really writing for history – and most of them are writing for daily newspapers. Our Early Houston Baseball SABR research team came to that discovery fairly quickly. Neither the original Travis Street Ballpark or the next venue that came to be known as West Side Park came into clear view for us immediately with addresses and directions. The local newspapers were writing for the people of their times. They wasted no ink telling where these places were situated. They assumed readers already knew where to go when a game was announced for either site.

Deja Vu Again. So, again in 1962, no one ever assumed that there was any need to document the numbers worn by Harry Craft and his coaches. If you really cared – as a family member, player, or fan – all you had to do was look at the back of his uniform jersey and remember a one or two digit number. – How hard could that be?

What Some of You May Be Able To Do to Recover, Document,  and Save Harry Craft’s 1962 Colt .45s uniform # – for family peace of mind and baseball history: If you have any 1962 Colt .45 scorecards that show his number printed on them – or if you have any photos of Harry Craft in a Colt .45 uniform that shows his number – or, if you just have an old newspaper or magazine article that reveals his Colt .45 # in words or pictures – please copy and send it to The Pecan Park Eagle in care of my e-mail address:

houston.buff37@gmail.com

With your permission, I will do a follow up column which reveals Harry’s elusive Houston # and gives full credit to you for the find.

Riding Off Into the Sunset. I’m betting it will show up on a photo somewhere. Darrell Pittman told me yesterday that he either had seen or heard of a photo of Craft in uniform, riding a donkey at Apache Junction in the spring of 1962 as a stunt. It apparently is a frontal view, he says, and I thought: “Too bad it wasn’t a photo of Craft riding off into the sunset of baseball history as manager of one of the first two expansion teams in NL history. – At least, we’d have Harry’s uniform number.”

At any rate, the challenge is now upon us. This one stays in open season until we solve it.

Addendum 1: In a challenge that proved the equivalent of a 15 second 1st Round Knock Out, the Harry Craft Mystery # has been resolved:

In 1962, Harry Craft wore #1 as manager of the Houston Colt .45s!

First KO Punch by Bill Hickman: “There’s a handy book called NOW BATTING NUMBER… (by Jack Looney) for answering questions like this. It lists all the uniform numbers for all the major league teams for each season running up through 2005. In 1962 for the Colts, Harry Craft’s uniform was #1. Bob Hulsey’s theory was spot on. The next five numbers were meted out to coaches. #2 was Jim Adair. #3 was Bobby Bragan. #4 was Jim Busby. #5 was Cot Deal. #6 was Lum Harris.”

Bill Hickman

Second KO Punch by David Munger: “The Baseball Almanac on line has him as #1 in ’62, ’63, and ’64.”

David Munger

From Baseball Almanac.com …

Houston Colt .45s ManagersManagers & Finishes
Year Uniform # Manager Wins Losses WP Finish GB
1962 1

Harry Craft

64 96 .400 8th 36½
1963 1 55 95 .407 9th 33
1964 1 61 88 .409 9th 27
6

Lum Harris

5 8 .385
Houston Colt .45s Managers & Finishes

Thanks from all of us, Bill Hickman and David Munger. I simply missed this data when I checked B-A.

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

Addendum 2: Harry on a Mule, Not a Horse. Contributor Darrell Pittman sent us that photo of Harry Craft riding a mule out in Apache Junction, Arizona during spring training in 1962. Wonder what that animal would have done had Harry fired those Colt .45s into the western dessert skies on an otherwise quiet day?

“Mystery solved.
after short time fun!
Now everybody knows
I was Number One!”
~ Harry Craft

Addendum 3: Photographic Evidence from October 10, 1962, at the end of the very first Opening Day in Houston MLB franchise history, from the files of the Houston Chronicle and again, contributed separately by Darrell Pittman as the closer on this piece, if there is one.

As most of you know, the Colt .45s had just defeated the Chicago Cubs, 11-2, behind the pitching of Bobby Shantz and the 2 home run blasts by outfielder Roman Mejias. In the first whole version of the photo, that’s Harry Craft in the back row with the #1 clearly on his back as he congratulates an unidentified Colt .45 player. In the second close up crop we made, it’s a little easier and clearer.

