Posts Tagged ‘2016’

Astro Notes: August 27, 2016

August 27, 2016
Colin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel say: "Hey Astros Fans! Don't you wish we could have pitched as well in 2016 as we both did in 2015? One of us even won the friggin’ 'Cy' last year, for goodness sakes!"

Colin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel want to know:
“Hey Astros Fans! Don’t you wish we could have pitched as well in 2016 as we both did in 2015? One of us even won the friggin’ holy ‘Cy’ last year, for goodness sakes!”


Former Astro Hunter Pence. Former Astro Hunter Pence is still a pretty nice MLB outfielder. The now veteran member of the San Francisco Giants and wearer of  a World Series ring as another result of his departure from the Astros will never reach the Hall of Fame for his playing ability, but he may receive mention there someday as the player who inspired the Bobble Head industry to a new realm of possibility. Thanks to Maryland friend, fellow SABR member, and frequent contributor to The Pecan Park Eagle, Bill Hickman, we have now learned Pence is now part of a change that is setting the technology souvenir industry on it’s “new revenue stream” ear. – Because of his field-level fidgeting, Hunter Pence is now out there as the first model for the “Bobble Body” figure. Who knows? Maybe Carlos Gomez has a future as the model for the first Bobble Helmet Loser every time a fan checks to see what he can do with the figurine? In the meanwhile, thanks to Bill Hickman, here’s the link to Hunter Pence’s novel contribution:


Keuchel and McHugh. Last year, these guys won 39 combined total games for the Astros. This year, they’ve each won 8 games each through all games of Friday, 8/26/16. Although the club’s downtown in 2016 is due to many things, it isn’t hard to see this one difference maker from 2015. Had Keuchel abd McHugh been able to perform again at their last year levels in 2016, it isn’t hard to figure from their downturns alone why the Astros are not up there battling the Rangers for first place.

The Astros Inability to Beat the Rangers. Here’s another single-bullet postulation. Had the Astros, at least or better,  been able to play .500 ball in their head-to-heads with the Rangers in 2016, guess where they would be in the standings today. What happened? See Keuchel and McHugh, dead bats, poor relief,  poor fundamental play, and a psyched-out sort of competitive deadness that seems to takeover whenever the opposition is the Rangers.

The Carlos Gomez Move to a New Team-Reflex HR He Hit in His First AB for the Rangers. When Carlos Gomez bopped a 3-run homer in his first time up for the Rangers this past week, the news was about as surprising as the gaseous aftermath that occurs in the human body after eating too many beans. It’s just the way the athletic ego works when a guy plays miserably, gets cut, and then signs with his former club’s biggest rival. – “In your faces, Astros! – This one’s for you!” It probably is little more than Gomez’s death rattle protest to his declining skills. A quick glance at his last at bat in hat slaughterhouse loss that the Rangers absorbed at home against the Indians last night is our only TV-peek time to see him “perform” for that team “up north”, so far. He struck out wildly, looking bad on several other pitches along the way. He looked liked the same old Carlos Gomez that we came to expect at the plate here in Houston. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he will not have a few stink bombs left for his first direct competition as a Ranger against the Astros when they next meet. According to this ancient baseball superstition, you can almost count on him doing something to inflict pain on the club that let him go.

“It Ain’t Over – Til it’s Over!” How many times in MLB history has a home team fallen behind in the top of the 9th by a visiting team’s solo shot homer, and the come back in the bottom of the 9th to win the game on back-to-back home team solo homers? We have no idea. Perhaps, you do. If so, please let the rest of us know. Watching the game last night come down to the end is one of the best arguments we’ve ever witnessed that spoke so loudly for the Wisdom Yogi: “It Ain’t Over – Til it’s Over!”

A Blip on the EKG That is Now Attached to the Astros’ Team Heart. Was last night’s back-to-back 9th inning homer win over the Rays simply s blip on the playoff-heart EKG machine – or was it a sign of a dramatic late season resuscitation of heart and performance that shall now carry the Astros into the Playoffs and a longer-remembered history of last night’s comeback drama? We are about to find out, one day at a time, and starting with Saturday Night’s 6:00 PM game at Minute Maid Park against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Go Astros! Let’s make it happen!


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Houston SABR Notes: June 27, 2016

June 28, 2016

JUNE 27, 2016


Jim Kreuze did another great program booking job for the June SABR meeting of the Larry Dierker Chapter last night. He recruited former MLB pitchers to speak last night.  Jim Foor, a lefty,  was a 1st round draft pick of the Tigers (1971-72) and he also played a season with the Pirates (1973). Andy Cavazos of the Cardinals (2007) , a righty, also talked at the meeting.- Foor and Cavazos each spoke on their little known, but familiar to thousands of other everyday player roads to the big leagues. In that regard, Foor and Cavazos were sort of like baseball’s version of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”.  And, hey, that’s big. Most of us never came close to playing in the big leagues, let alone get any mention by Shakespeare in any of his works.

Jim Foor



Jim Foor also was a member of the original 2008 20th century version of the Houston Babies. He and his wife Sandy Foor were two of our brightest spots of support to our earliest vintage base ball team in the games at Lone Star College up in Conroe. In our first game against the Saw Dogs at the Lone Star field, the Babies were getting initiated into the old-ball game by the more experienced home team. Bob Dorrill and I were both sort of coaching in the opener when, suddenly, Babies pitcher Foor called time out and asked me to come to the mound for a conference. I walked out there and all the infielders joined us.

“What’s up, Jim?” I asked.

“Coach,” Foor answered with a tongue-in-cheek question of his own. “Would this be a good time for me to start signing autographs? You know, sort of as a strategy for distracting the hitters?”

Jim Foor was not only a pretty fair St. Louis-born pitcher, he was, and still is, a funny and fun guy to be around, as is his irrepressibly sunny, cute and witty wife, Sandy Foor.

At one point in his full-of-laughs presentation, Foor told us the story of his first day in spring camp with the 1973 Pirates. He approached Pirate slugging star future Hall of Famer Willie Stargell and said, “I know who you are!” To Foor’s surprise, Stargell smiled and came right back with “and I know who you are too!”

Spotting former Astro pitching ace Larry Dierker in the crowd, Foor asked, “Hey, Larry, you faced Willie Stargell pretty often, didn’t you?” – “Reluctantly” was Dierker’s one-word affirmation.

Andy Cavazos



Andy Cavazos was just as funny and entertaining in his own way. Andy was there last night with his beautiful wife, Sonja Cavazos, and his parents. After being drafted by the Rangers, the young Texas-born Sam Houston State pitcher ended up breaking into the big leagues for his only MLB time in 2007. Andy Cavazos is a big, big man. At 6’3″ tall and full bearded, and wearing a Colt .45s baseball cap, he impressed me as a double-take copy of Evan Gattis. In fact, once planted, that doppelganger-from-a-distance resemblance to the current Astros DH/C  became an image I never fully expunged. The difference was kept clear by Andy’s modest, but very funny stories about his short time with the Cardinals. In my experience, at least, Andy Cavazos is a lot funnier than Evan Gattis ever dreamed of being.

A shy person, anyway, Cavazos says he worried a lot, at first, about being sent back to the minors. Manager Tony LaRussa apparently preferred veterans to rookies. As a result, Andy said that he decided early to be as inconspicuous as possible. “The way I figured it,” Andy said, “if they either forget or don’t know I’m here, they cannot send me down to the minors.” His comment was straight out of the Ensign Pulver character (Jack Lemmon) in the old Navy movie, “Mr. Roberts”. In the movie, the new scary Captain of the ship (James Cagney) was in command for 18 months before he accidentally discovered that Ensign Pulver was even on board.

Hang in there, Andy. You did a great thing to even reach the Cardinals for a single season. You and Jim Foor both were major speaker hits before the members of SABR last night – and those five beautiful minor league championship and all star game rings that you showed us also were very special baseball life accomplishments that few ever get to take home as keepers.But you did. It almost goes without saying, but no one can ever take those accomplishments away from you. You did it, man!

Wayne Chandler

The Astrdome Scoreboard Sowing off part of it's HR display. ~ Just one of its many gifts to the game!

The Astrdome Scoreboard
Showing off part of it’s HR display.
~ Just one of its many gifts to the game!

Wayne Chandler also spoke last night. John was the man who operated the amazing Astrodome scoreboard from 1965 through most of the time that revolutionary feature was in use. Fortunately for Chandler, he was already separated from the scoreboard by going into private business when NFL Oilers owner Bud Adams forced the removal of the scoreboard for additional football seats in the 1990s. Wayne concedes that the scoreboard’s removal saddened him greatly. If you are unfamiliar with this amazing  pioneer work of art in displayable event animation, check out the following  column and audio-visual examples from the Astrodome scoreboard years:

Chandler was the man who made it go for whatever activity was taking place in the dome for years and that included, baseball, football, basketball, boxing, the rodeo, and everything else. When asked which of these things was his biggest moment, Chandler immediately answered that it was the UH-UCLA basketball game of January 20, 1968, when over 50,000 showed up to watch the two top ranked NCAA teams play before the then largest ever college basketball crowd to play the so-called “Game of the Century.” UH won, 71-69, that night, but later lost to UCLA in the first round of the Final Four championship weekend played elsewhere. The 1968 Astrodome game put college ball on the map of network competition for building audiences in prime time for the sport. College basketball would never be a minor commercial interest again.

Chandler also said that he knows a lot of Judge Roy Hofheinz stories that he can never tell, but he said it with a smile. Wayne Chandler feels that Judge Hofheinz Hofheinz has never received the kind of permanent recognition for his accomplishments that he deserves.

Trivia Contest

Mike Vance moderated the trivia contest that was again won by Greg Lucas. Greg will prepare the trivia contest for our next SABR chapter meeting,

Summer Meeting Schedule

Chapter Leader Bob Dorrill implored us all to remember the summer schedule and to get our ticket money for the August MMP game meeting into Jo Russell, ASAP.

There will be no SABR meeting in July 2016.

Our next SABR meeting is scheduled for Saturday, August 27, 2016.

SABR meeting in the Board Room of Minute Maid Park
Start time  4:00 PM
Speaker:  Reid Ryan
Promotion:  Jose Altuve Gold Glove Bobbleheads for ticketholders
Tickets:   $31.00 for the game. No ticket is required for the meeting
Checks should be made out to the Houston Astros
Mail your checks to:  Jo Russell, 15021 Kimberly Court, Houston, TX 77079

Money is due by by August 1st.



Beautiful Minute Maid Park Of The 436' Deep Center Field We Love

Beautiful Minute Maid Park
The 436′ Deep Center Field We Love


If you don’t know what that is, please check out these three groundwork columns in The Pecan Park Eagle and, if you agree with us, please follow through with making your opinion known directly to the Astros, ASAP!


Save Minute Maid Park


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas



SABR Night in Sugar Land, 2016

April 27, 2016
Larry Dierker threw out the first pitch and worked an inning with Ira Liebman in the game broadcast. Larry then received this HR-gift from Mike McCroskey, lower left.

Larry Dierker threw out the first pitch and worked an inning with Ira Liebman in the game broadcast. Larry then received this HR-gift from the pleased Mike McCroskey, lower left.

About 25-30 members of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR used their monthly meeting night on Monday, 4/25/16, to enjoy a buffet dinner together down the left line at Constellation Field to watch the Independent Atlantic League home club, the Sugar Land Skeeters, entertain the visiting Lancaster (PA) Barnstormers under pleasant skies and through the balmy breezes.

Our peerless chapter namesake former Astro, Larry Dierker, was also there, even finding time to throw out the first pitch and do an interview and one inning stint on the air of the Skeeters radio broadcast with Ira Liebman, a Skeeters media guy and another SABR member. In redundant mention, but with eloquence, the wonderful broadcaster Greg Lucas, also another front line active SABR member handling the telecast portion of the broadcast.

At one point, Larry Dierker noticed the rear view of a bobble head figure staring out the broadcast booth window at the field.

“Who’s that?” Dierker asked. “…. Bill Clinton?”

“No,” answered Greg Lucas, “it’s someone Milo Hamilton would not want to see.”

(Hint: It was Harry Caray.)

Close-Up of the Dierker Shirt A Gift from Mike McCroskey to our Houston SABR Chapter Namesake.

Close-Up of the Dierker Shirt ~
A Gift from Mike McCroskey to our Houston SABR Chapter Namesake.

Later on, Mike McCroskey of SABR presented Dierker with a tee shirt that he felt depicted Larry’s laid back persona. It featured a “Woodie,” an old station wagon, on the upper left hand shoulder also on the unseen here back side of the shirt. – Hmmm! – Have you ever heard of any guy with a woodie on his shoulder? Here’s a closer look at the pattern on the front of the shirt. It was a great and most appreciated gift to Larry Dierker from Mike McCroskey. – Up top, in the large photo of Larry holding the shirt up, that’s Mike McCroskey with the “home run gift-giver” smile on his face to the lower left, sitting down.

Bob Dorrill SABR Chapter Leader "We all trust our car to this man who wore the star!"

Bob Dorrill
Larry Dierker SABR Chapter Leader
“We all trust our car to this man who wore the star!”

Speaking of smiles, The Pecan Park Eagle was there to present SABR leader, Bob Dorrill, with a gift that we felt symbolized the trust and love that rest of us have for him as the “Sheriff of SABR”. Every member in sight was deputized with a (plastic) silver deputy badge, after we designated the first of these as the “sheriff’s badge” and presented it to Bob. – The gift itself was a tribute to Bob Dorrill’s long term service in marketing for Texaco prior to retirement. It was a replica of the famous Texaco man and a little representation plaque that depicted one of the most famous and effective oil company ad campaigns in the 20th century; “You Can Trust Car to the Man Who Wears The Star.” (The plaque says “with the star”, but “Who Wears The Star” is the correct wording from the song that began The Milton Berle Show (aka “The Texaco Star Theater”) on Tuesday evenings back in the early 1950s. – Oh well, Texaco’s loss was SABR Houston’s gain!

Beautiful Constellation Field Sugar Land Texas April 25, 2016

Beautiful Constellation Field
Sugar Land, Texas
April 25, 2016

The Unnecessary Noise of Our Times

Our only complaint was the blaring noise level of the PA announcer’s over-done, constant voice disturbance that just killed the kind of spring night opportunity for enjoyable discussion of the game in specifics or baseball history in general. I spent most of the game sitting between SABR’s Bob Copus of the Barker Red Sox and Larry and Judy Dierker. We quickly gave up story-sharing. The constant BLASTING voice performance was not only a disturbance. It made laid-back story sharing impossible. We simply had to talk in abrupt bursts – and give up on one of the things that once made a night at the ballpark a lot more fun. For the record, before cell phones and electronic game-playing took over, we used to have this thing we enjoyed. We called it conversation.

Let me be clear. The Eagle isn’t blaming the Skeeters as the inventors of this nuisance ambience. It’s the same story downtown at Minute Maid Park today – and so many other places too. The whole baseball world seems obsessed with the idea that if they don’t constantly do things to keep the fans’ attention, that people will bore of baseball itself and go home. The ironies are – this is only hastening the departure of fans who love the game. We’re going home to watch the game on TV, have conversations, and do other things. And the people wired to their cell phones aren’t paying any attention, anyway.

One has to wonder – if there is still a thing called baseball in 2116 – or maybe, as early as 2066, what will it be like?

Til there is no more chance, some of us will hang around for as long as we can to fight for what made live baseball great in the first place – as a game of unfolding drama, theater, and passionately slow-rising to true loud interest in what actually happens in games that can be followed. People who don’t get the flow and this spirit of the game – or who just do what they see others do as baseball producers – are making a fatal mistake. Silence is not a sign of disinterest among real baseball fans. The ones who don’t care are mostly the ones buried in their cell phones, 24/7. And they will not be blasted into anything at the ballpark.

Have a quiet and reflective Wednesday, everybody!


…. And keep smiling too! ~ It is still – a wonderful world!


Photo Credits: Except for the night ballpark photo by The Pecan Park Eagle, all others are by SABR meeting programmer wiz, James Kreuz. Thanks, Jim! – We also want to give you credit for that foul ball you snared. It was not quite on the level of Willie Mays and “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series, but it must have been pretty darn good. In fact, your personal description of your unwitnessed catch, quite literally, was incredible. 🙂


eagle-0rangeBill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas




March 7, 2016



Thank you, SABR friend Tony Cavender, for this delicious story of baseball card collectors’ wish-fulfillment. The linked article speaks for itself: Here’s the first paragraph to whet your appetites, followed by the link to the full course article:

“The unattended bag found while cleaning out a great-grandparent’s home looked like trash, and it was nearly discarded. But someone decided to root through the pile of postcards and paper products, and was rewarded by finding seven baseball cards from 1909 to 1911 featuring the Hall of Fame player Ty Cobb. …. (to continue, click link)”


 eagle-0range Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Morales and Drellich Charm and Inform SABR

January 19, 2016
Julia Morales ROOT Sports Field Reporter January 18, 2016 Photo by Mike cCroskey

Julia Morales
ROOT Sports Field Reporter
January 18, 2016
Photo by Mike McCroskey


They were both charming. They were each informative.

Julia Morales of ROOT Sports and Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle both addressed the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR last night at the January monthly meeting of the Larry Dieker Chapter at the Spaghetti Western Ristorante on Shepherd, south of I-10.

Two of Houston’s brightest young and rising sports media stars were our contributing guests – and both raised the bars on their easy-to-like public styles as being terrific in person. And both spoke informatively on the Astros and their individual working experiences.

For those of you sports fans who may not know because of your current residences under large local rocks, Julia Morales is the bright and eager-to-take-on new challenges field reporter for ROOT Sports at all Astros baseball and Rockets basketball games. Evan Drellich serves as the beat writer for Astros baseball, but also does op-ed pieces and coverage of all major sports in Houston. Ironically, both have been on their separate Houston sports jobs since 2013, the year the Astros moved to the American League.

Julia grew up in Plano, Texas, outside Dallas, as the son of a high school track coach, an athlete in her own right, an eventual member of the Kilgore Junior College Rangerettes, a UT Austin journalism/media graduate, and a die-hard Dallas Cowboys football fan. (North Texas folk are prone to that malady, don’t you know?) Evan is a New Yorker. He grew up a red-blooded Mets baseball fan.

Arriving late for our SABR speakers/dinner meeting, my involvement with a chicken-laced Caesar Salad as each wonderful guest spoke denied me the opportunity of taking notes, but I do not recall Julia also expressing any die-hard devotion to the Texas Rangers during her childhood years. Wishing won’t make it so now, but the professionalism of both media speakers in behalf of the Astros, urges me to raise the question that maybe we share with others: How do two people from Dallas and New York, who grew up loving the Cowboys and Mets, box up all of their childhood passions and appear to be, at least, objectively supportive of any team from Houston winning anything? It is a fact they do it well. It is a puzzlement that any childhood emotionally-invested fan could ever really make the switch.

Maybe the answer is this simple. Julia and Evan both grew up, but people like me do not. I was a rabid Houston Buffs fan as a kid and an aspirant future writer or broadcaster of the game. While pretending to broadcast a game from the Knothole Gang back in 1950, a buddy, and my only listener, suddenly asked: “Could you do this good a job doing the play-by-play for the Dallas Eagles?”

“No,” I said. “They would fire me inside of one inning for being partial to Houston!” Julia and Evan appear to be better than that.

Julia regaled us with stories of her learning curve on the long season baseball road. She regaled that the doughnut hamburgers in Pittsburgh were an item to-die-for. And we believed her. In fact, some of us would only have needed to be in the room with that delicacy for the evening to gain ten pounds. Julia also impressed us with how much she’s learned about baseball from her three seasons on the road. The dailiness of baseball may be the greatest educative feature about the way the game is played. And we shall attest to the fact too that her post-game skills and interviews are further testament to her growth about baseball over the past three seasons. She’s doing very well and would be sorely missed if she were to depart the ROOT Astros team. – She’s also improved at dodging Gatorade showers while interviewing game heroes.

A link to more on Julia Morales:

Evan Drellich Houston Chronicle Sports Astros Beat Writer SABR Speaker, 01/18/16

Evan Drellich
Houston Chronicle Sports
Astros Beat Writer
SABR Speaker, 01/18/16

Evan writes at a maturity level beyond his apparently young age and experience. He has a great understanding of the game and he writes incisively of the Astros needs, but he avoids the corner that so many sports writers paint themselves into of becoming something of the “nagging partner” who is always ready to tell the club what they “should” and “should not” do to improve the team. He simply lays out the facts for everyone to see, fans and the club alike, for the sake of drawing their own conclusions. When Evan does enlist possible answers, he is never shaming or pushy. Just factual. As in, “here are the choices.” – I told Evan this last night: He’s now my new favorite locally active writer. And not because I always agree with his conclusions.  But because he always seems to start a topic with the right questions. The world belongs to those who, through intelligence or luck, come up with the right answers to the right questions. – Getting the right answers to the wrong questions does nothing to improve a bad situation. – Good Luck to you too, Evan, but please! As Houston fans, we would love to have you tell us sometime, as a Mets kid fan, how you really still feel about former Astros pitcher Mike Scott.

A link to more on Evan Drellich:|twcampserp|twgrauthor

Beyond the two excellent speakers, we again want to thank Jim Kreuz for coming up with another fine meeting program!

We also want to congratulate Larry Miggins for becoming the first winner of or SABR Chapter’s annual Bob Dorrill Award for Community Service to Baseball! It will be awarded this Thursday night, January 21, 2016, at the Annual Baseball Winter Banquet hosted by the Sugar Land Skeeters at Constellation Field, starting at 7:00 PM. Pre-paid attendees will need to pick up their banquet tickets at the front office door upon arrival. – Thanks to Ira Liebman and all the other great Skeeters people for making this important part of our Houston Area Hot Stove League season possible!

Another Reminder – Fan Fest will be held by the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park this coming Saturday, January 23, 2016, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. SABR will have a table there, promoting SABR membership and selling copies of our wonderful “Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-1961.” Please join us. And if you would like to help man the SABR table, please contact Bob Dorrill at your earliest opportunity.

The winner of Tom White’s tough “Who died on This Date in History?” quiz was first time meeting attendee and SABR member, Larry Wemberley. – Welcome, Larry, and please come back and bring your baseball knowledge and moxie with you on a regular basis.

Thank you! Now Let’s Play Ball! … Soon!