RIP, Larry Joe Miggins

Houston will miss Larry Joe Miggins.
Daniel Kramer

Spaced City

RIP, Larry Joe Miggins
Houston's fabled Irishman dies.

John Nova Lomax

"It's for the love of the game that we all play," Larry Joe Miggins told me this past Cinco de Mayo.

We were at a Pony League field out in Katy, where Miggins had just spent four or five hours under a sweltering sun playing first base for the Houston Babies, the Bayou City's 1860s-style baseball team.

For Miggins, who died Friday in a car accident, all of life was all about "the love of the game." Or as he loved to say, "I am no longer scared of dying but more scared of not living."

Miggins was not content to be a history buff. It was not enough for him to kick back in an easy chair and crack open a dusty tome about the Battle of San Jacinto or the Goliad Massacre, nor to debate their fine points with his fellow historians. He had to live those events out, and hardly a re-enactment passed without Miggins lining up with his musket and Bowie knife.

Miggins especially loved to re-enact the Battle of Sabine Pass, where his fellow Houston Irish hombre Dick Dowling and a few dozen of his countrymen routed a Yankee naval invasion during the Civil War. (The Miggins family, along with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, has long helped keep and preserve the Dick Dowling statue in Hermann Park.)

Miggins brought the same enormous gusto to baseball.

Where the vast majority of men of his 52 years are content to pore over box scores or kick back in the bleachers, Miggins was still out on the diamond. And not the softball diamond, either.

"Longball" Miggins took his baseball the way he consumed life: straight, with no chaser. There are no gloves or helmets in vintage baseball. In addition to being the team's most-feared slugger, Larry Joe most often played first base, easily the toughest position on the field in that variant of the game. Not only does the first sacker have to field his share of sharp grounders, but also dozens of hard pegs from his fellow infielders. Each game would leave his hands looking like tenderized steaks, but for Miggins, the bruises were purple badges of courage.

What joy he brought to those games! He was a champion trash-talker to teammates and opponents alike — his nonstop chatter and taunts were hilarious and never malicious. (His generosity was legendary. It is said of some people that they would give you their last dollar. Larry Joe would have given you his last thousand.) His attention to period detail went beyond simply donning an old-timey uniform and swinging a clunky old bat. Larry Joe went the extra mile, proudly donning 19th-century sunglasses.

September 11 marked the birthday of his late big brother, the equally colorful and larger-than-life Rory Miggins. Larry Joe's devotion to Rory was absolute and his grief eternal. But still, he loved to say that Rory not only taught him how to live, but also how to die.

Larry Joe died September 14 on his way back to Houston from the Texas Gatorfest in Anahuac. Police believe his truck hydroplaned off a partially submerged highway and careened into heavy brush, killing him on impact. (So heavy that his body was not found immediately.)

And so he died as he lived: reveling in music, in alligators, in Texas, in the swamps and bayous he loved so dearly. And his passing came in one of the state's most historic areas: Anahuac. Before the "Come and Take It" fight, the town was the site of the Anahuac Disturbances of 1832 and 1835; it was the tinderbox that sparked the Texas Revolution. Larry Joe died where Texas was born.

He lit up every room he went in, be it basement pub Valhalla, where he loved to knock back a brew after a hard day's engineering in the Rice physical plant, or the Continental Club, where the blues and country bands he loved were always onstage.

Houston's Saint Patrick's Day won't be the same without him. As his niece Julia Miggins put it, "Heaven gained the life of all parties."

Larry Joe Miggins is survived by his wife, Sherl; his two adult children, Thomas and Laura; his parents, Larry and Kathleen Miggins; his surviving ten siblings, Eileen, John, Maureen, Noreen, Matthew, Kathleen, Neil, Robert, Patrick and Michael; and legions of nephews and nieces.


Weird Custody Case
Surrogate mom not a "genetic parent"?

Craig Malisow

When Cindy Close gave birth to twins last July, she thought she had finally achieved her lifelong dream of being a mother. The 47-year-old had gone about it in an unconventional way, she says, by using a friend's sperm and anonymous donor's eggs, with the ultimate goal of co-parenting the kid(s) with her friend.


But Close says that, shortly after she gave birth, that friend sought full custody of the babies, saying that Close was only a surrogate. Now Close and her friend, Marvin McMurrey III, are duking it out in Harris County Family Court.

According to Close, she briefly dated McMurrey, 47, about six years ago, but they quickly realized they were better as friends. The two discussed their longing to be parents, and they ultimately struck up a deal: Close, who earned a modest income in printing, would be a stay-at-home mom, and McMurrey, whose family is rather well-off, would support them.

After a few false starts, Close says, she finally conceived earlier this year. Shortly thereafter, according to Close, McMurrey asked Close how she'd feel about moving to Oregon, along with his friend, Phong Nguyen. Close says McMurrey also insisted on getting their agreement in writing, something Close says she never thought about, since she trusted McMurrey.

Ultimately, on July 3, Close signed an affidavit in which she stated, "I am not genetically related to the children" and "I participated in the procedure voluntarily and did not receive compensation for my services other than reimbursement for medical costs of the assisted reproductive procedures." She also declared McMurrey to be the biological father.

After giving birth prematurely at Texas Children's Hospital, Close says, she was served with a temporary restraining order: McMurrey sought a court's ruling declaring him as the father and denying a parent-child relationship between Close and the babies. McMurrey is arguing that, although Close is the "birthing mother," she's not a genetic parent.

"...her role was that of a surrogate or gestational carrier, which will be confirmed upon receipt of genetic testing," the TRO states.

McMurrey won temporary custody of the twins, who are now living at Nguyen's house. According to Close, McMurrey and Nguyen are in a relationship — something she hadn't realized until she gave birth.

In August, Close countersued McMurrey and Nguyen, claiming breach of duty, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other things.

Close's attorney, Grady Reiff, says that any assertion that Close is not legally the kids' mother is patently absurd. He also says that Texas law only recognizes gestational or surrogacy agreements between a surrogate and a married couple.

"If Marvin gets his way, then our argument is that the only four people to have ever walked the Earth without a mother will be Adam and Eve and [the babies Close gave birth to]...because there will be no...legally recognized mother ever having existed for these children," Reiff says.

Which gives us a headache. The weirdness was also noted by Judge Bonnie Crane Hellums, who said during one hearing in the case, "I'm getting a whole new respect for Solomon."

Neither McMurrey's nor Nguyen's attorneys wanted to comment for this story.


Where Vince Young's Money Went
Longhorn Network Blu-rays?

Richard Connelly

In addition to carving out a flash-in-the-pan NFL career, former Longhorn QB Vince Young has apparently burned through cash like a heavyweight boxer on a binge.

He's involved in nasty court cases that point to empty pockets despite his having gotten $26 million in guaranteed payments via contracts.

Even for a pro athlete with a UT "degree" and an allegedly single-digit Wonderlic, it takes a hell of a lot to go broke so fast with so much to start with.

Young was up to the job, it seems. How did he do it? Likely these five steps were included:

5. Those Rewind with Mack Brown Blu-rays aren't cheap

Unfortunately for VY, stocking up on Longhorn Network DVDs isn't an inexpensive proposition, but it's one that can't be avoided. How else to revel in the time-warp graphics of Rewind with Mack Brown, best appreciated as you're watching and desperately hoping this episode covers the 2006 Rose Bowl once again and not the 2012 New Mexico game?

Also, you never want to be without when the urge to see the show summarized as "Golfers Spieth, Stone Stop By The LHN Studios" strikes you.

4. Tattoos, and their proper display

The sophisticated young UT grad/alumnus former player realizes the best way to represent his university, and any professional outfits he then is employed by, is to appear glassy-eyed and shirtless on a nightclub floor. This requires, of course, the purchase of many expensive tattoos, all of which the former player has been informed represent ancient Chinese symbols of strength, or perhaps Mandarin ideographs for "Madison High."

It also requires the constant purchase of new shirts, since the discarded ones always seem to get lost.

3. Attorney's fees

We're sure all the attorneys involved in Young's legal docket — past, present and future — are upstanding members of the bar. It's just that there's going to be a lot of them, and they're going to be doing a lot of discovery and other fee-generating exercises, and...let's just say that they're going to make sure they get theirs.


2. UT gear

Okay, we'll stipulate — there's no way VY could rock this polo like the dude here does. (That's why Young's signature move is to take it off as quickly as possible.)

But we're sure Vince dreams wistfully of the day he can be "the bomb" with the ladies by showing up at a UT-New Mexico tailgate like this student, complete with "no roll collar" polo, pleated chinos and an overall look that says fast-track in KBR's accounts receivable ­department.

Keep dreaming, Vince. But watch the expenses.

1. Moving expenses

One thing you have to say about Vince, he's gotten around. First there came the glory days with the Tennessee Titans, where he actually stayed in one place for five entire years, some of which, to be sure, included being unable to play due to injuries or fighting with his coach.

Since then, however, the moving bills have grown exponentially. A year in Philly. A cup of coffee in Buffalo. A frantic search for a new franchise to take him on.

That's a lot of moving, and a lot of decorating of McMansions in gated communities, where the decor is based on old episodes of Cribs. Tracking down and buying all those endangered-animal rugs and wall hangings, plutonium faucets, dining-room tables made of the most inaccessible woods the rainforest has to offer — none of that comes cheap.

But if there's anyone willing to go into debt to pay for all that, it's apparently Vince Young.


Lost: One radioactive rod
Halliburton's boo-boo.

Craig Malisow

Hair Balls has lost car keys, wallets, cats and once even a rare Monet, but we'd like to think that we'd never lose a "potentially lethal" radioactive rod.

But that's exactly what some Halliburton truck drivers did in the desert around Odessa, according to news reports. The "seven-inch long stainless steel cylinder is about an inch in diameter and marked with the radiation-warning symbol and 'do not handle' warning."

However, all hope is not lost: You'd have to handle it for a few days before you noticed any adverse effects, such as death, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; plus, Halliburton is offering a reward for information leading to the rod. (However, if you happen to stumble upon it, the Halliburton people advise that you step back at least "20 to 25 feet.") (Both Halliburton and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were conspicuously silent on whether the radiation would bestow certain superpowers upon the handler.)

The three employees transporting the rod, which is used in locating gas and oil deposits, as well as nascent world-domination plots, have been investigated and cleared by the FBI. Hey, it's an honest mistake that could've happened to anyone.

We're going to keep our eyes open, and we suggest you do the same.


Sportstalk Radio Gets Better
Two of the best team up.

Richard Connelly

There are a couple of great sports-talk radio hosts in town, guys who regularly rack up Best Of Houston® awards in the relevant categories.

Two of the top: Lance Zierlein and Charlie Pallilo.

Both are with KBME 790, and both have faced problems that have hampered their styles.

Pallilo is a nerdlinger stat freak; some cross him off as a know-it-all (a rival station sometimes runs ads subtly referring to him as a "douchebag"). He needs to bounce off a more informal co-host who can keep him grounded, such as when he was with Rich Lord on 610.

Zierlein, after a start-up move at KGOW didn't pan out (unfortunately; his pairing with John Granato was entertaining and informative), moved to KBME's morning show last year.

His problem — he's drowned out by the other two hosts, who fight cage-death battles trying to get their two cents in.

Neither of the shows shined as a result.

That's about to change, and it's hard to see how it will not be for the better: KBME has announced that Zierlein and Pallilo will be teaming up for an afternoon-drive show.

This should be good stuff — Zierlein can geek up the stats and history with the best of them, and Pallilo can be funny and riff in the right situation.

Score one for the listeners.

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