Harry Craft Wearing # 1
Colt Stadium in Houston
April 10, 1962

 

Close Up of the Above Photo
April 10,1962

Of course, the photo does nothing to resolve the identities of those kids hanging over the dugout roof for a closer view of the celebration. A couple of them may be the younger versions of Tom Hunter or Mark Wernick.

As Joaquin Andujar once loved reminding us. – “You never know.”

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Great Lomax Astro Piece in Texas Monthly

December 12, 2017

A Terrific Article on the Astros 2017 Ascendance

Reading Texas Monthly these days is an interesting experience on many levels. The old hard print periodical still attracts some excellent writers with some interesting material, as evidenced by the current piece by John Nova Lomax that I went there to read anyway in the December 2017 edition, but the magazine management and layout team sure doesn’t make things easy to find.

If time is ever a factor for you, allow some clock-beats for roaming through pages of advertising before you ever stumble onto an index of content section on page 10, complete with obfuscative subject titles in fairly small type under a column entitled “Reporters” as a “Lead” article identified as “Over the Moon” (blah, blah, blah) by John Nova Lomax. Seeing the word “Astros” in the article’s blah, blah, blah content descriptor verbiage was your major cue. If a buddy had recommended the article to you, as was the case for me from my good friend Sam Quintero, you would have been keyed on searching for that item’s Astro identity clue from the git-go in the old magazine way.

And you would have found it on page 41, as finally noted.

Before I finally read the Lomax piece, which turns out to be a very well done article about how Houston finally overcame its growing cultural fear of the curse that always rises to choke hope and the fulfillment of great expectations on the field of athletic competition with others – the worm finally turned – and fought back hard – and it overcame – while defeating the three arguably most legendary franchises in baseball – the Red Sox – the Yankees – and the Dodgers – in a decisive clearing of the path for a brand new champion from Houston – and one dripping in the sweet orange sight and scent of Houston Strong.

“We are the champions! ~ We Are The Champions! ~ We Are the Champions – of The World!”

Read the article. “The Fall and Rise of the Houston Astros” by Jeff Salamon that follows the Lomax column on page 44 is worth the price of admission itself in its visual chart depiction of how the Astros owner Jim Crane supported and General Manager Jeff Luhnow executed plan unfolded over time as the elixer that spirited the turning of that worm on schedule and in time to transpose into the championship club that had been predicted, as planned, for the Astros in 2017. It did not unhinge. It just got stronger and happened. The Salamon chart is a superb visual on how that came to be.

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

Some Notes on the Texas Monthly Style and Its Implications

We almost forgot that there are journal entities out there still trying to make money on the backs of writers and other creative people. Then we got our hands on the December 2017 issue of Texas Monthly. We didn’t see any date of obvious publication prior to our scented article search, but did we confirm it later when we took a closer look at the pricing bar code on the face of the magazine cover. Here’s a close up of the unobtrusive way in which Texas Monthly handles their responsibility for time stamping the issuance of a periodical that sells for $5.95 a copy:

We also noted on the cover some language that almost created the impression that the Texas Monthly had now shifted into gear as an advertising catalog that simply happened to include some narrative reporting and fictional material about as often as you find a gas station on I-10 West in southern New Mexico:

Had we been more attracted to a little round dab of red, we could have found our Astros article page number by simply taking a close look at what was there, but we didn’t. For us, we were moved as creatures of ancient habit to search for early, easy to find tables of content didn’t happen. What we encountered was the paper-format version of what we try like hell to avoid on the Internet with ad blocker apps. And the little red dot turned out to be a rare drift of floating useful information:

One more physical item. This one lacks a visual.

The cover is actually a two piece door. If you open them, left and right, what you get is another advertisement. This one is an invitation to San Antonio’s Tricentennial Celebration Party on New Year’s Eve.

None of us can be sure where this change is going for sure, but these attitudes are building sharply as a result of our cultural immersion into the digital social media era:

1) Writers are getting more opportunities to write today, but nobody wants to pay them for what they do. After all, today, everybody is a writer.

2) People today expect to get reading material for free.

3) Commercial rag mags are weighting their writers down with the expectation of the publication making most of their money from advertising sales. (i.e., Texas Monthly) The more the magazine goes up in cost, the more readers are driven to either not buy the magazine or simply wait for their chance to create their “free” copy of the article alone as they have learned to do with Internet material over the past twenty years. It’s a sad note, but it happens.

4) With the new technology, publishers are issuing more book releases, printing what sells, and only marketing what seems to have a chance at a commercial sales breakthrough into the blue.

5) It is what it is. Younger people today are challenged by how creatively they must show their talents to the world. As often happens, older people are having the greatest problem of adjustment.

6) Like all adjustments, even this one will work its way out. In time. But it will always remain in motion toward further change. It’s the nature of all living things.

 

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Culture of Baseball Club Nicknames

December 10, 2017

The 1927 New York Yankees
“Murderers’ Row”
They weren’t all murderers’, but they had enough baseball-killing hitters to get the job done as advertised.

 

Like all living things, whether it shows in the moment or not, the culture of baseball nicknames is in a constant state of change.

For example, the 2005 National League Champion Houston Astros were known as “The Killer Bees” mainly, as we still know, for the bats of Bagwell, Biggio, and Berkman.

The 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros, on the other hand, don’t have a catchy club nickname. – Have you noticed? And, if so, have you wondered, why not?

Can you think of any MLB club from any franchise since the 2005 Killer Bees that has enjoyed a lights out, everybody-knows-their-name metaphorical reference?

How about the 2016 Chicago Cubs? If the Wrigley Field gang didn’t deserve a shot at “The Redemption,” we are lost as to who did. The 2017 Houston Astros didn’t need the accolade, but they didn’t even get a whisper for “The Deliverance.” a title they most deserved above all others.

Please help jog my sometimes AWOL memory for what I may have forgotten.

Here’s a short list of the big team nicknames and identities for special clubs that occur to me from memory of 20th and 21st century winning teams. It’s brief and clear enough to summarize here in table form:

Major Modern Era Team Nicknames ….

(That Come to Memory. Who’s Missing?)

# YEAR CLUB METAPHOR IDENTITY REASON
1 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX CHICAGO BLACK SOX Fixed World Series
2 1927 NEW YORK YANKEES MURDERER’S ROW Ruth, Gehrig, etc.
3 1934 ST. LOUIS CARDINALS THE GAS HOUSE GANG Down & Dirty Style
4 1939 NEW YORK YANKEES THE BRONX BOMBERS DiMaggio & Co.
5 1950 PHILADELPHIA PHILS THE WHIZ KIDS A team of youth
6 1969 NEW YORK METS THE AMAZINS Compared to 1962
7 1975 CINCINNATI REDS THE BIG RED MACHINE Power in Red
8 1979 PITTSBURGH PIRATES WE ARE FAMILEE Team Closeness
9 2005 HOUSTON ASTROS KILLER BEES Bagwell, Biggio, etc.

We never presume or feel the need to be right about everything. You don’t learn anything from that affliction.

If you remember any other famous club nicknames from any baseball MLB-equivalent era – even from the 19th century, we would love to include them in an expanded list, if any such clubs surface and merit the inclusion. Just let me know and we will see how much support they get from others keeping up with us here too.

It’s still cool on this Sunday morning in Houston. So please join us in a little warm research fun.

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

ADDENDUM

12/10/17: Six Hours Past Time of Original Publication

How The Famous Club Nickname List Now Looks …..

With a Little Help from Our Friends:

(All Added in Bold Type)

# YEAR CLUB METAPHOR IDENTITY REASON
1 1906 CHI WHITE SOX HITLESS WONDERS Poor Hitters
2 1914 BOSTON BRAVES MIRACLE BRAVES Last to 1st (late)
3 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX CHICAGO BLACK SOX Fixed World Series
4 1927 NEW YORK YANKEES MURDERER’S ROW Ruth, Gehrig, etc.
5 1934 SL CARDINALS THE GAS HOUSE GANG Down & Dirty Style
6 1939 NEW YORK YANKEES THE BRONX BOMBERS DiMaggio & Co.
7 1950 PHILADELPHIA PHILS THE WHIZ KIDS A team of youths
8 1959 CHI WHITE SOX THE GO-GO SOX Small Ball Kings
9 1969 NEW YORK METS THE AMAZINS Compared to 1962
10 1970s OAKLAND As THE SWINGIN’ As Fast Lane Fun
11 1975 CINCINNATI REDS THE BIG RED MACHINE POWER IN RED
12 1979 PGH PIRATES WE ARE FAMILEE Team Closeness
13 2004 BOSTON RED SOX THE IDIOTS An Attitude Thing
14 2005 HOUSTON ASTROS KILLER BEES Bagwell, Biggio, etc.

