Game One

Wsg1lambkThe biggest stories coming out of game one are Clemens hammy, the Sox bullpen and the Astros failure to hit in the " clutch." It’s probably too early to know if Roger will be able to take the ball in game 5. Given the nature of that injury, and the way it has lingered, I’m not optimistic. The question before last night’s game was will the Sox pen benfit from all that rest or would they be rusty from the lay-off. Well, I didn’t see a whole lot of rust. Cotts was outstanding, and Jenks was humping it up there at triple digits. The Angels have to be kicking themselves for letting that big horse get away. The Astro hitters will get blistered for not coming through in the clutch.  The reality is, they had some pretty good at bats with nothing to show for it. Most notably in the 6th. After the Taveras lead-off double, Berkman hit a screamer to first advancing the runner to third with one out. So,that has to be considered a productive at bat. Ensberg followed with a bullet to third, where Joe Crede channeled Brooks Robinson or was it Patrick Roy, as he did again with Biggio hitting in the seventh. The third out in the sixth was another well hit ball by Mike Lamb.However, you can’t let the hitters off the hook completely. The stikeouts by Ensberg and Lamb in the eighth with runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs and one out respectively were critical. It’s funny how quickly things change in a short series. A win tonight and the Asros become the favorite. If they lose, they become decided underdogs and would probably have to win all three at Minute Maid.


You and Larry Anderson once autographed my son’s glove. That was a special day for him.

I wish you could take the time to read this article by Mickey Herskowitz and then tell the current Astros they need to “Win it for the Turk.” Especially Brad Lidge, God Bless him. He needs to read this.

When they were still the Colt .45s, Turk Farrell was my favorite.


Bob Blumrick



Date: FRI 03/04/05

Section: SPORTS

Page: 1

Edition: 3 STAR

Reflecting fondly on an old Turk



A reader with a long memory spotted a headline the other day that referred to “Turk ‘s antics,” and what immediately jumped to mind, he said, was “Farrell .”

Actually, the reference was to Turk Wendell, the Astros’ latest righthanded relief veteran, who is not considered an infant at 37 but wasn’t born when Richard “Turk ” Farrell was endearing himself to the first generation of Houston fans.

Offhand, we are not familiar with the zanier moments of Wendell’s career. But when it comes to Farrell , our cup runneth over.

Pitcher had a gun

In the team’s first spring training, in a remote zit in the Arizona desert called Apache Junction, the original Turk toted a .22 pistol to the ballpark. He strolled from the hotel across a vacant field of cactus and sagebrush, shooting snakes and beer cans as he made his way.

He enlivened one spring camp in Cocoa, after the club switched to Florida, by planting a young but very alive cobra in another player’s foot locker. It was hard not to laugh when a dozen or so Astros came running and screaming out of the clubhouse.

But Farrell wasn’t just a practical joker. He had a serious if goofy side when it came to the job of pitching. It was Farrell who once boasted of throwing a spitter to the great Stan Musial and who retaliated against the Giants by knocking down the great Willie Mays.

“What?” he said later, innocently. “It’s OK for somebody to knock down John Bateman (a light-hitting Astros catcher, as most of them were) but not Willie Mays?”

Well, yeah, Turk , there was a difference.

Farrell was Houston’s best pitcher in the early years of the franchise and viewed proudly his record of losing 20 games in the team’s first season. “You have to be good to lose 20,” he said, with logic, “or the manager wouldn’t keep sending you out there.”

A man who used his head

In that more romantic time, the strapping righthander had a drive lined off his forehead by Henry Aaron in Atlanta. This is the same Hank Aaron who succeeded Babe Ruth as baseball’s home run king.

There was a stunned silence in the stands as the crowd waited for Farrell to keel over, as any normal person would have done. But Turk merely called time and paced around the pitcher’s mound while the umpire inspected the ball, which should have been as flat as a tortilla.

A knot appeared instantly on Farrell ‘s forehead, but he stayed in the game and went on to get the loss. The recollection here is that the ball ricocheted into the outfield, but Aaron was held to a single.

Farrell didn’t enjoy losing and never grew accustomed to it, but he understood the consequences of pitching for really bad teams. Once, when the Astros’ staff had been depleted by injuries, he volunteered to work in relief in both ends of a doubleheader.

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished, and he was rewarded that day with a defeat in each game. Then he complained to Gene Elston, the Astros’ broadcaster, for not selecting him as the player of the day on the postgame show.

Once, when Turk beat the Mets in a game that went well into extra innings and finished at one in the morning, he thumped his chest in the locker room and yelled: “I told you nobody beats Farrell after midnight!”

One of his charms was the fact he never read a newspaper, but he managed to stay informed. After the incident with Mays, he confided, almost shyly, “The boys told me my quotes were real good.”

But on another day, they told him falsely that he had been ripped in a story on the previous night’s outing. “And if it happens again,” he warned, “I’m going to tell my wife to cancel our prescription to the paper.”

He was a hardheaded Irishman, a power pitcher who did not become a starter until 1962, the year he dropped 20 in Houston. Up to now, every word that appears here has sprung from the top of my head, without benefit of notes or what is known in the trade as “fact checking.” But curious, I looked up his record that year in the Baseball Encyclopedia. He struck out 203 batters in 241 2/3 innings and posted an ERA of 3 .02. He also logged 10 or more victories in four of his five full seasons in Houston, pitching for teams that never won half their games.

Always a colorful and sometimes gentle presence, Turk spent 14 years in the majors. He never made big money and later worked on an oil rig off the coast of England. I received a letter from him in the summer of 1977 with a sentimental request: “Put my name in the paper … so my fans won’t forget me.”

Sadly, his name had made the sports page a few days before the letter arrived. He had been killed in a car wreck outside an English country town, driving on the wrong side of the road.

Copyright notice: All materials in this archive are copyrighted by Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspapers Partnership, L.P., or its news and feature syndicates and wire services. No materials may be directly or indirectly published, posted to Internet and intranet distribution channels, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed in any medium. Neither these materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use.

I have but one lamp wait which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. Do you think so? jordan

To make good use of life one should have in youth the experience of advanced years, and in old age the vigor of youth. Do you think so?

So how do the Astros look this year? Do you think they’ll be competitive? I used to watch the Astros all the time when Ryan was pitching. Tim,

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