J.R. Richard on Ballot for Shrine of the Eternals

March 3, 2019

Bill McCurdy, John Storenski and J.R. Richard
~ 2003, following J.R.’s induction into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Baseball Reliquary, located in Southern California, but dedicated to the honor of baseball’s contributions to art and culture throughout the world. has announced  their fifty 2019 candidates for induction into the Shrine of the Eternals ~ their elite body of individuals who have made everything from the art and culture side of things in the history of baseball to the plainly unique and unusual, plus the overpowering statistical accomplishments, as well.

Voting is by all the contributing financial donors ($25.00 per year and up) by all who have paid their 2019 dues by March 31, 2019. Ballots will be e-mailed to the list of eligible voters on April 1, 2019, with the results then going into publication at the Baseball Reliquary website.

For further information about the 2019 voting plan, please check out this program link:

http://www.baseballreliquary.org/2019/02/candidates-for-2019-election-of-the-shrine-of-the-eternals/

Terry Cannon. Executive Director
Minding the store at The Baseball Reliquary.

For all further information the Baseball Reliquary, please contact Executive Director Terry Cannon in one of the ways shown here:

Terry Cannon
Executive Director
The Baseball Reliquary
www.baseballreliquary.orge-mail: terymar@earthlink.net
phone: (626) 791-7647

I’ve only been a member for a little over one year, but had followed their community education activities for most of the past decade. Unfortunately, I was not aware of The Baseball Reliquary in 2009, when our legendary Houston MLB founder and Astrodome contributor to so many baseball, other sport, and cultural events, Judge Roy Hofheinz, was listed as a candidate for “The Shrine”, but was not inducted and fell immediately off the ballot. ~ What! ~ What!! ~ What!!!

As we sometimes mutter in these parts, I’d have been on that omission “like a frog on a June bug” had I seen it earlier. ~ The Judge belongs in this Shrine. As soon as possible. And it isn’t yet April 1, 2019. There have to be a few SoCal printers out there that can handle the late addition of the man whose push for a domed air-cooled ballpark led to a venue that virtually continues to make the bed for how all sports in America are now played.

Not just “by the way”. ~ There is another name that is on the 2019 ballot who deserves and would get southwest, Houston, and southeast support ~ had “BR” suddenly received more mid-country voters than it now has. And that name is J.R. Richard!

Come on, Houston, help us out here!

         Note: When the actual 50-name ballots go out, voters may vote for up to 9 people on the list. Forgive me, but I do not have the details on how the list pares down to the actual inductee names. I’m thinking it’s probably on some kind of voter percentage formula, like the one used by the BBWAA and the Hall of Fame.

Please do give membership to the Baseball Reliquary your serious consideration. The work that Terry Cannon and his group is doing is simply larger than Los Angeles and the greater Southern California area. They need the bloodline of baseball that also includes Houston, Atlanta, St. Louis, Seattle, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and Miami, et cetera.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

 

 

 

Cy Young was the Real Deal Back in the Day

March 2, 2019

Cy Young

Cy Young. ~ His name is synonymous with so many things larger than life about pitching in the big leagues.

…. “Pitcher of the Year!” ~ What are the only two words we think of for the best two single pitchers of the season in each league on an annual basis? ~ They aren’t simply words. They’re a name. ~ “Cy Young” ~ short for “Cy Young Award” ~ the formal name that’s been given that isn’t even needed in full expression to convey the meaning of the following question as it passes between two baseball fans each late August. ~ “Whose taking the Cy Young this year?”

…. Cy Young was a member of the original 13-inductee 1937 first class of players chosen for the 1939 grand opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. ~ And why not? ~ His reasons for inclusion were far greater than a one-column synopsis could possibly cover. You may as well just go to Cy’s stat page at Baseball Reference .com and scope out all the data titles embossed in black to denote his all time leadership. The Cy Young page looks as though someone spilled a pepper shaker bottle on it as you were examining Cy Young’s deep and enduring list of great accomplishment.

…. Young’s 511 wins and 315 losses are both all time records, the kind that no one else is likely ever to break because of the way the game has so dramatically changed in a little over one century’s time. The wins are clearly attributable to Cy Young’s greatness during an era in which most winning pitchers completed more than half the games they started. The losses were just there as a bi-product tail of Young’s greatness as a winner.

