Posts Tagged ‘Houston Buff Biographies’

Buff Biographies: Roy Huff

June 26, 2013
Excerpt from "Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Excerpt from “Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Outfielder/1st Baseman Roy Huff (6’1″, 180 lbs.) (BL/T?) was born on April 22, 1924 in Marceline, Missouri. He lived there until age 16, when the family moved to Martinez, California. The following year, 1941, Roy began a nine season minor league career (1941-42, 1946-52) in which he batted a reasonable .270 with 74 homers. In between, Huff served thee years in the Navy during WWII (1943-45).

In 1948, his only season as a Buff, Roy Huff batted .230 with 3 HR in 252 times at bat for Houston. His best season was 1942 when he batted .320 for Class D Hamilton with 8 HR. His next best season, or maybe his best overall, was 1950 when he hit .302 with 18 HR for Class A Omaha.

Baseball Reference has no recollection of his throwing arm side and neither do I. Sorry to admit it, but beyond a blurry recognition of his name, my personal memories of this ancient Buff named Huff are almost missing from the memory of my second season as a kid baseball fan.

Baseball Reference also lists Roy Huff as alive today at age 89. I tried to verify that conclusion with, but could pull up nothing to show that he may be deceased as of 2013. We shall keep an eye and ear and digital search close at hand for further data on Roy Huff of the 1948 Houston Buffs. For now, he looks simply like another short-term member of the minor league passing parade from long ago.

We still respect him for having given part of his early life to the game we all love. Without the Roy Huffs of this world, there would be no more famous baseball history stories to write.

Thanks for the good, the bad, and the ugly, Roy Huff. None of us would have much to look back upon as baseball were it not for the passionate pursuits of reserve clause era guys like you.

Buff Biographies: Jack Angle

June 25, 2013
Excerpt from "Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Excerpt from “Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Jack-of-all-trades utility man Jack Angle (BR/TR) (5’11”, 167 lbs.) was born on March 25, 1916 in St. Louis, Missouri. He passed away at age 79 on October 21, 1996 in Claremore, Oklahoma and was buried there in the Woodlawn Cemetery.

As a Houston Buff for four seasons (1940, 1941, 1947 and 1948), Angle’s teams each finished first with the best winning percentage in the league over the first thee years of his local tenure. His 1948 tout with the Buffs also proved be the last of his 12 seasons (1936-44, 1946-48) as a minor leaguer in the Cardinals system. Jack batted .270 with 40 HR over the course of his career. His .251 mark with the 1947 Dixie Series champion Buffs was his best local mark, but it wasn’t his bat that made him valuable to Houston. The guy could, and did, play all eight field positions with some degree of competence, confidence, and reliability. That versatility was a tremendous asset to any minor league club back in the days of limited rosters of 19 players.

Jack married a Houston girl that he met in 1940 and also developed an off-season occupational skill as a draftsman that helped him support the children that he and Marie Angle raised together. Those utility guys are always thinking. They are the wizened ones that understand one of life’s most basic truths: The more things I do well, the more my chances of keeping my job or finding new work go up to the max.

Thank you for making Houston one of your career stops, “Jumping Jack” Angle. It’s always easier to jump when you’ve got something in your pocket or in your mind that helps you bounce and rebound.

Right, Jack?


Buff Biographies: Johnny Bucha

June 23, 2013


The above cartoon is an excerpt from “Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Catcher Johnny Bucha was one of those former Houston Buffs who did get his major league cup of coffee extended through the entire breakfast club hour. Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania on January 25, 1925, Bucha played 2 games with the 1948 St. Louis Cardinals, 22 games with the 1950 Cards, and 60 games with the 1953 Detroit Tigers, where he also picked up his only big league homer. His batting average for the entire big league foray was .205

Johnny Bucha Detroit Tigers 1953

Johnny Bucha
Detroit Tigers

As a 16-season minor leaguer (1943-49, 1951-52, 1954-60) Johnny Bucha did quite well with the stick, hitting for a career batting average of .289 with 96 home runs. In his lone 1948 season with the Houston Buffs, Johnny Bucha played a back up catcher role, hitting .236 with one homer in only 32 games. Bucha’s best year was 1954 when he batted .331 with 16 homers for two AAA clubs at St. Paul and Buffalo. He had a higher .338 BA earlier for 1944 Allentown, but that was for a wartime Class B club.

As a kid, I remember thinking that Johnny Bucha (BR/TR) (5’11”, 190 LBS.) both looked and acted like a catcher. Maybe the fact that he hardly ever beat any land speed records running out ground balls or stealing bases contributed to the impression.

Johnny Bucha died on April 28, 1996 at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He was 71 when he passed.

Rest in Peace, Johnny B!

Buff Biographies: Pete Mazar

June 22, 2013
Excerpt from "Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Excerpt from “Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Lefty Pete Mazar Columbus Redbirds 1951

Lefty Pete Mazar
Columbus Redbirds

“Lefty Pete” or “Little Pete” Mazar (BR/TL)) (5’9″, 152 lbs.) of the Houston Buffs came by his two nickname references in the most honest baseball ways. – Besides having some talent for pitching a baseball, he simply was both of those things: a little guy who threw left-handed. Hence, the obvious identifications. Baseball people like to express the straight line obvious whenever possible.

As noted in the 1948 cartoon sketch, Pete Mazar was born in Annandale, New Jersey on February 9, 1921.  Baseball Reference shows Pete Mazar as still living at age 92, but we knew that couldn’t be true from more recent contacts with his now deceased widow, Mrs. Eleanor Mazar. A search by independent researcher Darrell Pittman now confirms that baseball’s Pete Mazar passed away at age 62 on April 1, 1983 in High Bridge, New Jersey, a small town located only a few miles from his place of birth.

Confirmation also has been obtained that Pete’s widow Eleanor subsequently passed away at age 83 while living near two of their four surviving daughters in LaPorte at Pasadena in the Houston area on January 20, 2006. The other two Mazar girls live away from the State of Texas.

As for baseball, we have to chalk up Pete Mazar as another of those talented farm hands from the reserve clause era that never got to throw a single major league pitch because of the piled-up talent glut and the shortage of big league opportunities for making it with only 16 MLB teams and each of them reducing a player’s choices to virtually zero on an every season basis. Being “good” was no guarantee of a major league career; and never playing in the big leagues did not mean that a player wasn’t any good. Pete Mazar was another of those good players who simply never got a big league shot.

Over the course of his 12-season minor league career (1941, 1944-54), Lefty Pete Mazar racked up a pitching record of 100-105 with an ERA of 4.o3. In 5 seasons with the Houston Buffs (1947-51), Pete registered his best season as a pitcher for the 1948 Buffs club, posting a record of 15-10 and an ERA of 2.53.

I remember Mazar as a battler, a guy who would grind it out as long as his manager allowed him to go, and one pitcher who almost seemed to enjoy getting into situations that he then had to escape. The joy in his body language upon an avoided bad inning was as apparent as his obvious dejection in times things did not end well.

Pete Mazar also owns the distinction of being Buff President Allen Russell’s first “baseball crooner” in a line of players that later included such memorable Buffs as outfielders Larry Miggins and Danny Gardella. Russell just loved having talented singing ball players who could do The National Anthem or other music on special occasions. He couldn’t miss with “Frank Sinatra Jersey Boy Mazar”, a guy who could take singing way beyond simply carrying a tune.

Mazar got to do The National Anthem more than once at Buff Stadium, but it’s too bad that Russell wasn’t quite ready to expand these player/crooner concerts to cover subjects like his aversion to rain outs and rain checks. Pete Mazar could have done a great job on “Singing in the Rain”, or even better: “Rain! Rain! Go Away! – Come Again Some Other Day!”

The last time I saw Pete Mazar pitch was in that preseason game the Buffs played against the New York Yankees in early April 1951. He soon after went 2-1 with the ’51 Buffs and earned a move up to AAA Columbus,  never again returning to Houston as a player, though making his home here for several years.

That 1951 Buffs-Yankees game was a signature day for Lefty Pete. The Buffs took an early lead over the Yankees, but Pete got himself into one of those trouble spots. It was not a good time for it. The Yankees had guys named Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra in the lineup, plus an 18-year old kid rookie right fielder named Mickey Mantle coming up to bat.

The merciful version is that Pete Mazar got blasted by the 1951 New York Yankees. The heart version is the whole story. – Pete Mazar fought them as hard as he could, for as long as he was allowed, giving it all that he had, – and he still left the game obviously dejected that he had not pitched out of a jam against one of the greatest baseball teams of the mid-20th century.

Thanks for the memories, Pete. And thanks for all the heart and talent that made you the man you were.

Buff Biographies: Herb Moore

June 21, 2013
Excerpt from "Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Excerpt from “Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Former Houston Buffs pitcher Herb Moore (BL/TL) (6’0″, 200 lbs.) was born on November 27, 1915 in the town of Crew in Prince George County, Virginia. He died on June 18, 2002 in Chester, Virginia at the age of 86. In the early in-between years of his long life, he worked out his passion for baseball as a steady journeyman minor  league pitcher, mostly in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system, for 12 seasons (1933-38, 1941, 1946-50).

Moore first performed for the Buffs in 1936, starting the season at age 20, using his fair assortment of goodies to post a record of 8-13 with a 4.38 ERA. He returned to the Buffs over a decade later and put up a 5-2, 5.60 ERA mark for the 1947 Texas League and Dixie Series champion Buffs. 1948 was Herb’s final season as a Buff and he managed only a 1-2 mark in 35 innings of work.

1948 was also Herb Moore’s last dance as a career Cardinal far hand. After his closing tango with the ’48 Buffs, Moore pitched two final seasons at thee D ball level and then hung ‘em up. He finished with an all minor league career record of 86-62 and a 3.34 ERA. His two best seasons were 1935 when he was 21-5 with a 2.97 ERA for Class B Asheville and 1946 when he went 15-3 with a 1.44 ERA for Class D Albany.

Moore’s .278 career batting average speaks for his better than average hitting ability, but his .529 BA in 1947 speaks volumes for Herb Moore’s ability to come through in critical game situations and as a pinch hitter. In 17 official at bats for the ’47 Buffs during the regular season, Moore banged out 11 hits, including two triples. He became manager Johnny Keane’s “go-to” guy as a pinch hitter in the ’47 Buffs successful playoff run.

Moore tried a little managing before he completely hung it all up in baseball and retired to his life as a Virginia country squire. He had good baseball stuff, especially with his curve, but he looms in memory as just another of those guys whose skills and ability were not enough in that limited opportunity era to earn him a shot in the big leagues.

Herb Moore just played the game at the level that was available to him because he was a baseball man and for him and thousands of others like Herb Moore, playing the game somewhere was seen as a far better choice than not playing at all.

Thank you, Herb Moore! – Thank you for doing your part to keep the baseball chain of passion alive and growing under the far more difficult circumstances of the reserve clause era.

Buff Biographies: Sam DiBlasi

June 19, 2013
Excerpt from "Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Excerpt from “Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Sam DiBlasi had one of the better years among those who played for the 3rd place 1948 Houston Buffs. In 132 games as a third baseman, Sam batted .290 with 22 doubles, 10 triples, and 2 homers. His good offensive production was just topside of his career minor league totals over six seasons (1942, 1946-50) of 83 doubles, 39 triples, and 9 homers. 1948 was the athletic Mr. DiBlasi’s only season as a Buff.

Born August 13, 1922 in Washington, DC, the 6’0″, 190 lb. DiBlasi (BR/TR) was a three-sport star and all state end in football before becoming a three sport letterman at Washington and Lee University and embarking upon his pro baseball career in Canton, Ohio in 1942, where he also met his future wife.

World War II took care of the next thee seasons (1943-45) as DiBlasi went off to battle in Europe as a 1st Lieutenant and also earning a Purple Heart for his battle wounds. Sam resumed his baseball career in 1945 after taking up residence in Canton, Ohio as a construction worker.

After 1948, Sam DiBlasi moved from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Brooklyn Dodgers’ farm system and splitting time with the latter’s clubs at AA Fort Worth and AAA Montreal in 1949.

Something happened after 1949, but I lack the immediate resources without further research to know what caused the change and fairly abrupt end to Sam’s baseball career. In spite of the fact that DiBlasi’s batting averages at Fort Worth and Montreal ranged from .260 to .277, he dropped down to Class A Greenville of the Sally League in 1950 as a pitcher. He had pitched five innings for Montreal in 1949 and posted a 1-0 record. He worked in four games for 1950 Greenville and compiled a 3-0 record with a 1.67 ERA.

Then nothing. At age 27, Sam DiBlasi was gone from baseball.

Sounds a lot like an injury-forced retirement after 1950. As I have time, I will try to learn more about what happened. If you know anything about what led to Sam DiBlasi’s early departure from the game, please post it here at The Pecan Park Eagle as a comment on this column. Thank you.

According to a post-column report from Darrell Pittman, Sam DiBlasi passed away at age 81 on August 18, 2003 in Canton Ohio. Here’s additional news of Sam’s post-playing career involvement in baseball:

“Baseball player. He was a pitcher and third baseman with the Brooklynn Dodgers and the Canton Terriers Class AA League. He was a member of the Stark County Baseball Hall of Fame and was past president of Eastern Ohio Basketball and Football Officials Association. He served as an official and television liason for the mid-American conference; was a life member of the Ohio Association of Football Officials. He served as commissioner for the Class A Baseball League from 1967-1977 and was Commissioner for the Federal League for 29 years. Sam was a World War II Army veteran having served in Normandy, Utah Beach, D-Day + 1. Survivors include his wife Donna L (Kitzmiller) DiBlasi; three sons and a daughter.” –

The Frank/Marks cartoon identified Sam’s wife as Jean; this findagrave reports her name as Donna. Sam either had two wives, or one wife who used two names, or someone simply made an ancient reporting mistake on her name in the first place.

Thanks, Darrell!

Buff Biographies: Russell Rac

June 18, 2013


Buff Logo 12

Russell Rac The Early Years

Russell Rac
The Early Years

Russell Rac (5’11”, 188 lbs.) (BR/TR) was a slugging, speedy, good-natured outfielder for the Houston Buffs intermittently from his very first handful of hitless professional times at bat at age 18 in 1948 to his eleventh and last season as a full-time, .312-hitting 28-year-old Buff in 1958. Rac came by his affinity for Houston quite honestly. He was born in Galveston on June 15, 1930 and grew up a Buffs fan as also honed his playing skills at the Island City’s Ball High School.

Rac played for the Houston Buffs for parts or all of seven seasons out of his eleven years total (1948, 1951-52, 1954-56, and 1958). He batted .289 with 161 HR over the course of his minor league career. Russell never made it to the big leagues with the always talent-heavy St. Louis Cardinals, but that was more due to their abundance than any deficiency in Russell Rac. In today’s market, Russell was the kind of guy who could have played several years in the big leagues.

Two Rac home run feats come to mind: In early April 1951, Russell Rac homered against the New York Yankees in a 15-9 spring training loss by Houston to the Bronx Bombers at Buff Stadium in the waning days of spring training. At age 21, Rac was not the youngest player to homer in that game. An 18-year old kid named Mickey Mantle also hit one out for the Yankees before the day was done. – The other home run story came to me directly from Russell Rac. He once showed me a newspaper account to back up his story, but I couldn’t read the whole thing. It was all in Spanish, but I do understand the word “quatro” as “four”. I saw it in the headlines of the article that Russell pointed out to me.

Russell Rac The Later Years

Russell Rac
The Later Years

The story? One year in South American ball, Russell Rac belted four home runs in a single game!

Russell Rac was one of those compact guys that could really pile some distance into a baseball when he caught it with those quick wrists on the sweet spot. After baseball, Russell Rac remained active in those periodic reunions of the Houston Buffs and he was there with a bells-on spirit for the 1995 Last Roundup  of the Buffs.

Some people never give up on the joy of living life as a celebration. In my experience with him, Russell Rac was one of those people. He also never abandoned his joy for the game of baseball. And like most good old time baseball people, he always seemed to have time for another good baseball story.

Sadly, we lost Russell Rac a couple of years ago. He died on October 11, 2011 at the age of 81.

Keep smiling, Russell. – That’s how most of us will always remember you.


Buff Biographies: Charlie Sproull

June 17, 2013
Excerpt from "Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Excerpt from “Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Charlie Sproull

Charlie Sproull

As Frank and Mark point out in their cartoon, former Buffs pitcher Charlie Sproull (6’3″, 185 lbs.) (BR/TR) was born January 9, 1919 in Taylorsville, Georgia. Save for a deal that sent him to Dallas at the very end, his 1946-48 time with the Buffs were a wrap on his 10-year minor league pitching career (1938-44, 1946-48) and a record of 87-96, and a 3.73 ERA, He was out of baseball as an active player at age 29.

Charlie’s big league career took place in 1945 when he won 4 and lost 10 with a 5.94 ERA for the Philadelphia Phillies. In spite of his Georgia Peach tree and culture roots, Sproull married a girl from Rockford, Illinois and made his home there until his death on January 13, 1980 at the age of 61. In his off-seasons, as Frank and Mark also show, Charlie worked as a machinist who liked fishing in the  spring and summer and hunting in the fall and winter.

Charlie Sproull was hardly close to ever having been one of the revered names in Houston Buffs history. He won 1 game for the ’46 club, 5 games for the ’47 team, and a mere 2 games for the ’48 Buffs, but he was made of the stuff that made minor league baseball popular. He was a member of that legion of dreamers who, whether they realized it or not, had to put everything else in life aside while they each chased the chance to one day fly across the summer sky of America’s consciousness as one of the game’s shooting stars.

Charlie Sproull put his baseball dream to bed before he turned 30. Hopefully, he spent the remaining 32 years of his life from there in a loving marriage with the fullest satisfaction of knowing that he had given baseball all he had.

God Rest Your Soul. Charlie Sproull!

Buff Biographies: Jerry Witte

June 15, 2013

Buff Logo 12

Jerry Witte, First Base Houston Buffs, 1950-52

Jerry Witte, First Base
Houston Buffs, 1950-52

The 1950  wonderful morning that I read in the Houston Post that first baseman Jerry Witte was joining the Houston Buffs on assignment from the Cardinal AAA club in Rochester, I was doing just about the same thing that I’m doing this June Saturday morning in 2013, drinking my wake-up cup of hot tea and reading the sports page reports and columns of the wonderful old Houston Post and writer Clark Nealon.

Those were the days, my friend, but that’s a much longer story for a different day. The point here is that I suddenly found my self stunned into happiness over the thought of Jerry Witte joining my Buffs. He had been something akin to Darth Vader in my childhood mind since he came to town with the 1949 Dallas Eagles and made Houston one of the places he cranked out those 50 home runs in a single season. Now it seemed that old Darth had decided to come on over to fight for the Light side against the forces of evil darkness.

We didn’t have Star Wars as a base metaphor in 1950, of course, but it retroactively fits Jerry Witte coming to Houston back then better than any other frame of reference available to our experience as Buff fans of that era. I am right about Jerry joining the light side in 1950 Houston. The Buffs were about as “light” on talent that year as they could be. Even the 30  home runs that Witte brought to the Buffs lineup from June 11, 1950 forward did not matter that much as the club went on to a 61-93 record and a last place finish.

The next season, Jerry Witte’s 38 homers paced the Texas League as the Buffs rose to first place and also captured the playoff league pennant before losing the 1951 Dixie Series in six games to the Birmingham Barons. Jerry played one more season for another bad Buffs team in 1952 before retiring from baseball at age 37.

Jerry Witte and his wonderful wife, Mary Witte, settled in the Houston East End following the end of his baseball career and proceeded to raise a family of seven bright and beautiful girls. Jerry operated his own successful landscaping business until some time in the 1980s, but he never forgot his earliest roots as a contributing member of the working class.

Many had a bigger wallet. None had a bigger heart.

Late in life, Jerry  and I teamed to write his autobiography, “A Kid From St. Louis”. The book was published in 2003, a year following Jerry’s death in 2002 at the age of 86. It is an engaging story of the man and his times. Born in Wellston County, west of St. Louis, on June 30, 1915 as the 6th born of 10 surviving children,  Jerry grew up as the child of  a hardworking German-Polish family who also just happened to have been blessed with a special talent for crushing baseballs into flight across the summer skies of St.  Louis, Missouri.

Signed originally by the St. Louis Browns in 1937, Jerry Witte had a 13-season minor league career (1937-42, 1946-52) in which he batted .276 with 308 HR. After three years of Army service in World War II, Jerry had brief cracks with the Browns in 1946 and 1947, but didn’t stick.  His best minor league years were 1939 at Lafayette when he batted .354 with 14 homers and won the Evangeline League MVP award and 1946 at AAA Toledo when he batted .312 with 46 home runs, plus also crushing 3 HR in the All Star Game that season. His 50 and 38 homer seasons with 1949 Dallas and 1951 Houston were pretty good too.

Jerry’s downfalls were the high inside pitches he could neither resist or hit and the fact that he placed way too much pressure on himself to perform instantly during his 46-47 call ups with the Browns. Late in life. he was quite accepting and philosophical about the way things turned out.

“My life worked out the way the Good Lord wanted it to work out,” Jerry once told me. “The Lord gave me baseball and landscaping as my ways in life. He delivered me to a happy lifetime of marriage to the only woman I ever loved. And He blessed us both with seven wonderful daughters and our whole family with happy times and the support of truly good friends and a faith in Jesus Christ that makes sense about why we are all here, anyway. – Money can’t buy those things. So, how could more time in the big leagues have made any real difference? It wouldn’t have mattered one iota. No sir! I’m happy with the whole thing and the way it played out as it did. – Who knows? God may have been saving me from myself.  Had I made it big in the big leagues, I might have been one of those guys who got so full of himself that I screwed it all up!”

I don’t think so, Mr. Witte. As one of your dear friends in later life, there was no way you would have ever screwed up everything that was so right as rain about the loving state of mind, heart, and soul that was your marriage, your family life, your friendships, and you as a man. You just weren’t destined to be one of those dumb turkeys who made all the stupid self-serving choices.

Everyone should be so “lucky” as you and your good friend, Mr. Larry Miggins. If we all could, what a wonderful world this would be, indeed.

Note: For any who may be interested, hard cover copies of Jerry Witte’s autobiography, “A Kid From St. Louis”, are still available. Do not send cash. If you would like one, please make out a check for $26.70 and send it to “Bill McCurdy” to cover the book, sales tax, shipping, and handling and send your order with clear mailing address instructions to:

Bill McCurdy, Publisher

Pecan Park Eagle Press

PO BOX 940871

Houston, TX 77094-7871

Jerry Witte is deceased, but I will be happy to sign the book for you as his co-author, if you would like or just send it as is. If you do want me to sign as a gift to someone or just want a dedication message, simply let me know your wishes and I will be happy to oblige.

For further information or order follow-up, I can be reached at 713.823.4864.

My apologies, but I am not set up to handle credit card orders.

Thank you for your interest.

Buff Biographies: Cloyd Boyer

June 14, 2013
Excerpt from "Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Excerpt from “Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

One of eleven Boyer children and the oldest of three brothers who grew up to reach the baseball major leagues, Cloyd Boyer started off his pitching career with a hummer of a fastball and a scary quick delivery.

Born in Alba, Missouri on September 1, 1927, the 6’1″, 188 lb. right hander played most of the 1948 Houston Buff season as the still 20-year-old ace of the pitching staff, powering his way to a 16-10, 3.14 ERA record. In a 14-season minor league career (1945-49, 1951, 1953-54, 1956-61) Cloyd registered a career mark of 117-97, 3.50 that included, of course, his two years with the Buffs (1948, 1953).

In four seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (1947-52) and one with the Kansas City Athletics (1955), Cloyd Boyer finished his big league business with an MLB record of 20-23 and 4.73.

Remember what we said about every player having his level of competitive ascension largely determined by  the drag of his personal gravity? Cloyd Boyer is simply another example at a higher level than most. At the MLB level, Boyer’s abilities faded a couple of notches in accomplishment from what they were at the higher minor league levels – and for whatever reason. Boyer’s 1948 “stuff” at Houston looked like the stuff of a future major leaguer of exceptional ability, but it never happened. Whether it was pure ability or some combination of psychological or injury factors that activated Boyer’s resistance  to excellence in his higher level performance we cannot now know or recover beyond irresistible speculation.

But speculation is irresistible, indeed.

Younger brothers Ken and Clete Boyer made it big as successful third base men, even meeting each other as third base men for the Cardinals and Yankees in the 1964 World Series. Hmmm. Cloyd Boyer played most of his amateur life as a shortstop. Speculation stop: Maybe Cloyd Boyer should have kept that strong right arm and used it to keep playing shortstop at the professional level. We’ll never know.

According to Baseball Reference.Com, Cloyd Boyer is still alive at 85 – and headed toward 86, come September.