Houston Sports Poll: Influence or Expectation?

July 17, 2018

Dashaun Watson is No. 1 Pick in 2018 Poll That Alleges Him To Now Be the Most “Influential” Houston Sports Figure.

DALE ROBERTSON’S 10 MOST INFLUENTIAL 2018 HOUSTON SPORTS PEOPLE

(All of the tabular information shown here, plus all of his previous six year rankings, from 2012 thru 2018 were published in Sunday’s July 15, 2018 Houston Chronicle.) ~

The 2018 List

Rank Name Role Club Level
1 Deshaun Watson QB Texans NFL
2 Jim Crane Owner Astros MLB
3 Jeff Luhnow GM Astros MLB
4 Jose Altuve 2B Astros MLB
5t James Harden MVP Rockets NBA
5t Chris Paul Guard Rockets NBA
5t Daryl Morey GM Rockets NBA
8 Justin Verlander Pitcher Astros MLB
9 J.J. Watt Defense Texans NFL
10 Ed Oliver Defense Cougars NCAA

Impressions

People who control the money and the flow of resources that produce championships ~ and people who devise long-term plans that actually result in championships ~ each share a common bond among fans and the media. Nobody really hangs their hats of hope on requests for patience and time to prove the efficacy of whatever they happen to be doing. Then ~ once in silvery orange-blue moon ~ along comes a logistics savant owner like Jim Crane and a baseball genius like Jeff Luhnow and it’s like the baseball gods left the locks off the doors at their hall of baseball cookie miracles.  ~ The result? ~ Here’s your baseball miracle as promised, Houston! ~ Delivered on time, as promised three years earlier, here are your 2017 World Series Champions!

That isn’t the stuff that gets you the number one spot with Dale Robertson. Robertson is listening to the Houston fan heartbeat for great expectation, and, as much as I hate to say it, but have to admit it, Dale is sniffing football, and mainly NFL football, most of the time at the top spot. In the seven seasons that Dale Robertson has been doing these rankings, he’s picked someone from the Texans five times as his number one ranking figure.

Here’s the tabular rundown on # 1 picks:

ROBERTSON #1 RANKED HOUSTON PEOPLE: 2012-2018 

YEAR RANKED #1 ROLE CLUB LEVEL
2012 Wade Phillips Def. Coach Texans NFL
2013 Dwight Howard Player/Center Rockets NBA
2014 Bill O’Brien Head Coach Texans NFL
2015 J.J. Watt Player/Defense Texans NFL
2016 Brock Osweiler Player/QB Texans NFL
2017 Dallas Keuchel Player/Pitcher Astros MLB
2018 Deshaun Watson Player/QB Texans NFL

 

This movie title in a film featuring an earlier Dale Robertson stands well as a headline in a year following a poll when someone other than a Texan was picked for the top spot.

As a matter of fact, it’s a title that works well pretty much any year for describing the #1 pick as most “influential” sports figure in Houston in July, when the appetites of those awaiting the forthcoming NFL season are frothing at the mouth for a QB who comes along and fulfills the “great expectation” of Houston winning a Super Bowl.

Oh yes, making the world forget about Tom Brady in the process also wouldn’t be frowned upon by Houston Texan movers and shakers and other local NFL Joes. 

  • see the “Editor’s Footnote at the end of this column.

About that seasonal help to the poll when the picks are made in July. Some of Dale’s picks may have been helped by the seasonal impact of when lists were made. By July of each year, Houston basketball fans are usually too busy digesting their still recent disappointments to build any new peak expectations for next year. Although, based upon Dale Robertson’s approach ~ and had the Rockets signed LeBron James, it’s easy to see King James pushing Dr. Watson back to the #2 hole in 2018, with no arguments from anyone, but that’s not what happened. And, here we are, at the time of year when we Houston baseball fans are too busy exchanging our fantasy hope for the reality of watching the defending World Champs play ball.

And that leaves the large legion of Houston football fans, many of whom happen to be crossover all Houston sport team fans, where the bait is still the player who can drag his tail in the water like a silver spoon flipper and lure the masses of football fan fishers in numbers through the stadium game dates in the fall.

