Thank You, Maxwell Kates

November 14, 2018

Maxwell Kates ~ His new book with Warren Corbett on MLB expansion is a must-have item for researchers and deep blue baseball history readers.

 

Thank You, Maxwell Kates!

Your doubleheader presentation at last night’s Larry Dierker November 2018 SABR Meeting went off as smoothly as the silver streaks in your distinguished Canadian head of hair.

First Your New Book ….

 

 Your presentation of your new book WITH Warren Corbett, “Time for Expansion Baseball”, was nothing short of compelling. Most of what you told us is presented here in your own Internet description words, but, unfortunately, without all the vim and verve of the Toronto~Ontarion style of enthusiastic pizzaz you bring to the potential readership’s individual cravings for salt, pepper, and assorted, but variable condiments of subject spice.

Here’s my recollection of your major general remarks, based upon my ability to pilfer the Net for your own words, as follows:

The Los Angeles Angels and the “new” Washington Senators ushered in baseball’s expansion in 1960, followed quickly by the Houston Colt .45s and the New York Mets. By 1998, ten additional franchises had been awarded with the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Pilots, Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays coming into the American League, and the Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, and Arizona Diamondbacks to the National League. Since then, some of those teams have relocated or changed names, but TIME FOR EXPANSION BASEBALL tells the story of how each franchise was formed, built its team, and began play. Biographies of key players from each team’s early years are also included, from early Angels like Eli Grba and Duke Maas to Senator Tom Sturdivant, from Seattle Pilots Tommy Harper and Lou Piniella to Seattle Mariners Julio Cruz and Rick Jones. Featuring a foreword by Tal Smith, who has done three separate stints in the Houston front office, and the contributions of 54 SABR members, TIME FOR EXPANSION BASEBALL also includes dozens of photos from team historical archives.

(Of course, Maxwell, given the audience you were addressing at our Spaghetti Western private dinner party room, the Houston salsas of subject interest were also emphasized in deep dish volumes that go way beyond what we have time or space to rekindle here. ~ Toronto moms don’t “raise no fools.”)

Next, your moderator handling of the Houston Colt .45s Panel Q&A Session ….

You did great, Max, you did great! ~ But look at the material you had at your disposal!

Had Jimmy Wynn not been unable to attend, you could have four pure gold Colt .45/Astro icons filling all four chairs. Because of Jimmy’s absence, I agreed to sit in as his ancient fan/biographical co-author on “The Toy Cannon” ~ thus transforming the panel into one comprised of three icons and one acorn (albeit, a Pecan Park Eagle acorn), but one that came with no illusions that I could ever replace Jimmy Wynn in this lineup. ~ I could sit in his chair in a pinch, but no one could fill the space that Jimmy Wynn owns in the heart of our Houston MLB franchise history.

Look at who they were ~ and who they were intended to be: (1) Bob Aspromonte, among other firsts, he was the man who scored the first run in franchise history; (2) Larry Dierker, the first great pitcher in club history and the guy who celebrated his 18th birthday by breaking into the big leagues as a pitcher by striking out the great Willie Mays; (3) Tal Smith, the guy who completed the club’s oversight on the Astrodome construction project ~ and who would also go on to become the face and voice of club general managers and presidents; and (4) Jimmy Wynn ~ “The Toy Cannon” ~ the little guy who hit ’em for miles ~ and the first great home run hitter in Houston MLB history ~ Astrodome death valley fence distances and dead enclosed travel air be damned.

We were just lucky and humbly honored to be there as the pinch runner for Jimmy Wynn.

One More Thing ….

We just wanted to clarify something from the way you introduced me. It’s no big deal, but we do like to get things right, even as we grant others the right to think different, act different, and think different from us. And it’s nothing at all personal here ~ but it is a call for minor correction if you ever have any need to introduce me again in the future.

In so many words, you described Bill McCurdy (yours truly) as A veteran of the Pecan Park Eagles Little League team.

Corrections: The Pecan Park Eagles were never controlled by the Little League group. We were nothing more ~ and nothing less ~ than a rising-from-the-dirt Houston East End sandlot baseball team in the Pecan Park neighborhood just south of Griggs Road, off the Gulf Freeway, going to the south on the east side of I-45 South, as you continue south, from Griggs Road to Evergreen on your left ~ is still today ~ Pecan Park.

So what? ~ So this what! ~ In sandlot ball, it was our game. We didn’t have much, but we didn’t have adults controlling the game and how we played out our own dreams of it. Sandlotters got about a hundred “at bats” a day and more long fly ball miracle catch opportunities than any Little Leaguer could ever hope to see. And you got to find out what you were made of on your own. We didn’t have our parents hauling us off to special training camps to see why some of us just stood there watching perfectly good pitches we faced breeze by us. We either dove in and tried ~ or we got fried.

We ~ the Pecan Park Eagles ~ liked it that way. ~ Please ~ never call us Little Leaguers again. ~ We were sandlotters ~ plain and simple ~ and just happy to be.

The Pronunciation of “pecan” difference. ….

It seems to be a regional thing. ~ Going north ~ apparently all the way to Canada ~ the way people pronounce the word “pecan” begins to change from ….

our Texas puh-CON (that’s “puh” as in pulverize)

to

PEE-can …. and changing the whole melody of how that word dances in our minds.

You are free to call it what you wish, of course, but I’m just trying to tell you. ~ When you say “PEE-can” ~ it seems to reawaken in some of us a DNA-traceable association to the pre-indoor plumbing days when people maintained small to large tin can containers in their bedrooms on cold ~ or all ~ nights ~ for the sake of dealing with nature’s nocturnal calls until the contents could then be dumped outside through the nearest open window.

In the end, these items are small. ~ You did a great job, my friend!

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

How Jimmy Wynn Got to LA in Dec. 1973

November 13, 2018

Last night I subbed for Jimmy Wynn on the November 2018 Larry Dierker Chapter SABR meeting panel that assembled to discuss the Colt .45s that included Bob Aspromonte, who scored the first run in franchise history on April 10, 1962 ~ among several other firsts; Larry Dierker, who struck out Willie Mays on his 18th birthday pitching debut of September 22, 1964; and Tal Smith, the man who directed the completion of the Astrodome in 1965 ~ and who then spent many years in service to the Houston franchise as a top-level executive who rose to general manager and president of the club; plus Jimmy Wynn, who could not make it this time for reasons of health. Enter yours truly ~ mostly to keep the empty chair company and less forlorn looking.

As Jimmy Wynn’s co-author on his biography, “The Toy Cannon,” I was asked what I thought Jimmy’s feelings were about his trade to the Dodgers  in exchange for pitcher Claude Osteen and a minor leaguer. prior to the 1974 season. I said that Jimmy felt fine about it ~ that the positive reception he received from the Dodgers, combined with his desire to get away from the time he spent under manager Harry Walker in Houston helped a lot. Since Walker already had been gone for a season and some part of another by this time, Jimmy still had never recovered from the feelings he had about Walker ~ and Walker’s permanent replacement, Leo Durocher, had not done much to help Jimmy’s full morale about the field leadership in Houston. Besides ~ nothing in sight would make hitting home runs easier in the Astrodome for Jimmy or any other guys who wanted to hit for power.

Wish I had remembered in time to express these issues in Jimmy’s exact words, and so, I will simply describe them here in my own. Only Jimmy Wynn can fully speak for himself in this matter:

That being said …. and as I see it ….

In “The Toy Cannon”, (Chapter 13, page 154) Jimmy Wynn recognizes that Astros GM  Spec Richardson knew that the Astros had no choice after 1973 but to have his approval as a 10/5 man on any trade ~ or else ~ risk losing all his trade value to free agency. And I will always believe that Jimmy had communicated these two major conditional factors to getting his approval for a trade to GM Richardson prior to the actual deal in these terms.

Jimmy’s two preferences on a trade ….

Jimmy wanted to be traded to either (1) a ball park where home run hitting was easier ~ or ~ (2) to a franchise that had a real chance to reach the World Series.

I will always believe that Jimmy made these two preferred conditions clear to the Astros prior to his actual trade to the Dodgers ~ But I also concede that only a GM with a rock for a brain could have failed to figure them out independently. Spec may have possessed a number of shortcomings as a GM, but he was far from being a rock on this one. He knew exactly what Jimmy wanted to see in this deal and he brought it home in his Dodgers or Cubs choice.

Deal # 1 would have put him in Wrigley Field as a Chicago Cub ~ for what players ~ we do not know. The other possibility ~ Deal # 2 ~ was to see Jimmy Wynn join the pennant-contending Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jimmy Wynn expressed his preference to the Astros for LA ~ where he simply blossomed as a popular power hitter who finally got to a World Series, ~ and where his gallant effort in a losing cause in 1974 there included a World Series home run.

After his last 1977 season, Jimmy Wynn returned to Houston ~ the city that had become his home ~ and found work with the only franchise that still owns his heart to this day ~ in spite of some earlier hard times with certain Houston managers ~ and his one great pennant winning season with the LA Dodgers.

Jimmy Wynn – forever will be ~ one of the hearts that makes up the Big Heart of the Houston Astros!

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Pitchers Who Gave Up Ruth’s 714 HR

November 11, 2018

Babe Ruth ~ The Hero Whose Myths and Deeds Transcend The Usual Limitations of Time Upon Awesome Eternal Regard.

Thanks to Internet site sources like Baseball Almanac.com and Baseball Reference.com, we now have dynamic records at our fingertips that once were only dream possibilities back in the mid-twentieth century of print form materials alone. What a difference the availability of digital, electronically shared data has made in our no-extra-cost abilities to explore and research ~ whether these tools are used for personal joy or deep analytical research ~ until today ~ as they are now used here in the dawn of the Digital Age.

Jack Warhop

Today’s credit goes to Baseball Reference.com.

Our research question was a simple one: We wanted to see a chronological list of all the pitchers ~ from # 1 to # 714 ~ who gave up that golden number of career home runs to Babe Ruth over the course of his MLB career (1914-1935).

One of the first things we learned by confirmation of something we read years ago was that Babe Ruth, the 19-year-old rookie Red Sox pitcher, didn’t hit any homers during the short time he played in “the bigs” in his limited time first season of 1914. That moment would not occur until the following year.

First Two came off RHP Jack Warhop.

Guy Bush

Babe Ruth’s first two big league homers were struck as a member of the Boston Red Sox off right-handed pitcher Jack Warhop of the New York Yankees in separate games played at Yankee Stadium on May 6th and June 2nd of 1915.

Last Two came off RHP Guy Bush.

Babe Ruth’s last two big league homers (#s 713 and 714) were crunched as a member of the Boston Braves off right-handed pitcher Guy Bush of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the same game played at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh on May 25, 1935. An earlier Ruth HR (# 712) in that same famous game off right-hander Red Lucas gave the Babe his last 3-HR game in his incredible career. Ruth would go 0 for 9 in five more games at Cincinnati (3) and Philadelphia (2) and then retire on May 30, 1935.

Two easy ironies.

Babe Ruth made his bones as the greatest slugger of all time wearing the pin stripes of the New York Yankees, but he hit his first first and last two home runs wearing the Boston brand togs of both the Red Sox and the Braves. And he hit his last great home run binge for the Braves ~ the same team ~ two cities and 39 years later removed from Atlanta and the coming of the man who would break his own career homer mark ~ a fellow named Hank Aaron.

A link to your own entertainment with the data from this link is worth the finger compression on your mouse.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/event_hr.fcgi?id=ruthba01&t=b

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Babe Ruth’s 1st Batting Strikeout

November 10, 2018

Willie Mitchell, LHP
Cleveland Naps, 1914
~ Was this the glove that Willie Mitchell wore when he struck out Babe Ruth for the first time in his first MLB plate appearance?

 

No big surprise. If a rookie batter takes two high and tight ones on his first couple of big league pitches, he shouldn’t be too shocked to see the third throw bending in low and tight to the outside black ~ or maybe even moving a tad further away into that unreachable, but still swinger-attractive space in the outside dirt ~ but the rook swings anyway ~ part out of some primitive desire to get even for those first two close shaves ~ and the other part out of that most often ill-founded hope to do something that shows his new team that he can put the bat on the ball of any pitch the guy on the mound throws.

He misses. ~ The count’s now 2 and 1.

The fourth pitch is a low-moving fastball in the high 90s. A way-too-late swinging miss moves the count to 2 and 2.

The next pitch comes in looking just like the last one. The rook swings hard ~ but he swings far too soon and gets nothing but air ~ and the registration of his first strikeout as a big league hitter. ~ It was a deliciously cruel change up that did him in.

Some guys don’t last much longer than that hypothetical first time at bat. Others do because they learn and get better ~ or because they simply sell tickets by killing the ball often enough to be sufficiently valuable to a Congo-Line based AL power offense ~ or because they possess certain other skills on defense or as pitchers that keep them employed ~ in the NL, at least.

Today’s subject again is Babe Ruth ~ a fellow who struck out 1,330 times as a batter in his 22-season (1914-1935) MLB career. The first time happened at Fenway Park in Boston on July 11, 1914, when Babe Ruth made his debut for the Red Sox as a 19-year old rookie, pitching his club to a 4-3 win over the visiting Cleveland Naps.

Ruth pitched 7 innings that day, getting his first MLB win in his first try, but it didn’t come easy. Here’s how the New York Times reported it the following day, July 12, 1914:

“Ruth, formerly of Baltimore, made his debut and held Cleveland to five scattered hits in the first six innings. In the seventh three singles and a sacrifice netted two runs for Cleveland and tied the score.

“Ruth was lifted in the bottom of the inning for pinch hitter Duffy Lewis, who reached base and scored the go-ahead run. Boston went on to win 4-3, with Ruth picking up the win.”

Willie Mitchell
MLB LHP
1909-1919

The Babe also picked up his first MLB strikeout in his first time at bat against the Cleveland lefty starter, Willie Mitchell of Sardis, Mississippi. Mitchell lived until 1973, keeping a glove that he may have been wearing on that day in 1914 he achieved that lesser known moment he struck out the destined-for-greatness Babe Ruth. Mitchell’s wife later donated the glove featured here to a historic museum in Jackson, Mississippi.

In spite of some knowledgeable-sounding debate over the actual age of the Williams glove, no one ever has been able to confirm or eliminate the possibility that the glove featured here is the actual glove that held the actual game ball prior to that orb’s first trip past Ruth for an historic “K” event.

The dilemma is a beautiful confirmation, nevertheless, of the fact that most people don’t seem to live life with much interest in preserving history until the logical people who may have been able to confirm the truth have passed away. If only Willie Williams had been asked ~ at some point: “Willie, was that the glove you used back in 1914 when you struck out Babe Ruth for the first time?”

We said Willie Mitchell “may have been able to confirm the truth” for this reason: Had someone asked that question of Mitchell, he may have said something like, “Babe Ruth? ~ I don’t recall ever striking out Babe Ruth!”

Historical research is not as easy as it looks.

Thanks to friend and colleague Tony Cavendar for sending us this great short piece on Willie Mitchell and the glove. They furnished the inspiration for anything else we have written this morning. “The Babe’s First Major League Trip to the Plate Ended in a Whiff” was written by Steve Moyer for HUMANITIES, Spring 2018, Volume 39, Number 2.

https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2018/one-off/babes-first-major-league-trip-plate-ended-whiff

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Our 2019 Astros Starters

November 8, 2018

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

2019 ASTROS STARTER #1 ~ Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander
Astros Ace Starter
Since 9/01/2017

“Justin, when you join the Astros, we want you to assume the position of that next picture we feature here of you as our new ace!” ~ GM Jeff Luhnow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

2019 ASTROS STARTER #2 ~ Gerrit Cole

 

Gerrit Cole’s 

Still a hard-throwin’ soul!

He knows how to bring

S-T-R-I-K-E  3 !!!

 

 

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

2019 ASTROS STARTER #3 ~ Colin McHugh (probably)

Beards eventually can edge their own way from the prospect-to-suspect status in a pitching rotation.

 

 

Barring unforeseen moves and events, it’s likely that Dallas Keuchel is gone in 2019. The sirens of money and an ego-driven desire to be the #1 guy again ~ somewhere ~ are likely now too loud to be ignored. And unless there’s another Gerrit Cole voice out there, as there was last year at Pittsburgh, and eager to board a seat on another hot Astros team, it looks likely we will opt to go with good old reliable Colin McHugh.

“Oh somewhere in this favored land ~ the people jump and shout.

But there is no joy in Keuchel’s Corner,

If the tattoo-man ~ cuts out!”

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

2019 ASTROS STARTERS #s 4&5 ~ Charlie Morton (if he stays)

plus Josh James, Framber Valdez, et al.

 “When It Rains, It Pours!” Hope here is that we get to fill our last two spots with a grain of salt, but, if not, that we hit at least one of our young guys at the dawn of his real blossoming mark as an effective MLB starter. ~ If two come through ~ that’ll more than do.

 

 

 

 

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

 One More Thought ….

To make any losses in the line of our rotation more tolerable, Astros, don’t let the Yankees ~ or anyone else ~ beat us to paying Marwin Gonzales what he’s worth to the goal of winning. Marwin’s value to this club’s chances of regaining the World Series title is that important as far as many of us are concerned ~ for whatever that’s worth ~ even if that barely registers in the minds of those making the professional, salaried decisions in these matters. We may not have all the cards available to us that are important in these decision-making matters ~ but neither are we as stupid as some of us make look either. ~ i.e. ~ KEEP MARWIN! ~ WIN ANOTHER WORLD SERIES IN 2019!

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

 

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

What Happens to The Astrodome Plan Now?

