Posts Tagged ‘Thank You’

Thank You, Maxwell Kates

November 14, 2018

Maxwell Kates ~ His new book with Warren Corbett on MLB expansion is a must-have item for researchers and deep blue baseball history readers.


Thank You, Maxwell Kates!

Your doubleheader presentation at last night’s Larry Dierker November 2018 SABR Meeting went off as smoothly as the silver streaks in your distinguished Canadian head of hair.

First Your New Book ….


 Your presentation of your new book WITH Warren Corbett, “Time for Expansion Baseball”, was nothing short of compelling. Most of what you told us is presented here in your own Internet description words, but, unfortunately, without all the vim and verve of the Toronto~Ontarion style of enthusiastic pizzaz you bring to the potential readership’s individual cravings for salt, pepper, and assorted, but variable condiments of subject spice.

Here’s my recollection of your major general remarks, based upon my ability to pilfer the Net for your own words, as follows:

The Los Angeles Angels and the “new” Washington Senators ushered in baseball’s expansion in 1960, followed quickly by the Houston Colt .45s and the New York Mets. By 1998, ten additional franchises had been awarded with the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Pilots, Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays coming into the American League, and the Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, and Arizona Diamondbacks to the National League. Since then, some of those teams have relocated or changed names, but TIME FOR EXPANSION BASEBALL tells the story of how each franchise was formed, built its team, and began play. Biographies of key players from each team’s early years are also included, from early Angels like Eli Grba and Duke Maas to Senator Tom Sturdivant, from Seattle Pilots Tommy Harper and Lou Piniella to Seattle Mariners Julio Cruz and Rick Jones. Featuring a foreword by Tal Smith, who has done three separate stints in the Houston front office, and the contributions of 54 SABR members, TIME FOR EXPANSION BASEBALL also includes dozens of photos from team historical archives.

(Of course, Maxwell, given the audience you were addressing at our Spaghetti Western private dinner party room, the Houston salsas of subject interest were also emphasized in deep dish volumes that go way beyond what we have time or space to rekindle here. ~ Toronto moms don’t “raise no fools.”)

Next, your moderator handling of the Houston Colt .45s Panel Q&A Session ….

You did great, Max, you did great! ~ But look at the material you had at your disposal!

Had Jimmy Wynn not been unable to attend, you could have four pure gold Colt .45/Astro icons filling all four chairs. Because of Jimmy’s absence, I agreed to sit in as his ancient fan/biographical co-author on “The Toy Cannon” ~ thus transforming the panel into one comprised of three icons and one acorn (albeit, a Pecan Park Eagle acorn), but one that came with no illusions that I could ever replace Jimmy Wynn in this lineup. ~ I could sit in his chair in a pinch, but no one could fill the space that Jimmy Wynn owns in the heart of our Houston MLB franchise history.

Look at who they were ~ and who they were intended to be: (1) Bob Aspromonte, among other firsts, he was the man who scored the first run in franchise history; (2) Larry Dierker, the first great pitcher in club history and the guy who celebrated his 18th birthday by breaking into the big leagues as a pitcher by striking out the great Willie Mays; (3) Tal Smith, the guy who completed the club’s oversight on the Astrodome construction project ~ and who would also go on to become the face and voice of club general managers and presidents; and (4) Jimmy Wynn ~ “The Toy Cannon” ~ the little guy who hit ’em for miles ~ and the first great home run hitter in Houston MLB history ~ Astrodome death valley fence distances and dead enclosed travel air be damned.

We were just lucky and humbly honored to be there as the pinch runner for Jimmy Wynn.

One More Thing ….

We just wanted to clarify something from the way you introduced me. It’s no big deal, but we do like to get things right, even as we grant others the right to think different, act different, and think different from us. And it’s nothing at all personal here ~ but it is a call for minor correction if you ever have any need to introduce me again in the future.

In so many words, you described Bill McCurdy (yours truly) as A veteran of the Pecan Park Eagles Little League team.

Corrections: The Pecan Park Eagles were never controlled by the Little League group. We were nothing more ~ and nothing less ~ than a rising-from-the-dirt Houston East End sandlot baseball team in the Pecan Park neighborhood just south of Griggs Road, off the Gulf Freeway, going to the south on the east side of I-45 South, as you continue south, from Griggs Road to Evergreen on your left ~ is still today ~ Pecan Park.

So what? ~ So this what! ~ In sandlot ball, it was our game. We didn’t have much, but we didn’t have adults controlling the game and how we played out our own dreams of it. Sandlotters got about a hundred “at bats” a day and more long fly ball miracle catch opportunities than any Little Leaguer could ever hope to see. And you got to find out what you were made of on your own. We didn’t have our parents hauling us off to special training camps to see why some of us just stood there watching perfectly good pitches we faced breeze by us. We either dove in and tried ~ or we got fried.

We ~ the Pecan Park Eagles ~ liked it that way. ~ Please ~ never call us Little Leaguers again. ~ We were sandlotters ~ plain and simple ~ and just happy to be.

The Pronunciation of “pecan” difference. ….

It seems to be a regional thing. ~ Going north ~ apparently all the way to Canada ~ the way people pronounce the word “pecan” begins to change from ….

our Texas puh-CON (that’s “puh” as in pulverize)


PEE-can …. and changing the whole melody of how that word dances in our minds.

You are free to call it what you wish, of course, but I’m just trying to tell you. ~ When you say “PEE-can” ~ it seems to reawaken in some of us a DNA-traceable association to the pre-indoor plumbing days when people maintained small to large tin can containers in their bedrooms on cold ~ or all ~ nights ~ for the sake of dealing with nature’s nocturnal calls until the contents could then be dumped outside through the nearest open window.

In the end, these items are small. ~ You did a great job, my friend!



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Thank You, Friends, for a Wonderful Surprise

August 26, 2018

Retirement Cake ~ Thanks for decorating and presenting our most delicious celebration cake, Marsha Franty! It was great.


Yesterday I walked into something that has never been on my rather long list of life experiences, but even bigger for me, it was something also that was never on my much shorter list of life expectations. My Dear Wife, Norma, and a cadre of my SABR friends, it seems, got together and planned in collusion with each other to throw me a surprise retirement party celebration of my retirement from a half century in private practice as a psychotherapist on September 1st.

It worked. I hadn’t a clue when my good friend Sam Quintero invited Norma and me to have lunch with him on Saturday. I still didn’t get it when Sam told me during the drive that we were taking Norma to the Spaghetti Western Ristorante, the place where we normally gold our SABR meetings. And I still didn’t get it when we walked in and Sam motioned for us to follow him to the back ~ and the room where normally hold our SABR meetings.

“Are we having a Saturday SABR meeting that I didn’t know about?” I asked

“Nope,” Sam replied.

I still didn’t get it. I had to be told. – “This is a surprise party in honor of your retirement from practice,” Bob Dorrill explained. Later I learned that I wasn’t the only one confused about the purpose when a couple of people wished me a happy birthday.”

Then we walked into the room after our greeting by Bob and Peggy Dorrill, and there was Mark Wernick and his wife, Luba, Tal and Jonnie Smith, Jimmy and Marie Wynn, Mike and Cindy McCroskey, Larry, Kathleen and Neil Miggins, Marsha Hamby, Greg Lucas, Bobby Copus, Jimmy Disch, Dick Bily, and Tom White. Joe Thompson got there after we arrived.

I will never forget yesterday. The words people used to frame their thoughts of and feelings for me were filled with the kind of whole thought honesty that only lands and survives with sincerity. Thanks you, Bobby Copus, for your love and caring. If you see me as a mentor and a second father, so be it. I love you too.

And thank you, Tal Smith, too for helping me feel at home in the body of Houston baseball history and historians from my Pecan Park Eagles sandlot days forward. ~ Now, if you, or any of you, has some ideas on how I can be saved from my Citizen Kane “rosebud” fears that the beautiful wood piece you see below that my artistic brother, John McCurdy, created for me can escape the furnace of junk piece liquidation someday, I would be grateful hearing them. Our Eagles sandlot baseball was a living symbol of what kid baseball was like in Houston and many other places before the Little League game turned it over to the adults. Maybe, the Hall of Fame would be interested.


Thank you too, Mark Wernick, for the collection of early written history by the first captains of Houston’s first voyage onto the ocean of major league baseball. A belated discovery of scanner problems may delay how son I will be able yo get to those volumes #3 and #9 you wanted, but they will get there. Please. Be patient.


an original


Thank you too for a copy of the book entitled “The World’s Most Travelled Man”, Maxwell Kates. You may be in Toronto now, but your prefect gift arrived in time for the local conspirators to get it here in time for the party. Since this is where we first learned of my good old ancestor Liam “The Dragon Slayer” McCurdy and his horseshoe-virginal club with three nails driven through its head for dragon dispatching. SABR brother Mike McCroskey has made sure that I now have a similar weapon at my disposal. My copy is even autographed.


Wonder if MLB would allow Altuve to get away with using this weapon for nailing every pitch?

We have a play-on-words irony going on here with the dragon slaying that my grandfather to the 35th power did relative to my own work in recent times. Grandpa Liam McCurdy fought to help people rid themselves of dragons in the skies. My work has all been about trying to help people rid themselves of dragons in disguise. 🙂

A funny irony: Grandpa Liam McCurdy fought to help people rid themselves of dragons in the skies. My work has all been about trying to help people rid themselves of dragons in disguise. 🙂

Thank you, Bob Dorrill, and other SABR members for the awesome crystal retirement memorial and for the vintage bat and ball that shall always remind me of the year 23 ventured forth into the modern era with our reenactment of the 188 Houston Babies playing 19th century baseball under the 1860 rules. We bent a little history to stretch the Babies back that far, but we put it all back together when we came to write “Houston Baseball, The Early Years, 1861-1961”. As Bob Dorrill was kind and generous enough to mention, that book had been my lifelong ambition, but quality wise, it was too big a job for any single one of us to take on alone. Thanks to all of you who contributed in any single way. And thanks, especially, to the late Patrick Lopez, whose art gave us pictures of Houston’s first ballpark, and his eye for treating us all to the delight of watching something come to life from words.

And, I feel free to say it publicly now. ~ Thanks to the late Solly Hemus for underwriting most of the production expenses involved in our Houston early baseball history book. Solly did things the right way. He never was out for credit. He simply wanted to support causes he believed in.  .

Solly Hemus is proof. ~ We are “Houston Strong” ~ and we have been so ~ in so many areas ~ for so long ~ that it is only the national media that thinks that truism began with Hurricane Harvey.

Thank you, Dick Bily, for that very special Yankee ring and, please, folks, go easy on me if I’ve overlooked anyone else’s gift or kind words. My heart is still in my throat exhausted from the emotional rush of yesterday’s surprise. And, Greg Lucas, yes, thanks for that sidebar on Howard Green. My fond memories are strong of that day trip to and from Dallas for planning the TBHOF move to Houston. As you no doubt recall, there wasn’t much talk about how many oil wells this big move was going to cost either of us,

Thank You, Folks:  The surprise party was totally unnecessary, but it will always be remembered in my house as one of the happiest days in my life. As l said yesterday, all of you are precious to me. If you missed lunch with me, I’m sure you lunched somewhere. All you missed was the good company of other baseball people and at least old guy who wears a bib to protect himself from a bowl of spaghetti. That’s me, of course.

By missing me, however, you would have missed the humor and the eloquence of both Larry and Kathleen Miggins. How priceless they are to the lyrical ear of all the good stuff that makes Houston hum.

I still have my calling to the company of others outside the usual working environment, but Norma, family and SABR has me pretty well covered there. And my calling to baseball and writing shows no sign of letting up, so, I’m beyond OK. – Just don’t ever try to use me as a pinch runner.

What follows are a few pictures from the group that Mark Wernick sent me.

And, oh yes, I love you! ~ All of you!


Bob Dorrill was our Master of Ceremonies


The birthday cake that someone placed among my major baseball publications and the beautiful art of Patrick Lopez.


Mark Wernick and the Great Jimmy Wynn


Mark Wernick Showing the Houston Astros World Series Champs cap



Bill McCurdy and Jimmy Wynn (facing) Larry Miggins


Bill McCurdy, Mark Wernick and Jimmy Wynn



Norma and Bill McCurdy, Bobby Copus

LARRY & Kathleen_edited-1

Larry and Kathleen Miggins


Tal Smith speaks at the party;
Jimmy and Marie Wynn in the foreground.


Jimmy Wynn and his Astros Bling!


Astros Bling Up Close August 25, 2018


Eagle Field served as the home of the sandlot club we called the Pecan Park Eagles in 1950, before organized ball opened up big enough to handle all of us Houston kids who wanted to play on “real teams.” The Eagles were real enough for me. My heart still soars with their blessed memory. – Eagle Field existed on a Houston city lot still operated today as a playground in the east end at the fork-corner of Japonica and Myrtle in Pecan Park near I-45S and Griggs. In 2018, the place now bears the name of Japonica Park – with no reference to the “Eagle Field” identity that we once gave it some 68 years ago.