Shrine of the Eternals 2018 Induction Day

July 11, 2018


The Baseball Reliquary Presents

Shrine of the Eternals 2018 Induction Day

Date & Time: Sunday, July 22, 2018, 2:00 p.m.

Location: Donald R. Wright Auditorium, Pasadena Central Library Address: 285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, California

Information: (626) 791-7647 or

The Baseball Reliquary will present the 2018 Induction Day ceremony for its 20th class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals on Sunday, July 22, 2018, beginning at 2:00 p.m., at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, California. Doors to the auditorium will open at 1:30 p.m. Admission is open to the public and free of charge, with seating on a first come, first served basis. The inductees will be Nancy Faust, Rusty Staub, and Tommy John. The Keynote Address will be delivered by Dan Epstein. In addition, the Baseball Reliquary will honor the recipients of the 2018 Hilda Award, Bart Wilhelm, and the 2018 Tony Salin Memorial Award, Ross Altman. Former Shrine of the Eternals inductee Ted Giannoulas (aka the San Diego Chicken) will make a special appearance.

Following is a brief preview of the afternoon’s festivities:

The program will commence with an Induction Day tradition: the ceremonial bell ringing in memory of the late Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester; everyone who attends is encouraged to bring a bell to ring for this much-anticipated sonic cacophony. The National Anthem will be performed by NANCY FAUST on the Hammond B3 organ.

The Brooklyn Bell Girl Fan

The first presentation will be the Hilda Award, established in memory of legendary Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester to recognize distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan. The 2018 recipient, BART WILHELM has, since his first visit to Tiger Stadium in 1984, attended over 1,100 games in 270 different professional ballparks. The second presentation will be the Tony Salin Memorial Award, named in memory of the late baseball author and historian, and established to recognize individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history. The 2018 recipient, ROSS ALTMAN has, over the past thirty years, composed and performed musical tributes to many heroes of the national pastime, ranging from Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Sandy Koufax to Shrine of the Eternals inductees Jackie Robinson, Jimmy Piersall, and Steve Bilko.

The San Diego Chicken


Following the award presentations, the 2018 Keynote Address will be delivered by DAN EPSTEIN, a Chicago-based journalist, historian, and raconteur. Epstein is the author of the acclaimed baseball books Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ‘70s and Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76, both of which examine baseball’s most colorful and tumultuous decade and its overlap with American popular culture. Following the Keynote Address, 2011 Shrine inductee TED GIANNOULAS (aka THE SAN DIEGO CHICKEN) will offer his comments in celebration of the 20th anniversary festivities of the Shrine of the Eternals.


The 2018 inductions will lead off with NANCY FAUST, the most famous ballpark organist of the past half-century, who entertained Chicago White Sox fans at Comiskey Park between 1970 and 2010. Following her acceptance remarks, Faust will play a musical selection on her Hammond B3 organ. Her induction will be introduced by MIKE DOWNEY, an award-winning newspaper columnist who has written for the Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Daily News, Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicago Tribune.


The second inductee, the much-beloved RUSTY STAUB (1944-2018), was one of the outstanding hitters in baseball. When he retired after the 1985 season, he had played for 23 years and is the only player in baseball history to have 500 hits with four different teams.

As a 1963 Houston Rookie Hope

We would be remiss not to mention that Rusty Staub was the original rookie star of hope for the new Houston NL franchise (1963-68) and that his departure from the Astros via the infamous commissioner-forced completion trade to the Montreal Expos prior to the 1969 season lives on as a nightmare memory of historic regret for surviving long-of-tooth-and-term Houston fans.

After retiring as a player, Staub worked as a broadcaster for the Mets, opened a successful New York restaurant, and established two foundations to raise funds for charitable and humanitarian purposes. Staub’s induction will be accepted by his sister, SALLY JOHNSTON, on behalf of the Staub family. His induction will be introduced by ALBERT KILCHESTY, the Baseball Reliquary’s Historian and Archivist.


The third inductee is TOMMY JOHN, who won 288 games over a 26-year career, notched 20 victories in a season three times, appeared in three World Series, was named to four All-Star teams, finished in the top eight for the Cy Young Award four times, and – through his courageous example – is responsible for a surgical procedure that has now prolonged the careers of countless pitchers and position players. John will be introduced by his son, DR. TOMMY JOHN III, a chiropractor and sports performance and healing specialist, and author of the recently-published book Minimize Injury, Maximize Performance: A Sports Parent’s Survival Guide.

Free parking is available in the University of Phoenix underground parking structure, which is located just north of the Pasadena Central Library on the corner of Garfield Avenue and Corson Street. The entrance to the parking structure is on Garfield.

Before and after the ceremony, we invite you to visit the Baseball Reliquary exhibition, Shrine @ 20, which is being presented through July 30 in the display cases in the North Entrance, Humanities Wing, and Business Wing of the Pasadena Central Library. Included in the exhibition are all 57 Shrine of the Eternals inductee plaques from 1999-2017.


For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by phone at (626) 791- 7647 or by e-mail at The 2018 Induction Day is cosponsored by the Pasadena Public Library and 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.

# # # #

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Rest In Peace, Joe Hardy

July 10, 2018

Rest In Peace


Born: July 11, 1931 in Hannibal MO

Died: July 09, 2018 in Bethesda, MD

Age: 86, 2 Days Shy of 87th Birthday.

Batted: Right ~ Threw: Right

Height: 6’1” ~ Weight: 185

Position: Center Field

Major League Batting Record, One Season ~ Washington Senators:

23 1954 100 423 105 178 122
57 11 59 76 1 12 4 23 .421

Shoeless Joe ~ He ain’t, no mo!

The legendary Joe Hardy passed away at his home in Bethesda, MD earlier today from apparently “natural” causes. In so doing, his death turns out to be about the only observable thing that has come about naturally from Joe before our curious eyes during his lifetime in the Washington DC area.

Are you old enough to remember the 1954 season? That was the year that the Cleveland Indians played most of the AL season as the heir apparent to the benefits now befalling to another good team as a result of an age crack that seemed to be opening up in the five-year (1949-53) championship run of the New York Yankees.

The Washington Senators, as expected, were busy in the early season, simply settling into their usual cellar door spot and squat work, and probably wondering if the relocation of the St. Louis Browns to Baltimore as the Orioles might result in an over-supply of losing baseball in the now closer-to-each-other general physical area – generating concern that a saturation of losing might hurt the home crowd gates in both neighboring cities.

Little Benny Van Buren was the Sens manager in 1954, but he really didn’t have much talent on that club. All he could tell the fans is what he told his players: “Boys and Girls, this game of baseball is only one part talent. – The rest is heart. – You gotta have heart! ~ Miles and Miles and Miles of Heart!”

The Senators seemed doomed to their usual doldrums spot at – or very damn near – the absolute lowest spot in the American League cellar. But then, one day in late May, a magical thing happened.

A very powerful, swift, and athletic young man named Joe Hardy showed up with his agent ~ a sinister, but always smiling and polite fellow named Applegate. Applegate wanted an impromptu tryout for Joe Hardy and – given the fact that the Senators were still reeling from a live and ongoing 13-game losing streak, it didn’t take much to convince Benny Van Buren that he had nothing to lose by giving Joe Hardy a look-see.

Long story short. – Joe played like a direct gift from the baseball gods. Even though they weren’t much for talent, Hardy killed everything the Senator pitchers threw him at the tryout over the fence. Not a single pitch stayed at home. They all left the yard and disappeared into the dark capitol night.

Joe Hardy had a great season before he mysteriously disappeared. His 9th inning home run to deep center field at the Polo Grounds won the 1954 World Series for Washington over the New York Giants. Willie Mays was inches away from a “catch” that would have been celebrated forever, but … you just don’t catch flying balls that seem to defy the laws of both gravity and inertia.

Hardy also caught Willie Mays’ game and series ending long fly to center and kept right on going to the clubhouse. It was probably a half hour later that the Senators all returned to their dead center clubhouse under those stands and realized that Joe was missing. A couple of bat boys were sent out the back stadium exit to look for Joe and they came back with a curious report.

“We didn’t find Joe,” one of the boys said, “but we did find this old guy about two blocks down the street, hobbling away in a Senators uniform. He looked enough like Joe to have been his grandfather, but it could not have been Joe. That guy looked like he was older than dirt.”

How Joe disappeared for a half century and was discovered living in Bethesda about twenty years ago is another story for another day, but we plan to seek out a follow-up interview with Joe’s wife, Mrs. Lola Hardy, and see what she’s willing to tell us about the mystery of her now late husband, after a reasonable period of mourning.

This just in. – One of our reporters says he earlier today went to see Mrs. Hardy at her home and was turned away for an interview. While he was there, he snapped a photo of Mr. Applegate as he was coming out of the Hardy home from his own meeting with Mrs. Hardy.

Mr. Applegate’s new photo now simply fans the flames of mystery. – The guy doesn’t look a day older than he did back in the mid-20th century, when he and Joe Hardy showed up for the latter’s 1954 tryout with the Senators.

Rest in Peace, Joe Hardy (if possible)!

And Rest in Peace too, Tab Hunter! You did a great job as Joe Hardy in the movie version of “Damn Yankees” and you should be remembered favorably for it forever.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle




William Edward White

July 9, 2018

Brown University Baseball Team,
1879 National Champions.
One of these players is now regarded as the earliest black baseball player in big league history.

His name was William Edward White.


William Edward White
Is sitting directly behind the manager in the team photo.


“An answer commonly given to the question of who was the first black man to play major-league baseball is still Jackie Robinson in 1947. Knowledgeable baseball people know that Robinson was preceded by the Walker brothers, Moses and Weldy, for Toledo in 1884. Recent research, led by SABR’s Peter Morris, has uncovered evidence of still earlier African American participation in the major leagues. Morris’s detective work reveals that William Edward White, a former slave, had a one-game career for the National League’s Providence Grays on June 21, 1879.”

To read the balance of this most informative brief article by John R. Husman, please click the following link:

The Pecan Park Eagle also wants to thank reader/colleague/friend, Bill Hickman for calling our attention to the deeper meaning of the same Browns baseball photo that we used yesterday in a much lighter look column on the sport in the “good old summertime days” era. In irony, Bill’s mention of William Edward White “to have been (documented as) the first Afro-American (to play) in the majors, preceding Moses Fleetwood Walker and his brother Weldy Walker by five years,” as a far more accurate display of the zeitgeist of post-Civil War America.

So-called “people of color” simply didn’t have the same rights and opportunities as white people in America and, like almost all other avenues of possibility, baseball was busy signing on to the idea that our country could go from slavery ending with the Civil War to a “separate, but equal” society that divided people on the basis of color. ~ What a pile of crock that was!

Today we, at least, have a game in which everybody who plays well enough, will play. In fact, these are the good old days – the only ones we’ll ever have. – Smack dab in the here and now. – The only place anything ever gets done.

Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance once had a nice ring, but I like our Houston Astros 6-4-3 play better, especially when all three of our main guys are in the lineup for the Astros. It’a a long one. It goes from “Puerto Rico-to-Venezuela-to-Cuba-Ole!”

Enough rambling. Racism is the human race cancer. And it needs to die. In all forms.  As this man did, no one ever should have to pass for white, just to get a foot in the door. And that’s why it’s important to remember people like William Edward White, even if others suffered far more by comparison. No one among us should have to go through what he encountered to hide his true identity for the simple sake of avoiding someone else’s need to hate.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

In The Good Old Summertime

July 8, 2018


Livingston, Texas, July 15. – The married
men and the boys played a game of ball
here today, the losing side to pay for an
ice cream supper, given at the school
house tonight, resulting in a score of 44
to 16 in favor of the boys.
Houston Daily Post, July 15, 1896.
Contributed by Darrell Pittman.


After receiving Darrell’s 1896 story, we looked for a team photo of “the boys” club, but came up empty. So, even though the actual club shown here is one of the 19th century Brown University teams, we have prevailed upon these silent thespians from baseball’s history to portray for us a sidebar note in the Livingston game story. We received no complaints from any of them to the exercise. – So, here we see “the boys” cooling their heels down at the school house after the game, as they patiently await the “married men” to show up and pay for the ice cream.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

MMP Error Call Should Be Reversed

July 7, 2018

Yuli Gurriel
Robbed of a Double by the official scorer at MMP on Friday night.


In the Friday night big 7-run 8th inning for the Astros, Chicago right fielder Avisail Garcia was charged with an error when he allegedly misjudged a fly ball hit by Yuli Gurriel and it bounced behind him, just inside the line fair, and sailed into the near side lower right field stands. The bases were loaded at the time and two more Astros runs scored as a result. Even the Astros broadcast crew spoke what almost all our eyes first told us as we watched the tough play unfold – that Gurriel would be credited with a ground rule double and two runs batted in.

Not so, according to the official scorer, whomever that dubious authority may be. He or she ruled the play as an error on Garcia for misjudging the descent of the ball, taking away Gurriel’s double and 2 RBI, and earmarking the two runs as unearned.

The MLB office needs to both review the “E” call and also look into the MMP official scorer’s general readiness to carry out the charge that goes with this important scoring assignment. I can think of a lot of outfielders who could have made this play, but all of them are either Astros or players who are much more familiar with MMP than Avisail Garcia.

A larger point – anyone who has actually played the outfield, especially the two corner spots, would know that Garcia was not guilty of an error on that fluke play and that Gurriel has now been deprived of the ground rule double and other accolades that go with it. The call needs to be reversed and our local official scorer either needs a continuing education seminar or a replacement in this role. The integrity of the game deserves the best – and this call wasn’t even close.

Even if we don’t talk about it enough in these terms, those of us who’ve played enough outfield at any level understand this much about fly balls:

  1. The fly balls that reach us off the bat while we are positioned in the vertical cone path of ascent are the easiest to catch when they are coming at us 10 to 20 feet either side of where we stand. Of this total group, the line drives hit directly at us are the hardest to judge. On these, we have to rely heavily upon the sound the ball makes coming off the bat to tell us if a ball is going to be sinking to the ground before it reaches us – or still soaring in ascent to go over our head. “The Catch” by Willie Mays of the Vic Wertz blast in the 1954 World Series is my favorite memory of such a dangerous ball being captured. On these within the vertical cone blasts, a slight side vantage view within the cone is a big help on the depth question by the way it gives us a slant on the “coming down early” to “headed for deeper ground than me” question.
  2. The ball that “fooled” Garcia had a vertical cone path whose dead center proved to be one-foot fair down the right field line. From there, as we saw, the ball had the ability to take a high bounce foul into the stands, located only a few further feet away.
  3. Garcia was not in the vertical cone path of Gurriel’s batted ball in the 8th. He had a great bead on where it was coming down from his running view outside the cone, but he had a very long horizontal run just to get under it almost simultaneously when the ball hit the ground fair behind him and bounced – untouched by Garcia – into the stands.
  4. Even when they help us track where the ball is coming down, horizontal runs to a ball’s vertical cone path cause the head to bob as the fielder now tries to keep a closer eye on the ball’s descent from afar. At MMP, a fielder less familiar with the park may also be much more conscious at the same time of wanting to avoid an injury slam into the low-laying stands.
  5. My conclusion: Avisail Garcia did not misjudge or err in his play of the ball hit by Yuli Gurriel in the 8th inning of Houston’s 11-4 Friday night win over the White Sox. He simply could not make the play. And there is no basis for an error assignment. The error call should be reversed and a hit credit should be restored to Yuli Gurriel.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle



Health Tip of the Day

July 7, 2018



Health Tip of the Day: To make sure you complete your one hour walking time plan, walk indoors. ********** Illustration by Bill McCurdy



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Lagniappe: July 6, 2018

July 6, 2018

A Hometown Pennant

The Face of Minor League America. A Houstonian friend of mine from Syracuse brought me this pennant from his recent vacation home to the old ball park there and a game in which he watched the Syracuse Chiefs play their big rivals, the Rochester Red Wings. The halcyon days of bitterness between the two upstate New York clubs must be all but done. We did not even discuss the game or the eventual outcome. I also couldn’t name half the clubs I saw on the pennant by logo, but, of course, like most observers, Kevin Costner included, I did recognize the Durham Bulls and the Hollywood Stars in there. – The old Houston Buffs did not even make the layout cut. Maybe you had to be a living club to make the canvas. – At any rate, the pennant now has a decorative place on my Wall of Honor. – Thanks again, dear friend.

Yuli Gurriel
Now Hitting .300

Gurriel BA on the Upward move. Yuli Gurriel’s game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th last night not only gave the Astros a 4-3 comeback walk-off win over the White Sox in the their four-game series opener at MMP, it also boosted his batting average to .300. The surreal bat of Jose Altuve, at .332, good enough for second place in the current AL batting average chase, is the only other .300 mark among qualifying Astros hitters. Altuve’s recent dip has opened the door for Mooky Betts of Boston to take the lead with a .338 BA, as Jean Segura essentially ties Altuve for 2nd place at .332 also. Gurriel at .300 is currently sitting just outside the Top Ten.

Please kill my former PO Box mailing address from your records. I have terminated my use of that box and will receive nothing you mail to me there. Please e-mail me for my usable US Mail address.

Please Discontinue the Use of PO Box 940871 immediately! For future necessary contact between us by US Mail, please e-mail me at and I will supply you with an alternative (snail) mailing address. Thank you.

Simply do not send anything to any PO Box number attached to my name at this time. It will be given the Elvis Presley “Return to Sender” treatment without any explanation by our most uncaring United States Postal Service.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Bobby Bragan’s Doubleheader Problems

July 5, 2018

Bobby Bragan

Double your pleasure?

Double your fun?

Don’t ask Bobby Bragan,

He’d rather play one!

Few, if any, of these reasons offered by the late Bobby Bragan had anything to do with the disappearance of the planned doubleheader on the MLB season schedule. As with all things, follow the money for the best current answer.

Two games for the price of one was never going to be a big seller for club owners as they moved into areas of operational cash need that have grown like wildfire since this simple little interview with writer Murray Olderman back in 1965 revealed the regard Bragan held for the impact that these twin bills had upon the players and the playing of the game itself.

Thank you again, Darrell Pittman, for this submission from the July 14, 1965 edition of the Victoria Advocate. Like the fiery old manager of the Fort Worth Cats himself, it speaks for a man who cared about the game and the best interests of the men who played it – and way earlier then the MLB clubs’ needs for gazillions to make payroll.




Pin Ball Baseball Was Great 4th of July Fun

July 4, 2018


During the summer of 1950, this little pin ball baseball game was my “heat of the day” companion during the 12 noon to 3 pm time that we were all forced inside from the so-called polio vulnerable period of Houston’s worst heat, and probably with good reason prior to the polio vaccine of 1957. In the summer of 1950 alone, over 500 Houston kids came down with polio from mild to fatal effect.


POOSH M UP, JR. had 4 games you could play on the same field, but baseball was the only one that held my interest from the start. My actual copy of the game was discarded by my dad years ago. He would do that with our things once we seemed to have “outgrown” them. ~ Sometime in the late 1980s, My brother John found this replica of my original game from our Pecan Park Eagle days and gifted it to me. For one evening, at least, I reacted like an addict who had not snorted a line of cocaine for several decades. Then I found a place for it on my wall of memories and have since settled thereafter for its now-quiet presence as a fond reminder of a very happy early time in my life.


Under the lower left side, the part that’s covered by the glove in the first photo, there is a lever you pull that propels the little pin balls, one at a time, up the release channel and onto the field. Pulled at full strength, the ball shoots fast on an arc around the top and then bounces off a metal piece that is designed to carry it bouncing all over the place. ~ Over time, you learn what it takes to reach that tiny space between the two large “U” spaces above that are marked here as “single” and “walk”. Get into the narrow slot between these and it counts as a “home run.” I did reach a point as a kid with my perseverating play time with the game in which back-to-backs were not uncommon. No brag. Any kid with finger dexterity and my capacity for obsession could also do it.



Happy Fourth of July, everybody! ~ Stay cool! Let Love & Peace rule! 








Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Bill Gilbert: A June 2018 Report

July 3, 2018

Evan Gattis (L) and Alex Bregman were among the Astro hitters to smile this past month and they had good reason to shake on their common ground. ~ They each banged home 30 RBI in June 2018, a new calendar month record in Houston MLB franchise history.


Astros Led the Pack in June 

By Bill Gilbert

The Houston Astros had the best record n the major leagues in June (19-8), building a 1.5-game lead over the Seattle Mariners in the American League West Division. They took advantage of a soft spot in the schedule by sweeping a 10-game road trip against three non-contending teams (Texas, Oakland and Kansas City.)

June was the month that the hitting finally picked up. The team batted .275 in June, raising the season average to .263, while scoring 5.33 runs per game. The pitching remained strong but not at the April=May level. The staff ERA was 3.17 in June compared to 2.68 in the first two months. For the season through June, the Astros are scoring an average of 5.07 runs per game and allowing 3.06.

As usual, Jose Altuve led the offense in June with an average of 3.54. Four other Astros batted over .300 for the month – Josh Reddick .333, Yuli Gurriel .330, Tony Kemp .327 and Alex Bregman .306. Bregman and Evan Gattis each had 30 RBIs to supply the power. Bregman had 11 home runs and Gattis had 8.

The five pitchers in the starting rotation have started all 85 games through June. However, only Lance McCullers had an ERA under 3.00 for the month (2.81). The bullpen had an outstanding month with five relievers posting an ERA under 1.00 – Chris Devenski, Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh, Hector Rondon and Tony Sipp. Devenski did not allow an earned run in June and the other four each allowed only one earned run.   Closer, Ken Giles converted his only save opportunity but was replaced in his role by Rondon, who converted 5 out of 5.

While the Astros had great success in June, the month didn’t end well. They lost their last two games in the month and scored only 7 runs in the 4-game series with Tampa Bay. Carlos Correa and George Springer are out with minor injuries and Justin Verlander has been roughed up in the early innings of his last two starts. Meanwhile, Seattle is enjoying a 7-game winning streak. The July schedule doesn’t look too tough, so the Astros have time to increase their lead before a series in Seattle at the end of the month.

Bill Gilbert



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle