Posts Tagged ‘Larry Miggins’

Downtown Houston Baseball Parking

August 20, 2017

 

Kathleen and Larry Miggins

 

August 20, 2017: Happy 92nd Birthday, Larry Miggins!

Happy Birthday, Larry Miggins! And may God continue to bless you and the entire Miggins family for all the goodness you and Kathleen and the entire Miggins family bring to the City of Houston and the hard core sweet-spot goodness of our local baseball community and its colorful, knowledgeable, caring for the long season game – and why the round ball and bat heart of summer means so much to all of us!

As easily as the movie in my childhood mind rewinds and plays of you and Jerry Witte coming to bat as the two big boppers of the Houston Buffs during that Texas League championship season of 1951, I will also continue to live whatever remains of my time in gratitude that you and Jerry Witte, my two biggest childhood baseball heroes, would eventually be around to welcome me into your lives – over time – as an adult good friend.

Thank you for making room for me.

Erin go Bragh!

 

Catch your breath!
This one happened in Seattle for an NFL game,
but we don’t want to go anywhere near 3-digits with Houston baseball.

 

Downtown Houston Baseball Parking.

Longer than a brief blog subject. Much irony involved.

Here are a few notes on the obvious eggs of past neglect that are now hatching:

(1) During the 1950s, the absence of sufficient, convenient, affordable downtown parking for baseball fans was a big factor in MLB clubs moving from New York and other places to areas in which parking was both available and controllable by price.

(2) In the late 1990s, when the Astros decided to abandon the Astrodome and move downtown, they did so without a plan in place for how they would control the area around the new Union Station site from being severely effected by commercial pricing exploitation by independent nearby property owners. As a result, new independent residential and commercial construction in the area has eliminated quite a bit of the parking space was available in the club’s first 2000 season downtown.

(3) The loss of parking space potential and the greed of these independent property owners has handled the rest. Parking for big games now goes for $40 per car in the nearest lots. A fan can either get there early and pay the big bucks – or else – park 6 to 10 blocks away from a $10 per car lot.

(4) Now it’s about to get worse. According to Astros President Reid Ryan, TXDOT has decided to expand the freeway to the east of Minute Maid Park in some way. I missed all the details, but I was told by SABR members who heard Ryan speak in full before my late arrival, that the freeway expansion will basically combine I-45 and I-59 into and even wider system and that it will effectively take over the parking areas east of the present structure – areas that had been under the control of the Astros.

(5) In other words, the Astros are now drawing closer to the situation that the Brooklyn Dodgers found themselves in 1957: They have a great ball club, but their fans live in the suburbs, and those fans are not protected from price gouging on limited parking space whenever they decide to engage the inconvenience of driving downtown to see a game.

(6) The current Astros ownership tries hard. They did not create the situation they now find themselves in and they are deserving of our support in the search for effective solutions.

(7) The Astros understand that they have to find a solution to the parking problem. But what can they do?

(7) And what are the chances now that the Astros still may end up seeking yet another way to move the club to a further away site – where cheap parking is both plentiful and controllable?

(8) Maybe Harris County needs to step back on that plan to repurpose the Astrodome.

(9) For a contrast, research for yourself how the Cardinals fought for control and protection against these kinds of potential private and public sector body slams before their own move to the current Busch Stadium in St. Louis. See how that plan has spared them the suffering that the Astros took with them like eggs waiting to hatch when they moved downtown under the implicit threat of leaving Houston, had they not gotten their way.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF SATURDAY, AUGUST 19, 2017 

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 76 47 .618  
2 ANGELS 63 60 .512 13.0
3 MARINERS 63 61 .508 13.5
4 RANGERS 61 61 .500 14.5
5 ATHLETICS 53 70 .431 23.0

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF SATURDAY, AUGUST 19, 2017

 ASTROS 3 – ATHLETICS 0.

 RANGERS 17 – WHITE SOX 7.

 MARINERS 7 – RAYS 6.

 ANGELS 5 – ORIOLES 1.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF SATURDAY, AUGUST 19, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 470 171 35 3 19 .364
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
2 JEAN SEGURA SEA 391 124 23 1 7 .317
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 466 146 23 1 20 .313
4 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 388 121 20 0 18 .312
5 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 372 115 21 3 13 .309
6 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 341 105 22 0 20 .308
7 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 456 140 39 5 18 .307
8 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 409 125 24 0 28 .306
9 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 340 103 17 0 6 .303
10 EDDIE ROSARIO MIN 388 117 27 2 16 .302
Other Top 40 Astros
17 YULI GURRIEL HOU 426 126 33 1 15 .296
19 JOSH REDDICK HOU 379 112 25 3 12 .296
36 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 408 112 30 5 15 .275

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS TEMPORARILY REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Spirit of SABR: Our April 2014 Meeting

April 15, 2014
Larry and Kathleen Miggins with son Larry Joe and wife Sherl Miggins at a 2011 Houston Babies game.

Larry and Kathleen Miggins with son Larry Joe and wife Sherl Miggins at a 2011 Houston Babies game.

Last Night’s April SABR Meeting (with a healthy dose of Miggins reflections added for seasoning.

The Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR should count their lucky stars for the presence of such historical stars as Marie “Red” Mahoney, age 90 in 2014, Houston’s original member of the National Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and Larry Miggins, age 9 in 1914, a former St. Louis Cardinal and one the last surviving Houston Buffs. Both are members of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame and members in good standing of the Society for American Baseball Research. And both served as extremely valuable first person sources in our chapter research for the 368-page hard cover history book that finally will  be coming out in the next 10-14 days from Bright Sky Press, “Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-1961.”

If you care to order the book at its pre-release price of $39.95, you may still do so at http://www.houstonbaseball.org/

But back to my dear friend, Mr. Miggins, who rides with me to each of our downtown Houston monthly SABR meetings. It’s simple as that, but something I never figured on as a kid, when the 1951 Houston Buffs were my early life heroes and the tandem slugging of first baseman Jerry Witte and left fielder Larry Miggins were tearing the cover off the ball. Witte had 38 HR for the ’51 Texas League champs and Miggins had 28.

“I should have had 29, but a very confused and confusing umpire took one away from me,” Miggins protested to me on the way to SABR last night. “I hit one down the left line for a home run and had circled the bases and even sat down in the dugout, when I was suddenly called back to the plate to keep hitting.”

“What do you mean, ‘keep hitting’, I protested,” Miggins added. “I just got the signal for a homer.”

“Well, it wasn’t fair,” the umpire stated. “I decided it was foul.”

“What? What?” I said in my rarely raised voice. “I’ll tell you what’s not fair. – You’re not fair.”

“I didn’t win the argument, but I didn’t get thrown out,” Miggins added. “Just more evidence that I was cheated out of a home run by an umpire with a guilty conscience. A clear-headed umpire would have ejected me for my protests. – I’ve never forgotten it.”

As most of our SABR chapter meeting people know, Larry Miggins played third base for Jersey City in 1946 when Jackie Robinson made his professional debut for Montreal. Miggins takes tongue-in-cheek credit for two of Robinson’s bunt singles down the third base line on his deep-playing self that day.

Miggins is also the guy who one spring in the 1940s at the University of Pittsburgh played catch and took infield grounders from volunteer coach Honus Wagner and also the high school classmate of iconic broadcaster Vin Scully who came around to fulfill a boyhood prophecy that he (Scully) would one day be broadcasting in the big leagues when Larry came to bat and hit his first major league home run. And so it happened that way in 1948 when Larry Miggins came to bat at Ebbets Field for the Cardinals and hit his first MLB homer off Preacher Roe. Guess what? Vin Scully was the Dodger announcer who called the Miggins shot.

Then there was the famous “most honest player in baseball” story that floated out of Columbus in 1950, but we will save that one for another time. That one, and so many others, deserve their own chapters.

Larry and his lovely, funny Irish wife, Kathleen Miggins, recently celebrated their gazillionth wedding anniversary. They are the parents of 12 children and numerous grandchildren. And, as most of you know too, they were the parents too of another fine man who also played ball for our Houston Babies, the late, but always-still-with-us-in-spirit soul of goodness and happy times, the late Larry Joe Miggins.

Last night at SABR, Jim Kreuz led us on a CSI-level paper investigation of the Branch Rickey-inspired “Search for Silvio Garcia” of Cuba down in Mexico as the potential first black player in organized baseball. The effort never panned out as Rickey’s search person always seemed to arrive on the scene just in time to be told something like “Silvio left herre yesterday to go back into the military.” Dave Skelton of Waco and the Austin-based Rogers Hornsby Chapter delivered a dedicated presentation on “all the things I never knew” until he got into baseball research for player profiles and our own Tom Murrah gave the group a breathtaking picture of the sweeping scope his research took him into the history of high school and college ball for our Houston history book. Both presentations were well received. It was a full night traveling down trails we’ve never before tonight visited so totally as a meeting group.

Greg Lucas almost aced a 12 question (10/12), very detailed trivia quiz and chapter leader Bob Dorrill welcomed several new members as he and convention co-chair Marsha Franty brought us up to date on preparations for this summer’s national SABR Convention # 44 in Houston.

Based on the guesses of those picking Astro win totals for 2014, most people see the Astros as beating the 100-loss per season plague, but still playing well below .500 ball at this stage in the rebuilding process.

Mr. Larry Miggins

Mr. Larry Miggins

After the meeting, I listened again as Mr. Miggins told this story to guest speaker Dave Skelton:

Two citizens of the world were having a conversation about language. One was from Mexico. The other man was from Ireland.

Here’s how it went:

Citizen of Mexico: “Manana is the Spanish word we use for things we plan to do in the future. And by ‘future’, I don’t necessarily mean things we shall do tomorrow. They may be  things we don’t get around to doing until next week, or next month, or next year, or maybe even five-ten years from now.”

Citizen of Ireland: “Fascinating!”

Citizen of Mexico: “Do you have a Gaelic word that expresses the same ideas about future action as our Spanish ‘manana’ does, and so well?”

Citizen of Ireland: “I’m afraid we don’t have a Gaelic word that attaches that much urgency to the notion of future action.”

 

 

Honest Larry Miggins

May 2, 2013

Columbus 50 Team

To fully appreciate this brief story, you may first need to either know the man or to have heard this story which I wrote about three years ago. Others have written about it too:

https://bill37mccurdy.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/larry-miggins-honesty-is-the-only-policy/

To have been such an honest man, it’s helpful to also see his face as he appeared in 1950 as a Columbus Redbird.

Larry Miggins, LF 1950 Columbus Redbirds

Larry Miggins, LF
1950 Columbus Redbirds

Another present Houstonian and former Houston Buff that played in the “1950 Columbus Honest Man” game is Solly Hemus, shown here also as a Redbird shortstop.  To no avail, Solly was on the “index-finger-over-the-lips-keep-your-mouth-shut-Larry” side of things that day.

Solly Hemus, SS 1950 Columbus Redbirds

Solly Hemus, SS
1950 Columbus Redbirds

Larry Miggins is the most honest man ever. He told the truth, even though it wasn’t what his teammates or the home town Columbus fans wanted to hear him say that day in left field.

What a privilege it is to be the friend of Larry Miggins and a fellow member with him in SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research. This coming Saturday, we are going together to the Sugar Land Skeeters game with a group of fellow SABR members.

Hope to see you there. The baseball climate and ambience at Constellation Field comes pretty close to portraying what it was like to watch baseball at old Buff Stadium (1928-1961). If only we had more organ baseball park music and less “modern” stuff, but that’s probably just my antique patina soul dimming the lights a little.

 

The Great Rollie Finger is Also a Great Guy

April 22, 2013
Rollie Fingers, Bill McCurdy, and Larry Miggins dining at the Masraff's MLBPAA event in Houston on April 21, 2013. - Photo by Jim Foor

Rollie Fingers, Bill McCurdy, and Larry Miggins dining at the Masraff’s MLBPAA event in Houston on April 21, 2013.
– Photo by Jim Foor

Last night I was honored to have been invited to the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association Dinner at the wonderful Masraff Restaurant at 1753 Post Oak near the Galleria by my old Houston Buff and St. Louis Cardinal friend, Larry Miggins. As a bonus, and as a tribute to the outgoing nature of the sociable Mr. Miggins, the next thing I knew we were having dinner with the only Hall of Famer in the house, the great reliever, Rollie Fingers. If Brooks Robinson, or any of the other HOF inductees, was present, we never laid sight upon him – or them.

Go figure.

At age 66, Rollie Fingers now lives in one of those homes that borders a Las Vegas golf course. He is in town to play in the big league group’s golf tournament that raises money and awareness to the need for early detection and treatment of prostate cancer through cause championed by the Masraff family that hosts the dinner activity.

A number of familiar Houston baseball figures and several out-of-towners were in attendance: I personally spoke with Bob and Ken Aspromonte, Carl Warwick, J.R. Richard, Phil Garner, and Larry Dierker, and spotted, but never caught up with Bob Watson. Also back in Houston from their extended time in Asia were Jim and Sandy Foor. Jim is a former MLB pitcher with the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates, and, we’re also proud to say, a former player for the Houston Babies vintage baseball team. As GM of the Babies, and now that I know he is back, we have invited Jim Foor to rejoin our Babies club, starting with our next big game day, May 18th in Galveston. Hope he takes us up on it. We miss his ability, we miss his smiling sense of humor and presence on the field, and we definitely miss Sandy, the best cheerleader we ever had.

As for Mr. Fingers, We can only wish the Babies could recruit him too. His numbers speak for themselves: 17 years in the big leagues (1968-85); 114 wins, mostly in relief; a career ERA of 2.90; 1,299 K’s in 1701.1 IP; and 341 saves. He took the Cy Young Award in 1981; he registered numerous seasonal awards as a reliever over the years; and he played on seven All Star teams. Oh yeah, Rollie Fingers was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.

He is all of that and a man who takes on company as a very nice guy to break bread with for one unlikely paths crossing night on the road of life too. Thanks for being the kind and friendly person you are off the field, Mr. Fingers. I’m sure the experience wasn’t the same for all those batters that had to face you on the mound in the 9th inning of so many critical games during your playing career.

Rollie hasn’t yet seen “42”, the new movie about Jackie Robinson, but he is 100% behind the need to keep people’s awareness clear on the contributions and trials of the great Dodger color line breaker. Fingers recalled that even in 1967, when he and fellow future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson both were playing for Birmingham on assignment by the MLB Athletics, that there were still numerous restaurants in the South that refused service to blacks – and that Jackson would be turned away.

That old world is never that long ago or faraway. Sometimes, with some people, you simply have to listen to them talk long enough to realize that it’s still sadly here. “42” is a well-done blow against ignorance and the hatred it spawns.

Rack up another golden memory in the getting-longer meandering life of the Pecan Park Eagle. We will keep this one forever.

Home on the Range: In Honor of Larry Miggins

August 21, 2012

“Slainte O m’ anam!” (That’s Gaelic for “Cheers from my Heart!”)

I’ve had some requests since yesterday to include a little parody I wrote for the occasion of Larry Miggins on his 87th birthday as its own column here. I did perform the piece for Larry at the Sunday party, but not everyone got to here it who wasn’t in the particular room we occupied when his early gifts were given out.

If you know that Larry’s family is pure Irish, and that he was born and grew up in the Bronx to later come to Houston and become a homer-bashing left fielder for the Houston Buffs, and if you also happen to know the melody of “Home on the Range,” the basic theme of this little ditty will be extremely easy to follow.

I was just lucky enough to have been one of the Buff Stadium Knothole Gang members from the East End who got to grow up idolizing the man who later became my close adult years friend and devoted baseball buddy and fellow member of SABR.

How lucky can this guy get? Thank you again, Larry Miggins, for your part in making the charm in my life shine and work so beautifully.

Babies Had Packer-Family Heart Last Saturday

May 11, 2012

Danny Kramer with Dad, Jerry Kramer (insert) of the Green Bay Packers.

Last Saturday in Katy, Danny Kramer came to the Houston Babies vintage base ball tourney as the Houston Press photographer there to cover assignment with reporter John Lomax of the same paper. Both Danny and John ended up playing in the Babies’ afternoon game against the Boerne White Sox, one in which Danny made a key one bounce out catch and throw from center field that turned out to be the start of a game saving double play retirement of a runner trying to score, killing a Boerne rally and leaving the Babies poised to sweep the day with one more out.

The problem for me was that I got it wrong in my own original reporting of this play in my Sunday morning report on the game saving double play. I thought (or “misremembered,” as Andy Pettitte might have said) that it was our regular center fielder Kyle Burns that had started the play, but I was wrong. After first sacker Larry Joe Miggins called it to my attention, and also sent me a photo of Kramer’s knee injury of the play, I went back to my original digital story and made the proper corrections. Check it out:

https://bill37mccurdy.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/undefeated-babies-take-two-at-katy-festival/

As it turns out, we should not be surprised by Danny Kramer’s blood-spilling act of valor in behalf of our Houston Babies. It’s in his bloodline as a son of the great Jerry Kramer, the magnificent pulling guard and member of the Green Bay Packers (NFL) team Hall of Fame. For eleven years (1958-1968) and through those first two Super Bowl (1967-1968) victories for the Packers. Kramer was heart of that great Packer line and the guy who personally pushed that hole at the goal line that cleared QB Bart Starr to score the victory TD over the Dallas Cowboys in the famous “Ice Bowl” up there on Green Bay’s “frozen tundra.” It was arguably the most romanticized moment in the history of offensive linemen when Danny’s dad pushed the mountainous Jethro Pugh out-of-the-way so Starr could ramble through the hole for a score.

I knew about Danny’s family connection on Saturday, but I didn’t report it originally for a couple of reasons: (1) I don’t know Danny Kramer, but I’m aware that many adult kids of famous people prefer to not have their own identities tagged to the celebrity parent; and (2) I wasn’t aware that Danny had started the big play for the Babies. I had seen his bleeding knee after the game, but I had no idea how he got it until Miggins filled in the blanks for me.

Once I had all the facts, I knew that I also had to write this column and emphasize Danny’s connection to his father. If you are going to play with heart of a lion, the world deserves to know the whole truth about your relationship to the big cat.

To get a detailed feel for what Danny Kramer actually did in the Boerne-Babies game that made such a difference, use the link provided earlier to go back and see for yourself.

Thanks for coming out, Danny Kramer and John Lomax. – The Houston Babies look forward to seeing you guys again. By the way, Danny, based upon the two smiles in today’s photo, you and your dad do look a lot alike. Pretty cool too.

Cool also: even us hard-core baseball guys know who Jerry Kramer was,

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.