’47 Buffs: Earlier Seedling of Houston Strong

(1947) Buffs Climax Great Year as Class of Dixie (Series)

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Epps, Beers Aces to Finish;

Houston’s ’47 Attendance Reaches 475,637

By Johnny Lyon, Houston, Texas

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Houston’s greatest baseball season is history.

Finis was written on the 1947 books at 10:22 PM, October 3, when Hal Epps, Houston’s most popular performer, smacked a base hit into center field with two on, two out and two strikes on him in the inning to give the Buffs a 1 to 0 victory over Mobile and the Dixie Series title in six games.

For the 10,675 spectators who watched that final game the conclusion was fitting and just ~ Epps breaking up the duel with a hit and Clarence Beers hurling a shutout in which he spaced four singles and allowed only one Mobile player to reach second base, that on an error.

All season long, it was Epps supplying the stickwork when a bingle was most needed and Beers coming through with superb pitching performances. Hal (Epps) led the team in hitting during the regular season and in the Dixie Series hit .375. A 25-game winner in the regular season, Beers won four and lost one in the Texas League playoffs and Dixie Series, three of the victories being whitewashings.

Everything the Buffs set out to do they accomplished.

When they hopped into the lead for the first time, May 9, they were determined to hold it until July 4 so they could win the site of the All-Star game.

Eight Out of Ten in Last Week

Although there were shaky moments in the drive down the stretch, the Buffs remained in front, displaying their mettle by taking eight of ten in the past week to shade Fort Worth by one-half game.

Tulsa bowed in four straight games in the playoffs and Dallas a victim in six contests in the (Texas League) finals. The Buffs really broke the backs of the (Dallas) Rebels in the fifth game when, held hitless and runless for six innings, and trailing, 6 to 0, they rallied in the last three frames for an 8 to 6 triumph.

Mobile went ahead of the Buffs in the Dixie Classic, two games to one. But the Buffs again had the bounce and took the next three, with Jack Creel and Beers fashioning shutouts in the fifth and sixth games.

The Dixie Series Players’ Pool was $25,681.90 with $15,415.14 going to the winning Buffs. This was the largest pool since 1931 when Birmingham won in seven games over the Buffs, who boasted one of the game’s great turnstile magnets, Dizzy Dean.

From the opening game in April until October 3, when the Dixie Series ended, Houston attracted 475,637 cash customers for its 86 games. This included 382,275 for its 77 Texas League games at home, almost 100,000 better than the loop record set in 1946 by San Antonio, 51,577 for home league playoff games, and 29,952 for three Dixie Series clashes.

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STANDINGS AT CLOSE OF 1947 DIXIE SERIES

TEAM LEAGUE WINS LOSSES W % GB
Houston Buffs Texas League 4 2 .667  
Mobile Bears Southern Association 2 4 .333 2

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Houston Pitching and Batting Statistics for the 1947 Dixie Series

’47 BUFF AT BATS POS G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BA
Solly Hemus 2B 6 27 5 8 1 0 0 1 .296
Billy Costa SS 6 22 4 3 0 1 0 0 .136
Eddie Knoblauch LF 6 19 3 9 1 0 0 5 .474
Johnny Hernandez 1B 6 23 2 5 3 0 0 3 .217
Hal Epps CF 6 24 3 9 2 0 0 7 .375
Stan Benjamin RF-LF 4 14 3 4 1 0 0 3 .286
Vaughn Hazen RF 4 17 1 5 0 0 0 2 .294
Tommy Glaviano 3B 6 20 5 7 0 1 0 1 .350
Jack Angle 3B 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Gerry Burmeister C 3 11 1 1 1 0 0 3 .091
Joe Niedson C 5 13 3 5 2 0 0 4 .385
Doc Greene C 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Al Papal P 2 7 0 2 0 0 0 1 .286
Jack Creel P 2 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 .143
Pete Mazar P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Herb Moore PH 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1.000
Roman Brunswick P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Clarence Beers P 2 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 .143
Charley Sproull P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
BATTING TOTALS   6 213 31 61 12 2 0 30 .286
                     
’47 BUFF PITCHING W-L G CG IP+O R H SO BB HB WP
Al Papai 2-0 2 2 18+0 4 17 6 2 1 0
Jack Creel 1-1 2 1 14+1 4 13 10 8 0 0
Clarence Beers 1-1 2 1 14+2 6 13 4 2 0 0
Pete Mazar 0-0 1 0 01+2 0 1 0 0 0 0
Roman Brunswick 0-0 1 0 02+0 2 2 1 0 0 0
Charley Sproull 0-0 1 0 02+1 1 2 1 1 0 0
PITCHING TOTALS 4-2 6 4 53 IP 17 48 22 13 1 0

Reference Sources:

An article by Johnny Lyon, The Sporting News, October 1, 1947, Page 25.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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5 Responses to “’47 Buffs: Earlier Seedling of Houston Strong”

  1. Cliff Blau Says:

    Not a single homer? Were they using a dead ball or something?

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Cliff – The ’47 Buffs only hit 26 homers on the season and half of these were by Tommy Glaviano. Hal Epps, the full-time Buffs leading BA hitter at .302 had another 6 HR, Jack Angle had 2 and five other guys had single homers on the year. I’m not sure if the 1930s MLB ball would have made much difference. These guys were scrappy, but pretty much dedicated to Punch and Judy hitting. So it was very unsurprising when they came up with no long balls in the 1947 Dixie Series.

  2. Mark W. Says:

    Did one of those Dixie Series game end in a score of Buffs 8, Mobile 2? If so, I have a game program from that game. I think I previously sent you a scan of that program Bill. In that same game, the Mobile first baseman, a fellow name of Chuck Connors (yes – THAT Chuck Connors) hit a solo homerun in the 4th inning off Buffs pitcher Al Papai for one of Mobile’s 2 runs. This is the first time I’m realizing that program is from a Dixie Series game.

  3. Bill McCurdy Says:

    Mark,

    Yes, Game One of the 1947 World Series went to the Buffs by 8-2, as did the ultimate championship, 4 games to 2. That information, plus the news of Chuck Connors playing for Mobile is all on Page 155 of the Dixie Series chapter I wrote for our SABR book, “Houston Baseball, The Early Years, 1861-1961.”

    You do, indeed, have a collectible item in that 8-2 scorecard.

    By the way, Connors also homered in that Game One, 8-2 Buffs win.

  4. Mark W. Says:

    That’s the game covered by my score card. Homerun Connors, The Rifleman!

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