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2007 Banquet News

The 2007 Induction Banquet Light Burns Bright
With Strong Baseball Linkages!

Gonzalez family with Don BaylorThe 30th annual Texas Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, the fourth in our new Houston history, unfolded beautifully on Friday night, Nov. 9th, as a perfect exposition of our game’s curious, but always present linkages. A high-energy crowd of about 300 fans and supporters were present at the J. W. Marriott near the Galleria in Houston as the weave of connections unfolded.

Linkages? Here are a few examples. Time and space, and probability too, will not allow me to dig out and cover them all. So let’s proceed to some of the more obvious ones:

  • Cesar Cedeno, Jimmy Wynn, and Don Baylor2007 Inductee Cesar Cedeno & TBHOF Board Member Jimmy Wynn. When talk turns to the greatest centerfielder in Astros history, these are the two names that always turn up as the front-runners. With Cedeno’s 2007 induction, both former Astro stars and teammates are now members of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • 2007 Inductees Don Baylor & Phil Garner. They were teammates on the 1976 Oakland A’s club, but spent many more years playing and managing against each other.

  • 2007 Inductees Phil Garner & Juan Gonzalez. Garner managed Gonzalez when both were members of the Detroit Tigers.

  • 2007 Inductees Cesar Cedeno & Phil Garner. They were teammates on the 1981 Astros club.

  • Stella Wells2007 Inductees Don Baylor & Willie Wells. Both hail from Austin where Baylor grew up as an appreciative fan of the great Negro Leaguer Wells.

  • 2007 Inductees Phil Garner & Anita Martini. They were good friends during Garner’s playing years in Houston.

  • 2007 Inductees Juan Gonzalez & Cesar Cedeno. Both Latin outfielders survived personal troubles to succeed at baseball’s highest level of play.

  • 2007 Inductee Anita Martini & TBHOF Board Member Jimmy Wynn. When Anita Martini became the first female reporter allowed to enter a major league clubhouse in 1974 at the Astrodome, it was then Dodger Jimmy Wynn that she came to interview.

  • Jimmy Wynn and Marian Harper2007 Toy Cannon Award Recipient Marian Harper & Jimmy Wynn. Marian and Jimmy have worked together for years on a number of community service outreach projects and they currently work together for the Houston Astros and they are both active in the Astros in Action program.

  • 2007 Inductee Anita Martini & Every Former Player on the Dais. Their common, independent praise of baseball journalist Martini distills to this: “I didn’t simply respect Anita because she was a strong woman. I respected Anita Martini because she knew baseball as well or better than I.”

Opie Otterstad, Cesar Cedeno, and Greg LucasAs per usual, each inductee received an appropriate trophy and a framed print of the original artwork that our premier official artist Opie Otterstad creates for each new inductee every year. Opie has created a total of 25 different pieces of art as gifts to the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame since our first 2004 Houston banquet. These works of art will one day hang proudly in the halls of the museum we plan to operate in Houston. In time, it will happen. With your help, it will happen sooner.

Visit the TBHOF store to order prints from the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame Lone Star Legends™ collection. Each high-quality gicleé on canvas print is a limited edition, signed and numbered by the artist. Opie Otterstad is the official artist of the TBHOF. You can learn more about his work at www.opieart.com

Marian Harper accepted this year’s 4th Annual Toy Cannon Award for Exceptional Community Service from the man who gave it that honorable name, the great Jimmy Wynn. Harper, a veteran of two decades employment by the Houston Astros and a native of Pittsburg, Texas spoke humbly about the opportunity she has enjoyed serving the community as a member of the Astros family. Marian has done a lot of expediting for the Astros in their efforts to bring good baseball fields and, more importantly, hope to thousands of inner city children in the greater Houston area.

Opie Otterstad, Phil Garner, and Greg LucasAll recipients were appropriately grateful. Former Astros manager Phil Garner even graciously and genuinely wished the Houston Astros good luck in 2008. Garner was dismissed as manager of the Astros before the 2008 season ended and replaced by his good friend and former bench coach Cecil Cooper. Phil Garner is a first class act all the way. There was no poison irony in his sincere wishes to the Astros and his good friend. He meant it.

Opie Otterstad, Don Baylor, and Greg LucasDon Baylor joked that his painting must have been inspired by one of his futile games as manager of the Rockies. “In this painting, Opie,” Baylor kidded, “I look like my club is behind by something like 15-2.” Baylor expressed his satisfaction to be going into the Texas Hall in he company of Willie Wells, a fellow Austin-man and role model deluxe.

Baylor grew up hoping to play football and baseball for the University of Texas. Don thanked former Coach Darrell Royal for telling him that he would have to give up baseball if he came to UT to play football. “Thank you, Coach Royal,” Baylor said. “Because of your rules, I didn’t play football for the Longhorns, but I did live to enjoy a 19-year career in big league baseball that might have escaped me altogether had I kept playing football.”

Cesar Cedeno thanked all the fans that came tonight to honor him. He talked wistfully of his days as an Astro, and he reiterated how important the fans support of him fueled his play on the field.

Opie Otterstad and Jay GonzalezJuan Gonzalez’s son, Jay, accepted induction for his father, who had to miss coming at the last minute due to the death of a family member in Puerto Rico. The younger Gonzalez spoke briefly, but eloquently, expressing how honored his father was to be chosen for induction.

Stella Wells accepted induction for her father, the late Willie Wells. She offered that he had been a good family man and father who would have been very thrilled to know that he had been honored by membership in the baseball hall of honor in his home state.

Stella Wells, Opie Otterstad, Cathy Arellano, and Greg LucasCathy Arellano spoke beautifully in behalf of her late sister, Anita Martini, including an excerpt from Anita's unfinished book. The poetry of her precise words escapes me 24 hours later, but her melody lingers on. There may be no greater love on earth than the love of one sister for another, finding expression in a moment of justifiable pride for a late sister’s accomplishments. It was a thing of plaintive beauty. Anita would have been most proud of Cathy in return.

Don Baylor, Frank Liuzza, Sue Hepler, and grandson Randall TaliaferroThere are two more linkages I’d like to mention. The first has to with our breakthrough in the long-time search for information about the almost legendarily hidden Houston Black Buffs. Most of you know the story of recent developments on our breakthrough by now. In September 2007, Dr. Sue Hepler, an old friend and classmate from our graduate school days at Tulane called to say hello after many years of no contact. In a complete act of serendipity, I learned that her husband, Frank Liuzza, had been the son and nephew of John and James Liuzza, the brothers who established the Houston Black Buffs in 1924. In effect, we couldn’t find the Black Buffs, but the Black Buffs devised a way to find us. We are still uploading the gems from this gold mine of historical information, but in the meanwhile, Frank and Sue, along with grandson Randall were on hand to accept our expressions of gratitude for their contributions to Texas baseball history.

Ong Lucas, Marie Wynn, and Norma McCurdyThe last linkage I want to mention is the most important of them all. That linkage is the one we hope to keep building with you, the people who care about, and want to do something about, the recovery and preservation of Texas baseball history. You don’t have to be the descendants of the Black Buffs, or the holders of some rare never-previously-seen Tris Speaker baseball card, to be valuable to this TBHOF movement for a museum in Houston. All you have to do is step forth, contact us, and talk with us about how you would like to help. Sure we need financial help, but we also need people who want to donate items of importance to baseball history; people who want to help do historical research; people who want help us raise money for the much-needed museum; people who want to help with the banquet preparation; people who want to help us gain media attention and improved community awareness to our cause; and people who want to help with all other things that are important to success, including fresh ideas. Perhaps you have an idea that we haven’t dreamed possible. If so, you need to be on our team now.

Cesar Cedeno, Tal Smith, and Enos CabellEnough said for now. The two operative words in our most important linkage are simply these: people and help. With your help sooner, we will reach our goals for the museum faster. Please don’t procrastinate. Contact us today at www.tbhof.org/contact. If you prefer to call, my cell number is (713) 823-4864. I will be most happy to talk with you, so don’t be shy. If you fail to reach me personally, just mention the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in your message. I’ll know from that much information that it is a “linkage” inquiry call and I will get back with you at the earliest opportunity. — And that’s a promise.

George Scroggins and Phil GarnerThanks again especially to all of you who attended the best banquet production we’ve staged in Houston in our four years here. We also wrapped up at 9:40 PM on Friday night, leaving plenty of time for the inductees to visit and sign autographs. Everyone who came this year may be certain of this prediction for next year: Look for more of same on the quick pace, timely finish in 2008. We’re just going to get better and better at what we do.

Sarah McMullen, Dene Hofheinz AntonSpecial thanks to our Platinum Star sponsor, Dene Hofheinz Anton (www.DeneSongs.com), and all of our other sponsors and volunteers for their hard work and dedication. Thanks to Greg Lucas for the Dusty Rhodes-level job he did pinch-hitting for regular master of ceremonies Milo Hamilton, who was on the DL this year — and to all others who made our 2007 Induction Banquet the most successful production evening in our 30-year history.

Bill McCurdy
Board President
Texas Baseball Hall of Fame


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