Posts Tagged ‘Editor’

SABR Forever. – Let It Be.

January 26, 2018


Times change, but sometimes the identity of an historic organization like SABR holds true over 45 years of accomplishment, even if that result is due to accident.

Because of SABR, the written, pictorial, and statistical histories of the game’s teams, players, and spread – throughout the world – would not be what it is today – and on a not-even-close basis. It’s even fair to speculate too that the “saber-metrics” that have evolved as the foundation for the kinds of analytic aspects of World Series championship building (see Houston Astros (2013-2017) are also a major force in the expansion of interest in American Baseball on an international level that is now way beyond anything anyone dreamed possible back in the 1971 start of SABR.

Our current SABR website expresses our organizational identity and extant purpose this way on January 26, 2018:

“The founding of the Society for American Baseball Research on August 10, 1971, at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, marked the beginning of a new era. For the first time, an organization would exist to foster the study of baseball as a significant American social and athletic institution; to establish an accurate account of baseball through the years; and, most important, to facilitate the dissemination of baseball research information around the country.”

The bold type embossing of American Baseball and the final word country are our doing for this column. The first, American Baseball, needs to stay the same – in both our name and promoted honest outlook. Our game is American Baseball, whether its being played in Fenway Park, Havana, Cuba, Tokyo, Japan, or Rome, Italy. We are not talking cricket here – nor are we embracing any international faction’s attempts to alter the fundamental rules by which we play our American game on an international basis. On the other hand, as SABR, we definitely NEED to expand our outlook on where the game is being played and reported or even supported by SABR on an international level.

In the SABR website quote, the word “country”  is dated. The phrase “American Baseball” is forever.

Long Live SABR!



Tech Problem Alert! A couple of days ago, I was trying to grab a number off my cell so I could call it from some other phone. In my haste, I apparently pushed another button on my phone at the same time.

As a result, my phone deleted 10 years of collected phone number at one time. I cannot call you without first finding your number – and – as I am quickly learning, many of you are not listed.

If you don’t mind, please e-mail me your phone number at

Don’t phone it to me because it will not be recorded here by name.


How many times do we need the same lesson? Our new communication technology is both heaven and hell – with both being served up like scrambled eggs on the same plate.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


Yes, Athletic Ability Has Expiration Date….

February 18, 2017
Carlos Beltran is Back! Hopefully, he will retire as a Houston Astros in a Blaze of Glory that spreads like an incurable infection of the clubs great talent base.

Carlos Beltran is Back!
Hopefully, he will retire as a Houston Astro in a Blaze of Glory that spreads like an incurable wisdom and positive attitude infection of the club’s younger great talent base.

Yes, athletic ability comes with an individually variable expiration date, but the great ones – the ones with the hearts of champions – often fail to see it. You just have to hope that some to all of the lessons of the elders pass on to the younger players on their last teams during the brief open window of opportunity that exists in that precious nanosecond of contact through those same elders with the baseball gods. In life, we can’t all be great in all things, but we can sure learn from greatness, when we have the humility to recognize those moments we are in its presence.

It is our impression that the great Carlos Beltran realizes how happy most of us in Astros Nation are to see him back in Houston after 13 years – and this time – we welcome him as both a great player – as well as a strong teaching influence upon our Astros’ many talented younger players.

From the very top of them all, some of our greatest former players had a little trouble seeing or accepting that their playing days were done before they actually stopped. We don’t see Carlos Beltran. He’s still quite talented at age 39 just may be one of those guys with 3 to 5 five seasons left in the tank. And let’s hope so. For his sake and the Astros club as well. Our younger guys could learn much from him.

I’ve always been interested too in the guys who played past their primes when it came to playing too long. Three of my favorite tough retirement stories are summarized here. Another is Willie Mays. I simply did not write him up this time:

Babe Ruth (1914-1935) hit .342 over the course of those 22 seasons he banged out that iconic total of 714 career home runs. He probably would have done well to have retired at age 37, following his last great season of 1932, and perhaps immediately after his last as a New York Yankee World Series champion – and maybe right after he hit that so-called homer shot off Charlie Root of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. What an eloquent last statement that time at bat would have imprinted upon his already illustrious trip to Chicago that year. – It simply didn’t happen. Babe still hit .301 and 34 homers in 1933 and .228 with 22 homers in 1934. Good numbers, but not Ruthian figures. The Yankees knew it and found a way to deal Ruth off to the Boston Braves for an illusion in Ruth that his short playing career there would next lead to his appointment there as their manager. Didn’t happen. Never was going to happen. And at age 40, the Babe’s career was almost totally dead. He quit by the start of summer with a final season batting average of .181 with only 6 homers in 28 games. Too bad the Babe could not have retired himself the way his 1948 bio-picture did. The movie version of Babe went out on top – 0n the same afternoon he hit the 3 last hurrah homers off the Pirates in Pittsburgh. What a way to go.

Stan Musial (1941-1944, 1946-1963) never under .300 through his first 17 MLB seasons. Then came 1959 and “The Man’s” BA dropped to .255 and his HR total shrank to 17. His power gun was already gone. He hit only 14 in 1958. After four last seasons (1960-1963) in which Musial hit under .300 for 3 more times, Musial finally hung them up for good. In so doing, he missed being a playing part of the 1964 Cardinals club that rallied past the famous faltering Phillies and went on to take the World Series from the New York Yankees. Had Musial continued one more season, it would have been his first World Series participation since the Cardinals defeated the Boston Red Sox in 1946. Musial did have one more great batting for average year. In 1962, he hit .330 in 505 plate appearances as he also registered a .924 OPS on the season.

Mickey Mantle (1951-1968) Too bad Mickey Mantle needed the money from those last four seasons he played beyond the 1964 World Series Yankees loss to the Cardinals. Mantle’s batting average nose-dived in those four seasons, pushing him below .300 to a career .298 level. His failure to hit .300 over his entire career was Mantle’s biggest regret about his final MLB stats. What stings the most is that Mantle already had done enough in 14 seasons to qualify for the Hall of Fame. Four last little power seasons (1965-1968), with BA’s of .255, .288, .245, and .237 only served to distract how great Mantle  had been – and how much greater he might have been – had he played his entire Yankee career in a state of healthier mind and body.

So many other examples abound, but they represent more of a book research challenge than does this happy weekend dance column.

All I know for sure is that Ted Williams is my favorite retirement stylist. He quit after finishing the 1960 season with a home run at Fenway. Then he passed on a final weekend road trip to New York for a meaningless series with the Yankees. Ted wanted that last home run to stand up as his final goodbye as a player who would neither acknowledge, nor accept in gratitude, what he long suspected was only the gratuitous applause of him by otherwise critical Red Sox fans. Ted didn’t know it at the time – we don’t think – but the great New England writer John Updike just happened to be at the park that day and ended up writing an iconic column on the whole occasion and its outcome.


 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

The SW Texas League: My Grandfather’s World

September 27, 2013
The 1910 Beeville Orange Growers Southwest Texas League 1910-11

The 1910 Beeville Orange Growers
Southwest Texas League

The Southwest Texas League: It started with the best of intentions

The Class D Southwest Texas League lasted only two years back in 1910-11. Its six teams included the Bay City Rice Eaters, the Beeville Orange Growers, the Brownsville Brownies, the Corpus Christi Pelicans, the Laredo Bermudas, and the Victoria Rosebuds. Brownsville won the 1910 pennant and was awarded a beautiful trophy as their reward. Beeville won the 1911crown when playoff opponent Bay City refused to play them in a championship series due to some still live grievances the Bay Citians held for Beeville and the behavior of their fans. By this time, all unresolved team feuds were moot to the fact that the league was now busted financially and out of business. Before the final death rattle, the league office tried to retrieve the championship trophy from Brownsville so they could transfer it to the 1911 winner. Brownsville reacted firmly, in effect, sending the league this message: “The 1910 trophy belongs to Brownsville. Go buy another one for this year’s winner.” It never happened. Beeville did not win their championship on the field. And their was no money left for a new one, anyway. The trophy and the league were done.

Round Up the Usual Suspects

W.O. McCurdy Publisher/Editor The Beeville Bee 1886-1913

W.O. McCurdy
The Beeville Bee

It’s easy to make an unscientific case for the usual reasons for failure. When human organizations of any kind are governed by the driving forces of ego, greed, and a lack of concern for others, things can go bad fast. The variables attendant to keeping baseball trusted and credible also kick in like mules. Not surprisingly, gambling and drinking figured into the failures of trust and integrity between participating towns. Here’s what my grandfather, William O. McCurdy I, Publisher and Editor of the Beeville Bee (1886-1913), wrote about the situation following a three-game sweep of the visitors from Beeville down in Brownsville in 1911, as quoted in this re-print from the Victoria Advocate:

“As was expected, the Orange Growers lost all three games to the Brownies. Gambling on baseball has certainly played havoc with baseball as a clean sport. The national game is all right as long as all gambling is prohibited, and all who best on the game should be prosecuted. This condition is not so bad in Beeville as it is in the Rio Grande cities. Down there they bet a good sum of money and are going to do their best to win that money, whether they do so fairly or otherwise. These umpires are easily bribed and many a good ball team loses a ball game because the umpire is receiving a commission. One umpire can win more games than a lot full of Ty Cobbs.” – W.O. McCurdy, Beeville Bee, as quoted in the Victoria Advocate, 4/22/11.

Grandfather McCurdy was also convinced that baseball scouts who doubled as game umpires were also subject to calling balls and strikes in favor of the players they represented. If the umpire/agent’s client was the batter, he was likely to draw a four pitch walk. If the pitcher was the umpire-man’s client, he had a good chance of getting a three called strike “K” by pitching way inside or way outside. We may only suppose that things then got as fair as possible only when the umpire was the representative for both pitcher and batter – and he had no team money behind his game-calling choices.

Other complaints about play in the SWT League included widespread fan rowdyism and drinking at games that often spilled onto the field as fighting between home crowds and visiting teams, poor gate proceeds, and clubs missing paydays of their players due to the lack of funds.

Failure to Communicate

Base Ball Today Beeville, Texas Early 20th Century

Base Ball Today
Beeville, Texas
Early 20th Century

 It happened when the league and Brownsville ran into different understandings about the temporary/permanent presence of the championship trophy down in the Valley town in 1910, and it happened again, big time, when Victoria withdrew from the league in 1911 because of what they felt was a blanket bias against their city by the other teams in the circuit. When they tried to reclaim their $500 deposit that all clubs had been required to put up at the start, they learned that only $100 was coming back to them because most of these monies had been used to help Corpus Christi make payroll and to take care of other unspecified league office expenses. There had been no clear discussion or written contract set up for how the deposit money could be used when it was collected.

Grandfather McCurdy chose a newspaer masthead that bore the full weight of his great expectations. He once wrote that "a newspaper must never grow larger than its search for the truth". I've always liked knowing that fact about the grandafther I never got to meet.

Grandfather McCurdy chose a newspaper masthead that bore the full weight of his great expectations. He once wrote that “a newspaper must never grow larger than its search for the truth”. I’ve always liked knowing that fact about the grandfather I never got to meet.

Goodbye, Southwest Texas League!

Beeville did enjoy having future UT great Coach Billy Disch join them as Manager of the Orange Growers for most of the 1911 season, but even that cherished figure could not offset the climate that killed this effort to cultivate organized baseball in South Texas. Sadly for my dad and me, Grandfather McCurdy died of tuberculosis in 1913. My dad had to grow up from age 3 without him. And I never even had the chance to know him – except through his 27 years of writing for The Beevile Bee.

Hello, Native Major Leaguers!

In spite of the SWTL failure, the 3,062 people who made up the population of Beeville in 1920 apparently had a baseball gene running through their bloodlines. Shortly before and after 1920, three native sons of Beeville had gone on to successful careers in the big leagues. They were Melvin “Bert” Gallia, RHP, Curtis “Curt” Walker, OF, and Lloyd “Lefty” Brown, LHP. For more information, check out this earlier column I wrote on the total history of organized baseball in my birthplace of Beeville, Texas on 6/26/2012. I have a little clearer idea today of what went amiss in the SWTL, but this is still a nice survey of organized baseball history in the place that is now a city of 14,000 people.

Have a nice day!