This year, the heroic Deshaun Watson is the QB of allure. A couple of years ago, it was the forgettable Brock Osweiler.  Is Watson for real? He could be, but all we know for sure is that he will have to do more than share time with J.J. Watt and “Scott the Marketing Man” ~ making TV commercials for HEB ~ before Houston has its latest great expectation either finally realized or crushed again.

As one who has been reading Dale Robertson since the time he was roughed up by former Oilers QB Dan Pastorini in an interview that ran into sensitive ground at a tough moment in the season a thousand weeks ago, I already believe that he’s a much bigger football and tennis fan than he seems to be of baseball, but he keeps on trying to cover all the bases that go with his job. ~ I give him lots of credit for his durability, even when I do not agree with his conclusions in this set of rankings for the wrong reason.

That being said, I think we disagree mainly because we interpret the word “influence” differently.

“Influence” always translates to me as “power” and, in that regard, there are no others on this list with more “power” over the fortunes of the three Houston big sport teams than Masseurs Crane, Fertitta, and McNair. That is why I personally would have chosen Jim Crane as my #1 pick in 2018. Crane is the guy who used his power to set up the ground for optimal on-term success in Houston baseball.- How did that work out? And how could it have worked at all, had Crane’s ego needed to take more direct credit for all that Jeff Luhnow did? On the other hand, if we are talking about the “specific influence” of one being able to attract fans by great expectation, it is almost always going to be a player or head coach or field manager that takes the #1 spot. And, most of the time, a magical and talented new QB for the Texans is going to stir up our NFL crazy fans to the Great Expectation (GE) of a Super Bowl ride. – Viewed in that hungry light, I would have to agree with Robertson’s pick of Watson for the top spot as the “GE” giant influence upon that large group of Houston crossover sports fans. Only LeBron James could have beaten Deshaun Watson in Houston from this point in 2018 going forward from mid-July.

Hang in there, Dale Robertson. Maybe Deshaun Watson will finally come through as your cash cow pick.

  • Editor’s Foot Note: Thank you, Tom Hunter, for setting in motion the serendipity that spread from your reminder to me that there once was a Grade B movie actor, also named Dale Robertson, that once starred in a movie entitled “Return of the Texan”. Due credit is all yours that it lead me to find the movie poster for that less than august film that served here as a visual guide to the extra comments included  in conjunction with the movie poster’s use here as a result.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Memories of Loel Passe

July 16, 2018

“HOT ZIGGITY DOG ~ AND GOOD OLD SASAFRAS TEA! ~ HOLD ON, FOLKS!”

THE BUFFS/COLTS/ASTROS MAY STILL BE DOWN BY 8 IN THE 7TH, BUT….

THAT BUNT SINGLE MAY AS WELL BE A TRUMPET ~ BLOWIN’ CLEAR ….

…. WE AIN’T DEAD YET!!!”

LOEL PASSE
Houston Buffs Radio Broadcaster, 1950-1961;
Houston MLB Broadcaster, 1962-1976.

“NOW YOU GOIN’, GANG!!!!”

Thank You, Darrell Pittman, for finding and submitting this article for note and credit to Jim Bishop and the Victoria Advocate for their earlier publication on July 20, 1997. Large parts of Houston Baseball history would otherwise be lost were it not for writers like Jim Bishop and this also history-energized South Texas newspaper.

Yeah, we know. The print was a little small, but if you knew, or remember Loel as a broadcaster, we hope it will be worth the squint. Loel was one of the lights that filled in the landscape before we even came close to the level that now fills the house of the current World Champions, the 2017 Houston Astros.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Hero of the 1950 All Star Game

July 15, 2018

Red Schoendienst and Bill McCurdy (L)
Cardinals Club Suite
Busch Stadium II
May 1998

In that limited time I had with Red Schoendienst

In the limited time I had with Red Schoendienst in the Cardinals Suite back in 1998, I was able to tell him how his 14th inning NL game-winning home run in the 14th inning back in the 1950 All Star Game made our entire little Houston sandlot team happy. Red answered my news with a patient smile and a two-pat light slap on the shoulder. All I needed to hear could be seen in the sincerity of the man’s eyes.

That 1950 All Star Game, which we could only “watch” over the radio in Houston during those pre-television days, kept us tied to our home radios for most of the afternoon. And when it was done, we all had some welcome steam to play us away into the darkness of a later than usual stopping point.

The 1950 All-Star Game

(Excerpted precisely from Baseball Almanac.Com)

As the All-Star game entered its third decade, the National League was tired of being baseball’s perennial loser. Trailing 12-4 in All-Star Games and losing the three previous World Series, the National League did not have the fans or American League players respect anymore.

Inspired by their poor showing in the previous decades, the National League resolved to make this year different. The 1950 All-Star Game turned out to be the first to go into extra innings, featured two dramatic home runs and produced some of the finest All-Star pitching ever. As usual, the American League was leading (3-2) in the top of the ninth. Then, Ralph Kiner led off with a long home run that tied the score and set the stage for a three-inning pitchers’ duel.

Larry Jansen pitched for the National League into the eleventh inning while giving up one hit in five innings. Allie Reynolds matched him, taking the American League into the twelfth and giving up one hit over three innings. Pitcher Ted Gray took over for the American League in the thirteenth and maintained the status quo. In the fourteenth, however, the National League fired another leadoff rocket off the bat of Red Schoendienst. He was an unlikely hero as he had sat for ten innings while Jackie Robinson played second. Entering the game defensively in the eleventh, Schoendienst stepped up in the fourteenth and homered into the left-field stands. Even more disheartening was the American League loss of Ted Williams. While making a running catch of a Kiner drive in the first inning, he ran into the wall and broke his elbow. He stayed in the game, visibly injured, and went one-for-four. Later he underwent surgery and didn’t play again until September 15. The National League had gone the distance and made a statement. Finally, they had established a momentum that would last for several years.

1950 All-Star Game1950 All-Star Game Program
1950 All-Star Game Official Program

Game Number

17

Date / Box Score

07-11-1950

Location

Comiskey Park

Attendance (Rank)

46,127

1st Pitch

Connie Mack

M.V.P. Award

Not Awarded Until 1962

Starting Pitchers

Vic Raschi

Robin Roberts

Managers

Casey Stengel

Burt Shotton

Coaches

Frankie Crosetti

Jake Pitler

Bill Dickey

Milt Stock

 

1950 All-Star GameLine Score

League

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 R H E

National

0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 10 0

American

0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 8 1

Robin Roberts
Don Newcombe (4th)
Jim Konstanty (6th)
Larry Jansen (7th)
Ewell Blackwell (W, 12)

Vic Raschi
   Bob Lemon (4th)
Art Houtteman (7th)
Allie Reynolds (10th)
Ted Gray (L, 13th)
Bob Feller (14th)

Ralph Kiner (9th)
Red Schoendienst (14th)

None

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Houston Baseball Affinity History Notes

15-16 years later, NL right hander Robin Roberts would start and win 8 games for the 1965-66 Houston Astros. … NL shortstop Marty Marion would earlier serve as principal owner and President of the last group to own and run the minor league Houston Buffs from 1959 to 1961 over the last three years prior to the city’s emergence as a 1962 NL expansion club.

The Schoendienst eventual game-winning homer in the top of the 14th at Comiskey Park during the afternoon of the 1950 All Star Game gave the spirit of the Pecan Park Eagles an extra boost as we went into afternoon sandlot competition a little later than usual.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Houston ’98: Stadium Work on Schedule

July 14, 2018

Excerpt from the Victoria (TX) Advocate, July 24, 1998:

As the Astros sign to remain in Minute Maid Park through 2050, here’s another timely historical contribution by the always keen researching mind that is Darrell Pittman.

 

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

“Chairman of the Bored” No More

July 13, 2018

Jack Strider Thriller #1
2012

 

Jack Strider Thriller #2
2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand New 2018
Jack Strider Thriller #3

Before we talk a little more about Jack Strider, I feel compelled to write a little about his Victor Frankenstein, author Rob Sangster. A cautionary note: As a fictional character of great genius for sniffing out some of the most intelligently malevolent villains on earth and then beating them to the punch on their various designs for an exploding world of tumbling egos, Jack Strider is only a monster in his capacity for toppling the giants of evil with great intellect and whatever else it selectively takes each time with great panache.

