This former United Press sports editor and public relations executive blazed the trail of the movement to bring Major League Baseball to Houston. As early as the late 1940’s, the native of Hillsboro, Texas began his attempts to bring big league baseball to the Bayou City.
In 1956, Kirksey found support in Craig F. Cullinan, Jr. (TBHOF, 1993), a prominent Houston businessman. George Kirksey possessed an uncanny ability for recognizing the talents of others that he needed in service to his cause. In 1959, Kirksey discovered the writing talents of a young Houston sports journalist named Mickey Herskowitz (TBHOF, 1997) and he convinced the gifted Houston Post scribe to join the fight. Herskowitz responded in two major ways: (1.) He wrote a six-part series in the Houston Post on “Why the City of Houston Deserves Major League Baseball” and (2.) He became the de facto volunteer editor and/or “ghost” for articles and letters that the less gifted writer Kirksey wanted to produce under his own name in behalf of the cause.
This fact is no slight of Kirksey. George Kirksey did the same with Craig Cullinan in his use of the latter’s power. Kirksey’s fire and Cullinan’s skillful application of influence helped organize the proposed 3rd Major League Baseball circuit, the Continental League. In so doing, the Houston group helped create a serious threat to the status quo of organized baseball. This threat served as leverage for the acceptance of Houston as an expansion club member of the National League, starting in 1962. Without the early efforts of Kirksey, and then Cullinan, there would have been no opportunity on the 1960 field of dreams for the grand plans of Roy Hofheinz and R. E. “Bob” Smith to germinate.
Together, these four men became the “Mount Rushmore” figures in the history of Major League Baseball coming to Houston and the State of Texas. After selling his interests in the Houston Astros in the late 1960’s, George Kirksey embarked upon the good life he had always dreamed of living.
Kirksey died in a car crash in France in 1971, but he will be remembered in Houston forever as the Daniel Boone of Texas Major League Baseball History.