…. Cy completed 749 of the 815 games he started. ~ both are career MLB records. He also pitched in relief in 91 games to bring his total games pitched to 906, but that is not the record in pitching appearances. Reliever Jesse Orosco holds the all-time game appearance mark with 1,252.

…. Mr. Young gave up 2,147 earned runs and 7,092 hits in 7,356.0 innings pitched ~ all for MLB career records ~ but he only surrendered 138 dead ball era home runs in 22 years and did finish with a career 2.63 ERA.

…. How’s this one for a busy afternoon thought? Cy Young also holds the MLB career record for most batters faced at a whopping total of 29,565. ~ Now that’s a lot of men with wood in their hands and malice in their hearts toward the long and short-haul of a pitcher’s best interests.

That’s OK. ~ Old Cy could give as well as he took. In 22 seasons, he won, at least, 20 games per season on 16 different occasions. It was mostly up from 20 when Cy went over that line ~ with a 5-season climb above 30 wins for the cyclonic wonder!

Nobody’s ever forgotten you, Cy Young, nor ever should they. Few also know too that during that first 20th century 1903 World Series contest between your Boston American league club and the Pittsburgh Nationals that you also helped out in the Bean Town ball park ticket booth during one of the games you were not scheduled to pitch.

And why not? Whether it was during the actual first World Series or at some other big attendance game during the regular season, you were helping your club out where you were needed that day, ~ were you not? ~ And that sometimes included handling the fans’ need for access to the ball park for the best available seats or places to stand among the overflowing throng of excited early era baseball supporters.

Bryce Harper

Wow! ~ What are the chances that Bryce Harper will ever help the Phillies punch tickets at the turnstiles a single time over the next 13 year-run of his gazillion dollar playing  contract? ~ Yes, we do know. It’s a different world today.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

 

 

 

….

 

 

 

What I Loved About The Sporting News

February 28, 2019

THE SPORTING NEWS
Wearing the Face of Its Glory Years

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some tidbits from Page 29 …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a way to spend the day!

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

Indoor Baseball, Chicago Style, From 1887

February 27, 2019

This 1897 image is the earliest known photo of an indoor baseball team.
**********
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

There’s a very interesting article by a fellow named Jeff Nichols in the January 30, 2019 Chicago Reader about the origins of a baseball derivative sport they called “indoor baseball” on the south side of Chicago back in 1887. It is, so far, the best description I’ve ever found on the root causes of the game’s invention and how the regular game of baseball had to be modified to work indoors – in spaces that were never designed to handle the zoom-and-go flight of an actual baseball ~ even in the deadball era.

I already knew that my birthplace home town of Beeville ~ along with several other small South Texas cities ~ had played a game they called “indoor baseball” for a brief time in the early 20th century. I just could not discover or envision how they could have played anything close in resemblance to the real game of baseball in the kinds of very small and limited spaces available to them at the Bee County Fairgrounds.

Nichols’ article answers any serious questions I may have harbored. It was more like stick ball, if the game were being played out in the lobby of a very small hotel.

It’s still a good read ~ and interesting to learn that a very young George Halas, the NFL icon founder and longtime coach of the Chicago Bears ~ along with his older brother, Walter Halas, ~ were two of the south side boys who also helped get indoor baseball off to a somewhat less roaring start.

https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-surprising-chicago-origins-of-indoor-baseball/Content?oid=67100853

The three photos from the article make it seem so much more real as something that actually happened. The first photo at the top features the oldest known photo of an indoor team. The next photo below features the Halas boys. The the last photo below speaks for itself on why indoor baseball never started a wildfire fan base.

 

The 1910 Crane High School team; the glum kid holding the ball in the front row is George Halas, the founder of the Chicago Bears. Above George is his older brother Walter, the captain of the team.
**********
SDN-008471, CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM, CHICAGO DAILY NEWS PHOTO COLLECTION

 

Young women playing indoor baseball in Pilsen
**********
BHNC_0044_0290_026, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO LIBRARY, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

 

Indoor baseball had a few brief runs in Texas during the early 20th century, but it lit no flames in the hearts and minds of Texans either until 1965 ~ when Judge Roy Hofheinz, the Houston Astros, and the Houston Astrodome came along and showed the world what had to be in place for the game of baseball to go viral in its support for the true indoor version.

If you want indoor baseball, you have to play the game in a place that feels like “The Eighth Wonder of the World!”

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

 

Take Me Out To The Whatchamacallit

February 26, 2019

Turn of the Century songwriter Jack Norworth was supposedly inspired by a sign he saw while riding a subway back in 1908 that said “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds” to write the lyrics to “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” ~ a poem that became a song when tune writer Albert Von Tilzer put a melody to it that allowed the little piece to rapidly soar into high regard as the unofficial anthem of baseball ~ an estimation of the piece hat continues strongly through this day. Funny thing is ~ neither Norworth nor Tilzer had ever seen a baseball game in person until after they wrote the song that made their efforts famous.

Makes you wonder. What if Norworth had seen a sign outside the subway that advertised “Horse Racing Today ~ Belmont” ~ or maybe even “Boxing Tonight ~ Madison Square Garden?”

Those two might have come close to fitting into the same Tilzer tune and become the anthems of two sucker bet sports.

Take Me Out To The Horse Track

Secretariat, 1973
Going for the Triple Crown

Take Me Out To The Horse Track!

Belmont’s the name of the game!

Buy me a tote sheet and paper to win!

I wouldn’t mind if you put up the fin!

 

We’ll get rich, so rich, at the horse track!

Some will lose ~ and ain’t that a shame!

But we’ll WIN, PLACE, SHOW~ RAKE IT IN

With our FAST ~ HORSE ~ FRIENDS!

 

 

Take Me Out To The Garden

Gentleman Jim Corbett

 

Take Me Out To The Garden!

Madison Square is its name!

Buy me a ringside for Corbett-McCoy!

Gentle Jim nails Kid in 5 ~ beef ahoy!

 

We’ll come back ~ to view all the others,

Spilling brains, guts, nuts, butts and druthers,

In the ring of those Garden fight mothers,

When unconscious was the aim of the game ~ and still is.

 

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

Have a nice day, everybody, and remember to look out the window every now and then. You never know where or when you may catch the fire of inspiration or invitation or both ~ looking straight back into your eyes and aiming directly at you alone. ~ Why is that important? ~ It’s because some of those opportunities are a one-time only open door. And don’t worry. All of us miss some of them. ~ You just don’t want to miss all of them.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

 

Softballer Hits for Beyond Rare HR Cycle

February 25, 2019

Danielle Gibson
Arkansas Razorbacks
Hit for Rare HR Cycle
Saturday, February 23, 2019

 

Writer Dave Kovaleski put it this way: “In her team’s 15-3 win over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, (Arkansas) Razorbacks sophomore (Danielle) Gibson became the first player in NCAA Division I softball history to hit for a rare type of cycle — the home run cycle — according to the Razorbacks’ athletics website. That means she hit solo, 2-run and 3-run blasts, plus a grand slam, in the same game.”

Rare? Beyond rare is more like it. In fact “unheard of” is the phrase that best frames it on the phenom-stage. As a college softball event, it’s never happened before in a single game, although we are now johnny-come-lately aware of the fact that it has happened once to another female college softball player, but that girl needed both games of a DH to get it done on the same day. Gibson’s heroics were hardly stretched. She got it done ~ one homer per inning each in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th frames for the 4 homers and its 10 RBIs.

This kind of very special HR cycle has never occurred in big league baseball, according to my phenom-swarm expert authorities.

Flying off the bat of Danielle Gibson
There Goes One of the Four Taking Flight,

In Danielle Gibson’s case, she hit a 2-run homer in the 1st; a 3-run homer in the 2nd; a Grand Slam homer in the 3rd; and then finished the circuit job with a solo homer in the 4th. ~ Maybe next time she’ll get it in perfect solo, 2, 3. and 4 runs order in alignment over the first four innings.

Check out these two links on the event with your own eyes.

https://www.westernjournal.com/wc/watch-college-sophomore-makes-history-hits-hr-cycle/

https://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2019/2/24/18238703/arkansas-softball-danielle-gibson-home-run-cycle-video

Rounding 3rd,
Heading for Home,
She’ll Hit Three More,
For a Full House Roam!

 

And thank you, Mike McCroskey, for being the first to call this rather formidable accomplishment to my attention.

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

UH Cougars Light Candle to Phi Slama Jama

February 24, 2019

Fertitta Center
University of Houston

 

These new wave Cougar basketball stars don’t even remember Phi Slama Jama ~ they weren’t around as living human beings for Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler ~ but they now do their much revered elder and ancient predecessors a much resurrecting and forceful honor anyway by the way they each now play the game of basketball nonetheless.

DeJon Jarreau
Date of Birth: January 23, 1998

The connecting links in these older and present day big stage presentations of winning college basketball are Guy V. Lewis and KelVin Sampson, the two great coaches who did once and have again attracted signature-level collections of teachable savant-level talents to UH that have again made aspirations for immortal honors in college basketball again on hand and possible at the most deliciously feared recruiting area in the world ~  the home territory of the University of Houston. (By the way, UH Coach Sampson’s first name isn’t usually written with a capitalized “V”, but it probably should be.)

Corey Davis, Jr.
Date of Birth: June 4, 1997

The new Cougars are a lights-out pressuring defensive team ~ one that stops the opponent’s offensive play from going very far without yielding to the need for adjustment to something that works better ~ or works at all. Cougar point guards DeJon Jarreau and Galen Robinson, Jr. are the dynamo of a UH half-court man-to-man defense that puts a relentless amount of pressure on opponents to either misfire or turn the ball over. And once the ball does pass to UH, “relentless” simply transfers to the same kind of mentality on offensive goals of either taking advantage of what is open ~ or breaking up the other team’s defense so that it will be open.

Galen Robinson, Jr.
Date of Birth: March 31, 1997

That kind of play was all over the court in Saturday, February 23rd’s Fertitta Court 71-59 home game victory by UH over South Florida. DeJon Jarreau led all UH scorers against USF with 17 points and Corey Springer, Jr. then hit next with 15 points that included four 3-pointers. It was all enough to keep the Cougars undefeated in their new Fertitta Center digs and to send their season record before yet another full house crowd to 26-1.

uh-Sampson

Above: Head Coach Kelvin Sampson, University of Houston Cougars

USF Head Coach Brian Gregory was unreserved in his praise for UH in the post-game media conference. Are the UH Cougars good enough to reach the Final Four in the tourney this year? “No question about it,” said Gregory. “This is a team that can make a long, long run in the NCAA Tournament.”

With a couple of teams above them losing this week, the # 9 UH Cougars should be moving up in this week’s ranking polls.

Keep it up, Houston Cougars! ~ You do us long-of-tooth Cougars especially proud!

Fertitta Center
University of Houston

And thank you too, UH Board of Regents Chair Tillman J. Fertitta and UH Chancellor Renu Khator, for all you each have done in hand with the Board of Regents, the UH Administration and the UH Alumni Association ~ for the betterment of our university ~ and thank you especially for all you each continue to do in service to the University of Houston and the broader community that we all share as the City of Houston ~ and the near future home of the University of Houston Medical School.

“In Time” has always been our university motto. ~ “In Time” also will always be our UH delivery date on anything worth pursuing, having and keeping.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

 

A First Pitch, One-Pitch Soap Opera

February 23, 2019
justin-verlander

Justin Verlander

A First Pitch, One-Pitch Soap Opera

 

By Bill McCurdy

 

As a pitcher he was better

And a sure-fire win go-getter

Over twenty years of tasting

Victory’s glow.

 

Now he faced another righty

Young and foolish, but so mighty

That he’d have to give each pitch

His baseball Joe.

 

Looking in at all before him

He saw nothing by decorum

That would change his mind

On that first cat-mouse throw.

 

It came roaring with great power

Going a hundred miles an hour

Firing inside-headed-outside

Spoke-to-Toke.

 

And the batter sort of trembled

As his fingers all unnimbled

And he leaned across the plate

To swing at smoke.

 

But the batter had not counted

On the way the ball was mounted

As it broke and came inside

Around the plate.

 

“Back-off, don’t-swing” were fantasy

No time or space ~ oh, can’t you see?

To miss and look so awfully bad

Were doomed to be ~ his first pitch fate. *

 

* But only on the first pitch of the game.

Please Note: This is not a lecture; it’s just a note. The little poem is just about one-way of watching the game, but only one, unless you have the eyes of a real eagle and a good seat with a view of how the ball is moving toward the plate from a pitcher-catcher perspective, or as you may be watching it on TV. It helps if you have had some kind of pitching or observer experience on what kinds of movements on a baseball are possible. And it really helps if you have some knowledge of a particular pitcher’s range of pitch options is ~ and have some knowledge of the batter’s tendencies going into this particular encounter.

Most baseball fans in this age of great distraction have not had this kind of experience and aren’t likely to get it in the future either.

If you do study the game, and you choose to watch it pitch by pitch ~ instead of your cell phone ~ there’s a lot more to come in these classics encounters ~ and they are all classics in their own rights, even when the match ups feature a hanging-on veteran pitcher versus a barely-hanging-on roster hitter.

The game of baseball keeps coming up with ways to attract fan attention to the game and, who knows, maybe some really inner game knowledgeable people will someday put together an inner-game educational program to keep the fans invested in the great pitcher vs. batter drama that is going on pretty much all the time.

Today’s Good Baseball Sign. The Astros play their first 2019 spring training game today. ~ That’s a pretty good sign that the regular baseball season is not too far away.

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

How Much is that Strikeout in the Window?

February 22, 2019

John Smoltz: His strikeouts didn’t come cheap!

 

Nolan Ryan Strikeouts

QUERY: A reader in the Greater Sugar Land area wants to know ~ How much did Nolan Ryan’s career record 5,714 strikeouts each cost his various contract ownerships over the course of his 27-year (1966-1993) $25,725,150 MLB PLAYER compensation career?

ANSWER: $4,502.13 was the cost per each of Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 K’s.

Determining formula is provided by (Career MLB Income/Career K Total = Career Cost per K.

John Smoltz Strikeouts

It could have been much worse on ownership’s pocketbook, had Ryan pitched most of his time in the economic payment era that followed his own. For example, another Hall of Famer, John Smoltz, began his 21-year MLB pitching career in the twilight years of the Ryan period and worked almost all the way through the first decade of the 21st century (1988-2009).

Smoltz’s career MLB income of $135,657,946 was almost $110,000 more than Ryan’s, but he struck out only 3,084 men ~ a little more than half the Ryan K total for a whopping average Smoltz cost each of $43,987.66 per K.

WOW! ~ And “OUCH!” too!

Closing Question for Further Thought: Will the baseball market for always increasing player salaries ever reach a point in which the heart of the game’s fan support simply replies to the new ticket prices generated by these always expanding increases by staying home?

Apparently, some in baseball think that there’s no limit to the average fan’s wad of expendable cash. Otherwise, they wouldn’t keep asking for more as agents, taking more as players, and raising ticket prices as clubs.

Loyalty in baseball is a two-way street. We fans have to be loyal to the real needs of our players ~ and appreciatively loyal to our local club in their efforts to bring us a winner. ~ But players and clubs need to express their loyalty to the fans who make it all possible by doing everything within their abilities to keep their product affordable to the income base that represents any normal fan base.

Lose sight of the probability that the demands of players and clubs for more money each year will increase much faster than the average season ticket and spot game ticket buyers disposable income supply can ever hope to climb at those same rates and we are looking at a brand new ball game that really turns out to be one we’ve seen over time. That’s the one in which the big market clubs from the east and west coasts regain their dynastic control of the World Series as most others either just hang in there as well-paid foes, with some who will scrape up enough cash for a one-season run at the Series once in a blue moon.

In the name of our shared loyalty to the game, let’s hope that we can find a way to keep the beautiful game of baseball from out-pricing the loyal fans who have supported its greatest period of growth until they had to give up buying the  groceries their families needed because that expense got in the way of paying for season tickets.

 

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

 

RIP, Don Newcombe

February 21, 2019

Don Newcombe
1926~2019

The great Don Newcombe is gone. Dead at age 92, the baseball world has once more surrendered, one more time, one of the last great figures of that 1946-57 period in which the Brooklyn Dodgers, more than any other MLB club, steamed over the color line that barred identified blacks ~ or negroid coloreds ~ from playing professional baseball with so-called identified whites.

Jackie Robinson, of course, broke the professional white baseball color line in 1946 as a Dodger prospect and player for their farm club, the Montreal Royals. He then broke it again at the major league level for the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers. Then came guys like catcher Roy Campanella and pitcher Don Newcombe to make the Dodger commitment to superior pay for superior talent ~ regardless of color ~ the bell of fairness that would ring for everyone over ignorance, prejudice, and racist hate.

Don Newcombe also was one of my special heroes for the way he could just take over a game whenever he started out by just blowing away the first three batters he faced. As a 15-year-old, I even got to see him do his magic in person one time ~ and even if it happened in a not too serious game ~ I shall treasure the memory and thank my dad for it ~ forever.

Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe, who was in the military at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio in 1953, was spending a lot of his time pitching for the site’s semi-pro level baseball team. I was 15 when my one chance to see Newcombe pitch came up. We lived in Houston, of course, but this opportunity was about to arise in the most unlikely place I could think of, given the added fact that it was not going to be in our big city home town.

It happened like this:

One day, dad read in his US Mail subscription to the Beeville Bee-Picayune (That’s the newspaper started by his father and my grandfather) that the Brooke Field San Antonio club was coming down to our original home town with plans to pitch Newcombe against the Beeville Blue Jays at the Bee County Fair Grounds Park on the following Sunday.

To make it short, that set us in motion on a family trip to Grandmother McCurdy’s house on the 180-miles one-way trip to Beeville, driving southwest from Houston to Beeville for the game down US Highway 59. Dad, my 11 year old brother John and I went to see the game on Sunday afternoon. Mom and our nearly 2-year old baby sister, Margie, stayed with Grandmother McCurdy while we were busy with baseball stuff.

As for the game, it was more like a keg party that only once-in-a-while broke into some kind of serious baseball game. And it was always Newk’s team that supplied the “serious” part of any offensive explosion. The more the game wore on that day under the simmering hot South Texas sun, the more players on both sides started beer-quenching their thirsts and best abilities for the game of baseball.

By the middle innings, Brooke Medical held a commanding double digit lead over Beeville’s double-aught nothing-doing total in runs or hits scored. In the four or five innings that Newcombe worked from the mound, I cannot remember the Blue Jays so much as coming up with a loud foul off “Newk”. A couple of Beeville boys took some hard rib plunks ~ and maybe one walked. The rest of them haplessly struck out.  ~ Then mid-way into the game, Newk took himself out of “the game”, but he remained in the lineup in right field ~ just in case.

The final score escapes memory. Brooke had close to 20 runs; Beeville had a couple of 8th or 9th inning “mercy” runs off somebody not named Newcombe. And the separate two-team beer party joined together as one happy-in-shared dehydration mob. The younger Beeville players seemed to gather around Don Newcombe post-game like little ducks ~ just soaking up advice too from the big league giant as he laughed and pointed out things to each of them as they did a post-game “shoot-the-shot” with each other ~ (or something like that.)

Don Newcombe could have destroyed a lot of Beeville baseball hopefuls that day, but he chose not to do so. I left there at game’s end with more respect for him than ever. I was too young to see whatever problems he might later have with alcohol, but that’s how addictions work. ~ I don’t think Newk saw them coming his way either, but that seems to be the way substance addictions take control. By the time you realize you have an addiction, it already has you.

Fortunately for the great Don Newcombe, his eventual recovery from his later problems with alcohol would be a gift that passed him on to those he also mentored as something like a “life crisis lessons teacher” ~ and his actions in the world in this regard stood taller as a triumph ~ and far greater than all the good stuff he ever did on the mound as one of the great hard ball throwing pitchers in baseball history.

Rest in Love and Peace, Don Newcombe!

Here’s the obituary link, plus another link about his time in San Antonio:

https://www.sbsun.com/2019/02/19/dodgers-great-don-newcombe-dies-at-92/

https://www.expressnews.com/150years/military-sports/article/Breaking-racial-barriers-in-S-A-6285452.php

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher