Dickie Kerr Statue: A Brief History

August 20, 1966: Stan Musial presided over the dedication of the Dickie Kerr Statue at the Astrodome in Houston.

August 20, 1966: Stan Musial presided over the dedication of the Dickie Kerr Statue at the Astrodome in Houston. – Port Arthur News, Sunday, August 21. 1966, Page 23.

The Dickie Kerr statue was dedicated as a tribute to the late and sadly alone and lamented hero of the integrity-tainted 1919 World Series Chicago White Sox on August 20, 1966 as part of the Second Annual Old-timers Game played at the Astrodome in Houston. Kerr had passed away in his Houston home only three years earlier at the age of 69 on May 4, 1963 and buried at Forest Park Lawndale, the final resting place of so many other big name Houstonians in baseball and other fields.

Because of the Kerr statue dedication of this special artwork by the donor group into the care of the Houston Astros at the Astrodome, Kerr’s great friend, Stan Musial, had agreed to participate in the Old-Timers game as part of the dedication ceremony. Wish we had a good copy of Musial and the statue as shown above, but we shall settle today for any attainable graphic of that special moment. Here above we see Musial in the moment that followed his unveiling of the Kerr statue prior to the 1966 Astrodome Old-Timers game.

Who were the donors who made the statue possible?

According to the Abilene Reporter News and the Port Arthur News, the statue had been designed and completed from funds donated by fans to a movement organized by Houston sports media after Kerr’s death from cancer. Dick Peebles of the Houston Chronicle and Clark Nealon of the Houston Post appear to have been the prime media movers of the fundraising project. We were unable to locate the name of the actual sculptor.

National League President Warren Giles was also on hand with Musial to help preside over the special occasion.

As an interesting aside, even though we have no specific information about the actual pace or score of the Old-Timers game played that day, former Cardinal pitchers Dizzy Dean and Howie Pollet had been announced as opposing starters for the two sides.

August 20, 1966: Astros star Jimmy Wynn gets an autograph from Dizzy Dean prior to the Old-Timers game.

August 20, 1966: Astros star Jimmy Wynn gets an autograph from Dizzy Dean prior to the Old-Timers game.

In a brief period of research today, The Pecan Park Eagle could find no specific documents that specified that the gift of the statue had been donated to the Astros in exchange for their protection, presentation, and preservation of this artwork at the Astrodome, and it simply may have been one of those high-spirited matters of agreement that fails to spell out the item’s future once the glow of the moment fades and other priorities arise and people who had been in charge as givers and receivers either die or move away. All we know is that, over time, and some time prior to the Astros’ move downtown to their new ballpark, the Dickie Kerr statue ended up at the Houston Sports Museum operated by the Finger Furniture family at their store that once rested on the site of old Buff/Busch Stadium.

With the Houston Sports Museum now closed, we presume that the statue is now on “loan” display from Finger’s by the Sugar Land Skeeters at Constellation Field.

Bust View of the Dickie Kerr Statue.

Bust View of the Dickie Kerr Statue.

If anything, this trace history of the Kerr statue, which, indeed, is a quite handsome likeness of Dickie Kerr, is a great argument for specifying the duties and responsibilities of ownership in written legal terms that spell out the expectations that should be attached to the job of perpetual care and presentation of important historical artifacts.

The Skeeters are taking good care of Dickie Kerr’s bronze-plated image. Dickie has been in security placement in the Constellation Field Press Box recently, but he will be back out in front of the stadium by the time our SABR convention visitors make their trip to watch a Skeeters’ game on July 31st.

If you have other information or comment about the history of the statue, please let us hear from you.

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Additional Information from Tom Hunter ….

The Musial House Gift to Dickie and Cora Kerr …

Tom Hunter has supplied us with a link to this excellent article of insight into the  relationship between Stan Musial and Dickie Kerr and how the Houston house gift came to be. The photo of Dickie and wife Cora Kerr in front of their Houston home is also available within the linked article by Andrew H. Martin by clicking onto the sub-link contained within the article shown as “blown away by gift”.

Here’s the Andrew H. Martin article link:

http://baseballhistorian.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-stan-musial-gave-dickey-kerr-of.html

And here’s a poor quality free-hand shot of the house photo contained within the previously noted sub link:

 

Dickie and Cora Ker in front of their Houston gift home from Stan Musial. Musial was upset when attempted quiet gift to old friends became public a few short years after the fact.

Dickie and Cora Ker in front of their Houston gift home from Stan Musial. Musial was upset when his attempted quiet gift to old friends became public a few short years after the fact.

 

Thank you so much, Tom Hunter, for these important additions to the Dickie Kerr story.

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to “Dickie Kerr Statue: A Brief History”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    According to other sources, including a photograph of his headstone at Forest Park Lawndale, Dickie Kerr died on May 4, 1963.

  2. Mike Mulvihill Says:

    I remember meeting Dickie Kerr up close and personal when I was playing ball at St.Thomas. My coach Fr.James Wilson arranged for Mr.Kerr to give me some pitching pointers 2 Saturday mornings in a row @ STHS.
    This was many moons ago, but I do remember what a really nice man he was.
    mike m

  3. Pat Mulvihill Says:

    That’s a great shot of Jimmy Wynn getting an autograph from Dizzy Dean.

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