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

New Submissions, Contributors, Their Reasoning:

#1) 1906 Hitless Wonders / Contributor Tom Hunter wrote: “The 1906 Chicago White Sox, dubbed the “Hitless Wonders” with a .230 team batting average for the season, beat the Chicago Cubs in six games to win the World Series batting only .198 in the series.”

#2) 1914 Miracle Braves / Contributor Mike Vance wrote: “The 1914 Miracle Braves because of their resurgence from the depths of the NL.”

#8) 1959 Go-Go Sox / Contributor Darrell Pittman wrote: “The 1959 Chicago White Sox were known as the ‘Go-Go Sox’.”

#10 1970sh Swingin’ As / Contributor David Munger wrote: “The Swinging As of the 70s because of their activities on and off the field.”

#13 2004 Idiots / Contributor Bill Hickman wrote: “The 2004 champion Red Sox were known as ‘The Idiots’ for their devil-may-care attitude.”

#15 Senators, #16 Daffiness Boys, #17 Bums, #18 The Impossible Dream Team / Contributor Cliff Blau wrote of these four additional examples later this same day:

“The Washington Nationals, 1905-1956, were often known as the Senators, due to playing in a capital city.

“The Brooklyn club of the 1920s were known as the Daffiness Boys, and later they were called The Bums.

“The 1967 Boston Red Sox are known as the Impossible Dream team.”

The contributions of our latest contributor, Cliff Blau, are now included in the second update from our original list, as follows:

2nd Team Nickname Update

# YEAR CLUB METAPHOR IDENTITY REASON
1 1905 WASHINGTON NATS SENATORS Politics, 1905-56
2 1906 CHI WHITE SOX HITLESS WONDERS Poor Hitters
3 1914 BOSTON BRAVES MIRACLE BRAVES Last to 1st (late)
4 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX CHICAGO BLACK SOX Fixed World Series
5 1927 NEW YORK YANKEES MURDERER’S ROW Ruth, Gehrig, etc.
6 1920s BRK DODGERS DAFFINESS BOYS 3-Men-on-3rd
7 1934 SL CARDINALS THE GAS HOUSE GANG Down & Dirty Style
8 1939 NEW YORK YANKEES THE BRONX BOMBERS DiMaggio & Co.
9 1939 BRK DODGERS BUMS Losers Galore
10 1950 PHILADELPHIA PHILS THE WHIZ KIDS A team of youths
11 1959 CHI WHITE SOX THE GO-GO SOX Small Ball Kings
12 1967 BOSTON RED SOX IMPOSSIBLE DREAM Ruth Curse Relief
13 1969 NEW YORK METS THE AMAZINS Compared to 1962
14 1970s OAKLAND As SWINGIN’ As Fast Lane Fun
15 1975 CINCINNATI REDS BIG RED MACHINE Power in Red
16 1979 PGH PIRATES WE ARE FAMILEE Team Closeness
17 2004 BOSTON RED SOX THE IDIOTS An Attitude Thing
18 2005 HOUSTON ASTROS KILLER BEES Bagwell, Biggio

It’s possible that “Hitless No-Wonders” might also have worked for the old AL Nationals by the time they shifted politically to “Senators” as their largely informal, but mistakenly considered by the faraway public as official nickname, but no one apparently thought of it.

No Wonder wins again.

Thanks, guys! And that’s exactly why I needed your help. Three of those names were instantly recognizable as Legends. The other two, the Idiots and Swingers, not so much. Any others that come in will be added as they arrive. If there are any up there that are not so well known to all, in time, we can always edit it down to only those that truly deserve legend shelf status.

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

James Madison Rallies By Weber State, 31-28

December 9, 2017

GO, DUKES, GO!

 

OK, It’s not baseball today, but bear with me. I got into the game on ESPN last evening and over night decided that the writing subject refresher was good for me. In addition, a good friend has a strong connection to James Madison University and I could not ignore the joy she must be feeling this Saturday morning.

The final score was 31-28. Please connect to the original publication site at ESPN for the full report on this FCS Quarterfinals playoff victory by the No. 1 ranked James Madison University Dukes (13-0-0) over the Weber State University Wildcats (11-3-0):

http://www.espn.com/ncf/recap/_/id/401002978

It’s departure from baseball all right, but yet another example of how that “never-give-up” attitude is so often the difference-maker when two clubs in any sport square off with a parity level of talent on either side of the athletic encounter.

The winner will be decided from there by the energy made available by the sporting god muses, a favorable control of the game’s momentum, pot luck, destiny, fate, fan support, and – the not so easy to see quality variable of which-adversary-wants-it-the-most. And that last kicker variable is most often never completely known until the game ends.

When the final bell rang last night, it was James Madison University that had the magic touch.

With a little over two minutes to go in the game, the JMU Dukes trailed the Weber State Wildcats by 28-20. It was the first time this season that James Madison had trailed anyone in the 4th Quarter. The gremlin of defeat and ruin to a perfect season and a denied repeat of their smaller college national championship seemed at hand.

But bad things were not to be for JMU.

With 2:08 on the clock, JMU receiver Riley Stapleton hauled in a 40 yard pass from quarterback Bryan Schor for a touchdown that narrowed the lead of Weber State to 28-26. The Dukes then worked a successful Trai Sharp run for the two-point conversion. Game now tied at 28-28.

The Dukes weren’t done. They moved the ball.

Then, with time left for one play. Dukes kicker Ethan Ratke  connected on a 46 yard field goal as time expired.

James Madison wins, 31-28. Their record goes to 13-0 . They advance in the playoffs. And their players, coaches, and fans go home happy. And their alumni throughout the land get to enjoy an even cheerier Friday.

Congratulations, Peggy Dorrill. You guys deserved it. And earned it. As for the sport product itself, it isn’t baseball, but it’s a whole lot more exciting than anything served up in recent times by the NFL.

Happy James Madison Univ. Alumna
Peggy Dorrill
December 9, 2017

“GOOD LUCK TO THE JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY DUKES” the rest of the way!

Go get that championship!

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Ernie Fazio Passed Away on December 1, 2017

December 7, 2017

Ernie Fazio
1942-2017
Rest in Peace

 

Ernie Fazio Passed Away on December 1, 2017

Obituary Link (Discovered by Darrell Pittman on 12/07/17):

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/eastbaytimes/obituary.aspx?n=ernie-fazio&pid=187451279

When we printed the survivor’s list from the 1962-64 period of the Houston Colt .45s yesterday, Ernie Fazio was one of the first names that came to mind, even before I found it on Darrell Pittman’s list. As the first, or one of the first signees in franchise history, Ernie truly was the size and persona of the guy that Jose Altuve turned out to be, but it just wasn’t meant to be on the field back in 1962. It had to happen 55 years later, almost like a curtain call for the original franchise Phantom of Houston Hope, little Ernie Fazio.

Back then he was here today, gone tomorrow. This year, in our small corner in the Kingdom of Astrosville, Ernie was here for a quick shout out as a survivor. Then we get the news the very next day that he’s gone. Been gone for almost a week. Sort of a sad reminder that sometimes life mirrors the storytelling arts too well.

This time, Ernie Fazio was sort of here yesterday – and now he’s gone for sure today.

But wait a minute! – Ernie stayed until December 1st – and that was exactly 30 days past the date his franchise infield descendant, little big man Jose Altuve, reached down and routinely handled a 4-3 out play that was all Houston needed to complete their safe landing as the World Series Champions of Baseball for the very first time.

Ernie Fazio didn’t leave too soon. He left after seeing the job finally getting done on the field. And in the way it was supposed to happen. With a little spiritual presence, from start to finish, 1962 to 2017, and maybe just helped along all these years by the spirit of one fired up California kid named Ernie Fazio. It was the same spirit that grew within the culture of Astros baseball like a giant wave of energy for finally becoming baseball’s very best. And we may have seen the first cells of that energy wave taking infield at shortstop for the Houston Colt .45s back in the spring of 1962.

His name was Ernie Fazio.

As you read Ernie’s Obituary, stay open to the clues it provides about the man who may have been the “Italian Leprechaun” – the deep in the shadows of history human talisman behind our survival from all the heart-breakers we’ve seen over the past 55 years to this permanent moment of perpetual bliss – no matter what’s next on the playing fields of baseball.

 Addendum Contribution: “Ernie Fazio’s Only Baseball Card”

Colleague and contributor Mark Wernick summed it up well when he e-mailed this little strip of advertising cardboard from 1962 to The Pecan Park Eagle on the day following this column’s publication on the almost mythical memories that some of us carry for early brief time Colt .45 original, Ernie Fazio. As Mark Wernick put it, this Pepsi ad was as close as Ernie Fazio ever came to having his own baseball card, but even then, Mark grade couldn’t help but upgrade the attribution just a tad. What Wernick wrote in his item-conveyance e-mail subject line was “Ernie Fazio’s only baseball card.” In the content section of the e-mail. there were no further words. Just the nearby attached Pepsi ad strip. Mark understood that no further explanation was needed here. Thank you for this important contribution to our all too brief Eddie Fazio article.

The Ernie Fazio Obituary

Ernie Fazio
Jan 25, 1942 – Dec. 1, 2017
Danville CA

Ernest Joseph Fazio, also known as “The Faz” passed away at the age of 75. Ernie battled dementia and Parkinson’s for several years and his loving family fought with him until the end. He is survived by his wife Kathleen of 34 years, daughter Amy (husband Nick Vella), stepsons Todd and Stephen Malone (wife Samara), and grandchildren Nicco and Alivia Vella and Aiden Malone.

Ernie was born and raised in San Leandro, CA, the son of Angelina and Ernie Fazio. He was known for his many athletic accomplishments and was inducted into the Saint Elizabeth High School Hall of Fame in 2014. After high school, Ernie received a scholarship to play baseball for Santa Clara University where he as All-American, All District, All Tournament and All CIBA. In 1962, immediately following the championship game of the NCAA World Series, Ernie was the first player to sign for Houston’s Major League Baseball team, the Colt .45s.

Ernie had a larger than life personality and dearly loved his family, friends, and community. He took much pride in raising his daughter and stepsons, coaching youth athletic teams and simply lived life to the fullest. There was never a dull moment when you were with The Faz.

A funeral service in memory of Ernie will be held on Friday, Dec. 15th at Saint Isidore Church in Danville at 10:30 am. A celebration of Ernie’s life will follow at Forli Ristorante in Alamo.

In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to your favorite charity.

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Surviving Houston Colt .45s Down to Last 37

December 7, 2017

Colt Stadium
Houston, Texas
1962-1964
***************
Only Home of the Houston Colt .45s

 

Surviving Houston Colt .45s Down to Last 37

By

Darrell Pittman

Thanks to our caring, giving friend and colleague, Darrell Pittman of Astros Daily, The Pecan Park Eagle is both proud and humbled tonight to report that 38 players from our 1962-64 Houston MLB franchise days – and at a time in which the club played as the Colt .45s – have survived long enough to see the rising and setting of the sun on this day, Wednesday, December 6, 2017. At age 92, lefty Bobby Shantz, the guy that threw the first pitch in official franchise game history, also recording the first regular season club win in the process, is the oldest. 71 year old Larry Dierker, who broke into things as the starting pitcher for the Colt .45s on his 18th birthday in 1964, striking out Willie Mays as part of the work he did that day, is the youngest member of the club.

How fitting!  Thanks to this happy surprise gift from Professor Pittman, we may now all take the time here to soak in all these familiar and less familiar names of the guys who laid the foundation for our Houston monument of baseball achievement, one that wouldn’t see the penthouse finished and lighting up until 2017, with our deepest reflections of thanks and appreciation.

And that’s what the comment section is really intended for in this instance.

Thanks to you too, Darrell Pittman. And thank you, Houston Colt .45s, for making the older edges of being a lifelong fan a little easier on the slide into our elder years a whole lot smoother – and one that comes with an unforgettable supply of smiles and happy memories.

~ Bill McCurdy, Publisher, The Pecan Park Eagle

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

Surviving Members of the Original Houston Colt .45s

By Darrell Pittman

Rank by Age Player Houston Years Birth date Age in 2017
1 Bobby Shantz 1962 9/26/1925 92
2 Don Larsen 1964-65 8/7/1929 88
3 Bob Lillis 1962-67 6/2/1930 87
4 Román Mejias 1962 8/9/1930 87
5 Dean Stone 1962 9/1/1930 87
6 Hal Smith 1962-63 12/7/1930 87
7 Don Taussig 1962 2/19/1932 85
8 Eddie Kasko 1964-65 6/27/1932 85
9 Carroll Hardy 1963-64 5/18/1933 84
10 Dave Roberts 1962, 1964 6/30/1933 84
11 Al Spangler 1962-65 7/8/1933 84
12 Jim Owens 1964-67 1/16/1934 83
13 Joey Amalfitano 1962 1/23/1934 83
14 J C Hartman 1962-63 4/15/1934 83
15 Don Bradey 1964 10/4/1934 83
16 Jim Golden 1962-63 3/20/1936 81
17 Joe Gaines 1964-66 11/22/1936 81
18 Carl Warwick 1962-63 2/27/1937 80
19 Claude Raymond 1964-67 5/7/1937 80
20 Jim Campbell 1962-63 6/24/1937 80
21 Jim Dickson 1963 4/20/1938 79
22 Bob Aspromonte 1962-68 6/19/1938 79
23 Mike White 1963-65 12/18/1938 79
24 Dave Giusti 1962, 1964-68 11/27/1939 78
Ernie Fazio * 1962-63
25 Jim Wynn 1963-73 3/12/1942 75
26 Danny Coombs 1963-69 3/23/1942 75
27 Conrad Cardinal 1963 3/30/1942 75
28 Aaron Pointer 1963, 1966-67 4/19/1942 75
29 Jerry Grote 1963-64 10/6/1942 75
30 Larry Yellen 1963-64 1/4/1943 74
31 Joe Morgan 1963-71, 1980 9/19/1943 74
32 Brock Davis 1963-64, 1966 10/19/1943 74
33 Rusty Staub 1963-68 4/1/1944 73
34 Sonny Jackson 1963-67 7/9/1944 73
35 John Paciorek 1963 2/11/1945 72
36 Steve Hertz 1964 2/26/1945 72
37 Larry Dierker 1964-76 9/22/1946 71

 

* Note: Players for the Houston Club when it was known as the Colt .45s were on the roster at some time during the three original National League entry seasons of 1962, 1963, or 1964. Players in the table which are shown with Houston beyond 1964 are simply those who continued with the club after their named changed to “Astros” in 1965. Pure “Astro” players who only joined the club after the name change are not included in this list.

* Fazio Note: After publishing this column yesterday, 12/06/17, we have learned today, again, via Darrell Pittman, that Ernie Fazio passed away on 12/01/17 from complications resulting from Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease. The fact of his death at this moment has even yet to reach Baseball Reference.com. Here’s a link to the obituary that Mr. Darrell Pittman once again has supplied to us:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/eastbaytimes/obituary.aspx?n=ernie-fazio&pid=187451279

We also plan to run the Fazio obituary as a separate reprint column in The Pecan Park Eagle jsut as soo as I can get to it.

Rest in Peace, Ernie Fazio!

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

You Can’t Go Winning in a Baseball Pool

December 6, 2017

a real baseball pool

 

Baseball Pool. – C&W singer and song composer Roger Miller made the phrase famous when he once upon a time (when we were young) sang to all of us young pups of the early 1960s to remember that “you can’t go swimming in a baseball pool.” After the National League player draft of 1961, we fans of the new Colt .45s and Mets got to find out in 1962 – also – that “you can’t go winning in a baseball pool” either. Makes you wonder how we might have matched up against a team of roller-skating buffaloes had they been on the schedule back in 1962?

News received yesterday of short term original baseball pool draftee Dick Gernert’s recent death stirred questions in my own mind overnight about the survivorship of all the Houston Colt .45s who were picked up from the October 10, 1961 baseball pool of talent made available to the two newbie clubs by the eight established NL teams.

Here’s the research result in tabular form, based upon what could be gleamed from Wikipedia and Baseball Reference.com in quick time:

The Houston Colt .45 Selections in the October 10, 1961 NL Baseball Pool

PICK # PLAYERS/BY VALUE POS. FROM HOU TIME DEAD/ALIVE
$75,000 EACH BELOW
1 EDDIE BRESSOUD IF SFG 0 (FN1) AGE 85
3 BOB ASPROMONTE IF LAD 1962-68 AGE 79
5 BOB LILLIS IF SLC 1962-67 AGE 87
7 DICK DROTT P CC 1962-63 DIED: 08/16/85
9 AL HEIST OF CC 1962 DIED: 10/02/06
11 ROMAN MEJIAS OF PGH 1962 AGE 87
13 GEORGE WILLIAMS IF PHI 1962 DIED: 05/14/09
15 JESSE HICKMAN P PHI 0 (FN 2) AGE 78
17 MERRITT RANEW C MIL 1962 DIED: 10/18/11
19 DON TAUSSIG OF SLC 1962 AGE 85
21 BOBBY SHANTZ P PGH 1962 AGE 92
23 NORM LARKER 1B LAD 1962 DIED: 03/12/07
25 SAM JONES P SFG 0 (FN 3) DIED: 11/05/71
27 PAUL ROOF P MIL 0 Age 75
29 KEN JOHNSON P CIN 1962-65 DIED: 11/21/15
31 DICK GERNERT 1B CIN 1962 DIED: 11/30/17
$50,000 EACH BELOW
33 ED OLIVARES IF SLC 0 AGE 79
35 JIM UMBRICHT P PGH 1962-63 DIED: 04/08/64
37 JIM GOLDEN P LAD 1962-63 AGE 81
$125,000 EACH BELOW
38 JOE AMALFITANO IF SFG 1962 AGE 83
40 TURK FARRELL P LAD 1962-67 DIED: 06/10/77
42 HAL SMITH C PGH 1962-63 AGE 87
44 AL SPANGLER OF MIL 1962-64 AGE 84

FN1: 11/26/1961. Eddie Bressoud traded to Red Sox for SS Don Buddin.

FN2: 06/04/65. Never played for Houston, but the club controlled his contract until he was traded to Kansas City with a “player to be named later” on this much later date for Jim Gentile.

FN3: 12/01/61. Traded to Detroit for Bob Bruce and Manny Montejo

General Findings:

1) Of the 23 players selected by Houston, 14 are still living and 9 are dead.

2) 18 of the draftees actually played some time for Houston; 5 did not.

3) Bob Aspromonte’s 7 Houston seasons (1962-68) is the longest tenure period for all baseball pool roster players.

Note: No attempt was made here to track the record or survivorship of players acquired in subsequent trades for any of the draftees.

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

The Darrell Pittman Contribution Here. It’s happened again. Working on his own, friend and colleague Darrell Pittman was also moved by the death of Dick Gernert to come up with a quick count tally on how many former Houston Colt .45s/Astros players were lost to death in 2017. Thanks for the timely contribution to a subject that’s always with us, Darrell. Your own chart will stand here as our sign out salute to the big scoreboard that never takes a break:

Houston MLB Franchise Deaths for 2017

“It’s been a rough year, and it’s not over.” – Darrell Pittman

Name Birth Death Seasons Played for Houston Player page
Bob Bruce 5/16/1933 3/15/2017 1962-66 http://astrosdaily.com/players/Bruce_Bob.html
Bob Cerv 5/5/1925 4/6/2017 1962 http://astrosdaily.com/players/Cerv_Bob.html
Anthony Young 1/19/1966 6/27/2017 1996 http://astrosdaily.com/players/Young_Anthony.html
Lee May 3/24/1943 7/29/2017 1972-74 http://astrosdaily.com/players/May_Lee.html
Danny Walton 7/14/1947 8/9/2017 1977 http://astrosdaily.com/players/Walton_Danny.html
Jim Landis 3/9/1934 10/7/2017 1967 http://astrosdaily.com/players/Landis_Jim.html
Ross Powell 1/24/1968 10/25/2017 1994-95 http://astrosdaily.com/players/Powell_Ross.html
Dick Gernert 9/28/1928 11/30/2017 1962 http://astrosdaily.com/players/Gernert_Dick.html

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle