A Tale of Two Students in 1961

September 12, 1961: Rusty Staub Signs with Colt .45s.
Three Seasons before they became the Astros.

I received the following newspaper clipping from my friend Darrell Pittman yesterday afternoon. It was an article from the New Orleans Times-Picayune on the signing of Rusty Staub by the new, as of the same day, yet untested  Houston Colt .45s Crescent City phe-nom on September 12, 1961.

This one today could have been titled “An Economic Tale of Two Next-Door New Orleans University Students and Their Separate World Cash Realities” ~ simply to underscore the fact that Loyola freshman Rusty Staub was packing his things to go play baseball for the Houston Colt .45s for $75,000 as next door Tulane U. first year graduate student Bill McCurdy was headed for the library to make sure he stayed earnest on that $150 per month academic scholarship that a United Way social service agency in Houston  was paying me in return for some future time of indentured service post-graduation employment. I paid my debt, but I only got out of the work commitment early by a huge grant of $200 a month for a scholarship earned my first year from the National Institute of Mental Health for the 2nd year of my master’s degree program. It gave me the room to negotiate out of the Houston commitment so I could remain in Nw Orleans as a 24-year old member of the Tulane University Department of Psychiatry clinical services faculty at the whopping rate of $500 per month. I was making so much money that I came very close to opening my first checking account.

Here’s the Staub piece below. There isn’t an article on my stuff over the same period ~ and it’s probably just as well. We were all in our early to middle 20’s back then and Tulane University graduate school people did a ton of social research and most joyous celebrating down among the bright lights of the French Quarter jazz clubs back in that day. Turk Farrell and Jim Owens would have enjoyed our company.

At any rate, Houston General Manager Paul Richards seemed to understand that the Colt. 45s were getting their money’s worth in the signing of Rusty Staub for $75,000. It’s just too bad that the club’s latter day Prince of Bad Trades, GM Spec Richardson, didn’t see certain players with the same wisdom. The separate trade losses of Rusty Staub and Joe Morgan alone were enough to alter the future course of local baseball forever and to most seriously tilt the future of all big league baseball over the foreseeable eternity.

What a humbling thought, had he ever picked it up himself. ~ Had it not been for Spec Richardson, there might never have been a “Big Red Machine”!

Here’s how things looked in print a mere eye-blinking 57 years ago today:

New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 12, 1961:


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


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