Houston Buffs of the Hall of Fame

The nine Houston Buffs of the Hall of Fame are simply those nine players who passed through our town and put in some big and small playing time with the old Texas League/American Association Houston Buffs on their ways onto, and away from,  greatness as major leaguers and career minor leaguers with incredible major league managerial experience.  Here they are in basic  chronological appearance of their various seasons with the Houston Buffs:

The list has been modified from the original seven Buffs I had identified as the whole body of those who later made it to the Hall of Fame. Thanks to diligent researcher Cliff Blau, we today add the names of Earl Weaver (1951-52) and Willard Brown (1955) to the list. Both were favorites of mine, making it harder to imagine how I missed either in my own search. I even played in the 1952 Earl Weaver League that waaa sponsored by the City of Houston Parks & Recreation Department and named for one the several youth program circuits identified by the names of various Buff players.

The lesson is always the same in baseball research. More than one brain and two pair of eyes are always preferable to the goal of due diligence in our search for accuracy. – Thanks again, Cliff!

Tris Speaker

 (1) Tris Speaker, OF,  (1907) batted .314 to lead the Texas League in hitting during his one 1907 season as a Houston Buff outfielder, Speaker, of course, went on to become one of the 1937 earliest inductees into the not-even-opened-until-1939 Baseball Hall of Fame. His career major league batting average weighed in at .345 and, at the time of his retirement, he was regarded by most to hae been the greatest fielding center fielder in the history of the game.

Jim Bottomley

 (2) Jim Bottomley, 1B,  (1921) had few “Sunny Jim” days with the 1921 Buffs. He hit only ..27 during his season with Houston before going on to a career .317 mark as a major leaguer and great first baseman.  Bottomley was inducted into the Hall of Fame in in 1974.

Chick Hafey

(3) Chick Hafey, OF, (1924) hit .360 for the 1924 Buffs, but still  failed to lead the league in hitting because a fellow named Art Weis of Wichita Falls hit .377 that year. Hafey went on to hit .317 as a major leaguer. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.

Dizzy Dean

 (4) Dizzy Dean, P, (1930-1931) was 8-2 with a 2.86 ERA for the 1930 Buffs and then came back for a big leadership wins record of 26-10 and a 1.53 incredible ERA for the high-flying 1931 Buffs club. Dean’s 1.53 ERA tied Whitlow Wyatt of Beaumont for the league lead and his 303 strikeouts for the year blew away everyone else. Dean, of course, went on to a 30-win season with the 1934 Gashouse Gang World Champion St. Louis Cardinals and an injury-shortened career record of 150-83 and 3.02 career ERA. Ole Diz was inducted into the Hall of fame in 1853.

Joe Medwick

 (5) Joe “Ducky” Medwick, OF, (1932-1933, 1948) batted .305 for the 1931 Buffs; he led the league that years 19 home runs and 126 RBI. In 1932, Medwick’s Buff Batting average jumped to .354, but he lost the batting title to Ervin Fox of Beaumont and his .357 mark. After banging out a career major league BA of .324, Medwick came back down the Baseball ladder to hit .276 in limited action for the 1948 Buffs. Joe Medwick was voted into te Hall of Fame in 1968.

Earl Weaver

 (6) Earl Weaver, 2B, (1951-1952) hit .233 in 13 games for the 1951 Buffs and .219 in 57 games for the 1952 Buffs. Weaver never made it to the big leagues as a player, finishing a 14-season (1948-1960, 1965) minor league career with a BA of .267. Earl Weaver, of course, went on to a 17-season Hall of Fame major league managerial career record with the Baltimore Orioles from 1968 to 1986, winning 1,480 and losing 1,060. Under Weaver, the O’s won four pennants and a World Series, boosting Earl to Hall of Fame induction as a manger in 1996.

Willard Brown

 (7) Willard Brown (1955) hit .301 and crunched 19 home runs for the 1955 Buffs in 149 games as the club’s right fielder. Already in the record books as the first black player in the history of the old St. Louis Browns, and as the first black player to homer in the American League during the 1947 season, Brown was rewarded for his earlier, deeper record of achievement in the Negro Leagues with induction into the hall of Fame in 2006. In 1955, however late it ma have been, he was one of the most valuable members of the Houston Buffs and a man who definitely deserves remembrance on this list of “Houston Buffs of the Hall of Fame.”

Billy Williams

  (8) Billy Williams, LF, (1960) batted .323 with 26 home runs for the Houston Buffs in their next to last season of existence.  He went on to hit .290 with 426 home runs as a career major leaguer and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987. Billy  had a teammate on that 1960 Buff club that some of us over time felt was also worthy for Hall of Fame consideration, but it never  happened. His name was Ron Santo.

Enos Slaughter

 (9) Enos Slaughter, Manager-PH, (1960) was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985 after hitting .300 over the course of his very successful and legendary major league career with the Cardinals and Yankees. He became Houston Buffs hall of Famer when he later managed the 1960 Buffs club and gave into his passion for playing the game by using himself as a pinch hitter and spot player, hitting .289 in 45 official trips to the plate.

Without requesting a cross-reference check from the Hall of Fame Library, these are the only Houston Buffalo Hall of Fame players that I have ever been able to identify from a tedious review of available records. If you happen to find anyone I’ve missed, please let me know. I don;t do this kind of research for pride or ego. I do it because I care about baseball history and getting it right. I will take all the help I can get – just as those of us who are now working on the SABR Project we call “Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-1961” will take all the help any of you may care to offer us that serves the aims of “getting it right.”

Just get in touch with me here at any times by leaving a comment on a column, along with whatever contact information you care to provide.

Thanks.

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7 Responses to “Houston Buffs of the Hall of Fame”

  1. Dr. D. Says:

    Where is Ron Santo?

    What an injustice!

  2. Prsley,Budgie, Sharp Says:

    Solly Hemus should of been there also. How about Eddie Knoblock

  3. V. O. Says:

    Do you have a picture of Lefty Gordy? He pitched for The Houston Buffs in 1923 and his contract was sold to the Cardinals

  4. Cliff Blau Says:

    I just went through the 1946-60 rosters on Baseball-Reference.com. Willard Brown played for the Buffs in 1955.

    Another Hall of Famer who played for the Buffs was Earl Weaver (1951-52), not in the Hall as a player, of course.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Thank you, Cliff!

      Willard Brown and Earl Weaver do count too. I will now add them to the list with proper credit to you for being the diligent researcher that you are. Wish we had your presence in Houston for our SABR Chapter Project, “Houston Baseball, The Early Years, 1861-1961.” We could use all the due diligence you bring to the subject of baseball. When we finally go to press with our publishable findings in a couple of years, I will not forget as this projects editor in chief to credit you for the “catches” on Brown and Weaver you made here. Thanks again.

      Regards, Bill

  5. David Munger Says:

    Hall of Fame means Hall of Fame. Good choices, Bill.

  6. Eric Says:

    Hey I have a baseball that has Eddie dyer and Joe medwick on it along with many other players from that time and another baseball with dizzy dean signature any idea on a way to find price of them?

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