Opportunity vs Security: Baseball’s Best Example

July 21, 2017

 

It is now an old and treasured story in baseball history.

On the morning of September 28, 1941, young Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox is waking up to a big decision he soon faces at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. It is the final day of the baseball season and the Red Sox will be facing the Athletics in a quirky final afternoon doubleheader against the home club Athletics.

There’s not much at stake for the two teams getting ready to hum the final bars of the 1941 season in the City of Brotherly Love. The A’s already are death-rattled tied to 8th place and cellar-locked to finish 37 games behind the usual champion New York Yankees. The Boston Sox also have 2nd place cinched, but they will wrap the season a full 17 games back of the Yankees.

So what’s the big deal for young Mr. Williams?

Ted is sitting on a decision that Boston manager Joe Cronin is leaving up to his young star.

Williams goes into the final day double bill with 179 hits in 448 times at bat. That’s good enough to give him a batting average of .39955, one that mathematically rounds into a .400 batting average for the 1941 season. With no other player challenging him on the last day for the batting title, “Teddy Ballgame” can sit out both games and take home the rounded-off rare .400 batting mark as the jewel in the crown of his latest and largest early career batting accomplishment.

There apparently is never any doubt in young Ted Williams’ mind about he wants – and what he doesn’t want. And it is a decision we all have to make about many things in life, albeit, with few exceptions, about large and small choices in which we have to pick between security and opportunity.

The Security<->Opportunity Continuum. What is this thing? Its roots are much deeper in philosophy, but they also are early 20th century ancient to the specialized field of industrial psychology. The Security<->Opportunity Continuum boils down to these simple building blocks:

  1. In life, security and opportunity represent the polar extremes that govern everything we desire from work, home, lifestyle, money, and aspiration.
  2. If we only want security, we will gravitate toward career situations in which our well-being or salary are guaranteed by some form of standardized education or expectation.
  3. If we only want opportunity, we will gravitate toward career situations in which our rewards stem from the opportunity for individual accomplishment.
  4. Security need extremists often become successful as government bureaucrats or corporate 9-5 minions at fixed rate salaries.
  5. Opportunity need extremists incline themselves toward the development of their highly special skills as performers, athletes, entrepreneurs, or inventors.
  6. Most of us find our own balance points of need for security and opportunity somewhere in the middle.
  7. To make our peace with our own balance of needs, however these may shift, one way or the other, over time, we simply have to first make our peace with the fact that we are riding on a continuum that dictates this transient truth as well: If we have to have 100% security, we have to understand that it comes with 0% opportunity – and vice versa.

The Ted Williams Sec<->Opp Assessment for the Morning of September 28, 1941: Ted Williams wasn’t interested in finishing the season with a batting championship that rounded off to a batting average of .400. Had he needed any of that security, he would have stayed in the dugout for both of the two final games.

No. Williams wanted the opportunity to post a legitimately over-the-top .400 batting championship for 1941. And, boy, did he get it!

The following table shows in three rows how totally Williams was committed to opportunity in his last day doubleheader performance. It shows what Williams could have settled for in the first row, had he made his game of 9/27/1941 his last game of the season. Next it illustrates how he elevated things by going 4 for 5 in Game 1 of the 9/28/1941 doubleheader. Then it concludes with how he finished the season in Game 2 on the same date with a 2 for 3 performance:

Ted’s Last Day of the 1941 Season

Game Date AB H TOT AB TOT H EXT BA ROUND BA
9/27/1941 4 1 448 179 .39955 .400
9/28/1941 G1 5 4 453 183 .40397 .404
9/28/1941 G2 3 2 456 185 .405701 .406

As long as we are traveling this profile of Ted Williams as one of the most daring opportunists in baseball history, it’s also interesting to note a bookend irony to the Williams story. Whereas, the young Ted Williams had no interest in ending the 1941 season early in protection of his “rounded up” .400 batting average, the retiring Ted Williams of 1960 actually ended his final season a series early after hitting a home run in his final time at bat in his last game at Fenway Park, exactly nineteen years later, on September 28, 1960.

Once Williams hit his celebrated 8th inning goodbye 29th homer of the season off Orioles reliever Jack Fisher, the Red Sox rallied for two more runs in the bottom of the 9th to defeat Baltimore by 5-4 and send Ted off to a final series in New York with nothing left to gain or lose.

In 1960, Williams elected to quit while he was ahead, and to allow his last shining moment in Boston be everyone’s last memory of his final big league game and home run. He didn’t even make the team trip to New York for the last three games. In 1941, Williams had refused to sit out the last game for the sake of security. This time he would refuse to play for the sake of service to opportunity. He couldn’t tip his cap to the fans, but he definitely wanted them to have their best opportunity for remembering him – as he wanted to be remembered, and not because of some long lurking security need. A security based star would have milked that last home run in Boston like the cash cow it never was for Ted Williams. Even then.

Some ancient baseball stories are like great fine wine. They do get better with age. Especially as the truth clears.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Strange Probabilities and Top 10 Hitters

July 20, 2017

July 17, 1914:
“EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! ….
LAST PLACE BRAVES FALL 11.5 GAMES OUT OF FIRST AND ARE RUNNING SHORT ON HOPE!”

For further information on the longer list and other stats, check out the ESPN link for yourselves. It’s usually up-to-date by the mornings following each date of games played:

http://www.espn.com/mlb/stats/batting/_/sort/avg/league/al/year/2017/seasontype/2

 

TOP 10 AL HITTERS FOR AVERAGE

Through Games of Wednesday, July 19, 2017:

# PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR AVE.
1 Jose Altuve HOU 360 127 27 2 14 .353
2 Jean Segura SEA 280 97 18 0 6 .346
3 Jose Rameriz CLE 352 114 29 5 17 .324
4 Carlos Correa HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
5 Ben Gamel SEA 279 89 16 2 5 .319
6 Avisail Garcia CWS 319 100 17 3 13 .313
7 Aaron Judge NYY 327 102 13 3 30 .312
8 Eric Hosmer KC 356 111 20 1 13 .312
9 Starlin Castro NYY 308 96 14 1 12 .312
10 Dustin Pedroia BOS 306 95 16 0 5 .310

 

HYPOTHETICAL IMPROBABILITIES: Changes or other rare and unusual facets in the rules of baseball over time have produced some almost non-existent probabilities that still remain with us, nevertheless, as possibilities.

Example # 1: It already happened in an All Star Game back in the 1940s, I think, but I do not recall the exact instance at print time here. – A pitcher was called into a game with men on base in a tie game with two outs. Before he threw a single pitch to his first batter, he picked the runner off first base to retire the side. His club then scored a run for a lead they would never surrender and he was replaced the very next inning on the mound. He wound up getting the win credit, however,  as the pitcher of record when the lead run scored, even though he never threw a single pitch in the game. – If you can cite the instance in which this rarity occurred, or if you know of any other times it actually has happened, please share that knowledge with the rest of us in the comment section that follows this column. Thanks.

Example # 2: Because of the DH, it is now possible for a really good hitter to earn his way into the Hall of Fame over a career in which he never plays a single defensive pitch in the field. As more of these types now emerge as possibilities over time, the more the probabilities ascend that some of us will live to see this one happen in our lifetimes.

Example # 3: This last one’s hope of ever happening only lives on as a technical possibility. With the recent change that allows a batter to take first base by a wave of the umpire’s hand, it is possible that some new player may come along at any time and have one of those “Eddie Gaedel Single Time At Bat Careers” in which he reaches base on an intentional walk, thus becoming the first player in history to be recorded as a legitimate former major leaguer, but one who never saw a pitched ball on offense or defense.

Ouch! That’s enough for one day!

____________________

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Thru July 18, 2017: Top 10 AL Batting Averages

July 19, 2017

 

 

February 1909: “EXTRA! ~ EXTRA!
READ-ALL-ABOUT-IT!
CHANCE SAYS CUBS TO WIN AGAIN IN 1909!
ALL SEASON! – GET YOUR DAILY BATTING AVERAGES HERE!”

 

According to ESPN, here’s the list of the qualifying Top Ten American League hitters by Batting Average for games played through the date indicated in this column title.Because of our interest in Jose Altuve and a handful of others that may have a shot at this still auspicious annual hitting accomplishment, The Pecan Park Eagle will try to present an up-to-date picture of this race as often as possible for the rest of the season – in addition to our other presentations. We regret that Carlos Correa will almost certainly lose his opportunity to qualify for any chance at the title because of the lost times at bat that are going to start piling up during his time on the DL, but, sadly, that’s how this old game works over the long season of even the most promising careers. A few other things in life work out the same way, even for those who’ve never picked up a baseball – or even heard of one.

For further information on the longer list and other stats, check out the ESPN link for yourselves. It’s usually up-to-date by the mornings following each date of games played:

http://www.espn.com/mlb/stats/batting/_/sort/avg/league/al/year/2017/seasontype/2

TOP 10 AL HITTERS FOR AVERAGE

Through Games of Tuesday, July 18, 2017:

# PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR AVE.
1 Jose Altuve HOU 356 125 27 2 14 .351
2 Jean Segura SEA 276 95 18 0 6 .344
3 Jose Rameriz CLE 348 112 29 5 17 .322
4 Ben Gamel SEA 275 88 16 2 4 .320
5 Carlos Correa HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
6 Avisail Garcia CWS 316 100 17 3 13 .316
7 Eric Hosmer KC 353 111 20 1 13 .314
8 Aaron Judge NYY 326 102 13 3 30 .313
9 Starlin Castro NYY 304 94 14 1 12 .309
10 Corey Dickerson TB 364 112 26 3 17 .308

Astro Notes: Jose Altuve used another 3-hit game to reclaim the AL BA lead from Seattle’s Jean Segura in their clubs’ second series game against each other in Houston. Carlos Correa at .320 still owns the #5 spot for now, while Josh Reddick (#12, .306) and George Springer (#14, .304) hang in there with chances to move up on a hot streak or two. Marwin Gonzalez‘s current .310 would be good enough for the #9 spot here, but apparently he needs a few more AB’s to qualify. With Correa’s long absence now upon us, those extra times at bat for Marwin are sure to come, if he also can stay healthy. – Yulie Gurriel (#18, .295) got a brief squint of .300 from the .299 ledge earlier this week, but he then slipped back a mite. He’s still a good bet to make .300 before this battle is done. He hits smart and he hits hard. I really like the guy.

(I used to love reading this kind of stuff in both The Sporting News and the Post WWII Houston Post. Now I’m finding that I enjoy doing these kinds of pieces too. Hope you get something enjoyable out of it too.)

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

0ld Fashioned Stats Still Shine

July 18, 2017

Jose Altuve fell to 2nd place in the AL batting average race last night to Seattle’s Jean Segura.

 

As one who grew up playing and following baseball during the Holy Grail .300 batting average adoration era, Mickey Mantle’s sorrow over the slippage of his career BA at the the end to .298 was my shared, over-identified grief with his disappointment. “.300” always rode hard as the bottom line on greatness for hitters back in the day, especially for guys who received their first nose-sniffing taut for the Hall of Fame as an 18 year old first-time camper with the New York Yankees.

The baseball gods forgot to tell the irrigation system at Yankee Stadium that its nozzles should not be high-enough, quick-enough, or powerful-enough to bring down a comet from Commerce, Oklahoma on its first fly by a Yankee World Series game. The injury to Mantle on the famous “Pardon me, Mr. DiMaggio” play in the 1951 World Series undoubtedly stands as the major reason that Mickey missed out on .300 as a career batting average achievement. Playing too long did it, as did lifestyle probably contribute, but even those issues alone were not the real measurable BA stat killers. The assassins were the loss of running speed that would have turned so many close outs into hits over time.

Without the presence of those missing hits, Mantle wasn’t dropping to .300 when he played probably four seasons too many. He was dropping from too near .300 to escape its ultimate loss.

On the larger subject of the batting average and its value to building a great team, I still believe what I believed as a kid when my weekly copy of The Sporting News arrived in the mail.

Each week, for the longest time, I would use the weekly reported batting average stats to pick my favorite current All Star teams for the American and National Leagues. My base consideration was the .300 batting average. I looked at power hitting through doubles, triples, HR, and slugging average. I looked at stolen bases as an indicator of speed. I paid attention to runs and RBIs as indicators of production. I looked at BB/K ratios as indicators of the batter’s skill to work the strike zone. And, of course, I was most forgiving of big HR hitters with high K rates.

Want to have some fun, maybe? Below is the current list of Top Twenty Hitters in the American League, through all games of July 17, 2017. If you wish to try, see how deep you can go into an eight-man position and one DH lineup for the AL stars using the players and these stats as your first choices. You may have to drop below .300 to fill the club out in some cases, but that’s OK.

Just remember. It’s all in fun. As it always used to be, when we were kids. I’m betting we can still put together s club based on the fundamental baseball stats that will compete favorably with any of the new geek squad analytic offerings.

American League Top Twenty Batting Averages

Through Games of Monday, July 17, 2017:

# PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR AVE.
1 Jean Segura SEA 272 95 18 0 6 .349
2 Jose Altuve HOU 352 122 27 2 14 .347
3 Jose Rameriz CLE 344 112 29 5 17 .326
4 Ben Gamel SEA 271 87 16 2 4 .321
5 Carlos Correa HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
6 Avisail Garcia CWS 313 98 17 3 13 .313
7 Eric Hosmer KC 349 109 20 1 13 .312
8 Corey Dickerson TB 260 112 26 3 17 .311
9 Aaron Judge NYY 322 100 13 3 30 .311
10 Starlin Castro NYY 304 94 14 1 12 .309
11 Dustin Pedroia BOS 296 91 15 0 4 .307
12 Josh Reddick HOU 280 86 21 3 9 .307
13 Trey Mancini BAL 273 83 15 1 14 .304
14 George Springer HOU 349 106 21 0 27 .304
15 Michael Brantley CLE 265 79 17 1 5 .298
16 Yuli Gurriel HOU 309 92 26 0 11 .298
17 Xander Bogaerts BOS 338 100 20 4 6 .296
18 Jose Abreu CWS 357 105 24 3 16 .294
19 Jonathan Schoop BAL 335 98 24 0 18 .293
20 Nelson Cruz SEA 312 91 17 0 20 .292

 

PS: Marwin Gonzalez’s .308 BA (69 for 124) was not considered enough times at bat to qualify him. Otherwise, he would have ranked #11. Feel free to use Marwin on your picks, if you decide to build s team. And, if you do, please share your picks in the comment section. We always used Innings Pitched, Complete Games, 3.00 ERA or less, and strong SO/K ratios to pick starting pitchers. We simply did not research the Top 20 AL Pitchers for this little exercise.

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

When You’re Smiling! When You’re Smiling!

July 18, 2017

AT&T SportsNet Astros Baseball Telecasters
Geoff Blum (L) and Todd Kalas
Prior to Game One of the Mariners@Astros Series
July 17, 2017

 

As pictured above, the visible, but largely silent guffaw on the face of Todd Kalas was an immediate reaction to the following amicable greeting exchange of words with partner Geoff Blum. Kalas had not worked the previous Astros home series with Minnesota, as Blum’s friendly biting wit duly notes.

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

Todd Kalas: “Hi, Everybody, welcome! – Todd Kalas alongside Geoff Blum, to another night of Astros baseball on AT&T Sports Net, and Blummer, when you look at this home stand, it was a nice way to kick things off with a series win over Minnesota.”

Geoff Blum: “First of all, you look at it. – Welcome back!”

Todd Kalas: (the mostly silent guffaw, as Blummer closes his eyes and almost smiles.)

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

Someone I greatly respect recently reminded me of what legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell used to say about team broadcasters taking time off while their clubs were still playing regular season games. To paraphrase Harwell, he  said, “days off for baseball broadcasters are what the off-season is for.”

I’m with Harwell on this one.

____________________

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over, But …

July 17, 2017

“Hey, Astro fans! Sometimes the easiest way to get the name of the best team in baseball is to go to the sports pages and check out the standings and read the name of the team that’s on top.”
~Ghost of Yogi Berra

 

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over, But … as a probability, first place in the AL West is pretty much decided now, as of all the games completed through Sunday, July 16, 2017.

The Houston Astros, at 32 games above .500 ball are, in fact, the only team playing on the sunny side of .500 going into the games of Monday, July 17th.

The following standings reflect all games completed through Sunday, along with the column tabs on how many game already have been played (GP) and how many games remain for play on each club’s schedule for 2017 (GR):

AL WEST W L PCT GB GP GR
ASTROS 62 30 .674 92 70
MARINERS 46 47 .495 16.5 93 69
RANGERS 45 46 .495 16.5 91 71
ANGELS 46 49 .484 17.5 92 70
ATHLETICS 42 50 .457 20.0 92 70

To better present the picture in easy-to-see math, let’s assume that the Astros only play .500 ball over the course of their remaining 70 games (GR). As improbable as that slight accomplishment is, .500 ball the rest of the way still would allow the Astros to add 35 games to each of their current win and loss columns of 62 and 30, providing the post-season Astros with a complete regular season record of 97 wins, 65 losses, and a winning percentage of .599.

So, if the Astros finish at 97-75, one or more of the other four ALW clubs would then have to win enough games from their variable remaining games to reach a final total of 98 wins, and in so doing, beat the Astros for first place by one game, with a record of 98-74.

Our second table reflects how unlikely that shall be, based upon what they’ve all shown us so far. We’re talking leaps and bounds above .500 ball by the same four teams that have shown significant trouble even reaching up to the bar of .500 ball mediocrity.

If the Astros go .500 from here, what the others would need to overtake them:

ASTROS@97 NOW GR TO BE 1ST
MARINERS 46-47 69 Go 52-17
RANGERS 45-46 71 Go 53-18
ANGELS 46-49 67 Go 52-15
ATHLETICS 42-50 70 Go 56-14

Using our first team for greater clarity on the chart, this table carries forth the hypothetical idea that, if the Astros only play .500 ball the rest of the way, they will finish with 97 wins, making 98 the number that each of the other clubs would need to beat them out of 1st place by one win, assuming, also, that all teams play out their full 162 game schedules.

Example: That means the 46-47 Mariners would have to go 52-17 in their final 69 remaining games to beat out the Astros for 1st place in the AL West.

Ad nauseum, variably, with the other three divisional clubs.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over, but, the Astros finishing first in the AL West is looking more and more like the closest thing to a sure thing by the day. Not so sure is – all that other stuff that happens in baseball, like the impact of old and new injuries, losing a short series to dead arms, tired bats, weird slumps among the hitting stars, or crazy bounces – like that grounder that Tony Sipp accidentally slapped into right field for a Minnesota two-spot scoring play in Saturday’s game. Had Sipp not deflected it, Altuve probably could have stopped one of those runs from scoring.

Hang on to your caps, Astros fans. Enjoy, but remember. Until that third out cat is finally in the bag of the last championship trail game, that there are always still some big thorns hiding in the shade of those rapidly sprouting rose bushes that we are all now beginning to sense and scent in so many long and overdue jubilant ways.

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Turk at Work: Balls That Talked Trash

July 16, 2017

 

The preceding historical reprint is an excerpt from the July 21, 1962 New Orleans Times-Picayune.

1962, of course, was the first season of the new Houston MLB club and Richard “Turk” Farrell was only doing what he was prone to do anytime he saw half a crack in the door of opportunity for fun and mischief at someone else’s expense.

Thank you, Darrell Pittman, for another wonderful research contribution to the body and soul of The Pecan Park Eagle.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Farewell to Upside-Down Standings Days

July 16, 2017

My old friend Jerry Witte led the 1950 Buffs with 30 HR, but even Jerry’s talent and fan charisma – or the club wearing short pants for a couple of weeks – could lift the upside-down 1950 Houston Buffs from the cellar. (The mosquito bites and the sliding strawberries put an end to the short pants game-attraction gimmick reach by club president Allen Russell.)

 

Back in the post-World War II days of our old minor league Houston Buffs, my dad was a great newspaper reader.

Let me clarify that comment. We lived in Houston. We didn’t necessarily have great newspapers in Houston, even then, but Dad had a great need to read fresh print twice daily, before and after work. So, we took both the morning Houston Post and the afternoon Houston Press on home delivery.

One of those newspapers embarked upon a quirky little practice as an attention-getting novelty item during the Texas League baseball season of 1950. Although it may have been the almost as sick 1949 or 1952 performance seasons, the exact year doesn’t matter as much as what they did. I simply cannot remember if it was the morning Post or the afternoon Press that pulled the trigger on the baseball standings publication format they inserted for a brief while. Once the paper got the attention-grab they sought, they pulled the “travesty to truth” and went back to over-the-plate standard reporting.

What was the gag?

The Houston newspaper was publishing the daily standings of the Texas League in “upside-down” form.

The “Upside-Down” Texas League Standings were accurate in every essential aspect, but they had been reconfigured into what the newspaper suggested would be a more optimistic point of view for Houston Buff fans. The standings were being printed in upside-down order – with the worst team in the league now appearing at the top of the list and the best team now resting at the bottom of the pile.

Upside-Down? – Did that newspaper gimmick help the morale of Houston fans? – Not really. In fact, I do remember a number of my fellow minor minions expressing the hope that they would “put a stop to it soon.” And why? – “Because it’s just calling even more attention to the fact that the Buffs are a pretty lousy team this year!”

Lousy? Yeah. And those apparently bottom-feeding first place Beaumont Roughnecks were pretty darn good too. Their 1950 manager was Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby and their notable stars were infielder Gil McDougald of later Yankee fame and catcher Clint Courtney.

They pulled it in short time. Like a lot of of bad ideas that don’t quite work, it just went away. No explanation needed. Or wanted.

Had the newspaper carried the 1950 Upside-Down Texas League Standings to season’s send, here’s how it would have looked on the last day:

 

1950 TEXAS LEAGUE upside-down W L W% GB
HOUSTON BUFFALOES 61 93 .396 30.5
SHREVEPORT SPORTS 63 91 .409 28.5
OKLAHOMA CITY INDIANS 72 79 .477 18.0
DALLAS EAGLES 74 78 .487 16.5
SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS 79 75 .513 12.5
TULSA OILERS 83 69 .546 7.5
FORT WORTH CATS 88 64 .579 2.5
BEAUMONT ROUGHNECKS 91 62 .595

 

It only took us another 67 years to get here, but we’ve finally made it in 2017. Houston finally has a baseball team that doesn’t appear to need a cosmetic news publisher to make it look good in print.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Welcome, AT&T SPORTSNET

July 15, 2017

 

Welcome, AT&T SPORTSNET, whoever your are! – And Goodbye, ROOT SPORTS, SOUTHWEST, whoever you were!

Here’s the link to today’s change announcement.

http://www.chron.com/sports/astros/article/Root-Sports-Southwest-is-now-AT-T-SportsNet-11290112.php

As the consumers in this sports presentation market, it is almost always our role to simply wait for change to force its way upon us from behind a dynamic corporate wall that is totally opaque to our eyes until we find out for ourselves what it means on our daylight side of the wall in terms of how the game is presented, made available, and priced.

We are allowed to have questions. I think. So, The Pecan Park Eagle will open with these obvious ones:

  1. For 2017, will AT&T SPORTSNET be little more than a new spelling of ROOT, with no changes in price or availability to present cable and satellite system subscribers?
  2. Will AT&T SPORTSNET make Astros games more available to Astros fans in all parts of Texas – especially to those Time Warner/Comcast system areas that only provide access to Astros games when the best team in baseball is playing the deadly dull Rangers?
  3. On the personnel side, what’s the deal with Todd Kalas? He’s missed working a number of road games recently and here we go again. The second half of the seasons breaks – and, guess what? – There’s no Todd Kalas in the booth – and no word from anyone about his recent or ongoing absence. He’s just treated as the little man who may never even have existed. – What’s the story? – The man was doing a good job. – Why is he suddenly M.I.A. at this critical turn into the rest of this really big year?
  4. Is it OK to ask someone for some explanations? Look. We are not total dummies out here. We know that we are going to get the bill for something tied to all these changes down the line, so, we’d just like to know what’s going on. OK?

Hopefully, some of our readers may have some questions they want to ask of you too. If so, please readers, record them in the comment section that follows this column.

Thanks,

Bill McCurdy

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Old Buff Freebie Ducats Part of Larger Plan

July 14, 2017

In 1960, these cards were redeemable at Buff Stadium for a free reserved seat at future Houston Buffs game in which comp seats were available. They were even signed by club president Marty Marion to make them look more authentic to the fan who used them.

 

KTHT, 790 kc, whose call letters are now associated with an FM music station, was the primary identity for Houston’s AM 790 main host of Buffs baseball broadcasts from 1950 through 1961, the final year of minor league baseball in Houston. Judge Roy Hofheinz was the KTHT station owner during most, if not all of that period, with Loel Passe handling the play-by-play, mostly solo, until Gene Elston joined him in 1961 in preparation for their continuing team effort in 1962, Houston’s first year in the big leagues as a National League expansion club.

KRCT, 650 kc, was a small 250 watt station in Goose Creek near Baytown that soon moved to Pasadena and found itself renamed KIKK as country and western music station in 1961. A lot of stuff hit the fan before that change occurred. If you really want more, this link will take you to a site on earlier Houston radio that you may find helpful:

http://houstonradiohistory.blogspot.com/2007/06/60-years-on-650.html

What was the purpose of these tickets?

Marty Marion was strong on marketing. We are only assuming here, but given the fact that these ticket redemption ducats were issued in 1960, that they were part of Marty Marion’s plan to boost the gate at Buff Stadium in ledger-line support of his group’s bid for the new NL expansion club franchise later that fall.

On October 17, 1960, Marion’s ownership group, in fact, lost out to Judge Roy Hofheinz and the Houston Sports Authority for that expansion club award. Once that domed baseball stadium commitment hit the bidding fire before the NL people, Marion’s group had no snowball’s chance at all of getting the nod. Besides, Judge Hofheinz was the one throwing around the creature-comfort snowballs of a new world of tomorrow. As a result of his loss, many say that Marion tried to stick it to Hofheinz on how much the HSA would have to pay as compensation to Marion and company for the loss of the Marion group’s AAA minor league territorial rights to Houston.

Hofheinz saw Marion’s AAA rights price demands as highway robbery.

All that rancorously forced payment did was stiffen Hofheinz’s resolve to abandon HSA’s original cheaper plan to keep Houston’s first MLB years of play in Buff Stadium until the new domed stadium was ready – and to build the temporary Colt Stadium on the property where the Dome was going up. Hofheinz found the extra expense of a new temporary stadium justifiable. – It would give the fans a chance to build their hunger for air-conditioned baseball as the new NL team played their first years amidst the heat, humidity, and mosquitos of “Colt Stadium.”

The fans would get to watch as they sweated and scratched.

The bad blood that resulted between Marion and Hofheinz destroyed any last hope of some Houston fans that the club would simply play their way into the big leagues, but retain their historical identity as the Houston Buffaloes. Personally, I doubt that would have happened with Hofheinz, anyway. The Judge liked to put his personal brand on things. I do think that Marty Marion would have left the club’s “Buffs” identity intact for the 1962 big league club debut, had his group gotten the franchise award.

There was just no way for the Buffs to survive as our local baseball identity. Even as early as the October 17, 1960 franchise award date, Judge Hofheinz was busy getting ready to build Houston the only unique baseball venue in the world. Ever.

Indeed. In time. In 1965. The Astrodome would open as a new Houston baseball home – where no buffalo ever roamed.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

mmmmmmmmmm