Houston Baseball - The Early Years 1861-1961
Houston is no newcomer to baseball. The earliest ball clubs in what is now the metropolitan area were formed the same year as the first club in St. Louis and Milwaukee and only months after the first base ball club in Cincinnati. Imported by young men from New York City and other points northeastward in the late 1850s, baseball could even be found along Buffalo Bayou during the heat of the Civil War, played by Union prisoners from Galveston.
As Reconstruction came and went, baseball flourished. Teams could be seen on every vacant lot, and real fields with grandstands began to pop up around the area. By the 1880s, the top teams in town had added professional players, and before the decade was out the state had a league of its own.
This new book covers 19th century baseball in Houston in far more detail than has ever been studied, but that is just barely the start. There is rich history of every aspect of the game in the Bayou City up until the moment that the Colt .45s started Major League play in 1962.
New York Yankees vs Houston - 1914
In the first decade of the 20th century, Tris Speaker played for Houston. He is arguably the greatest ball player to ever wear the city's jersey, but he is only one of a dozen Hall of Famers who called Houston home during the minor league years.
The Houston Buffaloes became one of the earliest big league farm teams when portions of their stock were purchased by owners of the St. Louis Cardinals. That alliance would last for almost forty years. Buffs teams had much success in the Texas League during that time, playing in a number of Dixie Series for the title of best team in the South.
Dizzy, Sunny Jim, Chick & Ducky
Along the way, the Houston team would include dozens of Cardinals stars such as Dizzy Dean, Chick Hafey, Sunny Jim Bottomley, Ducky Medwick, Ken Boyer and Enos Slaughter. When the Chicago Cubs took over the franchise in its final few years, the Buffs were home for Billy Williams and Ron Santo.
The story of Houston's transition from the minors to a Major League city is one that includes all manner of politics, personalities and back room deals that feature some of the biggest names in the sport.
Houston Baseball, The Early Years also has chapters on the black baseball teams in Houston that ran on a parallel course in the days of segregation. It has amateur, women's and youth baseball, high school and college teams and even covers the media that covered baseball. There is an amazing collection of stories on the days when Houston was a Spring Training site and on the numerous exhibitions that brought the cream of the big league crop through town.
It is all part of Houston Baseball, The Early Years. Richly illustrated and expertly told, it is a story for all fans of Houston baseball and Houston history.