Posts Tagged ‘History’

Barker Red Sox Spank Houston Babies, 10-3

June 12, 2016


On Friday, June 10, 2016, the Bark Red Sox defeated the Houston Babies, 10-3, in a game of vintage baseball played at Constellation Field in Sugar Land prior to the regulation professional game of the Sugar Land Skeeters at the city's Constellation Field. A good time was had by all.

On Friday, June 10, 2016, the Bark Red Sox defeated the Houston Babies, 10-3, in a game of vintage base ball played prior to the regulation professional game of the Sugar Land Skeeters at that city’s Constellation Field. A good time was had by all. (Well, at least for the Barker Red Sox, that turned out to be totally true.) ūüôā

Bob Dorrill

Bob Dorrill

 A Marvelous Day for Vintage Base Ball

By Bob Dorrill, Houston Babies Manager and Special Correspondent Writer for The Pecan Park Eagle.
It was a marvelous day for baseball in Sugar Land, Texas where the Houston Babies and the Barker Red Sox met at Constellation Field, the home of the Sugar Land Skeeters for their second classic vintage baseball game of the season.
Last year, on June 12, 2015, the Houston Babies and the Katy Combine played the first in what we hope will be an annual vintage game at beautiful Constellation Field. Today's June 10, 2016 event was Vintage Annual Big Venue Game # 2.

Last year, on June 12, 2015, the Houston Babies and the Katy Combine played at beautiful Constellation Field. Our Friday, June 10, 2016 event extends the annual tradition.

Both teams enjoyed the outstanding facilities and hospitality of the local professional team. The grounds were in superior shape and there was plenty of water and Gatorade for the thirsty participants in the 95 degree weather.
Alex Schmelter, Alex Hajduk, Jim Markin ~ Youthful Houston Babies!

Alex Schmelter, Alex Hajduk, Jim Odasz
~ Youthful Houston Babies!

It was Turn Back the Clock Night at Constellation Field and while both vintage teams wore uniforms of the day, so too did the Skeeters who featured a uniform with “Imperial” across¬†their chests modeled after¬†the local team of years gone by.¬†
Phil Holland and Greg Moore ~ Highly Seasoned Houston Babies.

Bob Stevens, Phil Holland and Greg Moore
~ Highly Seasoned Houston Babies.

Robert Pina, Jim Odasz, and Starting Pitcher Larry Hajduk
(More Seasoning!)
A nice crowd showed up at 5:00 PM to see the early game and watched both teams battle for 4 innings in a closely contested contest. In the 5th inning, however,  the Babies brought in their ace reliever whose pitches were to the Red Sox liking, and along with a few fielding problems, the visitors scored 7 runs to break the game wide open. Due to time limitations the score ended 10-3 for the Barker nine in a 6 inning contest.
Mark Rowan ~ Of course, he needs his late afternoon rest. He's a "Baby"!

Mark Rowan
~ Of course, he needs his late afternoon rest. He’s a “Baby”!

Matt (One Eye) Grantham and Mike (Bam Bam) Hayes led the Red Sox with 3 hits each and scored 3 and 2 runs respectively. Hurling for team of knicknames were Jon (Woody) Woodard and Adam (Doc) Alligood. Congratulations to Bob (Chowder) Copus who managed this fine group.
Marc Hudec (as in) "Who dat sayin' Hajduk when you mean Hudec?"

Marc Hudec (as in)
“Who dat sayin’ Hajduk when they mean Hudec?”

The¬†Babies¬†were led by newcomer Jim¬†O’Dasz with 3 hits and hurler Larry Hadjuk who had a quality start. A highlight in the field was¬†a¬†spectacular backward falling summersault catch by third baseman Greg Moore. While we won’t name the pitcher who gave up the 7 runs in one inning we will say that he is keen observer of baseball on a daily basis.¬†¬†


 Alex Hajduk  "And - back at you - who dat callin' Hudec when they mean Hajduk?"

Alex Hajduk
“And – back at you – who dat callin’ Hudec when they mean Hajduk?”

All 15 Babies and 10 Red Sox got to play in this wonderful atmosphere and we look forward to returning to Constellation Field next year for the 4th consecutive year.  

~ Bob Dorrill, Special Correspondent, The Pecan Park Eagle



The End of a Perfect Day. The above story featured a beautiful photo of both teams (taken by Babies player Joe Thompson) that provides us also with a perfect reflection on the remarkable spirit of this vintage base ball movement in Houston. Playing “base ball” by 1860 rules, in 19th century attire, and with bats and balls from that early era ‚Äď and with no gloves in use to help catch the ball ‚Äď and with a few other delightful little changes in the rules from today, vintage base ball is about the closest game we adult fans of the diamond will ever hope to find of our earlier life kid times on the sandlots of America.

That same old joy didn‚Äôt die when we “grew up”. It lives again. Through vintage base ball.

Come join us. Find out for yourself. The joy never died. We simply left it in the attic, with all of our other childhood toys and dreams.

~ The Pecan Park Eagle.


Editorial Note: Thank you, Bob Dorrill, for that wonderful summary with pictures. The Pecan Park Eagle also wants to extend our appreciation to the Sugar Land Skeeters for their support of vintage base ball in the Houston area. If any of you readers care to join the fun by forming your own vintage base ball club, or if you might be interested in joining our Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR (The Society for American Baseball Research)¬† please contact our Bob Dorrill for assistance on information on how to to get started with either goal. We are dedicated to the joy of life and you will be under no pressure to join anything, do anything, or pay anything. SABR and vintage ball are separate non-profit entities – and you most certainly can have one without the other. We are 100% about the pursuit of passion for baseball as an ingredient to both leisure and a more enjoyable life – but only for those of who want it. We are not about profits, sales, or conversions. Simply the joy of shared enjoyment of baseball with others who also share our fire for preserving one of the truly American inventions is the biggest blanket we can find to cover all we engage. ~ Bob Dorrill can be reached by e-mail at ….>¬†

~ The Pecan Park Eagle


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

A Sam Cooke Remedial

November 30, 2011

1836: Texas arguably extended all the way through parts of current New Mexico, and other present states, fingering its way north to the current State of Wyoming.

Do you remember the old Sam Cooke song-lyrical lament that “(I) Don’t know much about history?” Well, today I just wanted to share the news and send you a link to a neat little site that Gary Richardson of The Floppy Wizard computer store in Houston sent me the other day. In something like two minutes of the clock, the people at this site could have helped old Sam quite a bit on his knowledge dilemma, at least, delivering him safely to the “do know something about history” level.

I make no claims for academic historical expertise, but I would place myself in the “do know some things” category as the subject relates to Texas and American history, anyway, and I found this little linear film (with graphic illustration) a fun way to review the surface growth of the USA from the various chronological comings of the fifty states by the years they each came into the Union a really fascinating way to review how we’ve gotten where we are now.
How many of you recall that the USA once possessed Cuba and The Philippines – and could have made a case for annexing the latter as a state, had we been able to figure out a practical way in those lower tech travel and weapons days of defending a state that was located in Asia.
I had the arguable part of Texas history brought home to me on a trip we made to Santa Fe, New Mexico back in 1998 – and I happened to have an old Rand-McNally Atlas book with me that contained a Texas sketch similar to the one shown here. I had the book with me when we later went on a downtown Santa Fe walking tour and heard nothing about the 1836-1845 period in which Texas (apparently) controlled large parts of the territory that contained large parts of eastern New Mexico and all of Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe walking tour people said they had never seen such a map or read or heard anything about Texas controlling their land at a time that their records showed New Mexico as being still under Mexico’s control until the USA took things away in the Mexican War of 1845. I was aware of why this condition existed. I had just never had the fact of its existence brought home to me so clearly until that moment in Santa Fe.
In fact, the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836 may have won Texas its independence, but it certainly didn’t settle the size of Texas’s new land acquisition as far as Mexico was concerned. Santa Anna just conceded defeat there because he had no choice and saw the need to find a way to get home before the Texans started talking seriously about his need for execution.
Mexico just saw the Texas Revolution as an American land grab and that’s why things didn’t get “settled” until their war with the United States in 1845, ¬†the conflict that resulted in the much larger Mexican concession of western lands to the United States, and the Gadsden purchase settlement.
These 19th century battles would settle things until the late 20th century, when Mexico figured out that it would be possible for them to reclaim all of their lost lands, and large parts of the US treasury, if they simply sent their army back over the “border” one-by-one, and family-by-family.
What an absolutely brilliant strategy! How can any nation stop an invasion that comes so slowly, albeit steadily, that those who warn against it must do so at the risk of finding themselves branded with the indictments of political correctness?
At any rate, what a great refresher course this one is.

Probably the best capsule of the history of our country ever put together. It’s fascinating to watch the evolution of growth from the 13 colonies up to the present, with dates, wars, purchases, etc. included. As much as you may know about American history, I guarantee you’ll learn something from this short video clip.

This ‚Äúmoving‚ÄĚ map of the country, shows it from the beginning of the 13 states through the present. It includes the acquisitions from¬†England¬†and¬†Spain, the Slave states, the¬†Free states, a segment on the Civil war, it includes some mentions of Central andSouth America, etc.

It also shows the Indian Nations as they were during the Indian Wars: Modac, Miwok, Mujave, Nez Perce, Flat Head, Crow,Cheyenne, Arapaho, Navajo, Apache, Dakota, Sioux, Kiowa, Wichita and Comanche.
A great site, especially if you enjoy American history, but have forgotten a lot of what we learned in school. Turn on your sound, as the narration is a significant portion of the presentation.
Click on the next line.¬†(When it opens,¬†don’t¬†click on¬†Go¬†at the bottom ….¬†click on¬†Play¬†at the top.)

Take Me Out To The Brawl Game

August 30, 2011

The Gay Nineties weren't all that gentle a time.

Darrell Pittman is a fine baseball historian and writer over at Astros Daily and also a valuable member of our SABR research team and our work-in-progress project, “Houston Baseball, The Early Years: 1861-1961.” ¬†Both the title of this column and the following story that Darrell retrieved from Page 3 of the May 18, 1896 Houston Daily Post are to his credit. Thank you very much, Darrell Pittman. Your story-finds both lighten and enlighten our days and lives.¬†

It’s an interesting cultural piece, a funny look at the reporter’s use of language in bringing us this story of absolute mayhem, and a real look at the practical index on racial prejudice against Italian immigrants in rural Pennsylvania back in the last decade of the 19th century:



HAZLETON, PA, MAY 17  Р Six persons were shot and a number of others seriously injured during a riot at Macadoo, a town four miles from here this afternoon. The injured are Jos. Ward, shot in knee; Thomas Karns, shot in arm;  James M. Downey, finger blown off: Burke Brennan, shot in shoulder; James Brennan, shot in arm; Mary Burke, shot in back; Antonio Rizzio, nose broken; Mrs. Ruth Viecho, scalp wound.

A game of baseball was in progress when a gang of drunken Italians charged upon the players and spectators with revolvers, clubs, and stones. Last night an Italian had been arrested for assault and battery. A number of young men took him from the constable and unmercifully beat him. The Italians, hearing of the beating, threatened revenge. They fulfilled their threat today. The first inning had just been finished when there  was a pistol shot. It was followed in a few minutes by a promiscuous discharge of firearms. The crowd attempted to run away, but the Italians chased them, discharging their pistols and throwing stones.The foreigners were almost mad with rage and blazed away incessantly until the police arrived.

Several of the Italians were arrested and more will be taken into custody tomorrow. Ward, who was the catcher for catcher for the Macadoo club, is the most seriously injured. He is lying in a hospital in critical condition.

– Houston Daily Post, May 18, 1896 Edition, Page 3.

Famous Last Astro-Words

June 23, 2011

Former Houston GM Paul Richards

This first quote is not exactly famous, but it should be, and maybe, someday, it will be. A group of us were talking at dinner a couple of nights ago prior to the Tuesday, June 21st, meeting of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research. The general subject was this terrible 2010 Houston Astros club, a team now well on its way to the first 100-loss season in franchise history. That’s when somber member Harold Jones, not intending to be funny, offered the best one-liner that any of us have heard, so far, on why this is a tough club to watch.

“It’s not the Astros’ bad record that makes watching them play ball so tough;” Jones offered, “it’s the fact that it takes them so long to lose.”

Of course, Harold is pristinely right. The 2010 Astros don’t just get blown away in the first inning and never come back. They keep it close, most of the time, until the game is turned over to the pen in the late innings. Then it’s exactly as things unfolded the very night that Harold Jones made his sanguine observation. The Astros led the Rangers in Arlington, 4-2, but Texas tied it up late and then won it dramatically on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th.

It hurts to lose like that. In many ways, this season would be easier to bear if fans didn’t have to watch so many games slipping away late due to bad relief pitching or missed slugging opportunities with men on base. As Harold Jones said, the Astros just take too long to lose. They dangle hope on a string, sometimes even closing the slack to only a one-run deficit at the end, but, in the end, they mostly do what bad clubs do. – They find a way to lose. – The 2010 Astros are a cheap-working club of AAA, at best, rookies, affordable journeymen, two pretty good outfield stars, two or three excellent rookie prospects, and one gargantuanly over-paid veteran who simply needs to eat up the extra full season that remains on his contract and go away. For now, they remain the only club we have – the club that takes too long to lose.

Speaking of other famous last Astro words, we only have to look back a week or so to manager Brad Mills to find another great quote. According to Mills, the firing of popular pitching coach Brad Arnsberg was due to “philosophical differences” and the skipper wasn’t lying. He simply wasn’t explaining the details that have leaked out anyway since then. They boil down to a simple point of crisis between the two men – one in which manager Mills was sure to win the “Battle of the Brads” with pitching coach Arnsberg.

Arnsberg believed in staying with his starters as long as possible, a pattern of thought still shared by some fairly successful managers, like fairly recent Astros skipper Larry Dierker – especially on a club with the least reliable relief staff in the majors. Mills, on the other hand, apparently lives closer to the “Captain Hook” side of things and is more inclined to pull a starer when he smells trouble or tiredness.

The difference between the two men apparently had never been resolved.It finally came to a head in the start that Wandy Rodriguez made early last week. In brief, Mills wanted Wandy out of the game; Arnsberg wanted to leave Wandy in. Arnsberg balked on the order to remove Wandy and Mills then fired Arnsberg for this specific expression of philosophical difference – which he had a right to do, whether you agree with him – or not.

That’s baseball.

Speaking of even more recent quotes, Astros third baseman Chris Johnson spoke with all the authority of one who understands probability after last night’s rally-win over the angers in the ninth inning last night. After pinch hitter Matt Downs cracked a two-run homer to cap a four-run rally and 5-3 win over the Texas Rangers, Chris Johnson summed it up well with these words: “We knew we were going to hit another home run this season.”

Thanks for the optimism, Chris. With 86 games left for the Astros to play in 2010, some of us fans were not quite as sure.

We could go all day on famously remembered last Astro-Words, but, at the end of the day, my favorites would still have to be these offerings from the great icon of all Houston sportswriters, the sanguinely wonderful and funny Mickey Herskowitz:

(1) MH’s first visual impression of the Astrodome upon approaching the structure in a car in 1965: “It looks like a giant underarm deodorant stick that has been buried, heads up, in the ground.”

(2) MH’s observation on the original installation of zippered-together sections of Astroturf on the Dome surface infield: “Now Houston has the only infield in baseball with its own built-in, infield fly.”

(3) MH, quoting an angry Paul Richards on the latter’s reaction to his firing as the Houston General Manager by club owner Judge Roy Hofheinz:

Mickey Herskowitz: “Try to let it go, Paul. Sometimes the Judge is his own worst enemy.”

Paul Richards: “Not while I’m alive, he’s not.”



Floyd Bevens: The Legacy of Disappointment

May 26, 2011

World Series Game 4, Oct. 3, 1947, Yankees vs. Dodgers at Brooklyn. Dodgers win, 3-2, on last pitch with their first hit of the game. Lavagetto's double ties Series. Pitcher Floyd Bevens & Joe DiMaggio walk away from heartbreaking loss at Ebbets Field.

Had it not been for a single pitch on a singular afternoon on an Indian Summer day back in Brooklyn in 1947, it’s likely that even fewer people would remember the name of the late Floyd “Bill” Bevens these 63 plus years later. But baseball people remember him – for what he did and didn’t do.

With the Yankees tying into their second World Series competition against their down-from- “snob hill” neighbors, the Brooklyn Dodgers, ¬†the Yankees were leading the Series, 2-1, through three games, but their pitching corps was running thin do a combination cause of injury, tiredness, and a general lack of normal Yankee talent. As a result, Manager Bucky Harris made the call to go with a little known, but not-too-accomplished right hander named Floyd “Bill” Bevens.

Bill Bevens brought a 1947 season record of 7-13 and a 3.82 ERA into Game Four. In his four seasons in the major leagues (1944-1947), all played as a WWII talent shortage Yankee roster guy, Bevens had achieved the unremarkable record of 40-36 and a 3.08 career ERA.

Bevens settled on Game Four to have the best stuff of his life. He had control problems, walking 10 against only 5 strikeouts, but had surrendered no hits in guiding the Yankees into the bottom of the 9th with a 2-1 lead. He also had thrown a ton of pitches, far more than his tired aching arm could handle, but this was 1947 and nobody did pitch counts back then. On top of the cultural value from that era that said “pitchers should finish what they start,” the man had a no-hitter going. No way Harris was going to take him out in favor of ace reliever Joe Page.

Then came the 9th.

With two outs, Bevens walked center fielder Carl Furillo. Dodger Manager Burt Shotton then quickly subbed the speedy Al Gionfriddo as a pinch runner for Furillo. Gionfriddo then quickly took off for 2nd, getting there about the same time a great throw from catcher Yogi Berra to shortstop Phil Rizzuto.

The Yankees thought for sure they had the third out – the win – the first World Series no-hitter in history – and a 3-1 lead in games for the 1947 World Series!

No. No. No. Much to the Yankees’ dismay, Gionfriddo got the safe call. ¬†The game would play on – with the tying run now on 2nd and the dangerous Pete Reiser coming to bat for Brooklyn.

That’s when Yankee manager broke the yolk of baseball wisdom that usually bridled these situations. He made the call to Bevens for an intentional ¬†walk of the once speedy, but now more hobbled Pete Reiser, putting the winning run on 1st with two outs in the bottom of the 9th.

Bevens would face the pesky, but powerless Eddie Stanky with the tying runner on 2nd and the winning run at 1st, needing only that one more out to nail down his place in World Series history.

Hold up again. Dodger mentor Shotton had other ideas. Instead of facing Stanky, Bevens would face the right-handed veteran Cookie Lavagetto as a pinch hitter. Cookie wasn’t a power hitter, but he did possess some pop in his bat that Stanky could only have dreamed about. Shotton’s move provoked no further adjustments by Harris. It would be left up to righty Bevens and righty Lavagetto to write the next big moment in World Series history.

Shotton of Dem Bums had one more move. He inserted the faster Eddie Miksis at 1st as a pinch runner for the intentionally walked Reiser.

The final battle was now joined. Bevens vs. Lavagetto, with young Yankee catcher Yogi Berra relying upon the clubs book that said they could get Cookie with a fastball, high and away. And that’s what Bevens threw. And Lavagetto flailed away and missed for strike one on the very first pitch.

Yogi called for another hard one, high and away on the second pitch to Cookie. Bevens had second thoughts, but he delivered it anyway. This time, Lavagetto reach our and up and got it. A loud crack resounded, inciting a moment of stunned silence, then a roaring wave of euphoria from the home crowd as the ball bounced high off the screen in right field.

Gionfriddo easily scored the tying run. And here came Miksis from first on his teammate’s heels with the winning run. The Dodgers got only their first hit of the game from Lavagetto, but it was enough to produce a 3-2 Dodger win, tying the Series at 2-2 in games, and destroying Bill Bevens’s bid to become the first pitcher in history to throw a no-hitter in a World Series.

Bill Bevens lost more than a no-hitter that day. He pretty much ruined his arm pitching that game. Aside from some brief relief work after Game Four, Bevens would never pitch for the Yankees, or any other big league club again after 1947. The Yankees did win the Series in seven games, of course, and Bevens will always have that association to his credit, but all he would get from the Yankees in 1948 is his unconditional release in spring training.

The stories of Bill Bevens walking off the mound in tears that day at Ebbets Field, as well as those memories of Bevens and Yogi crying together in the clubhouse, all fly in the face of that “no crying in baseball” myth. That loss had to hurt bad. I concede the guy’s right to his expression of pain from that very hurtful¬†experience.

Like no other sport, baseball moves deliberately through a succession of events that eventually determine winning or losing, joy or despair. Can you imagine the nanosecond of joy that must have spawned in the Yankee dugout when they thought they had thrown out Gionfriddo at 2nd for the final out of the game?

Didn’t happen. Keep playing. Keep playing until the cracking sound of Lavagetto’s bat is your final memory of this game, for better or worse.

Floyd “Bill” Bevens kept on playing minor league ball beyond 1947. In fact, in his 14 seasons as a minor leaguer from 1937 to 1953, he compiled a minor league record of 117-118 and a career ERA of 3.76. He could have retired with a winning record in 1952 but he came back in 1953, ¬†just long enough to take it into the negative side with an 0-2 mark at Salem ¬†of the Class A Western International league.

Bevens’s minor league history even included a brief stopover in 1949 with the Houston Buffs. Bevens was a Buff only long enough to give up six hits in four innings and two games with no record before moving on to Seattle of the Pacific Coast League that same season.

In the end, it was the legacy of Floyd “Bill” Bevens to be the man who lost a chance to post the first no-hitter in World Series history with two outs in the 9th inning. Perhaps, the question is: Did Bevens really lose his no-hitter to Lavagetto’s walk-off double – or did he earlier in the 9th lose it to Gionfriddo’s safe call on the steal of 2nd?

Bill Bevens passed away at his home in Salem, Oregon on October 26, 1991 at the age of 75.

Houston’s 1st Game: March 6, 1888

May 24, 2011

Houston Babies, 1889: Uniforms were olive green, The lettering & trim were red.

March 6, 1888 in Houston came to light in the middle of a rainy period. The new Houston base ball club was set to play what we think was their first competitive professional game against a team from elsewhere, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, at 3:30 PM that same afternoon. The game would be played at the Houston Base Ball Park at a still unconfirmed location near our present downtown area.

Some say Houston came into stick and ball battle that day decked out as the Houston Babies, a tribute to the fact that they were the last of the new Texas League clubs to get their organizational act together to join the loop. Others say that the Houston club, like their guests from Ohio, hit the field that first time as the Houston Red Stockings. Still others contend that our first local professional team may not have even bothered to drag a nickname with them for those first few games. These guys wore their team identity splashed in large red letters across the jerseys covering their hearts – and, as was the case for the men in today’s photo of the 1889 club, the letters in 1888 also spelled out “HOUSTON.”

Houston didn’t fare too well in that first game. A pitcher named “Flood” went the distance for Houston, but Cincinnati still won big, 22-3. Deep water puddles dotted the playing field that day, necessitating a search for several lost balls in play. Apparently the game ball lacked a certain buoyant quality – and probably aided by their use of the same ball for the whole soggy game.

Here’s the first box score from that first Houston professional game in town played between a team representing Houston against a club from another city on March 6. 1888:

Cincinnati Red Stockings – 22

Nicol. RF   7   4   3     1   0 0
McThee, 2B   7   4   4     2   4 0
Fennelly, SS   5   1   1     0   0 1
Riley, 1B   5   3   1   13   0 0
Kappel, CF   5   3   1     1   0 0
Keenan, C   6   2   4     8   2 0
Tebeau, LF   5   1   1     1   0 0
Carpenter, 3B   6   3   3     1   1 0
Serad, P (W)   6   1   2     0   9 2
   TOTALS 52 22 20   27 16 3

Houston Babies – 3

Harry Howard, 2B    4   1   1    1  1  2
H.B. Dauthett, CF    4   0   3    3  0  1
Pat Flaherty, LF    4   0   0    1  0  0
Daniel Murphy, 3B    4   0   0    2  0  2
James Vogel, RF    4   0   1    1  0  0
Thomas J. Flood, P (L)    3   0   0    1 10  6
R.H. Craig, 1B    3   1   0  11   0  0
Joseph Lohbeck, C    3   0   0    7   4  2
Jack Horan, SS    3   1   1    0   5  1
  TOTALS  32   3   6   27 20 13

Earned Runs: Cincinnati 8, Houston 3.

Bases on Balls: Cincinnati 4, Houston 2.

Strike Outs By: Flood 7, Serad 5.

Left On Base: Cincinnati 7, Houston 4.

2BH: McThee (2), Kappel, Serad, Dauthett, Horan.

3BH: Fennelly

HR: none.

Passed Balls: Lohbeck 6, Keenan 1.

Wild Pitches: Flood 3.

Stolen Bases: Howard, Dauthett, Craig (1 each), Cincinnati 8.

Umpire: Kid Baldwin.

Time of Game: 1 Hour & 45 minutes.

Assuming this contest really was the first Houston professional home game, first baseman R.H. Craig scored the first run in home game (or any game) history in the fourth inning. Already trailing 4-0, Craig led off with a walk and then stole second. After Lobeck then flew out to right and Horan was retired in some unspecified way, second baseman Harry Howard singled to left to plate Craig for the locals’ first run in history. The boys would score two more on the day before going down hard by ¬†finl tally of 22 to 3.

Our anonymous Houston Post reporter described Howard’s historic RBI line drive over the Cincy shortstop’s head as “a corker.” The same reporter left this comment for the ages about Houston pitcher Thomas Flood: “Flood’s speed surprised (Cincinnati), but owing to a sore finger he could not control his balls or get in any of his deceptive curves.”

The Post reporter also admitted to giving up scorekeeping in the sixth inning, His opinion of the Houston team pretty much imbedded itself in this throwaway comment about the fielding of second baseman Howard: “…like every other man in the (Houston) team, (Howard) appeared to be stiff.”

Unfortunately, 1888 would not be the last year that a bunch of stiffs took the field for Houston.

Larry Miggins: His Link to Jackie Robinson

May 17, 2011

Larry Miggins (1953)

Larry Miggins was one of my four major Houston Buff heroes during those kids days I traveled in the years following World War II. The others were my late great friends, Jerry Witte and Frank Mancuso, plus the still going and thriving “Little Pepperpot,” Solly Hemus. Through today, the irrepressible Mr. Miggins remains on this Good Earth as one of my dearest friends in the world.

Miggins is also a member of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research. In fact, this past Saturday, at the Larry Dierker Chapter meeting of SABR held prior to the game in the board room at Minute Maid Park, Mr. Miggins entertained by playing a CD he had written and performed in honor of the great home run year of Mark McGwire back in 1998. I know the song, but unfortunately had to miss this special performance due to the fact that Jimmy Wynn and I were tied into a book signing of “Toy Cannon” at the ballpark’s retail store that ran through the meeting time. I’m sure it went great.

What brings it to mind is the e-mail I received from fellow SABR member Tim Gregg late yesterday, reminding me of Larry’s special place in the history of Jackie Robinson. My God! Most of us around here know about it. Why haven’t we snapped to the fact earlier that we harbor ¬†a member within the sheltering coves of ¬†our very own SABR chapter who rides high as an historical ¬†participant in one of Jackie Robinson’s landmark moments of breaking the color line? We have to wonder too: Why haven’t the Astros thought of Larry Miggins each season when the special day for honoring the memory of Jackie Robinson comes about on the schedule? Maybe they do not realize that the connection exists.

Here’s the connection: When Jackie Robinson stepped across the ancient color line to play regular season integrated professional baseball for the first time since the late 19th century that a black man had been allowed on the field of competition with whites, Larry Miggins was there as a member of the other team. On April 18, 1946, when Jackie broke in as second baseman for the visiting Montreal Royals, Larry Miggins was there playing third base for the home club Jersey City Giants.

That historic game was played at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey on a spring afternoon opening day and 51,000 jubilant fans showed up to celebrate the fall of a wall that never should have been there in the first place.

The Royals won, 14-1, and Robinson’s performance that day was pure Hollywood. After grounding out 6-3 in the first, Jackie came up in the third and bashed a long three-run homer to left, followed by three singles before the day was done. In addition to his four hits, Robinson also had four runs batted in and two stolen bases on the day.

Larry Miggins has a great photo of one stolen base. It shows Jackie Robinson sliding in safely at third underneath Larry Miggins’ swiping glove. What a day that must have been.

Next time “Jackie Robinson Day” comes around, I hope the Houston Astros will invite Larry Miggins to be a participating celebrant. Maybe our SABR chapter will find a way to pass on a reminder to the new ownership.

Congratulations, Mr. Larry Miggins! – We are all quite proud to have your company in SABR, and that would be true, even if you had never played a game anywhere near Jackie Robinson. Your humor elevates our spirits – and your sterling character raises our standing as a baseball community.

The Dixie Series

May 13, 2011

The Houston Buffs flew their team pennant as four times winners of the Dixie Series.

As professional baseball rolled into the 1920s, the desire among fans for achieving the greatest recognition available for the accomplishments of their local clubs grew with it. The major leagues had the World Series to settle the “who’s best?” in the universe question, but the minor leagues wanted that kind of opportunity also for their (unspoken word to follow here) “lesser” championships in lower levels leagues.

At the highest minor league level, the “Little World Series” was formed by the clubs in the American Association and International League to determine the best club in minor league professional baseball, but that did not stop leagues at even lower levels of competition from coming up with their own end-of-season ultimate prizes. There was money to be made in the stir of post-year drama and the club owners and leagues hated to miss out on any extra opportunities to pack the houses of their champions four to seven more times.

Beneath the American Association and International League, the Texas League and the Southern Association jumped on the championship series idea like regional frogs on regional June Bugs. They got together and formed the Dixie Series as the annual settlement match between their two annual champs, starting in 1920.

The Dixie Series became an inter-league minor league postseason series that pitted the playoff champions of the Southern Association and the Texas League in a best of seven in games won match from 1928 to 1958. The series was revived for a single time in 1967, placing the Southern League champion Birmingham A’s into a match with the Albuquerque Dodgers of the Texas League. The A’s won that one, four games to two, but the appeal of a permanent rival of the series died on the vine. The Dixie Series finally was put to bed for good.

Here are the results of the Dixie Series from 1920 to 1958. Naturally, the eight trips to the Series by the Houston Buffs are expressed here in bold type. The Buffs won their first trip to “the big south show” in 1928, the first year of Buff Stadium, but the great 1931 club of Dizzy Dean and Ducky Medwick lost to Birmingham in a local shocker. In the end, the Houston Buffs split their eight Dixie Series trips, winning four and losing four. My personal favorite was their 1947 win over Nashville. My personally greatest disappointments came in 1951 and 1954, by the time I was old enough to better appreciate the meaning of their losses in 1951 and 1954.

For your information, here are the results of all Dixie Series matches played from 1920 to 1958:

1920 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers Little Rock Travelers 4 games to 2
1921 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers Memphis Chicks 4 games to 2
1922 Southern Association Mobile Bears Fort Worth Panthers 4 games to 2
1923 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers New Orleans Pelicans 4 games to 2
1924 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers Memphis Chicks 4 games to 3
1925 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers Atlanta Crackers 4 games to 2
1926 Texas League Dallas Steers New Orleans Pelicans 4 games to 2
1927 Texas League Wichita Falls Spudders New Orleans Pelicans 4 games to 0
1928 Texas League Houston Buffaloes Birmingham Barons 4 games to 2
1929 Southern Association Birmingham Barons Dallas Steers 4 games to 2
1930 Texas League Fort Worth Panthers Memphis Chicks 4 games to 1
1931 Southern Association Birmingham Barons Houston Buffaloes 4 games to 3
1932 Southern Association Chattanooga Lookouts Beaumont Exporters 4 games to 1
1933 Southern Association New Orleans Pelicans San Antonio Missions 4 games to 2
1934 Southern Association New Orleans Pelicans Galveston Buccaneers 4 games to 2
1935 Texas League Oklahoma City Indians Atlanta Crackers 4 games to 2
1936 Texas League Tulsa Oilers Birmingham Barons 4 games to 0
1937 Texas League Fort Worth Cats Little Rock Travelers 4 games to 1
1938 Southern Association Atlanta Crackers Beaumont Exporters 4 games to 0
1939 Texas League Fort Worth Cats Nashville Vols 4 games to 3
1940 Southern Association Nashville Vols Houston Buffaloes 4 games to 1
1941 Southern Association Nashville Vols Dallas Rebels 4 games to 0
1942 Southern Association Nashville Vols Shreveport Sports 4 games to 2
1943 No Series WWII
1944 No Series WWII
1945 No Series WWII
1946 Texas League Dallas Rebels Atlanta Crackers 4 games to 0
1947 Texas League Houston Buffaloes Mobile Bears 4 games to 2
1948 Southern Association Birmingham Barons Fort Worth Cats 4 games to 1
1949 Southern Association Nashville Vols Tulsa Oilers 4 games to 3
1950 Texas League San Antonio Missions Nashville Vols 4 games to 3
1951 Southern Association Birmingham Barons Houston Buffaloes 4 games to 2
1952 Southern Association Memphis Chicks Shreveport Sports 4 games to 2
1953 Texas League Dallas Eagles Nashville Vols 4 games to 2
1954 Southern Association Atlanta Crackers Houston Buffaloes 4 games to 3
1955 Southern Association Mobile Bears Shreveport Sports 4 games to 0
1956 Texas League Houston Buffaloes Atlanta Crackers 4 games to 2
1957 Texas League Houston Buffaloes Atlanta Crackers 4 games to 2
1958 Southern Association Birmingham Barons Corpus Christi Giants 4 games to 2

1958 was the last encounter in the Dixie Series between the Southern Association and Texas League. Beginning in 1959 it was replaced by the Pan-Am Series, the Texas League vs. the Mexican League.

Ted Lyons: Master of the Complete Game

May 7, 2011

Ted Lyons

Houston Astros President Tal Smith reminded us of him yesterday in a comment on our “amazing baseball records” topic.¬†“I still marvel at Ted Lyons at the age of 41 completing all his starts (20) in 1942 and leading the A.L. with a 2.10 ERA,” Tal Smith wrote.¬†“For his career Lyons completed 356 of 484 GS (73.6%).”

Tal Smith’s statement is right on the sweet spot of correct.

Ted Lyons possessed a bundle of pitching talent and a whole full measure of resiliency, working his entire 23-year pitching history (1923-1942, 1946) with the Chicago White Sox and, even though he played for the Pale Hose during their long “snowball in hell” stretch as serious pennant challengers, he still managed to pull off three twenty game winner seasons (1925, 1927, 1930) on his way to career record of 260 wins, 230 losses and an ERA of 3.67.

The Lake Charles, Louisiana native (DOB: 12/28/1900) joined the White Sox straight out of Baylor University and he never pitched a day in the minors or worked for any other big league club. Once he finally retired, he returned to his native Louisiana, where he le lived until age 85 before finally passing away at his home in Sulphur, Louisiana on July 25, 1986.

“Crafty” is the word most writers from his era use to describe Ted Lyons – and some of that gear-shifting was prompted by an arm injury he suffered in 1931.¬†Prior to the 1931 incident, Lyon’s weaponry pitches included a “sailer” (better known today as a cut-fastball), a knuckleball, a curve ball, and a change-up.¬†After the 1931 injury, Ted’s pitches included a fastball, a slow curve, knuckleball, and an even slower curve that he used as a change-up.

New York manager Joe McCarthy once paid Ted Lyons his supreme, but honest backhanded compliment. He said that Lyons could have won 400 games, had he played for the Yankees and not the White Sox. And Marse Joe was probably right. As the Yankees were establishing their brand as the “killer corps” of baseball during the 1920s and 1930, Lyons was pitching downstream for the neer-do-well bottom-feeding White Sox and still winning 260 times.

Late in his career, 1939 manager Jimmie Dykes started using the aging Lyons only as his Sunday pitcher. Lyons responded by finishing 16 of his 21 starts for a 14-6 record and a 2.76 ERA. By 1942, Lyons was well prepared for that amazing year that Tal Smith has noted. At age 41, Lyons completed all 20 of his starts for a 14-6 mark and a league-leading 2.10 ERA.

1942 was supposed to Lyons’ last year, but he came back for one more whack in 1946, the first season following the end of WWII. Then age 45, Lyons completed all five of his 1946 starts, finishing 1-4, but still registering a 2.32 ERA to complete his active business as an all big league, all White Sox pitcher.

Lyons stayed with the Sox as a coach through 1948. Then he moved on to Detroit as a coach for the Tigers from 1949 to 1952 and then to the Brooklyn Dodgers for a coaching season in 1954. After the Dodger year, it was to Louisiana and full retirement for the man who came to be known as “Sunday Teddy” for is exclusive use on that one day from 1939 to 1942.

Ted Lyons was inducted nto the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. The Chicago White Sox later retired his uniform number 16 in 1987. Ted Lyons will always be remembered as one of the masters of the complete game. Because of the “evolution” that has transpired in baseball toward the use of starter pitch counts and relief inning specialists, it is highly improbable that we shall ever see his likes again.

My Five Most Amazing Baseball Records

May 6, 2011

Baseball records are effected by four major contributing factors: (1) the abilities and health of the individual player; (2) the number of games a fellow plays during his career; (3) the contemporary sub-culture of baseball that dictates the rules, strategies, ballpark conditions, equipment. and player usage preferences during the era a guy plays; and (4) conditions of war and peace in the world that impact player availability.

That being said, here are my five arguably most amazing baseball records. I would expect your list to vary due to the fact that we are all effected differently by the idea of amazement:

Joe DiMaggio

(1) Joe DiMaggio’s 56-Game Hitting Streak. In my book, Joe D’s feat is number one, bar none, when you stop to consider how difficult it is to simply play in 56 straight games, let alone to get hits in each one. Nagging injuries, exhaustion, a pitcher who has a batter’s number, the ongoing and building pressure to keep the streak alive, and dumb luck have too much chance to get in the way and put a stop to anything like DiMaggio did. Add another cultural factor that wasn’t in place on the scale it is today. The media attention from ESPN and the like would be constant and brutal upon any player today who crept past Pete Rose at 44 games and starting honing in on 50 and the record of DiMaggio that lay just beyond. A batter will hit .400 before another player gets a hit in 57 straight or more games.

Cy Young

¬†(2) Cy Young’s 4 Aces. He held some other high record cards too, but these were his gaudiest. They are amazing in their enormity and not likely to ever be broken. Someone will break DiMaggio’s 56-Game hitting streak before another player compiles carer totals on the level of Cy Young. During a 22-season career (1890-1911), Cy Young set records that still exist for most wins (511); most losses (316); most pitching starts (815); and most complete games pitched (749). He’s been holding those four aces for one hundred years now and it is unlikely that any pitcher working under the current set-up of the game will ever pitch long enough, or hungry enough, to ever come even pennant-race close to reaching the achievements and bi-products of pitching that were both captured and befallen to Cy Young in his era.

Cy Young never even looked like a pitcher by today’s standards of athletic imagery, but he got it done better than anyone else in his day. And by a far measuring stick set of figures. ¬†– Amazing!

Babe Ruth

¬†(3) Babe Ruth’s 60 Home Runs in 1927. Unlike the “Juice Brothers” of more recent times, Babe Ruth was bashing home runs at a time in which whole teams were not hitting the long ball anywhere close to his level of productivity. When Ruth broke his own record of 59 home runs for a single season by hitting his 60th big one On September 30th against Tom Zachary of the Washington Senators at Yankee Stadium during the next to last game of the 154-game 1927 season.

Ruth’s 60 HR record in 1927 was achieved without the help of any performance enhancing drugs known to mankind at that date, If anything, it was also attained in spite of Ruth’s lifestyle ingestion of alcohol and his dedicated pattern of compulsive debauchery at every Yankees port-of-call in the American League. Ruth was no choir boy, but he could pull himself together for role model public appearance contact with kids at the drop of a hat. The year he broke the single season record for major league homers at 60 Ruth had crunched more home runs alone than all the other American League teams had hit as team totals – and that’s an outcome that is unlikely to be repeated. Ever. – Amazing!

Ty Cobb

(4) Ty Cobb’s 11 Batting Titles. In a 13-year period from 1907 to 1919, Ty Cobb of the Detroit Tigers won 11 American League batting average titles, failing only in 1910 at ,383 and again in 1916 with a .371 mark, ¬†Twice during his streak he won with averages far over .400 and he failed to win a 12th batting title in 1922, even though he hit .401 that year. Chalk that squelch up to the Zeitgeist of Baseball in the early 2oth century and a fellow named George Sisler. Cobb still topped them all for average, finishing with a 24-season (1905-1928) career mark of .366 as the greatest career batting average of all time – and another career mark that probably will last forever.

The 11 Ty Cobb batting title just stand out with me. ¬†Tony Gwynn won 8 National League titles in the late 2oth century, and maybe someone will better Cobb’s 11 mark someday. If they do, however improbable as that now seems, it’s almost a forgone conclusion that they certainly will not hit for anything close to the high average that Cobb achieved with his abilities during his era of work. – Amazing again.

Nolan Ryan

¬†(5) Nolan Ryan’s 7 No-Hitters. ¬†Nolan Ryan’s handful of pitching masterpieces defies imagination. So many things have to fall into place for even one no-hitter to occur and these include the presence of great fielding on tough plays and blind luck on field positioning for some batted balls especially. Then, of course, you must have a pitcher who is on his game like white on rice, with the skill and luck that goes into keeping the ball away from the sweet spot on the bat for 27 outs – or some great out plays on your few mistakes for the day.

That’s hard enough to do even once, – so hard, in fact, that most great pitchers spend their whole Hall of Fame careers on the mound without even once finding that rabbit in their caps.

Nolan Ryan did it seven times! – That one makes my list of amazing records in easy time.

But how about you? What’s on your list as the 5 most amazing records in baseball history? Please leave a comment here.