Houston's Babies Play Vintage Baseball

There's no gloves or batting helmets when Larry Joe Miggins and the rest of the Houston Babies regularly travel back in time to play the game by its 1860 rules.

But baseball trumps even history for Larry Joe. As one of eight sons and the namesake of former Houston Buff star and St. Louis Cardinal first baseman Larry "Irish" Miggins Sr., Larry Joe is from one of the town's most prominent baseball families, one that has almost always had at least one member playing on local diamonds since Irish's debut in 1949.

Two of the most prominent ballplayers of the younger generation of Migginses were Larry Joe and his older brother Rory, known to blues and nightlife lovers as the owner of fabled Telephone Road nightclub Local Charm. Not only was Rory a fellow historical re-enactor, but the two played in local Mexican-American hardball leagues after their high school and college days were over, and later competed in adult Anglo hardball leagues as well.

Larry Joe's eyes light up when he remembers those days, as they do whenever Rory's name comes up.

Larry Joe "Long Ball" Miggins carries his family's long hardball tradition into the future by taking it deep in the past.
Daniel Kramer
Larry Joe "Long Ball" Miggins carries his family's long hardball tradition into the future by taking it deep in the past.
At 73 years old, second baseman Phil Holland went eight-for-eight for the Babies, then left the game behind the wheel of a flashy red Corvette.
Daniel Kramer
At 73 years old, second baseman Phil Holland went eight-for-eight for the Babies, then left the game behind the wheel of a flashy red Corvette.

"I would always bat before Rory, and I would steal signs for him," he chuckles. "If I was on second and I would see the catcher wave one finger, I would say, 'C'mon, Rory!' If it was a curve, it'd be, 'C'mon, Miggins!' You don't have to put that in the article."

In 1994, during the baseball strike, all nine of the Miggins men banded together as a single team and lost a close game to a local 35-and-up hardball team that went on to win its league's national championships. Rory and Larry Joe continued as teammates and re-enactors after that, right up until near the time Rory passed away in December 2007 from skin cancer. "He taught me how to die, the same way he taught me how to live," Larry Joe says, and he believes that Rory would "absolutely" be at his side on the Houston Babies if he were alive today.

McCurdy believes vintage base ball can and will develop. It's a game for men and women, young and old. The ball is easy to hit, so the action moves along. And he believes there's something magic about it, something that takes you back to childhood.

"It's the closest thing there is to backyard, sandlot ball," he says. "Your soul just feels free out there."

john.lomax@houstonpress.com

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4 comments
Andy Marcel
Andy Marcel

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Andy Marcel
Andy Marcel

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mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Great story, Houston Press. Vintage base ball is now played all over the country. We will be commemorating the 1913 World Tour of the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox next March during the Fourth Annual Copper City Classic Vintage Base Ball Tournament at historic 103-year-old Warren Ballpark in beautiful and historic Bisbee, AZ. It's the only surviving ballpark from the venues where John McGraw's and Charlie Comiskey's all-star teams played during their tour by steamship and train around the world. For more info go to www.friendsofwarrenballpark.co... or check out the Friends of Warren Ballpark.Facebook page.

Huzzah!

 
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