1948 Buffs Photo: Many Pictures in One.

1948 Houston Buffs: Zooming In, A Photo May Raise More Questions than it Answers.

The 1948 Houston  Buffs had a tough act to follow. They had to take the baseball stage on the heels of the 1947 Buffs, a tenacious club that won both the Texas League pennant and the Dixie Series championship. As it turned out, the ’48 Buffs, also playing under ’47 Manager Johnny Keane and with several players from their championship year, could only make it to third place and a full ten games back of the first place and eventual pennant-winning Fort Worth Cats. The ’48 Buffs lost to Tulsa in the first round of the Shaughnessy Playoffs.

I used the featured team photo of the ’48 Buffs to crop and display an individual picture of Jim Basso in yesterday’s article on the Buff who knew Hemingway. Remember this one? It shows up pretty darn crisp and clear:

Jim Basso Never Came To Bat for the '48 Buffs.

Before Jim Basso ever came to bat for the 1948 Houston Buffs, he was dealt away, ending his three season status (1946-48) as a member of the club. Based upon his length of time with five other clubs in 1948, it is fairly safe to assume that this photo of Basso in the team photo of the Buffs was taken in the spring or very early part of the season.

What else is in the photo, however unintentional it may have been?

The fan isn't smoking; it's a print negative scratch.

When I first saw the fan second from right in the photo, I thought we had a live photo of someone actually smoking in the grandstands, which many fans did in wild abandon back in 1948. It turns out that it was simply a scratch on the negative that had created this illusion.

What’s not an illusion is that all these young guys were there early to see a game, we presume. It could be that fans or family members were allowed into Buff Stadium just to watch the team photo shooting, but that isn’t likely. The issue that throws e off here is the casual attire of team President Allen Russell. He usually went suit and tie on game days so we can’t really be sure if maybe it was an off-day or just early enough in the day for Russell to change later. Still, if Russell dressed formally for games, you would think he would have done the same for the team picture. It’s possible to think ourselves into a corner on mysteries at this level.

Sporty Allen Russell in 1948 Team Photo Corner.

The sporty shot of Buffs President Allen Russell also reveals more seated civilians over each shoulder. Based on their youthful appearance and body language, I’m guessing they are “kids from the ‘hood” who came early for Knothole Gang seating who got to roam the better seats prior to the start of each game. We did that all the time back in the day.

It must be a long while prior to game time. Otherwise, Allen Russell wouldn’t be smiling that broadly with all those empty seats lurking behind him.

Somebody had a game date this day.

Way back there in the stands, we see a young couple seated, with a lonely lurking twerp seated sort of glumly behind them. The couple’s presence adds more weight to the possibility that this photo was taken early on a game date. As I recall our culture in that era, one didn’t usually get a date to simply go watch  practice or a team photo shoot at Buff Stadium.

The silhouette of these buffalo medallions confirm that Buff Stadium, indeed, is the site of our 1948 Houston Buffs team photo.

A total of eighty 36″ in diameter steel buffalo medallions once rimmed the exterior walls of Buff Stadium from 1928 to 1961. Two of these medallions hang today in the Houston Sports Museum at Finger Furniture. A few others are scattered among individual owners and I have one that was given to me by former Buff Jerry Witte and his family for historical safekeeping. It will eventually go to a place yet to be determined which can guarantee its preservation and display for history in perpetuity.

For now, here’s how this unmistakable symbol of Buff Stadium looks this morning in the space above my head where I write each day:

Eighty of these beautiful medallions once rimmed the exterior walls of Buff Stadium.

There is much in a photo. This one starts out showing us the faces of a team. It then ends up raising the question we all have to answer for ourselves: How much part are we each willing to play in the preservation of history.

Think about it. Then get out there and give the world your answer. No contribution can be too large or too small. If you do nothing more than join SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, you will be helping all the rest of us take a giant leap forward – and this is not a commercial. It’s simply a fact. SABR works for baseball.

For more information about SABR in general, check out the national organization:


For more information about the Houston-based Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR, contact group leader Bob Dorrill at





Meanwhile, enjoy your old photos even more. And have a nice day.

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6 Responses to “1948 Buffs Photo: Many Pictures in One.”

  1. Raeann Reid Says:

    My dad remembers there was a season pass for members of the Knot Hole Gang at Buff Stadium. What was the cost of this season ticket in 1920 through 1940?


    • Bill McCurdy Says:


      Good question, but I don’t have a ready answer. It couldn’t have been much and, since 1928 was the first year of Buff Stadium, most of the early Knothole Gang Days were played during the Great Depression, prices had to be low to draw any kind of support, The Post World II Knothole Gang ticket price was 25 cents a game – or about $19.00 for a season ticket to 77 games. I never had a season pass, but a quarter was pretty solid money for kids in my time. We only made fifty cents an hour working in the grocery stores. My “guess” is that Knothole Gang tickets in the 1930’s were in the fifteen cents per game or $11.50 area on season passes. If anyone out there has definite information on those prices, please post it here. Thanks.


      Bill McCurdy

  2. Bob Boney Says:

    Hi Bill.
    I was the bat boy for the visiting team in 1948/1949 and have a lot of great memories of those years. I was raised and lived close to Buff stadium, and I worked the scoreboard and other jobs at the stadium while going to high school. During that time, I collected many souvenirs but all have been lost over the years. However, my bat boy uniform is on display in the baseball memories area in Finger’s Furniture Store on the Gulf Freeway.

    I remember Larry Miggins who taught me to chew raisens insted of tobacco, Vinegar Bend Mizzel who I would pick up in my 1934 Chevorlet and bring to the ballpark because most of the players at that time did not have a car, and so many more all great and fun guys.

    I think the group picture above iincludes me; however, I do not have any pictures of me during those years. I remember seeing a photo like the one this with the names of each person.
    Could you please check and if posssible I could get a picture and give to my 7 year old grandson.

    • Michelle Beall Engbrock Says:

      My dad was also the bat boy for the Buffs. I no longer have any thing of his either. I’d love to get a photo of him as well. I know fingers had one in the museum. You might have known my dad…Clifford Talbot Beall.

  3. debbie Says:

    My dad was born in 1919 and when he was about 11 years old in Houston, his English teacher made the class write a “book” entitled “To My Grandchildren: The Story of My Life.” 80+ years later, his grandchildren are reading it!
    One chapter concerns his very favorite “recreation” — I like it even more than moving pictures — playing baseball and going to Buff games. He says he was a member of “The Knothole Gang,” a group of boys who were allowed into games for free if they would shout, “Yeah Buffs” and “Homer Hock.”
    Who was Hock? Again, I believe my dad wrote this in 1930, or at latest 1931 when he was eleven.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:


      Thanks for sharing the story of your Dad. It is a contribution to our historic celebration of the Houston Buffs. I had never heard of the “Homer Hock” call before you wrote, but I can tell you that Hock was a left handed infielder named Ed Hock – and he played for Houston in all or parts of seven seasons from 1927 through 1933. The call for a “home run from Hock” is a little puzzling unless it was meant as a bait and tease. Hock only hit 5 homers in his 7 seasons with the Buffs and 23 homers in his 22 year minor league career (1921-42). He was a good hitter for average, however, hitting .292 for his total career.

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