Old Buff Freebie Ducats Part of Larger Plan

In 1960, these cards were redeemable at Buff Stadium for a free reserved seat at future Houston Buffs game in which comp seats were available. They were even signed by club president Marty Marion to make them look more authentic to the fan who used them.


KTHT, 790 kc, whose call letters are now associated with an FM music station, was the primary identity for Houston’s AM 790 main host of Buffs baseball broadcasts from 1950 through 1961, the final year of minor league baseball in Houston. Judge Roy Hofheinz was the KTHT station owner during most, if not all of that period, with Loel Passe handling the play-by-play, mostly solo, until Gene Elston joined him in 1961 in preparation for their continuing team effort in 1962, Houston’s first year in the big leagues as a National League expansion club.

KRCT, 650 kc, was a small 250 watt station in Goose Creek near Baytown that soon moved to Pasadena and found itself renamed KIKK as country and western music station in 1961. A lot of stuff hit the fan before that change occurred. If you really want more, this link will take you to a site on earlier Houston radio that you may find helpful:


What was the purpose of these tickets?

Marty Marion was strong on marketing. We are only assuming here, but given the fact that these ticket redemption ducats were issued in 1960, that they were part of Marty Marion’s plan to boost the gate at Buff Stadium in ledger-line support of his group’s bid for the new NL expansion club franchise later that fall.

On October 17, 1960, Marion’s ownership group, in fact, lost out to Judge Roy Hofheinz and the Houston Sports Authority for that expansion club award. Once that domed baseball stadium commitment hit the bidding fire before the NL people, Marion’s group had no snowball’s chance at all of getting the nod. Besides, Judge Hofheinz was the one throwing around the creature-comfort snowballs of a new world of tomorrow. As a result of his loss, many say that Marion tried to stick it to Hofheinz on how much the HSA would have to pay as compensation to Marion and company for the loss of the Marion group’s AAA minor league territorial rights to Houston.

Hofheinz saw Marion’s AAA rights price demands as highway robbery.

All that rancorously forced payment did was stiffen Hofheinz’s resolve to abandon HSA’s original cheaper plan to keep Houston’s first MLB years of play in Buff Stadium until the new domed stadium was ready – and to build the temporary Colt Stadium on the property where the Dome was going up. Hofheinz found the extra expense of a new temporary stadium justifiable. – It would give the fans a chance to build their hunger for air-conditioned baseball as the new NL team played their first years amidst the heat, humidity, and mosquitos of “Colt Stadium.”

The fans would get to watch as they sweated and scratched.

The bad blood that resulted between Marion and Hofheinz destroyed any last hope of some Houston fans that the club would simply play their way into the big leagues, but retain their historical identity as the Houston Buffaloes. Personally, I doubt that would have happened with Hofheinz, anyway. The Judge liked to put his personal brand on things. I do think that Marty Marion would have left the club’s “Buffs” identity intact for the 1962 big league club debut, had his group gotten the franchise award.

There was just no way for the Buffs to survive as our local baseball identity. Even as early as the October 17, 1960 franchise award date, Judge Hofheinz was busy getting ready to build Houston the only unique baseball venue in the world. Ever.

Indeed. In time. In 1965. The Astrodome would open as a new Houston baseball home – where no buffalo ever roamed.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle





2 Responses to “Old Buff Freebie Ducats Part of Larger Plan”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    Bill: I had a conversation years ago with a guy who had in his wallet a Houston Buffs Knot Hole Card that he had kept from his childhood. Did you have a Knot Hole Card? Or do you still have one?

  2. Bill McCurdy Says:

    I did have a card. It barely made it through the season, each of years I had one. Like most, I’d fold it. Show it hen I got to the park and then stuff it in my blue jean hip pocket. Then I’d try to remember to put it on my dresser when I got home. Otherwise, it was still in my pocket the next morning when I wore the same jeans to play in the early light sandlot game. By day’s end, it would be pretty soggy from the heat and sweat of being my sliding pad all day. And pretty ragged along the fold crease and edges. Man! How did it last 24 hours? Let alone a whole season? Do I still have a knothole gang card? Wait up. Let me check my hip pocket.

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