The Summer of 1949

Grandmother's House, Beeville, Texas, 1949.

The Summer of 1949 was tough. Dad lost his job in Houston in May, about three months before our little sister Margie was due to arrive. I was age 11 and my little brother John was 7 at the time and Houston was going though some kind of little adjustment in its economy. The short of it for here is that Dad and Mom decided to move back to Beeville from Houston, for the summer, at least. He had a shot at some work for an automobile dealer in our old hometown birthplace and his mom, our wonderful grandmother, had plenty of room for us to stay there as long as we needed or wanted.

The problem for me was the total culture shock of leaving all my friends in Pecan Park, abandoning my buddies and teammates on the sandlot club that came to be known later as the Pecan Park Eagles, and my total loss of daily contact with the fate and fortunes of the Houston Buffs through the Knothole Gang at Buff Stadium – or even predictable news print follow-up of the Buffs on a daily basis. This was 1949. Beeville was only 180 miles southwest of Houston, but it was a world away from life here in “the big city.” They had no television in that part of South Texas back then, no radio follow-up of the Houston Buffs, and the Corpus Christi newspapers serving the area were predictably two days late in their meager report of scores from Houston Buff games.

Add to those conditions the facts that we knew no other boys in Beeville beyond one older male cousin. All the rest of our kid kin were girls, with whom we had nothing in common beyond our shared bloodline. It wasn’t their fault. It’s just how it was. For me, I may as well have been sent to Siberia.

Grandfather McCurdy started The Beeville Bee in 1886.

Imagination saved the day. I began to learn more about Beeville and the surrounding area on my own. I didn’t learn enough to teach history, but I learned enough to fire the imaginings of a mythical baseball league that I would stock with fictional players named for local history figures. I even used my own deceased grandfather, W.O. McCurdy, as the shortstop of our local club, one that I named the Beeville Bees. The Bees were a naturally easy selection. My late grandfather had used the singular version of this title as the identity of the town’s first newspaper. There also had been a few town ball seasons that pulled out the Beeville Bees as their moniker every once in a while  too.

1949 was two years shy of APBA Baseball’s birthdate in simulated game history. I had to use a pinball game, plus my own homemade player cards and notebook binder scoring record book to keep track of games played and league standings. We didn’t stay in Beeville. My dad found a good permanent job with Bill Lee Motors in Houston near summer’s end and we moved back to our little house in Pecan Park and what passed for as “normal life.”

But, while we were in Beeville, I played out a mythical season of the South Texas League by my own always-trying-to-be-fair-and-balanced rules for te playing of pinball game baseball. Here’s how the league played out.

There was only one rain out during the season. San Patricio @ Goliad could not be played on August 19, 1949 due to the birth of my sister, so I chalked it up to rain. That one unplayed game settled the pennant and probably should have been made up, but I got too caught up in my excitement about moving back to Houston. I was going to replay it once we got settled back here in Houston, but I got so caught up in the groundswell of happy reunions on the Japonica Street sandlot to ever get around to it.

Fortunately, I still have the final standings from the South Texas League. Wish I could find that games played record book. I know I have it somewhere.

"Hey, San Pat! This is your old pal from Goliad speaking! You don't really want to make up that rained out game with me, do you?"

Here’s a look at the final standing and a few notes on how these teams came into being with the names I used for them:

South Texas League (W-L, W%) GB

Goliad Goliath (89-65, .578) —  As a kid, I imagined the old LaBahia Mission in Goliad as an ancient home for Giants. When it came time to form the league, I also fell into my love affair with alliteration and the “Goliad Giants” sounded pretty good. Goliad played so well, however, that they just morphed over the season into one giant, the really big guy, the Goliad Goliath.

Beeville Bees (88-65, .575) 0.5 A makeup loss by Goliad to San Patricio would have secured a tie for Beeville with Goliath and forced a one-game playoff for the pennant. Oh well. The Bees still buzz to sting another day as a natural pick for any of their athletic endeavors.

Refugio Red Shirts (85-69,  .552) 4 Go back to the Irish settlement there. The red shirts included all those Texian revolutionaries who put their lives on the line in opposition to the dictatorial rule of Santa Ana.

Woodsboro Majors (80-74, .520) 9 This is a real family insider nickname pick. Major Jon Howland Wood was my great-great grandfather. He came to Texas in 1836 to fight in the Texas Revolution. His crew got here in time to bury the dead at Goliad. Wood remained and became a very successful SOuth Texas rancher. They named a town after him, – hence, the Woodsboro Majors.

Indianola Indians (78-76, .507) 11 Indianola, Texas was a real settlement on the Gulf Coast in the area south of Victoria. After it was totally destroyed by a hurricane in the 19th century, it took on almost mythical place in Texas settlement history.

Bayside Bonnies (74-80,  .481) 15 Major Wood celebrated his Scotch ancestry by naming his ranch the “Bonnie View.” The small town of Bayside now nestles on the north side of Copano Bay, where Major Wood built his house for a family that included his wife, Nancy Clark Wood, and their twelve children.

Rockport Pirates (71-83,  .461) 18 Rockport was the favorite place for our few summer vacations while I was growing up. I used to sit by the waters down there and fish and crab as long as I was allowed to stay outside. All the while I’m there, I’m imagining those Pirate sails I  saw against the same kind of billowing white clouds in the old Errol Flynn movies, expecting Captain Blood to show up any minute. He never did, but Pirates was a natural nickname for the Rockport club.

San Patricio Celtics (50-103,  .327) 37.5 My Sullivan ancestors came from Ireland, via a first stopover in New Jersey, to help populate the new Irish colony of San Patricio de Hibernia in the early 1830s. They also joined with their fellow San Patricians in the revolt against Santa Ana in 1836 and they remained in the area to help Texas make the transition from republic to  statehood.

Closing Note: That’s about it. I did have some teams picked out for a minor league circuit that would feed other new talent into the South Texas League, but the move of my family back to Houston in September 1949 short-circuited plans for the Prairie League as other more current ideas and preoccupations, plus school, closed in again on my always searching mind.

The Prairie League would have celebrated even smaller satellite communities near Beeville. It’s mythical teams would have included the Skidmore Skinners, the Papalote Papooses, the Olmos Prospects, the Berclair Blossoms, the Pettus Petunias, the Mineral Miners, the Sinton Sandmen, and the Clareville Loons.

Happy imaginings, everybody. The colors in your day will get brighter, if you do.

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4 Responses to “The Summer of 1949”

  1. Peter Denman Says:

    I enjoyed reading about your imaginary league. I replayed a few full seasons with Strat-O-Matic as a kid in Houston back in the ’60’s, but now play Diamond Mind. Your Texas team names made me think of the ones I use now in my draft league made of of the all-time best players. I live far from Texas now, but my league is still the Texas League, with the Shiner Bocks, Odessa Horned Toads, La Grange Armadillos, El Paso Stuffed Jalapenos, and my favorite, the Galveston Balinese Dancers. Thanks.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Peter:

      Love it! Especially love those Galveston Balinese Dancers and the El Paso Stuffed Jalapenos. A club wouldn’t want to bite into El Paso when they were on a hot streak – and when is a “Stuffed Jalapeno” not out there on the roll as hot? As for the Galveston club, you might have to worry about a certain local restaurant tycoon buying them and changing their name to the “Tillman Fertitas.”

      Thanks for writing, Peter. It’s always good to hear from another older gamer who still enjoys the run of playing the game with Diamond Mind or APBA or any other sim action set up that floats the same boat of old-time table top baseball.

      Stay in touch,

  2. D. Stewart Says:

    I also play in Diamond Mind leagues and my teams are Houston Hurricane, Gulf Coast Gamblers, Lone Star Mojo and Tejas Diamante Diablos.

  3. Elba Mominee Says:

    It was something of great pleasure discovering your site recently. I came here this day hoping to come across interesting things. And I was not upset. Your well thought out ideas with new techniques on this subject were enlightening and a good help to us. Thank you for making time to write out these things as well as for sharing your mind.

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