Posts Tagged ‘Rest in Peace’

Rest In Peace, Frank Robinson

February 9, 2019

“Frank Robinson (1935-2019): Hall of Fame outfielder who hit 586 home runs in his career (10th all time). The only player to win MVP awards in both the AL and NL. He also won two World Series rings with the Baltimore Orioles. Robinson managed 16 seasons in the majors and was MLB’s first black manager.” ~ Baseball

Baseball Reference put it succinctly well ~ as clearly as Frank Robinson’s brain and bat made it obvious in those moments of loss by others to one of his teams what he had done to contribute to that outcome. Frank Robinson went into the Hall of Fame when players still needed rare greatness and measurable achievement in ways that also made it as clear that an inductee was going into the Hall of Fame as one of the best to ever play the game.  The now days of “very good” were not yet upon us as a ticket to the final resting place of honor for people like Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby or Willie Mays ~ and Frank Robinson unquestionably ranked among them. Not many did them better ~ and some things he did as a brainy and athletic human being were on a level all his own.

As much as he did as a role model for racial justice and equality in baseball during the still early MLB integration years, Frank was also most admirable for recognizing that he most appreciated the fans who cheered him in their own faith and trust as an individual performer as both a player and a manager.

What a guy we just gave up. ~ We’ll miss you, Frank, but we also know that you’ve given it your best for as long as you could. ~ We’ll all remember you. ~ And those of us who pray will remember you there too!

Rest in Peace, Good Man!


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

Rest In Peace, Patrick Lopez

April 16, 2018

Rest in Peace, Patrick Lopez!
Your Devotion to Family, Your Love of Life, and Your Artistic Always Growing Gifts to the World Are Your Ongoing Legacy!

Patrick George Lopez

Patrick George Lopez died on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 after a brief stay in hospice. He was born in Houston on January 7, 1937 to Manuel and Carmen Lopez.

He married Barbara Jean Holman in 1961. Survivors include his wife of 57 years, his children (Claudia, Patrick, and Sarah), his grandchildren (Patrick Joey and Justin), and his brother (John David).

As an architectural delineator, he worked with some of the most important national and local architects and architectural firms of the post WWII era, including Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Johnson Burgee, and Helmut Jahn.

He loved his family, his lifelong home of Houston, his pets (Oso!), baseball, the Astros, art, buildings, music (he was a lifelong piano player), fishing, plants (he grew orchids, bromeliads, succulents), and a good meal.

A public memorial will be held in the future at an as-yet undetermined date.

Published in Houston Chronicle on Apr. 15, 2018

Title: “Buffalo Walking” or “Travis Street Park” By Patrick Lopez (at Fair Grounds Base Ball Park), One of Several Works that Patrick did for the 2014 “Early Houston” Baseball History Book researched and written by members of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR and published in 2014.

Patrick Lopez finished a year ahead of me at St. Thomas High School in 1955. Although we never really knew each other at St. Thomas, Patrick always impressed me then as a very nice and thoughtful person. He could often be seen staring across the front lawn during classroom breaks, looking far to the south, beyond Buffalo Bayou. We never actually met until the Houston Early Baseball book project arose, nearly 55 years later, but it was only then that the question clarified about this true 21st century Renaissance man came to roost. — He could have been thinking about anything much earlier in life — as long as it was artistic, giving of itself in part to some greater whole idea, then it probably was getting the attention of the naturally artistic Patrick Lopez.

When our team member Mike Vance, with some independent discovery work help from Darrell Pittman, finally found that the Travis Street Ballpark was our best bet as Houston’s first true organized baseball park, we had no pictures of the same, but we did possess some very detailed newspaper writing on the construction of the place.

Patrick Lopez was able to let his creative mind go to bed with all these black worn sentences on fading white paper and put together for our eyes — and the whole world — to see — how it was meant to be seen. The watercolor work featured here is only one of the many he did that gave us all a vision into how the typical game day looked to Houstonians back in the 19th century. If you can hear the sound of horse hooves making a steady beat up and down Travis — and if you can hear the thud of a bat and ball joyously, or sorrowfully, interrupting every now and then, you may actually be able to allow your own mind to travel back to the corner of Travis and McGowan at many spring afternoons of those late 19th century years and actually experience the presence of old time Houston for yourself. And, if you get there, try to remember — the now late Patrick Lopez probably helped you make the trip.

Patrick Lopez

Thank you, Patrick Lopez! All of us are the richer for having known you even a smidgen’s amount of eternity’s time.

And God Bless you too, Barbara! Patrick was lucky to have found and never lost you. That doesn’t always happen.


The Pecan Park Eagle



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Rest in Peace, Wally Moon, Now Dead at 87

February 12, 2018

Former Cardinal and Dodger Wally Moon Addressed the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR on Oct. 11, 2011. A link to that article is included at the end of this featured story from the LA Times of his passing.

Thanks to Sam Quintero for directing our attention to this excellent piece on Wally Moon’s passing by Steve Marble @ LA

WALLY MOON, 1930 – 2018

Slugger helped Dodgers to three World Series

Launched towering ‘Moon shots’

By Steve Marble

Wally Moon, the wiry outfielder with the old-school crew cut who helped take the Dodgers to the World Series three times and became a crowd favorite for his towering “Moon shots,” has died.

Moon, who became part of the Dodgers’ lineup shortly after the team moved west from Brooklyn, died Friday in Bryan, Texas. He was 87.

A lefty who had proved to be a steady hitter with decent power while with the St. Louis Cardinals, Moon was nonetheless coming off a down year when he was traded to the Dodgers in 1959. The Cardinals even tossed in a pitcher to make the deal work. For the Dodgers, coming off a seventh-place finish, it seemed an odd way to rebuild.

And there was the ballpark where the Dodgers then played: the cavernous Coliseum, a graveyard for left-handed batters.

It was a staggering 440 feet to the right-field fence. By contrast, the left-field bleachers were a friendly 251 feet from home plate — a chip shot for a decent player. To take advantage of the odd dimensions, the Dodgers stacked their lineup with righties. “I really wasn’t sure how much I was going to get to play,” Moon told The Times in 2008.

After consulting with former teammate Stan Musial, generally regarded as one of the finest hitters in the game, Moon decided to adjust his swing and his stance at the plate so that he could drive the ball to left field. And to get it over the 42-foot screen that hung in front of the left-field bleachers, he learned to uppercut the ball.

The results were impressive. Hitting in a lineup with fearsome players such as Duke Snider, Gil Hodges and John Roseboro, Moon batted .302 and swatted 19 home runs, nine of them to left field. The most dramatic was a towering ninth-inning “Moon shot” to left field in a 2-2 game against the San Francisco Giants in 1959.

The walk-off home run helped carry the team to the World Series, where they knocked off the Chicago White Sox to win it all.

“It was unforgettable,” Moon said decades later. “I can still hear it, still feel it, still see it all these years.”

Wallace Wade Moon was born April 3, 1930, in Bay, Ark., a speck of a town surrounded by cotton fields. Moon said his father dropped out of school in eighth grade, and regretted the decision the rest of his life. Moon was raised with the expectation that he would go to college. When he graduated from high school and was offered a baseball contract, his father persuaded him to turn it down.

After earning a degree in education from Texas A&M, Moon finally signed with the Cardinals but with the stipulation that he would play only during the summer until he finished his master’s degree. The money he made playing part time was set aside so that his younger sister could also go to college.

In 1954, Moon was rushed to the major leagues. He later calculated that he had played all of 17 games in the year before his major league debut and felt overwhelmed when the Cardinals traded away fan favorite Enos Slaughter to clear a spot in the lineup for him.

But hitting a home run in his first at-bat helped ease the jitters, and he went on to hit .304 on the year with 76 RBIs, enough to earn him National League rookie of the year honors. He spent five seasons in St. Louis before he was shipped to the Dodgers in exchange for Gino Cimoli, who — like Moon — was coming off a disappointing season.

It was a golden era for the Dodgers. After winning the World Series in 1955, the team repeated as major league champs in 1959, 1963 and 1965, riding the arms of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, the bat of Tommy Davis and the base-running prowess of Maury Wills. The team moved into the newly built Dodger Stadium in 1962. But as the years went by, Moon was slowly pushed out of the starting lineup.

In 1965, he called it quits, ending a 12-year career during which he hit 142 home runs and was named to the all-star team three times. His last game in uniform was against the Minnesota Twins in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. He never got off the bench.

By the end of the year, he’d sold his house in Encino and moved back to Arkansas with his wife and five children.

“The children were growing up, drugs were starting to come on the scene and I decided I didn’t want to raise my family in Southern California,” he explained to the Baltimore Sun in 1990. “My wife and I are both small-town people at heart.”

Moon moved the family to Siloam Springs, Ark., where the plains meet the Ozark Mountains. He took a job as the athletic director and baseball coach at John Brown University, a small private Christian college where he worked and taught for 15 years, aside from one year when he took a leave of absence to take over as the batting coach for the San Diego Padres. He later became manager and an owner of the San Antonio Dodgers minor league team before retiring and moving to Bryan, Texas. In 2010 his autobiography, “Moon Shots: Reflections on a Baseball Life,” was published.

In 2008, when the Dodgers played an exhibition game against Boston in the Coliseum, Moon was invited back to a field where he had created so many memories.

Before the game, he was playfully asked whether he wanted to take batting practice with the team to see if he could launch one last “Moon shot.”

He chuckled. “I haven’t picked up a bat in 30 years, but I’ll take a shot at it. I still play a lot of golf, so I might be able to get it there.”

Moon’s wife, Bettye, died in 2016. He is survived by five children and seven grandchildren.

By Steve Marble, LA


Also, here’s a link to a column we did for The Pecan Park Eagle back 2011 about Wally Moon’s appearance at a Larry Dierker SABR Chapter meeting in Houston:



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Rest In Peace, Monte Irvin

January 13, 2016
""If we had known he wanted to be a dictator, we would have kept him around and made him an umpire." ~ Monte Irvin on Fidel Castro's failed tryout with the former's Cuban ball club. December 9, 2009

“If we had known he wanted to be a dictator, we would have kept him around and made him an umpire.”
~ Monte Irvin on Fidel Castro’s failed tryout with the former’s Cuban ball club.
December 9, 2009


By now, you probably know the sad, but unsurprising news, considering his age. Two days ago, on January 11, 2016, Baseball Hall of Famer Monte Irvin passed away in his sleep at his Houston home at the age of 96. When I heard, my first thoughts hovered briefly along the lines of what a beautiful way to go that would be for any of us, but deservedly so for someone like Monte Irvin, a man who gave and received a ton of love in all he did in his lifetime as one of baseball’s greatest examples of what giving oneself to life with all one’s total humanity should be about for all of us.

Monte Irvin gave of all his passion and ability to everything he apparently did. And we loved him for it. He also was a thinking, sensitive, aware, and active life soldier in the ongoing battle that belongs to all of us in the war against racism and other forces that work against social justice and equity for all.

Monte will be missed, but the energy for the good he set in motion during his long lifetime shall remain in flight. Relative to the idea that even the movement of a single butterfly’s wings have their own singular altering effect on the future of our planet, Monte Irvin flew through life on the wings of the (Newark) eagle that he lived to be – and the currents for the better destiny in human relations he set in motion shall awaken others to the same call – long beyond this day of our physical separation from him.

God Bless You, Monte Irvin! Our love for you and all you’ve done for the rest of us will live forever.

Here’s a link to Monte Irvin’s SABR biography:

And here are couple of past columns from The Pecan Park Eagle that are tied to Monte Irvin:

December 9, 2009: The Monte Irvin-Larry Dierker “Baseball: Then and Now” SABR Meeting at Minute Maid Park:

On June 9, 2010, it was my honor to be the lucky transporter of Monte Irvin to a special Saturday meeting of SABR at the all too brief reopening of the Finger Furniture Houston Sports Museum at their Buffalo Stadium site/Gulf Freeway @ Cullen location. Since we had to travel from far west side of Houston, the area where we both lived, we shared a little more than an hour of total baseball talk time that day in my car – and Monte was as warm and funny and wonderful as someone I might as well have known personally forever.

I felt so overwhelmed by the presence of this great Hall of Fame star from my baseball card, Game-of-the-Day childhood memories, that something happened to me that rarely, if ever, occurs. Soon after I reached home, I was aware that I had brought with me the uplifted mood and good feelings about Monte’s presence, but little detail of all the things he told me openly and in response to my questions – and, I mean, we talked about his near miss for the role that Jackie Robinson played in breaking the color line, his days as an all sports athlete while he was growing up in Orange, New Jersey, his days in the Negro League as a member of the Newark Eagles, team owner Effa Manley, the great Josh Gibson, Leo Durocher, the 1951 New York Giants, and Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World” against Ralph Branca, – that it wasn’t what he said about anything that stood out in my memory. It was the live way he spoke about everything as one who was  overjoyed (most of the time) to simply have been there for all of it. – My time with this baseball icon proved to be the closest ride I ever took in a time machine – and the wonderful Monte Irvin had been the Captain of our flight.

Thank you, Monte! – And Godspeed to the memories, perspectives, wisdom, and joys you now take with you to the galaxy of a spiritual realm that is, one and the same, both very close to all of us, even now, and yet, too, so very, very far away.


NY Giants BB CAP