Three Texas Clubs Open AAA Play in 1959

April 12, 1959: Chuck Tanner, then of the Minneapolis Millers, helped crush Houston debut in the American Association with a HR and two other hits in his club's 13 hit assault upon Buffs pitching.

April 12, 1959: Chuck Tanner, then of the Minneapolis Millers, helped crush Houston’s debut in the American Association with a HR and two other hits in his club’s 13 hit assault upon Buffs pitching.

The Dallas Rangers, the Fort Worth Cats and the Houston Buffaloes all moved up from their decades old membership in the AA Texas League in 1959 to become members together in the five-club “West Division” of the AAA American Association, For Houston, it would be a short run of three seasons (1959-62) before the Buffs faded into baseball history (but not from reverent memory) and Houston the City moved up the big time as the expansion club  “Colt .45s”, and new membership in the National League.

Details of the first Opening Day results on Sunday, April 12, 1959 are sketchy here at The Pecan Park Eagle, unfortunately,  because our New Archives resource subscription does not include digital copies of the old Houston newspapers. We do, however, enough sketchy information from this sparse Association Press article that appeared in the Monday, April 13, 1959 edition of the San Antonio Light to shed a few rays of daylight on how each of the new AAA league members from Texas fared at home in their three first Opening Day games as members of the American Association:

Dallas Rangers 3 – Denver Bears 2 (10 innings), Attendance: 4,704. The fans were described by AP as “chilled” on a night that undoubtedly smacked more of a lingering winter than the onset of  Texas spring baseball time. Dallas was the only one of the three Texas home teams to celebrate a victory on its first rattle out of the AAA Opening Day chute for the first time. “A Dallas native, Kal Segrist, was the hero of the Rangers’ victory over Denver.” With the bases loaded, Segrist “lined a 2-run double with two outs in the (bottom of) the tenth inning” to warm the hearts of over four thousand Dallas fan bodies. “A hit batsman, a walk, and Carl Powis‘ single had loaded the bases and set the stage for Segrist’s second hit of the game. Big John Juciuk and John Schaive had five of Denver’s nine safeties.”

St. Paul Saints 8 – Fort Worth Cats 6, Attendance: 3,377. “Right-hander Larry Sherry (St. Paul) fanned 11 batters, but needed relief in the 9th at Fort Worth. where St. Paul broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth. Jim Gentile‘s 2-run homer touched off a 4-run inning for the Saints.”

Minneapolis Millers 9 – Houston Buffaloes 5, Attendance: 7,453. Bad weather may have held own the Sunday crowd at Houston. The Buffs and Millers were originally scheduled to open the season on Saturday night, ahead of everyone else, but heavy rains wiped out the game and that plan. “Thirteen hits were good for 23 total bases in the Miller’s romp at Houston (Sunday). Chuck Tanner and Art Schult each had a homer and two other safeties for the Millers, who needed three hurlers to quell the Buffs.” Once more, no clear mention of winning and losing pitchers was mentioned in the report, nor were box scores made available. From what was reported, we may imagine that any surviving Buff pitchers would be grateful if nothing more specific could be found in the downtown Houston Public Library or Harris County Archive files. On the other hand, after the passage of close to 66 years, most of the participants in this long ago Opening Days have either checked out – or long ago put their egos out to pasture.

~ Quotes excerpted from Associated Press Story, The San Antonio Light, Monday, 4/13/1959, Page 16.

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One Common Interesting Note.  All six of the cities involved here are now represented directly by MLB market teams, but it only took four franchises to absorb all six metro areas listed in this report. Next time we go on another cadaverous historical file search, we shall try to make it on a day in which we have more time to a pursue a subject with more readily available meat on the bones.

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Addendum: Post Original Publication: Once again, friend and Maryland SABR colleague, Bill Hickman, has come to the rescue with additional flesh for the bones of this carrion-quality news source about an event in Houston and Texas baseball history that deserves a little more attention. After all, it was April 12, 1959, the day that three of the state’s largest cities made the transition together to the highest rung on the minor league baseball ladder en route to the Major Leagues in 1962 (Houston Colt .45s) and 1972 (Texas Rangers, in behalf of Dallas and Fort Worth, but physically located between the two hearts of the Metroplex in the smaller community of Arlington, Texas.)

Bill posted his information in the comment section, but it’s too primary to the central subject to be left there alone:

“The box score of that opening game between the Millers and the Buffs in 1959 was published on page 26 of the April 22, 1959 issue of The Sporting News, which may be viewed on-line in Paper of Record, for those who have access to it. The winning pitcher was Nelson Chittum and the losing pitcher was Lloyd Merritt.”

~ Bill Hickman, SABR, 3/16/2015.

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Thanks, Bill Hickman! ~ The Pecan Park Eagle.

 

 

 

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One Response to “Three Texas Clubs Open AAA Play in 1959”

  1. Bill Hickman Says:

    The box score of that opening game between the Millers and the Buffs in 1959 was published on page 26 of the April 22, 1959 issue of The Sporting News, which may be viewed on-line in Paper of Record, for those who have access to it. The winning pitcher was Nelson Chittum and the losing pitcher was Lloyd Merritt.

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