Posts Tagged ‘SABR Meeting April 2014’

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

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.”