St. Thomas Baseball Show Disappoints

Craig Biggio, St. Thomas Baseball Coach.

There is nothing wrong with the St. Thomas High School baseball program that a little attention to its game day presentation could not cure. Aside from  a “Bad Day at Black  Rock” for most of the pitchers yesterday, Tuesday afternoon, the Kingwood Mustangs’ 16-10 victory over the St. Thomas Eagles at their home field on Memorial Drive at Shepherd was nothing less than a knock down, drag out hit-fest. The little park with the sub 300 feet foul lines and 357 feet center field distance couldn’t hold all the batted balls that insisted upon reaping their right to bang onto and over the deepest outfield walls on a bright, warm, and windy pre-spring afternoon as the simple metal bat “ping-sounding” order of the day.

The problem for St. Thomas was that they entered into the bottom of the seventh and last inning needing a touchdown and extra point to recover from the 10-16 hole that their pitching staff had dug for themselves and, since this was the wrong remedy prescription for rally in a fair game of baseball, the Eagles lost.

I went to see the 1:00 PM game with my son, Neal McCurdy, and SABR friend Bob Dorrill. It took two and one-half hours for the carnage to play out. That game length was OK. It was great seeing Craig Biggio again in his different baseball role as the mentor to a St. Thomas defending state championhips club that includes his two sons, Kevin and Conor Biggio.  Both Biggio boys gave a good account of themselves at third and second bases respectively. It was even fun watching Coach Biggio shift gears literally prior to the game as the driver of the infield dirt-smoothing tractor. We Astros fans have known for a long time that Craig could do it all, but this St. Thomas job has opened the doors for Mr. Biggio to really demonstrate his on-field versatility.

The Eagles play sound fundamental baseball and show a lot of team support for each other. In spite of their extreme youth, they all seem to recognize that they are playing for one the greatest ballplayers in Houston and national history. When the quiet Mr. Biggio speaks, the boys listen. And then they try their best to do what is asked of them. They simply had no pitching yesterday.

Bob Dorrill & Neal McCurdy, 3/15/11.

This was my first time out there since Craig Biggio took over as coach last year, so I really have no grounds for complaint about the way the game was presented at St. Thomas on Tuesday. For all I know, yesterday’s show-time was an aberration of spring break. If this in not the case, however, and this is the way games at St. Thomas are normally presented, I do have these  “need for improvement” comments:

(1) Add the National Anthem. There was no National Anthem played, as there is at many high school games. The game just suddenly started. Next time, we need to think about using a perfectly good  audio system for what it was intended: first, as a reminder that this contest begins, as does all else in this country, in the name of freedom. In this case, we celebrate playing the truly American game of baseball.

(2) Use the audio system for providing game information. The scoreboard is not enough. Baseball is a game that hinges upon a flow of ongoing information, yet, the P.A. system was only used to blast mindless music between innings that did nothing to inform or draw attention to all that was happening on the field. Not one word passed over that system about the game or St. Thomas High School or anything. That, my friends and fellow Eagles, was a crying shame. Lineups, batter introductions, pitching and other defensive player player changes, the team’s record, playoff prospects, and player stats – these facts and more – the campaigns of the school are all adept and appropriate uses that could and should be rolled into ongoing play – even if a volunteer group needs to be organized to get it done. The need for this information was made even more pronounced by the absence of hand out or posted scorecard and current record information for fans. That part takes extra money, but the information needs to reach the people in some form.

In summary, some communication and program marketing skill needs to be applied to the way baseball is presented at St. Thomas. Mr. Biggio can’t do that part. His hands are full teaching and managing the game itself. We, the school and the alumni, need to rally around the development of a better way of using our resources for game presentations that honor both baseball and St. Thomas High School..

Kingwood 16 - St. Thomas 10.

Look! I’m not even sure what we’re calling our baseball venue these days, but just ask yourselves, which of these starts to a game do you prefer?

(1) As it is: Arcane rock and roll music plays loudly over the public address system  until, suddenly, a game starts between St. Thomas and some unannounced opponent. In between innings, the music blares mindlessly until the first batter of the next half inning steps in to hit as the next unannounced player in the game.

(2) As it could be: Our public address person takes to the air prior to the game and says something like the followimg: “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Eagle Field! Here are the starting lineups for the 6-6 visiting Kingwood Mustangs and the 8-1 home Eagles of St. Thomas!” (and once the lineups are given) Ladies and Gentlemen, will everyone now please rise for the playing of our National Anthem!”

Oh yeah, one more thing: A little marketing by better game presentation might help attract bigger crowds and justify the introduction of a concession stand too, and forgive me again if you ordinarily have one at St. Thomas, except for spring break games. Getting by on water and indoor plumbing alone yesterday will justify a nickname change from Eagles to Spartans over time.

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