November 7, 2018

Harris County Judge Elect
Lina Hidalgo
November 6, 2018

Like many of you, I just woke up to the surprising news that incumbent Republican candidate for Harris County Judge, Ed Emmett, had lost his race for a continuation of his 11 years service  to 27 year old newcomer to any political office, Democratic challenger, Lina Hidalgo.

Congratulations to Ms. Hidalgo, whose life storyline itself speaks eloquently for everything that is wonderful about these United States of America.

As the Channel 13 Internet site reports, “Hidalgo was born in Colombia but was raised in Peru and Mexico before emigrating to the U.S. with her family in 2005.

“Hidalgo holds a degree in political science from Stanford University. The same year she graduated from Stanford she also became a citizen.

“While living in Texas, Hidalgo has served as a Spanish-English medical interpreter at the Texas Medical Center.”

She also speaks with the clear voice of one who wants to lead the county to better long term planning for hurricanes and floods, and with an eye toward service to ~ and recognition of the needs of ~ all the people.

As one who supports the Astrodome plan that Judge Emmett and local preservationists put into place, we now have to wonder: Will the new Judge Hidalgo, who came to Houston in 2005 ~ when she was only 14 years old, but as the Astros were reaching the World Series for the first time ever ~ and as the historic Astrodome already lay wasting to the south of downtown in those early years of its neglect ~ will she ~ with no roots of her own in the long struggle for its appropriate recognition ~ give a hoot or a rat’s ankle for what happens to the current plan ~ or any other plan ~ carefully designed to preserve the cultural significance of this mighty local entity in Greater Houston life ~ in light of the many other more imminent human service needs that are with us ~ and shall always be with us ~ down here on the low flood plains of the most successful international community in America?

Let’s hope that her intelligence, her Stanford education, and her particular experience in life, already have brought her into direct contact with the wisdom that some matters of importance to others, but not so much to you personally, are still deserving of the genuine attention and support of the power she soon shall hold.

Congratulations, County Judge-Elect Lina Hidalgo!

Now please, Ms. Hidalgo, help our preservationist leadership group bring the currently approved county plan for safeguarding the Astrodome forward to completion as the Greater Houston area’s historically significant architectural contribution to world history ~ and to the fulfillment-level life it both deserves and demands.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Ruth’s Last Time At Bat

November 7, 2018

Babe Ruth, 1935
Boston Braves

A couple of days ago, we received a link to a wonderful brief article from friend and baseball colleague, Mark Wernick, on Babe Ruth’s last official time at bat in baseball. It happened on May 30, 1935. Ruth was set to play left field for the visiting Boston Braves in the first game of a scheduled doubleheader against the home team Philadelphia Phillies at the Baker Bowl that afternoon. He came up third in the top of the first inning and rolled out on an easy play at first base.

On a personal note, Mark Wernick’s father, one of that era’s young Philadelphians, was there to see it happen. On a historical note, righty Jim Bivin of the Phillies became the last pitcher to retire Babe Ruth in big league play, and Phils 1st sacker Dolph Camilli claimed credit as the last opponent to make a put out in the field at the expense of the once great Bambino.

Playably not-so-great on this late date, an aging Babe Ruth fully knew it, and where he stood. His contact-with-the-past three homer game in Pittsburgh ~ only five days earlier ~ was just that ~ a will-of-the-wisp all heart reminder of all he used to be ~ and no harbinger of promise for a rare human conquest of the battle with physical mortality. ~ It was time for Babe Ruth to walk away from the game as a player.

After the Phillies crunched Braves starter Fred Frankhouse for the first of 3 runs in 11 that he would give up in an 11-6 Phils win, Ruth didn’t even return to the Braves dugout at the end of the first inning. He already had made up his mind to pack it in ~ for good. He simply jogged on out to the door in the outfield wall that would allow him to go straight to the visiting Braves’ clubhouse.

May 30, 1935: No Ruth Soaring Today. The greatest slugger and biggest mythological hero in baseball history had just gone from the scene in a Model T Ford with four flat tires. Unlike a game played only five days earlier in which he could have played his last game as the most fabled final day by any slugger to that point in time or since.

May 25, 1935: Ruth’s Final 3 HR at Pittsburgh. Entering the game hitting .153 with only 6 homers on the season, the Babe reached down deep and clouted three monumental homers ~ the ones that got him to 714 ~ and there would be no more. ~ No more home runs ~ and no more hits. Ruth would play 5 more games beyond that big day ~ going 0 for 9 in his final all road ~ all losing appearances as a Brave.

Fiction Topples Reality in the Telling of This Tale.  as it most often does, fiction made the Pittsburgh 3-HR day the last game in Babe Ruth’s career. That’s how the 1948 movie, “The Babe Ruth Story,” played it ~ as they pretty much did with everything else they portrayed on the big screen about Ruth. The last 3 games in Cincinnati and the 2 Ruth games in Philadelphia that followed simply disappeared as though they never happened as part of the story. In the movie, the writers turn his real 4th hit that day ~ a single ~ into the time that Ruth would leave the game and turn over his job in the outfield to a rookie who will take his place as a runner ~ but not in the hearts of fans.

Here’s a Quick Study Table on the reality of what happened with Ruth at the plate from the day prior to his big game in Pittsburgh to the day that the Babe actually walked away from the game as a player ~ and with no fanfare.

DATE   FOE   RUTH-IN-GAME   AB   H   HR   BA
5/24/35 @PGH 1/4 ~ 0 HR 59 9 3 .153
5/25/35 @PGH 4/4 ~ 3 HR 63 13 6 .206
5/26/35 @CIN 0/4 ~ 0 HR 67 13 6 .194
5/27/35 @CIN 0/0 ~ 0 HR * 67 13 6 .194
5/28/35 @CIN 0/2 ~ 0 HR 69 13 6 .188
5/29/35 @PHI 0/2 ~ 0 HR 71 13 6 .183
5/30/35 @PHI 0/1 ~ 0 HR ** 72 13 6 .181

* Ruth walked as a pinch hitter in his only game plate appearance.

** Grounded out to 1st base in his only time up in the top of the 1st in Game 1 of a DH and then took himself out of the game for the last time as a big league player after playing left field in the bottom of the 1st.

Here’s a link to the article that Chris Landers of MLB.com wrote on May 30, 2018 about the Babe’s last game. Thank you too, Mark Wernick, for having a father whose 12-year-old presence in attendance at this big game in the history of baseball’s biggest hero also moved the needle in favor of us writing our own impressions here of this major moment.

https://www.mlb.com/cut4/this-day-in-baseball-history-babe-ruth-plays-his-final-game-of-his-mlb-career/c-278801168

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Carroll Hardy’s Life: Like a Box of Chocolates

November 4, 2018

Ted Williams and Carroll Hardy ~ in a mid-1980s memoir moment.

Carroll Hardy’s ability to be in the right place at the right time married well to his dynamic talent for using his skills, talent, intelligence and luck to the best advantage of his on-the-plate opportunities.

  1. He lettered in track, football, and baseball at the University of Colorado.
  2. He set university records in each sport that survive to this day.
  3. He was the most valuable player in the 1954 Hula Bowl
  4. He was the 34th pick in the 1955 NFL draft as a running back for the SF 49ers.
  5. He was a TD pass favorite receiver of 49ers QB Y.A. Tittle in 1955.
  6. In 1958, he hit his first MLB home run as a pinch hitter for Roger Maris.
  7. He was the only player in baseball history to pinch hit for Ted Williams.
  8. In 1960, he was booed at Fenway for replacing Williams in left in his last game.
  9. He was the only player to pinch hit for both Ted Williams.and Carl Yastrzemski.
  10. In December 1962 he was traded to the Houston Colt .45s by the Boston Red Sox.
  11. After 1963-64 in Houston, he played at Minnesota in 1967 and was done – with baseball.
  12. In 1968, he began a two decade run as an executive with the Denver Broncos of the NFL.

Carroll Hardy has sometimes been referenced as “The Forest Gump of Real Life.” Here’s one link to some of the big moments we listed here and, with a little googling of your own, you will find much more on one of the most colorful “name” players to pass through Houston in our city’s early big league days.

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/31/sports/sp-crowe-nest31

Well, Carroll Hardy was no Forest Gump ~ and neither was he the twin brother of “Joe Hardy” of “Damn Yankees”, soul-selling notoriety, but he was a bright, multi-talented human being whose dimmest star quality, unfortunately, just turned out to be his measurable performance for the stat-brokers of baseball.

 

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Let’s Hope He’s Wrong on Marwin to Angels

November 3, 2018

It’s that time of the year! MLB clubs are selling opportunity. MLB players are selling talent. And neither side wants to end up with something that feels like a box of used baseballs.

 

In these crisp early moments of the fall free agency signing speculation period, B.J. Anderson of MLB.com has filled his blank white electronic space at CBS.com with black type on where he thinks some prominent MLB talent is going to land in 2019.

Here’s what he had to say about the projected near futures of Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, Charlie Morton and Evan Gattis:

Cincinnati Reds: LHP Dallas Keuchel

Dallas Keuchel

“The Reds are halfway to being a competitive team — they just need to improve their pitching. Let’s swing for the fences with Keuchel, who could slip through the cracks due to his low-heat, low-spin approach. Keuchel would bring some legitimacy to the front of Cincinnati’s rotation and could prove to be a relative bargain, depending on how other teams view him. The Reds, for their part, have hinted that they’re going to be aggressive in their pursuit of pitching this winter. Here you go.”

~ B.J. Anderson

Our TPPE Take: Not sure where Dallas is going, but think as many others do that he will have suitors that are more in need of his talents than the Astros will ever think to offer him for 2019 and beyond at his age and growing history of inconsistency. ~ Goodbye, Dallas.

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Los Angeles Angels: UTL Marwin Gonzalez

Marwin Gonzalez

“Gonzalez would makes sense for a lot of teams in a versatile role. With the Angels, his protean nature means he could take on a more steady role as the most-days second or third baseman, depending on where Brad Ausmus wants Zack Cozart stationed.”

~ B.J. Anderson

Our TPPE Take: Do whatever you need to do to keep him, Astros. Even with down numbers in 2018, he’s still the club’s best version of “Ghostbusters” in scary times when it come to filling an unexpected position need in any game situation that arises and, next to a normally healthy Jose Altuve, he’s the other guy you want to see at the plate in any critical game time at bat. ~ Marry him into the family, Jeff Luhnow, and simply never let him go until its back-up-the-truck time. If we do lose him, we sure don’t need to see him going to another member of our AL West division, teaming with Angels manager Brad Ausmus as a new recurring nightmare.

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Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Charlie Morton

Charlie Morton

“Morton is a thoughtful, well-traveled righty who would give the Brewers rotation a boost. Maybe they continue to shy away from using resources on starters, but his age will likely drive down his cost.”

~ B.J. Anderson

Our TPPE Take: Loving old dead pan Charlie’s poker face demeanor and normal control of variable speed stuff would help any club’s rotation. Unless he’s damaged goods or off the cliff on his control and inner fire, let’s do what we can to keep him as a pillar in the 2019 Astros rotation.

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Seattle Mariners: DH/C Evan Gattis

 

Evan Gattis

“The Mariners will be in the market for a new DH if Nelson Cruz signs with a different team. Gattis would make sense as a league-average batter who can, in theory, see some action behind the dish. No one is going to fully replace Cruz, but Gattis figures to come cheaper.”

~ B.J. Anderson

Our TPPE Take: We’re good with this one, We need a DH with a better skill set as a batter ~ one who can work the pitch count, run better, hit for a better average, and do more things in the field, if needed. How often did we see Gattis come into a game late with critical runners in scoring position and then pop out on a hasty first pitch to kill the last hope. Seattle is in our division, however, and it would be preferable to see Gattis also sign with a club outside our division. We don’t need to face “The Incredible Hulk” any more often than possible.

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Writer Anderson also ventured a guess that catcher Wilson Ramos might be joining the Astros as their 2019 replacement for the untendered offer to Brian McCann and the now presumably lost Martin Maldonado. TPPE has no strong opinion on this possibility, other than to regret the fact that McCann finally got too old to do what he once did so well for so long. Maldonado also showed signs of improvement too. WHere’s he going, for Chris-sake?

At any rate, here’s the link to the entire article by B.J. Anderson:

https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/mlb-hot-stove-each-teams-ideal-free-agent-signing-other-than-bryce-harper-and-manny-machado/?ftag=SPM-16-10abi8e

Have a nice weekend, everybody!

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Rest in Peace, Willie McCovey

November 1, 2018

Willie McCovey
Born: Jan. 10, 1938
Died: Oct. 31, 2018
We Love You, Willie!

We often talk and write of baseball as a game of seconds and inches. Those factors were never more critical than they were in Game Seven of the 1962 World Series. The date was October 16th. The site was Candlestick Park. The setting was the bottom of the 9th Terry kept the Giants at bay through eight innings, but he allowed a bunt single to Matty Alou to lead of the bottom of the ninth, with the New York Yankees leading the San Francisco Giants, 1-0, with Ralph Terry on the mound, needing only three more outs to settle one of the closest played World Series on record ~ and only two years after the 9th inning homer he gave up to Bill Mazeroski in Pittsburgh that cost the Yankees an earlier Game Seven and probably sealed the deed on transforming the scrappy Pirate second baseman into a future Hall of Famer.

Sometimes the lock on short memory is harder to find than at others. Terry had held off the Giants for eight innings in Game Seven back in 1962, but would he be able to hold off the memory of Mazeroski in the 9th for every critical pitch he needed to make this time? The use of pitchers was different back then. If there was any talk of someone else coming in to “close” the 9th for Terry and the Yanks, I don’t recall who or what that alternative might have been.

Bottom of the 9th

Matty Alou led off the bottom of the 9th for the Giants by reaching first base on a bunt single. His success seemed to steel the will of Terry ~ and he responded strongly by striking out Felipe Alou and Chuck Hiller to bring things down to a last-out-needed Yankee proposition. ~ One more out and the Yankees again were World Series Champions. ~ Two more runs and the Giants would harvest their first World Series win since the club’s 1958 move to the West Coast.

Then Willie Mays cranked up the heat for the Giants. His double to right sent Alou to third base. ~ Only a great throw from Roger Maris in right kept Matty from scoring. ~ But the stage temp had been elevated to white heat. ~ With two outs, the Giants had the tying run at third and the winning run at second ~ in the presence of two speedy runners ~ and the powerful Willie McCovey coming to bat with a shot of his own at a possible “Mazeroski Moment.”

McCovey had tripled and died at third during his previous 7th inning time at bat. Why Yankees manager Ralph Houk didn’t either walk McCovey in the 9th ~ or relieve Terry on the mound ~ are beyond my memory of considered alternatives this morning, except to again stress that these were different times. ~ Terry would pitch to McCovey ~ with everything on the line for all involved.

I remember watching this climax play out on a grainy black and white television screen at Otto’s Hamburger Joint in the Memorial near Shepherd Drives area. It was late afternoon when the climax moment arrived. They were still playing the World Series in the daytime back then ~ and quite a few of us were huddled near that maybe 14 inch screen TV set that was carrying the game that sunshiny-in-Houston day.

McCovey at the plate. We are watching him bat left-handed from a camera perched somewhere on the first base line side of things. The picture vista is broad enough to cover McCovey and any infielder who may have a play on a batted ball.

“There’s a line drive to right….”

Not quite. The rocket-speed shot off the bat of McCovey goes screaming toward right, but it never gets there. Little Bobby Richardson, the New York 2nd baseman has snared the liner in his glove. It’s not coming out. It’s out three. The game is over. The New York Yankees are the World Series Champions of the World. Again. And the Giants have lost.

Before all that good stuff could sink in. We united strangers at the hamburger joint in Houston are still trying to digest that little eye-flicker streak that so abruptly ended in Mr. Richardson’s glove. Once we begin to digest its full meaning, a collective sigh of “AHHHHHhhhhh” exhales from our lungs over what we’ve just been robbed of seeing. …. Alou easily scores the tying run …. now here comes Mays, sliding around a laser throw from Maris in right …. he’s safe …. the Giants win the Series ….  and here come the Giants, pouring onto the field, …. chasing after McCovey near first base …. and here comes Alou and Mays to pile on too! ….. (only it didn’t happen. Hence, the “AHHHHHhhhhh” exhalations.)

This is the moment I think of most when I think of Willie McCovey. A couple of inches higher or wider on that Game Seven ball’s final out flight pattern, and we would be celebrating 1962 to this day as one of the greatest comebacks in World Series history.

Ralph Terry was the 1962 Series MVP. And Willie McCovey later went into the Hall of Fame without “the big hit” in that game. He was too great to have his HOF worthiness riding on one big World Series moment. “I had a chance to be a big hero if I had gotten a hit and drove in those two runs,” McCovey said. “But it just didn’t happen.”

You were a big hero, anyway, big man ~ and you will never be forgotten. I will also be grateful for the time in Houston I got to meet you during an autograph show. You were one of the guys that made us fans feel welcome, and not like an easy buck signing dollar. I will never forget your kindness to us fans in Houston that day. I also got a kick out of learning that our birthdates were only ten days apart. I was your elder by ten days.

Rest in Peace, Willie McCovey. ~ You are still very loved by the world of baseball.

The Obituary Article

Thank you, Paul Rogers, for this reference to the wonderful obituary article on Willie McCovey in today’s San Francisco Chronicle. It’s such a must-read for McCovey fans that we also want to do all we are able to make sure you’ve seen it too. Here’s the link:

https://www.sfchronicle.com/giants/article/Willie-McCovey-Giants-legend-dead-at-80-13352886.php

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle