By Bill McCaughey
For the Fort Bend Star
Over the weekend, the Sugar Land Skeeters took two out of three games from the division leading York Revolution leaving them three games behind the Revolution.
This week the Skeeters head east to play a three game series with the Lancaster Barnstormers and three games with the New Britain Bees. The Skeeters 2-5 against the Barnstormers so far this season and are 3-4 against the Bees.
There are 27 games left in the first half of the season and the Skeeters are three games behind the division leader York Revolution and a half game behind the second place Barnstormers. The division winner of each of the first and second halves of the season go to the playoffs. The Skeeters end the first half with a four-game series with the Revolution at Constellation Field on July 7-10.
Turn Back the Clock
Friday night was Turn Back the Clock Night at Constellation Field. The Skeeters wore throwback jerseys with the Imperials name on the jersey. The Imperials name was used to honor historic baseball in Sugar Land.
Members of the vintage team Houston Babies were present at the game wearing their throwback jerseys. The real Houston Babies were a predecessor of the Houston Buffaloes and began play in 1888 in the Texas League. The nickname came from their being the last team to join the new league. The Babies played their first game against the Cincinnati Red Stockings on March 6, 1888. Unfortunately, the Babies didn’t survive their first season as they folded in September 1888.
The Skeeters honored seven alumni of Negro League teams in Texas before the game. Honored were:
Everett (Ebb) Turner, a shortstop for the Houston Sluggers, San Antonio Red Birds, San Antonio Indians and the San Antonio Black Sox from 1948 to 1964.
A.D. Carpenter, a third baseman who played from 1939 to 1950 for the San Antonio Black Missions, San Antonio Black Sox, and San Antonio Indians.
David (Skip) Harris played centerfield from 1962 to 1967 for the San Antonio Bombers and the Atlanta Braves minor league organization.
Lawrence (Didney) Johnson was a shortstop from 1962 to 1979 for the San Antonio Bombers and managed the San Antonio Black Sox.
Lawrence (Fireball) Tucker pitched from 1966 to 1976 for the Kenwood Outlaws, San Antonio Black Sox and San Antonio Yankees.
Travis Darden played centerfield from 1951 to 1961 for the San Antonio Ramblers and Austin Palominos.
Joseph “Lefty” Vaughn played first base and pitched for the Wheatley Heights All Stars and the San Antonio Indians from 1953 to 1969.
Vaughn said the teams were paid from the ticket sales proceeds.
“The winning team was to get 60 percent of the proceeds and the losing team would get the remaining 40 percent, but most of the time, the money had disappeared by the time the game ended, so we ended up playing for nothing. I remember one game when I was 16 years old when we got enough money to buy a case of beer, so I started drinking beer when I was 16.”
“My father was a baseball manager so I started playing when I was nine years old against the adult players,” Carpenter said.
All of the players had day jobs so they always drove back to San Antonio after night games during the week.
“We would change into our uniforms in our cars as we drove to the games,” said Vaughn. “The ball fields were just cow pastures with bases placed on them.”
Skeeter of the Week
The Fort Bend Star Skeeter of the Week is Jeremy Barfield. Barfield was 9 for 24 for a .375 batting average, with three doubles and four RBIs. Roy Merritt was second, pitching 12 innings with a 2.25 earned run average.
The Skeeters released three pitchers last week, Bryan Morgado, Barrett Loux, and Raul Rivera. They signed Ryan Mattheus, a 12-year veteran of professional baseball. This season Ryan pitched for Louisville in the International League. He appeared in six games and had a 6.47 era.