Buffs in The Dixie Series, 1920-1958

The Dixie Series, 1920-1958

For 38 seasons, the Dixie Series was the Super Bowl of minor league baseball in the South and Southwest. Created by the owners of the Texas League and the Southern Association, the Dixie Series was designed to emulate the meaning and format of the then 17 year old World Series that determined the so-called World Champions of a game played in few places back then beyond our national shores.

The World Series was major league and national. The Dixie Series was minor league and regional. The Midwest had their own minor league regional show in which the champions of the American Association and the International League played annually for supremacy in another best four games of seven competition that carried the weighty titles of Little World Series (1905-1931) and Junior World Series (1932-75) . The heavy meaning was intentional. We were supposed to think that the Little/Junior World Series regional match was merely a second and inch away from the big one, The World Series.

After the American Association shut down after 1997, the International League took on the champions of the Pacific Coast League, the  other surviving AAA level group from that era, in what was briefly (1998-2000) called the Triple A World Series, but that’s neither here nor there. Our focus today is the Dixie Series.

As kid growing up in Houston, the idea of the Buff making it to the Dixie Series was big – really big. The World Series was still biggest, of course. We only got grainy television pictures of the big league championship series, but we did get a picture to watch. The Dixie Series was far more mysterious. I was just one of the many East Enders who took the three strikes to our status zone that always seemed to find us at big game time:

No television  No tickets. No influence.

Thank God for radio and dear old Loel Passe. We didn’t miss a play from the Dixie Series that slipped by the critical objective (smile) eye of  Loel’s “hot ziggety dog and good old sassafras tea” observations and airways reports to the home crowd.

As far as I remember and know, there never was a plan in place to televise the Dixie Series back in the 1950’s. Neither baseball promoters or their network counterparts seemed to understand the commercial potential of television back then – and it’s a little hard to be cutting edge if no one in the kitchen even recognizes the cutting board they now have at their disposal.

Eventually, they all learned from Gillette, the first great all-by-themselves sponsor of those early World Series telecasts:

Look sharp. Feel sharp. Be sharp.

To look sharp – and be on the ball,

To feel sharp, and to have it all,

To be sharp, try Gillette Blue Blades,

For the smoothest shave you’ll ever know.

But I digress. Our story today is the record of the Houston Buffs in the Dixie Series.

The Houston Buffs made it to the Dixie Series eight times – and five of those appearances came during my 1947-1958 era as a Buffs-Texas League fan. The Buffs won it all in 1928, 1947, 1956, and 1957; they lost in 1931, 1940, 1951, and 1954.

Of special interest to me are these facts:

(1) The Buffs won the Dixie Series for the first time in 1928, their first year in residence at the new Buff Stadium;

(2) The 1931 Buffs (#42) and the 1941 Buffs (#65) are both ranked among the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time, but neither won the Dixie Series. The 1931 Buffs fell in seven games to the Birmingham Barons; the 1941 Buffs failed to even get there after falling in the Texas League post-season playoffs.

(3) Both the 1931 Buffs and the 1951 Buffs feel to the Birmingham Barons, the first in seven games, the second in six games, due greatly to health problems with their ace pitchers, Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean from 1931 and Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell from 1951.

(4) When the 1951 Dixie Series opened in Houston, a band took the field to play the National Anthem and also to perform numbers in honor of the two teams. For the Birmingham Barons, the band played “Dixie;” for the Houston Buffaloes, they came back with “The Eyes of Texas.”

(5) WHen the 1951 Dixie Series concluded in Houston with a 4-2 in games mastery by Birmingham, Buffs organist Lou Mahan played music to match the blue mood of Houston Buff fans. With the stands empty and the lights dimming, she was churning out a number that some of you older fans may remember as “I Remember You.”

I wasn’t there to know these facts first hand. We simply used to have sports writers who tuned in to the mood and disposition of Houston fans beyond the actual facts of a big game. In this instance, “I Remember You” served as a wistful reminder of how a few days earlier we had held such strong hopes for the Dixie Series Championship. And now they were gone, but still not forgotten.

What else can I say? It’s a long time Houston story – the remembrance of what might have been.

For the record, here are the outcomes for all Dixie Series matches:

 The Dixie Series 1920 – 1958

YEAR WINNING LEAGUE WINNING TEAM LOSING TEAM RESULTS
1920 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers Little Rock Travelers 4 games to 2
1921 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers Memphis Chicks 4 games to 2
1922 Southern Association Mobile Bears Fort Worth Panthers 4 games to 2
1923 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers New Orleans Pelicans 4 games to 2
1924 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers Memphis Chicks 4 games to 3
1925 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers Atlanta Crackers 4 games to 2
1926 Texas League Dallas Steers New Orleans Pelicans 4 games to 2
1927 Texas League Wichita Falls Spudders New Orleans Pelicans 4 games to 0
1928 Texas League Houston Buffaloes Birmingham Barons 4 games to 2
1929 Southern Association Birmingham Barons Dallas Steers 4 games to 2
1930 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers Memphis Chicks 4 games to 1
1931 Southern Association Birmingham Barons Houston Buffaloes 4 games to 3
1932 Southern Association Chattanooga Lookouts Beaumont Exporters 4 games to 1
1933 Southern Association New Orleans Pelicans San Antonio Missions 4 games to 2
1934 Southern Association New Orleans Pelicans Galveston Buccaneers 4 games to 2
1935 Texas League Oklahoma City Indians Atlanta Crackers 4 games to 2
1936 Texas League Tulsa Oilers Birmingham Barons 4 games to 0
1937 Texas League Fort Worth Cats Little Rock Travelers 4 games to 1
1938 Southern Association Atlanta Crackers Beaumont Exporters 4 games to 0
1939 Texas League Fort Worth Cats Nashville Vols 4 games to 3
1940 Southern Association Nashville Vols Houston Buffaloes 4 games to 1
1941 Southern Association Nashville Vols Dallas Rebels 4 games to 0
1942 Southern Association Nashville Vols Shreveport Sports 4 games to 2
1943 No Series WWII      
1944 No Series WWII      
1945 No Series WWII      
1946 Texas League Dallas Rebels Atlanta Crackers 4 games to 0
1947 Texas League Houston Buffaloes Mobile Bears 4 games to 2
1948 Southern Association Birmingham Barons Fort Worth Cats 4 games to 1
1949 Southern Association Nashville Vols Tulsa Oilers 4 games to 3
1950 Texas League San Antonio Missions Nashville Vols 4 games to 3
1951 Southern Association Birmingham Barons Houston Buffaloes 4 games to 2
1952 Southern Association Memphis Chicks Shreveport Sports 4 games to 2
1953 Texas League Dallas Eagles Nashville Vols 4 games to 2
1954 Southern Association Atlanta Crackers Houston Buffaloes 4 games to 3
1955 Southern Association Mobile Bears Shreveport Sports 4 games to 0
1956 Texas League Houston Buffaloes Atlanta Crackers 4 games to 2
1957 Texas League Houston Buffaloes Atlanta Crackers 4 games to 2
1958 Southern Association Birmingham Barons Corpus Christi Giants 4 games to 2

1958 was the last encounter in the Dixie Series between the Southern Association and Texas League. Beginning in 1959 it was replaced by the Pan-Am Series, the Texas League vs. the Mexican League.

 
SOURCE: The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, Volume 2

Retrieved from “http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Dixie_Series

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “Buffs in The Dixie Series, 1920-1958”

  1. Darrell Pittman Says:

    FWIW, there’s a summary of Houston’s fare in the Dixie Series at http://astrosdaily.com/history/before

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