Saturday, March 22, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History  March 23

Southwestern Pirates Host White Sox, Defending A. L. Champs, March 29, 1920

Modern baseball fans are aware that major league baseball teams have spring training in either Florida or Arizona.  The Texas heritage of spring training is all but forgotten.  In fact Texas was once a favorite destination for major league baseball spring training.  Dozens of Texas cities hosted major league teams.  Some such as Marlin and Mineral Wells were known for the relaxing baths.  Other cities such as Eagle Pass, San Antonio, and Galveston could promise warm weather.  Even smaller towns like Seguin, New Braunfels, Marshall, and Waxahachie hosted big name stars known only through newspaper reports. 

So it was that on March 29, 1920, the Chicago White Sox came down from Waco to Georgetown to take on the Pirate nine at Snyder Field.  The 1920 Sox were the defending American League Champs, and the rumors about their throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds after being paid off by gamblers were not yet substantiated.  

The Sox boasted a powerful lineup that is remembered mainly through the 1988 motion picture, Eight Men Out.  The two most famous stars were Shoeless Joe Jackson, and “Knuckles” Eddie Cicotte.  The roster also included “Cocky” Eddie Collins who still holds the major league career record for sacrifice bunts, and a young man from Austin named Bibb Falk who was to write his name in large letters across the Texas baseball world as coach of the University of Texas Longhorns. 

The collegiate team was scrappy, but in the end lost to the pros 6-3.  The Pirates outhit the Sox, but bases on balls, the nemesis of young pitchers, doomed them. 

When the Sox began the regular season, they continued their winning ways from the previous year, but in September, when they were only one-half game out of first, the Black Sox scandal broke.  Eight star players were suspended immediately, and the team went into a tailspin.  Pirate baseballers probably read those news reports with an great interest. 

Coincidence—The White Sox were not the only visitors from Waco in Georgetown during the last week of March, 1920.  Robert E. Goodrich, pastor of Waco’s Austin Avenue Methodist Church, was conducting a revival at First Methodist Georgetown.  Goodrich, Southwestern class of 1903, was a rising star in the MECS.  His first appointment was to Dublin where he replaced Hiram Boaz when Boaz became president of Polytechnic College.  That pastorate was followed by appointments to Stamford, St. Luke’s in Oklahoma City, St. Jo in Missouri, and then to Austin Avenue in Waco. Goodrich was pastor of First Methodist Houston from 1932 to 1936.   His last appointment was as District Superintendent of the Tyler District of the Texas Conference where he baptized the author of this entry in This Week in Texas Methodist History.  

One wonders whether Rev. Goodrich went to watch the exciting baseball game and cheer for the Pirates against the pros.


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