Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nine Years Ago on 1/21 in SABR Houston History

January 22, 2019
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JANUARY 21, 2010

While doing some photo file searching this morning on another piece I’m writing, I ran across a whole misplaced series of photos I had taken at one of the last, if not the final event itself, of the late and still missed winter baseball banquets that once were the acme moment of the Hot Stove League Season in Houston. All of these undescribed photos are of Larry Dierker SABR Chapter members who attended the January 21, 2010 dinner at one of the large luxury hotels near Minute Maid Park downtown.

Here they are ~ with no further identification than their individual numbers in this presentation. If you care to comment on any of them in particular _ or in the end of the dinners as an annual event, please comment below. What we get from you will be move up to the body of this column by editorial discretion as the major thought content of this post.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Historic Buildings in Sam Houston Park in Trouble

January 17, 2019

The Heritage Society
Sam Houston Park
Downtown Houston

Wow! What a shock, but not a surprise it was to learn this morning that public support for the downtown exhibit of historic homes and other places in the downtown Houston Sam Houston Park are in danger of being lost due to the fading away of private support.

In addition, the absence of operational funds has effectively caused all the conservatory professional and support staff of the Heritage Society that manages the showing of the old homes and thousands of other historic items to either remain as lightly paid, mostly volunteer staff ~ or else, look for other work. ~ And their departures from jobs they love are a double loss ~ both for them ~ and the community they serve so well.

Here’s the link to the story. And thanks again to frequent researcher/contributor Darrell Pittman for alerting The Pecan Park Eagle to this distressing development.

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Historic-Houston-buildings-threatened-by-budget-13539841.php

St. John Church
Sam Houston Park
Downtown Houston

If Houston is going to be successful with its preservation efforts downtown ~ or with a permanent design for showing the Astrodome to the world for what it actually is ~ it’s got to have the private sector support that those kinds of first class city projects require. It will never be enough to simply patch each thing along over time on the backs of small public fundings and short-term private interest usage contracts that first blur away and eventually discard any serious reliquarian reference to what’s really historically important about the saved entity.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the people and friends of the Historic Society ~ and for the future of the buildings and other important historical items under their care.

Hang in there, people! ~ It ain’t over til it’s over ~ and it’s going to get better. ~ Gotta happen!

We’re Houston Strong! ~ Remember?

Sincerely,

Bill McCurdy

The Pecan Park Eagle

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

The Astrodome’s True Architectural Identity

January 12, 2019

With the infrastructure on display as the thing that makes it the Eiffel Tower of large covered stadium construction, the immortality of the Astrodome would be a guaranteed thing of beauty ~ just as Patrick Lopez knew it could be.
~ A work by Houston architect James Richards.

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

Regarding the Astrodome, why do we have to settle for a plan that addresses only the present economic needs of the county and near neighboring tenants at NRG ~ and all in return for a scrubbed down facsimile face of the Astrodome that probably gets an historical identity plaque for the benefit of those younger people in 10 to 20 years who need the label to know what they are looking at.

Yes, we know, politics and pragmatism contain the answer, but these usual suspects behind the smiling faces and shaking hands of big money agreements still do not visually explain what made the round-shaped building in Houston so important to the history of enclosed unit stadium sports and the annals of international architecture in particular.

I am in possession of a picture and proposal, on the other hand, which do visually portray the Astrodome for eternity by her true identity as both a mark of architectural genius ~ and a work of art on a grand scale. The infrastructure of the Astrodome, all  this time, are what have made this piece our community face as a contributor to architectural acclaim.

Credit for the above artistic rendering belongs to architect James Richards and his group. Although we have never met nor even talked by phone at this writing, Richards was kind enough to share with me by e-mail that he and others had been inspired by a column I had written about our late friend and colleague Patrick Lopez in reference to his ideas for using the dome infrastructure as the symbol for what was really important as art to architecture about our abandoned waif of concrete and metal.

The date of this nearly seven-year old column in The Pecan Park Eagle was April 19, 2012:

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2012/04/19/the-astrodome-a-future-as-art/

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Here too is the James Richard Group’s Proposal for A Dome Park. Please read it over as openly minded as possible.

 MISSION STATEMENT

A-Dome Park is a conceptual Master-Plan that proposes to transform, Harris County’s & NRG Park’s Astrodome and adjacent parking lots into a Forty acre active urban park. The proposed park aims to bring the same economic, recreational, and cultural success to NRG Park that Discovery Green Park has brought to Downtown Houston.

At the heart of this plan, we imagine the gentle removal of the Astrodome’s exterior and interior nonstructural surfaces, to reveal and celebrate the groundbreaking work of structural engineering that lies hidden within. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Astrodome will stand proudly as an iconic, unenclosed, open air, painted steel structure, surrounded by a picturesque tree filled park.

In addition to the surrounding park, the uncovered steel structure of the Astrodome will contain a network of new infrastructure components; restaurants, a Astrodome history museum, public restrooms, indoor air-conditioned parking for 1500 cars, elevators, and a connected sequence of flat and inclined boardwalks making it possible to hike, bike, and wheelchair from street level to the very top of the dome!

WHY & HOW

In the early 1960’s the Astrodome was purpose built as a Baseball stadium. Football was also played in the dome, but it was not designed specifically for that game. The Houston Oilers football team played their last game in the Astrodome in 1996 and in the year 2000 the Astros baseball team moved to a new stadium in downtown Houston. The last concert was performed in the dome in 2003 and in 2008 the building officially closed to the public due to building code violations and life safety concerns. Since 2008 it has not been used in any significant way. The exterior and interior finish surfaces have been partially demolished and those that remain in place are slowly deteriorating to this day. If the Astrodome is to survive and prosper for the citizens of present day Harris County and future generations to come it must be transformed to become an icon of strength and ingenuity.

We believe that the most significant aspect of the Astrodome is its contributions to humanity as a masterpiece of structural engineering and building technology. At the time of its construction it achieved a clear column free span of six hundred forty three feet, nearly twice as long as any dome in the world! We propose to celebrate this engineering tour de force by removing the remaining decaying exterior and interior finish surfaces to reveal the magnificent framework of structural steel, columns, beams, ring girders, and lamella trusses that lie hidden within. For the first time, the public will witness the movement of the seventy two pivoting columns at the top of the base structure that allow the mighty dome structure above to expand and contract up to twelve inches with outside air temperature changes. The steel structure, unlike the exterior and interior finish surfaces is nearly perfectly preserved and only needs treatment with corrosion resistant paint to weather outdoor exposure.

The unenclosed steel structure of the Astrodome will contain a network of new infrastructure components; restaurants, a Astrodome History Museum, public restrooms, indoor air-conditioned parking for 1500 cars, elevators, and a connected sequence of flat and inclined boardwalks making it possible to hike, bike and wheelchair from street level to the very top of the dome! This new infrastructure will help to defeat Harris County’s current public health crisis of extremely high obesity and diabetes rates by providing the public with miles of outdoor pedestrian, wheelchair, and bicycle paths to enjoy all year long.

The new infrastructure described above will also support a distributed matrix of electrical power, lighting, information technology, outdoor cooling, and plumbing, creating a plug and play environment to facilitate and enhance any event, from the complexity of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to the simplicity a small group friends on a sunset hike up the dome.

Our vision for the transformed Astrodome imagines it surrounded by thirteen acres of Live Oak tree filled park space. To accomplish this we propose to relocate 1500 existing outdoor car parking spaces to a two level indoor air-conditioned garage placed within the dome footprint between the existing sunken playing field and ground levels. Not only will this new park space provide endless recreational and event possibilities, it will help to reduce flooding by transforming the impervious asphalt surface parking into water absorbing green landscaping. The new park will also help to naturally cool the adjacent NRG Park by significantly reducing the surface area of the existing black top parking lots.

The Astrodome will be reborn as the Eiffel Tower of Harris County, an iconic work of long span structural engineering set within a picturesque tree filled active urban park.

 COST

A-Dome Park will be funded using the same private/public partnership model used to pay for and maintain Discovery Green Park. We estimate the cost of Phase-One of the park to be 90 million dollars and like Discovery Green, most of the funding will come from public donations, and the many private foundations and endowments that support public health, environmental and cultural projects in urban areas.

Phase One of A-dome Park will include:

1-Demolition of selected exterior and interior non structural surfaces
2-Parking for 1500 cars on two levels
3-Two elevator/stair towers
4-The Great Floor
5-The Inner Perimeter Ramp
6-Ten acres of landscaping
7-Restrooms
Miscellaneous structural modifications
Miscellaneous mechanical, electrical and plumbing
10-Interior and exterior lighting

Maintenance costs of the park will be generated by a combination of revenue streams; private sector rental of the park for private and public events, private amenity rental, and indoor parking fees. Discovery Green Park successfully deploys this strategy to fund most park maintenance costs.

SCHEDULE

We believe the entire project could be built within a two year time frame.

SOURCE OF ABOVE

https://www.adomepark.org/about

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IN CLOSING

After coming this far with our efforts to save the Astrodome for the generations to come, we should still be open to asking, “What is it, here and now, that could make any plan at this late planning stage even better?”

In this instance, I believe the answer is ~ let’s at least listen to the proposal of the James Richards group. After kicking its tires a few times in solitude over time and, by the way, no other soul in the world ~ not Richards ~ not nobody ~ not anybody ~ even knows I am writing this column this Saturday ~ I simply now have to say that I really, really love it.

The James Richards Group Plan is the glimpse that the late Patrick Lopez had of the Astrodome a few years ago. It is not the preserve-our-memories of the Astrodome past that we all carry with us down the road. ~ It will be the eternal face of The Astrodome by art that new visitors will recognize at first sight as surely as they now do The Eiffel Tower ~ and they will be able to do so ~ even if they do not know an Astro from an Oiler ~ or a Bobby Riggs from a Billy Jean King.

Those sports, rodeo, concert, and convention histories will still be known to future first time visitors who come to see the Astrodome, but the much larger group of tomorrow’s visitors may be those who come to see Houston’s artful homage to the history of world class architecture.

Now we get to find out if we Harris Countians have all of the will, courage, and insight as a community it is going to take to set our preservation planning at a little higher level so that our deeper into the future gift to the world and history is rendered possible.

I love what you’ve done here, James Richards! ~ You’ve also shown that you have included a specific plan for an Astrodome Hall of Fame ~ That’s really important. Your plan seems aimed at clarifying the Astrodome’s identity for the future while you also build and enrich upon the creation and growth of the place’s incredible history. Maybe the Harris County Astrodome Preservation Group and new Harris Commissioner Lina Hidalgo will give your plan a serious look-see.

If we forget the needs of future generations in the process of preserving a bargained away blurry reminder of the past, vis-a-vis, the rental room route, I feel that we are only a step up from razing the Astrodome and turning it into a parking space. ~ People forget parking spaces, they just use them. ~ Unfortunately, over time, people also forget rental space too, they just use it. ~ On the other hand, people do not forget art that shall forever inspire yet unborn generations of the Astrodome’s once greatness of purpose ~ and even more importantly ~ of its true identity as a major contributor to world architecture.

Nobody forgets an Astrodome that lights up the summer sky.

It’s time we pushed our Astrodome plans a little further, and a little higher, up the road.

That’s it, friends. Now it’s time to read up. Catch up. Talk it up. Get the word out to one and all.  Some action is needed. And soon.

Sincerely,

Bill McCurdy

Addendum Links

If you are interested in communicating your questions or support for A-Dome Park, here’s a list of links that will be important to you:

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo / email:
judge.hidalgo@cjo.hctx.net
A-Dome Park website:
adomepark.org
A-Dome Park instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/adomepark/
Houston Public Media Video on A-dome Park:
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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Off-The-Wall Time-Framing

December 21, 2018

Bill McCurdy and His Great-Grandmother,
Beeville, Texas 1939.

Eight years ago, I wrote an article on the art of time-framing our lives ~ or history, in general ~ for the sake of finding new levels of appreciation for how we value the spanning of time ~ depending upon when it happened and to whom it happened ~ in relation to our own feel for those same periods of time passage.

For example, 34 years passed from the time Babe Ruth hit a record 60 home runs in 1927 until the time that Roger Maris broke that record by hitting 61* homers in 1961. Since I wasn’t born until December 31,1937, I wasn’t even born when Ruth set the record, but, like many of you, I grew up with the thought of “Ruth’s 60” as something virtually eternal and unbreakable. Then, along comes Roger Maris in 1961, when I’m almost the same 34 years old it took in years time for anybody to become the next HR champion by hitting 61 in 1961 ~ and he does it ~ with the help of the eight extra games that the American League was playing in their 1961 first season of expansion franchise play. That fact alone was said to be the reason that Commissioner Ford Frick attached the infamous apostrophe to 61* for the sake of deference to the Babe’s “greater in fewer” games accomplishment. Unofficially, many added that Frick’s friendship and favoritism to Ruth over Maris may have played a hand in the addition of a qualifier taint to his 61 total in 1961.

Unlike the 34 year Ruth 60 period (1927-61), which had seemed eternal, the 61* year Maris period (1961-98) 37 year period as Greatest Single HR Season seemed to yours truly and others among us like a breath of fresh air. When Mark McGwire of the Cardinals (72 HR) and Sammy Sosa of the Cubs (66 HR) both broke Maris’s mark in 1998, they both made the cover of Time for saving baseball from the the stench of management-labor problems that had destroyed the 1994 season and World Series. Baseball pundits had latched onto their great power run competition as just the kind of tonic the game needed to restore the juices of broad fan support.

How little we knew back then. There apparently was something in that tonic that would threaten the game even worse on the time move into “Y2K” even worse ~ and maybe even destroy the Hall of Fame chances of some then “sure-bet” types. Even though the McGwire/Sosa punch out of the Maris record took three more years than the Maris bust upon the “eternal” Ruth reign, it almost felt like a mere overnight change of clothes when it happened in 1998.

Time-Framing at Home. Of course, we can do time-framing on anything that’s personal to us. The 1939 photo shown here again is me, of course, at age 2 years, in front of my great-grandmother’s farm house near Beeville, Texas. Born in 1857, three years prior to the Civil War, Mrs. Virginia New was “My Gammy” ~ and the sweet lady on my mother’s side who often took care of me ~ while teaching me skills like how to feed the chickens ~ and how to help her search and dig up roots in the woods that she could then clean and use as “toothbrushes” for dipping her “snuff” while we were shelling peas and snapping bean stalks. ~ And we did all this with the help of Polly the Parrot ~ who always had two words for me when Mom or Dad came to pick me up. ~ Polly would say, ~ and with great emotion ~ “Don’t Go!”

Time-Framing with Gammy is easy for me. She was 80 years old when I was born in 1937. Now I’m 80, and about to hit 81 on New Year’s Eve. ~ Geez! ~ I didn’t have this perspective back in 1939, but I do now. I’m actually old enough this deep into the 21st century actually to have been taken care of by someone back in the sweet bye-and-bye who was born prior to the Civil War!

And when you string My Gammy’s life span with mine (so far), the range of years that have passed (1857-2118) with either one, both, or the other of us being contiguously alive is about to hit 161 ~ and that works out to about two-thirds of the time that has passed since the 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence.

That’s OK, folks. I may be older than dirt, but I wouldn’t trade away that time I had early with Gammy for anything in the world. She is one of my happiest early, everyday, and holiday smile memories.

Love and Peace to You All.

Here’s the link to the other earlier referenced article:

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2010/12/28/the-art-of-time-framing-our-lives/

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Death of the “CG” Era by the Last 6 Decades

December 3, 2018
6. Larry Dierker

Larry Dierker, Houston Astros

Death of the Complete Game Era by the Last 6 Decades

This is no big news. The “Complete Game” stat is all but a burial away from formal extinction. With the 100-pitches-per-game limit now standing as the great teacher of millennial-aged rookies about what to expect of themselves, even on good days, now the stat to have fun with is ~ is the pitcher one of those new “iron men” ~someone with the stuff, the control, and the stamina to stay in the game to or through seven innings! ~ or is he one of the growing cast of new rocket arms who tries to look good for four, but one who expects rescue after five ~ and really knows that he won’t be around half his starts to even figure in the decision?

Six Decades with the Astros and Complete Game Pitchers

Decade Astros Pitcher W L W% ERA G GS CG IP SO BB
1969 Larry Dierker 20 13 .606 2.33 39 37 20 305.1 247 72
1976 J.R. Richard 20 15 .571 2.75 39 39 14 291.0 214 151
1989 Mike Scott 20 10 .667 3.10 33 32 9 229.0 172 62
1999 Mike Hampton 22 4 .846 2.90 34 34 3 239.0 177 101
2004 Roy Oswalt 20 10 .667 3.49 36 35 2 237.0 206 62
2015 Dallas Keuchel 20 8 .714 2.48 33 33 2 232.0 261 51

I did this little chart this morning just for the fun of it. My goal was to pull up an Astros 20-game winner from each of their six decades in the big leagues and see how the GS-CG stat ratio has held up on the declining CG side ever since one of the last great “CG Men” took the mound to register the franchise’s first 20-game winner season in 1969.

We’re talking here, of course, about our one and only treasured pitcher/broadcaster/manager/author ~ Mr. Larry Dierker ~ who in 1969 once placed the “CG” accomplishment bar at the start of things in our small place in the baseball world at the mountain top of the baseball universe.

Then we simply went through the other five decades that have unfolded since and selected another 20-game winner Astros starter from each period and posted his stats as typical of the entire decade in six instances  to show the down turn change that shows up remarkably clear and self-evident.

There was an instance in the 2001-2010 decade in which we could have chosen Roy Oswalt’s 2005 and that pick would have yielded 4 “CGs” instead of the 2 “CGs” he had in 2005, but that would have been relatively insignificant ~ and in deference to our preference for symmetry, we used 2004 in his case.

The big point that Larry Dierker makes consistently is that the 100-pitch count has changed the game. It has taught rookie starters to expect less of themselves in the matter of how long they are going to be in the game each time they take the mound.

Is that a good thing, a bad thing, or just a difference?

To me, its seems like a big difference, and it’s a difference I think we should be concerned about. Unless throwing more than 100 pitches a game is going to cause one’s arm to fall off ~ or cause cancer or something ~ we are cheating the game and ourselves from ever again seeing the rubber-armed talents that reached the Hall of Fame, at least partially, because of that talent capacity. (See lefty Warren Spahn as a relatively recent example.)

Worse may be the lesson that the 100-pitch count is spreading to young pitchers everywhere.

WOW! As much as we talk patricianly about how baseball offers some lessons that life needs to learn and better use, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that life could teach baseball some lessons that would better serve the interests of these young pitchers as they are learning the game on the 100-pitch count.

Some Personal Reflections

I don’t know anybody whoever succeeded in business on a 100-pitch count ~ and I sure don’t know a soul whoever won their doctoral degree in any academic field on one either. This is about any problem or goal that appears or becomes important to us in life. If it’s valid, if we have the ability and the willingness to resolve or achieve it, and if we are nothing less than relentless in our pursuit of our desired accomplishment, and we have the ability to learn and let people help us when help is truly needed, then there’s nothing that is going to stop us from getting there.

Students have asked me in the past: “When did you actually know for sure that you were going to get your doctoral degree?” ~ My answer was simple: “It happened when I realized that I knew my subject ~ that I had done the work ~ and that there was no one on my faculty doctoral committee that cared more about stopping me than I cared about getting there.”

There are no 100-pitch counts and bullpens in the everyday lives that most of us face.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Curse and Dem Bums in a Nutshell

October 24, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Sox and Dodgers are each colorfully infamous for their associations with two of baseball’s most unforgettable litany lines (i.e., please note: we said “litany’ lines ~ not “Nittany Lions.”).

Because Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the soon-to-be-hated-even more Yankees prior to the 1920 season, the Boston American League club would not win another World Series until the 21st century after winning five of the first fourteen they played under the new World Series format that started in 1903.

It’s right there in the record, gaping back at the reader with all the green-with-envy and orange-with-anger Boston Irish eyes that fed annually upon the idea of “The Curse of the Bambino” for all of the seasons beyond 1918 that their team couldn’t even get back to a World Series until 1946 ~ but only to incur the next level of the curse ~ coming close in the Series 4 more times, once in only four of the six remaining 20th century decades, but only to lose painfully each time. ~ Remember Bill Buckner in 1986?

Then the Red Sox got their splits together in the 21st century and broke “the curse” in 2004, and twice more since, with a good chance of doing it again this year, 2018, based upon their relentless destruction of the Dodgers in Game One of last night’s opener.

The Dodgers, “‘Dem Bums” from their almost always getting beat up Brooklyn days are another story. They pretty much made hapless losing and painful last game crumbling an art form ~ and with considerable help from the Yankees ~ Except for 1955, Brooklyn fans ended every damned season screaming loud into the those bitter last game nights ~ “Wait’ll Next Year!”

Once they moved to Los Angeles, the Dodgers started getting to the World Series more often on a win-some/lose-some basis, but now they are battling a 30-year absence from winning their last one.

Astros Nation appreciates the thrilling challenge that the Dodgers gave our Houston club last year. Our Game Five Astros victory at home was one for the ages and a Game Seven Houston closer win in LA was one we shall cherish forever.

We also knew that the Dodgers have that kind of losing in their baseball DNA and that “Wait Until Next Year” came quickly to their minds, if not their lips, when the deed was done.

Now “Wait’ll Next Year” has become the Astros’ 2018 season swan song. We are hoping it’s available to us only on a short-term rental basis.

Here are the World Series bottom lines for both the Red Sox and the Dodgers. See for yourself. The agony and the ecstasy is all laid out here for your own experience with its indelible baseball lore presence in fact.

 

Boston Red Sox Franchise World Series Record

YEAR S#-F# RED SOX OPPPONENT W-L-W%
1903 01-01 W 5-3 > PGH PIRATES 1-0, 1.000
1904 No World Series
1912 08-02 W 4-3 > NY GIANTS 2-0, 1.000
1915 11-03 W 4-1 > PHI ATHLETICS 3-0, 1.000
1916 12-04 W 4-1 > BRK ROBINS 4-0, 1.000
1918 14-05 W 4-2 > CHI CUBS 5-0, 1.000
1946 42-06 L 3-4 < SL CARDINALS 5-1,   .833
1967 63-07 L 3-4 < SL CARDINALS 5-2,   .714
1975 71-08 L 3-4 < CIN REDS 5-3,   .625
1986 82-09 L 3-4 < NY METS 5-4,   .556
1994 No World Series
2004 99-10 W 4-0 > SL CARDINALS 6-4,   .600
2007 102-11 W 4-0 > COL ROCKIES 7-4,   .636
2013 108-12 W 4-2 > SL CARDINALS 8-4,   .667

Header Notes:

S#-F# = Word Series & Franchise Sequential Numbers as actual events. No World Series took place in either 1904 or 1994. The franchise always has been located in Boston and has played in the World Series as the Red Sox since 1912. They won, however, as the “Boston Americans” in the 1903 start of it all.

What about the 19th century championships?

Our accounting for World Series history begins with the 20th century modern era that began in 1903. We are mindful of the 19th century baseball championships and no denigration of those accomplishments is intended. Baseball simply lacked the stability to organize anything that had much chance of lasting longer than a given team’s immediate direct interest in playing in such a game. The losers simply walked away and the league had no shared partnership that could sustain all team support, even during the bad years that some clubs might be having.

1903 was the start of the time in which 16 stable franchises started for the first time what has continued through today as the same process that 16 founders and 14 expansion franchise brothers that survived over time continue to make happen. In 2018, MLB is still playing annually for the same clearly named World Series Championship on a prescribed annual basis. Nothing like that ever happened until the 20th century.

Even in the 20th century movement, baseball had to survive the Giants’ refusal to play Boston in the 1904 Series that didn’t happen. McGraw and company apparently were afraid of losing, but these actions prodded MLB into fighting for a total commitment that would not allow a single club, from 1905 forward, to refuse the honor of representing their league in The Series. It would be their honor and their responsibility to play the World Series.

And that’s the codicil rule that separated the 20th century World Series effort from anything that happened in the 19th century. McGraw and the Giants might have been allowed to bully baseball into killing the 1903 World Series effort as someone always did in some way during the 19th century period, but, this time, baseball stopped the bully. So, in the end, baseball did not really have a World Series plan in place until the 1905 games were played, as we said earlier, as a matter of honor and responsibility.

And that’s my shortest route to why I prefer to start anything I do on the World Series from the 1903 effort forward ~ and that’s no denigration of the earlier era. 19th century baseball people simply were either too powerless or unable to see what was holding them back from a World Series plan that could hope to survive.

 

Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers Franchise World Series Record 

YEAR S#-F# BROOKLYN OPPONENT W-L-W%
1916 12-01 L 1-4 < BOS RED SOX 0-1, .000
1920 16-02 L 2-5 < CLE INDIANS 0-2, .000
1941 37-03 L 1-4 < NY YANKEES 0-3, .000
1947 43-04 L 3-4 < NY YANKEES 0-4, .000
1949 45-05 L 1-4 < NY YANKEES 0-5, .000
1952 48-06 L 3-4 < NY YANKEES 0-6, .000
1953 49-07 L 2-4 < NY YANKEES 0-7, .000
1955 51-08 W 4-3 > NY YANKEES 1-7, .125
1956 52-09 L 3-4 < NY YANKEES 1-8, .111
LOS ANGELES
1959 55-10 W 4-2 > CHI WHITE SOX 2-8, .200
1963 59-11 W 4-0 > NY YANKEES 3-8, .273
1965 61-12 W 4-3 > MIN TWINS 4-8, .333
1966 62-13 L 0-4 < BAL ORIOLES 4-9, .308
1974 70-14 L 1-4 < OAK ATHLETICS 4-10, .286
1977 73-15 L 2-4 < NY YANKEES 4-11, .267
1978 74-16 L 2-4 < NY YANKEES 4-12, .250
1981 77-17 W 4-2 > NY YANKEES 5-12, .294
1988 84-18 W 4-1 > OAK ATHLETICS 6-12, .333
1994 No World Series
2017 112-19 L 3-4 < HOU ASTROS 6-13, .316

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Fan Interference Call Revisited

October 18, 2018

“No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk.”
__________
Note the man on the lower far right. His left hand is holding the yellow rail that marks the spot where the field of play ends and the stands begin. Then note the deeper stands site to where the ball is landing near his palm up right hand. The NY “out” call should’ve been ruled a HR for Altuve. Fielder Betts was in the fans area at his own risk. (Bottom of 1st, ALCS Game 4, 2018)

 

“Rule 3.16 Comment: There is a difference between a ball which has been thrown or batted into the stands, touching a spectator thereby being out of play even though it rebounds onto the field and a spectator going onto the field or reaching over, under or through a barrier and touching a ball in play or touching or otherwise interfering with a player. In the latter case it is clearly intentional and shall be dealt with as intentional interference as in Rule 3.15. Batter and runners shall be placed where in the umpire’s judgment they would have been had the interference not occurred.

“No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out on the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectator’s interference.”

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Changing Appetite of Ballpark Fans

October 9, 2018

Babe McCurdy also served as the mascot of the UH Mad Dog Defense during the 1979-80 football seasons that the #1 jersey was first sold to Cougar fans. (Omaha World-Herald, Prior to the 1980 Cotton Bowl Game that Houston won over Nebraska.)

 

As a fan whose personal ballpark experience only goes back to being 9 years old in the east end and those times our dad took us to Buff Stadium to get hooked on the 1947 Texas League and Dixie Series Champion Houston Buffs at Buff Stadium, I will have to start with a broad shot statement: It was both a whole lot the same, but a whole lot different in the post-World War II minor league game days.

Of course, we cheered in Houston. The Buffs had a great ball club in 1947 and we were stirred to clap hands, cheer and release an occasional rally yell any time the Buffs needed to hear from us. Stirred on by Miss Lou Mahan and the magic of her musical organ themes, with every song selected to fit the mood or merit of the particular game situation, Mahan kept us on our toes in soaring good spirit. The old “Happy Days Are Here Again” melody became the virtual theme for Buff walk off hits in the bottom of the ninth.

What we didn’t have “back in the day” were electronic reminders to “make noise” when the game situation merited. We had that base covered without the assistance of automation. We also didn’t have the Buff uniform paraphernalia that could have outfitted us with Houston official game jerseys and the names and numbers for favorite players like Hal Epps and Solly Hemus. ~ Even the big league club fans were denied the use of those sacred adornments in that long ago time and place. If we got out of the ballpark with a souvenir pennant in 1947, we had to have been one of those kids with a daddy who had money to burn.  And that wasn’t my brother or me ~ or anyone else we knew.

In brief, the ballpark back then was a place for the game, hot dogs, soft drinks and beer ~ or plain old peanuts and Cracker Jack ~ and maybe a team pennant and a souvenir ash tray with the word “souvenir” printed onto the object . The ballpark wasn’t a place for souvenirs, buying things on something called a “credit card” ~ and baseball wasn’t an event that rested in the hands of owners with much awareness or skill in the area of “revenue stream creation.”

Then What Happened?

We all know what happened next!

After World War II, the success of credit lending to veterans for housing opened the door on the bigger question: What else can we sell to people on credit that they don’t have all the cash they need to buy now? And why can’t we simply issue credit cards to people which allow them the convenience of either not using cash ~ or the option of paying interest on a slower repayment over time?

Easy credit opened the door ~ and long before QVC, television became the far superior salesman of everything. Technology kept cranking out more things and opportunities we didn’t want to miss. Marketing psychology sharpened seller awareness to the power of fan identity through baseball cards as a clue to something even more addictive. ~ Allow the fans to be the baseball card by selling them the exact name and number jersey of their favorite baseball heroes in sizes in caps and jerseys in sizes that fit their heads and bodies.

Bada Boom!

The big sale of game jerseys led owners to a simple conclusion: “We need more than one home and one away jersey. We need a wardrobe of always changing apparel that fans shall shall want to purchase ~ just to stay up-to-date with the latest team fashion or club accomplishment.

Diversified fan products were off the ground and soaring into a multi-million dollar per year industry. And winning big and was now simply an extension of the proven fact.

The more a team wins, the more it has to sell the following season.

Win Big / Diversify the Items of Celebration

If “affection” is ever classified as an addiction, give MLB and their hard-core fans for putting it there. After a 2018 Houston season of 5 or 6 games made into sellouts by the bonus gift of a 2017 World Series Replica Ring with each game ticket purchased, we have now moved to the playoffs in which different caps and jerseys are for sale at the Minute Maid Park store for each Astros club advancement up the World Series food chain.

Does this mean that a second straight Astros World Series victory will spur the creation of new replica ring nights at the ballpark next year? ~ Is the Pope Catholic? ~ Does the sun always rise in the east?

Today’s Astros Affection Addicts (today’s AAAs) are really no different from who we were back in 1947. They’ve simply had stronger, more powerfully sophisticated forces working on them than we ever saw in those early times. Knowing me, I would have been among the first to have bought a Buffs jersey had that option been available to me back in 1947.

Wearing the Real Thing

Bill McCurdy 1979
(in a tee shirt, not the real thing #1 UH jersey)

As a matter of possibility, we well may have introduced the first sale of an authentic jersey from any sports team to the general public right here in Houston. We might just as easily have been one of the fairly simultaneous waves of change hitting the market place beaches of America with new revenue streams of thought that came to many of us at the same time. Fans want to wear the real thing.

Inadvertently, even as we may have been the first city in the United States to successfully introduced the first of any official jersey for sale to fans at any collegiate or professional sport team level back in 1979. Lord knows, there was was nothing new about our desire to own and wear the real thing. I personally had been wanting such a real thing jersey since my early summer baseball days at Buff Stadium. By 1979, I simply had awakened to the same Walter Mitty fan wish to also dress in the real thing stuff put in use by my undergraduate school alma mater, the University of Houston Cougars.

Only thing for sure is ~ by 1979 ~ the idea of official jersey sale to fans ~ for all reasons summarized earlier here ~ was a marketing hunger ~ a supply and demand idea, whose time had come. By 1981, replica jerseys from everywhere were ~ well ~ everywhere. And many of those new places previously were aware of what he had done at UH.

I thought it would have been cool for UH to build a little tradition by retiring UH football jersey #1 from use by players and making it available for sale to Cougar fans. I presented the suggestion in writing to then UH Director of Marketing Sonny Yates and it was swiftly approved by then UH Athletic Director Cedric Dempsey.

The suggestion sold a lot of jerseys in the two seasons I worked as a volunteer at the UH Athletic program (1979-80), but Dempsey then left to go elsewhere, as UH stepping-stone “leaders” so often do and, by 1981, the #1 was simply and unceremoniously assigned to the jersey of an incoming Cougar football player.

A Perfect Example of How Things Are

In a Houston Chronicle article by Maggie Gordon after the Astros ALDS 11-3 clincher over the Indians she wrote the following about an Astros fan and his immediate aspirations following the game: “I had faith in my team; I knew it,” Sal Rodriguez said shortly after the game ended, as he and a group of friends pushed along in a newly formed line to the Team Store, to purchase fresh merchandise now that the Astros are officially Divisional Champions.”

Now it’s 3 wins in the pan and only 8 more victories to go ~ one game ~ and one new celebratory cap at a time!

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Of Cabbages and Kings

October 7, 2018

ALDS Game 2; Cleveland @Houston; Bottom of 6th: Alex Bregman scores the 2nd run on a double to right field by Marwin Gonzales to give the Astros a 2-1 lead that grows to an eventual 3-1 win over the indians and a 2-0 lead in the series. Alex also provided the third Astros run with a homer in the bottom of the 8th. ~ Question: Is this series unfolding as the general result of Astro destiny, Indian fate, or simply the presence of good luck and bad as these each play out?

 

The time has come,’ the Writer said,

      To talk of many things:

Of baseball boots — and  timing facts —

      Of baseball throws — and swings —

And why one team plays boiling hot —

       As the other freezes on the spot —

And whether or not — fate and destiny —

Are simply mental pests to me — and you.’

 

…. a referential thought issue, parodied as an excerpt

From The Walrus and The Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

If Houston were not playing out the guiding script of destiny, why else was Marwin Gonzales so 4-for-4 buzzed in Game Two of the ALDS that he even zapped that extraordinary double to right field off Andrew Miller of the Indians in the bottom of the 6th that scored the two runs from 2nd and 1st that gave the Astros their 2-1 first lead of the game, one they would only build upon the following time at bat with a solo homer from the same man that surprisingly scored all the way from 1st on the Gonzalez cruncher, that other superstar in the making, Alex Bregman?

If Cleveland were not playing out the hoary hand of disappointing fate, why didn’t pitcher Miller avoid the whole thing that actually happened by retiring Gonzalez and getting the Indians safely out of the 6th, still leading by 1-0 on a path they would keep as the club that evened the series at one game each for the Tribe and Stros? And why didn’t Cleveland right fielder Melky Cabrera exercise a little more hustle on the retrieval and throw of Gonzalez’s game-changing double. The few seconds lost to that little ball rolling away from Cabrera after it reached his excessively contemplative fielding area are what provided 1st base runner Bregman with all the time he needed to reach home on a play that only should have advanced him to 3rd, had it been fielded and played with big league efficiency. Had that happened, who knows what might have unfolded to the benefit of Cleveland, had they not been doused near a fire back in 1948 or 1954 with the contents of a gasoline can marked “fate?”

As for baseball luck, we speak only as a Houston big league fan since 1962. ~ Our good luck has been a lot more plentiful since our Astros became the best team in baseball. In fact, we’ve got a current World Series title trophy and five or six replica championship ring giveaway nights at Minute Maid Park this past season that says we are.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

EAT ‘EM UP, TIGERS/ASTROS

October 2, 2018

EAT ‘EM UP, TIGERS/ASTROS

 

 

 

 

By Maxwell Kates

 

Yonge and Eglinton
Toronto, Canada, 1981

This is the corner of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, a major intersection in Toronto, as it appeared in 1981. Back then, commuters couldn’t get anywhere. Today, the corner has been developed with new residential and commercial developments, a crosstown light rail, and commuters still can’t get anywhere.

It was a dark and stormy morning when on this corner, I stood, waiting for a green light. Justin Verlander’s team was about to enter the playoffs, only then, it was still the Detroit Tigers. For the occasion I was wearing a Tigers cap, discoloured by too many hot afternoons in the sun. I had not shaved in several days and my jacket had clearly also seen better days. In my hand, there was a beverage from Tim Horton’s, the ubiquitous Canadian coffee chain founded by the hockey player of the same name. As the light was still red, I started to chant:

EAT ‘EM UP, TIGERS, EAT ‘EM UP!

EAT ‘EM UP, TIGERS, EAT ‘EM UP!

EAT ‘EM UP, TIGERS, EAT ‘EM UP!

EAT ‘EM UP, TIGERS, EAT ‘EM UP!

That’s when a woman looked at me and put a quarter in my Tim Horton’s cup. Then the light turned green.

Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson
During Better Times for the Detroit Tigers

This is 2018 ~ These are newer times.

EAT ‘EM UP, ASTROS, EAT ‘EM UP!

 

Editor’s Note: Thanks for your support of the Houston Astros, Maxwell Kates! You won’t even have to keep your tiger tail tucked around most of our fans in Houston, but do try to watch out for standing on the corner of Texas and Crawford too long with a tin cup in your hand. Gotta remember. Life is like a box of chocolates. ~ You never know what you’re gonna get.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle