The Best and Worst Baseball Movie Actors

February 7, 2018

Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs
About to hit the most memorable homer in baseball movie history
“The Natural” (1984)

10 Best Baseball Movie Actors

  1. Robert Redford – His Monster Shot HR personifies forever – and in beautiful form – the most ancient of our sandlot dreams.
  2. Kevin Costner – His field of dreams in all three of his baseball movies was love, family, baseball, and the passion we share through our love of the game.
  3. James Earl Jones – He swung from the depths and he did on the screen what “Big Pappa” would later do at Fenway as the roar of deliverance from despair.
  4. Charlie Sheen – Maybe. Just maybe. A slight tilt in the aim of destiny and Charlie could have been – the real Wild Thing – and be going into the HOF this summer in the company of fellow eternally great closer, Trevor Hoffman.
  5. Burt Lancaster – Most athletic fine actor ever. All-Time. His Jim Thorpe portrayal convinced that he might have made it big in baseball, again, with another slight destiny-redirection.
  6. John Cusack – How could Buck Weaver have been guilty back in 1919? Not the way John Cusack portrayed him, he wasn’t.
  7. Tom Hanks – The ladies got a great one with old Tom Hanks/Jimmy Dugan at the helm. If there were any crying in baseball, it would have been over the fact that Hanks/Dugan had taken his talent to  the cause of this great ladies league memoir – and not to either of the starring male roles he could have handled in “Field of Dreams”.
  8. Robert De Niro – The guy oozes with the juice of talent – and that begins with his ability to make himself believable in any role he takes on. We don’t see him doing much actual baseball in “Bang the Drum Slowly”, but there is no doubt that he can handle those demands with great skill and competence.
  9. Louis Gossett, Jr. – If you want to be Satchel Paige, you have to convince us baseball folk that you can both throw and see like old Satch did. Gossett, Jr. did both.
  10. Paul Douglas – In my younger days, I could have hung out on the road with catcher Monk Lonigan (“It Happens Every Spring”) or manager Guffy McGovern (“Angels in the Outfield”) through all the late night steak houses we could find to shoot the (breeze) over a few cold beers, a not-too-tough steak, and some strategy and social plan discussion for the rest of the do-able night and tomorrow’s game.

There is no failure in a moment like this one.

8 Worst Baseball Movie Actors

  • Anthony Perkins – These guys were all actors who couldn’t run, throw, catch, or bat like real ballplayers, regardless of their variable acting skills. There’s no 1 to 8 list here. They all stank as baseball athletes. Take Perkins, for example. It’s impossible to find an actor credible who picks up and throws a baseball in 1957’s “Fear Strikes Out” like it’s a piece of dog excrement that he’s found in his rose garden and now intends to get rid of it as quickly as possible. (The rest are pretty much the same. If you go to IMDB.com, you will have no trouble finding the baseball movies mentioned that corroborate this same Perkins finding in some variant form for each of them as well.)
  • Gary Cooper – “Pride of the Yankees”
  • William Bendix – “The Babe Ruth Story”
  • Ray Milland – “It Happens Every Spring”
  • Ronald Reagan – “The Winning Team”
  • Dan Dailey – “The Pride of St. Louis”
  • Jimmy Stewart – “The Stratton Story”
  • Edward G. Robinson – “Big Leaguer”

We could have added two more, but saw no point. Holes don’t get filled by demonstrations of how wide they are. And most actors fall short in some way. Baseball is not an easy game to play or portray, even if you are Jackie Robinson playing yourself in the 1950 movie, “The Jackie Robinson Story.” Great as Jackie was as a ballplayer, he wasn’t much of an actor on the screen, but what non-trained actor really is that good at filmed role playing?

As a baseball movie producer, I’d prefer to place my money on a Redford, Costner, Jones, or Hanks in the key baseball movie roles than I would the actual players.

Wouldn’t you?

Gotta Love It. ~ Eat It Up.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

Nix to the Moonlight Graham Base Runner

February 6, 2018

SS: “How many times do we have to run this guy down?”
3B: “Until we either keep him from scoring – or the last fan leaves – whichever comes first!

Do we really want to fill baseball rosters with a new special talent – a guy that runs the bases like Lou Brock, but never hits because he’s more like Moonlight Graham in that department?

We simply want to call attention to a tight series of points made by Davis O. Barker as a comment upon that “Extra Innings Second Base” Placed Runner idea. If Mr. Davis doesn’t write another sentence on this subject, his thoughts and observations here should be worth a pause by the Commissioner before the game ever comes closer to considering this change at the MLB level – or other any level of organized baseball play:

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Wow … I could write a book on this one. I’m going to gather my thoughts later and then submit it. But let me say one thing about the Extra Innings Second Base idea … this is nothing new by any means. I remember seeing it decades ago playing Fast-Pitch Softball – especially in tournament play. They used to call it “Olympic Rules”, but I have no idea why. After watching it in action, it really doesn’t help end games if that’s your goal. The reason for that is that a strategy emerged and everybody followed it … and as a result, everybody scores one run and you keep playing … Strategy? First guy up bunts the runner to third … second guy up lifts the ball into the outfield … runner tags and scores. Now you’re left with two outs and nobody on … Bottom half of the inning – same thing. Problem: What are the chances of scoring a second run with nobody on and two outs when you say that you aren’t likely to score with nobody on and no outs without the rule. The only thing good I guess that would come out of it is that the art of bunting may return to its original standing.

~ Comment by Davis O. Barker at the Baseball at the Crossroads: To Be or Not To Be site

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2018/02/02/baseball-at-the-crossroads-to-be-or-not-to-be/

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Res Ipsa Loquitur. ~ The thing speaks for itself.

Thank You, Mr. Barker.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Pecan Park Eagle Baseball Movie All Stars

February 5, 2018

Back: Honus Wagner, Pete Alexander, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie, George Sisler, Walter Johnson.
Front: Eddie Collins, Babe Ruth, Connie Mack, Cy Young.
Missing: Ty Cobb.

We’ve done “starting nines” more times than I care to remember, but today’s offering is our first shot at presenting a full 25-player full roster, including manager and coaches. With a couple of serious exceptions, we’ve tried to stay away from actor/player types whose roles were either blunted by an obvious lack of athletic talent – or an abundance of obvious supernatural help. Neither of the pitchers portrayed by actors Ray Milland or Ronald Reagan were made more convincing by the skills of either man, but their movie plot-line support and general acting skills were enough to get them through the day. Based upon his performance from the 7th inning forward in Game Seven of the 1926 World Series as future HOF pitcher Grover Alexander, Ronald Reagan was able to easily secure an all-star spot as a late reliever for our Eagle All Stars. Pitcher Ray Milland’s “King Kelly” also was an easy pick for our No. 1 ace starter – with the help of that wood-repellent substance that he has been allowed to use in any game he pitches. Milland is so good with the help of his “stuff”, in fact, that we might be able simply pitch him any time he shows up with that wet sponge filling out the leather-cut circle in his left gloved hand.

We are also quite pleased with our prospects for some fun travel on the road with this team in 2018, given the characters who are making the trip. Look over the roster and let us know what you think too. We do not break away for spring training until February 15th and there’s still time to send some extra free agents as non-roster competitors for a more interesting final settlement of our 25-man Opening Day roster, and all  ready to spark and star-bangle shine against all the other very best clubs.

So, hmm, …. let us hear from you.

Here’s what we’ve got for now:

The Pecan Park Eagle Baseball Movie All Stars

NO. ACTOR POSITION CHARACTER MOVIE YEAR
01 Kevin Costner Catcher 1 Crash Davis Bull Durham 1988
02 Paul Douglas Catcher 2 Monk Lanigan It Happens Every Spring 1949
03 Robert De Niro Catcher 3 Bruce Pearson Bang The Drum Slowly 1973
04 Ray Milland SP1 King Kelly It Happens Every Spring 1949
05 Bill D Williams SP2 Bingo Long Bingo Long, et al 1976
06 Joe E. Brown SP3 Elmer Brown Elmer The Great 1933
07 Jace Alexander SP4 Dickie Kerr Eight Men Out 1988
08 Dennis Quaid SP5 Jimmy Morris The Rookie 2002
09 Bruce Bennett Long R Saul Hellman Angels in the Outfield 1951
10 Gene Bearden Long R Gene Bearden The Winning Team 1949
11 Tim Robbins Late R Nick LaLoosh Bull Durham 1988
12 Mike Moriarty Late R Henry Wiggen Bang The Drum Slowly 1973
13 Ronald Reagan Set Up R G.C. Alexander The Winning Team 1952
14 Charlie Sheen Closer Ricky Vaughn Major League 1989
15 James E. Jones 1B/C Leon Carter Bingo Long, et al 1976
16 Bill Irwin 2B Eddie Collins Eight Men Out 1988
17 John Cusack 3B/OF Buck Weaver Eight Men Out 1988
18 Louis Keystone SS Sam Brison Bingo Long, et al 1976
19 Corbin Bernsen IF/OF Roger Dorn Major League 1989
20 Tom Berenger IF/OF/C Jake Taylor Major League 1989
21 Richard Pryor LF Charlie Snow Bingo Long, et al 1976
22 Wesley Snipes CF Willie M. Hays Major League 1989
23 Robert Redford RF Roy Hobbs The Natural 1984
24 D.B. Sweeney OF Joe Jackson Eight Men Out 1988
25 Burt Lancaster PR/MD Doc Graham Field of Dreams 1989
STAFF POSITION CHARACTER MOVIE YEAR
Danny Glover Manager George Knox Angels in the Outfield 1994
Wilf’d Brimley Bench C Pop Fisher The Natural 1984
Frank Morgan Pitch C Barney Wile The Stratton Story 1949
Frank Lovejoy 1B/Hit C Rog Hornsby The Winning Team 1952
Ted de Corsia 3B/Basics Jimmy Dolan It Happens Every Spring 1949

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Viva Cuba Béisbol

February 5, 2018

“Viva Cuba Béisbol: A Photographic Journey Into the Heart and Soul of Cuban Baseball,” February 7, 2018, Whittier, CA

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2018, 7:00 P.M.

WARDMAN LIBRARY, WHITTIER COLLEGE

7031 Founders Hill Road, Whittier, California 

Byron Motley

“Regardless of political beliefs, differences in governance, or the chasm between cultures, through the decades there has been one common love that Americans share with our Cuban neighbors. Baseball is Cuba’s unchallenged national pastime and most beloved sport. The phenomenon of baseball on the island is a world unto itself.” – Byron Motley, Embracing Cuba

In conjunction with its exhibition, “Feeling the Heat: Cuba’s Baseball Heritage” (on view in the display cases in the foyer of the Wardman Library through March 15, 2018), the Institute for Baseball Studies and the Baseball Reliquary present “Viva Cuba Béisbol: A Photographic Journey Into the Heart and Soul of Cuban Baseball,” a lecture/slide presentation by Byron Motley, on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at the Wardman Library, 7031 Founders Hill Road, Whittier, California, on the campus of Whittier College. A Los Angeles-based singer, author, photographer, and filmmaker, Motley will also sign copies of his photo book, Embracing Cuba (University of Florida Press, 2015). The event is open to the public and free of charge.

Intrigued by tales of his parents’ long-ago journey to the pre-revolutionary “Pearl of the Antilles,” Byron Motley traveled to Cuba more than a decade ago and instantly fell in love. Year after year, he has returned with his camera to explore its vistas, its people, and its spirit. Granted unprecedented access to the Cuban national baseball teams by the Castro government, Motley set out to capture the spirit of the game which thrives in this rarely seen remarkable world. His images document Cuba’s national obsession; how the sport of baseball transcends politics, captures the hearts of the island, and weaves itself into the fabric of everyday life.

A man of diverse interests and talents, Byron Motley is a critically-acclaimed singer who has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Natalie Cole, Dionne Warwick, Celine

Byron Motley: Baseball on the Malecon (2008)

Dion, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, and others. He has performed on Broadway alongside Patti LuPone and has been a featured soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra on three separate occasions under the baton of conductor/composer John Williams. Motley regularly lectures on the history of the Negro Baseball Leagues, and co-authored the memoir of his father, umpire Bob Motley, entitled Ruling Over Monarchs, Giants, and Stars: True Tales of Breaking Barriers, Umpiring Baseball Legends, and Wild Adventures in the Negro Leagues. Motley is producing a television documentary, The Negro Baseball Leagues: An American Legacy, and has co-written a screenplay about legendary Negro Leagues executive Effa Manley, the first woman to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which will be produced and directed by Penny Marshall. An award-winning photographer, Motley’s work has been shown in galleries and museums in the United States, Europe, and Cuba, and has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Advocate, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere.

Byron Motley: “Conrado Marrero” (2008)

In addition to Byron Motley’s presentation, Whittier College professor and Institute for Baseball Studies co-director Joe Price will speak about his January 2018 course, “Cuba: Baseball as a Caribbean Religion,” and share some of the experiences that he and his students had in Cuba.

“Viva Cuba Béisbol: A Photographic Journey Into the Heart and Soul of Cuban Baseball” is made possible, in part, by a grant to the Baseball Reliquary from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.  For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by phone at (626) 791-7647 or by e-mail at terymar@earthlink.net.  For directions and parking, phone the Wardman Library at (562) 907-4247 during library hours.

“Embracing Cuba” by Byron Motley

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For further information about Wednesday’s progam and other activities coming in February as gifts of The Baseball Reliquary, please check out this latest public message from Executive Director, Terry Cannon:

Friends & Reliquarians:

Super Bowl Sunday reminds us that spring training camps will soon open, and once again all will be right with the world.  You’ll be glad to know that the Baseball Reliquary is already in midseason form, and we have a jam-packed programming lineup for the month of February.  Here’s what’s on deck, and we hope to see you at one or more of these events.

On Wednesday, February 7, at 7:00 p.m., we turn our attention to Cuba as the Baseball Reliquary collaborates with the Institute for Baseball Studies to present “Viva Cuba Beisbol: A Photographic Journey Into the Heart and Soul of Cuban Baseball,” a lecture/slide presentation by Byron Motley.  This event will be held at the Wardman Library, 7031 Founders Hill Road, on the campus of Whittier College.  Parking throughout the campus is free after 5:00 p.m.  Byron will also sign copies of his photo book, “Embracing Cuba,” and Whittier College professor and Institute for Baseball Studies co-director Joe Price will speak about his recent course “Cuba: Baseball as a Caribbean Religion,” and will share some of the experiences that he and his students had on the island.  Each attendee will receive a genuine Fidel Castro trading card.  Arrive early to view the exhibition, “Feeling the Heat: Cuba’s Baseball Heritage,” in the display cases in the foyer of the library.  For more details, visit:

http://www.baseballreliquary.org/2018/01/viva-cuba-beisbol-photographic-journey-heart-soul-cuban-baseball-february-7-2018-whittier-ca/

On Saturday, February 10, at 2:00 p.m., the Baseball Reliquary will present a film screening, discussion, and book signing with author, filmmaker, and historian Kerry Yo Nakagawa at the Allendale Branch Library, 1130 S. Marengo Ave., Pasadena.  Entitled “Desert Diamonds Behind Barbed Wire,” the program will take you inside the concentration camps during World War II, where baseball became a tonic of spiritual renewal for disenfranchised Japanese Americans who played America’s pastime while imprisoned.  The Reliquary will also display several baseball-themed paintings by artist Ben Sakoguchi.  For further details on this event, visit:

http://www.baseballreliquary.org/2018/01/desert-diamonds-behind-barbed-wire-february-10-2018-pasadena-ca/

On Saturday, February 24, at 2:00 p.m., the Baseball Reliquary will turn its gaze to the Negro Leagues with a program entitled “From Monarchs to Barons: The Legacy of the Negro Leagues” at the La Pintoresca Branch Library, 1355 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena.  Once again, we turn to author, filmmaker, and photographer Byron Motley, who will discuss the great teams and players of the Negro Leagues, which rose to prominence in the decades before MLB’s integration.  Los Angeles folk singer Ross Altman will join Byron and perform his original compositions “Ballad of Jackie Robinson” and “Civil Rights and Baseball.”  A display of baseball artworks by Bill Cormalis Jr., Tina Hoggatt, and Ben Sakoguchi will also be featured.  For additional information, visit:

http://www.baseballreliquary.org/2018/01/monarchs-barons-legacy-negro-leagues-february-24-2018-pasadena-ca/

Last but not least, the Baseball Reliquary and Institute for Baseball Studies recently hit the road and installed a major exhibition, “A Game of Color: The African-American Experience in Baseball,” at the San Francisco Public Library’s Skylight Gallery.  The exhibition will run through March 18, and there are five separate programs being presented in conjunction with the exhibition in the months of February and March.  So if you live in the Bay Area, or plan to take an excursion there in the near future, check out the goings-on.  Here’s a rundown on what’s scheduled, courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library:

https://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=1031367001

Please advise if you would like any further information.

Sincerely,
Terry Cannon
Executive Director/The Baseball Reliquary
Co-Director/Institute for Baseball Studies
www.baseballreliquary.org

phone: (626) 791-7647
e-mail: terymar@earthlink.net

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Regards,

Bill McCurdy

Pecan Park Eagle

and

Registered Baseball Reliquarian

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

That Springer-Dinger Astros Star

February 3, 2018

George Springer
A Champion of Many Talents

 

Have you yet purchased your copy of  “Houston’s Team, Houston’s Title, 2017 World Series Champions” by Astros broadcasting legend Bill Brown? If not, you need to do so. You’re missing out on the tightest, most accurate picture of the 2017 Playoffs and World Series, but also a compact, blows-your-mind-away picture of the club stars that contributed so much to team’s regular and fall season success.

Beyond the incomparable Jose Altuve, how could any of us who there to see the Astros kick Opening Day into a high gear with a roaring lead-off homer by George Springer and ultimate win over Seattle possibly have known back in April 2017 that we were witnessing the first of two bookend home runs that would bracket our entire scoring and long ball production for 2017 – going all the way through the 2nd inning, Game 7 two-run homer that he ultimately would bash as the last bell and whistle on the final, 5-1, victory score pasted against LA in Dodger Stadium back on November 1st?

Incredible.

As Bill Brown points out on Page 182, the following outcomes were the major achievements of 29-year old outfielder George Springer in 2017:

1) He was voted the Most Valuable Player of the 2017 World Series.

2) He tied a World Series record by hitting 5 home runs in the World Series,and one in each of the last 4 games.

3) George Springer also tied Barry Bonds on this mark. They are the only two players in history to register a homer, 3 walks, and 3 runs in a World Series game.

4) Springer also set a World Series record by banging out 8 extra base hits in the 2017 event.

5) Credit George with this one too. – His 29 extra bases in 2017 also are a World Series record.

6) In 2017, Springer won the Silver Slugger Award.

7) He set an Astros club record in 2017 with 34 home runs by a lead off man.

8) His 9 lead off home runs as the first batter in the game led MLB and posted up also as an Astros club record.

9) His 112 runs scored tied him for 2nd place in the American League 2017 season.

10) George Springer his .392 w/RISP and two outs.

11) Finally, he also lowered his season strikeout rate in 2017 to a measly 17.6%.

Need any more reasons to digest why We, The People of Astros Nation, are getting to enjoy this slide into 2018 on the wings last year’s surreality? Get your own copy of Bill Brown’s book and watch what happens when talent and destiny combine on the wings of hunger and desire.

Amazon.com is the place. $15.00, plus S&H, is the price – and the informational empowerment is priceless.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Baseball at the Crossroads: To Be or Not To Be

February 2, 2018

MLB to experiment with starting runner on 2nd in extra innings

Proposal to speed up play would be used in spring training, All-Star Game

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has long vowed to make changes for this season with or without an agreement with the Players’ Union. (Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/baseball/mlb/mlb-proposes-pace-of-game-changes-1.4510434

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Please read the referenced above article and give it some thought – some deep thought.

1) Is the proposed free second base runner rule to start extra innings (10th or 11th) in spring training and this year’s All Star Game really a simple way to shorten games of no great consequence and something that will only be used as a protection step against pointless player injuries? Or is it a Trojan horse attempt by the Commissioner to get the practice into the “no-big-deal” phase on its way to becoming serious damage to  baseball’s “earned opportunity” idea about how games should be won?

2) Do we really want to try to convert baseball into a game that is controlled by the clock? And if we were to “succeed” in knocking off a half hour average for each MLB game, would it still be baseball – and I mean the kind of baseball that most of us grew up playing and watching?

3) Is the problem that baseball games are too long? Or is it the fact that 21st century high-tech cultural attention spans are too short to even appreciate the chess-game mental aspects of the game? Or maybe its just a combination of both, plus the fact that games start late, mainly for the sake of maximizing the television commercial audience that is watching. If MLB played more day games during the week – or if they began more weeknight games at 6:00 PM, than 7:15 PM, people who want to get home earlier could find more games that do make that possible. – Newer fans would still need to learn and have to dig the idea that baseball is not a TV network sitcom. It lives the life that most of us wish for – one that is not controlled by the clock. – And in return for that kind of understanding, baseball will always rare up at its own special moment – and in its own way – and give us contests like Games 2 and 5 of the 2017 World Series as our reward for patience and appreciation of the game’s timeless beauty.

4) Look! At my age, I really do get it that the forces causing change are far larger then any of us alone. In the end, right or wrong, all of us little people can do is either make the decision to speak up – or shut up.

So far, I still choose to speak up for the game of baseball I love. Let’s speak up and do what we can to preserve what makes baseball great. If we do not, then we are giving up the only voice we have against the larger tides of commerce, politics, power structure, and personal ego that will step in someday and swoop up baseball as just another personal trading chip in the larger game of empire-building.

Whoops. Maybe it’s already happened. What do you think, Commissioner Manfred?

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

A Tale of Two Poems

January 31, 2018

Trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

 

 

Altuve

By The Pecan Park Eagle

 

I think that we shall never see

Another Jose Altuve.

 

A fire to play and never rest

Burns within this hero’s breast;

 

A fire that feeds from God all day,

And lifts his supple arms to play;

 

A fire that bears the summer wear

For laurels in his autumn hair;

 

A fire that holds its winter glow

Just waiting for the springtime go.

 

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only a God could make Altuve.

 

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Morals:

(1) The forests deserve our protection. There’s more to life than forests filled with trees, but the game of baseball would be stuck with the ping of all those ugly metal bats without them.

(2) If every batter could hit like Altuve, the forests would be thinner than they are today.

(3) Never take a natural wonder for granted. And that goes for beautiful forests – and remarkable human beings like Jose Altuve.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Be Careful How You Turn Off Your Cell

January 31, 2018

How smart do you have to be to operate one of these things?

 

Be Careful How You Turn Off Your Cell

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you suddenly lost all the ID-tagged phone numbers from your cell phone? Would you be able to call your nearest relatives, closest friends, or most important work or business contacts? Are you up to blind-call answering a number that comes onto your phone screen like it had a real place on your business agenda for the day? Have ever wanted the answer as to why you no longer need a telephone call secretary to screen and direct your incoming and, sometimes, out going calls? Etc. Etc.Etc.

Believe me. You don’t want to find out the hard way.

Late Thursday night, January 25th, four days ago. I got to find out.

I made a normal “press-the-button” move to shut off my phone before carrying it with me on silence for an overnight recharge at the little station we have set up at home for this purpose. Then, before I could even start the re-charge, I remembered a call I was expecting and turned the very exhausted phone back on to make sure I had not missed it.

A curious thing happened when I looked at the screen. There was nothing there but non-sequitur words and numbers. Nothing remained of my home page or directory of numbers. It was a just a peek before the whole screen went fat black from exhaustion. I plugged in and rechecked it Friday. Now my screen of nonsense was powered up to play all day, if that’s all I needed it to do. I could call out with an accurate manual peck dial. And I could also receive if I took the call as a ringing live mystery. Would it be one of my SABR friends or doctors – or would it be another opportunity to buy tickets to the Police Officers Ball?

What a maddening waste of time? Catching live numbers today is like watching the salmon swim upstream every year. Neither fish nor phone numbers bear identities and – in the swim of things they all sail into our lives looking pretty much the same. – Have you ever tried getting a salmon’s phone number after he or she already has made their jump in your direction?

What did I do?

On Friday, January 26th, I drove over to my local Sprint office and presented the problem to them for whatever help they could offer. We had transferred from Verizon to Sprint in 2011 after several years at the first company using only flip phones – and much more sparingly than now. I’m still using my first android smart phone from the 2011 change, but I did transfer quite a few numbers into the new phone when we made the service switch. Since then, I’ve added a ton. Although I never counted them, I probably carried about 1,000 numbers of all types. And all were lost.

Sprint theorized that I had inadvertently dumped my cell phone directory when I hit one of the other internal finger-pressure buttons on my phone in conjunction with the power-off button. And that may have occurred when I did the sudden move to check for a call number and first noticed the loss.

What did Sprint suggest?

Our Sprint experts said that my phone – and its 7-year collection of numbers – had simply been wiped clean of its memory – returning my phone to the state it was in when it first came out of the box. They suggested I contacted Google to see if there is any way to restore the material. Sounded reasonable. And I decided to wait until today when my more technically son, Casey, would be here to help me pursue the matter.

What Casey learned and corrected today.

Casey was able to work his way through the robots that stand between Google and the customer and actually make human help possible. As a result, it appears that we have been able to restore all the new numbers that have been added since 2011. On the downside, we have been unable to restore all the numbers that were there prior to the creation of my new Gmail account in 2011. Other, more painful, and possibly fruitless things we may try have been suggested by Google, but it may end up easier to just accept the drudgery and restore what can be identified as lost and found over time.

The lessons for us all.

There are too many for one frustration-inspired column, but there are some:

1) The robots cannot recognize or handle the frustration that comes with this kind of user problem. We need to restore human assistance to Internet technology problem-solving.

2) We are wasting money on the material Internet products we buy. You have to wonder how many new printers get sold because there was nothing easy or convenient – especially for seniors –  about getting the old hardware physically moved to someplace it could be easily and fairly adjusted or repaired. It’s simply easier to buy an installed-free new printer until it doesn’t work either. What a waste.

3) I was never told – nor did I read anywhere – that I should be careful about how I held the cellphone when I pushed the power button, on or off. It only had to happen once to establish itself as the biggest “pain in the ankle of all pains in the ankle” I’ve experienced so far on an ordinary Internet day. And I do realize that this little “pain” is neither the biggest problem any of us could ever have – on the Internet or otherwise.

4) The less we work together to fix life’s small annoyances, the easier it becomes to waste our resources individually by buying something that’s new, workable, and immediately more convenient as our choice for the solution.

Phone Numbers Please.

If you have an e-mail or phone number that you think has been lost to me or The Pecan Park Eagle as a result of this little cell phone number loss, please email me your two lost pieces of data at my e-mail address:

houston.buff37@gmail.com

Thank you.

Bill McCurdy

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Finally – Here’s the Dirt on the World Series

January 29, 2018

A Bottle of World Series Dirt
~ a Wedding Anniversary Gift from Darrell & Susan Pittman

What a way to cap off a belated anniversary celebration!

Norma and I had just returned home yesterday from our three-days-late celebration of our January 25, 1986 wedding to find a nice card and gift from Darrell and Susan Pittman at our front door.

Same 4″ High Bottle
Other Side, From Game 7
Dodger Stadium, 11/01/2017

What could have touched the heart from and to a diehard Astros fan more? It was 4″ high bottle of dirt – dirt extracted from the played fielding field at Dodger Stadium after the November 1, 2017 Game 7 got settled on a 4-3 play at 1st in the bottom of the 9th. It could have been dirt taken from the same infield area of the batter’s box from which George Springer launched his 2-run homer off Yu Darvish of the Dodgers to make it 5-0 Astros early – forever this night finally breaking the spirit of the Dodgers and elevating the Astros to the winning side – and forever, forever, forever pointing out the Houston Astros as the 2017 new World Series Champions.

I wasn’t aware that this MLB authenticated field dirt package was even available until it arrived as a gift from the Pittmans. Darrell says it was advertised by MLB over the Internet fairly soon after the World Series was done, but that’s all I know. If you are interested, you may want to check on these field dirt bottles and their ongoing availability with MLB.com.

The only other dirt field sample I’ve ever previously owned still sits in its own small bottle at my I-10 Houston office. It came from our Pecan Park Eagles sandlot home in the East End – a place called Eagle Field.

Eagle Field was small, but our dreams were big.

Now comes another small bottle. And this one contains the fulfillment of one dream that’s been alive since the days of Eagle Field.

Houston is now champion of the baseball world!

Thank you again, Darrell and Susan, for this eternal reminder.

 

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Maxwell Kates: Guaranteed Win Day

January 28, 2018

 

 

Maxwell Kates

 

Thank you, Maxwell Kates for another fine writing contribution to The Pecan Park Eagle.

January 28, 2018 ~ Bill McCurdy, Publisher and Editor

 

GUARANTEED WIN DAY

By Maxwell Kates

The date was May 28, 1994. The Montreal Expos were entertaining the visiting Colorado Rockies at Olympic Stadium. As we often did on a Saturday morning, my father and I drove from our home in Ottawa to Montreal to watch the game. A young Pedro Martinez was the starting pitcher for the Expos while free agent signing Marvin Freeman received the assignment for the Rockies. The Expos drew first blood in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Larry Walker scored on a fielder’s choice. Colorado tied the game in the top of the 3rd when Freeman scored on a sacrifice fly. However, it was in the middle of the 3rd that the crowd of 30,452 received an important announcement from the public address announcer.

“Mesdames et messieurs, ladies and gentlemen, today is Guaranteed Win Day. We guarantee the Expos will win today and if they don’t, everyone is entitled to one free ticket for an Expos home game between now and June 15.”

 

1994 Montreal Expos

 

For the first time in my life, I really wanted the Expos to lose.

Marvin Freeman, a gentle giant from Chicago, was enjoying the season of his career. He entered the game with a record of 4-1 and would end the truncated 1994 season 10-2. Guaranteed Win Day, however, was the one imperfection to his signature season. ‘Free,’ as his teammates called him, admitted years later that he was rattled by the Guaranteed Win Day announcement. He unintentionally beaned Mike Lansing in the bottom of the 5th and surrendered a home run to Cliff Floyd to lead off the 7th. Colorado tied the game at 2 apiece when Mike Kingery scored on an 8th inning force out. Ultimately the game went into extra innings. Dante Bichette proved to be the go-ahead run when he scored on a 10th inning Joe Girardi single. No Montreal player scored in the bottom half of the inning. The final score, Colorado 3, Montreal 2. Bruce Ruffin was the winning pitcher, Tim Scott took the loss, Marvin Freeman phoned Mike Lansing in the hospital to check on his health, and 30,000 Expos fans had free tickets to another game.

 

Marvin Freeman

 

My father and I looked at the schedule when we returned home. The Houston Astros were in town from June 6 to June 8, while the Pirates flew in from Pittsburgh to play from June 13 to June 15. Since Houston was the better team in 1994, they were my preference for the free game. My father suggested June 8, a Wednesday, as he had a day off work. Although he encouraged my interest in baseball, he made absolutely sure that my education came before everything else. My sophomore year at Lisgar Collegiate Institute was winding down. In those years, if students perpetuated an average of 70% or better in every semester, they were exempt from writing the final examination. My father said “Get exempt from all your exams and we’ll go to see Houston. No exemptions, no Houston.”

I was enrolled in eight courses that year and by June 7, I learned that I had been exempt from seven of them. The outstanding class was French, taught by Bill Melanson. As a teacher, Mr. Melanson was as tough as nails. On the first day in September, he circulated a leaflet containing a list of rules and principles to abide by in his class. For example, speaking English was strictly verboten. We were also advised to expect our grade to fall ten points from the prior year. Tall, stern, and sporting a Bubba Smith moustache, Mr. Melanson had no tolerance for nonsense from his students. Cerebral fortitute ran in his family; his cousin was Roland Melanson of the Moncton, New Brunswick Melansons. ‘Rollie the Goalie’ played in nets for the New York Islanders and other National Hockey League teams in the 1980s.

 

Bill Melanson’s reputation for running a tight ship as a high school French teacher was both legendary and apparently genetic. Cousin Rollie Melanson (above) was wound the same way for years as a goaltender and coach in the NHL.

 

Mr. Melanson was strict but fair and teachers like him were the ones I respected the most. He wanted his students to succeed while instilling in them the value of a final grade. It was possible to get an A but you had to earn it. Consequently, I probably worked harder for Mr. Melanson than any of my other teachers that year. His students learned not only French grammar and literature, but also about the importance of hard work, discipline, and perseverance. My parents still remember the time I dragged myself to school with the flu in order to write one of his midterms.

A native of Almonte, Ontario, Mr. Melanson was a sports fan – hockey and football as well as baseball – and he often brought humour into the class. To teach us pronouns, he used one exercise about a game between “le club Canadien de Montréal” and “les Orioles de Baltimore.” Note that the exercise did not specify which sport they were playing. It would not be a stretch to suggest that after 32 years of teaching French, alumni of Mr. Melanson’s, while visiting Paris, were equipped with the confidence to navigate the City of Lights conversing entirely in French.

Going back to June 7, in my mind, I was on my way to Montreal the following day to watch the Expos play the Astros. Not so fast, Roll N Roaster! The last class of the day was French. Mr. Melanson announced that the following day – the last of the Astros road trip to Montreal – he was assigning us an oral examination. We had not received our exemptions yet and attendance was mandatory. Only after he graded the oral exams would he decide to whom an exemption from the written component was granted. Knowing my father, he would want to leave Ottawa early enough in the afternoon in order to avoid prohibitive rush hour traffic on Metropolitan Boulevard, the main freeway in Montreal. For a few minutes, at least, it appeared as though our free Expos tickets would have gone to waste.

 

1994 Houston Astros

 

Then I devised a plan. I explained to Mr. Melanson that I had an appointment at 3:00 pm the following day and asked if I could conduct the oral exam at alternate time. He assured me not to worry, as my grades were strong enough to warrant the coveted exemption. For a 16 year old kid who loved baseball, that was the best news one could hope for. It never occurred to me, however, that the game might be…televised.

My instructions were to meet my father at the turning circle outside Lisgar at 2:35 pm on Wednesday. From there we would drive directly to Olympic Stadium in Montreal. We were 123 miles from our destination with a full tank of gas. Traffic was uncharacteristically light that we even arrived early. In midst of his MVP campaign, Jeff Bagwell signed autographs for anyone who wanted after taking batting practice. Bagwell signed for me and so did Mike Felder and Steve Henderson. ‘Super Steve,’ a Houston native who ended a twelve year playing career with the Astros in 1988, was now their batting coach.

 

Super Steve Henderson

 

As the game was about to begin, we took our seats. They announced Jeff Fassero and Brian Williams as the starting pitchers for the Expos and Astros, respectively. That’s when I said “Uh-oh.”

“What’s the matter?” asked my father.

“The French CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] camera is aimed directly at us. Melanson is an Expos fan and he’s probably watching the game. I told him that I had an appointment in order to skip his class and now he’s going to see that I’m here. It’s the only time I’ve ever skipped.”

My father does speak the most bowdlerized English so I won’t repeat the exact words he used. The message was to forget it – we were at a baseball game. Still, if there was any teacher who I did not want to disappoint, it was Mr. Melanson.

 

Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Ken Caminiti

 

Much like the Colorado Rockies game of a few weeks before, the Expos were the first to score this evening as well. After Marquis Grissom grounded out to lead off the bottom of the 3rd inning, Moises Alou and Larry Walker each hit a couple of singles. A Darrin Fletcher single, followed by a Cliff Floyd double, scored Alou and Walker to put the Expos ahead 2-0. In the top of the 4th, Jeff Bagwell and Ken Caminiti each hit solo home runs to tie the score. No runs scored in the 5th inning, but Jeff Fassero loaded the bases with walks to open the top of the 6th inning. Brian Williams singled to left to score Craig Biggio and Ken Caminiti; the score was now 4-2 for the Astros.

In the top of the 7th inning, Steve Finley and Craig Biggio reached base on singles before Jeff Bagwell hit a three run homer. With the score now 7-2 for the Astros, my dad said “Let’s go.” Since I didn’t quite have my driver’s license yet, I chose to agree with him. Houston added two more runners in the top of the 9th to make the final score 9-2.

 

Astros vs. Expos

 

The next day, Thursday afternoon, I went to French class, not sure how Mr. Melanson would react. If he knew that I had skipped his class in order to attend a baseball game, he might have thrown away my exemption and given me a zero on the oral component. Towards the beginning of class, Mr. Melanson looked in my direction and winked before returning to his lesson. At the end of the day, he wanted to speak to me.

“I know where you were last night,” insisted Mr. Melanson. “Don’t worry about it. You worked hard all year and you succeeded. And I would have done the same.”

I asked to be enrolled in French classes with Mr. Melanson each of the next two years.

 

William Melanson

 

In memory of William C. Melanson, who passed away January 20, 2018.

 

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle