Astros To Do List: August 13, 2018

August 13, 2018

An All Time Note of The Day
By Bill Veeck

Since we already are chest-deep into the “Baseball” season part of 2018, and just stepping out of an unforeseen underwater sinkhole that we have endured for four straight days, and as a gift to our beloved team, here’s our Houston Astros List of Things To Do This Monday, August 13, 2018:

(1) Put on your short memory caps.

(2) Enjoy a relaxing off-day ~ alone, with family, or friends.

(3) Watch out for soap in the shower and banana peels on the sidewalk.

(4) If a certain body move hurts from normal motion, you either don’t make that move again ~ or else ~ you go get it checked out. You owe it to yourself and the team not to let a small thing grow into a big thing that also carries you to the DL.

(5) Speaking of the DL, pray that Jose Altuve will be back in the lineup soon.

(6) Read a book ~ especially if you can find one about Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, or Rogers Hornsby on why scored runs are important to winning baseball, why winning baseball usually comes to those clubs that get the most hits, and why the most hits usually come to the club whose hitters never get too far away from the bottom line axiom that separates the hitters from the dreamers among batters:

“See the Ball ~ Hit the Ball.”

(7) Have a nice day! 🙂

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Hinch’s Balk Play Review Call is Good Thing

August 12, 2018

An enemy baserunner can be clearly balked from advancement if the pitcher catches him leaning too far off the base in between pitches to the plate. On the other hand, a pitcher may be called for a balk, and the runner then called safe, if the pitcher first fails to get the footwork down properly before he makes the play.

 

On August 10, 2018, Astros baseball and pitching icon Larry Dierker left the following comment at our previous column about the balk call on Astros pitcher Justin Verlander in the first game of the current series with the Mariners:

“I thought it was the correct call. He touched his left foot down in front of the rubber. If he had stepped directly toward second base, it would have been a good move.” ~ Larry Dierker.

Attached is a link to the best replay I could find of the “balk call play” that will overrule the sure pick-off play at second base that first causes everyone leaving the field thinking that the top of the 2nd has ended with no further runs on the scoreboard posted for Seattle, who already lead 3-0 from the batch they had bagged in the 1st inning. As a big result of the balk call, the inning at bat for the M’s continues; they score three more runs; and those three runs hang forever as the margin of victory for the visitors over Houston by an 8-6 final score.

The Verlander Balk Call Play Link

Link Note: The pick off play is seen at the very start. If you wish to watch it a few times in a row, convert the site to “full screen” and you then will be able to use the sliding red bar at the bottom of the link page to go back as often as you choose.

When I watch the left foot step of Verlander on the balk call, I can see what Dierker is describing. ~ What I can’t see is ~ what else was he going to do with his left foot? As a right-hander at the rubber, the left foot is already pointing in some varied general way toward home plate/third base prior to the pitch. Once the pitcher than takes his right foot off the rubber quickly to make a throw to second base legal, how does he then get that left foot now also pointing to that same second base before it touches the ground again behind the rubber? Or does it have to land behind the rubber on the first left foot step?

It feels unnatural? ~ What’s the right-handed pitcher supposed to do in the pick-off attempt at 2nd ~ pivot on his right foot and then land behind the rubber on his left foot heel, with the left foot pointed toward 2nd?

Maybe, I’m still not getting what’s required in this particular execution of the pick-off try at 2nd base. Does that first step landing by the left foot not-so-simply have to be “pointing” to 2nd base? ~ Or does that first step landing have to be behind the rubber on the 2nd base side? ~ And that one is the one that feels unnatural to me.

I never had this problem as a kid’s league pitcher, but my chances of picking anyone off 2nd anyway were few and far between. Most of the batters who got extra base hits off me rarely stopped running at 2nd base. They were too close to home to stop moving that early.

Hinch’s Appeal to MLB for a review of the play is a good idea. It won’t change the outcome of a game now lost, but it should call attention to at least this kind of balk play as too vulnerable to umpire perception to be fairly called on most to every play. – Verlander says he was called in this instance for a balk for something he’s been doing exactly the same way without a previous problem in 14 years as a big league pitcher. Hinch says that he would not be surprised to see a 50-50 judgment split on balk/no balk review survey, if the play could be now re-assessed by all MLB vital parties and umpires.

So What? ~ Either call by Verlander or Hinch justifies a reexamination of how measurable and practical this rule rests as it is. It’s just another of those nuts ~ among the nuts and bolts of baseball rules ~ that can always be fine-tuned and improved. And that’s never a waste of time.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

The Balk Rule Strikes Again

August 10, 2018

Umpire Nick Lentz and Astros pitcher Justin Verlander had a brief  philosophical discussion about the balk rule last night at MMP.

 

“It led to three more runs,” Justin Verlander said. “And we lost by two.”

Verlander’s reference to the importance of home plate umpire Nick Lentz’s call on him in the top of the 2nd inning pretty well sums up the eventual impact of that one play in the game last night between the Astros and the visiting Mariners, who ended up winning, 8-6.

At first, it appeared that Verlander had successfully executed an inning-ending pickoff of Mitch Haniger. Had the play stood up as the out call it harvested, the Astros would have headed to bat, down 3-0, but that escape was quickly erased by Lentz’s balk call, and the Mariners managed to push over 3 more runs as their extra chance dividend.

Then Verlander, who was way off his game anyway, got tossed after he continued to argue the balk call from the dugout going into the bottom of the 2nd.

I’ve spent my life, as little more than a kid player and lifetime fan, trying to understand the balk call ~ and now I’m hearing from one of the greatest players in the game that he doesn’t get it either!

Ouch! ~ What can be done to either clarify the rule so that it’s not so fuzzy and game-altering for very unclear reasons. As it now stands, it’s probably the most potentially powerful abusive rule in the game, beyond the call of ball or strike on each pitch ~ and those too are still based on each umpire’s personal perception of where the strike zone is located.

Too bad we can’t find a group of 28 MLB umpires and all the other 28 MLB managers and let them each privately watch a recording of the Verlander pick-off play at 2nd base and then render their own decision about the play. Without mention of the balk call to a third group of people, who did not know of the actual call that overturned the third out pick-off play in the 2nd inning of the game, we have to wonder ~ how many, if any, would see the balk motion that many of us, including Justin Verlander, could not see at all on the pick-off play?

Personally, I love baseball’s variability of outfield sizes and configurations. I just don’t like rules that are entirely left open to abuse by the variability of human perception in matters of subjective discernment.

In other words, if you cannot universally score an action by some clearly measurable and/or observable review of what happened on the field, don’t attach a rule to it.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Que Sera, Astroturf

August 9, 2018

Que Sera, Astroturf

(Go to the tune of “Que Sera, Sera”, almost as sung by Doris Day. I relocated some of the musical note phrasings in both the melody and the italicized chorus voice version here. If I could sing it for you, you would immediately hear how each word fits each note used in exactly the right place. If we are ever in the same place, and this script is available, I will be happy to demonstrate. ~ And pardon me for trying too hard. ~ I just never got over the need to give everything I do my best effort. I’m convinced. If I could have thrown the ball 100 mph, I might have been one hell of a closer ~ and without once slugging my own jaw on days that things didn’t go well.)

 

When I was JUST an Astros Pup,

I played the outfield ~ out in the Dome!

On a field of sensation ~ first in the nation,

Heat had no place ~ to roam!

 

Que Sera, Young Pup,

We’ve got you all covered up!

Our roof is a ~ canopy,

For our full blast ~ real big ~ AC!

 

When I ran UP ~ to catch a ball,

I raised my BUG EYES ~ and WHAT did I see?

Nothing like baseballs ~ Round falling baseballs!

That’s when it dawned ~ on me!

 

I cannot SEE ~ the ball,

Just girders and glare ~ that’s all!

Now fearing a mighty fall

From a ball that finds me ~ so small!        

 

Then they got busy ~ fixing things up,

Painting the ROOF ~ did SURE save this pup!

We all could see again ~ catches not “E”s again,

Grinning wide ~ like a VIC-tory cup!

 

Que Sera, Green Grass,

Your time now is ~ sure to pass,

With no sun ~ the grass must go,

Que Sera, Green Grass!

 

Then they found ~ AS-tro-TURF,

In Mon-SAN-to’s ~ door-mat surf,

Blew-it=up ~ to a field-sized girth,

Que Sera, ~ Astroturf! *

* And not too many copycat covered stadiums down the road from these early Que Seras, people started to miss real grass playing fields. So, they started building these newer coliseums of covered and air-conditioned comfort with movable roofs that opened and closed to sunlight at will. That way, people could have their real grass back. All they had to do was keep their roofs open long enough during the daylight hours to keep real grass alive and thriving on the field of action. And that’s pretty much the current wisdom on the subject in 2018, but the educational part of this lesson began in Houston, 53 years ago, with the grand opening of the mother of them all, the Astrodome.

 The People of Houston don’t have to change their apartments to change the world. Judge Hofheinz and all the folks at the Houston Astros did that for them, starting back in 1965 with the opening of the Astrodome, or even earlier, whenever it was that the Judge’s mind committed to tying Houston’s bid for major league baseball to the construction of a covered and air-conditioned stadium …. Que Sera, Astroturf!

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Author’s Note: Please don’t blame my artist brother, John McCurdy, for the cartoon I used in this column. I did it about three years ago, long before my brother ever appeared in print here. It just happened to fit the parody subject of today’s freshly born take on a very old Astrodome legendary historical story. ~ Thanks for your patience and support. ~ Bill McCurdy

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Snapshot of SABR Members in Houston

August 8, 2018
Microsoft Word - Document1

A red dot shows where each member of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR live in the Metro Houston Area. ~ Prepared by SABR Member Chris Chestnut. ~ Thanks, Chris!

“The Society for American Baseball Research had its beginnings in Cooperstown, New York. It was the brainchild of L. Robert Davids, who on August 10, 1971, gathered 15 other baseball researchers at the National Baseball Hall of Fame to form the organization.

“From this modest start, SABR membership has broadened steadily. A decade later, it had reached 1,500; today, it totals more than 6,000 worldwide. Who belongs to SABR? Many major and minor league baseball officials, broadcasters and writers, as well as numerous former players. Primarily, the membership consists of “just plain fans” — anyone interested in baseball can join. While the original purpose of SABR was to band together baseball historians, statisticians and researchers, it is not necessary to engage in research to become a member.

“Ernie Harwell, the late Detroit Tigers broadcaster, said: “SABR is the Phi Beta Kappa of baseball, providing scholarship which the sport has long needed. … An excellent way for all of us to add to our enjoyment of the greatest game.”

~ introductory excerpt from “The SABR Story”. You may enjoy reading the rest ~ and a whole lot more at https://sabr.org/about

Get this straight though. – You don’t have to be a genius researcher, a Ph.D in Baseball, or a former big league player to be a member of SABR. – Like the rest of us, you just have to be a deep fan of the game who might enjoy a steady diet of contact with others who also share many of your own baseball interests, but each in their own differing ways.

SABR covers all the bases – from math – to culture – to history – to literature – to philosophy – to drama and the kind of legend-building that develops from its own unfolding. And you also gain the opportunity to read plenty of published material that arrives in your mail from time-to-time at no extra cost – plus the monthly chance at each of our regular meetings to break bread with others and meet a few baseball people you may never have expected to meet.

What does SABR membership cost? “A 1-year membership costs $65, with discounted rates available for seniors, students under 30, and for 3-year memberships. Current members can also choose to renew for 5 years at a discounted rate if they choose to opt out of receiving printed publications.” (SABR site quote)

Local Contact: If you already were a local member, you would have been able to attend a SABR chapter meeting at Minute Maid Park this coming Saturday prior to the big game the Astros are playing against Seattle at 6 PM – and listening live at the meeting to a talk on the status of the team by GM Jeff Luhnow – and then enjoying the game with many other members.

For a more personal contact about our local chapter, feel free to contact our SABR chapter leader, Mr. Bob Dorrill at bdorrill@aol.com

Come join us in the baseball fun. Collectively, we are much more than just a bunch of red dots on a map of Houston.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

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Hits, Heroes, and Storybook Homers (Improved)

August 7, 2018

Altuve Hard To Catch ~ Even 10 Days Into DL Status

 Jose Altuve hasn’t played since he left a game on Wednesday, July 25th with a knee strain. He’s been on the DL since Saturday, July 28th, and his return to action date is still uncertain. Now, on August 7th, and 13 days into this unfortunate period, Altuve still leads the American League in total hits and he also has a strong hold on 2nd place in the batting average competition, trailing only Mookie Betts of the Red Sox for the top spot in that important category. Betts is hitting .342 and Altuve is temporarily frozen at .329. We look for that chase to heat up as soon as Altuve gets back into action.

Here’s the 2018 hit leadership top ten list for American League batters:

AL Hit Leaders thru 8/06/2018

# Piayer Team Hits
1 Jose Altuve Astros 134
2 Jean Segura Mariners 133
3t Francisco Lindor Indians 132
3t J.D. Martinez Red Sox 132
5 Eddie Rosario Twins 131
6 Whit Merrifield Royals 129
7 Mookie Betts Red Sox 125
8t Andrew Benintendi Red Sox 124
8t Nicholas Castellanos Tigers 124
10 Jose Rameriz Indians 122

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 This time, ace researcher Darrell Pittman comes up with a look at fan giveaways and special game offerings at the Astrodome from over a half century ago. The money value of all matters, of course, has changed, but the idea is still its golden perpetual self. ~ Baseball fans are “attachment” people. We like to have souvenirs that have a direct connection to our team, our heroes, and our community. These things, or a large number of them, at least, may wind up in garage sales down the line, but they will still be worth the feelings we got one fine Houston summer day from the simple exercise of bringing them home one night from the Dome or MMP ~ or wherever else it is we worship in the Church of Baseball.

This article, which Darrell Pittman found in the August 13, 1966 edition of the Victoria (TX) Advocate gives us a pretty good look at the early days of the “game day giveaway” art:

 

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Marwin_Gonzalez

~ Marwin Gonzalez ~ His 3-run HR with 2 outs in the top of the 9th in SF on Monday, 8/06/18 gave the Astros a surprising 3-1 win over the Giants.

A Sandlot Dream Came True for Marwin Gonzalez. His 3-run HR with two outs in thetop of the 9th in SF on Monday, 8/06/18 gave the Astros a surprising baseball-gods-aided 3-1 win over the Giants in a game that was all but lost to Houston until Marwin did his Mudville redemption act.

Had you been an Astros fan in the left field stands, what would you have done with the Gonzalez’s game-winning homer ball, had you been there to catch or retrieve it? Would you have given it to the sad little kid stranger sitting next to you when he saw that you had caught the ball that he also had hoped to catch? And let us know, if you don’t mind sharing this little glimpse into the normally flawed territory of human nature.

Thanks. And enjoy Tuesday’s game from Frisco. It starts soon. At 2:00 PM.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

August 5, 2018 Lagniappe

August 5, 2018

The 1950 Pecan Park Eagles
Back: Charles Willis, Billy Sanders, Billy McCurdy, Pepsi (McCurdy dog), Eileen Disch, Johnny McCurdy.
Front: Kenny Kern, Raymond Giese, Jackie Perkins, Randy Hunt.

Brand New John McCurdy Sketch of the Pecan Park Eagles

This artistic rendering of the 1950 Pecan Park Eagles by my artistic brother, John McCurdy, arrived in yesterday’s Saturday mail. When he and I talked about his great work earlier this morning, he quite unnecessarily explained his reasons for taking liberty with reality – one more time.

We never had uniforms like that. ~ We never had uniforms of any kind – not even caps. We were a club of “Shoeless Joes” – with toes and soles as tough as nails – and most often tougher than the loose nails, broken beer bottle glass, and runaway garbage tins that so often ended up on our sacred playing ground. All we needed was the time it took to rinse the foot-cut from the faucet in Mrs. McGee’s flower bed and to make sure that the bleeding had stopped and we’d be back at it – full swing.

Way to go Eagles and thank you again, Brother John! – Today’s gift is both a mighty sweet contribution to the folklore surrounding the brief but passionate life of The Pecan Park Eagles ~ and a major step up the line to our little 1950 team gaining eventual acclaim as the Action Comics Mid-20th Century Juvenile Heroes who would best help lead the fight for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” among their peers.

The Action Comics recognition, of course, was all part our now retroactive dream, but it was easy to find because, at that time, the Pecan Park Eagles were the only kid sandlot baseball team in Houston we know of that also had a girl who played for them as a star pitcher. Her name was Eileen Disch.

And, oh yeah! Eileen also was the only one who always kept her shirt on at Eagle Field. Her personal uniform was blouse and shorts. Otherwise, she was barefoot in the park like the rest of us.

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Lance McCullers, Sr. & Jr.
Minute Maid Park, Houston.

Junior Now has One More Career Win Than Senior

Through all games of August 4, 2018, Lance, Jr. still has a one career win edge over his long ago retired dad at 29 to 28. The comparison is a little irrelevant from the standpoint that Junior a total al starter and his dad was almost exclusively a reliever over similar periods of time ro date.

One thing’s for sure when you look at what both of these men have done and where they’ve done it over time is still pretty clear. – They’ve both got MLB pitching ability flowing through their shared DNA.

A Father & Son MLB Numbers Comparison

Of Lance McCullers, Senior and Junior

Through All Games of August 4, 2018:

McCullers G GS W L ERA IP BB SO HR
Senior 206 9 28 31 3.25 526.1 252 242 47
Junior 80 80 29 22 3.69 451.1 178 505 35

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“Just Brushing My Teeth, Dear!” ~ W. C. Fields. It was a line inspired by too much W.C. Fields drinking time in a locked bathroom at home and a snoopy wife who inevitably asked the “what are you doing in there” question.

“Never Give a Sucker an Even Break!” ~ W.C. Fields

When reached at his present home in a paranormal time dimension beyond our own, here’s what W.C. Fields told our farthest roving reporter when asked if he planned to advise his great-grandson, a Houston Astros season ticket holder for many years, as to what action he should take to the sharp increase in ticket prices for Astros season tickets next year.

Here’s how Fields responded:

Fields: “Help him out? ~ Yes! ~ Good question! ~ Well, I’m not sure I can do that now. ~ You see ~ I just received a handsome consultant fee from the Astros for sharing a piece of advice with them on how this very event might be received by the general public. ~ Yes, it’s pretty tricky territory here! ~ Had to be careful! And fair! ~ After all, the Astros are good, honest people that deserved credit for bringing a World Series title to Houston! ~ And, as everybody knows, it’s going to take some money to keep the championship here!” And keeping the World Series title here benefits all of Houston!

TPPE: “Well, what did you tell the Astros, Mr. Fields?”

Fields: “Sorry, sonny, nothing comes free in this old globe of yours. ~ In other words,  my little little ‘pluck-a-bee’ ~ come up with the dough ~ and I’ll let you know!”

TPPE: “Must be some heavy reading, sir.”

Fields: “It’s not heavy. That’s my cover. ~ The thing’s lighter than air ~ one sentence long ~ all easy words ~ and all put there to shape the heart of every fire-breathing salesman who ever sensed when the fish were jumping into the boat to bite the hook – whether it had a worm on it ~ or not.”

TPPE: “No kidding?”

Fields: “No kidding, my little jabber-wocky! ~ Why, the Astros were so happy with my advice ~ they even gave me a bonus. ~ It’s a tailor-made golf clothes outfit ~ and it comes with two pair of pants ~ just in case I get a hole in one.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to find the men’s room. It’s time to brush my teeth.”

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Bill Gilbert: Astros Struggle in July

August 4, 2018

SABR Analyst and Pecan Park Eagle Contributor Bill Gilbert takes a solid look at the dipsy-doodle road the Astros’ fond hopes took in July 2018.

 

Astros Struggle in July

By Bill Gilbert

It was bound to happen sooner or later. The Houston Astros have fallen on hard times. With Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Brian McCann all on the disabled list, this is not the same team that won the World Series in 2017. The starting pitching was outstanding for the first three months of this season but was below league average in July. The defense, strong in the first half, showed some cracks in July with uncharacteristic physical and mental errors. The offense has gone quiet, especially with runners in scoring position.

The three-game sweep by the Texas Rangers over the Astros in Houston in late July brought back memories of the 2011-2013 Astros as the home team fans hadn’t seen such bad baseball in more recent years. It was the first sweep of a series against Houston all year and left them with a four-game losing streak. The streak was extended to five games the following night by Seattle 2-0, before the Astros won the final game of the of month from the Mariners, 5-2, leaving them with a record of 13-11 for the month and 68-41 for the season. They actually increased their lead in the AL West Division from 1.5 games at the end of June to 4 games at the end of July.

The keys to the Astros remaining on top are 1.) The return of Correa and Altuve, which should happen in early August and 2.) A return to something close to the dominant pitching the team experienced in the first half of the season. The seventeen strikeouts recorded by Astro pitchers in the final game against the Rangers suggests that the dominance could still be there.

There were not many superlatives in the team’s July performance. The team batting average of .237 lowered the season’s average to .257. The team ERA of 3.95 raised the season average to 3.08 still the best in MLB. The only .300 hitter in July was Alex Bregman at an even 300 and he also led the team with 6 home runs and 18 RBIs. Evan Gattis also had 6 home runs. Altuve, who missed only the last 4 games hit .270 for the month. Correa and McCann both missed the entire month. Top prospect, Kyle Tucker, was promoted to the Astros but failed to hit and was sent back down.

The five original starting pitchers have still not missed a start. Performance tailed off in July except for Dallas Keuchel, who was 4-1 with an ERA of 1.65. Hector Rendon took over as closer with 5 saves replacing Ken Giles, who was sent to the minors before being traded with two prospects to Toronto for Roberto Osuna who is expected to be the closer.

The month of August will be critical for the Astros. Seventeen of their twenty-four games are against the three West Coast teams in the AL West Division. Seattle and Oakland will have their opportunities to close the gap. The Astros need to continue their winning ways to prevail.

 

Bill Gilbert

8/2/2018

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Ya Can’t Tease a Buff in a National Park

August 4, 2018

Ya Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd
and
Ya Can’t Tease a Buff in a National Park

Ya Can’t Tease a Buff in a National Park

A Pecan Park Eagle Parody

By Bill McCurdy

 

Ya can’t tease a Buff in a national park

Ya can’t tease a Buff in a national park

Ya can’t tease a Buff in a national park

But you can get arrested if you’ve a mind to

 

Stuck in the car while the traffic’s backin’ up

Stuck in the car while the traffic’s backin’ up

Stuck in the car while the traffic’s backin’ up

Time to make peace ~ not that thing that ya do

 

Ya couldn’t stay sober and just let the time pass

Ya couldn’t stay sober and just let the time pass

Ya couldn’t stay sober and just let the time pass

Now ya may stay in jail ~ where who teases who*

 

 * and even if it’s “who teases whom” ~ your situation is not really improved.

C’mon, Man! ~ Ya just can’t tease a Buff in a national park, or anywhere else, for that matter!

 

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In case you haven’t read the story, here’s an article link which explains how our possibly alcohol-aided fantasy bison matador may actually exist as someone who brought this usually improbable legal problem into his own life a few days ago. Now he will get his day in court to explain how it happened ~ and how the truth differs from the way it appears in the words and pictures so far provided.

https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2018/08/man-who-challenged-yellowstone-bison-arrested-glacier-national-park

You’re not guilty until that’s proven in court.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

PECAN PARK EAGLE TRIVIA CONTEST ANSWERS

August 3, 2018

PECAN PARK EAGLE TRIVIA CONTEST ANSWERS

By Maxwell Kates

As promised, if it’s Friday, August 3, 2018, it must be time for answers to the Pecan Park Eagle Trivia Contest I first issued in June that the Eagle again published again yesterday as a restatement of the questions alone. Today you finally get the answers. Remember, there were fifteen questions, mostly relating to my columns with the Pecan Park Eagle within the past year. ~ In the words of the Great One, Jackie Gleason, “…and away we go!”

(1) Which Hall of Famer was the subject of a recent biography by Marty Appel?

The Hall of Famer was Casey Stengel and the book was entitled “Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character.” Casey (and Marty) were integral to the 2017 SABR convention held in New York. There was a Casey Stengel panel and also a book signing at Citi Field with Marty Appel before a Mets game. Marty was also integral to my New York experience, having run into him in Central Park on the 4th of July.

Marty Appel with Casey Stengel Book.

(2) In what major league stadium did Willie Mays hit his 600th home run in 1969?

San Diego Stadium. As I wrote last August, “Giants’ manager Clyde King told Padres President E. J. “Buzzie” Bavasi that Mays would rest for the first game, on a Monday night. The Padres’ front office decided to open the left field bleachers for the second game of the series, offering a new Chevrolet to any fan lucky enough to catch Mays’ 600th home run. More than 1,200 tickets already had been sold when King called on Mays to pinch hit in the top of the ninth of Monday. Facing Mike Corkins, Mays hit his 600th home run into a sea of empty bleachers. Promotion ruined.”

Willie Mays hit HR #600 at San Diego Stadium.

(3) Justin Verlander pitched two no-hitters for the Detroit Tigers. Who were the opponents?

Milwaukee Brewers, June 12, 2007 (in Detroit). Toronto Blue Jays, May 8, 2011 (in Toronto). I remember exactly where I was for both no-hitters: in Vienna, Austria for the first and in my living room for the second.

Last out of Justin Verlander’s 2nd no-hitter.

(4) Which Astros player hit 53 leadoff home runs in his major league career?

Craig Biggio, in a career spanning 20 years from 1988 to 2007. It’s still a franchise record, though if Connecticut George hits enough Springer Dingers…

Craig Biggio

(5) Roy Halladay was the third Toronto Blue Jays’ pitcher to win the Cy Young Award. Name the other two.

Pat Hentgen was actually the first, having outdistanced Deer Park resident Andy Pettitte for the American League Cy Young Award in 1996. He was followed by another Houston-area resident, Roger Clemens, who won the Cy Young in 1997 and again in 1998. Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash in 2017, won the Cy Young for the Blue Jays in 2003.

Clemens and Hentgen

(6) Who won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1953?

It was Al Rosen of the Cleveland Indians. Leading the league in both home runs and RBI, Rosen narrow missed the Triple Crown when he lost the batting title to Washington’s Mickey Vernon when he hit .336 to Vernon’s .337. Rosen later became a general manager, including 1980 to 1985 with the Astros.

Al Rosen as Astros General Manager, 1980-1985.

(7) Five members of the 1982 Houston Astros, four in uniform and one in the broadcast booth, also managed the team. Name them.

You’ll find them all in the Astros’ 1982 yearbook:

  • Bill Virdon (manager, 1975-1982)
  • Bob Lillis (manager, 1982-1985)
  • Art Howe (manager, 1989-1993)
  • Larry Dierker (manager, 1997-2001)
  • Phil Garner (manager, 2004-2007)

Phil Garner.

(8) According to Irish folk legend, what is the surname of the only man capable of killing a local man-eating sea serpent?

This was from a book by Michael Spencer Bown called “The World’s Most Travelled Man.” His final country was Ireland, where he writes about the legend in question:

            “A local legend says that a man-eating sea serpent lives nearby and can only be slain by a man             named McCurdy wearing clothing made of calf skin, wielding a club with three nails in it that have never been used to shoe a horse.”

             It was written in the Pecan Park Eagle about the ancestor, presumably named Liam, No one in our family has read the book – and the McCurdy ancestor it references never read any books –  but we do still have this sketch of him holding the club we also still possess. – Do we still need to dispatch that Irish sea serpent?”

Liam McCurdy ~ strolling ~ in the early days of the Emerald Isle.
~ Once Upon a Time, Liam McCurdy charmed the snakes into an unconscious state. His recent descendants have since learned that sometimes a carefully worded blog column can accomplish the same end, … but only on snakes, mind you; only on snakes.

 (9) What five Astros represented the team at the 1994 All-Star Game?

 The five Astros’ All-Stars were Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Ken Caminiti, Doug Drabek, John Hudek. Not to be outdone are the five Astros at the 2018 All-Star Game: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, Gerrit Cole, and Justin Verlander.

1994 Houston Astros

(10) How many African American pitchers have won 20 games in a season. Which of the ‘Black Aces’ won 20 games for the Astros one season?

There were 15 ‘Black Aces,’ African American pitchers to win 20 games in a season. The Astro was J. R. Richard, who went 20-15 in 1976.

The One and Only J.R. ~
JAMES RODNEY RICHARD
~ BIGGER THAN THE LETTERS IN HIS NAME!

(11) What village in upstate New York hosted the first SABR convention in 1971?

It was Cooperstown, on August 10, 1971. SABR 1 was attended by 16 members. One of the 16, Tom Hufford, is still a member, having attended the 2018 SABR convention in Pittsburgh.

Cooperstown, New York

Editorial Note: On our far too brief only trip to Cooperstown in the summer of 1994, I had to ask one of the baseball item storekeepers what he did during the cold, often snowbound, months of winter. His answer came back with the ring in a voice that you only hear from people who get asked the same question all the time.

“Inventory,” said the Cooperstown merchant. (TPPE)

(12) Name two members of the Larry Dierker Chapter, both of Irish heritage, who played professional baseball before the formation of the Houston Colt .45s. (Note that I didn’t say MALE baseball players.)

The two were Larry Miggins and Red Mahoney. Miggins, born in the Bronx in 1925, played in parts of two seasons (1948, ’52) with the St. Louis Cardinals. After playing in parts of four seasons with the Houston Buffs (1949, ’51-53), Miggins and his wife Kathleen, along with twelvchildren, settled in the Houston area.

Meanwhile, Emily Marie “Red” Mahoney (1924-2016) was a lifelong Houstonian, the only native of the Bayou City to play in the All American Girls’ Professional Baseball League. Red was an outfielder for the South Bend Blue Sox and the Ft. Wayne Daisies, 1947-1948.

Miggins claims that his childhood acquaintance Vin Scully called half the home runs he hit in a major league uniform (he hit two). {Editor’s Note: Larry Miggins’s “claim” is true and it has been verified many times over by his childhood friend and Fordham Academy classmate, Vin Scully. – Scully made the prediction while the two were still in high school that ~ one day ~ Miggins would play in the majors and that he (Scully) would be at the mike to broadcast it and the HR that followed. It happened that way on May 13, 1952 in Ebbets Field when Larry Miggins, batting for the Cardinals, hit his first MLB homer off Preacher Roe of the Dodgers, as a very young Vin Scully made the radio call for the home town Brooklyns.} ~ TPPE

Has Anybody Here Seen Larry L-A-Double-R-Y???
HE’S RIGHT HERE WITH R-E-D RED MAHONEY!!!

(13) Who is the only living Hall of Famer to work as the director of a funeral home?

Andre Dawson. Andre and his wife Vanessa have owned the Paradise Memorial Funeral Home in the Miami area since 2008. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Thanks to Russell R. Hansen for this trivia question.

Andre Dawson is the only Hall of Fame member who also operates a Funeral Home as the owner and funeral director.

 (14) What pitcher surrendered Rick Monday’s decisive home run in Game 5 of the 1981 National League Championship Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers?

Steve Rogers. He was brought in to pitch the ninth inning. Despite a solid effort by starter Ray Burris, the Expos scored only one run in eight innings, the same as the Dodgers.

Steve Rogers.

 

(15) Finally, who was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 1964 World Series?

Bob Gibson. He pitched a complete game victory over the Yankees.

Bob Gibson, 1964 World Series.

The Percy Fielding Prize

How you did is all a matter of fun, but we would enjoy your comments on trivia quizzes? Do you like them, loathe them, or simply see them as a take-it-or-leave-it part of baseball group life?

As for our early June challenge for answer submissions to these same questions by e-mail to the writer, we do have a winner to announce. The winner is Victoria Riggsbee, who reads the Pecan Park Eagle in Raleigh, North Carolina. Vickie wins a baseball card of Percy Fielding. And that will be mailed to her by yours truly, Maxwell Kates.

Percy Fielding
(Prince Fielder)

Congratulations to Victoria, and thanks to everyone who reads the Pecan Park Eagle. I hope everyone enjoys the balance of summer 2018!

It doesn’t go without saying. For baseball fans of contenders, a lot of your September enjoyment now rides on how your club handles the largely remaining rest of August. ~ Right, Astros fans?

Sincerely,

Maxwell Kates

Bonus Question and Answer:

Oh yeah, Here’s the pictorial answer to the Bonus Question: “What was the name of Publisher Bill McCurdy’s 1950 east end Houston sandlot baseball team?

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle