How Far Do We Go with MLB Replay Review?

April 16, 2017

April 15, 2017: Astros catcher Evan Gaddis eyes the ball coming in down and left. The heavy end of the bat is already moving through an arc of space that will miss the ball by five inches. Umpire Scott Barry will call it a foul tip, negating a strikeout that would have ended the inning for the A’s.

 

In the bottom of the 3rd inning of Saturday’s Astros game at Oakland, the A’s held a 3-0 lead and were threatening to break it open with the bases loaded, two outs, and RHB Ryan Healy facing RHP Lance McCullars with the bases loaded, two outs, and a 3-2 count on the A’s batter.

McCullars dropped a pitch that was dropping low, outside, and probably unhittable, but Healy swing anyway and missed for strike three to end the threat of greater harm to Houston’s rally chances.

McCullars is walking off the mound. What a relief!

Wait a minute! HP umpire Scott Barry says it wasn’t strike three after all. As he eyes Astros catcher Evan Gaddis fumbling in the dirt to pick up the ball he could not contain for a caught strike three, he also carries his visual conclusion a step further. The pitch was a foul tip. It had to have been a foul tip, otherwise, Gaddis would have caught it. Healy’s must have tipped it and made the ball uncatchable.

Oh, really?

If you examine the masthead photo of this exact play, you will see the heavy side of Healy’s bat swinging through the arc of possible contact and missing the coming in, but falling away pitched baseball by a good five-inch wide country baseball mile.

Two pitches later, McCullers struck out Healy swinging for the second time in the same at bat on a similar pitch, but this time, Gaddis caught the ball. And umpire Scott Barry was not disposed again to jump to any further wrong conclusions.

The Astros later rallied from a 5-0 deficit for the second time in three days to take the game with the A’s by a score of 10-6, but what might have happened had the egregiously wrong call in the 3rd inning by umpire Scott Barry been the door opener for a big Oakland inning that may well have squashed any hope for a Houston rally win? For one thing, it certainly would have been a tough watch for the umpire himself, post-game, to see the big part that his perceptual error played in the unfolding of an unjust outcome. That’s for sure.

While I don’t favor the use of chin music audio-metric devices to fine tune when those close ones actually tip a whisker hard enough to earn the survivor an HBP ride to first base, I do think that instant replay could have set Barry’s call straight as dead wrong quite fast – and spared us all the history of allowing another avoidable error to rule the day.

The Old Law of the Jungle Rules Need Some Attention

Most students of the ancient game know that umpires forever have listened for – certain sounds – occurring milliseconds apart – that would tell them which came earliest on a play at first – the sound of the ball hitting the glove for an out – or the sound of a foot hitting the base for a safe call. And, if a home plate umpire couldn’t see the part of actual transaction between the bat and ball from his spot, he could, at least, learn how catchers react to balls that are tipped – especially, the fact that most tipped balls immediately have a good chance of not being caught because of that last second high-speed directional change that such tips cause. – Is this what happened to umpire Scott Barry? – We can’t prove it did, but we think it did, because there wasn’t anything other than the replay video that showed how utterly preposterous the tip call actually was in fact,.

The Quick Glance Addition to Replay Reviews

We don’t need to cover everything at the plate unless we are ready to move into laser system calling of balls and strikes, but we could add a “quick glance” review on plays like the one featured here. – Allow one quick replay glance on things like the errant tip call of today. If the umpire doesn’t see it right away when he looks at the replay, then, he’s free to hang with the original call. Just don’t it ride with it, as the example today clearly  proves, as an obvious unexamined mistake that could unjustly decide the outcome of the game.

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Thanks for the Memories, Mickey Herskowitz!

April 15, 2017

 

Mickey Herskowitz:
When it comes to great sports writing,
Nobody Does It Better!

 

Remember when we had really good, entertaining and informative sports writers in the baseball world?

Well, we do. And, as if we needed it, we got a reminder of our singularly great Houston’s Mickey Herskowitz was to that end when he paused last night to comment on our column about the passing of former 1926 Colt .45 Bob Cerv.

There was no one who did it better than Mickey. And that’s still true today. If there were a news rag job out there in today’s mostly ADD on steroids-limited texting market for a real sports writer, Mickey Herskowitz could still be the bomb of visual suggestion he always was, but there ain’t. – And that just all the more underscores the reason we thank him for what he added to our humble Pecan Park Eagle effort to keep the old flame alive here with his commentary on Bob Cerv as a Houston Colt .45. If you didn’t see it, here’s what Mickey Herskowitz wrote as a comment on that column, one that was datelined April 15, 2017 by the Internet time stamp at WordPress:

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“Bill, couldn’t resist sharing an odd, random thought on Bob Cerv. His claim to fame as a Colt .45 was the size of his thighs. He had grown so big and heavy that the equipment man, Whitey Diskin, had to rip up two sets of trousers so he could sew them together to fit over Cerv’s upper legs.

“He was also the only player, certainly up to time, to get thrown out at home trying to score from second on a triple. Al Spangler banged one off the centerfield wall with Cerv perched on second. When he rounded third, Al was just a few steps behind him. He was tagged out easily at the plate. Did I mention in addition to gaining a whole lot of weight, he had lost a whole lot of speed. Best. M.”

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WOW! Do those few carefully scripted words set off an animated version in the mind of that entire silly scene? How slow do you have to be to not score from second on a triple? What was the look on triple-hitter Al Spangler’s face when he rounded third base and suddenly found himself blocked from scoring by the man who had been on second when he hammered his blast down the right field line? What did anybody have to say about the play in the game’s post-mortem comments?

Maybe not much. The Cincinnati Reds already were on their way to a 6-1 dicing of the Houston Colt .45s at Colt Stadium in Houston when the play occurred on July 1, 1962, but their was definitely the possibility of some residual ego-bruising as a result of how things unfolded. How would any of us like to be remembered as the guy who couldn’t score from second on a triple – even when many of us are now at an age in which we could not score from third base on a triple? We’ve got an excuse. Cerv was 37 at the time and had a player’s contract, at least, for one more month beyond this memorable day.  Bob Cerv would be released by the Colt .45s from his last active service in the big leagues on July 30, 1962.

We’ve had neither the time nor the technical access to run down local news coverage of the Spangler/Cerv Disservice, but we did run across an AP report that appeared the following day, July 2, 1962, in the Sandusky (O) Register on Page 16:

Does Player Always Score From Second On a Triple? HOUSTON, Tex. (AP) – Baseball Question: How can a player fail to score from second base on a triple? The Houston Colts furnished the answer Sunday. The incident occurred in the seventh inning in what turned out to be the Houston’s only strong inning against the Cincinnati Reds, who coasted to a 6-1 victory. Houston trailed by five runs as Bob Aspromonte opened the inning with an Infield hit. After Don Buddin struck out. Bob Cerv came through with a pinch single. Aspromonte moved to third and Cerv to second as Frank Robinson bobbled the ball in right field. That brought up Al Spangler, and he sent a line drive screaming into the right field corner for a certain three-bagger, which is what the official scor­er called it. Aspromonte scored Houston’s first run easily, but Cerv, hesitating as he rounded third base, was thrown out at home as he lunged for the plate. “There was a mix-up in signs,” explained Manager Harry Craft. “Billy Goodman (the next batter) thought the umpire called a foul ball, and he flashed the sign for Cerv to hold up. Anyway, it was something like that.” Cerv had little to say. “I’d rather not say anything,” he said.”

“It was just one of those things. I should’ve slid.”

Or maybe he should’ve slud. Whatever. The Pecan Park Eagle greatly prefers Mickey Herskowitz’s treatment of the play. Watching the man with pontoon legs trying to score from second on a ball hit hopelessly far down the right field line, as Spangler, the triples hitter, finally appears on his tail with no prospects for passing the tortoise is a far more legendary and hilariously engaging visual story line.

Here’s the Baseball Almanac box score to the July 1, 1962 game in which the Spangler/Cerv Disservice took place:

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=196207010HO1

Thanks again, Mickey, and please check in with us more often. And remember too. – Any time you choose to write a guest column for The Pecan Eagle, please know that it shall be most welcomed with humble appreciations by all of us who still miss reading you on a regular basis.

Forever Your Fan,

Bill McCurdy

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Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

 

 

 

 

Former Colt .45 Bob Cerv Dies at Age 91

April 15, 2017

Roger Maris was celebrating the birth of his son in this 1960 photo. – Bob Cerv was celebrating the birth of his eighth child, a girl, at the same time. – Looks like Bob Cerv carried the heavy lumber in the baby breeding arena, even if he doesn’t get an asterisk beside the number on his final total.

 

Former Houston Colt .45 Bob Cerv passed away at age 91 years and 336 days in Blair, Nebraska on April 6, 2017. He was buried in St. John Nepomucene Cemetery, Weston, NE.

Bob Cerv’s time as a Houston Colt .45 wasn’t much, but Houston was the last stop in his 12-season (1951-1962) MLB career. Dealt to Houston by the Yankees during the 1962 first season of the Colt .45s, Cerv played the last 19 of his 829 MLB games as a left fielder/pinch hitter for the Colts. It was enough time for the BR/TR 37-year old muscular Cerv to also register his last 7 hits, 2 homers, and 3 RBI and bring the final career cap totals on each to 624 hits, 105 homers, and 374 RBI. – His 2 walks and 10 Ks were enough to bring those career totals to 212 walks and 392 strikeouts.

The 7 for 31 batting average of .226 that Cerv achieved as a 1962 Colt .45 paled in comparison to his .276 career batting average for 2,261 times at bat, but it probably helped this good young man to make the decision that it was time to hang up his bats, glove, and dreams.

Bob Cerv always intrigued me as a kid. He broke in with the Yankees in the same rookie class of candidates that accompanied the younger phenom that was Mickey Mantle. It was speculation time among Yankee fans and supporters. 1951 was going to be the last season for Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, and he had been the guy who took over as the new bright star for the Yankees in 1936, who were then already two years past the career of Ruth and looking at only three more years until their shocking loss of Gehrig. Who would take over now? – If not Mantle, then who? Could it be possible that a guy named Bob Cerv could walk that tall?

For five seasons (1951-56), it wasn’t the mediocre Bob Cerv – and he was traded to Kansas City (1957-60) just in time to hit the single super highlight season of his big league career. In 1958, Bob Cerv hit .305 with 38 home runs for the Kansas City Athletics in 141 games. His 157 hits and 104 RBI also were season highs for his MLB career and, at age 33, Cerv seemed to be finally catching some later years second wind. It didn’t last. He hit 20 HR for KC in 1959, but his BA dropped to .285.

By 1960, the Yankees reacquired Cerv from KC, but, in 1961, the Yankees then shipped Cerv off again; this time to the Los Angeles Angels for 18 games before reacquiring him  – yet again – to their own 1961 roster.

Bob Cerv may have been one of MLB’s earliest rental players.

In 1962, Cerv got into 14 games for the Yankees before they again “Fedexed” him to another club. And this time, it was the Houston Colt .45s.

Then, after 1962, something happened to bar Bob Cerv from returning to the Yankees for yet another tour of limited service.

He retired.

Rest in Peace, Bob Cerv!

We shall also pray that your new deal in the heavens was not touched at all by the New York Yankees front office people.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cervbo01.shtml

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

Mantle’s 1951 World Series Injury

April 14, 2017

World Series Game 2
October 5, 1951

 

The date was October 5th. It happened in the 5th inning of Game 2 in the 1951 World Series at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees were on their way to a 3-1 win that would even their contest with the New York Giants with a 3-1 victory, but their eventual 4-2 Series triumph would not come without a costly injurious player loss.

Here’s how UP Sports Editor Leo H. Petersen described the Series the loss for the next day newspapers.:

Mickey Mantle, 20-year-old Rookie Yankee outfielder, is almost definitely out of the entire series and Manager Casey Stengel announced that Hank Bauer, who replaced him yesterday, would continue to play right field. Mantle’s injury – an astounding piece of baseball drama which occurred in the fifth inning yesterday – was diagnosed as a sever sprain of the right knee.

It all began in the fifth inning when Willie Mays lifted a high fly to right center field. Joe DiMaggio and Mantle both went after the ball and DiMaggio finally camped under it. Mantle, coming fast, from right field suddenly pitched forward and fell flat on his face. At the same instant, DiMaggio caught the ball.

It appeared at first that Mantle had merely dropped to the ground to give DiMaggio clearance to make the catch.

But Mantle lay motionless for seemingly endless seconds. DiMaggio bent over the prone youngster and immediately signaled the Yankee dugout to bring a stretcher.

~ Excerpt from “Hearn Against Raschi as World Series Moves to Polo Grounds Today” by Leo H. Peterson, United Press Sports Editor, New York, Oct. 6 (1951) – (UP) – Valparaiso Vidette Messenger, Valparaiso, IN, Page 6.

One minor correction to the article report is in order. Mickey Mantle was still 19 when the 1951 injury occurred on October 5, 1951. His 20th birthday followed two weeks and one day later on October 20, 1951.

The questions for history would read like a parade of what ifs and what might have beens:

What if the communication between DiMaggio and Mantle had been better – and not predicated upon the need for the kid phenom to never do anything to offend the aging star’s ego in the field?

What if the Yankee Stadium grass watering plan had not included drain structures that could catch a fielder’s cleats and do serious harm?

How much did the 1951 Series ending play for Mantle end up being a major factor in reducing his career speed and durability for an even greater statistical career?

When Mantle had surgery two years later, there was no established procedure to fix a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Does that mean that Mantle played the balance of his career on a torn anterior cruciate ligament? That suggestion is offered in a 2010 biography of Mantle written by Jane Leavy. The orthopedic surgeon who analyzed the case history that Leavy compiled said it was likely that Mantle compensated for the torn ACL with what the orthopedist called “neuromuscular genius.”

All that some religious Mantle fans knew is that they attributed a lot of Mickey’s close losses over time beyond that almost career fatal start to the 1951 “DiMaggio Ego Bow” that tore up one knee at age nearly 20. Forevermore after, every time Mickey was called out at first on a close play, it was chalked up to the DiMaggio play. – Any time that Willie Mays did something faster than Mantle, DiMaggio got the blame there too. The only strong objection I have to Mantle’s performance apologists is the reason offered for his batting average dip to .298 upon retirement after the 1968 season. That one is most certainly not the fault of Joe DiMaggio. Had Mantle’s personal behavior over time been a little more restrained – 0r – if he simply had retired after the 1964 season – Mickey Mantle could have kept his career .300 plus BA and still had enough stripes to have made it into the Hall of Fame.

Just didn’t happen.

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

1962: Craft Pulled Out No Rabbits

April 13, 2017

The headline portion of John Daily’s column
New York Times
April 17, 1962

 

New York Times News Services, 4/17/1962:

Craft Pulled Out No Rabbits

By ARTHUR DAILY

New York Times News Services

NEW YORK (April 17, 1962) – Harry Craft, a novice gunslinger in the rowdy frontierland of the National League, already has three notches on his Colt .45s. The Cubs were shot down three times in a row and sent squirming into the dust with lefthanded salvos.

But Casey Stengel, once the fastest gun in the west, has yet to draw his six-shooter from the holster. His Mets have been picked by everyone to draw a bead on them. The big showdown will take place at the Polo Grounds Tuesday. Craft and Stengel will shoot it out at 90 feet.

Can’t Always Buck Percentages

The Colts and the Mets are the newcomers in the expanded National League. They don’t have much ammunition. That’s why it was such a stunning surprise when three lefties from Houston – Bobby Shantz, Hal Woodeshick and Dean Stone – drilled holes in the Cubs on the first three days of the season. Few were more astonished than Stengel.

* * *

“I don’t understand it,” the Ol’ Perfesser was saying the other day. “It ain’t the same thing but I kin remember one year when the Pirates was loaded with lefty hitters. Let’s see. There was Vaughan, Suhr, Big Waner, Little Waner, the Ketcher and the second baseman whose name escapes me but he lives in Phoenix and sells insurance. As near as I can figger out Pie Traynor was the only righty hitter. Everyone said: lefties will murder ‘em. So thirteen lefties went in against the Pirates which knocked out twelve of ‘em. Ya never know.”

* * *

The Stengel observation was offered Monday to Craft.

“It doesn’t apply to the Cubs,” said Harry. “They have only three lefthanded hitters. Altman, Williams and Brock. You’ve probably forgotten but I was one of the rotating managers of the Cubs and I know all about them. I didn’t pull any rabbits out of hats.

Craft Likes Rotating Managers

“I just went along with the percentages and baseball percentages are the same as gambling percentages. If you persist in bucking them, you go home in a barrel. The record of the Cubs is clear. They lost 33 games to lefties last year and beat only 16. We had three lefties ready. We used them. It’s as simple as that.

“When I was on the Chicago staff, I noticed that the lefties were using us as stepping stones, especially kid pitchers like O’Toole and Sadecki or comeback veterans like Simmons and Mizell. Guys like Spahn you just take for granted. They win against any team.”

Perhaps it was a loaded question but did Craft agree with most baseball experts that Phil Wrigley’s system of running a ball club was inherently unsound? In the Cub scheme of things there is no manager but a rotating squad of coaches, shuttling from the post of head coach to minor league assignments.

* * *

“No,” said the Houston manager emphatically. “I like it. I rotated twice last year to the minors, for two weeks at San Antonio in May and for six weeks to Houston at the end of the season. This makes the kids in the minors feel that the big club is interested in them.

“I’m sure it’s sped up the development of a lot of players. Lou Brock and Ken Hubbs are rookies now but they can’t miss being great stars, even though they’ve leaped all the way from Class B and C. Wait and see.”

~ New York Times News Services, 4/17/1962

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Another subject resource column contribution from researcher Darrell Pittman.

Thanks, as always, Darrell!

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

1962: Ballpark Goodies and Triadic Tribulation

April 12, 2017

The Triadic Tribulation
– Without it, there is no passion for competition.

Another column by sports writer John Lyons of the Victoria Advocate on Sunday, April 15, 1962 highlights the always amazing low-cost of ballpark food, beer, and souvenir items back in the so-called “good old days,” as it also hits hard on upon certain elements of illusion that are starting to creep into the minds of writers and fans, even in the early going of that first Houston big league season. – The Triad of Tribulation is being firmly set in motion.

In baseball, the Triad of Tribulation starts with our Love of the game. In Houston, our love of the game, was amplified by that first little 1962 team going out there and winning their first three games. And that improbable happening quickly activated the delusion of Hope that this rag-tag new team was capable of winning games at a greater mark in the black than any of us (or common sense) would have thought possible, so early in its life as a big league club. Well, as the record shows, it wasn’t long beyond the date of this 1962 column that we Houstonians were brought back to earth from any possible voyage to the land of great expectations. It would be a few years before the element of Faith – based upon better, longer lived actual experience with regular season winning – would gain its everyday variable place in our MLB lives – and actually make the Triad of Tribulation a regular infrastructural part of our everyday baseball fan lives.

Once in place, the triadic points of Love, Hope, and Faith continue to drive each other in ways that both feed the rush of great expectation and dump the gloom of failed delivery.

Love is the easiest and first point in this trinity to exist. Then comes the always nearby presence of Hope, the next easiest to have and hold. Hope is the aspiration that builds the skeletal structure for expectation. And all that’s needed for expectation to show up is the presence of enough club winning over time during the season to build our Faith in the possibility, then probability, of winning it all. Once all three points are at work, the Triad of Tribulation is in motion. And the biting connection that binds them all starts to do its dance into the long run play of tribulation.

The tribulation here is that, barring a return to those dominant resource days of the old dynastic Yankees, there are 30 MLB teams out there competing with each other every year – and each club has their own relative contact with Love, Hope, and Faith – and most are all within a finger nail grab of expectations that winning will be probable this year. The Triad of Tribulation spins like a top on the fact that only 1 of 30 MLB clubs eligible for the playoffs annually will win their last game as a playoff team.

But don’t misunderstand. The Triad of Tribulation bites, but it is not something we should want to fix. Because, if we did, it wouldn’t be long before the fans stopped going to the ballgames altogether. Are you ready to give up big stakes competition as a tactile form of everyday enjoyment with a bat, ball, and glove?

On the other hand, maybe we should re-think all these participation trophies that youth baseball gives out to all the kids that play organized baseball, regardless of their individually measured contributions to their team’s competitive success. Is that “make sure no one gets their feelings hurt” protection of the kids really preparing them for the world they shall enter someday on their own? Think about it. We certainly didn’t have that protection on the post WWII sandlots of kid baseball.

The subject is certainly worth more than an easy half-baked answer, but a politically correct one contributes only to the spreading malaise idea that suggests that many people today are simply waiting longer to find out what is acceptable before they say anything about what is going on in the world.

Lighten up.

Now let’s move on to the historically referenced material we have before us today.

Thanks again for their contribution to The Pecan Park Eagle, Darrell Pittman. We hope you never grow tired of hearing those words, friend, because your research contributions, especially this week, are deeply, deeply appreciated.

These offerings from Buff Stadium, 11 years earlier than these column story prices for Colt Stadium in 1962 were better, but not by much.

Potato Chips Cost 15 Cents At Houston Colt .45s Games

It costs money to see a big league baseball game.

Using Houston as an example, and the prices there are not as high as in some major league ball parks, the cheapest item is 15 cents. For that amount, you can get a 10-cent cigar, cotton candy, snow cones, a bag of peanuts, a small bag of popcorn, a bag of potato chips, a cup of coffee, a soft drink (small size), and a pop-cycle. Popcorn also sells for 24 cents as does a larger cup containing a soft drink.

Items like Ice Cream bars, Ice Cream sandwiches and Ice Cream sticks go for 20 cents and malts are 30.

Beer ranges from 30 to 40 cents.

Programs, aspirin tablets, and cushions are priced at 25 cents and the cheapest buy in the ball park is a program, which is very informative, full of pictures and information, and is the kind of book that a fan wants to keep all season long.

* * *

As for the food, corn dogs and hot dogs are 30 cents. A hamburger is 40, ham sandwich, roast beef, and cheese sandwiches are 50, a corn beef sandwich is 75 and a ham and cheese is 75. The sandwiches, we have been informed, are served with bread, rye or white.

* * *

At Houston’s opening game on Tuesday afternoon souvenirs were being sold at a fast clip.  They have some attractive and colorful souvenirs and the price makes the average fan whistle in amazement.

Cheapest items at the Souvenir stand are 50 cents for a paper sun shade, a bat key chain, and a picture pack.

They have a great variety of pennants with the names and colors of every team in the National League and they sell for $1.00. That is the price for a plastic bank with the insignia of the Colt .45s, a pen and pencil set, a miniature bat, and an autographed book.

The price for a baseball cap (twill) is $1.50 and for a baseball cap (wool) is $2.00. Also tabbed at $1.50 are Colt rings, Charm bracelets, Ladies’ head scarf, and T-shirts.

A bat bank is priced at $2.00 and so is a super-impact batting helmet.

An autographed baseball sells for $3.00 and that is the price for Sweat Shirts.

A Colt .45 uniform for a little boy is priced at $8.00. That also is the tab for a boy’s warm up jacket. For a man, a warmup jacket sells for $10.00.

* * *

If you drive your car to the ball park, which is located a little better than two miles this side of the Shamrock-Hilton Hotel, it costs you 50 cents to park.

Then to get in the park, the tickets are $3.50 for a box seat, $2.50 for a reserved seat and $1.50 for general admission.

* * *

But if you like your baseball, you’ll enjoy every bit of what you are paying for. It is a bright, big and colorful ball park, and the baseball is big league.

* * *

Just like Riverside Park when Tom O’Connor owned the baseball club, the current batting average of the hitter is flashed as he steps to the plate. And also inning by inning scores of all other major league games are on the big board in center field.

* * *

Houston got away to an amazing start in its major league debut and I wonder just how much a guy could have won if he had wagered that the Colt .45s would win their first three games.

Just about anyone, including myself, would have booked such a wager, however,

Houston’s pitching has been nothing short of sensational.  When Bobby Shantz pitched a five-hitter and Houston won the opener from the Chicago Cubs, 11-2, the more skeptical fans were remarking that this is a great start but he couldn’t expect to get pitching as good as that dished by Shantz.

The Colts follow this up with a pair of 2-0 victories over the Cubs to sweep the three-game series.

On to Philadelphia, the fine hurling continued but Houston lost two games by 3-2 and 3-0.

The Colts play at Philadelphia again today, move to New York to face the Mets Monday and Tuesday, then play At Chicago Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday is an open date, then they return home for nine games opening a three-game series with Philadelphia Saturday, starting a three-game set with the Cardinals on Apr. 24, and then hosting Milwaukee in a three-game stand, opening on Apr. 27.

All of these nine games with the exception of Apr. 22 and Apr. 29, Sundays, will be played at night.

~ John Lyons, Victoria (TX) Advocate, Sunday, April 15, 1962 

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Retro: Channel 13 will carry Colt Games in 1962

April 11, 2017

“Hello, Houston Baseball Fans, this is Bill Stern. Really wish I could’ve been there to call that first TV season for you in 1962, but they gave the gig to local pundit Guy Savage. – Too bad. Even with the TV cameras on hand, I could have given you some plays in those games that you would not have seen anywhere else in the world. – I guarantee it!”

 

Channel 13 Will Carry Houston Colt Games

HOUSTON (Victoria Advocate, April 15, 1962) – Houston-area television fans can go “big league” this season with the Houston Colt .45s!

KTRK-TV Channel 13 will telecast 14 Colt .45 games this season, Houston’s first year as a major league baseball city.

All telecasts but one will be on Sunday, and all are out-of-town games, beginning on Sunday when the Colt .45s go against the Philadelphia Phillies at 2:30 p.m. The pre-game ‘warm-up’ show will begin at 2 p.m.

Handling the telecasts will be Houston’s “Mr. Sports,” Guy Savage, sports director of channel 13. A veteran of more than 30 years as a sportscaster, Savage did his first play-by-play broadcasting of baseball in 1932 for the Beaumont Exporters of the Texas League. He did all home games of the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs for six years, telecast the entire home schedule of the Houston Buffs in 1949 for KLEE-TV, and was exclusive broadcaster for all Buff games from 1956 to 1958. In addition, he has covered all sports for radio and TV stations in Beaumont, Chicago, and Fort Worth. For 11 years, he was sports director for KXYZ where his sports show was Houston’s highest rated, before joining the channel 13 staff Jan. 1, 1960. His two daily sportscasts on channel 13, at 6:10 and 10:05 p.m., are considered the most authoritative in the field.

Channel 13’s telecast dates and the Colt .45 opponents are: May 6, the Milwaukee Braves; May 20, San Francisco Giants; June 3, Pittsburgh Pirates; Jun 17, Los Angeles Dodgers; June 24, New York Mets; July 8, Cincinnati Reds; Saturday, July 14, Pittsburgh; July 29, Chicago Cubs; Aug. 5, St. Louis Cardinals; Aug. 26, Cincinnati; Sept. 2, Chicago; and Sept. 16, Milwaukee. Another late season game will be announced.

On the telecasts, fans will be able to see such big league favorites as Don Drysdale, Wally Moon, Duke Snider, Frank Howard, Warren Spahn, Hank Aaron, Bob Friend, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Frank Robinson, Joey Jay, Don Hoad, Bil Virdon, Stan Musial, Ken Boyer, Lindy McDaniel, Willie Mays, Jim Davenport, Mike McCormick, Don Demeter, Carlie Neal and others.

“We are very pleased that channel 13 was chosen to bring Houstonians the only telecasts of their first major league baseball team in action,” Willard E. Walbridge, executive vice-president and general manager of KTRK-TV, said.

Co-sponsors of the telecasts will be Lucky Strike and Tareyton divisions of American Tobacco Co. and the brewers of Pearl Beer.

Houston Oiler football, bowling, wrestling, special basketball games, golf matches, including Houston’s champions cup matches, and the Houston Classic Invitational Tournament, tennis tournaments, track and swimming meets, automobile races, hockey, ice-skating, skiing and many other sports are seen on channel 13.

~ Victoria Advocate, April 15, 1962

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Our ongoing thanks to Darrell Pittman for this latest news harvest on how television hooked up with the brand new Houston MLB club from its very first season forward – or, at least through the 1962 part of that start. Guy Savage was unforgettable. His deep resonant bass voice was the one that many of us shall forever associate with the television work he did for the 1949 Houston Buffs from Buff Stadium on the Gulf Freeway at Cullen Blvd. Televised baseball forever will become one of our earliest challenges to watching television in general. All we had to do in 1949 was get used to watching what one camera could cover of the field action from behind home plate for display on our dinky little 10-inch television screens at home. The broadcaster advantage was the fact that we had nothing to use for comparative criticism at home We were just slap-happy to get a picture that moved, even if we did feel the need to sit home in the dark, staring closely at the little screen for Guy Savage to tell us what happened after each play. Things were much better by 1962, when Houston entered the big leagues as the Colt .45s, but still a far cry from today’s multi-media, multiple camera, high-definition big screen coverage.

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Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Bob Dorrill: Babies and Red Sox Have Fun @ Sealy

April 10, 2017

On Saturday, April 8, 2017, the Houston Babies and Barker Red Sox made the 35-mile trip west out I-10 from Houston western edges to help enliven the Annual Sealy, Texas Spring Fest of the state’s hottest brand vintage 1860 rules-base ball in the late morning and early afternoon. We’ve been promised some photos to go with the coverage and will add and credit the contribution of these whenever they arrive and can be processed for inclusion. Thank you also, Mr. Bob Dorrill, for the superb summary of things. The Eagle is pleased to hear that you and manager Bob Copus of the Barker Red Sox found a way to let the Sealy locals sample the joys of some vintage ball play for themselves.. And thanks again too for what all of you vintage players do to spread and enliven interest people in the history of the greatest game in the world. – Do we even have to name it? Some of us don’t think so. – TPPE Editorial.

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Digression Photos (In the Absence of any Fresh Ones) …… and a Yarn to Go With Them. ….

When our Houston Babies club got our new blue uniforms in 2014, we wore them to an all-day attention span seminar at the George Ranch near Sugar Land.

Some of our guys just wandered off during the lunch break and never came back til the next actual game.

 

Bob Dorrill: Babies and Red Sox Have Fun @ Sealy

By Bob Dorrill

Houston Babies Manager

Special Correspondent to The Pecan Park Eagle

Yesterday under the most beautiful weather conditions with temperatures in the low 80’s  and a well manicured baseball field, the Houston Babies and the Barker Red Sox played two Vintage Baseball games as part of the Annual Sealy Spring Fest.

Our hosts went out of their way to make us feel right at home along with their many other exhibitors and entertainers, In addition there was a terrific parade and display of antique cars, some of which we old timers could remember riding in.

Both teams decked out in their period uniforms played to interesting crowds and even welcomed a few spectators who wished to experience what baseball was like using 1860 rules.

The Babies were successful in winning both games, the first 12-4 and the second 11-3. Winning Babies hurlers were Bob Blair in game one while Larry Hajduk won the nightcap. There definitely was a lot of offense and special recognition goes to both Kyle Burns and Alex Hajduk who went 7 for 8 for the day while James Marken had 4 hits in 8 at bats.  Maybe the team in downtown Houston could use some advice from theses gents.

Another highlight was when a member of the Babies went out and gave the good looking Blind Tom a long and passionate kiss. Not to be outdone a member of the Red Sox wanted equal time but was turned down when the arbitrator said one such kiss from her husband was enough for the day. Good job Jo and Bill Hale.

In the highly anticipated egg tossing contest between the teams Kyle and Alex also proved to have the softest hands by throwing the egg the farthest before it broke.

It was a beautiful day in all respects.

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Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

You Are Always in My Heart, Old Friend

April 9, 2017

My Friend Richard Kirtley
Died Yesterday, April 8, 2017.
He was 78 years old.
Rest in Peace, Dear Brother!

 

This moment of black – shall never subtract – the life glow that burns in your eyes

That broad Kirtley smile – that spreads for a mile – shall never dissolve from great size

And when we’re all done – with all of the fun – that sucks tears from laughter as cries

You’ll still be the one – getting up to go run – while the rest of us sleep, swatting flies.

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Dear Readers:

Richard “Dick” Kirtley has been a close friend since our early high school days. He was a year behind me at St. Thomas, but we were both from the east end and had a lot in common. He also had played an excellent brand of football at St. Thomas as  an interior linemen back in the both ways on offense and defense days. Teammate Mike Mulvihill, one of our star running backs, likes to say that he remembers Kirtley as the guy in the line who knew how to lead block. At any rate, even though small in size, as many players were back in the day, Kirtley went to Texas A&M in 1957 to play under then head coach Bear Bryant. After Kirtley’s freshman year at A&M, however, Bryant heard the “mama call” from Alabama. That fact and the death of Dick’s own father that year induced Kirtley to transfer to UH and to play football for the Cougars.

Richard met his wonderful wife Laura at UH. A former cheerleader at UH, Laura married Richard In June 1967. As one of the wedding party members, we all had been looking forward to the Kirtley’s 50th anniversary party this summer – as well as Richard’s induction on April 29, 2017 into the St. Thomas High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Then the stunner came late yesterday afternoon. After his normal heavy workout, Richard had come home to enjoy a nice meal with Laura. He lay down to take a nap, but never awoke. The exact cause of death is still under determination, but his family and all of his close friends – all of us – are still in shock, in spite of the fact we all know that this sort of thing can happen to any of us at any time. I will write more when I am able. I loved this man like a brother. And the loss is great for all of us who knew this great, loyal, lover-of-life family man that was 100% Richard Kirtley.

All I can offer for now is a rewinding of “The Clock of Life” and a request for your positive thoughts and/or prayers for Richard Kirtley, his wife Laura, his married daughter Kristin and His married son Ryan. And their spouses and children too.

The Pecan Park Eagle is flying at barely half mast today.

Godspeed us all!

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The Clock of Life

By Robert H. Smith

The Clock of life is wound but once,

And no man has the power,

To tell just when the hands will stop,

At late or early hour.

 

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,

To lose one’s health is more,

To lose one’s soul is such a loss,

That no man can restore.

 

The present only is our own,

So live, love, toil with a will,

Place no faith in “Tomorrow”

For the Clock may then be still.

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Early Season Optimism for Astros Was Up by 1973

April 8, 2017

Original PR Staff in 1965
Wayne Chandler (far left) began as assistant to Bill Giles and later took on more responsibility as Giles moved on to Philadelphia.

 

According to this article we found on our own independent fishing trip to the archives, early season optimism for both the Astros’ performance and home game attendance was high in 1973. With the help of  Astros Director of Press Relations Wayne Chandler, Port Neches Mid-County Chronicle sports writer Bob Griffin discerns something of a turning worm. The people are no longer simply coming to see the Astrodome itself and the great players of other teams. They are rallying behind the good talent that now dots the Astros’ roster and pulling for their own team realistically to bring home a first major team championship to the City of Houston. They don’t come right out and say it that directly in print, but that’s the tilt of the whole piece. It’s one that many of us older fans remember – and it felt as good then as it still does now.

“Hey, it’s 1973! Maybe we actually are finally close to having a club that could win a World Series. After all, the dad gum New York Mets, as bad as they were, even much worse than us at the start for each club in 1962, actually did win the World Series in 1969. They weren’t that great in 1969, but they won it anyway on some talent, a lot of good effort, and some bodaciously full-tank  phenomenal good luck and help from the baseball gods. Maybe now, four years since the Mets, maybe, just maybe it’s finally our turn.”

Fortunately, unless my old spirit bones are now sending me misdirectional signals, that old “we can finally do it in Houston this year” still survives in the early stirrings of the 2017, now American League-anchored, still fiery Houston Astros club of Manager A.J. Hinch!

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Port Neches Mid-County Chronicle Review

Sunday, June 3, 1973, Page 6

Things Have Changed …. ASTRO FANS ARE FOR REAL

By Bob Griffin, Sports Staff

 

The crowds that pack the Astrodome these days aren’t like they used to be.

They’re there to watch the Astros. It hasn’t always been like this. In the past, the Dome or the other team was the attraction, but not the Astros.

The Astros have the center stage now and the fans come to see them. The fans are still interested in checking out the Astrodome and they still want to watch a Johnny Bench play, but the Astros are the real reason they’re there.

SO WHEN the Dome is packed these days its because the fans are there to watch the Astros battle to stay near the top of the National League West, a spot they’ve become familiar with the past year or so.

And all this makes the Astros happy. I chatted with Houston’s Wayne Chandler about this. Wayne has been with the Astros’ press relations department since they moved into the Dome. I fact, he now heads that department.

And in his years with the Astros he’s seen the change.

“It’s really gratifying that fans are coming because of the good ball club we have and the fact that they like to see the good ball that we play,” Wayne (Chandler) told me.

“Back in 1965 they came to see the Dome or to see a Sandy Koufax, the congenial Chandler continued. Now it’s to to see Cesar Cedeno, Jerry Reuss, Bob Watson, and all our other players.

“Every year our fans have become more knowledgeable and we have developed a great corps of fans who know good baseball when they see it and bad baseball when they see it.

And the Astros play good baseball most of the time.

Another point made by Wayne (Chandler) was that many of the top players with the Astros were brought up through their minor league chain.

“We’ve developed some good players,” explained Wayne. “(Cesar) Cedeno, (Bob) Watson, Doug Rader, Larry Dierker, and Don Wilson to name just a few. These are the kind of players that attract a crowd and win pennants.”

In their last 11-game homestand the Astros drew 263,068 fans. It would have been more except for a four game series with the lowly Atlanta Braves that pulled in only 43,000.

The Astros are running slightly behind last year’s totals, but it’s hard to compare since the season started late last year, throwing most comparisons off just a bit.

If the Astros continue to average the size crowds they’re averaging now their total attendance this year will be slightly up over last year by the end of the season.

And if the Astros are still battling it out with San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles for the top spot in the NL West at the end of the season, there’s no telling how many they will draw during their homestands in September.

During September they (the Astros) have three games with Cincinnati, four games with Los Angeles, and their last three home games of the year are with the Giants.

But no matter who’s in town the Astros are the Dome’s main attraction these days. And they like it that way.

~ end of newspaper column transcript.

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In Case You Are Wondering or Trying to Remember …

In 1973, the Astros finished 4th in the NL West with a record of 82-80, .506 – a full 17 games back of division winner Cincinnati, 13.5 games back of 2nd place Los Angeles, and 6 games behind 3rd place San Francisco.

Their home attendance for 1973 was 1,394,004 in Leo Durocher’s last season managing anywhere.

___________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas