Archive for the ‘Houston’ Category

Curt Walker: A Timeline into Father’s Day

June 17, 2018

Happy Father’s Day 2018, Everyone!

16.5 years after the fact, Rob Zimmerman (R) receives the induction plaque awarded to his great-grandfather, Curt Walker, by the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in December 2001.
Photo by Bob Dorrill

If they asked me, I could write a book. But they didn’t ask. So, we will settle for a small column on the rich subject of Curt Walker as a timeline into the even taller topic of how culturally bound up the game of baseball was to so many of us when it came down to having a good father figure available when it came down to having a working father figure present in our lives — in some form, or forms — during our critical early time as innocent, but loving-needful boys and girls.

I had to look no further than my own father and his childhood experience to see the waves of paternal need placed into motion in my dad’s life by the loss of his own father early in life. In May 1913, at the age of 2 1/2, and as the 3rd oldest of four children born to William and Elizabeth McCurdy of Beeville, Texas — and only boy — my grandfather William McCurdy died of TB, leaving his family in the hands of my very strong grandmother, but without his presence as a model paternal presence. Grandad was the founder. publisher, editor, and principal writer of The Beeville Bee, the town’s first newspaper.

As a result, Dad got shipped off to boarding school almost as soon as his school age days began. It was there that he discovered his skill and affinity for baseball, a game he also played on the sandlots of Beeville every summer that he was home. It was an interest among the boys of Beeville that found strong reenforcement in the fact that three other slightly older town boys had played their ways to the big leagues by 1925.

Melvin Bert Gallia (YOB: 1891; MLB: 1912-1920), Curt Walker (YOB: 1896; MLB: 1919-1930), and Lefty Lloyd Brown (YOB: 1904; MLB: 1925, 1928-1937, 1940) were the native Beeville trailblazers to big league ball. Because of his own enjoyment of hitting, and also influenced by the fact that he shared the same BL/TR outfield post, easily converted Dad into becoming a big fan of Curt Walker, a condition which apparently worked fine for Walker, who became something of a 14 years older big brother figure to Dad as the two men’s friendship grew over time.

The presence of baseball gave Curt Walker and my dad the basis for a relationship that would last a lifetime. From the late 1920s summer times of Dad and his buddies going down to the Western Union or the Beeville Bee-Picayune offices to get the late afternoon scores for the Cincinnati Reds because that was Curt Walker’s team — to all the cups of coffee they shared later as grown men regular customers of the American Cafe — baseball was healing cultural water that brought new strength to areas of life that could hurt so bad.

Rob and Stacy Zimmerman of Charleston, SC included Houston on their family roots tour of South Texas to participate in the induction materials luncheon ceremony at the Jax Bar and Grill on Shepherd, held as part of our June SABR meeting.
Photo by The Pecan Park Eagle

We owe a debt of gratitude this Father’s Day to Rob and Stacy Zimmerman of Charleston, South Carolina. Had Rob’s pursuit of information, lost and found, about Curt Walker, the man who turned out to be his great-grandfather, we may have lost the opportunity forever to have been reminded of why baseball is so important to the strength and structure of American culture. Had Stacy not been the patient life partner to Rob that she very obviously is, he might have been inclined to have abandoned the pursuit after we almost got together for a transfer of these awards to him years ago.

To that, I must say this about our newly found brother and sister, with a salute to the service they have each put forth in commitment to the rest of us:

“Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force ~ especially when its aims are supported by patience and resilience!”

A tight framed 8×10 bust of Curt Walker from this September 1919 photo of his brief stay with the Yankees at the tail end of his rookie season was also presented to the SC couple during the ceremony, along with a few other historical goodies and a round of Curt Walker stories. – Photo compliments of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library Collection, Cooperstown.

In addition to the 2001 Curt Walker Induction plaque from the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. Rob Zimmerman accepted possession on Saturday, June 16, 2018, of an 8×10″ tightly framed facial profile of 23 year old Curt Walker dressed out as a 1919 New York Yankee. He also received a replica copy of Curt Walker’s 1926 Cincinnati Reds cap, a signed copy of Curt Walker’s Louisville Slugger bat, and a few books to read on Houston baseball history.

December 15, 2001. The Curt Walker Louisville Slugger bat was signed by Will Clark and all the other living fellow inductees from 2001, plus MLB stars likes Bobby Brown and Texas League icon Bobby Bragan. (Photo by Bob Dorrill.)

The room of our Saturday meeting overflowed with love, appreciation, and good feelings yesterday. And that’s as it should be. Today, Ron and Stacy are in Beeville, where my brother John McCurdy will show them where Curt Walker once lived – and then take them to Glenwood Cemetery to see where Curt Walker is buried.

Baseball is the great uniter of different people, even rivals, who are bound together – even in difference – to the importance of historic connectivity – and our shared commitment to the great game of baseball as the saving grace of us all.

Peace. Love. And Play Ball!

And Happy Father’s Day too!



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

A Brewster McCloud Review by Wayne R. Roberts

June 12, 2018

Brewster McCloud Soars Again
In the Astrodome, 1970.

A Brewster McCloud Review

By Wayne R. Roberts

Thank you, Wayne, for including me as a recipient of an e-mail that was really an Astrodome and Houston history column that cried out loudly for publication. ~ i.e., Welcome to The Pecan Park Eagle as another fine contributing author! ~ Bill McCurdy, Publisher.

I’ve been waiting for 12 years to get Brewster McCloud from Netflix but for some reason they haven’t carried it.  I was tipped that it is now available on Amazon in a new remastered DVD and ordered it.

In the event you haven’t seen it I’ll spare telling the plot of this surrealistic film made in Houston in 1970 by legendary director Robert Altman.  Never his most popular flick, it apparently was done immediately after MASH and uses many actors that appear  over ad over in Altman movies: Bud Cort, Sally Kellerman, Michael Murphy, John Schuck, and Stacey Keach and introduces Shelley Duvall who Altman discovered in early film preparation when she was a clerk in the Greenspoint Mall Foley’s.  It also includes Margaret Hamilton who was the wicked witch in, yes, The Wizard of Oz.

Not particularly politically correct (was Altman ever?), it is a must for those who lived in Houston at that time.  For me, the shots in Astroworld are breathtaking—made in the area in which I groundskept, though not when I was there.

Quickly, here’s what I took away in this first viewing in 20 years, in no particular order:

  • Houston skyline, whoa, was it different
  • The Medical Center sure was smaller
  • Chase scenes occur in the South Main, Loop 610, OST area and the cow pastures and fields are shocking
  • Brewster lives in the bomb shelter in the Dome
  • Incredible behind the scenes shots of the Dome
  • On the radio: Hudson & Harrigan and KILT news
  • 1970 Houston Chronicle
  • Drive along South Main includes Ye Olde College Inn
  • North Main includes the old M&M Cotton Exchange (now UH-Downtown)
  • Love Street/Allen’s Landing
  • Astroworld Hotel exterior and rooms
  • Astrodome gift shop, Domeskeller, The Countdown Cafeteria
  • Houston Zoo
  • Game shots of the Astros from the screen where you passed to go from the outfield bleachers to the Mezzanine (or tried to sneak through)
  • Weingarten’s in Montrose
  • Mecom Fountain
  • Pre rehab buildings along Montrose Blvd
  • Uncrowded freeways—many many driving scenes of downtown and SW Houston, OST-Fannin area chase scenes
  • Humble and Esso gas stations
  • Brays Bayou
  • Allen Parkway at early Tranquility Park (I think that’s its name)

For us old-timers, this is a must watch.

This is worth a more elaborate McCurdy report after you see it!



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


Astrodome Historical Marker Now In Place

May 31, 2018


The Astrodome Plaque Awaits Introduction
May 29, 2018
(Photo by Bob Dorrill)

Aptly Guarded By Two Historical Centurions,
Mike Acosta (L) of the Houston Astros
Mike Vance of the Harris County Historical Commission
(Photo by Bob Dorrill)

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett
Was Present to Preside Over a Moment
That His Leadership Helped Make Happen.
(Photo by Mike McCroskey)

Dene Hofheinz and Larry Dierker
Two Astrodome Icons in Their Own Rights
Made the Day Even Brighter.
(Photo by Bob Dorrill)

The Astrodome was a place where dreams gave birth to bigger worlds. Tal and Johnie Smith were both a big part of that condition of great hope that was Houston when it entered the big leagues in 1962 and the Astrodome in 1965.
(Photo by Bob Dorrill)

Dene Hofheinz, Daughter of Judge Roy Hofheinz, takes a turn to speak at the unveiled plaque at “the 8th wonder of the world”.
(Photo by Wayne Chandler)

Smiles and happy faces prevail!
(Photo by Mike McCroskey)

Hail! Hail! The SABR Gang’s All Here! ….
In Spirit at Least!
(Photo by Mike McCroskey)

Two of the Iconic Astrodome’s Greatest Early Franchise Legends,
Tal Smith and Larry Dierker,
Finish the Pictorial Part of our Report with Big and Knowing Smiles.
What better way to end this beautiful picture flow of the big day!
Now stay tuned below for the written report by Bob Dorrill.
(Photo by Wayne Chandler)


Astrodome Historical Marker Now In Place

By Bob Dorrill

Tuesday afternoon, May 29, 2018, a State Historical Marker provided by the Houston Astros honoring the location of the Houston Astrodome was unveiled by Judge Ed Emmett, Dene Hofheinz, daughter of Judge Roy Hofheinz, who had the original vision for the Astrodome, Larry Dierker, former Astros player, manager, and broadcaster, early dome stadium team construction advisor and administrative magnate Tal Smith, and several others. Mike Vance of the Harris County Historical Commission and Mike Acosta, Astros’ team historian, acted as emcees.

Approximately 100 stalwart fans, including 12 members of the Larry Dierker Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) attended the ceremony where several proclamations were read, stories told and memories relived prior to the unveiling of the marker so craftily worded by Messrs. Vance and Acosta.

On a hot baseball day in Houston we were all so thankful that “The Eighth Wonder of the World” had been built to provide air conditioned comfort for the many venues that were to use the facility over the years. Ironically, our shared memories of the Astrodome’s AC system were of no use to us on this typically hot Houston summer weather day.

The deed has now been done. And even the torrid parking lot heat could not override the smiles of joy that now kicked in over the fact that Houston’s world class contribution to both architecture and the still unfolding history of sporting venue comfort all really started on April 9, 1965, when Houston opened the door to incredible change with an exhibition baseball game played between the newly re-christened Houston Astros and the venerable champions of earlier times, the New York Yankees.

It’s too bad the late Neil Armstrong could not have been with us this Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Perhaps, he may have been able to further anoint today’s event as “one small step for local politics; one giant leap for Houston’s historical respect.”

Mind if we borrow the essence of your spirit, Mr. Armstrong? We’re pretty darn proud of what these people, and others of their “preservationist” minds and voices have done to make this historical marker dedication happen.

The Astrodome is now declared to be a state Antiquities Landmark, and it is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. As Judge Emmett said about the Dome, “Let’s not leave here today thinking just about the history, but about how generations to come will use it – and how it will be part of their lives.

Long Live the Dome!


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Rest In Peace, Patrick Lopez

April 16, 2018

Rest in Peace, Patrick Lopez!
Your Devotion to Family, Your Love of Life, and Your Artistic Always Growing Gifts to the World Are Your Ongoing Legacy!

Patrick George Lopez

Patrick George Lopez died on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 after a brief stay in hospice. He was born in Houston on January 7, 1937 to Manuel and Carmen Lopez.

He married Barbara Jean Holman in 1961. Survivors include his wife of 57 years, his children (Claudia, Patrick, and Sarah), his grandchildren (Patrick Joey and Justin), and his brother (John David).

As an architectural delineator, he worked with some of the most important national and local architects and architectural firms of the post WWII era, including Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Johnson Burgee, and Helmut Jahn.

He loved his family, his lifelong home of Houston, his pets (Oso!), baseball, the Astros, art, buildings, music (he was a lifelong piano player), fishing, plants (he grew orchids, bromeliads, succulents), and a good meal.

A public memorial will be held in the future at an as-yet undetermined date.

Published in Houston Chronicle on Apr. 15, 2018

Title: “Buffalo Walking” or “Travis Street Park” By Patrick Lopez (at Fair Grounds Base Ball Park), One of Several Works that Patrick did for the 2014 “Early Houston” Baseball History Book researched and written by members of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR and published in 2014.

Patrick Lopez finished a year ahead of me at St. Thomas High School in 1955. Although we never really knew each other at St. Thomas, Patrick always impressed me then as a very nice and thoughtful person. He could often be seen staring across the front lawn during classroom breaks, looking far to the south, beyond Buffalo Bayou. We never actually met until the Houston Early Baseball book project arose, nearly 55 years later, but it was only then that the question clarified about this true 21st century Renaissance man came to roost. — He could have been thinking about anything much earlier in life — as long as it was artistic, giving of itself in part to some greater whole idea, then it probably was getting the attention of the naturally artistic Patrick Lopez.

When our team member Mike Vance, with some independent discovery work help from Darrell Pittman, finally found that the Travis Street Ballpark was our best bet as Houston’s first true organized baseball park, we had no pictures of the same, but we did possess some very detailed newspaper writing on the construction of the place.

Patrick Lopez was able to let his creative mind go to bed with all these black worn sentences on fading white paper and put together for our eyes — and the whole world — to see — how it was meant to be seen. The watercolor work featured here is only one of the many he did that gave us all a vision into how the typical game day looked to Houstonians back in the 19th century. If you can hear the sound of horse hooves making a steady beat up and down Travis — and if you can hear the thud of a bat and ball joyously, or sorrowfully, interrupting every now and then, you may actually be able to allow your own mind to travel back to the corner of Travis and McGowan at many spring afternoons of those late 19th century years and actually experience the presence of old time Houston for yourself. And, if you get there, try to remember — the now late Patrick Lopez probably helped you make the trip.

Patrick Lopez

Thank you, Patrick Lopez! All of us are the richer for having known you even a smidgen’s amount of eternity’s time.

And God Bless you too, Barbara! Patrick was lucky to have found and never lost you. That doesn’t always happen.


The Pecan Park Eagle



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Glad You Be Dead, Harvey

September 1, 2017

houston flood


Glad You Be Dead, Harvey

(Sung to the old blues song, “You Rascal You”)

By Bill McCurdy

We be glad when you dead, you rascal, you!
We be glad when you dead, you rascal, you!
When you dead and in your grave,
No more houses will you crave.
We be glad when you dead, you rascal, you!

I don’t trust you near my home, you rascal, you.
I don’t trust you near my home, you rascal, you.
I don’t trust you near my home,
You wouldn’t leave my stuff alone.
I be glad when you dead, you rascal, you!

We just heard you headed east, you rascal, you.
We just heard you headed east, you rascal, you.
Time to see your ugly fall,
So we can get your ashes hauled.
We be glad, so damn glad, you rascal, you!

You tried to drown our town, you rascal, you.
You tried to drown out town, you rascal, you.
You dropped oceans on our toes
Tried to drown us, goodness knows.
You tried to drown our town, you rascal, you!

You know you done us wrong, you rascal, you.
You know you done us wrong, you rascal, you.
You know you done us wrong,
But we did not stay down long.
We just glad you be dead, you rascal, you!

We rose up and took you on, you rascal, you!
We rose up and took you on, you rascal, you!
You tried to put us down,
But you don’t do that to H Town.
We make sure you stay dead, you rascal, you!

We learn hard from what you do, you rascal, you!
We learn hard from what you do, you rascal, you!
We now use you as our teacher,
Building dams that have no breacher.
We learn strong, from what you do, you rascal, you!

Ain’t no use to run, you rascal, you.
Ain’t no use to run, you rascal, you.
Ain’t no use to run,
Now that you have had your fun.
Ain’t no use to run, you rascal, you!

You picked the wrong town to hit, you dumb ass, you!
You picked the wrong town to hit, you dumb ass, you!
Watching you die is going to be fun;
Buzzards gonna have you when we done.
You picked the wrong town to hit, you dumb ass, you!

You done messing with our lives, you rascal, you!
You done messing with our lives, you rascal, you!
Houston thrives on building stronger,
Texas fights to live well longer!
We all glad, you be dead, you rascal, you!


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

1973: Leo Steals Spotlight at 13th Dinner

August 14, 2014
LEO DUROCHER ~ Leo the Lip Talks Big at the 13th Houston Baseball Dinner About his Aspirations in 1st Full Season as Astros Manager,

~ Leo the Lip Talks Big at the 13th Houston Baseball Dinner About his Aspirations in 1st Full Season as Astros Manager,

Leo Would Like Fourth Title to be at Houston

Houston (AP)  Wichita Falls Times, Jan. 27, 1973, Pages 31, 33.. Lippy Leo Durocher, who has taken three teams to the World Series in his controversial career, says he’d like to win it all once more with feeling.

“I’d like to say at this late stage in my baseball career – just one more time” the new Houston Astros manager told the 13th annual Houston Baseball Writers Association dinner Friday night. “Let’s win one more time here in Houston”

Durocher, who took over as manager of the Astros from Harry Walker last August 26th (1972), said that seven positions (the outfield and infield) were set and (that), if he can mold a four-man pitching staff, the team is set.

“Pitching is where we’ve had our trouble,” Durocher told the audience. Durocher said he would take his four-man rotation from Larry Dierker, Don Wilson, Dave Roberts, Ken Forsch, Jerry Reuss, James Rodney Richard, and Tom Griffin.

“If we can’t get four good starters out of that bunch then Durocher isn’t doing his job,” he said.

Durocher said that 1972 left fielder Bob Watson would be given a shot at catcher in spring training with John Edwards, last year’s starting catcher, as the back-up.

Durocher said he has a few changes in mind for spring training, including conditioning. “I’m not worried about us being in shape,” he said. “I have my own way and we’ll be in shape.”

Very honestly, there are no rebels or clubhouse lawyers on our team,” the Lip said. “We’re going to have some kind of ball club.”



Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs won the Tris Speaker Award. His 1972 stats of a .333 batting average with 37 HR and a .606 slugging average more than justified his pick.



Cesar Cedeno was selected as the Houston Astros’ Player of the Year, receiving the coveted  Jim Umbricht Award as the symbol of that honor. Cedeno batted .320 with 22 HR and a .537 slugging average in 1972.



Nate Colbert of the San Diego was tagged as the Slugger of the Year which, in Houston, is recognized as the Eddie Dyer Award. Colbert had 38 HR and 111 RBI in 1972 in support of his deservedness.



Wilbur Wood, of the Chicago White Sox was named as Pitcher of the Year and received the Dickie Kerr Award as his testimony. Wood’s 1972 AL record included 24 wins, 17 losses, and an ERA of 2.51.



Carlton Fisk of the Boston Red Sox took the Johnny Keane Award – Fisk was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1972 and a member of the AL All Star team. He batted .298 with 22 HR, posted a slugging average of .538 and was a defensive standout in the field to justify all of his honors.



Tom Gorman received the nod from the Houston Baseball Writers as the Umpire of the Year. Taking home the Bill Klem Award Gorman had been an NL umpire since 1951 at the time of his 1973 award and would go on to finish his highly respected career after the 1976 season. Prior to umpiring, Gorman pitched five innings in four big league games for the New York Giants in 1939. Tom’s son Brian Gorman also became a big league umpire, following in his famous father’s footsteps.



Rollie Fingers of the Oakland Athletics won the Special World Series Award. He appeared in 6 of the 7 World Series games, preserving an A’s victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 7 that handed the club their first World Series win since 1930 – and also the first such win since the Athletics’ move to Oakland. Rollie finished the World series a 1-1 record and 1.75 ERA, shutting down the Reds with goose eggs in their final two innings at bat.



Dave Hilton, San Diego – Texas-born minor leaguer of the year – Jimmy Delmar Award

The 13th annual Houston Baseball Writers’ Dinner was again held in the Grand Ballroom of the Astroworld Hotel.



~ Wichita Falls Times, January 27, 1972, Pages 31, 33,

~ San Antonio Express, January 7, 1973, Page 62.

~ Denton Record Chronicle, January 14, 1973, Page 20.

~ Big Spring Herald, January 1, 1973, Page 8.

~ Baseball Reference.Com

~ Baseball Almanac.Com

~ Wikipedia

UH Honors Alumnus Richard Coselli and Others.

April 27, 2010

UH Grads Mary Jo & Richard Coselli, At Home in Chappell Hill.

For five years, 2004 to 2009, it was my great pleasure to work along side attorney Richard Coselli as volunteers in service to the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. As Board President from 2004 to 2008, and as President Emeritus through the crack of doom since 2008, but now retired from active service, it remains my fondest hope that the TBHOF will still someday find its home in the form of a physical presence that Houstonians and fellow Texans will be proud to embrace as worthy of its fully stated mission statement for preserving Texas baseball history.

Mr. Richard Coselli was the major person who helped us organize this effort as a legal entity from 2004 through 2009, even providing us with the use of his own office board room for our periodic meetings. We could not have done it all without him. Richard Coselli just happened to have been the exact person we needed during our transitional years in Houston. He was a native Houstonian and a man who loved baseball. Put that all in the basket with his intellect, experience, wisdom, and senses of balance and humor, and we could not have found a better counsel of service to a cause that remains to this day – one that shall always be larger than the whims, aims, needs, or desires of any single person at the helm of leadership. Although Richard Coselli, yours truly, and most others of us from our original formative group are now gone from direct connection to the TBHOF, I think I speak for us all when I say that we still hope for the best and that the organization will survive these hard economic times and find a way to flourish and grow in the future along lines that are governed by integrity of purpose and stable financial support.

Richard Coselli is no newcomer in service to this community. I could not begin to list all the things that both he and his wife, Mary Jo Coselli, have done for Houston, but the two University of Houston graduates continue to do a great many things.

I first became acquainted with Richard Coselli’s contributions while we both were students at UH more than a half century ago. Richard was slightly older than me back then – and still is, for that matter. Funny how that works. – Anyway, we never met back in the 1950s, but I was very aware of his work in organizing the original Frontier Fiesta at UH, the largest campus college show on earth, one that grew big enough to gain a write-up in Life Magazine – a publication from back in the day that spread the good word  in those primitive pre-Internet times that something big was happening in Houston. Ironically, even though I worked on the Frontier Fiesta myself, Richard Coselli and I never met until we both fell into involvement with the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame move to Houston in 2004. I had been a volunteer member of the TBHOF’s selection committee since 2001, but I didn’t wade into the deep water of its work until 2004, when Greg Lucas of Fox Sports and I agreed to head up a move of the organization’s headquarters from Dallas to Houston. Richard Coselli soon came on deck as our legal advisor.

Last Friday night, April 23, 2010, the University of Houston honored Richard Coselli (BS ’55, JD ’58) as one of eleven distinguished alumni who have made enormous contributions to the benefit of UH over the years. The occasion was marked by a formal dinner party, hosted by the UH Alumni Association and addressed by UH Chancellor and President Renu Khator.

President Renu Khator & Jim Parsons (BS '96) of TV's Big Bang Theory.

Richard Coselli was denied the opportunity of being the funniest man on the dais Friday by the presence of fellow honoree Jim Parsons. A 1996 UH graduate, Parsons is having a pretty good run these days on television as the star of the hit comedy show called “The Big Bang Theory,” but that is OK too. Our UH people come in all ages, shapes, and sizes across a diverse line of differential talent.

Richard Coselli simply brings a quartet of elements to the table of any enterprise that money cannot buy. Their names are intelligence, loyalty, honesty, and integrity.

Congratulations, Richard! It’s good to know that our university has now officially recognized what a lot of your friends have known for years. You are the kind of person that has made the University of Houston and the City of Houston the great places they each are.

“In Time” is our UH motto. In time, UH has now finally recognized one of its own for all he has done in service to the greater good of the university community. Congratulations again, my friend. You deserve every ounce and inch of credit that flows from this much larger measure.