Thank You, Maxwell Kates

Maxwell Kates ~ His new book with Warren Corbett on MLB expansion is a must-have item for researchers and deep blue baseball history readers.

 

Thank You, Maxwell Kates!

Your doubleheader presentation at last night’s Larry Dierker November 2018 SABR Meeting went off as smoothly as the silver streaks in your distinguished Canadian head of hair.

First Your New Book ….

 

 Your presentation of your new book WITH Warren Corbett, “Time for Expansion Baseball”, was nothing short of compelling. Most of what you told us is presented here in your own Internet description words, but, unfortunately, without all the vim and verve of the Toronto~Ontarion style of enthusiastic pizzaz you bring to the potential readership’s individual cravings for salt, pepper, and assorted, but variable condiments of subject spice.

Here’s my recollection of your major general remarks, based upon my ability to pilfer the Net for your own words, as follows:

The Los Angeles Angels and the “new” Washington Senators ushered in baseball’s expansion in 1960, followed quickly by the Houston Colt .45s and the New York Mets. By 1998, ten additional franchises had been awarded with the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Pilots, Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays coming into the American League, and the Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, and Arizona Diamondbacks to the National League. Since then, some of those teams have relocated or changed names, but TIME FOR EXPANSION BASEBALL tells the story of how each franchise was formed, built its team, and began play. Biographies of key players from each team’s early years are also included, from early Angels like Eli Grba and Duke Maas to Senator Tom Sturdivant, from Seattle Pilots Tommy Harper and Lou Piniella to Seattle Mariners Julio Cruz and Rick Jones. Featuring a foreword by Tal Smith, who has done three separate stints in the Houston front office, and the contributions of 54 SABR members, TIME FOR EXPANSION BASEBALL also includes dozens of photos from team historical archives.

(Of course, Maxwell, given the audience you were addressing at our Spaghetti Western private dinner party room, the Houston salsas of subject interest were also emphasized in deep dish volumes that go way beyond what we have time or space to rekindle here. ~ Toronto moms don’t “raise no fools.”)

Next, your moderator handling of the Houston Colt .45s Panel Q&A Session ….

You did great, Max, you did great! ~ But look at the material you had at your disposal!

Had Jimmy Wynn not been unable to attend, you could have four pure gold Colt .45/Astro icons filling all four chairs. Because of Jimmy’s absence, I agreed to sit in as his ancient fan/biographical co-author on “The Toy Cannon” ~ thus transforming the panel into one comprised of three icons and one acorn (albeit, a Pecan Park Eagle acorn), but one that came with no illusions that I could ever replace Jimmy Wynn in this lineup. ~ I could sit in his chair in a pinch, but no one could fill the space that Jimmy Wynn owns in the heart of our Houston MLB franchise history.

Look at who they were ~ and who they were intended to be: (1) Bob Aspromonte, among other firsts, he was the man who scored the first run in franchise history; (2) Larry Dierker, the first great pitcher in club history and the guy who celebrated his 18th birthday by breaking into the big leagues as a pitcher by striking out the great Willie Mays; (3) Tal Smith, the guy who completed the club’s oversight on the Astrodome construction project ~ and who would also go on to become the face and voice of club general managers and presidents; and (4) Jimmy Wynn ~ “The Toy Cannon” ~ the little guy who hit ’em for miles ~ and the first great home run hitter in Houston MLB history ~ Astrodome death valley fence distances and dead enclosed travel air be damned.

We were just lucky and humbly honored to be there as the pinch runner for Jimmy Wynn.

One More Thing ….

We just wanted to clarify something from the way you introduced me. It’s no big deal, but we do like to get things right, even as we grant others the right to think different, act different, and think different from us. And it’s nothing at all personal here ~ but it is a call for minor correction if you ever have any need to introduce me again in the future.

In so many words, you described Bill McCurdy (yours truly) as A veteran of the Pecan Park Eagles Little League team.

Corrections: The Pecan Park Eagles were never controlled by the Little League group. We were nothing more ~ and nothing less ~ than a rising-from-the-dirt Houston East End sandlot baseball team in the Pecan Park neighborhood just south of Griggs Road, off the Gulf Freeway, going to the south on the east side of I-45 South, as you continue south, from Griggs Road to Evergreen on your left ~ is still today ~ Pecan Park.

So what? ~ So this what! ~ In sandlot ball, it was our game. We didn’t have much, but we didn’t have adults controlling the game and how we played out our own dreams of it. Sandlotters got about a hundred “at bats” a day and more long fly ball miracle catch opportunities than any Little Leaguer could ever hope to see. And you got to find out what you were made of on your own. We didn’t have our parents hauling us off to special training camps to see why some of us just stood there watching perfectly good pitches we faced breeze by us. We either dove in and tried ~ or we got fried.

We ~ the Pecan Park Eagles ~ liked it that way. ~ Please ~ never call us Little Leaguers again. ~ We were sandlotters ~ plain and simple ~ and just happy to be.

The Pronunciation of “pecan” difference. ….

It seems to be a regional thing. ~ Going north ~ apparently all the way to Canada ~ the way people pronounce the word “pecan” begins to change from ….

our Texas puh-CON (that’s “puh” as in pulverize)

to

PEE-can …. and changing the whole melody of how that word dances in our minds.

You are free to call it what you wish, of course, but I’m just trying to tell you. ~ When you say “PEE-can” ~ it seems to reawaken in some of us a DNA-traceable association to the pre-indoor plumbing days when people maintained small to large tin can containers in their bedrooms on cold ~ or all ~ nights ~ for the sake of dealing with nature’s nocturnal calls until the contents could then be dumped outside through the nearest open window.

In the end, these items are small. ~ You did a great job, my friend!

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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4 Responses to “Thank You, Maxwell Kates”

  1. Maxwell1901 Says:

    This is great, Bill. Next visit to Texas I will have to brush up on my regional pronunciation of different legumes and varying tree nuts. Believe it or not, there’s actually a map of the United States showing the varying ways to say the word “pecan.” The one I used is consistent with New York State and New England. In Texas and Louisiana it is pick-ON. Then west of the Pecos it’s PEE-conn (as in Molly). At any rate, thank you for the homage (or is HOMM-age?)

  2. Tom Hunter Says:

    As you know, Bill, the state tree of Texas is the Pecan (puh- CON) and like you, we had a sandlot team called the Pearland Sports Club, followed years later by an organized “little league” in 1957. I used lower case letters and quotation marks because the first “little league” in Pearland only used the rules of Little League Baseball, but was not officially a part of the national organization.

    I was a proud member of the Braves coached by Mickey Mark, and we played at the town baseball park, now known as Zychlinski Park, which has a Texas Historical Commission marker and has a page in Chris Epting’s book, “Roadside Baseball: Uncovering Hidden Treasures from Our National Pastime.”

  3. Maxwell Kates Says:

    The next challenge is to decipher the correct pronunciation of Zychlinski, in Texas or elsewhere.

    • Tom Hunter Says:

      The man who named my hometown of Pearland (Pear Land) was Witold Zychlinski. His great-grandson, William Willoughby, is not certain of how the name was pronounced.

      In Pearland, it is pronounced “zuh-LIN-skee.”

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