December 2012 Lagniappe

Jim Crane is the new Astros principal owner. Jim Hunt is my dear great friend and cousin.

Jim Crane is the new Astros principal owner. Jim Hunt is my dear great friend and cousin.

Look-a-Likes

I still cannot get over the physical resemblance of my dear cousin Jim Hunt to Jim Crane, the new principal owner of the Houston Astros. Other than their shared soft-spoken natures, they don’t appear to have much else in common and, of course, Jim Hunt is old enough to have been Jim Crane’s very young father or much older brother.

There is one observable difference. Jim Hunt doesn’t like those ugly sponsorship signs that still hang from the rafters in left field.

Maybe Moody Gardens would be a good working model for this possibility.

Maybe Moody Gardens would be a good working model for this possibility.

For Whom the Dome Tolls

If the Dome-Deciders just settled on striping away everything about the Astrodome and turned the interior into a nice nature park for family visits and activities, would the result be enough to preserve the shape and memory of the Astrodome to satisfy the aims of its architectural preservation for history? – Or would the results be simply an insulting skeleton that only served to fill the public with equivalent doses of anger or antipathy?

Bob Boyd passed away in his home town of Wichita, Kansas in 2004 at the age of 84. He spent his baseball retirement years in Wichita driving a bus for the local transit authority.

Bob Boyd passed away in his home town of Wichita, Kansas in 2004 at the age of 84. He spent his baseball retirement years in Wichita driving a bus for the local transit authority.

Houston Needs to Honor Bob Boyd

In May 1954, first baseman Bob Boyd became the first black player to break the color line in baseball and all other professional sports to come in the Houston area, contributing significantly to the 1954 Texas League pennant that the club captured that year. He was joined later in the same 1954 season by future Hall of Fame outfielder Willard Brown, who earlier had broken the color line in the American League as the first black batter to homer in league play as a member of the St. Louis Browns.

Bob Boyd batted .321 with 7 HR for the 1954 Houston Buffs. He returned to the club in 1955, hitting .310 with 15 HR before working himself back to the big time for a nine season career and a .293 MLB BA. Boyd finished his baseball career as a three-season player (1962-64) for Oklahoma City and San Antonio in the Houston Colt .45s new farm system.

Bob Boyd will not be forgotten in the forthcoming 2014 SABR book, “Houston Baseball, The Early Years, 1861-1961,” but it would be nice for the City of Houston and/or the Houston Astros or Sugar Land Skeeters to honor Boyd’s contributions to an important page in the community’s baseball and racial relations history with some kind of honorable public exposition or plaque of appreciation as well.

Available for Christmas through Amazon, E-Bay, Barnes & Noble, and McFarland's!

Available for Christmas through Amazon, E-Bay, Barnes & Noble, and McFarland’s!

Toy Cannon Still A Good Buy at Christmas Time

Jimmy Wynn was one of the young players mentored by the veteran Bob Boyd when he came over to the Houston MLB organization from Cincinnati in 1963. His autobiography, “Toy Cannon,” is also still a can’t miss item for anyone on your Christmas shopping list who hasn’t yet read the story of his coming-0f-age as an icon in Houston baseball history in his own right too. Please do them a favor and order it for all those folks you know who love Jimmy Wynn and the Houston Astros. – It’s still the home run gift of the Christmas season.

My dad and his songwriting buddy drove all the way to New York City from Beeville, Texas in the early 1930s to try and get Rudy Vallee to sing their song over the national radio airways.

My dad and his songwriting buddy drove all the way to New York City from Beeville, Texas in the early 1930s to try and get Rudy Vallee to sing their song over the national radio airways.

The Moon Is Here

My sweet mom and dad were just wonderful teachers. Dad was a town ball outfielder who fancied writing music. Mom was a movie addict who loved singing. In fact, she loved it so much that it became the way she and dad met.

On a trip to see her grandmother in Beeville in 1936, Mom somehow got booked to do some live singing over the radio at the little Beeville AM station while she was there. She was 20 at the time and Dad was 25, but they had never met – and possibly might never have met, had Mom not had the singing gig.

Dad heard her singing “Paper Moon” over the radio and drove over to the station to see who she was. Dad was busy at the time putting together a Dodge-Plymouth dealership in Beeville, but could not resist his urge to meet the girl behind the voice he was hearing over the radio. They went out for cokes and hamburgers right way in a way that never stopped from there, falling in love, and, with Mom staying on in Beeville, they just became too close to ever again part.

Two weeks after meeting, they eloped to Saltillo, Mexico after a quick and quiet wedding in Beeville with the help of the parish priest. They stayed married for 58 years, until Mom suffered a stroke on their May 30, 1994 anniversary and died three days later. Dad, who had been in good health until then, died exactly five weeks later, of renal failure. He just left us. His will was to be with Mom.

Earlier in the 1930s, Dad and Dan Lanning, a buddy, had written and published a song called “The Moon Is Here,” which they drove all the way to New York City to push on the Justin Beiber/Elvis Presley of his era, Rudy Vallee. They even managed to wrangle a meeting with Vallee, but he would give them no commitments that he would sing it on the radio. Dan Lanning also had become Father Dan Lanning, the Catholic priest who helped speed their wedding so they could get away the possibility of any family objections on either side that Mom, a Christian Scientist, was getting married to a Catholic fellow in a Catholic Church in a wedding officiated by a Catholic priest.

They drove back to Beeville disconsolate, but later learned from friends back home that Rudy Vallee had sung their song live over the radio in their absence. It’s too bad the boys had not either thought to have had a car radio installed, or else stopped somewhere and looked for someplace they could have heard the Rudy Vallee Radio Show, just in case. Oh well. The song was not a hit anyway, but nevertheless, I always admired Dad for the great try.

Dear Mom and Dad, I’m sorry we McCurdy kids made the rest of your years a lot less glamorous than you once may have dreamt of them becoming, but thanks for the love, the care, and all of the answers you provided to our challenges to your parental creativity.

Our Paper Moon Girl

Our Paper Moon Girl

Have a nice weekend, everybody. That’s all I’ve got for now.

 

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4 Responses to “December 2012 Lagniappe”

  1. Michael McCroskey Says:

    Not sure exactly what this column was about; but at least you made me look up the word “laniappe,” and how to pronounce it.

    Danke schon!

    Mike

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Your most welcome, Mike. I’m simply handing out the lagniappe of cherished thoughts, memories, and reflections today. Maybe it’s the 1st day of December acting upon me, but these come from all over the place within me.

  2. Michael McCroskey Says:

    Make that “lagniappe.”

    Mike

  3. Glen Krajca-Radcliffe Says:

    I hope the Astros or the city takes your suggestion to honor Bob Boyd to heart. I became a left handed hitter because of him. I’m sure some of the people who sat near my family at Buff games probably were shocked when I said he was my favorite player.

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