Buff Biographies: Harry McCurdy

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Harry McCurdy 1933Goudey Card It feels as though I’ve known the late Harry McCurdy my whole life. The fact is,  I never even once met him in person, and, in spite of the fact that we regularly got phone calls from people searching for Harry McCurdy at our house while I was growing up in Houston, I was never led to believe that we were related to him as blood family kin.

As an old, but then young Buffs and baseball fan after World War  II, I could only wish that Harry McCurdy was somehow my dad’s much older brother. Born on September 15, 1899, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Harry McCurdy (5’11”, 187 lbs.) was born eleven years sooner and half an America earlier than my dad, Bill “Wee Willie” McCurdy, Jr. (5’6″, 140 lbs.). Dad came into this world on December 23, 1910 in Beeville, Texas.

Harry McCurdy grew up to be a big league catcher who batted left and threw right. Wee Willie McCurdy grew up as an outfielder for St. Edwards University Prep School in Austin and various Beeville town ball teams of the 1930s. Opposite Harry, Wee Willie batted right and threw left.

For the rest of their Houston lives, my dad’s role in Harry’s life was educed to simply telling people who called our house looking for Harry McCurdy that “No, this is not THE residence of the Harry McCurdy who serves as Principal of Hogg Junior High School in the Heights. We are the McCurdys, all right, just not that McCurdy. You’ve got the wrong number. – Maybe, you should call Information and ask them.”

As a kid, I often wondered why Dad didn’t just call Information himself and get Harry’s number for the next wrong McCurdy caller, but I guess he didn’t see it as his job to do.

Harry McCurdy was with the Houston Independent School District as an administrator for quite a few years prior to his death in Houston on July 21, 1972 at the age of 72. And I imagine too that he was probably glad to miss some of those complaining parent calls that were aimed at catching him at home away from the shield of staff. After all, how many people call a middle school principal just to chew the fat about baseball?

Harry McCurdy was a smart guy. After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1922, Harry began a wonderful baseball career that started and ended with seven seasons in the minors (1922, 1924-25, 1929, 1934-36). He spent three seasons with the Houston Buffs (1924-25, 1934), a stint that included his greatest full year of 1925, when he batted .361 with 16 homers in 124 games as a Buffs catcher. His career minor league totals capped at a .314 BA with 29 homers for 489 games over 7 years.

The major league record for Harry McCurdy in 543 games over ten seasons was even more impressive. Harry batted .282 with 9 HR for the St. Louis Cardinals (1922-23), the Chicago White Sox (1926-28), the Philadelphia Phillies (1930-33), and the Cincinnati Reds (1934).

I no longer get calls for Harry McCurdy at my house – and Wee Willie’s no longer here to take them, either, but both of these men remain in my consciousness – and larger than life.

God rest your souls, McCurdy boys!

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One Response to “Buff Biographies: Harry McCurdy”

  1. Sharon Oberst Says:

    This is a sweet remembrance of your father and my step-grandfather. You write very well and I enjoyed reading your article. Mac, as we called him, would have gotten a chuckle about the wrong numbers. I was too young to know him as a baseball player or even as a principal. He was just my grandfather. It wasn’t until many years after his death that I learned more about his career in baseball and began to collect his memorabilia.

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