SANGSTER 5 CLOSE UP

Rob Sangster Today

Rob Sangster, even at this point in our lives, is still one of my favorite grounding wires to what’s really important in life when it comes to how we spend our time and energies, as I hope this little example will demonstrate.

It was an afternoon class in Latin IV in the spring of 1956. We had no AC back then and fully open windows were not helping much. Sitting side by side near the back of Father Sheehan’s class, Rob was busy sketching something – while I was occupied with working on an update of the Houston Buffs’ team stats. When I looked over to see what Rob was creating, he held his work high enough for me to see. It was a board room scene. A lot of “Z”s were flying through the air. An arrow pointed to the man sleeping at the head table position. An identifying script described him as “Chairman of the Bored.”

Then, looking over, Rob shot me a quick smile as his right hand index finger pointed first to the sketched bored chairman –  and then his right thumb gave the hitch-hike sign to himself. I was able to respond with a mime’s version of “me too.”

Enough said.

There is nothing boring about Jack Strider and his small crew of very with-it human super heroes. Each of the three books in this series features Debra Vanderberg as Jack’s law partner and “very significant other” and Gano LeMoine as his ongoing supportive man Friday, air pilot, tail gunner and purveyor of all necessary skullduggery.

It isn’t necessary to have read all three Jack Strider adventures in a row to enjoy any of the three stories. They will all sweep you up for the most exciting ride you’ve ever taken by the printed word because – Rob Sangster is the best action/adventure/thriller writer in the world today.

In fact, whenever “No Return” becomes a big screen movie, the visual producers will be hard-pressed to concoct an opening scene that plays out as shockingly as the one that kicks off the one you are about to read and live through in print form.

SANGSTER 4 FULL FOTO

Rob Sangster was not born with a mind and spirit to over-live its spark in board rooms.

About the Jack Strider Series. “Rob Sangster’s first Strider novel, Ground Truth, was #1 on Amazon Kindle. His second, Deep Time, 2017 Epic Award for best suspense/thriller of the new year. A Stanford lawyer with experience in finance, politics, and public service, he’s an avid sailor who has travelled in more than 100 countries. Rob and his mystery writer wife divide their time between homes in Tennessee and on the wild coast of Bova Scotia.”

A Very Small Footnote: A new Strider figure makes his debut as a fictional character in “No Return”. And his name is …. whoops …. Bill McCurdy.

SANGSTER-MCCURDY

STRONG? …. GOOD SHAPE? …. TAKING ON DESK JOCKEYS IN GUN FIGHTS? …. YEP! …. THAT’S ME ALL RIGHT!

Please forgive my inner smile as I read and witness my own fictional character getting rapidly into more trouble than even these few lines can – or – should – reveal out of full context with a story that is altogether brilliant, dynamic, and fast moving. In my case, my fictional life turns out to be far more romantic and incredibly inter-woven into a larger darker plan than my pleasant easygoing reality could ever hope to abide.

If you like to run your adrenalin juices through a credible reality escape story, however, you should enjoy “No Return” as much as you did the first two Tales of Strider! And if this is your first Sangster read, be prepared to want more when you’re done here.

Nobody today does this genre better than Rob Sangster. ~ Nobody.

This tsunami of credible terror has been brewing since Rob Sangster was “Chairman of the Bored” back in our St. Thomas High School days.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Manifest Destiny Redefined

July 12, 2018

 

 

Wednesday, Wednesday, July 11, 2018: “Manifest Destiny” by fine artist Opie Otterstad nears completion for its grand display at Minute Maid Park.

Remember the night all our ancient Houston Baseball Dreams came true? It was a starry, starry night in Los Angeles on November 1, 2017. The Houston Astros had just defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven game World Series as the the 4-3 play from Altuve to Gurriel drove the final nail into the heart of  all there was to any remaining blue hope as the final play.

A half second later, the scene depicted in “Manifest Destiny” cut loose, winding itself forever into our Houston psyche in so many similar and diverse ways. Houston baseball destiny had finally done it, sailing far above – and far over – the glorious rainbows of our own creation.

We may have still been “strangers in a strange land” emotionally – as far as the business of Houston and World Series victory were concerned – but now we had all the time in the world to get over that limited and forever from this day forth refuted limited perception of ourselves. All had now changed forever. And our challenge as Houstonians is to give everything right, loving, passionate, and creative we now do our best effort for as long as we draw the breath of life.

The 2017 Houston Astros are now the World Series Champions of Baseball – and in serious contention for a repeated crown in 2018. As fans of our local teams – and as industrious survivors of “Harvey” – we are Houston.

Being all he could be as Astros manager AJ Hinch’s bench coach in 2017 got Alex Cora the job of manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2018. That seems to be working out pretty well for him.

“Houston Strong” needs to thrive as a way of life, even when we are not working together to survive the immediate threat of a weather crisis. And our job is to give everything we do our best effort for as long as we live.

As a fiery phrase, Manifest Destiny gained popularity in 1845 from its use by journalist John L. O’Sullivan, who used the term to strongly advocate the annexation of Texas and Oregon into the Union, and in great alignment to the principles put forth earlier in the Monroe Doctrine.

Opie Otterstad has done well to choose Manifest Destiny for his title on the work that now, soon, and forever lives in glorious visible testament to that greatest moment in the history of Houston and Houston Astros joy. Houston is now free of a 55-year separation from its ultimate goal. The Houston Astros are – now and forever – the 2017 World Series Champions of the baseball world. And now we have tasted baseball goals accomplished to their point of highest completion. Our manifest destiny for this attainment has been harvested and tasted.

That painting is the picture of the very first delicious bite.

I also like the idea that our big World Series moment in Los Angeles on the night of November 1, 2017 also personifies our “manifest destiny” as individuals to simply live our lives to the fullest while we’re still here. And if we are not doing things in the name of love, to realize that we are missing out on our greatest possible personal destiny we could ever engage.

We need to be – all that we can be – and never settle for less. We all can’t be – or need to be – Jose Altuve. We just need to be all of who we are – and nothing less.

Thank you, Houston Astros and artist Opie Otterstad – for showing all of us both the way – and the light that shines forth from those paving the road.

Godspeed.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

July 11, 2018

Darrell Pittman

The following item was found in the July 19. 1896 edition of the Houston Daily Post by crack baseball researcher Darrell Pittman and donated for our notation and use in The Pecan Park Eagle:

**********

BUYING A HOME RUN

A Spot Cash Offer with a Quick Delivery of Goods

**********

There was a great deal of life in the grand stand yesterday. Of course, the people of Houston were interested in the home team and each successive play of advantage made by the Buffaloes was loudly applauded. Kline’s home run raised a howl of delight from them all, but when little Charlie Becker put it over the fence two separate times, the applause was deafening. Everybody went wild. Paris did not seem to have an admirer in a hundred yards of the plate. But they did, nevertheless.

There was a party of traveling men grouped in one corner of the grand stand. The traveler is always on the side of the stranger in a strange town. He is a stranger himself and always believes he gets the worst of it, but he don’t, and so this aggregation of good-natured drummers began to root for the visitors. Every good play made by the Midlands was given a good strong hand.

In the fifth inning, Payne and Mulkey were on bases (for Houston). Van Dresser had struck out and Cathey came to the stick. “Five dollars for a home run,” called out one of the drummers. Cathey tried to make it, but he only hit to Kline. He got first, however, filling the bases.

When Zeis walked up to the plate, stick in hand, the drummer raised his bet: “Seven dollars for a home run.” It looked like it would be a safe proposition as Zeis had two strikes on him but he got an easy one. He caught on the nose and lifted it above the heads of the scattered ballplayers Barker went back to the fence to pull it in, but he couldn’t. It lifted a little, made a down shoot, and dropped just without the enclosure.

Zeis had called the bet.

He had an easy walk around and then went to the grand stand. Of course, the drummers put up. They made the proposition and when they were called, showed their hands. They “went south”, as the expression goes and “dug up the coin.” It was unexpected to them. They were trying to enthuse matters. They did.

After the home run they quieted down and mentally figured the profits as Ivory soap and groceries from Marlin and Galveston. Will Richards, a prominent traveling man who makes Houston his headquarters and roots for the Buffaloes then went after them. He brought about forty small boys into the grand stand and they made life miserable for those (Houston-foreign) drummers.

There probably will be no more cash offers for spot home runs. The delivery is too sudden.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Shrine of the Eternals 2018 Induction Day

July 11, 2018

 

The Baseball Reliquary Presents

Shrine of the Eternals 2018 Induction Day

Date & Time: Sunday, July 22, 2018, 2:00 p.m.

Location: Donald R. Wright Auditorium, Pasadena Central Library Address: 285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, California

Information: (626) 791-7647 or terymar@earthlink.net

The Baseball Reliquary will present the 2018 Induction Day ceremony for its 20th class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals on Sunday, July 22, 2018, beginning at 2:00 p.m., at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, California. Doors to the auditorium will open at 1:30 p.m. Admission is open to the public and free of charge, with seating on a first come, first served basis. The inductees will be Nancy Faust, Rusty Staub, and Tommy John. The Keynote Address will be delivered by Dan Epstein. In addition, the Baseball Reliquary will honor the recipients of the 2018 Hilda Award, Bart Wilhelm, and the 2018 Tony Salin Memorial Award, Ross Altman. Former Shrine of the Eternals inductee Ted Giannoulas (aka the San Diego Chicken) will make a special appearance.

Following is a brief preview of the afternoon’s festivities:

The program will commence with an Induction Day tradition: the ceremonial bell ringing in memory of the late Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester; everyone who attends is encouraged to bring a bell to ring for this much-anticipated sonic cacophony. The National Anthem will be performed by NANCY FAUST on the Hammond B3 organ.

HILDA CHESTER
The Brooklyn Bell Girl Fan

The first presentation will be the Hilda Award, established in memory of legendary Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester to recognize distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan. The 2018 recipient, BART WILHELM has, since his first visit to Tiger Stadium in 1984, attended over 1,100 games in 270 different professional ballparks. The second presentation will be the Tony Salin Memorial Award, named in memory of the late baseball author and historian, and established to recognize individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history. The 2018 recipient, ROSS ALTMAN has, over the past thirty years, composed and performed musical tributes to many heroes of the national pastime, ranging from Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Sandy Koufax to Shrine of the Eternals inductees Jackie Robinson, Jimmy Piersall, and Steve Bilko.

TED GIANNOULAS
aka
The San Diego Chicken

 

Following the award presentations, the 2018 Keynote Address will be delivered by DAN EPSTEIN, a Chicago-based journalist, historian, and raconteur. Epstein is the author of the acclaimed baseball books Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ‘70s and Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76, both of which examine baseball’s most colorful and tumultuous decade and its overlap with American popular culture. Following the Keynote Address, 2011 Shrine inductee TED GIANNOULAS (aka THE SAN DIEGO CHICKEN) will offer his comments in celebration of the 20th anniversary festivities of the Shrine of the Eternals.

NANCY FAUST

The 2018 inductions will lead off with NANCY FAUST, the most famous ballpark organist of the past half-century, who entertained Chicago White Sox fans at Comiskey Park between 1970 and 2010. Following her acceptance remarks, Faust will play a musical selection on her Hammond B3 organ. Her induction will be introduced by MIKE DOWNEY, an award-winning newspaper columnist who has written for the Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Daily News, Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicago Tribune.

RUSTY STAUB IN HIS HALCYON NEW YORK TIMES 

The second inductee, the much-beloved RUSTY STAUB (1944-2018), was one of the outstanding hitters in baseball. When he retired after the 1985 season, he had played for 23 years and is the only player in baseball history to have 500 hits with four different teams.

RUSTY STAUB
As a 1963 Houston Rookie Hope

We would be remiss not to mention that Rusty Staub was the original rookie star of hope for the new Houston NL franchise (1963-68) and that his departure from the Astros via the infamous commissioner-forced completion trade to the Montreal Expos prior to the 1969 season lives on as a nightmare memory of historic regret for surviving long-of-tooth-and-term Houston fans.

After retiring as a player, Staub worked as a broadcaster for the Mets, opened a successful New York restaurant, and established two foundations to raise funds for charitable and humanitarian purposes. Staub’s induction will be accepted by his sister, SALLY JOHNSTON, on behalf of the Staub family. His induction will be introduced by ALBERT KILCHESTY, the Baseball Reliquary’s Historian and Archivist.

TOMMY JOHN

The third inductee is TOMMY JOHN, who won 288 games over a 26-year career, notched 20 victories in a season three times, appeared in three World Series, was named to four All-Star teams, finished in the top eight for the Cy Young Award four times, and – through his courageous example – is responsible for a surgical procedure that has now prolonged the careers of countless pitchers and position players. John will be introduced by his son, DR. TOMMY JOHN III, a chiropractor and sports performance and healing specialist, and author of the recently-published book Minimize Injury, Maximize Performance: A Sports Parent’s Survival Guide.

Free parking is available in the University of Phoenix underground parking structure, which is located just north of the Pasadena Central Library on the corner of Garfield Avenue and Corson Street. The entrance to the parking structure is on Garfield.

Before and after the ceremony, we invite you to visit the Baseball Reliquary exhibition, Shrine @ 20, which is being presented through July 30 in the display cases in the North Entrance, Humanities Wing, and Business Wing of the Pasadena Central Library. Included in the exhibition are all 57 Shrine of the Eternals inductee plaques from 1999-2017.

TOMMY JOHN
and
THE CHICKEN

For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by phone at (626) 791- 7647 or by e-mail at terymar@earthlink.net. The 2018 Induction Day is cosponsored by the Pasadena Public Library and is made possible, in part, by a grant to the Baseball Reliquary from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

# # # #

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Rest In Peace, Joe Hardy

July 10, 2018

Rest In Peace

JOE HARDY

Born: July 11, 1931 in Hannibal MO

Died: July 09, 2018 in Bethesda, MD

Age: 86, 2 Days Shy of 87th Birthday.

Batted: Right ~ Threw: Right

Height: 6’1” ~ Weight: 185

Position: Center Field

Major League Batting Record, One Season ~ Washington Senators:

AGE YEAR G AB R H RBI
23 1954 100 423 105 178 122
2B 3B HR BB SO HP CI SB BA
57 11 59 76 1 12 4 23 .421

Shoeless Joe ~ He ain’t, no mo!

The legendary Joe Hardy passed away at his home in Bethesda, MD earlier today from apparently “natural” causes. In so doing, his death turns out to be about the only observable thing that has come about naturally from Joe before our curious eyes during his lifetime in the Washington DC area.

Are you old enough to remember the 1954 season? That was the year that the Cleveland Indians played most of the AL season as the heir apparent to the benefits now befalling to another good team as a result of an age crack that seemed to be opening up in the five-year (1949-53) championship run of the New York Yankees.

The Washington Senators, as expected, were busy in the early season, simply settling into their usual cellar door spot and squat work, and probably wondering if the relocation of the St. Louis Browns to Baltimore as the Orioles might result in an over-supply of losing baseball in the now closer-to-each-other general physical area – generating concern that a saturation of losing might hurt the home crowd gates in both neighboring cities.

Little Benny Van Buren was the Sens manager in 1954, but he really didn’t have much talent on that club. All he could tell the fans is what he told his players: “Boys and Girls, this game of baseball is only one part talent. – The rest is heart. – You gotta have heart! ~ Miles and Miles and Miles of Heart!”

The Senators seemed doomed to their usual doldrums spot at – or very damn near – the absolute lowest spot in the American League cellar. But then, one day in late May, a magical thing happened.

A very powerful, swift, and athletic young man named Joe Hardy showed up with his agent ~ a sinister, but always smiling and polite fellow named Applegate. Applegate wanted an impromptu tryout for Joe Hardy and – given the fact that the Senators were still reeling from a live and ongoing 13-game losing streak, it didn’t take much to convince Benny Van Buren that he had nothing to lose by giving Joe Hardy a look-see.

Long story short. – Joe played like a direct gift from the baseball gods. Even though they weren’t much for talent, Hardy killed everything the Senator pitchers threw him at the tryout over the fence. Not a single pitch stayed at home. They all left the yard and disappeared into the dark capitol night.

Joe Hardy had a great season before he mysteriously disappeared. His 9th inning home run to deep center field at the Polo Grounds won the 1954 World Series for Washington over the New York Giants. Willie Mays was inches away from a “catch” that would have been celebrated forever, but … you just don’t catch flying balls that seem to defy the laws of both gravity and inertia.

Hardy also caught Willie Mays’ game and series ending long fly to center and kept right on going to the clubhouse. It was probably a half hour later that the Senators all returned to their dead center clubhouse under those stands and realized that Joe was missing. A couple of bat boys were sent out the back stadium exit to look for Joe and they came back with a curious report.

“We didn’t find Joe,” one of the boys said, “but we did find this old guy about two blocks down the street, hobbling away in a Senators uniform. He looked enough like Joe to have been his grandfather, but it could not have been Joe. That guy looked like he was older than dirt.”

How Joe disappeared for a half century and was discovered living in Bethesda about twenty years ago is another story for another day, but we plan to seek out a follow-up interview with Joe’s wife, Mrs. Lola Hardy, and see what she’s willing to tell us about the mystery of her now late husband, after a reasonable period of mourning.

This just in. – One of our reporters says he earlier today went to see Mrs. Hardy at her home and was turned away for an interview. While he was there, he snapped a photo of Mr. Applegate as he was coming out of the Hardy home from his own meeting with Mrs. Hardy.

Mr. Applegate’s new photo now simply fans the flames of mystery. – The guy doesn’t look a day older than he did back in the mid-20th century, when he and Joe Hardy showed up for the latter’s 1954 tryout with the Senators.

Rest in Peace, Joe Hardy (if possible)!

And Rest in Peace too, Tab Hunter! You did a great job as Joe Hardy in the movie version of “Damn Yankees” and you should be remembered favorably for it forever.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

William Edward White

July 9, 2018

Brown University Baseball Team,
1879 National Champions.
One of these players is now regarded as the earliest black baseball player in big league history.

His name was William Edward White.

 

William Edward White
Is sitting directly behind the manager in the team photo.

 

“An answer commonly given to the question of who was the first black man to play major-league baseball is still Jackie Robinson in 1947. Knowledgeable baseball people know that Robinson was preceded by the Walker brothers, Moses and Weldy, for Toledo in 1884. Recent research, led by SABR’s Peter Morris, has uncovered evidence of still earlier African American participation in the major leagues. Morris’s detective work reveals that William Edward White, a former slave, had a one-game career for the National League’s Providence Grays on June 21, 1879.”

To read the balance of this most informative brief article by John R. Husman, please click the following link:

https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/june-21-1879-cameo-william-edward-white

The Pecan Park Eagle also wants to thank reader/colleague/friend, Bill Hickman for calling our attention to the deeper meaning of the same Browns baseball photo that we used yesterday in a much lighter look column on the sport in the “good old summertime days” era. In irony, Bill’s mention of William Edward White “to have been (documented as) the first Afro-American (to play) in the majors, preceding Moses Fleetwood Walker and his brother Weldy Walker by five years,” as a far more accurate display of the zeitgeist of post-Civil War America.

So-called “people of color” simply didn’t have the same rights and opportunities as white people in America and, like almost all other avenues of possibility, baseball was busy signing on to the idea that our country could go from slavery ending with the Civil War to a “separate, but equal” society that divided people on the basis of color. ~ What a pile of crock that was!

Today we, at least, have a game in which everybody who plays well enough, will play. In fact, these are the good old days – the only ones we’ll ever have. – Smack dab in the here and now. – The only place anything ever gets done.

Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance once had a nice ring, but I like our Houston Astros 6-4-3 play better, especially when all three of our main guys are in the lineup for the Astros. It’a a long one. It goes from “Puerto Rico-to-Venezuela-to-Cuba-Ole!”

Enough rambling. Racism is the human race cancer. And it needs to die. In all forms.  As this man did, no one ever should have to pass for white, just to get a foot in the door. And that’s why it’s important to remember people like William Edward White, even if others suffered far more by comparison. No one among us should have to go through what he encountered to hide his true identity for the simple sake of avoiding someone else’s need to hate.

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle