Posts Tagged ‘Gary Gaetti’

Gary Gaetti Is Bright Christmas Light for SABR!

December 11, 2012
Gary Gaetti (L) and Bob Dorrill at the 12/10/12 meeting of SABR's Larry Dierker Chapter.

Gary Gaetti (L) and Bob Dorrill at the 12/10/12 meeting of SABR’s Larry Dierker Chapter.

On a night when most Houston sports fans were out there falling off a cliff with the football team we know locally as the Houston Texans, 19 of us completely, or mainly, baseball souls were downtown at the Inn at the Ballpark, lapping up the diamond-shining thoughts of Gary Gaetti, the manager of the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters. Gaetti, an excellent former major leaguer, is also a former batting coach for the Houston Astros and a passionate baseball mind.

How good was he? Gaetti finished his 20-season (1981-2000) big league career with 360 home runs, just one shy of the 361 HR put on the books by a fellow named Joe DiMaggio. He also is one of the few men in history to have homered in his first two post-season times at bat in the major leagues – after first homering in his very first major league time at bat and going on from there to collect the most career home runs (360) among all other members of that select group. And, as Mike McCroskey also points out in an additional comment below, Gary Gaetti was only ejected from one MLB game over the course of his 20-year career – and that one sprang from the thumb of rookie umpire Phil Cuzzi in 1999. (Thanks for the important corrections and contributions, Mr. McCroskey!)

More than anything, Gary Gaetti is a bright, positive, strong baseball mind and the man who now plies his many gifts and skills to the job of directing young men who play the game out of love for the sport and in the abiding hope that independent baseball will become their gateway to a career in the professional game.

Last year was the maiden voyage season of the Houston suburbs’ Sugar Land Skeeters, as it was for their mentor and field manager, Gary Gaetti. The product at Constellation Field is off to a shining start for families looking for an enjoyable and entertaining way to involve themselves in the game.

As a baseball town, Gaetti rates Houston as one of the best at the grass root level. “From the standpoint of playing and instructional opportunities, and family support for same, the greater Houston area is either stronger, or as strong, as any other city in the country. People in this town know their baseball – and far beyond the credit they get for it nationally.” Gaetti doesn’t mince words in his evaluation of Houston as a baseball town.

As an independent league manager, Gaetti wants players who are capable of converting their low-paying opportunities in independent league ball into a contract with one of the big league clubs. Even though you get the impression that Gaetti the Competitor has come to realize from experience that a club at this level also needs a certain number of players whose abilities and ages make them less vulnerable to being yanked up from the Skeeters’ roster in the middle of a pennant race, that Gary the Man still prefers the guys who can turn the experience into a stepping-stone to bigger, greener pastures for themselves.

How else could he feel? Spend the evening with this guy and you come away convinced that he doesn’t spend time on things that are just about money. The man comes across as a strong, likeable teacher, the kind of guy who was born to be here as both a mentor to the young and a guardian of all the game stands for.

In a later portion of tonight’s program, SABR member Mike McCroskey gave us an excellent report on a book about the early years of baseball, going through the way the general rules and styles of play came to be. As I watched Gary Gaetti during the presentation, he was reading the handout on the 1845 Cartwright Rules and soaking up everything that McCroskey had to say. That’s passion in motion. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

Gary Gaetti admittedly came to speak tonight with a very unclear sense of how he had come to even make the commitment. He says he knew nothing of SABR before tonight, other than the fact that the group had this relentless guy named Bob Dorrill who kept calling him to come speak.

Gary Gaetti left tonight on the heels of spirited interaction with our questions and comments. He even arrived in time to have a beer with some of us as we were breaking bread in the hotel dining lobby. Gary left with a much better feel for who we are and a nodding informal agreement to see us again down the road.

Thank you again for being the persistent relentless out-reaching arm of SABR, Bob Dorrill! You just got us a new and valued friend, I think.

SABR DAY, USA. Later in the evening, Mark Rejmaniak reported on local plans for the annual observance of SABR day. Our Houston SABR meeting will be held on Saturday, January 26, 2013, from 1-4 PM, at the Home Plate Bar & Grill on Texas Avenue, just across the street from Minute Maid Park. We hope everyone will make an effort to join us that day. We will have a private room and some plan for book exchanges and maybe even a DVD presentation – and that’s all to the good of the delicious ballpark food and drinks that are available at “HP.”

(L->R) Garry Gaetti, Larry Hajduk, Bob Dorrill. Larry Miggins, Mike McCroskey. Mark Hudec, Bill McCurdy, Bob Stevens.

(L->R) Garry Gaetti, Larry Hajduk, Bob Dorrill. Larry Miggins, Mike McCroskey. Mark Hudec, Bill McCurdy, Bob Stevens.

The evening program actually began with our presentation of two identically framed and matted family photos of Larry Joe Miggins and his wife and parents in attendance at an early Houston Babies vintage ball game at the George Ranch Field. One copy was prepared for SABR member Larry Miggins and his wife Kathleen Miggins; the other was for Sherl Miggins, Larry Joe’s widow. Each framed photo contained one of the “LBJ” memorial patches that we are now wearing on the right sleeves of our Babies uniforms in honor of the man who shall remain forever with us as “The Spirit of the Houston Babies.” (For those who don’t know, our Larry Joe Miggins died in a car wreck on 9/14/12. We are all still trying to heal from the loss.)

Our message to the Miggins family was simple: “Larry Joe Miggins was your family member, but he belonged to our vintage ball family too. We all miss him, but we hold onto his spirit. And we want you each to have copies of the same “LJM” patch that still bonds us all together forever.”

Larry (The Elder) Miggins also shared this poem that Larry Joe wrote on 9/04/09, but only gave to his father on 8/019/12 at the day early celebration of the older Miggins’ 87th birthday. Unfortunately, or perhaps, most fortutiously, the father only discovered that he had missed reading the poem until two days ago.

Considering the fact the poem was only given to his father less than a month prior to his own death, it takes on an even more powerful impact upon the soul walls of all that life is about for those of us whose faiths travel on a similar track. All I can do from here is leave you with the message that Larry Joe Miggins delivered in close contemplation of his own older brother’s death just a handful of years ago:

If I Were To Die Today

by Larry Joseph Miggins                                                                                                                                           

If I were to die today,

I’d want my friends, family to say

Of all the good that I had done

and friendships made, many more than one

I’d pray the Good Lord forgive my sins

And never mention, I’d offended Him

I only hope He will forgiveEternal life, I wnt to live

For in this life, s history stored

We all are judged, nothing ignored

But seldom do we feel God’s scorn

Thru his Death, we are Re-born

His life’s a lesson, make it your plan

He gave His life, He made a stand 

He is looking through the cleanest lens

And all of my faults I hope to mend.

And if I were to die today

I’d hope my sins be washed away

For at times my light, not be so bright

But it shines bright, even tonight

larry joe miggins 9-4-09

THE PHOTO IN THE FRAME: Sherl Miggins, standing; Larry Miggins, Larry Joe Miggins & Kathleen Miggins. - At the George Ranch Main Field.

THE PHOTO IN THE FRAME: Sherl Miggins, standing; Larry Miggins, Larry Joe Miggins & Kathleen Miggins. – At the George Ranch Main Field near Sugar Land on a baseball day made in Heaven.

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.