Posts Tagged ‘SABR’

We’re Back ~ and SABR’s the Word

May 17, 2016
    When Irish Eyes Are Smiling     Larry and Kathleen Miggins

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Larry and Kathleen Miggins


Morti Update

Morti’s doing as well as expected. All he does is sleep, eat, and smile lovingly at the rest of the family every day, but, at least, he’s not being put down for pretty much following my schedule, give or take a blog column or two. As long as he seems to be pain free in his decline, we would much prefer to see him breathe his last in his own little bed than go through another of those awful, almost fatal trips we took to the vet six days ago. I can’t thank all of you enough who expressed your understanding and support in this matter. And I will never forget each of you who did so. The actions that people take in matters like this one speak loudly for them – and about them. I also appreciate those of you who simply offered your implicit support with a knowing look or a smiling hello in person. I got the message from even that subtle a contact. There’s no one out there among you that I know who “owns” an animal who misunderstands the point. These little, or not so little, creatures are not simply possessions. The also give and receive love as members of our families. Thank God for all the “Mortis” of this world.  I’d hate  to seriously consider how much worse our chances for peace on earth would be without them.

SABR Last Night

Larry Miggins was present for the first time since he fell and broke his leg last November. Accompanied by son John Miggins, Larry came in a wheel chair, but he both looked and sounded great. As per usual, Larry told some wonderful baseball and Irish stories, but I would not even begin to try and recapture here in the linear context of typed print their heart, their humor, or their Miggins’ storytelling signature. In other words, “you shoulda’ been there.” Larry did share with us that his enthusiasm for the Vin Scully cover story article in the May 16, 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated that is now on seller shelves everywhere did prompt him to do something he’s been meaning to do anyway. He called his old high school classmate, Vin Scully, yesterday to “catch up” on things – and to thank him for including the story off Vin’s incredible high school classmate prediction that he would be there someday to broadcast Larry’s first MLB home run. And, of course, as wild as it seems improbable, Vin Scully was the rookie junior man on the Dodger radio broadcast crew when Larry Miggins stepped to the plate at Ebbets Field  as a raw member of the St. Louis Cardinals to face Preacher Roe on May 13, 1952. – And it happened – just as Vin Scully had called the shot and game coverage. “It was the most significant home run of my career,” Larry said, “and it was an event that seriously directed the rest of our lives.” – Larry’s son Robert Miggins of San Antonio also will be traveling to Los Angeles this summer with the President of HEB Foods to attend a Dodger game and meeting with Vin Scully at the stadium during the latter’s last season in the broadcast booth. What a wrap for Scully – 66 years in the booth (and 67, once he finishes his career with the 2016 season) as a baseball play-by-play solo genius – and it all began – as it shall shall soon enough conclude – with another Miggins on board as the second of two baseball family career book ends in the life of the great Vin Scully.

Joe Perez was on deck as President and Owner of the OTW (Over the Wall) Bat Company here in Houston to lay out the history, science, and business of a small Houston operation that has found its way into the swing of competition with the big boys in this field. Colby Rasmus of the Astros is OTW’s most famous local customer, and, as Perez pointed out, it didn’t hurt business at all when Colby became a client last season and then went into that playoff tear with all the home runs. – After all, these are “over the wall” people and that kind of action is good for business. The contents of this presentations were altogether comprehensive and articulately presented. All we can hope to do is give you a smattering of them. – OTW mainly uses maple and ash tree wood. – Most big leaguers are superstitious and demanding of precision in each bat they order – The MLB clubs pay for their player bat orders. – Colby Rasmus probably takes a couple of dozen bats with him on nine-game road trip. – Wood absorbs moisture like a sponge. – During spring training in Florida, a bat may gain 3 oz. of weight from the morning dew. – Too much weight slows the bat speed. – A heavier bat of 44 oz. could not afford the 3 oz. gain. – 46 oz. is the legal upper limit of bat weight. – In arid Arizona, bats lose weight due to the absence of air moisture. – They become brittle and more susceptible to breaking. Members of our SABR chapter have been invited to tour the OTW Bat Company and, hopefully, those of us who are interested will take up Joe Perez on his invitation.

A SABR Chapter Charter Bus Trip to See the Corpus Christi Hooks on Saturday, June 11th is being explored by Mike McCroskey. The trip would include a 3-hour ride from Houston to Corpus Christi, leaving about 1 PM and arriving in time for a tour of Whataburger Park, an included in the price meal, a Hooks game that starts at 6 PM and an immediate return to Houston when things ended. (Although, I’m assuming that, if we ran into a game that was 15-0 after six, we might be free to leave early.  We should be back in Houston some time after midnight. – The cost slides, depending on how many people sign up. – If 30 people sign up, I think Mike said the cost would be $125.00 per person. The big thing now is time. If you are interested, please e-mail Mike McCroskey soon at:

Jim Kreuz reported on his enjoyable experience attending a baseball Saturday program in Austin with the Rogers Hornsby Chapter in which SABR’s Paul Rogers of Dallas made a measurable impression on everyone. We are hoping to have Paul join us in Houston too one of these fine SABR weekends.  – Tony Cavender‘s Trivia Quiz was won by Tom White and Mike Vance, with the latter agreeing to prepare a quiz for June’s meeting.

Our Larry Dierker SABR Chapter Meeting Schedule through August 2016:

  1. Monday, June 27, 2016, 7:00 PM ~ Spaghetti Western Ristorante on Shepherd Drive at Eigels, south of I-10 West. (Program TBA)
  2. July 2016 ~ No Meeting Scheduled to conflict with too many summer travel plans.
  3. Saturday, August 27, 2016, 4:00 PM ~ Minute Maid Park, Union Station Board Room, Astros President Reid Ryan, Speaker, followed by the Blue Jays @ Astros game. Cost: $35.00 per person. *
  • Jo Russell and Mike McCroskey are in charge of reservations and collections and may be contacted through the earlier e-mail provided for Mike.

Sales, Trades, and Outright Releases

Bob Dorrill, Mike Vance, Joe Thompson, Jim Kreuz, and Tom White brought  collectibles to buy, sell, or giveaway. It went well for most of us members of the hands out and hungry crowd. We went home with some nice and valuable collector’s trinkets – something I needed like another hole in the head. Bottom Line: It was fun.

Have a great Tuesday afternoon, everybody, and stay dry!


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas



Super Fan To The Nth Degree

February 25, 2011

Super Fan Andy Strasberg & Roger Maris, 1966

One thesaurus describes “nth degree” as “the last or greatest digital assignment in a series of increasingly higher numbers.”  If there’s a better way to explain Andy Strasberg’s lifelong fandom relationship with former great ballplayer Roger Maris and now, his ghost, I cannot find it outside my copy of the Psychiatric and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The difference between Andy Strasberg and the multitude of “over-the-top” hero stalkers is that Andy never lost that last important sense of boundary that kept telling him, “no matter how much Roger Maris meant to me as a young kid baseball fan from the Bronx, the man has a life and a family of his own, and I have no right to intrude upon their space, if I am not asked. For good measure too, throw in the facts that Andy also had a loving supportive original family, a normal trek through a college degree from Akron University, a 22-year career as an employee of the San Diego Padres, and a long, apparently happy marriage of his own before he even went out to establish and run a successful consulting company.

The guy just touched too many healthy bases to be written off as a nut job. On the other hand, on the magical side of things, Andy Strasberg has had one incredible life as “the” super-fan of former Yankee great Roger Maris – and, last night, Andy Strasberg of SABR and San Diego was in Houston to speak to our Houston SABR chapter about his amazing personal experience at a meeting held in the activities room at Cort Furniture on Richmond at Bering. Forty-two local SABR members and guests were in attendance.

Andy Strasberg of the Bronx was 12 years old when Roger Maris came over to the Yankees in a trade with Kansas City in 1960. Andy soon picked up on a news story from spring training that described Maris as having a “rejuvenating” effect on the Yankees, a club that had lost the 1959 pennant to the White Sox, of all teams. “I didn’t even know what ‘rejuvenating’ meant at the time, but I was prepared to accept Roger Maris as my hero by the time he got to New York.

For whatever reason, Andy had never been a Mickey Mantle fan. Roger Maris was destined to become his one and only baseball hero.

As he could get there, Andy started going to more and more Yankee games, and congregating with other kids to greet the Yankees before and after games. Andy used the time to send signed written notes of support and opinion to Roger Maris. Over time, Roger Maris came to recognize the persistent young man for who he was and their ongoing friendship grew from there. Over time, Andy worked up the courage to ask for a souvenir baseball, and then a bat, and even the joint photo featured here, taken in 1966, when Andy was 16.

When the Yankees dealt Maris to the Cardinals in 1967, Andy hit his all time low. In so many words, he said it felt like the end of the world, but he never lost his perspective. He had high school to finish and college to reach – and his own life to live.

Raquel Welch, 1968

Andy went off to Akron University and shared a dorm room with a guy who put up a giant poster of Raquel Welch from the movie “One Million BC,” the view of Raquel standing triumphantly on the mountainside at the dawn of civilization.

Andy had a poster of Roger Maris on his wall of the dorm room. He now says, tongue-in-cheek, “I can’t imagine to this day what my roomie got out of having that picture of Raquel Welch on the wall!”

Strasberg’s poster became the cornerstone on his freshman brag stories about his “good friend,” Roger Maris. By the 1968 season, Andy says that his college friends were ready to put those words to a test. With the Cardinals coming to Pittsburgh for a weekend series with the Pirates, the friends suggested they make the under two hours trip there from Akron to see a game – and give Andy a chance to introduce them to his “good friend.” Any gulped, a little, but he agreed to the challenge.

The short of it is that Roger Maris did remember Andy Strasberg. “Andy,” Roger called out from the field in response to a grandstand shout from Strasberg, “what are you doing in Pittsburgh?”

Andy regaled in the moment of introducing his friends, but before the day was done, he would own even more magic to take home with him from that day. During the game, Roger Maris hit a home run – and Andy Strasberg was the fan in the stands who caught it. What are the odds on that one?

The years rolled on and the relationship grew. Andy and his wife began to socialize with Roger and Pat Maris. Then the worst came hard. Roger Maris died of cancer while he was under treatment here in Houston at MD Anderson on December 14, 1985.

Andy Strasberg flew from San Diego to Fargo, South Dakota for the funeral. He has since become an almost ex officio member of the Maris family and now enjoys close ties also with Roger’s adult children.

When Bill Crystal started production for the 2001 movie 61* n the late 1990s, Andy Strasberg was retained as a technical advisor, even ending up with a small acting part as the only fan who runs on the field to shake Roger Maris’s hand after his 61st home run broke Babe Rut;s single season mark in 1961.

Andy Strasberg, Houston SABR Meeting, 2011

You do not meet people like Andy Strasberg every day. Well, maybe you do and they’re just not talking about it so much. It’s still unlikely you will meet many who have converted a fan brush with fame into the overriding factor in their lives, as has Andy Strasberg. Today Andy is also busy in support of charity events sponsored in Roger Maris’s memory for the support of cancer research and treatment.

I caught the above picture of Andy Strasberg at the end of the evening. I simply asked him to give us his best Raquel Welch pose. Those of you who couldn’t make it missed a fine and most entertaining evening, one that also came with some DVD clips that Andy used to help dramatize the wonderful story of his love and appreciation for Roger Maris.

Thanks to fellow SABR member Mike McCroskey, here’s a website link that pretty well covers the same ground Andy Strasberg traveled in his fascinating talk to our Larry Dierker Houston Chapter last night:

As for other meeting activity from last night, the trivia quiz prepared by Mark Wernick was a nettlesome mind-twister, but it was won by Scott Barzilla and Greg Lucas.

Other meeting notes: (1) SABR needs volunteers to help with our research project: “Houston Baseball, the First 100 Years, 1861-1961;”  (2) Our next monthly SABR meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 29th, and our speaker will be Astros broadcaster and fellow SABR member Bill Brown.

SABR Celebrates at 2011 Houston Baseball Dinner

January 15, 2011

(L>R) Bobby Heck, Astros Ass't GM, Scouting; Bob Dorrill, SABR; David Gottfried, Ass't GM, Baseball Operations; Ed Wade, Astros General Manager.

Twenty SABR members at two SABR tables were on hand last night to help celebrate the 2011 version of the annual Houston Baseball Dinner, The numbers did not the include the broad scattering of many other SABR people at various other tables throughout the crowd of 1,000 people in attendance at the Hilton Americas downtown on January 14.

The dinner initiated years ago by the late Allen Russell and his wife Jo Russell, along with the help of longtime supporter and former sportswriter Ivy McLemore, was again a rousing success in honoring the spirit and accomplishments of the Houston Baseball community.

Mike McCroskey of SABR sang Our National Anthem to get the evening started. It was the second year in a row that our man Mike carried out that responsibility in fine voice and form. He must have done all right the first time. Otherwise, it’s not likely there would have been a second time. – Nice job, Michael!

In addition to the individual recognition that the dinner usually accords to the top high school baseball players from the area, the HBBD also recognized the Pearland Little Leaguers for their success in 2010 Little League World Series.

Astros Icon and new SABR member Jimmy Wynn and his wife Marie Wynn were on hand at one of the Astros tables.

Here’s how the special awards for the evening went:

Coach Rick Lynch took the Ray Knoblauch Award.

Anthony Rendon of Rice University won the Houston Area Preseason Major College Player of the Year Award.

Barry Waters of the Astros took the Fred Hartman Long and Meritorious Service Award.

Chris Johnson was named as the Astro Rookie of the Year.

Carl Crawford captured the Houston Area Major League Player of the Year Award.

Mike Rutledge received the Allen Russell Distinguished Achievement Award.

Former Astro and current Padre Geoff Blum took the Darryl Kile Award.

Brett Myers was named as the 2010 Astro Pitcher of the Year.

Hunter Pence took top honors as the 2010 Astro Player of the Year.

Meanwhile, about $18,000 was also raised by an auction set up to support the Grand Slam for Youth Baseball scholarship program.

The Houston Baseball Dinner is also our community’s way of turning the corner in the dead of winter each year and looking forward to the new baseball season. As always, it cannot get here soon enough for many of us, so, we’ll just have to keep on staring out the window or over at our computer screens until it gets here.

These other smiling faces from last night will also help remind us of the springtime that’s coming, with baseballs popping leather hard and bouncing even harder off their contact with real wooden bats. There is no “ping” in major league baseball and there is nothing nothing minor league about the smiles that follow.

C’mon clock! Get us to April, when the games really count. Menahwile, stay out of the cold and damp weather as best you are able.

Phil and Nancy Holland, SABR.

Bob Stevens & Son, Robbie Stevens, SABR

Larry Miggins, Former Houston Buff & St. Louis Cardinal, SABR.

John Miggins, Son of Larry Miggins & Charlie Sheen Look-a-Like.

Marsha Franty & Peggy Dorrill, SABR.

Peggy & Bob Dorrill, Deep in the Heart of SABR.

Join Us for SABR Day in America on January 29

January 6, 2011

Larry Dierker SABR Chapter Leader Bob Dorrill (L) and former Houston Astros Manager Phil Garner are all smiles after a past monthly program meeting in Houston.

What is SABR?

SABR is an acronym (pronounced “saber”) for the Society for American Baseball Research. The non-profit, baseball-fun-dedicated organization was established in August 1971 in Cooperstown, NY by a fellow named Bob Davids of Washington, DC.  The Society’s mission is to foster the research and dissemination of the history and record of baseball in a way that honors accuracy and celebrates the game publicly.

Over the years, SABR has expanded all over the United States and into some American cell communities in foreign nations. Some members are dedicated to the development of better statistical methods for evaluating baseball achievement, but most members are simply deep blue fans of the sport’s narrative history and the annual pennant races.

You don’t have to be a stat-head or expert on anything to become a member. You simply need to possess a love for the game and a desire to hang out with people who share your interest in the sport.

What does SABR membership cost?

The annual membership fee for SABR is $65.00 person, however, people under age 30 and over age 65 pay only $45.00 per person. Cheaper rates are available for multi-year membership plans and a full detail on “how to join” is available online through SABR’s national headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio at,c,67,35 People interested in joining through the Larry Dierker Chapter in Houston may prefer to make contact with our local chapter leader, Bob Dorrill, by e-mail at – or simply call Bob at 281.361.7874.

What do SABR members get for the money?

Beyond baseball friendship opportunities and local programs that money absolutely cannot buy, SABR members get incredible support for any baseball research or writing they may care to undertake, plus free annual copies of SABR’s own research products and a chance to immerse themselves in baseball at the SABR annual national convention that is held every summer in a major American city. This year, the SABR convention is set for July 6-10 in Long Beach, CA.

The Larry Dierker Chapter in Houston gives member for a monthly speaker’s/light Dutch treat evening meal meeting with baseball people like Larry Dierker, and other former Astros like Jimmy Wynn, Norm Miller, Phil Garner, Kevin Bass, Chris Sampson, etc. The local chapter also includes Jimmy Wynn, Hall of Famer Monte Irvin of the old New York Giants, and Larry Miggins of the iconic Houston Buffs.

What is SABR Day in America on January 29?

SABR Day in America is an annual day in which SABR chapters all across the country meet on the same day to try and get the word out to the rest of you about SABR and how it may help you build an even fuller experience with your love of baseball. You don’t have to be an expert or ever take on anything in the way of formal research to join. All you need is a desire to get closer to the game. – Getting closer to the game is one thing that will happen for every person who joins SABR.

If you would like to know more, simply contact SABR or our local representative, Bob Dorrill – or – simply show up at our Houston Chapter meeting on Saturday, January 29th, from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the Houston Sports Museum on the Gulf Freeway (I-10 S) at Cullen Blvd. inside the Finger Furniture Store.

Mr. Rodney Finger of Finger’s and Mr. Tom Kennedy, HSM Curator, are our hosts that day – in the same museum that Rodney’s grandfather established back in the 1960s in honor of the fact that the store now sits on the site of what was once the ground that held Houston’s famous “Buff Stadium from 1928 to 1961.

Larry Dierker, Jimmy Wynn, Larry Miggins, and Monte Irvin will all be there for SABR Day so please join us. Come and immerse your soul in all things baseball. You will be among kindred spirits and welcomed with open arms. Don’t let this day slip by on some dryer pursuit when it could be one of the most fulfilling, important days of your life. All you have to do is show up.

Showing up. It’s half of what life’s fulfillment is all about.

Easter Saturday Fanfest at Minute Maid Park.

April 4, 2010


Saturday, April 3, 2010.

It was a great day for baseball. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a day in which a lot of great baseball found its way to Minute Maid Park in Houston in behalf of the home team. In their spring training finale against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Houston Astros combined hittable pitching, goofy fielding, an early evaporation of critical hitting, all the lobsters that failed critical hitting inevitably produces, and a questionable waste of reliever Jeff Fulcino for 31 pitches over two-thirds of an inning at work to fall together as a dead pigeon does on any street in downtown Houston.

Splat! After four innings of play, it was Toronto by 11-0; at the end of the day, it was the Blue Jays by 13-6.

On the bright side? At least we got spring training done without putting anyone else on the disabled list. Other than that, we shall only h0pe that this team responds with greater life, moxie, and production than they’ve shown for the most part, so far.

You may put this question in my “what the heck does this guy know?”  file any time you please, but I really didn’t see the sense of wasting Jeff Fulcino for 31 pitches over two-thirds of an inning in the top of the seventh. It was obvious much earlier in the pitch count that he had no control Saturday and that further use of that wild wing was only going to make him even more questionable for the coming up Opener that counts on Monday night.

To me, this season is really about building for the future. Sure, we need the Big Three of Berkman, Oswalt, and Lee to come through for any real hope of success this season, but the bigger long run questions are about our lack of proven production at catcher and shortstop – and the need for a vision beyond this season as to where we go at second and third base. If Chris Johnson is able to maintain anything close to the pace he’s set this spring, Johnson’s the obvious man for the long-range run at third, but we will also need to soon start grooming someone as Matsui’s replacement at second base too.

Then there’s the matter of pitching. Oswalt cannot be the ace forever. And we don’t know for sure how firm Wandy’s progress is until we see a little more of same in 2010. Either way, neither Oswalt or Rodriguez is likely to be our ace card over the next five seasons. Let’s hope our scouts are out there sifting the seeds of our talent pool crop, “looking for the next Lincecum or the potential of lightning in a bottle.” I have a hunch that we are not far away from needing a new ace yesterday, plus two or three other better than average starters who not either too young or too long of tooth today.

Bob Dorrill, Jimmy Wynn, & Marsha Franty share some smiles for SABR!

If you noticed how quickly I slide from “they” to “we” when discussing the Astros, it’s because I don’t work for the Houston Chronicle or FOX or anyone else who might require me to put on the mask of objective reporting, Like many of you, I’m just an Astros fan who wants my team to win it all every game, series, and season they take the field. I can accept whatever they each do, as long as I feel they are each giving it the best of their abilities. I will never rally to the defense of any player or team, however,  that “mails it in” with no apparent enthusiasm for winning. Let’s hope we see some life on the field come Monday night.
Saturday’s beautiful weather day at the ballpark also featured Fanfest, the Astros annual fun day for fans who want to collect autographs, shop for memorabilia from independent vendors, and maybe, just maybe, hear some good reasons us SABR members who manned a table to explains the benefits of belonging to the Society for American Baseball Research to other Houstonians.
Under the fine leadership of our Larry Dierker Chapter director, Bob Dorrill, a number of us showed up Saturday to pass out membership information brochures, explain SABR, show people the lights-out baseball publications available for free with membership, and have some fun with several trivia contests we used to stoke interest. Trivia contest winners won the right to select a SABR book as their prize.
Interest in SABR led to a double-digit lst of names and e-mail addresses that we shall pursue with all vigor, Once people find out the benefits, SABR sells itself.
Annual dues are only $55 for people from age 31 to 65. If you are 30 or under, or over 65, membership fees drop to $45 a year. In Houston, that will buy you monthly meetings, ten months a year, with some of the brightest stars and most entertaining figures in Houston baseball history, plus the annual arrival of several out-of-the-blue-and-into-the-mailbox baseball publications from SABR. You will get to meet and hear from great baseball people like former Astro and ongoing icon Jimmy Wynn, plus rub elbows with former Houston Buff and fellow SABR member Larry Miggins. – You will be about as deep into the bosom of the Houston baseball family that you can reach without signing your own personal services contract with the Astros.

Former Buff Larry Miggins (L), Phil Holland, & Bob Stevens man the SABR table during this shift at Fanfest.

For more information about SABR and how you may join a local chapter near you practically anywhere in the United States , check out the national organization website.

SABR: For more information on the Houston Larry Dierker SABR chapter, contact our chapter leader, Bob Dorrill, at 281-361-7874.

Our thanks go out to the Houston Astros for making Fanfest possible.

Happy Easter, Everybody! Starting Monday, we’ll see you at the ballpark for the games that count!