Posts Tagged ‘New Year’s Eve’

Houston’s Biggest Sports Stories, 2010

December 31, 2010

Once again, its New Years Eve. I can’t really improve on the piece I wrote last year about this annual date we all have with hope for better days to come. Having said that, here’s a link to “Happy New Year, Friends” from 12/31/2009:

2010 was a little bit a year on the downside for Houston sports. I couldn’t begin to pick the biggest poison for all of us because they all ache worst for those whose hearts are buried deepest with a particular sport or team, but these disappointments come to mind:

Rice: The Owls basketball team did what they always seem to do most often – and that’s suck big time and often on the “L” column side of the C-USA standings. Coach Wayne’s Graham’s baseball team again beat up on the C-USA competition, but ultimately failed to qualify for a trip to the College Word Series in Omaha. The football team had a losing record, but they beat UH in the Bayou Bucket and also ran up a couple of stratospheric scores against the competition late in the season. Sadly, Rice still only draws about 15,000 fans a game for football and could really benefit from greater community support at the Rice Stadium gate.

UH: The Houston Cougars finally qualified for the March Madness tourney for the first time in this millennium under former coach Tom Penders, but their one-and-out showing was not enough to save the man’s job. James Dickey was now taken over the basketball program as head coach as has Todd Whitting taken over the helm in baseball as head coach from Raynor Noble. Football at UH, of course, was rocked when Heisman hopeful OB Case Keenum was lost for the season in the Cougars’ third game against UCLA. It was mostly downhill from there, with an encouraging substitute performance by freshman QB David Piland.

TSU: One of the bright spots this year came compliments of the TSU Tiger victory in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game. The Tigers are back and hoping for a resurgence in their baseball and basketball programs as well.

St. Thomas University: STU has resumed competitive basketball as the Celts. At least, they are playing again.

Houston Baptist University: The Huskies are off to a disappointing 1-10 start in basketball.

Pearland: What a year for this big little Houston area city! The Pearland little league baseball team made it all the way to the finals of the American Division Championship game in Williamsport, PA. Then the Pearland (HS) Oilers won the 5-A, Division 1, state football championship. Not much room for any downsides in this little neck of the Houston woods.

Houston Dynamo: The soccer team didn’t win anything this year – nor have they been able to work our a “done deal” on public support for a downtown stadium to house professional soccer in Houston, 2011 should be a pivotal year for the future of this struggling sport in our town.

Houston Aeros: I have no idea beyond my dim awareness that they seem to have found a level of mediocrity that spares them the spotlight from all of us barely casual fans. I can’t even call myself a fan. I’m just a guy who reads the sports page – and one who will check out anything there that looks like the standings in some area of competition.

Houston Rockets: The “Waiting on Yao Ming” show seems to have found a curtain with the recent news that the Chinese giant  has once more gone down for the season with another foot injury. Where it goes from here may lead to the same medicine that came suddenly to the baseball Astros in late season via the “addition by subtraction” route. Sometimes we cannot find our new way until we give up all hope in the old way. The Rockets have to let go of Yao to find their new way.

Houston Astros: 2010 was a disappointing year from a win-loss standpoint, but things did get better once the club let go of Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman and started working overtime on a commitment to youth. Of course, Drayton McLane’s decision to sell the club is the big factor effecting the future of the Astros. I, for one, will be disappointed to see Mr. McLane go. We were fortunate in Houston to have him with us as long as we did.

Houston Texans: Very disappointing. To go from a 9-7 finish in 2009 to a double digit loss total in 2010 is pretty awful, no matter how close the boys came to winning. It doesn’t matter. The ancient Greeks had a name for this sort of thing in their theaters too. Any play that ended with a dagger to the heart was called a “tragedy.”

Houston Babies: Under the management of Bob Dorrill, the Houston Babies enjoyed the completion of their third straight season of vintage league, 1860s era base ball, playing a barnstorming schedule of games against other clubs, like the Richmond Giants, the Montgomery County Saw Dogs, Katy, and the Boerne White Sox. One hope for 2011 is that these groups will agree upon the establishment of a regular season schedule of league games for the spring and fall playing periods. There is no disappointment among vintage ballers. It is a game that springs directly from everything that made base ball beautiful in the first place. All we do is get together and carry forth what makes the game of ball in pastoral meadows the curative tonic that heals the ailing human spirit.

That’s if for me in 2010. If you have a favorite moment from Houston sports over the past year, please write about it here. The Pecan Park Eagle welcomes your comment.

Til tomorrow, if there is one,  take care. Stay safe. And don’t be stupid.

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Houston: New Years Arrived on the Wings of Music.

December 26, 2009

Back in the day of a more innocent time, most of us in Houston were pretty much like the rest of the world when it came to New Years Eve. We saw midnight as the magical time gate to tomorrow and more fertile ground for all our old hopes. Sad but true, my generation also drank and smoked too much for its own good, and also made the mistake of equating carousing and partying as the pathways to love. It all added up to a fairly volatile and highly liquid in composition version of the New Years Eve party that still goes on today in some ceremonial form.

I say “ceremonial form” in the sense that today’s New Years Eve celebrations are not even close to being ghosts of their former lives as formulae for debauchery. America has really cleaned up its act in that regard, even if the main external changes are sometimes only motivated by a fear of disapproval or an abject adherence to the now loudly rumbling voice of political correctness.

One thing that has only changed for younger generations in its form is music. New Years Eve celebration in Houston or anyplace else is inconceivable without it. The following are simply the Houston musicians that I associate with New Years Eves Past. You most likely have some other favorites of your own:

Ed Gerlach

The Ed Gerlach orchestra take me way back on memory lane to my l prom days at St. Thomas High School here in Houston.  The adopted Hosutonian was born in Livingston, Texas in 1920. Skilled on the paino and sax, Gerlach played for the Glenn Miller band for a while before returning to Houston to lead his own band, continue his own education at Sam Houston State, and then teach music at UH. At age 89, Gerlach continues his music career in 2009 as the director of his own talent management agency,


Arnett Cobb

Native Houstonian Arnett Cobb (1918-1989) was one of the great tenor sax players in American Jazz history. He spent some time playing with the Lionel Hampton band before returning to Houston to play some with Peck Kelley and to organize his own band offerings. Before he died, Cobb also established himself as a composer. His “Smooth Sailing” number from 1951 was later recorded by Ella Fitzgerald and included on her “lullab of Birdland” album. Cobb also played interntaionally up to the very end of his life. He is another Houston art treasure that deserves a lot more local attention than he has received to date.

Peck Kelley (foreground at piano)

Native Houstonian Peck Kelley (1898-1980) is revered today as one the great undiscovered geniuses of jazz. As composer and a performer, Kelley was only held back from fame in his lifetime by his unwillingness to play far from Houston and rarely out of Texas. He dclined constant invivitations from stars like Bing Crosby, the Dorsey Brothers, and Paul Whitman go on the road. Today the few recordings he made here with the Paul Shannon Quartet are the major audio record we have of hhis work.

Johnny Nash

Remember “I Can See Clearly Now?” It was the pop music work of the talented 67 year old native Houstonian named  Johnny Nash. His 1972 release of the song was a national hit for several weeks and is the number for which he is best remembered today. He also wrote music for the Cowsills in his earlier years and he stays active in the music business today as a producer. Nask also continues to reside in his native Houston.

Kenny Rogers

71-year old Kenny Rogers is the one native Houstonian talent who needs no introduction to anyone who has not been living under s rock over the past fifty years. The Jeff Davis High graduate started singing and playing guitar here with a group called the Scholars in the late 1950s, moving over to the Bobby Doyle Trio by the early 1960s and then moving on to Hollywood with The First Edition in in the mid-60s. Kenny and I were at UH at the same time, but our paths only croseed in two areas. I heard him perform in several clubs in Houston. I also sold him clothes while I was working in a small men’s store in downtown Houston as a UH student. After “You Took a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille,” Rogers was off to the races as a country/pop crossover artist.

Several other musicians who made their names here, including Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mickey Gilley, and Archie Bell are worthy of mention. They just don’t make my personal New Year’s Eve memory list. Perhaps they or others ring your bell. Whatever. We are careening toward New Year’s Eve faster than ever, even if my personal celebrations these days are appropriately mild. Since New Year’s Eve is also my birthday, I have a little bell that rests on my study desk in service to one dual purpose, once a year. I ring out my birthday and I  ring in the new year in one fell swoop. Twelve clangs is usually enough to get the job down.

Pretty wild stuff, eh?