Hello Everyone, this is Eric checking in and letting everyone know that I have taken a bit of a hiatus from this but I plan on being more active in the future. It will be my plan to do one post a month.
Since I last posted I had several articles published: a profile in the SABR book When Pops Led the Family: The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and a history of the short-lived 1979 Miami Amigos and the Inter-American League in the 2016 edition of The National Pastime.
LInks to the Publications can be found here: When Pops Led the Family: The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 2016 edition of The National Pastime with my article here. It appears that my article is in the members only section of SABR but if you are interested in reading it I am willing to send you a copy of the article.
I gave a presentation recently for Central Texas Hornsby Chapter of SABR for their 10th Annual Winter Meeting. It was a great event that I had a lot of fun at that featured guest speakers from the Houston Chronicle, Round Rock Express, baseball writers, and more. I will write more about it soon but you can find out more information on here.
My presentation was on Central Texas negro league history and included details and stories on Willie Wells, Biz Mackey, Waco's Katy Park, Jackie Robinson, and more. For people that are interested, here are the addresses to several sites in Austin that have connections to it's negro league history. I will add to this list as I find more information.
Willie Wells Mural and Home: Located in the neighborhood west of South Congress. The mural is in the alley behind the house.
1707 Newton Street
Downs Field: Still in use field that Willie Wells, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, (probably) Jackie Robinson, and more played on.
2816 E 12th St, Austin, TX 78702
Dobbs Field: Original negro league baseball in Austin
I can not find the exact address but I do know it was off of Lake Travis Blvd close the dam. My best guess is around the intersection of Lake Travis Blvd and Redbud Trail.
SWhen I was growing up I had thousands and thousands of baseball cards. They were my main hobby and hundreds of dollars of allowance and lawn mowing money was spent on various packs and sets of Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Upper Deck, and whatever else I could find. Now I have less than a dozen cards.
Of these handful of cards I have, I keep three on display. Two of these cards are autographed by Jim Bouton and Bill "Spaceman" Lee and there is also a David Clyde rookie card. I bought all them for less than $10 combined, not including shipping.
It seems like more than any other sport baseball likes its counterculture (within reason) characters and lovable outsiders with good stories. These three players embody that as much as any player in the Macmillian baseball Encylopedia; one by personal effort (Lee), another by not knowing better (Bouton), and the other by circumstance (Clyde). The fact that all these cards are of pitchers is a coincidence - I think. I don't feel like a prefer my favorite players to be pitchers over position players but this display could make an argument that I do.
I believe that pitchers have an element to them that position players never quite will - standing on the pitcher's mound, holding the ball, with the entire game and stadium waiting for what they do next. Warren Zevon was a musical iconoclast that very much fit in the mold of Jim Bouton and Bill Lee. In fact, Zevon wrote a song about the Spaceman titled, simply enough, Bill Lee on his 1980 album Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School. After a verse about the problems a player can have when they are an outspoken, Zevon's next verse that captures that moment of the pitcher on the mound: "When I'm standing in the middle of the diamond all alone / I always play to win /When it comes to skin and bone."
I feel that it is that the dichotomy in the personalities of Bouton and Lee that still attracts the baseball fan to them. That despite their problems with teammates (and managers and teams and the league), breaking baseball's unspoken rules, and exposing the game's hidden side in humorous ways, these were competitors that would still do what they could to win. Despite everything anti establishment about the pair Bouton was still a bulldog pitcher that won two games in the 1964 World Series and Bill Lee was a fearless left hander winning 17 games for the Red Sox while pitching in Fenway Park three years in a row. (Note: In the near future I will have a more in depth article concerning Jim Bouton and his inside baseball classic Ball Four and Bill Lee and his autobiography The Wrong Stuff.
The first baseball game in Olympic history was an demonstration game between host country Australia and the United States on December 1, 1956. There were 114,000 people
I was lucky to be a member of the same SABR chapter as Norman Macht for exactly one meeting. It was his last before moving away from the Austin area. And while his name was familiar I couldn't place it until shortly after. I quickly found out the he had written some of the kid friendly baseball biographies of star players I had read as a kid and adolescent but was most known for his work on his multi-volume biography on baseball pioneer Connie Mack.
Mack had a 65 year career in baseball that begin in 1886 playing for the Washington Nationals and his managerial career begin in 1894 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is most known for being the manager and chief executive of the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-1950, an amazingly long tenure with one team that is unlikely to ever be surpassed.
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently published an article on Macht and his work documenting the life and career of Mack. The three volumes total over 2,000 pages. My favorite line from the article is, "They agreed to do two. Then I had another 1,000 pages, and I was only up to 1931."
If you are interested in the books the can be found here:
Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball Vol 1
Connie Mack: The Turbulent and Triumphant Years, 1915-1931 Vol 2
The Grand Old Man of Baseball: Connie Mack in His Final Years, 1932-1956 Vol 3
For the better part of the last decade I have lived in an area that did not have a major league team. Thankfully the Triple A Round Rock Express was just a 25 minute drive (70 minutes during rush hour) north.
One part of the minor league experience I enjoyed was finding out who the coaching staff was for the teams. This was due to the number of them which consisted of former players who would be among my favorites as a kid watching baseball in the 80's and 90's. Round Rock itself had former Boston shortstop Spike Owens on their staff for the bulk of the games I attended.
This week the team released the names of its coaching staff for the upcoming 2016 season and it contains several guys that I remembered following as a kid including one of my childhood favorites, former Ranger catcher Geno Petralli. As a kid I was partial to
Announcement for the Central Texas SABR Winter Meeting in January - Featuring a Certain Guest Speaker
I am excited to announce that I will be speaking at the Hornsby SABR Chapter Winter Meeting on January 9, 2016. This event will be held on the Texas State campus in San Marcos and will be a fun day with plenty of baseball being discussed.
It has been over a year since I have regularly updated this site. At first this was the result of health factors and then transitioned to finding myself in a situation without regular internet access. This got me out of the habit of writing and I really have no excuse for not being more frequent after health and internet access issues improved.
This will change and I will now write more frequently, hopefully 3-5 times a week.
First I will do several post on things I have worked on since I regularly updated this site. Following is a link to an article I had published in The National Pastime journal put out annually by SABR. The focus this year was on Chicago baseball and I wrote a story documenting Eddie Gaedel, the little person Bill Veeck hired and used in one plate appearance for the St Louis Browns.
Here is the article: The Peculiar Professional Baseball Career of Eddie Gaedel
Here it the link to purchase this issue of The National Pastime.
I will have more details and a recap in the near future but here is the link to the NPR segment from Morning Edition and 30 minute special that KWBU in Waco broadcast in September.
Behind the Story: The History of Central Texas' Negro League (30 minutes)
The Rich and Forgotten History of Central Texas' Negro League Teams (5 minutes)
I am proud to announce (although technically this came out over a month ago) that I am now a published writer. An article I wrote for the SABR journal The National Pastime for their issue dedicated on Houston baseball since 1961 has been made available to the public and not just the attendees of the SABR 44 conference this past summer.
My article is entitled Movies, Bullfights, and Baseball, Too and it is about the history of the Houston Astrodome and how it may be the only stadium known as much for the special events that occurred there as it is for what it's home teams accomplished while playing there. No matter how many times Jose Cruz got on base, TD's were thrown by Warren Moon, or playoff clenching no-hitters tossed by Mike Scott, beginning with it's grand opening as the world's first true domed stadium the Astrodome was known for motorcycle jumps, the victory by Billie Jean King, conquering Hollywood via Brewster McCloud and the Bad News Bears.
The link to read the article can be found here and for those of you that are interested in purchasing The National Pastime (and please do as it contains great articles on Turk Farrell, the 1963 Pepsi Cola Colt .45's baseball card set, and the day the Astrodome had a rain out plus a dozen other good reads) than please click this.
Here is a little teaser of the article, just a bit from near the opening to get you started:
On January 3, 1962, the seven Harris County commissioners, many wearing holsters and cowboy hats in the style popularized by men such as Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, stood on a small platform to perform the groundbreaking. The “Harris County Domed Stadium” was to be built on drained swampland. The men walked to the edge of the podium and, rather than use shovels, fired Colt .45 six shooters into the ground to break the first dirt. This homage to 1800’s frontier Texas launched the project but it would quickly take on a more forward-looking moniker, capturing the excitement of the space race.