Early Houston Buffs and Browns Connection?

West End Park, Home of the Houston Buffs, 1907-1927. Published by permission of the City of Houston Public Library, Houston, TX.

Thanks to another little article from the Houstorian, some new/old/recycled questions and answers about the Houston Buffs and West End Park are again recycled and now come at us hard as researchers, loudly begging for further exploration. As we move further into our new SABR Chapter major research project, “Houston Baseball, 1861-1961, The First One Hundred Years,” this is the sort of thing that our team will need to explore with effort that goes way beyond quick and easy, incomplete conclusions.

The Houstorian article, for example, concludes that in 1909,  “the (Houston) Buffaloes were part of the St. Louis Browns farm system,” and it seems to be a conclusion based largely on the fact that, by 1910, “the following Buffaloes were playing for the St. Louis Browns: Roy Mitchell (P), Jim Stephens (C), Frank Truesdale (2B), Patrick Newnam (1B), Hub Northen, Joe McDonald, Art Griggs, Dode Criss, Alex Malloy, and Bill Killefer.” From what I was able to confirm through the minor league data files at Baseball Reference.Com, the Houstorian’s conclusion are correct as to the joint participation of most of these players as both Buffs and Browns.

Houston may have had some kind of working agreement with the Browns in 1909. That factor needs further research. It is rash, however, to conclude that the Buffs were part of the Browns “farm system” in 1909. Back then, major league clubs did not own minor league clubs. That kind of ownerships was viewed as sinister to the idea of a level playing field among all big league clubs. Further study of the Browns-Buffs arrangement in 1909 is needed. That’s the only true and safe end we may now touch based on what we know, so far.

Here’s a link to the Houstorian article that stirs up historical information like a first scratch in the ground of artifacts:

http://houstorian.wordpress.com/2009/02/14/100-years-ago-february-14-1909/

If you are a member of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, or if you think you might be interested in joining us in the biggest research challenge in Houston Area Baseball History as a new member of SABR, please get in touch with me, Bill McCurdy, @ houston_buff@hotmail.com

We are in the early stages of organizing our research work plan for scouring all available resources that will provide us with the best information we can find on the growth and evolution of baseball in the Houston area from the time of its first organization in 1861 as the “Houston Base Ball Club” through its last season as the minor league Houston Buffs in 1961.” If you have a passion for baseball, time for research, the patience and eyes for studying old newspaper and other public records on microfilm at the library, please consider joining our team. The final product will be a scholarly published historical work on the full history of baseball in Houston prior to the coming of the major leagues in 1962. Profits from this book will be dedicated to the support of SABR and its other programs in the Houston area – and everyone who does the research and writing that makes it possible will get their names credited to this legacy work on a major aspect of Houston and Harris County history.

If you have the time, the passion, and the patience for it, we need your help now.

The Houston Baseball History Project Wants You!

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3 Responses to “Early Houston Buffs and Browns Connection?”

  1. mike Says:

    Interesting number of former Buffs who went on to the Browns, but I agree with you, Bill. Farm systems were prohibited. I think it more likely that the Browns had a very active scout working this area of Texas.

  2. Walter R. Canty Says:

    Hi Bill,

    An interesting article. I wish I could help, but I was just a kid in the 30’s and 40’s, and by then the Buffs were probably attached to the Cardinals. Sometime back in the late 70’s or early 80’s, I was a contributing member of SABR. As work pressures built up, I dropped my membership. Now that I am retired, I will certainly consider joining in the research effort.

    Walt Canty

  3. Darrell Pittman Says:

    I’m fascinated by the photo. It would be interesting to know the date, who the opponent is, which team is which, etc.

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