Baseball Reliquary Inducts John, Staub, and Faust

May 8, 2018
At the close of this column, please read the linked material from The Baseball Reliquary in the Los Angeles area and ask yourselves: Don’t people like Astrodome originator Judge Roy Hofheinz, — baseball pitcher, broadcaster, columnist, author, and highly successful major league manager Larry Dierker, — and early female baseball writer and broadcaster Anita Martini also do a pretty good job qualifying as culture-clanging shapers of the world we now inhabit in 2018 as a result of their original energy forays into the game of baseball?Come on, everybody! Our brothers and sisters on the west coast are doing everything they can to stir the pot of attention to the powerful two-way impact that baseball and the creative surrounding cultures are having upon each other for the sake of a more interesting life, but we cannot expect them to have lived close enough to all the epicenters of lifestyle impact to have made note of them all.

Some of them have happened in Houston — and other places too.

Judge Roy Hofheinz
Father of the Astrodome
Baseball’s P.T. Barnum

The late Judge Roy Hofheinz did not invent them, but he put domed stadiums on the map in a way that has changed everything about the once-called (and by Hofheinz himself) “eighth wonder of the world” view of stadium construction.

Larry Dierker’sPost-Game  18th Birthday Party
September 22, 1964
The day Dierker broke into baseball by striking out Willie Mays.

Larry Dierker celebrated his 18th birthday by striking out the great Willie Mays in his major league start, going on from there during his career to rack up a 20-win season, a no-hitter, and the second greatest number of pitching wins in the history of a largely losing Houston Astros team, before graduating to both the broadcast booth and print media columns — and then — just when it seemed the dust had settled on career change — being pulled into service as Astros manager and leading the club into the playoffs in four of his five seasons at the helm — recovering from brain surgery during his managerial tour to write a book about the scary experience — and then — off once more to some other subjects, including another book on baseball and a never-produced musical based on Damn Yankees. And deep in his heart is another book — a fictional book on Cuban Baseball back in the Pre-Castro days. The man has a mind that sweeps the landscape of social relationships with the intuition of the same guy who took his club to the money rounds in four of his five season shots.

CC'd FG 040707 Perc.

Anita Martini (Artwork by Opie Otterstad.) She knew baseball as well as any man I’ve ever met. 

The late Anita Martini was a gift to baseball and way ahead of her time as a female reporter and writer. In September 1974, she may also have been the first female reporter allowed into an MLB clubhouse when, at a division-clinching win in Houston, she gained the help of Dodger center fielder Jimmy Wynn and manager Walter Alston — and was allowed into the clubhouse as the first ever female reporter to cover the Dodgers under these circumstances.

Very Important! Consider joining The Baseball Reliquary so you too can become a voting member on the candidates. It would also be great to see any of you nominate any of the three people suggested here as your first act too — or anyone else for that matter, once you’re clear on how voting for these nominees differs from the straight field performance factor vote on players for the Hall of Fame.

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New Hall of Eternals Inductee and longtime Chicago White Sox organist Nancy Faust pauses long enough to say the following: “Please pay attention to these last two sections. They say exactly as possible how one gets inducted into the Hall of Eternals and how you may easily join The Baseball Reliquary and help us expand the search for future picks.”

Shrine of the Eternals

 The highest honor afforded an individual by the Baseball Reliquary is election to the Shrine of the Eternals. Similar in concept to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Shrine of the Eternals differs philosophically in that statistical accomplishment is not the principal criterion for election. It is believed that the election of individuals on merits other than statistics and playing ability will offer the opportunity for a deeper understanding and appreciation of baseball than has heretofore been provided by “Halls of Fame” in the more traditional and conservative institutions.

Criteria for election shall be: the distinctiveness of play (good or bad); the uniqueness of character and personality; and the imprint that the individual has made on the baseball landscape. Electees, both on and off the diamond, shall have been responsible for developing baseball in one or more of the following ways: through athletic and/or business achievements; in terms of its larger cultural and sociological impact as a mass entertainment; and as an arena for the human imagination.

Anyone associated with baseball, past or present, is eligible for election, including players, managers and coaches, umpires, executives and administrators, broadcasters and writers, fans, and those who have interpreted the game through artistic and cultural mediums. Fictional characters from the realms of literature, drama, motion pictures, etc., may also be considered.

By authorization of the Board of Directors of the Baseball Reliquary, three individuals will be elected to the Shrine of the Eternals on an annual basis by the organization’s membership. All members in good standing, including honorary members, shall be eligible to vote. A screening committee will be appointed by the Board of Directors to prepare a ballot, listing in alphabetical order candidates for election to the Shrine of the Eternals. The ballot will be mailed to the membership, and the three candidates receiving the most votes in any year will be elected.

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New Inductee Announcement

Friends & Reliquarians:

The Board of Directors of the Baseball Reliquary is pleased to announce the 20th class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals.

Tommy John, Rusty Staub, and Nancy Faust were elected upon receiving the highest number of votes in balloting conducted during the month of April 2018 by the membership of the Baseball Reliquary.  The three electees will be formally inducted into the Shrine of the Eternals in a public ceremony on Sunday, July 22, 2018 at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California.

We are pleased to attach the official news release, which can also be viewed online at the Baseball Reliquary Web site:

http://www.baseballreliquary.org/2018/05/shrine-of-the-eternals-class-of-2018/

Congratulations to the Class of 2018!

Please advise if we can provide any further information.

Sincerely,
Terry Cannon
Executive Director
The Baseball Reliquary

http://www.baseballreliquary.org/

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

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Good Pitching and Club Spirit Won for Buffs

May 6, 2018

(This article was produced by Associated Press nearly 70 years ago. Here’s how it appeared in the Corpus Christi Times, on Page 19, on September 25, 1947, the day following the last Texas League Playoff game for the Houston Buffs on their way to the Texas League pennant and in readiness for yet another victory over Mobile for the Dixie Series Championship.)

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EPSON MFP image

Johnny Keane ~ Field Manager ~ 1947 Houston Buffs

Good Pitching and Club Spirit Won for Buffs

Houston, Sept. 25 (AP) — In the words of Johnny Keane: “I’ve never seen anything like this ball club.”

He was speaking of his Houston Buffaloes who last night defeated the defending champion Dallas Rebels, 1-0, to take the 1947 Texas League pennant and the right to represent the circuit in the Dixie Series, opening here Friday night, with Mobile’s Bears, the champions of the Southern Association.

The Buffs have had Keane, fans, and sports writers guessing all season. for, despite a noticeable absence of heavy hitters, a siege of injuries and only three “frontline” hurlers, they monopolized first place throughout most of the league’s regular schedule, defeated Tulsa four straight in the first round of of the playoff, and overcame terrific odds in the Dallas round.

But repeated analysis had indicated two things: The Buffs hit when hits count and they are firm believers in the old adage that the game is not over until the last out is recorded.

The first point is illustrated with Houston’s ranking fifth during most of the season in club batting but first in runs batted in.

And Tuesday night’s game at Dallas is proof of the second point, for it was then the Buffs, trailing by six runs and held hitless for six innings, broke loose for eight runs and 11 hits in the last three innings to take an 8-6 decision that placed them in the driver’s seat in the Rebel Series.

Only two of Keane’s crew (Hal Epps and Johnny Hernandez) finished above .300 in batting but every man in the lineup has been at one time or another a hero by knocking in winning runs.

Clarence Beers, who began his baseball career as a catcher, is the mainstay of the pitching staff, having recorded his 28th victory as against eight defeats. The only other steady winner is knuckleballer Al Papai, who finished with a 23-11 record.

The third hurler is Jack Creel (15-11), who, nursing an arm ailment, has his on and off nights.

As relief men, Keane has two right handers, Roman Brunswick (12-8) and Charlie Sproull (6-5) and two southpaws, Pete Mazar (5-6) and veteran Herb Moore (5-2).

Houston’s starting lineup, with final batting averages for the regular season, normally includes:

Solly Hemus (.277) at second, Billy Costa (.232) at short, Eddie Knoblauch (.275) at left, Johnny Hernandez (.301) at first base, Hal Epps (.302) at center, Vaughn Hazen (.280) or Stan Benjamin (.280) at right, Tommy Glaviano (.245) at third, and Gerald Burmeister (.210) catching.

The all-around utility man who has done everything except catch and pitch is Jack Angle (.251), while the reserve catchers are Doc Greene (.217) and Joe Niedson (.212).

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TPPE Note: Note some of the stats, especially for pitchers, are slightly at variance from the data that Baseball Reference.Com now carries for the t947 Houston Buffs.. This appears to be because the data reported in this article included playoff game data with regular season data. That may explain why Buffs pitcher Clarence Beers is credited here with 28 season wins against 8 defeats – and BBREF.com records Beers with three less wins and a 25-8 record at Houston in 1947. Further study of the discrepancy is needed.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

Yankees Win Series Attitude War

May 4, 2018

Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees ~ in a lighter moment back in 2017.

The New York Yankees rode into town this first time in 2018 and played ball like cold-blooded killer squad they are. They play with purpose and intent, talent and intelligence, size and power, and with an almost sublime sense of knowing when to shoot, when to strangle, and when to flat-out clobber.

They had a little trouble with those killer starters who pitch for the Astros, but the Houston pen was back on its heels and broadly unable to keep the Astros hopes alive in close games – once the stars in our Texas night – were no longer fresh and bright. In fact, we could not refrain from wonder. – Why doesn’t Harris also punch himself out on the way to the dugout as he concludes his walk to the dugout in the 9th of Game 4? – He didn’t do it as dramatically as Giles did in Game 3, but he had one of those nights in which all three of the missing “Yankees-Win” runs had now either reached base or scored.

If Giles really deserved to scourge himself so cruelly for human error, shouldn’t the same penalty fall to all others who have a bad day on the job. – For that matter, when is the last time you punched yourself out at 5:00 PM for showing up for work at 9:00 AM that same day and then causing your company certain profits because of your failed performance? – And did the story of your bad day make the evening TV news or the next day’s newspaper?

And then there was the matter of that missing Astros offense – the one that gathered to bedevil the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers in the 2017 Playoffs and World Series in a  stream of confidence and dynamic leadership and hitting. – It was then an everyday thing that now only blinks – and then disappears again – in 2018.

And it’s not just one thing. It’s several:

(1) There’s been a Major Shift, from Hope in 2017 to Expectation in 2018. Jose Altuve is no longer the baseball “small wonder man.” He now bears the burden of his new contract. – Now we all expect big things of him – and these great expectations are on the level of those that probably afflicted Moses a long time ago.

Example: Imaginary Monologue, God to Moses, After Moses started hitting on Ramses for Jewish Liberty from Egypt, but before he had scared the Pharaoh enough to get his way:

God: “Hear me loud and clear. Don’t waste your worries on the wrong issue. You have nothing at all to fear from the Egyptian Pharaoh. I have an offer in mind now that he will not be able to refuse. It is an offer that will change even the feelings of the Israelites toward you. – Right now you possess the power of novelty in their eyes. – You are a man who can actually get an audience with the king in the name of their freedom. – It is an attitude toward you that will continue to grow among the people until you (with a little help from Me) get the people what they want from your next certain-to-be-accepted offer.

“Once that offer is delivered, the people’s expectations of you shall change. You will no longer simply be the miracle man who gets them out of Egypt, you will become the man who leads the people to the dessert with that great expectation now firmly bowed to your neck as — the man that God sent to lead them to The Promised Land. — And no achievement short of that goal ever shall be considered acceptable.”

Altuve’s task covers arguably smaller spiritual ground, but its dynamic change feature is the same. Until the Astros dramatically won the 2017 World Series behind the mojo generated by Altuve and Company, they were the fans’ great hope. And like it or not, the fans of 2018 now expect results that the fans of 2017 merely hoped to see.

(2) The hungry dynamic of offensive play needs to return. Let’s hope that much of its’ current absence is due to celebratory hangover from the party that never has stopped since the night of November 1, 2017. How could it? The TV games still show the stream of George Springer shouting into the ear of Josh Reddick on the street in Houston during the day of the November victory party. – The 2018 Yankees don’t play like a team that expects to win by showing up. The 2018 Yankees show up to crush whatever’s in their way.

(3) The bottom three hitters in the 2018 Astros lineup, plus Evan Gattis batting in a higher up spot, are now showing up as a weakness that an intelligent foe can again use to pitch around the potentially more dangerous batters in the Astros game plan. Maybe we will see the younger Mr. Tucker up here sooner rather than later. The hitting has to come around soon. Great starters, week relievers, and no hitting on the level we’re seeing now could sink the ship of a repeat title, if we are still seeing these same patterns by the All Star break.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Bill Gilbert: Pitching Carries Astros in April

May 3, 2018

SABR Analyst and Pecan Park Eagle Contributor Bill Gilbert sums up the 2017 AL Champion Astros Repeat Run through the early part of  2018.

Pitching Carries Astros in April

By Bill Gilbert

The Houston Astros compiled a won-loss record of 20-10 in April to lead the American League West Division by 2 1/2 games over the Seattle Mariners and 3 games over the Los Angeles Angels.  The starting pitching was superb. The five pitchers in the rotation each started 6 games and they collectively recorded an ERA of 2.44, by far the best in the major leagues. Three pitchers with ERA’s under 2.00 led the way, Justin Verlander (1.36), Charlie Morton (1.72) and Gerrit Cole (1.73). Cole set a team strikeout record for April with 61. The bullpen also performed well with an ERA of 2.76. Most encouraging was the rebound of closer, Brian Giles, after a poor World Series. In April, Giles converted all three save opportunities and allowed a total of only two runs in his eleven games.

The Houston offense started slowly but by the end of the month the team ranked well above the major league average in most offensive categories.   In 2017, the Astros averaged scoring 5.53 runs per game. In April 2018, they averaged 4.97 compared to the MLB average o 4.46. Six teams averaged over 5 runs per game in April led by the New York Yankees at 5.86.

Jose Altuve batted .347 and Carlos Correa hit .330 in April but the rest of the team hit in the low to mid .200’s. George Springer and Josh Reddick each hit 6 home runs.

April was the first month in the history of major league baseball when strikeouts (6,656 ) outnumbered hits (6,360). This is a continuation of a trend that may not be good for baseball in the long run. Astros pitchers were a major factor in this imbalance by striking out 316 opposing batters while allowing only 196 hits.

The New York Yankees bring their 9-game winning streak to Houston to open the month of May for a four game series with the Astros. matching the best hitting team in baseball with the best pitching team. It could happen again in the post-season.

As expected, teams in the AL West have improved, especially the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels, but the Astros should prevail barring major injuries.

Bill Gilbert

5/2/2018

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Our Out Of This World Astros

May 2, 2018

Rumor has it that one of our fine Astros starters is actually from Mars. Can’t see any evidence of it, can you?

 

A Tale of Two Ken Giles Guys

After the Yankee Game One Astros 2-1 Win Save on Monday, 4/30/18 , we wrote: 

Ken Giles looked like the guy we always hoped he could be with that 3K 9th of the 3 batters — and with all of them getting punched out by  100 MPH heat.

Store that fist-pumping self-confidence you showed on the final strike three of the night. Mr. Giles, and bring it back with you in your gut every single day you come to the ballpark for a game. Any guy who can pitch like that against this Yankee club, really does, have nothing else to fear, but fear itself.

 

After the Yankee Game Two Blown Scoreless Tie and 3-0 9th Inning Astros Loss on Tuesday, 5/01/18 , we now write: 

May Day to Ken Giles! — May Day to Ken Giles! — May Day to Ken Giles!

We don’t know what to say because most of us out here don’t have the talent you showed up and used in your 9th inning annihilation of three pretty good Yankee hitters to seal the Astros win in Game One. You either variably didn’t read, hear, get, or understand the message from anyone about the power of fear itself yesterday — so we decided to be another place you heard it again today — only 24 hours later — after last night’s tough loss.

Open the window, Aunt Minnie! — Ken can’t breathe in here! — Nor can he see the light! — Bust things up and let’s have some fresh air and new outlook on one of life’s biggest deals — learning to live our lives with all our moving parts working.

Hey, Ken! If you need to be afraid of something — don’t be afraid of trying! – Be afraid of not trying!

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Signs of Arms and Bats in Flight at MMP

May 1, 2018

For fans who interfere with fly balls and foul pop flies near the stands, this should be the view of MMP by those who are found guilty on the next pitch in the game.

In spite of the 2-1 “squeeze by” win the Astros took last night in their four-game series April 30th opener at MMP from the Yankees, the club also began to show some awakening to the old bruise brothers style of offensive ball that served them so well in the 2017 championship year during their-two-wins out of three with Oakland in the previous set.

In my book, the club that can do them both well has the best shot at any World Series, whether they are trying to repeat or not. The Astros have an insanely talented started starting pitcher rotation and an apparently better bullpen than last year’s group, although we still need to see how they improve and hold up under the force of the long season. Ken Giles looked like the guy we always hoped he could be with that 3K 9th of the 3 batters — and with all of them getting punched out by  100 MPH heat.

Store that fist-pumping self-confidence you showed on the final strike three of the night. Mr. Giles, and bring it back with you in your gut every single day you come to the ballpark for a game. Any guy who can pitch like that against this Yankee club, really does, have nothing else to fear, but fear itself.

And, Astros fans, just say the words …. and mean them as we know you do:

Justin Verlander …. Dallas Keuchel …. Lance McCullers, Jr. …. Gerrit Cole …. Charlie Morton …. line ’em up and send them out there one at a time for every game …. and with any kind of help from the pen and our supply of already proven bats …. any of us fans who are not total “dumaskis” about the game of baseball …. and who also are without a knack for irritating others to the bone as soon as they meet us …. any from that group …. could probably manage the Astros to a .600 season this year. We’d still probably have to be an A.J. Hinch or a Larry Dierker to win it all, but even that idea is not carved in marble anywhere. – Is it?

As an appetizer to all of you citizen fan Astro manager candidates, here are the primary offensive numbers for all the Astros who batted or pinch ran for anybody else during the March through April 30th first part of the 2018 season.

2018 Houston Astros Batting

Opening Day Through 4/30/18

Astro Hitters G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA%
George Springer 30 120 24 32 8 0 6 19 0 13 25 .267
Alex Bregman 29 108 11 28 8 0 1 12 3 20 16 .259
Jose Altuve 30 118 17 41 5 0 2 15 1 11 16 .347
Carlos Correa 29 103 20 34 9 0 4 21 2 15 30 .330
Mar. Gonzalez 28 95 9 22 5 0 2 16 0 14 28 .232
X – J.D. Davis 9 24 1 6 0 0 0 1 0 4 9 .250
Yuli Gurriel 15 58 6 13 6 0 1 7 0 4 9 .224
Evan Gattis 25 80 7 16 5 0 1 8 0 8 25 .200
Brian McCann 20 59 12 16 2 0 2 8 0 10 13 .271
Jake Marisnick 25 63 9 9 1 0 3 7 2 1 34 .143
Max Stassi 15 39 5 10 2 0 2 7 0 4 14 .256
Derek Fisher 23 49 10 9 1 2 2 7 2 3 24 .184
Josh Reddick 26 86 18 20 1 0 6 16 1 14 20 .233

Ballpark Etiquette Note. Hey Fans! They are not playing the games to either help you catch a foul ball near the stands, or else, to challenge you to a game of “ball in play vs. fan souvenir” on each loose ball. If you get in the way of a possible out or home run, for either team, you deserve to be thrown out of the ballpark immediately.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston’s 1962 1st MLB April

April 29, 2018

“You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd!!

In their first 1962 season as a major level baseball franchise, our Houston Colt .45s entered the National League, along with their fellow expansion club, the New York Mets, as the 9th and 10th members of the National League. Meanwhile, Houston fans, owners, and players alike all waited with baited breath for the construction and opening of what was then known ingloriously as The Harris County Domed Stadium to open its gates to the future.

It was a future that was three years and a tad more creative identity recognition away from it’s final arrival in April 1965 as the “Houston Astros, playing in the Astrodome, the Eighth Wonder of the World!” Those original Houston Colt .45s would open their premier season in a topless, classless venue known as Colt Stadium. It was a product of haste on the parking lot that also was destined to hold the wondrous air-conditioned and sun, rain, and mosquito-sheltered domed park that would be going on nearby under the watchful eye of principal owner Judge Roy Hofheinz and every game fan from as far away as Louisiana and Oklahoma who came to Houston in those days to see for themselves.

Neither the Houston or New York new clubs had much talent in the spring of 1962. They got their players dirt cheap the during the off-season from fire sale choices made available to them alternately by the eight long-time NL members at pre-set variable prices in this so-called baseball pool drafting process.

A half-serious young country and western singer named Roger Miller even used the phrase for a line he wrote into a song he called “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd.” The fitting baseball tagline included was “You Can’t Go Swimming in a Baseball Pool!” — Miller may as well have added, “You can’t go Winning from A Baseball Pool!” It was the truth, even if the Houston Colt .45s used their first month of seasonal baseball life trying to sell a miracle to Houston fans.

The Early Illusion in 1962

As most know, the first Houston club got off to a gangbusters start at Colt Stadium on April 10, 1962, crushing the Chicago Cubs, 11-2, behind little lefty Bobby Shantz and the two-homer day of muscular outfielder Roman Mejias. What fewer know is that the Colts then imposed two more back-to-back losses of 2-0 each on the Cubs to sweep their first MLB 3-game series in history by a total run differential of 15-2.

The Colts played mediocre ball from there through the end of April, but that was OK. No one expected them to finish their first month with a 7-8 record, in a percentage tie bond with the Reds for 6th place and a GB share of 5th place with the Phillies and Reds for 5th place, just outside the first division.

The Colts even won their last April-played game on April 29th, defeating Milwaukee at home in Colt Stadium by 3-2.

1962 NL Standings Thru April 30, 2018

POS TEAM WON LOST W% GB
1 San Francisco 15 5 .750
2 St. Louis 11 4 .733 1.5
3 Pittsburgh 13 5 .722 1.0
4 Los Angeles 13 8 .619 2.5
5 Philadelphia 8 9 .471 5.5
6-7t Cincinnati 7 8 .467 5.5
6-7t Houston 7 8 .467 5.5
8 Milwaukee 8 11 .421 6.5
9 Chicago 4 16 .200 11.0
10 New York 3 13 .188 10.0

The rest of the season was the inevitable reality unfolding.

The Colt .45s finished the 1962 season with  record of 64-96 for a .400 winning percentage. They took 8th place all to themselves, but they ended up resting 36.5 games behind the NL pennant winning San Francisco Giants (103-62, .624) and gasping for air.

They found the breathing room when they realized what we fans already had found as our grasp on hope: By finishing 8th in 1962, the Astros front office had proven they must have been miles better than their Mets counterparts at the baseball pool. — Look. — The Mets finished 1962 in 10th place with a record of 40-120, .250. And sandwiched between the Colts and Mets were the ancient Cubs — and with ho baseball to blame for their failure — unless it was how they gave away their winnable players.

It became easier to remember the 1962 NL as a 3-club loop:

Our 1962 Houston Special NL Standings

POS TEAM WON LOST W% GB
1 Houston 64 96 .400
2 Chicago 59 103 .363 6.0
3 New York 40 120 .250 24.0

A Darrell Pittman Contribution

Darrell Pittman found this article on how the first month success of the Colt .45s bumped the gate in the Hot Springs (AR) Sentinel-Record of May 2, 1962. My hunch is that Houston attendance in April 1962 would have been good, anyway, no matter what, but that winning only could have helped.

 

 

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

A Tale of Two Lefties

April 28, 2018

Dallas Keuchel
Houston Astros

 

A Tale of Two Lefties

Oakland (8) @ Houston (1), Minute Maid Park,

Friday, April 27, 2018, 7:05 PM.

For five solid and time-breezy innings last night, lefty starters Sean Manaea (4-2) of the Oakland Athletics and Dallas Keuchel (1-4) of the Houston Astros tied up in one of the most delightful pitching competitions we’ve seen in a long while. Each man retired all nine batters they each faced through the third inning, and Keuchel even extended his play with perfection by retiring all three men he saw in the top of the fourth.

Some clever old school running in the top of the fourth then enabled George Springer to reach first base and eventually score on a slashing single to right by Carlos Correa in the bottom of the fourth. That 1-0 crooked number advantage for the Astros was looking pretty good with the stuff that Keuchel was showing, but we needed more caution with the wind that suddenly entered our sails. It had not come from any kind of big sign of a break in A’s pitcher Manaea. It had come, as we said, from some brilliant small ball play by Springer and Correa.

Then came the top of the 5th. Game 2 had begun after Keuchel recorded his 13th out of the necessary 27 perfect game outs.

Matt Coleman promptly banged a solo homer into the left field Crawford Street Boxes, tying the game at 1-1. Then, after the Astros drew another goose egg in the bottom of the 5th. Chad Pinder of the A’s piled another shot into the Crawfords with a man on base to extend the score to 3-1, Oakland.

The 7th inning saw Keuchel do something he had never done before. He gave up his third home run in a single game for the first time in his history. This one came with another runner on, falling over the right field wall and barely out of the reach of a frustrated George Stringer. Those two runs and another single score in the 7th extended the score to 6-1, A’s.

Manaea and Keuchel both left the game after the 7th, but the A’s would score two more in the top of the 8th off reliever Joe Smith to make the final score, 8-1, Oakland on 10 hits and 1 error. The Astros closed with 1 run, 5 hits, and 0 errors.

Manaea gave up no earned runs in 7 innings, registering 7 strikeouts and 1 walk. Keuchel gave up 6 earned runs on 7 hits, with 3 strikeouts, 0 walks, 3 home runs, and 4 wild pitches.

What happened to Dallas Keuchel? Who knows?

It did seem that his pitches were rising as the game wore on, but maybe that’s not something you can read by TV – or even close up, if you don’t have the right viewing angle. (And the last time I checked, the batter, the catcher, and the home plate umpire own “dibs” on those three spots.)

Sometimes it can be a swelling or an injury to the throwing hand that only the pitcher himself notices that accounts for the kind of game that Mr. Keuchel had last night. Sometimes it can be the result of a mental distraction. Sometimes it’s just the common affliction of being human that causes us to falter at the worst of all moments. Whatever it was last night, let’s hope Dallas gets over it soon. A 20% winning percentage by any of our starters is not conducive to our goal of seeing the Astros repeat as World Series Champions in 2018.

If you have any thoughts on what happened to Dallas Keuchel last night, please let us hear from you. We like the guy, but we need him to be the pitcher of Cy Young seed that he obviously once was – and was again – for the first four innings of last night’s game.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

What’s Your Favorite Kind of Baseball Game?

April 27, 2018

Minute Maid Park 5

 

What’s your favorite kind of baseball game? Assuming you have some interest in the outcome of the game itself, what are you prepared to give up three to four hours for the sake of learning the final result?

(1) High Drama (Game 5 of the 2017 World Series occurs as a model): Lot’s of action; high and low moments; lead changes; power and small ball figuring variously into the same plane; good pitching and  big plays, both good and bad; notable errors; and finishing on a dramatic walk-off hit as a high stakes victory.

(2) Pitchers’ Duel: Two pitchers match each other for at least five innings in their pursuits of perfect games or no-nos. If either one makes it, you get to wear your “I Was There” button forever.

(3) Small Ball Bonanza: Two clubs show up to demonstrate the fine art of small ball play in a game which stresses the vanishing talents for getting on base, base running, men-on-base defensive pitching, and the ongoing pursuit of fielder positioning and relay throw perfection.

(4) Bomber Ball:  The stuff of McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds in the modern era. Draw a walk — hit a homer — ad nauseum. Detailed pitcher assignments prevail and the 100 pitch count is the rule on starters. It’s your club’s job to bomb the other team more often than they do your guys.

(5) Other: If you have a name and description for the kind of game you prefer watching that doesn’t quite fit our four descriptors, please name and describe it for us as a post-column comment. – Also, please use the comment section to let us know if any of our four described game types comes close to being your favorite style of play.

Thanks. ~ And we’ll see you tonight in spirit at the Astros’ home opener with the Oakland As.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Ty Cobb and Power: Upon Further Review

April 27, 2018
tycobb swings

“That ought to do it!” ~ Ty Cobb Ty Cobb of the Tigers Belts walk-off HR in 9th as Detroit beats Chicago, 16-15. ********** June 2, 1925

 

Ty Cobb and Power: Upon Further Review

In our previous article, “Ty Cobb’s 1925 Power Show”, we covered the Games of May 5th and 6th at St. Louis in which Ty Cobb and the Tigers routed the Browns twice on the heels of a supposedly expressed Georgia Peach promise to show the world what he also was capable of doing with power, if he chose to play the game in Babe Ruth’s preferred style.

We made the comment that “His two-day game totals from May 5th and 6th of 1925 were 9 hits in 12 tries at bat (.750), 6 runs scored, 11 runs batted in on 5 HR, 1 double, and 3 singles. The experience must have sated his need to prove anything further, because Ty Cobb never repeated the dramatic two-game showing elsewhere from there.”

A fairly quick post-publication comment from good SABR colleague and distinguished baseball researcher and writer Gregory Wolf notably urged me to re-examine what Cobb did almost exactly a month later for the Tigers in a 16-15 punch out of the White Sox on a 9th inning walk-off homer by Cobb at home.

On June 2, 1925, the Tigers and Pale Hose were involved in a slap-happy slugfest, but the Tigers seemed to have secured a prospective win when they mounted a 15-5 lead by the end of the 6th.

Then. What do you know? The Sox battled back to tie the game at 15-15 going into the bottom of the 9th. Setting the table.

With one out, Ty Cobb blasted a walk-off HR to deep right center that gave the game to the Tigers, 16-15. Veteran viewers of the ballpark said it was the longest homer they ever saw Cobb hit at home. (Uh, forgiveness here. We were too late to get direct quotes and we haven’t had a chance to check the news files on what people actually said about the Cobb walk off blast. We do know from Gregory Wolf’s article. Here’s the quote: “Cobb’s blast was ‘undoubtedly the longest hit he has ever made on the Detroit lot,’ opined Detroit sportswriter Salsinger.”

While you are at it, check out the link to Gregory H. Wolf’s much more eloquently detailed report of that June 2, 1925 game. I think you will be glad you did:

https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/june-2-1925-tigers-win-16-15-game-wild-bedlam

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle