Thanks for the Memories, Mickey Herskowitz!

 

Mickey Herskowitz:
When it comes to great sports writing,
Nobody Does It Better!

 

Remember when we had really good, entertaining and informative sports writers in the baseball world?

Well, we do. And, as if we needed it, we got a reminder of our singularly great Houston’s Mickey Herskowitz was to that end when he paused last night to comment on our column about the passing of former 1926 Colt .45 Bob Cerv.

There was no one who did it better than Mickey. And that’s still true today. If there were a news rag job out there in today’s mostly ADD on steroids-limited texting market for a real sports writer, Mickey Herskowitz could still be the bomb of visual suggestion he always was, but there ain’t. – And that just all the more underscores the reason we thank him for what he added to our humble Pecan Park Eagle effort to keep the old flame alive here with his commentary on Bob Cerv as a Houston Colt .45. If you didn’t see it, here’s what Mickey Herskowitz wrote as a comment on that column, one that was datelined April 15, 2017 by the Internet time stamp at WordPress:

__________________

“Bill, couldn’t resist sharing an odd, random thought on Bob Cerv. His claim to fame as a Colt .45 was the size of his thighs. He had grown so big and heavy that the equipment man, Whitey Diskin, had to rip up two sets of trousers so he could sew them together to fit over Cerv’s upper legs.

“He was also the only player, certainly up to time, to get thrown out at home trying to score from second on a triple. Al Spangler banged one off the centerfield wall with Cerv perched on second. When he rounded third, Al was just a few steps behind him. He was tagged out easily at the plate. Did I mention in addition to gaining a whole lot of weight, he had lost a whole lot of speed. Best. M.”

___________________

WOW! Do those few carefully scripted words set off an animated version in the mind of that entire silly scene? How slow do you have to be to not score from second on a triple? What was the look on triple-hitter Al Spangler’s face when he rounded third base and suddenly found himself blocked from scoring by the man who had been on second when he hammered his blast down the right field line? What did anybody have to say about the play in the game’s post-mortem comments?

Maybe not much. The Cincinnati Reds already were on their way to a 6-1 dicing of the Houston Colt .45s at Colt Stadium in Houston when the play occurred on July 1, 1962, but their was definitely the possibility of some residual ego-bruising as a result of how things unfolded. How would any of us like to be remembered as the guy who couldn’t score from second on a triple – even when many of us are now at an age in which we could not score from third base on a triple? We’ve got an excuse. Cerv was 37 at the time and had a player’s contract, at least, for one more month beyond this memorable day.  Bob Cerv would be released by the Colt .45s from his last active service in the big leagues on July 30, 1962.

We’ve had neither the time nor the technical access to run down local news coverage of the Spangler/Cerv Disservice, but we did run across an AP report that appeared the following day, July 2, 1962, in the Sandusky (O) Register on Page 16:

Does Player Always Score From Second On a Triple? HOUSTON, Tex. (AP) – Baseball Question: How can a player fail to score from second base on a triple? The Houston Colts furnished the answer Sunday. The incident occurred in the seventh inning in what turned out to be the Houston’s only strong inning against the Cincinnati Reds, who coasted to a 6-1 victory. Houston trailed by five runs as Bob Aspromonte opened the inning with an Infield hit. After Don Buddin struck out. Bob Cerv came through with a pinch single. Aspromonte moved to third and Cerv to second as Frank Robinson bobbled the ball in right field. That brought up Al Spangler, and he sent a line drive screaming into the right field corner for a certain three-bagger, which is what the official scor­er called it. Aspromonte scored Houston’s first run easily, but Cerv, hesitating as he rounded third base, was thrown out at home as he lunged for the plate. “There was a mix-up in signs,” explained Manager Harry Craft. “Billy Goodman (the next batter) thought the umpire called a foul ball, and he flashed the sign for Cerv to hold up. Anyway, it was something like that.” Cerv had little to say. “I’d rather not say anything,” he said.”

“It was just one of those things. I should’ve slid.”

Or maybe he should’ve slud. Whatever. The Pecan Park Eagle greatly prefers Mickey Herskowitz’s treatment of the play. Watching the man with pontoon legs trying to score from second on a ball hit hopelessly far down the right field line, as Spangler, the triples hitter, finally appears on his tail with no prospects for passing the tortoise is a far more legendary and hilariously engaging visual story line.

Here’s the Baseball Almanac box score to the July 1, 1962 game in which the Spangler/Cerv Disservice took place:

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=196207010HO1

Thanks again, Mickey, and please check in with us more often. And remember too. – Any time you choose to write a guest column for The Pecan Eagle, please know that it shall be most welcomed with humble appreciations by all of us who still miss reading you on a regular basis.

Forever Your Fan,

Bill McCurdy

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to “Thanks for the Memories, Mickey Herskowitz!”

  1. Bob Hulsey Says:

    Not to challenge the great Mickey Herskowitz, whose talents I also adore however, in these days of “fake news” and “very fake news”, here is none other than Gene Elston to recollect the Cerv play differently than Mickey:

    “That one run comes on a single by Bob Aspromonte and a pinch hit by Bob Cerv. With Cerv on first Al Spangler lines a hit to right field that eludes Frank Robinson – then the fun began – Cerv, slow-footed as he is, lumbers around third in an attempt to score. He doesn’t make it. He is thrown out Robinson, to first baseman Gordy Coleman to catcher John Edwards amid the laughter and futile urging of the Colts dugout for that extra run. Spangler was wrongly given a triple by the official scorer – under scoring rules it should have been scored a double – but it remains a triple today in not only Al’s eyes (who missed the fun on his way to third) but in the official stats.”

    http://www.astrosdaily.com/history/1962/recaps.html#0701

    ..and what does Retrosheet have to say?

    “COLT .45S 7TH: Aspromonte singled to third; Buddin struck out;
    CERV BATTED FOR GIUSTI; Cerv singled to right [Aspromonte to
    third (error by Robinson)]; Spangler tripled to right
    [Aspromonte scored, Cerv out at home (right to first to
    catcher)]; Goodman flied out to left; 1 R, 3 H, 1 E, 1 LOB.
    Reds 5, Colt .45s 1.”

    http://www.astrosdaily.com/history/1962/game196207010.html

    To say Cerv was “out trying to score from second on a triple” isn’t accurate. It implies Cerv had reached second when the play began. In truth, Cerv was on first base. Gene also implies (and not sure I understand) that Spangler’s hit should have been scored a double and perhaps he moved to third only on the throw home.

    So it might be more accurate to say Cerv was thrown out trying to score from first on a double – but to say that makes it far less unique or humorous.

    Nobody disputes that Cerv was remarkably slow by that point in his career or that his new teammates were razzing him about how long it took him to reach the plate. What Mickey was doing then was exaggerating for comedic effect about a baseball game of truly very little importance and not engaged in outright lying as we see from much of our political media today. but the seeds germinate the same way.

    I knew Gene as a stickler for the truth when it came to baseball, even if the truth wasn’t as funny as telling a tale about how slow a runner was near the end of his career. There was a time when news clearly delineated between the two. Today the news media has largely discarded truth for partisanship and we, as a society, are poorer for it.

    That’s not to put the blame for that on dear old Mickey Herskowitz. Only to say that we should be careful what’s gets passed down to future generations that can’t discern fact from exaggeration. When folks of his day said Cool Papa Bell was in bed before the light bulb turned dark, they knew it was exaggeration for the sake of humor. Today’s audience might believe it was spoken as truth.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Dear Bob Hulsey,

      Retrosheet fails to account for the bold-type headline in this real-time report of the July 1, 1962 game that goes on to explain how Aspromonte and Cerv moved to 3rd and 2nd base prior to the triple by Spangler on an error by outfielder Frank Robinson. If you check the Baseball Almanac, you will note that Robinson was charged with an error in the game, and we could find no other play for which it might have been charged – other than the one bobble of Cerv’s single.
      __________________

      From the AP report referenced in the column:

      “Does Player Always Score From Second On a Triple?

      “…Houston trailed by five runs as Bob Aspromonte opened the inning with an Infield hit. After Don Buddin struck out. Bob Cerv came through with a pinch single. Aspromonte moved to third and Cerv to second as Frank Robinson bobbled the ball in right field. That brought up Al Spangler, and he sent a line drive screaming into the right field corner for a certain three-bagger, which is what the official scorer called it. Aspromonte scored Houston’s first run easily, but Cerv, hesitating as he rounded third base, was thrown out at home as he lunged for the plate.”
      ____________________

      Assuming that Retrosheet does not claim to hold papal authority by virtue of any secular inclinations to infallibility, The Pecan Park Eagle chooses to go with the Herskowitz Salvador Dali version of this play over the Elston two-coats of John Moore’s truest white house paint.

      Although we fully understand your point of protecting history from legends when they aren’t true, we also still believe – that this is not one of those instances.

      Print the credible. But when the incredible actually happens, print that news too.

      Now, when I finish this reply, dear associate, Bob Hulsey, I’m going to retire to my bedroom and take a late morning nap. Once I turn off the light switch at the bedroom door, I’ll again be under the covers before the room goes dark. And, if any of you shall believe that particular claim, it will be because you haven’t seen me moving around lately. 🙂

  2. don matlosz Says:

    Bob Cerv was another reminder of why I hated the NY Yankees. In the early 60’s the Kansas City A’s were the farm team of the hated Yankees. Players like Ralph Terry, Harry Simpson, Norm Siebern, Bob Cerv, Ralph Terry and of course Roger Maris were shuttled to the Yankees from KC.

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