Frank Lane’s 1972 Take on Baseball

June 27, 2017

“I’ve been in baseball forty years and anybody who knows me knows I’m not forever harping back to the good old days. Still, when players used to get together years ago, they’d talk about winning ball games and getting base hits. Now when they get together all they generally talk about is money.”
~ “Trader Frank” Lane
November 18, 1972,

 

I ran into an interesting UPI article from 1972 about how football had taken over the public’s heart, discarding the more boring game of baseball to a back seat of athletes that seemed to care more about the money than the actual game they played. The article is anonymously written, but it is heavily reliant upon the directly quoted input of the old drifter GM the game of baseball once knew as Trader Frank Lane. As one who also remembers that time as a baseball fan, my memory is a little different. I remember the change that was well under way by 1972, but I also recall it as a time of change that had greased its wheels on the merger of the AFL and the NFL, the first Super Bowl of 1967, and the emergence of football all over the television screen as an apparent market result of this new harmony in the football world. This article seems to tie baseball’s decline also to the emergence of the player’s union and all of those fat new contracts that were suddenly appearing and whetting the players’ appetites for bigger pieces of the pie than they ever dreamed possible earlier. The funny thing is, when you read the quoted column here, that the big deals these baseball players were getting by 1972 read like total chump change in comparison to today’s reality.

A Shot in the Slightly Lighted Dark. The action appeal of the NFL probably draws fans more heavily from the same people that enjoy Duane Johnson movies, whereas, baseball is more likely to be attractive to movie fans of Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Just read the piece and leave a comment, if you are generously inclined to do so.

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The following is excerpted from the Camden (ARK.) News, Tuesday, November 18, 1972, Page 6:

FOOTBALL GAME OF EMOTION

HONOLULU (UPI) – The game with all the emotion today, the one that stirs the fans the most, unquestionably is football.

You don’t need any polls to tell you that.

There used to be a time when baseball was America’s leading emotional game. Not only from the standpoint of the fans who’d discussed the game by the hour, argue about it and live by it. But also from the standpoint of the players, who creating a rich history of their own, realized they were and delighted in it.

Today much of the emotion has disappeared from baseball. The motivation which used to be a trademark of such once-great organizations as the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees and New York Giants simply doesn’t exist to anywhere the degree it once did.

Certainly the baseball players of today don’t get half as emotional about their work as the football players do. To the great majority of baseball players, it’s merely a job and little more.

“I’ve always been called the ‘champion’ of the ballplayers, the only one who always defends them,” says Frank Lane, the Milwaukee Brewers Exec.

“They call me that, I suppose, because I honestly like ballplayers and make no secret of the fact. That doesn’t mean that I am blind to the change that has taken place in them. Baseball actually is an emotional game, highly emotional. It was, anyway, and to some extent that emotion is still there. But the fact is they’re prouder of their players’ association today than the clubs they work for. The fans? They come third with a good percentage of the ballplayers.

“I’ve been in baseball forty years and anybody who knows me knows I’m not forever harping back to the good old days. Still, when players used to get together years ago, they’d talk about winning ball games and getting base hits. Now when they get together all they generally talk about is money.”

There’s no question the players’ strike of last spring hurt baseball.  It hurt the players, the owners and the general image of the game.

Marvin Miller, the Head of the Players Association, is an extraordinarily capable man. He has done a remarkable job in the players’ public behalf, but even he’d admit the players’ public relations have been handled poorly.

The way it is now most people think the ballplayers are enormously greedy. They think every ball player is a millionaire when in fact only 22 out of 660 major leaguers earn as much as $100,000 per year and more than half the remainder receive less than $40,000 (per annum) and average less than five years at their occupation.

As matters now stand, the fans generally have an incorrect impression of ballplayers and the players have that same incorrect impression of club owners. The players peg most of their owners as cheapskates, and that makes a man like Frank Lane laugh.

“I remember signing Stan Musial for $90,000 one year when I was general manager with the Cardinals,” he said. “I had occasion to call up Gussie Busch (Cards’ owner) and after telling him what I did he said, ‘I’ve never had a $100,000 ballplayer. Do you mind making Stan’s salary $100,000 instead of $90,000?’ I told him I didn’t mind at all. It was his money.”

That was 16 years ago when there was more emotion in baseball. More among the owners, the players and the fans.

Frank Lane remembers another episode. This one took place last spring shortly before the players’ strike.

Jim Lonborg, Ken Sanders, Jim Colburn and Ellie Rodriquez of the Brewers were sitting around the clubhouse in Tempe, Ariz., talking with Lane about the profit and loss in baseball.

“You think there’s a lot of profit in running a major league ball club?” he asked the players.

“There certainly is,” they chorused.

“You think so,” Lane countered. “What would you say if I told you three clubs in the American League made any money at all last year?”

“We’d never buy that,” said one of the players.

“In other words, you think only owners make money.”

“Yup.”

“OK, I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” said Lane. “I’ll make each of you this same proposition: I’ll give you each a $10,000 contract to start with and see to it that you each share proportionately in the club profits, assuming there are any at the end of the season. Say we make a million dollars. Each of you would get one 20th of that. In effect, each of you’d be a four per cent owner in the club. Whadd’ya say?”

“O, Jeeze, no,” the players all said.

It was an offer they could refuse easily, without any emotion at all.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Rob Sangster’s Deep Time Wins Lit Award

June 26, 2017

ROB SANGSTER
EPIC 2017 WINNER
FOR WRITING DEEP TIME
SUSPENSE/THRILLER

Rob Sangster is both an ancient trusted friend and a fellow graduate in the St. Thomas High School Class of 1956. Once upon a time, we both got started writing on the staff of The St. Thomas Eagle. Then we graduated and went our separate ways, not following the direct path to writing we may once have thought possible – and thus allowing the creative door to be shut by some molding from the fields of law and health science and the utilitarian view of writing as more of a functional goal tool of each broad profession – and not a channel for artistic expression.

This morning I could not be happier for my old friend.

EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Internet Coalition, “the voice of eBook publishing since 1998,” has announced that Rob Sangster’s second novel, DEEP TIME, has just won the EPIC 2017 award as best suspense/thriller of the year.

Way to go, Rob! I read and reviewed Deep Time for a column here a while back. A link to that column and three others we’ve done on Rob Sangster is available at the end of today’s column.

Jack Strider, the protagonist of DEEP TIME, is a Stanford law professor unjustly forced off the faculty because of a nasty scandal involving his father, a judge. In private practice on Pier 9 of the San Francisco waterfront, Jack must confront Petros Barbas, billionaire shipping magnate. Barbas is pursuing a source of unlimited energy in the seabed considered far too hazardous to exploit. If Strider can’t stop him, Barbas’ psychopathic scheme will launch a tsunami that will devastate the west coast of North America. In a subplot, Strider’s partner in law and love, Debra Vanderberg, is suing Travis Air Force base for generating toxins that are killing people on and off the base.

Rob’s first book in the Strider series, GROUND TRUTH, may have been something akin to a double loop ride that had been added to the old Texas Cyclone, but DEEP TIME even surpasses. And these stories generate from the strength and passionate ardor for justice in a better world that emanate relentlessly from the central character, Jack Strider.

If you ask me, I will tell you quickly who this guy Jack Strider really is. At 6’4″ in height and a degree from Stanford Law School, he’s the dead-ringer alter-ego of his originator, Rob Sangster. He’s also an adrenaline junkie who almost seems to relish getting into jams that often require him to be the smartest guy in the room to somehow survive against all odds. Think of a much taller and smarter Tom Cruise, now paired again with an also bright and extremely athletic Katie Holmes as his gal pal true love, Debra Vanderberg. – Now that Tom is taller, Katie no longer has any need to denigrate his character’s action mode as over-compensation for his lack of vertical stature – and to simply accept the fact that they are both behaving naturally. In their own rights, Jack and Debra are both well matched as super-unleaded and premium grade “adrenaline junkies.”

A third book in the Jack Strider series (working title – NO RETURN – promises to be another page turning thriller too, so please stay tuned.

If any of you Jack Strider Series readers want to pass on your own congratulations or questions to Rob, please drop him a personal e-mail – and/or leave a public word in the comment section that always follows these columns in The Pecan Park Eagle. – Words coming back at us are like water to the spirits of all who live to write. Our friend Rob Sangster here is a 21st Century Renaissance Man. He doesn’t write for approval. He writes because he’s a writer. And that’s what writers do. Whether anyone likes them or not. Or whether anyone pays them or not.

Rob Sangster E-Mail Address   rob@sangster.com

That being said, it’s still nice to hear from people. No matter what.

Rob writes that the EPIC Award came like a giant shot of adrenaline after long hours of completing the draft of his third and newest Jack Strident adventure. – What was that you heard me say earlier here about the synchronicity streak that bonds Rob Sangster and his Jack Strider character? He also left us with a mild hint about the content course of his next Strider adrenaline fix. (Hint: the evil-doer in the next one is the CEO of a firm remarkably similar to Goldman Sachs.)

“Creating fictional worlds is exhilarating but challenging,” Rob Sangster says, “especially unlearning the didactic writing style favored in law school.”

As a devoted fan of his first two Jack Strider offerings, I have to say that Rob has done a damn good job of wrestling free from the legalese.

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Four Previous Pecan Park Eagle Columns on Rob Sangster, (2012-2016).

Here are the titles and links:

Rob Sangster: Chairman of the Bored No More 

 https://bill37mccurdy.com/2012/03/18/rob-sangster-chairman-of-the-bored-no-more/

Ground Truth: By Rob Sangster

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2012/10/17/ground-truth-by-rob-sangster/

Deep Time By Rob Sangster is Great Read

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2015/07/15/deep-time-by-rob-sangster-is-great-read/

Rob Sangster: A Man of Great Passion for Life

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2016/11/17/rob-sangster-a-man-of-great-passion-for-life/

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

The Cleveland Spiders Were Never This Scary

June 26, 2017

John Houseman

Darrell Pittman has come up with yet another story of merit from Houston’s baseball past and this Houston Post story from June 29, 1896 goes all the back to a funny game incident that unfolded here in town during the city’s first 1888 professional base ball season as the unforgettable “Houston Babies.”

The unnamed Houston writer who did the published article attributes credit here to Frank Houseman, a later player for the 1899 Houston club, to having sent the story to him by mail. It’s a shame that either the writer’s modesty, or the Post’s policy, prevented him from taking authorship responsibility. For history’s sake too, even in matters of no apparent vast consequence, it sure is a lot easier pinning down the truth in printed stories if we know up front who put them in motion in the first place.

At any rate, here’s what we got:

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Houston Daily Post, June 29, 1896:

AN ALLEGED INCIDENT.

How Houseman Says Red Ehret Lost a Game in Houston.

Cicago [sic] News.

Frank Houseman, the Chicagoan who is now captaining the New Orleans team, sent me some reminiscences a day or so ago, which would probably make a few of the best known players in the big league writhe and wriggle were they to be published in full. One story, which is on “Red” Ehret of the Cincinnatis, tells me how a championship was won and lost years ago through the agency of fear – fear as implanted in the mind of Phil Ehret, as a result of excusable circumstances.

Red Everett

“It was in 1888,” says Houseman, “and I was playing in the Texas league. Ehret was pitching for another team and the rivalry was intense. Great crowds of excited Texans turned out to all the games and there were all kinds of uproar and hostile demonstration. No, there was no shooting. Up in the Wisconsin league I have seen the cranks on the bleachers take shots at the players with rubber slings, but this was Texas, and they don’t do such thinks there nowadays. Well, it was the day of the great, grand, deciding game between Galveston and Houston, and about everybody in Galveston was on hand to yell, while the Houston gang had brought a great crowd of rooters along. I got into conversation with Ehret before the game, and heard him say, among other things, that he had nearly been bitten by a tarantula during a game at San Antonio. ‘Those spiders,’ growled ‘Red,’ ‘have little holes in the sand, and if you step on their burrows the blamed things come out and bite you. And their bite is rank poison – kills every time. You never know when one of them is around – the only thing you can do is to watch the ground, and when you see one of them crawl out of his tunnel, nail him!’

“Just then the gong struck and the game was called. Well, it was nip and tuck, red-hot, for eight and a half innings. When the finish came, I seemed, between the heat and the hard work, in a dream. Suddenly I awoke and realized how matters stood. I was down in the coaching square. It was the last half of the ninth. We were one behind and had two on bases. Two were out and a feeble hitter at the plate. The crowd, in utter despair, was getting ready to give a final wail and go home. It was off with us, for sure.

“Just them, I don’t know why, I happened to recall Ehret’s story of the tarantula. I remember smiling as I thought about it. Just them – pop – the batter put a little fly.

“It came down right over Ehret and ‘Red,’ a good fielder, with a chance that he couldn’t miss, spread his hands. I opened my mouth as wide as I could stretch it and yelled: ‘Red! Red! Look out for the spider!’

“Well, Ehret gave a shriek and sprang backward seven feet. His frightened eyes swept along the ground and the ball, unnoticed and uncared for, fell on the sand. Both runners skated in and we had won. Did ‘Red’ kick? Oh, not at all. He simply had deliriums and I left the park over the fence before he could get his senses together.

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Biggest Holes in the Story

  1. Houseman says he was playing in the Texas League in 1888, but Baseball Reference (“BR”) apparently has been unable to confirm where that might have been. “BR” records show Houseman breaking into professional baseball in 1891 at the age of 21 with Grand Rapids.
  2. Red Ehret was a pitcher for Kansas City in 1888. There is no “BR” mention that Ehret ever played with either Houston or Galveston.
  3. There is also no “BR” reference that John Houseman and Phil “Red” Everett ever played professional baseball together on the same team.

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Links to the “BR” records for Houseman and Everett

John Franklin Houseman

http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=housem002joh

Phil “Red” Ehret

http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=ehret-001phi

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Welcome to the wonderful world of early baseball research. Thanks to data forces like Baseball Reference and Baseball Almanac and the availability of so many newspaper file sources over the Internet, it is, like all things, now a lot easier to research than it was even twenty years ago, but it’s still a formidable challenge.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Africa: My First Publication, May 1953

June 26, 2017

AFRICA
By Bill McCurdy
Age 15
May 1953

 

Everything has a beginning except God Himself. This afternoon I remembered that years ago I found the first thing I ever had published in a late May final school year copy of the The St. Thomas Eagle, the newspaper of St. Thomas High School here in Houston. I wasn’t writing for the paper then. I was still playing baseball and busy finishing up my freshman year of high school at age 15.

Then somebody lit up my sky. Someone on the newspaper, and I never learned who it was, had pulled an English composition poem I had written out of the student papers bin and published it in that last copy of The Eagle – and with credit to me as “Africa” by Bill McCurdy.

It may as well have been the New York Times or The New Yorker. – Who in their right mind would want to publish anything I wrote, spoke the dreamer mind of a kid from the east end. Because, even if my long dead never-met-him grandfather had been a newspaper man, and even if I always had given “journalism” as my answer to the famous “what do you want to when you grow up” question, I still figured that I was a long way off at age 15 from actually writing anything that anyone would care to print. As such, the St. Thomas Eagle looked pretty lofty to this once innocent mind at the time. I was just beside myself with joy, even if now, I see so much of the limited and naive perspective I had upon Africa and its people in those past and then present times.

Nobody ever wrote anything positive about Africa and her people that I ever read back in 1953 – and I wanted to give it a try, even if my wounded and limited thoughts on Christian history and salvation were just about all I had to offer to the poetic art form back in those getting-ready-to-heat-up times in the march for essential racial change in America. I guess sometimes we only respond to the part of truth’s light that hits us directly – and even then – the light is dimmed by the presence of an overriding cultural darkness and atmosphere of restraint that is only overcome when wisdom finally speaks loudly enough for us to hear the message that we have no good choice but to respond in the name of justice. That wisdom day came a little later for me, but, had the Eagle not published “Africa”, I most likely would have forgotten when I heard its first whispers. Then it later became a fire that will never go out.

Thank you, St. Thomas Eagle! ~ Thank you, Anonymous Editorial Rescuer! ~ Thank you, “Africa”!

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Africa

By Bill McCurdy, May 1953

Africa, the land of the dark-skinned people;

Some are pygmies, some tall as a steeple.

Africa, the land of the lion’s roar,

That echoes from Capetown to the Red Sea’s shore.

 

Africa, the land of the Great Pyramid;

Where the treasure of Cheops, securely is hid.

Africa, the land where the native’s drum beat,

Travels far into the torrid jungle heat.

 

Africa, the land where big game are sought;

Where many a battle twixt man and beast are fought.

Africa, the land where the River Nile,

Stretches out in gusto for many a mile.

 

Africa, the land where the Moslem horde,

Spread its religion by use of the sword.

Africa, the land where the feet of the Vandals,

Replaced the footsteps of Roman Sandals.

 

Africa, the land where the Second World War,

Left the Dark Continent with a battle scar,

Africa, the land where men want peace,

And that never again shall their freedom cease.

 

Africa, the land where the pagan mold,

Produces new fields for missionaries to hold.

Africa, the land where civilization came late;

But a few years from now, she will surely be great.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

That ’47 Buffs Astrodome All Star Game Team

June 25, 2017

Victoria (TX) Advocate
June 27, 1972
Found by Darrell Pittman

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Further Transmittal Comment and article Link submitted by Darrell Pittman:

“Interesting that they made mention of the July 4 Old Timer’s game in this June 27 issue, but in the July 5th issue there’s no mention of it.”

https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8ThIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=bIEMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3726%2C3838423

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Link to the Actual Roster of the 1947 Dixie Series Champions, the Houston Buffs

http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/team.cgi?id=8dfd3b06

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Interesting note, Darrell. Thanks for another eagle-eyed Houston Baseball History nugget find. I was on vacation from Houston when this all-star game took place and don’t recall which players actually showed up, but am not surprised that the 120-miles away Victoria Advocate would not carry any follow-up reference to an event that was basically on the schedule as July 4th holiday gate booster event. It is possible we could learn more from access to the July 5, 1972 sports page copies of the Houston newspapers, but even they may have fallen silent during an era of even dimmer interest in the history of the city’s minor league history during the dawn of all our new big league and out-of-this-world Hofheinz-inspired imagery.

Perhaps the game idea started with former Buffs and later Cardinals managers, Eddie Dyer, Johnny Keane, and/or Solly Hemus (all Houston area residents) getting the ball rolling. A number of former ’47 Buffs, including manager Johnny Keane, pitcher Pete Mazar, catcher Gerry Burmeister, shortstop Billy Costa, 2nd baseman Solly Hemus, left fielder Eddie Knoblauch, and center fielder Hal Epps were all local in 1972 and still  fit enough to have played that day, as were numerous ex-Buffs from other many former seasons. Our own SABR senior member, left fielder Larry Miggins, comes instantly to mind, as does my old friend and book co-author 1st basemen Jerry Witte, pitcher Red Munger, catcher Frank Mancuso, outfielders Jim Basso and Russell Rac.

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Elder Houston Buff Player Notes

Solly Hemus turned age 97 on February 11, 2017.

Larry Miggins (God Willing) will turn age 92 on August 20, 2017.

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God Bless You, Buff Star Baseball Men! ~ Your Feats Do Still Dismay!

Buff Fans Shall Always Think of You ~ In Love’s Eternal Way!

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“Those were the days, my friend! ~ Somehow they’ll never end!”

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Good Luck Today, Caleb Gilbert!

June 24, 2017

Caleb Gilbert, #41, takes the mound for LSU in their semi-final elimination game with Oregon State today.

Grandfather Bill Gilbert sent several of us this excited e-mail about 11 o’clock last night, Friday evening, June 23, 2017:

“LSU ended No. 1 Oregon State’s 23-game winning streak today with a 3-1 win.  They play again tomorrow (Saturday) at 2 pm on ESPN in Omaha to determine which team goes to the finals next week.  Grand-son, Caleb Gilbert is scheduled to be the starting pitcher for LSU.”

Bill Gilbert

billcgilbert@sbcglobal.net

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Guess where Grandpa Bill Gilbert and many others of us are going to be at 2 pm this afternoon?

Easy guess, right? And thank God for HD big screen color TV that makes every game now as crisp and clear and colorful as they can so far bring us now to the experience of actually being there for a big moment on this level. It also doesn’t take much imagination to get in touch with the feelings our friend Bill Gilbert is going through right now. All I can say is:

“Bill, we love you. man! All of your SABR friends and colleagues are with you 100% on this one. – Go get ’em, Caleb, but also remember too. – No matter how things turn out on the field, only the “best of the best” get this far in Omaha. Give it your best shot for LSU out there on the mound today and then let the chips fall where destiny and fate intends for them to land. That’s just the way this old planet rolls.”

The winner of today’s 2 pm LSU (3-1) – Oregon State (2-1) game will move on to face the winner of the 7 pm TCU (3-1) – Florida (2-1) game that is also up for grabs this Saturday to determine next week’s pairing for the Omaha NCAA College Baseball Championship best 2 of 3 games series that begins Monday.

Meanwhile, GO CALEB GILBERT and FAMILY! ~ GO LSU TIGERS! ~ GO DAVID MUNGER! ~ GO ALEX BREGMAN! ~ GO WILL HARRIS! and GO CAJUN NATION!

My apologies for misspelling “GEAUX” in the immediately preceding gust of LSU partisan salutations.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

How Many Coaches Does an MLB Club Need?

June 24, 2017

Every good baseball team needs at least one coach who can teach this much broader lesson to the talented younger players. Otherwise, little else is going to matter much.

 

Thanks to our SABR colleague Paul Rogers of SMU Law for pointing out this wonderful column in the June 23, 2017 edition of The Hardball Times by Frank Jackson on what the writer calls “Creeping Coachism” in Major league Baseball. It’s really nothing new. We’ve seen it taking over the halls of government over the past century at an ever-expanding rate and we’ve seen it also making some pretty serious dents in the fattest of corporations in recent times, as well.

Besides, it’s only money, right? How can having too much help at the decision-making level possibly be a problem for anyone – even in baseball?

Here’s the article link:

http://www.hardballtimes.com/creeping-coachism/

Jackson uses the Texas Rangers to exemplify his point. In 1972, the brand new shifted-to-Texas Rangers had four (4) assistant. Today, in 2017, they now have 11, with the forever present question hanging out there awaiting its eventual answer. – Are MLB teams on their ways to having as many non-playing employees in uniform as they are actual contributing players?

In the interest of a little fun, we took the current list of 11 Texas Ranger coaches and added 14 new field administrative positions to bring the total list of non-playing uniformed Ranger assistants up to 25, the number needed to match the 25 names available as players. Of course, when you throw in Rangers manager Jeff Banister (and, yes, by all means, do throw him in – and throw him in hard) to the plan for the expansion of coaching personnel with variable non-playing differential authority over the Rangers. Adding Banister to the mix, uniformed Ranger administrators will then outnumber the uniformed roster players, 26-25, once all positions are filled.

That “(TBNLUA)” acronym which precedes each currently uncreated or filled position, of course, stands for “To Be Named Later Upon Approval”:

The Future 25-Person Managerial Staff of the Texas Rangers

  1. Tony Beasley, Third Base Coach
  2. (TBNLUA), Extra Base Risk Assessor
  3. Josh Bonifay, Field Coordinator
  4. (TBNLUA), Infield Shift Coordinator
  5. (TBNLUA), Outfield Shift Coordinator
  6. Doug Brocail, Head Pitching Coach
  7. (TBNLUA), RH Pitching Coach Specialist
  8. (TBNLUA), LH Pitching Coach Specialist
  9. (TBNLUA), Tommy John Recovery Coach
  10. Steve Buechele, Bench Coach
  11. Mark Connor, Special Assistant, Pitching
  12. (TBNLUA), Coaches Card Games Coordinator
  13. Josh Frasier, Bullpen Catcher
  14. Brad Holman, Bullpen Coach
  15. Anthony Iapoce, RHB Hitting Coach
  16. (TBNLUA), LHB Hitting Coach
  17. Justin Mashore, Assistant Hitting Coach
  18. (TBNLUA), Bunting & Pepper Game Coach
  19. (TBNLUA), Base Running Coach
  20. Bob Jones, Replay Coordinator
  21. (TBNLUA), Foreplay Coordinator
  22. (TBNLUA), Failed Game Plan Assessor
  23. Hector Ortiz, First Base Coach
  24. (TBNLUA), Sunflower Seeds Acquisitions Coach
  25. (TBNLUA), Post-Game OF Victory Dance Coordinator

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If you see any improvements or additional positions that ought to be considered by the Rangers, please post your suggestions here in the comment section that follows each of our columns.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Introducing Astros Worry Bird

June 22, 2017

“THE SKY IS FALLING! ~ THE SKY IS FALLING!”
~ ASTROS WORRY BIRD, 1965 to 2017
….and ongoing!

 

Hello, Astros Fans! Please allow me to introduce myself!

My birth name’s “Yershitenme Bigtime Daingerfeld”, but I prefer to simply go by my painfully earned nickname, “Astros Worry Bird.”  I’ve been watching this club since 1962, when Houston joined the big leagues, but I didn’t worry so much those first three seasons the club played as the Colt. 45s (1962-1964). Even the younger version of me was smart enough to know that expansion clubs never win anything with players they had to rescue from a baseball pool, but that quickly changed once we moved into our first permanent home. (Did you get that? I said “first permanent home.” In the world of my mind, you can’t even be sure that your permanent home is forever.) 

Anyway, once we moved into the Astrodome in 1965 and changed our team identity to the Houston Astros, I started to worry plenty. The futuristic grandeur of that place just brought out all the negative thoughts I ever had about Houston having enough money and power to acquire and keep the kinds of players it was going to take to reach and win a World Series even once, let alone, do it over and over and over again in dynasty-fashion like the New York Freezin’ Yankees!

Unfortunately, the next 35 years of Astros play in the Astrodome (1965-1999) proved that my concerns were based in reality. When the Astros literally ditched the Dome to go to the current ball park at Union Station in downtown Houston in 2000, they made the exodus from their total MLB history to that point with a complete club record of 38 seasons, 0 World Series wins, and 0 National League pennants. Had all these players acted out the 1999 move as though it were owner Drayton McLane as Moses leading the Israelites across the parted waters of the Red Sea and out of Egypt, just to take a team that had never won anything downtown, God might have taken a closer look at that loser history scoreboard, then waited until the team reached the middle of the sea behind McLane, and then gently lowered His Mighty Hand and allowed the waters to close together around the lot of them.

But God did not so fatally act in 1999. The Lord is far more forgiving than most baseball fans.

So, here we are. In 17 seasons downtown at the place we now venerate as Minute Maid Park, the Astros still have zero World Series wins, but they do now have that one World Series appearance from 2007 and that one National League pennant from 2007 that made it possible. Now playing in their 4th season (2014-2017) as members of the American League, the Astros now have the best record in the big leagues with a 49-24 mark overall – and that is good enough this morning for a 12.5 game lead in the AL West.

You will now sometimes hear from me here at the Pecan Park Eagle, but don’t worry, I will try to keep the expression of my worries in proportion to the existence of an actual threat so that will keep my concerns down to a precious few.

This morning I only have one concern.

I read in the July 22, 2017 Houston Chronicle that Astros reliever Jandel Gustave had to have Tommy John surgery and that he will now have to miss the rest of the 2017 season and most of 2018. That’s not good – so I got to thinking: “What if all the other Astros current roster pitchers also suddenly had to have Tommy John surgery too? Uh! Oh! That could really screw up our World Series plans for this fall!”

Then I remembered why the blackbird is the symbol for all negative thoughts and let go of that whole stupid idea. Now I’m back to feeling like “Mellow Bird” – the fellow I am when I get into the here and now present and just hang out for the sheer joy of breathing life into my soul.

Negative thoughts are like blackbirds. It only takes one to land in your mind and start cackling.

Unless you know it’s there and shake free of its grasp, the first blackbird thought that lands starts cackling for its like-minded negative friends. Left alone to cackle, these blackbirds of the mind just keep cackling until they have built up the worry to some preposterous level – like all the pitchers going out with Tommy John surgery in near time to each other.

Ain’t going to happen!

So, what’s the remedy for Worry Bird?

  1. Say boo to the earliest negative thoughts that land in your mind. They cannot grow unless you feed them.
  2. Worries cannot grow once you scatter the blackbird thoughts.
  3. Put your energies into the here and now present.
  4. Accentuate the positive.
  5. Eliminate the negative.
  6. Don’t mess with Mr. In Between.
  7. Play or take in a baseball game.
  8. And don’t feed the peanuts and sunflower seeds to the blackbirds of your mind.

See you again here, possibly. In the meanwhile, watch out if I try to land in your minds individually.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Baseball and Life Differences

June 22, 2017

Bud Selig
Baseball Hall of Fame
July 2017 Inductee

 

People who say that baseball is a metaphor for life are way off base. Try to convince me of that idea and I will tell you, going in, you’ve got two strikes against you from you very first trip to the plate. And you’d be listening to somebody coming at you from left field to think otherwise. As a simple swing of logic, this one’s a complete can of corn with no all-out dead-run “iffiness” about it.

Why am I so sure? Well, take a look at the differences between life and baseball that are as plain to see as called strikes to a blind umpire themselves and figure it out for yourself:

Whereas, life in America starts with birth – followed by childhood – followed by graduation from either regular school or the hard knocks variety – followed by getting a job – getting married – having kids – raising kids – retirement – growing old – getting sick and then dying – nobody ever is guaranteed that they will have the right combination of talent, opportunity, help, and good luck to be re-born to the game of baseball – even here – or in every place of the world – although, it does help to have been born in the USA, Latin America, or Japan for those chances to kick in.

Bottom Line Differences:

  1. Life is for everybody; baseball is not.
  2. Life can end in a tie score; baseball cannot.
  3. Life players end up in cemeteries or crematoriums.
  4. Great baseball players prefer to end up in Halls of Fame.
  5. Some great life players have their own Halls of Fame for what they do, but these are rarely places that people plan their family vacations around trips to go see.

One Awful Exception to the Life/Baseball Difference Rule

Sometimes undeserving baseball administrators use the power of their positions to trade their decisions on personal retirement in exchange for an egregiously undeserved merit induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In that regard, baseball and life are too similar for undisturbed contemplation for long in a normally peaceful mind.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Miggins: Short and Sweet Is Hard to Beat

June 20, 2017

Kathleen and Larry Miggins

 

Short and sweet is hard to beat, especially when those qualities flow so naturally and life-fully from the  wit and wisdom of a still wild Irish rose at the least expected of times.

This morning I made asimple friendship call to the residence of Larry and Kathleen Miggins, just to say hello, and to ask about Larry’s latest progress from that bad fall he took late last year.

Kathleen answered the phone, so I asked: “How’s Larry doing?”

“Let me tell you as best I am able, dear Bill,” Kathleen answered in that classic Irish storyteller mode she engages for speaking in response to any question that transcends the need for mere yes or no responses.

“We’ve done everything we can to get Larry out of the house to do things, but, alas, Larry spends almost all of his days now just staring through all the windows of the house.”

There was a curious brief pause, as though Kathleen was allowing that picture of Larry staring through glass to seep into my own mental imagery of the situation.

Then Kathleen simply concluded her answer to my original question in slow deliberate terms.

“If he keeps it up at the same rate for much longer, we’re simply going to have no choice but to unlock the doors and allow him to come back into the house!”

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When it comes to great column stories, short and sweet, indeed, are very hard to beat as well.

Thank you, Kathleen Miggins, for making my day.

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