Archive for the ‘Pecan Park Days’ Category

What I Loved About The Sporting News

February 28, 2019

THE SPORTING NEWS
Wearing the Face of Its Glory Years

 

We didn’t have anything like ESPN ~ or the Internet ~ or even like the future Pecan Park Eagle when I was a kid, growing up in Post World War II Houston, but ~ if we were lucky, we had a grandmother like Elizabeth McCurdy, down in Beeville, Texas ~ west of Victoria and east of Laredo ~ and north of Corpus Christi and south of San Antonio.

I never had a chance to meet my writer/newspaper man grandfather, William O. McCurdy, the originator, publisher and editor of a little South Texas buzz newspaper called The Beeville Bee because he had died a little more than 24 years prior to my 1937 birth, but I had grown up with Grandmother McCurdy ~ and she had accurately done the early call on my interest in reading, writing and baseball from my earliest of times in her company. And that led her to give me a birthday gift one year that grew into one of those gifts that keeps on giving over the years ~ even to this day.

On my 12th birthday, December 31, 1949, Grandmother sent me a card that said from now on, I would be receiving a once a week mail delivery of The Sporting News out of St. Louis, Missouri.

It was news that was only slightly more exciting to me than the news of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the surface of the moon ~ nearly 20 years later ~ in 1969. Back then, TSN came weekly in newspaper print and page sufficiency that would have been bulky enough to pass for a small city’s Sunday edition take on all the news in the world ~ and TSN was a baseball topic rag back then ~ for 12 months a year. Everything about the big leagues and minors ~ down to all that good and gooey statistical minutiae ~ it was always there to gleam one’s hungry eyes away ~ as, indeed, I invariably did ~ until social change ~ many years later ~ turned TSN into something I no longer cared to support.

None of that eventual demise matters now. Now one can see it again as it was in its time of baseball glory. And its pretty broadly available through an Internet source site called “Newspaper Archives” that is available to subscribers.

Here’s a link to a page on the Texas League from the August 1, 1951 edition:

https://newspaperarchive.com/st-louis-sporting-news-aug-01-1951-p-29/

(My apologies if the newspaperarchive.com home site does anything that blocks your access.)

Some tidbits from Page 29 …

Low Run Totals/Fast Game Pace. A sidebar story shows how the 8 Texas League teams played 4 full games on July 20, 1951 and only scored a grand total of 11 runs in the process. ~ Two of the games resulted in shutouts and none of the four contests required more than one hour and fifty-five minutes to complete. ~ No one had to be concerned about the speed of play and clock solutions back in 1951. ~ So what has happened over the years since that time? ~ Did television commercials and the human ego’s need for attention ~ when they know the game camera is upon them ~ do all that damage to the pace of our beautiful game?

Harry Craft was the manager of the Beaumont Exporters in 1951. He’s only eleven years away from his historic role as Houston’s first major league manager of the 1962 Houston Colt .45s.

The 1951 Houston Buffs (70-43, .619) have an 8-game lead over the Beaumont Exporters (61-50, .550) for first place in the Texas League race. The Buffs will finish first and win the playoffs for the 1951 Texas League pennant, but they will go on to lose the Dixie Series to the Birmingham Barons.

Buff Pitchers Looking Good. Through July 25, 1951, Buff Reliever DIck Bokelmann (9-1, .900) sports the best winning percentage record in the ’51 TL season. Buff Starter Octavio Rubert (13-4, .765) ranks 5th and Buff Starter Al Papai (15-8, .652) ranks 8th as the race heads into the stretch.

Buff Hitters? Not So Much. Over the same stat period, the Houston Buffs don’t have a single .300 hitter. Buff Third Baseman Eddie Kazak is the 1951 TL’s 20th best percentage hitter (71 for 249) at .285.

Kudos to 1951 San Antonio Missions 3rd Baseman Jim Dyck for his July 22nd contribution to a 9-run 8th inning his club had against the Shreveport Sports in their 16-1 runaway win. Dyck blasted 2 home runs in the big inning. In the same sidebar, TSN notes that back on August 3, 1930, Gene Rye of Waco set the TL record for most HR in one inning by a single batter when he crunched 3 round-trippers in the 8th inning of a game against Beaumont. ~ Almost, almost unbelievable!

That’s it~ But only because other duties call. ~ I could sit on this single page and churn out stuff like you see here for the next 24 hours and still be scrambling when you called to remind me that time was up.

Anyway, good luck on the page access. If that does not work for you as a non-member, simply visit the site and take advantage of their look-see free opportunity to check out the place for yourself.

If you get in, all I can add is ~ Welcome to the history playground! ~ Allow leisure fun time to begin by turning your search options open to your own imagination.

What a way to spend the day!

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

Houston Weather Pretty Good By Comparison

January 23, 2019

A Highway in Pennsylvania
January 20, 2019
By Casey McCurdy

Our son Casey McCurdy sent us this photo from where he was driving on the roads of southern Pennsylvania Sunday as we sat at home in Houston, comfortably watching the NFL Playoff games in 72 degree comfort from the mildly annoying temperature outside of a brisk 48 degrees.

The temp along this particular pictured SoPA Expressway was 8 degrees with an outside reading of 20 degrees below zero on the Fahrenheit scale at the time it was taken.

Houston, indeed, is much better located on the human comfort range than the great northeast most of the time. We may sleep with our shirts off in the summer at times ~ but that beats the heck out of trying to put on every shirt you can find on a rare cold Houston winter night when the temps are way down ~ and the power goes out.

An acquaintance from New York recently asked me how we locals stood the Houston summer heat and humidity prior to the 1957 coming of mass available home window ACs. My explanation was simple ~ prior to 1957, we just didn’t know any better. Our homes were natural air temp, as were our cars, our schools, and most of our work places. We had internal home attic fans that sucked the humid air through our open windows during the hot months ~ and helped a lot. ~ It was what we were used to.

When you walked out the home front door during the summertime pre-AC days, there was no big sense of temperature  change ~ as there is now ~ when you walk out of a centrally cooled home. Prior to AC, you were in heat then too when you went outside into the Houston August heat, but it was a far less radical change of the conditions you had vacated by moving from the inside to the outside than it is today.

Back then your first outside thoughts were to get to the locked car in your driveway and get those windows rolled down as soon as possible. That hot-as-fire dashboard chrome has to cool before your hand or arm bumps into a serious burn on a hurried backing-up exit from a late to work or school rolling retreat from the short driveway.

..and you had to roll down the car windows as quickly as possible to remove the chrome-aided bakery conditions that were hot as hell there. Ignore that step and you left yourself vulnerable to serious chrome burns on the hand and arms as you backed out of your one-car driveway.

The movie theaters, some of the downtown stores and banks, and River Oaks were our only air-conditioned respites from the heat, but since most of us didn’t have enough money to bank or do much shopping downtown, that only left River Oaks and the neighborhood movie theaters as the possible cooling off spots.

Again, most of us east enders didn’t have the kind of friends in River Oaks that would invite us over to swim or get out of the heat, so we just played sandlot baseball all day ~ except for the so-called polio dangerous “heat of the day” hours of 12-3 PM time-out that our mothers enforced upon us as “attic fan home arrest time.”

When we could get there, we swam our hearts out in the pool at nearby Mason Park, but we almost never got to see Galveston until we were old enough to work, buy a jalopy or borrow the family car for the trip on our own gas and then drive south to the Gulf of Mexico and Stewart’s Beach, pulled mostly by our adolescent hormones to meet girls.

ice-storm

1950 Houston Ice Storm

The Houston Ice Storm of 1950 did supply us with a rare weather extreme, of the type they seem to continue having back east on a fairly regular basis. Most of our normal weather extreme brushes tend to occur with stuff that comes our way in summer, from the supposed gates of hell. This one came at us from the north pole during the winter.

Here’s a link to the column I wrote several years ago on the Houston Ice Storm of 1950:

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2011/02/02/the-houston-ice-storm-of-1950/

Those were the days, my friends!

 

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

 

Today’s Leaders and Look-A-Likes

June 23, 2018

“We Represent – the Back-To-Back-To-Back Guild!
And….
We Wish to Welcome You To – Minute Maid!”

2018 American League Batting Average Leaders

 Through Games of 6/22/2018:

# Leaders Team G AB H BA
1 Jose Altuve Astros 77 306 106 .346
2 Mookie Betts Red Sox 58 225 77 .342
3 Jean Segura Mariners 71 296 99 .334
4 Mike Trout Angels 75 259 86 .332
5 JD Martinez Red Sox 73 278 90 .324
6 Matt Duffy Rays 59 234 75 .321
7 Eddie Rosario Twins 71 282 89 .316
8 Michael Brantley Indians 63 258 81 .314
9 John Jay Royals 73 293 91 .311
10 Andrelton Simmons Rays 65 238 73 .307
  • Astros Above shown in bold type.

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

LOOK-A-LIKES

Actor Ed Harris

New Rice Baseball Coach
Matt Bragga

Matt Bragga is the new Rice baseball coach. Proving yet again, in spite of our seemingly almost infinite capacity for looking differentially separate from one another, that there are still only a relatively few archetypes from which all these variations we occupy all evolve. Then along comes a face, smile, body type, and language/speech pattern that is DNA-remindful that Matt Bragga may be somehow related to a generationally older, but still working actor named Ed Harris.

If Bragga is anything as a coach that is remindful of a typical Harris movie character, Rice baseball foes better prepare to take a few slugs to the gut in seasons to come.

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

People watching. It’s still our most popular universal pastime, but that’s also another reason why baseball is so big and now growing as an international sport. More than any other sport we know, baseball offers the observer a better long-time look at both the face and character of its players through the unfolding of each three-act play we fans call “the game.”

It even helps us survive games like the 1-0 Astros loss to the Royals last night. The Astros didn’t simply lose a winnable game at MMP Friday night. More accurately tuned to the way the whole contest played out, from the start of an Astro fan perspective, in the end, the Astros failed to win a losable game. They just played their part through 27 outs as a team that was on its way to losing until that final result was the one they reached – in spite of a gazillion aborted chances they failed to grasp as happier ultimate alternatives.

Today’s another day. We won’t begin to see today’s game script face until somebody throws the next pitch that counts.

When we do see it, it will not be the first time we see its ugly to handsome archetype configurations, while it is also establishing itself as like no other game we’ve previously ever seen.

Baseball. Gotta love it.

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Pecan Park Reverie: Taking Mental Pictures

August 9, 2017

Those big trees with ascending limbs were a lot of fun.

 

During the early post-World War II period, we had a game we played as Pecan Park kids that required both a tall tree and a soft landing spot underneath. We called it the “taking mental pictures” game.

Our perfect spot for the game turned out to be the big elm tree in the back yard of the McGee house. The McGees lived right across the street from the McCurdys. The McGees also were one of very few childless couples in the block, but they never seemed to mind us taking our games onto their property without ever asking permission.

We liked to play a game we invented called “Taking Mental Pictures” in the McGee’s back yard because of the big elm tree that grew there. In the moments prior to each game we played, the nightmare elm called to us like the “Siren of Stupidity”.

“Taking Mental Pictures” was an easy, if not intelligent game to play. And we played it with daredevil abandon to any risk involved. And here’s how:

One at a time, we climbed up the McGee back yard elm tree trunk, about four feet up from the ground, and then we took the first long ascending lower limb that jutted out toward the middle of the back yard. One at a time, we each started moving out on it like tight rope walkers with a little a little help from the smaller steady-branches that descended into our moving field of vision. At all times, we had about four or five climbers in the tree – and everyone else, the watchers, seated in a semi-circle on the ground around the target jump area.

One catch: If you weren’t willing to be a jumper, you weren’t allowed to stay in the yard and be a watcher.

Back to the actual point of the game:

When an individual jumper reached the approximate middle yard area, where the carpet grass below was very soft during a normal summer rainy season, he stopped at about 15 feet up from the ground and gave notice that he was about to jump. (Note: Only guys played this game. We would have accepted girl players, but the girls on our block chose to leave themselves out of the mix. The easy explanation: Remember what we said. – This wasn’t an intelligent game.)

The “jumper” gave notice to the watchers: “be ready”. It was time to take mental pictures of what someone from a great height looked like jumping from the sky – without having any film or Kodak camera with us as “watchers” to preserve their short moment of flight or descent, however best you might choose to describe it.

By closing our eyes quickly and leaving them completely shut at our own chosen moments during the jumper’s descent, we watchers learned that the mind captured a still shot image of the person jumping. Arm and leg positions were frozen differently in each mind. Sometimes the jumper’s expression was clear. They were all like individuals photos. We simply couldn’t show them. We had to hold them in our minds and try to describe what we saw to each other – without the help of technology.

Amazingly, I don’t recall any serious energies resulting from this little exercise in free play.

Oh well. Too bad we didn’t have smart phones in our day. We might have been smart enough to not be jumping out of trees from leg, arm, and neck breaking heights.

Besides, today’s Mr. and Mrs. McGee couples wouldn’t want to risk the liability of allowing their neighbors’ kids to risk harm to themselves on their personal property. Had a kid been injured or killed today playing the “mental pictures” game under these same circumstances, some lawyer probably would quickly make an “attractive nuisance” case against the McGees for owning an elm tree that was so alluring to the kids that it caused them to trespass onto the grounds for the purpose of jumping from the elm tree’s branches.

Any current legal opinion on the inherent liability problem that would exist today for property owners from an injury that occurred under these circumstances will be most welcomed as a comment upon this column.

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle