Posts Tagged ‘Deacon Jones’

Black Heritage Night Was a Thing of Pride

August 23, 2013
Two Men of Appropriate Pride and Life-Leveling Humility: Charlie Pride (L) and Jimmy Wynn.

Men of Appropriate Pride and Life-Leveling Humility:                                                      the great Charlie Pride (L) and the great Jimmy Wynn.

And you can definitely take the headline of this column in the two ways it’s intended. The “Black Heritage Night” program of the Sugar Land Skeeters at Constellation Field that was offered as a pre-game feature on August 22, 2013 was both a night a pride in the unifying goal quality of black baseball players over the years and also a tribute to the program’s special guest, the great Charlie Pride, a country and western singing star who also spent his early years in pursuit of that same dream of the others as a  professional baseball player.

Bill McCurdy (#15) of The Pecan Park Eagle Press was on hand to covers things.

Bill McCurdy (#15) of The Pecan Park Eagle Press was on hand to cover things. – In this photo, the players read this way, left to right: BACK ROW: Kevin Bass, J.C. Hartman, Scipio Spinks, J.R. Richard, Cecil Cooper, Bob Watson, Trenidad Hubbard, Brian Williams, Anthony Young, and Chuck McElroy. FRONT ROW: Ralph Garr, Deacon Jones, Charlie Pride, Sylvester Cooper, Jimmy Wynn, and James Mouton. – This one terrific photo was contributed by good friend Darrell Pittman.

Charlie Pride & Company posed for a number of group photos this summer afternoon and beautiful summer evening.

Charlie Pride & Company posed for a number of group photos this summer afternoon and beautiful summer evening.

The guest list was long and celebrated. The crowd was first entertained by a concert performed by the “Ocean of Soul” band from Texas Southern University. Then, as a fun introduction at home plate, each of the former players arrived in his own personal chauffer-driven luxury car to be introduced and given his own named and numbered Sugar Land Skeeters jersey by Skeeters host Deacon Jones.

The home plate arrival scene at Constellation Field.

The home plate arrival scene at Constellation Field.

The group of former players on hand for the honor included Kevin Bass, Cecil Cooper, Ralph Garr, J.C. Hartman, Trenidad Hubbard, Chuck McEroy, James Mouton, Charlie Pride, J.R. Richard, Scipio Spinks, Bob Watson, Brian Williams, Jimmy Wynn, and Anthony Young, (If I somehow missed your name, please let me know by e-mail and I will make sure that it is included in this column. There was a lot to keep up with last night and I may have missed someone. –  houston.buff37@gmail.com

Charlie Pride took about 25-30 practice swings from the BP tosses of Scipio Spinks while he was on the field. He hit the ball hard, lining several for clean hits into the outfield gaps. - Pretty darn good for a man in mid to late 70's.

Charlie Pride took about 25-30 practice swings from the BP tosses of Scipio Spinks while he was on the field. He hit the ball hard, lining several for clean hits into the outfield gaps. – Pretty darn good for a man in his middle to late 70’s. Oh yeah, Charlie also threw out the first pitch prior to tonight’s Skeeters-Shellacking of the Camden Riversharks by a 10-1 mark.

Watching Charlie Pride pound the ball are: Michael Point, a writer for the Corpus Christi Hooks, Deacon Jones, Skeeters Manager Gary Gaetti, and Skeeters Special Advisor Tal Smith. The hits just rang and rang and rang.

Watching Charlie Pride pound the ball are: Michael Point, a writer for the Corpus Christi Hooks, Deacon Jones, Skeeters Manager Gary Gaetti, and Skeeters Special Advisor Tal Smith. The hits just rang and rang and rang.

One of the "Red Tails", that famed African-American group of fighter pilots from WWII was present too. Here we see him pictured with Marie Wynn. Now all we need is his name to give him the full credit he deserves.

One of the “Red Tails”, that famed African-American group of fighter pilots from WWII, was present also. Here we see him pictured with Marie Wynn. Now all we need is his name to give him the full credit he deserves.

Dick “Lefty” O’Neal and a large contingent of former Negro Leaguers were also present last night and I would be happy to also include their names here too, if someone could pass on an attendance roster to me. We would like to give everyone their personal nod for their participation in this beautiful evening.

The first 2,000 fans also got this handsome, welcoming bobble head of Deacon Jones to take home with them.

The first 2,000 fans also got this handsome, welcoming bobble head of Deacon Jones to take home with them.

The Deacon Bobber does one thing that the real Deacon NEVER does. He turns his back. The REAL Deacon never turns his back on justice, family, friends, or baseball - and that pretty well allows him to touch all the bases, 24/7.

The Deacon Bobber does one thing that the real Deacon NEVER does. He turns his back. The REAL Deacon never turns his back on the needs of justice, family, friends, or baseball – and that pretty well allows him to touch all the bases, 24/7.

Keep it up, Deacon Jones. Black Heritage Night needs to be thought of as the first offering of an annual event.

Skeeters Celebrate Black Heritage August 22nd

August 17, 2013
BLACK HERITAGE NIGHT ~ Rolling In on a TSU Ocean of Soul this Coming Thursday Night, Aug. 22nd, at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. ~ DON'T MISS IT!!!

BLACK HERITAGE NIGHT ~ Rolling In on a TSU Ocean of Soul this Coming Thursday Night, Aug. 22nd, at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. ~ DON’T MISS IT!!!

This coming Thursday night at Constellation Field, the winningest team in baseball, the Sugar Land Skeeters, are planning a major celebration of Black Heritage on their home turf and they are inviting all their fans in the Greater Houston area to take each other out to the ball game on a very special night to help make it as big a party as possible.

Deacon Jones Bobble Head Aug. 22, 2013

Deacon Jones
Bobble Head
Aug. 22, 2013

Former professional ballplayer and country and western music star, the great Charley Pride, is now also expected to be there too to join in the festivities with all the wonderful MLB celebrities that are congregating – and it is expected that all will be on hand for autographs too as part of the program.

The gates open at 5:30 PM. The Skeeters game with the Camden Riversharks starts promptly at 7:05 PM. In between those two ticks of the clock, a whole lot of soulful fun is planned for fans out on the green, green turf of home, starting with a performance by the famous “Ocean of Soul” Marching Band from Texas Southern University and a presentation including all those big names in Houston baseball history listed above – and then some. Word is out that we can also expect some surprise big names on the national level also checking in to speak on the big screen during the field program. The exact start of the speaking part of things is unknown at this time, but get there early and wait for whatever happens with the rest of us while the Ocean of Soul warms our blood.

Need another reason to get there early? Well, here it is: The first 2,000 fans through the gates this coming Thursday night will get there in time to have received one of those handsome Deacon Jones bobble heads, like that smiling soul you see in the photo on this page. – The designers of this great collector’s item have done a masterful job of depicting one of the greatest men of smiles and welcome in baseball. – It is “Deacon” to a T – with his hand of warm hello and welcome held high.

If the world ever gets around to founding a Great Human Beings Hall of Fame, please place my name in the company of those who will want to make sure that Deacon Jones is both nominated and inducted as a charter member. The man is just all heart and caring in everything he does. His plans flow like a passion river for doing the right thing – and for making sure that none of us ever forget the great trailblazers who used their abilities in the right way to make sure that black ballplayers enjoyed a place in the sun in baseball – from then to here to forever.

And that’s why none of you want to miss what Deacon Jones and the Sugar Land Skeeters have planned for us this coming Thursday night. It’s honest, so, please do both the fun and the right thing. Be there.

Check out the Sugar Land Skeeters website and get your tickets today. It’s going to be a very special night.

http://www.sugarlandskeeters.com/Home/

Casey at the Bat Revives in Sugar Land

April 25, 2012

Deacon Jones, Late of the Mudville Nine, Now of the Sugar Land Skeeters.

Casey at the Batby Ernest Lawrence Thayer ©
Published: The Examiner (06-03-1888)

The Outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that –
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.

“Phin”

Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer ©

Thanks to Baseball Almanac.Com for this beautiful depiction of the famous Ernest Lawrence Thayer poem. “Casey at the Bat” was first published on June 3, 1888 in the San Francisco Examiner and went on from there to become the spinal rhyming spirit of all fans who have ever closely , and with great emotional attachment, followed the great American sport of baseball.

In baseball today, no one depicts the heart and spirit of the game any greater than the great Grover “Deacon” Jones of the Sugar Land Skeeters. The Skeeters begin their first season of independent league ball tomorrow night, April 26, 2012, before a home sell out crowd against the York (PA) Revolution behind former Houston Astro big leaguer and first Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti.

Watch the Chronicle and Internet for further details on upcoming games and come see the Skeeters for yourself as you are able. And look for old Deacon Jones walking around while you’re there at the Sugar Land ballpark. He’ll be the only one walking around the concourse with a bat in his hands. If the bat isn’t in his hands when you spot him, rest assured, it’s on his mind. Good hitting and genuine smiles are both a happy kind of habit thing with the good Deacon.

The world needs more people like him. Running into Deacon Jones unexpectedly is like all-of-a-sudden watching the sunburst breaking through the sky on an otherwise long and overcast charcoal cloudy day. I think the Good Lord puts sparks like the Deacon on this earth to keep the rest of us moving toward the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and touches of hope for something better. Always moving steady toward the truly good. And always reaching openly for the things that rest deep in the heart of soul.

Thank you, Deacon Jones, for being with us here in Houston and for becoming such a big part of the new Sugar Land Skeeters baseball club. We shall see you at the ballpark.

Skeeters Baseball Getting More Real by The Day

October 13, 2011

Startex Power Field in Sugar Land is Going Up: They've also added some lighting arc posts since these recent aerials were taken too,

I had a nice call from old friend Deacon Jones a couple of days ago. The Deacon is now involved full-time as a Special Assistant to the President of the brand-spanking new Sugar Land Skeeters Independent Atlantic League Baseball Club that starts play in its own new shiny digs in 2012. We had a local baseball research question to pursue together, along with fellow SABR member Tom Murrah. This is just a great time to be in love with baseball historical research in the greater Houston area. We’ve got more going on these days than you can shake a Babe Ruth big stick at – and we just keep coming up with new ideas and new people who are eager to chase down leads on what was true or false in baseball history – and all the way deep into the 19th century, if that’s how far back the question goes.

For now, at least, the energy of baseball’s local past and future seem to be feeding upon each other. Even as I write, and as you later, but sooner read these words, the muscle of new support for expanding the presence of organized professional baseball in the greater Houston area goes on out in Sugar Land. Startex Power Field, the new home of the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters is going up on the plains south of the big City of Houston off Highway 59 South near the site of the old Imperial Sugar plant. Sugar Land is getting ready to field a team in 2012 as the newest member of the independent Atlantic League as a representative of the entire Houston community.

Offering good clean family fun, the Skeeters are not here to compete with the major league Houston Astros, but to augment the availability of the game as a spectator option for people who live inside the loop to those who have moved to the hinterlands of suburbia. New interest in the Skeeters can only amplify interest among people who have never previously even dreamed of going downtown to see a big league game. It is a win-win run for both the established MLB club and the new independent league venture.

If you are already an Astros fan, the Skeeters offer a tasteful picture of what the future of baseball may look like – and also a sketch on what minor league ball has always felt like on the intimate fan level. If you are primarily a new fan of the Skeeters, on the other hand, you are about to get an appetite-whetting taste of just how good the game can be played at the major league level (during normal times for the Astros).

The Doc and The Deac

Deacon Jones says that people are buying Skeeter season tickets like hot cakes these days and he advises interested parties to get on the website and take a special look for themselves at both the progress of construction and the offerings to fans that still exist during this early period of prime options on seating and special event arrangements. There is also a whole lot of contact information there on how you can get in touch with Deacon Jones (or just about anyone else who is connected with the Skeeters) by either phone or e-mail. And, hey – a five-minute talk with Deacon will just about make your day, anyway – even if you don’t buy anything.

Here’s the link to the Sugar Land Skeeters website:

http://sugarlandskeeters.com/index.cfm

Baseball is a great game – and one of the big reasons for its greatness is the presence of good people like Deacon Jones. Deacon Jones played the professional game at a high level – and now he represents the game at the highest level of gifting to others. When you speak with Deacon, he gives you the voice and soul of the game from the heart of all the caring that he has put into baseball over the period of his lifetime.

And as the old song goes: “Who could ask for anything more?”