1971: Little Joe Is Hit of Show at HBD

JOE MORGAN 1971 WINNER JIM UMBRICHT AWARD

JOE MORGAN
1971 WINNER
JIM UMBRICHT AWARD

 

Little Joe Morgan stood tall in towering company on Friday night, January 29, 1971. He was there at the 11th annual Houston Baseball Dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Astroworld Hotel to accept the Jim Umbricht Award as the Most Valuable Player on the roster of the 1970 Houston Astros and he handled the recognition with modesty, pride, and respect, and with an attitude that left little doubt that he felt right at home among some of baseball’s greatest players and future Hall of Famers in 1971. If fans were still paying $12.50 a table place, and we think they were, they were getting a moment of value that far exceeded the cover fee.

LEFTY GOMEZ KEYNOTE SPEAKER "Lefty Left 'Em Laughing!"

LEFTY GOMEZ
KEYNOTE SPEAKER
“Lefty Left ‘Em Laughing!”

Morris Frank again served as Master of Ceremonies for the Houston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America sponsorship group and Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez was on hand to leave the crowd rolling in the aisles from his endless stream of good time stories as a big leaguer.

JUDGE ROY HOFHEINZ DID HIS SPEECH VERSION OF THE DISNEY SONG, "WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR."

JUDGE ROY HOFHEINZ
DID HIS SPEECH VERSION OF THE DISNEY SONG, “WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR.”

NL PRESIDENT CHUB FEENEY MADE IT THE HEAD TABLE IN 1971.

NL PRESIDENT CHUB FEENEY MADE IT THE HEAD TABLE IN 1971.

Judge Roy Hofheinz also made his first speech to the crowd since his stroke of May 1970 and he used the opportunity to Barnum and Bailey his words into thoughts that helped him make the case for his Astros winning the National League pennant in 1971. National League President Chub Feeney was present at the speakers’ table, but offered no support or objection to the Judge’s outlook on things. And, as well know with help of time and hindsight, the Astros, alas, did not win the pennant in 1971 and were only short by 34 years of fulfilling the Hofheinz hope or conclusion.

The ’71 dinner also included action film of the honorees performing during the 1970 season and, before that spirit was played on a roll in the post-dinner program, the Rev. J.T. Bagby led the house in an invocation of God’s Blessings.

Harry Walker

HARRY WALKER CUED TO HIS BOSS’S POSITIVE MESSAGE ABOUT THE ’71 SEASON, BUT HIS SPEECH TIED MORE IN TO ANOTHER DISNEY SONG WE NOW RECALL AS “HI HO! HI HO! IT’S OFF TO WORK WE GO!”

Harry Walker also presented his managerial view of the Astros’ prospects for 1971 and, while he was not swallowed by the same spell of hyperbole that had gripped is boss, Harry’s outlook stayed in tempered beat with the hopes of the man who spearheaded the construction of an “eighth wonder” to house his trove of future champions.

BROOKS ROBINSON 1971 WINNER SPECIAL WORLD SERIES AWARD

BROOKS ROBINSON
1971 WINNER
SPECIAL WORLD SERIES AWARD

Future Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles received a special award for his incredible performance tin the 1970 World Series. “BR” collected 9 hits in 5 games – and these included  2 doubles, 2 home runs, 6 RBI ad a .429 batting average. On defense, Robinson handled 24 chances flawlessly and these included 14 assists. Clark Nealon of the Houston Post was the presenter.

ROBERTO CLEMENTE 1971 WINNER TRIS SPEAKER AWARD

ROBERTO CLEMENTE
1971 WINNER
TRIS SPEAKER AWARD

Future Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates received the Tris Speaker Award from Dick Peebles  of the Houston Chronicle.

GARY NOLAN 1971 WINNER DICKIE KERR AWARD

GARY NOLAN
1971 WINNER
DICKIE KERR AWARD

Gary Nolan of the Cincinnati Reds received the Dickie Kerr Award for best season performance by an MLB pitcher from Darrell Mack of United Press International.

CLARENCE GASTON 1971 WINNER JOHNNY KEANE AWARD

CLARENCE GASTON
1971 WINNER
JOHNNY KEANE AWARD

Clarence “Cito” Gaston took the Johnny Keane Award from presenter John Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

BOOG POWELL 1971 WINNER EDDIE DYER AWARD

BOOG POWELL
1971 WINNER
EDDIE DYER AWARD

Boog Powell was presented with the Eddie Dyer Award by Fred Hartman of the Baytown Sun.

KEN BURKHART 1971 WINNER BILL KLEM AWARD

KEN BURKHART
1971 WINNER
BILL KLEM AWARD

14-year National League arbiter Ken Burkhart received the Bill Klem Award as the previous season’s outstanding umpire from Houston Co-Dinner Chairman Jimmy Delmar.

ROGER METZGER 1971 WINNER JIMMY DELMAR AWARD

ROGER METZGER
1971 WINNER
JIMMY DELMAR AWARD

And recently acquired Astros prospect Roger Metzger was named as the winner of the Jimmy Delmar Award for being the outstanding Texas-born minor leaguer for 1970 and given is trophy also by Fred Hartman of the Baytown Sun.

~ Bobby Risinger, Baytown Sun, January 31, 1971, Page 10 was the data source for most of this new article by The Pecan Park Eagle. One other quoted source below continues to a final observation on the 1971, 11th Houston Baseball Dinner:

“Astros officials say they will give Roger (Metzger) a hard look during spring training. So if the bat comes around, Houston fans may see a new face in the Houston lineup come April 5.”

~ Bobby Risinger, Sun Sports Editor, Baytown Sun, February 3, 1971, Page 14.

The Metzger bat never really came around, but his defensive value at shortstop was too great to ignore. Roger served as the Astros steady regular shortstop from 1971 through the time of his in-season 1978 trade to San Francisco, where he would play from the balance of 1978 through 1980, his last year as an active big leaguer.

After 11 consecutive offerings, the winter baseball dinner in Houston was alive and well through 1971.

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2 Responses to “1971: Little Joe Is Hit of Show at HBD”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    The photo of Roger Metzger brought back memories of one of my two favorite Astros, Metzger and Bob Aspromonte. Both suffered terrible personal injuries and both wore uniform number “14.”

  2. Carol McMains Says:

    Bill, I write to inquire whether the Ken Burkhart photo can be used to accompany an upcoming story by Gabriel Schechter on TheNationalPastimeMuseum.com. Thanks for your consideration.

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