Baseball on KBAT, 680, AM, San Antonio, Texas in 1963-64

1963 Houston Colt .45s
1963 Houston Colt .45s

In June of 1963 my family moved from Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix, Arizona to Seguin, Texas. Seguin was thirty miles east of San Antonio and near my mother’s family. The reason we moved was my dad’s orders to go to South Vietnam for a one-year tour of duty. He would be there from August 1963 to August 1964.

If anything good came out of a year’s family separation, it was my getting my very own electric AM radio. Dad also got me a one-year subscription to The Sporting News Magazine and well as Baseball Magazine’s 1964 season preview magazine. It contained all the official records for the then twenty Major League Baseball teams.

When we moved to Sequin, Texas dad made sure I knew the Houston Colt .45s baseball team’s games were easily found on my radio. He found the game on KBAT, 680, AM, San Antonio, Texas. He put a spot on the radio dial using red fingernail polish in case I lost the station. That way I could dial it back in. It would be years before digital dials would be available on radios. He also gave me a copy of the Houston team’s schedule for 1964. I lived my life with the ball games being the focal point.

Gene Elston and Loel Passe were the radio announcers. I spent almost every night with them talking on my radio in August and September of 1963 and then again in April through September 1964.

Today baseball gets a bad rap for being slow in the age of video games and Sportscenter highlights. Baseball is not boring. I like to call baseball a talking sport. I love the stories the announcers tell between the ebb and flow of the game. The stories start during the pre-game broadcast. Many times they would begin with a story from baseball’s past, sharing the history of the game. Yes, they would do a preview of the day’s game before moving to the action. I would get excited as Loel and Gene would comment on Houston Manager Harry Craft taking out the line-up card and meeting to opposing manager. I always like it best when the Colts played the Los Angeles Dodgers. They would mention Walter Alston taking out the line-up card. They had Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

The pregame broadcast would be especially fun when the Colts played the Milwaukee Braves with Hank Aaron and Eddi Matthews. The Braves manager was Bobby Bragan. He was a southerner who later was president of the Texas League. Bobby Bragan could spin a yarn as good as anyone. His stories are still legendary.

Back in 1964 baseball games were only on television on Saturdays, so the radio was the window to the world. Gene and Loel could paint a picture with words. The grass was greener when they described it. The humidity in old Colt Stadium in Houston had me sweating 150 miles away.

The team wasn’t very good in 1964. It was a bunch of young kids and older players.  I didn’t care how bad they were. They were my team. Before the season ended manager Harry Craft was replaced by Luman Harris as manager. I still remember the players. Jerry Grote and John Bateman split the duties at catcher. Walt Bond played first base. He was the best offensive player on the team. At second base was an old Nellie Fox. The hall of fame would be in his future. It would be for his paly with the Chicago White Sox in the 1950s, not Houston. Eddie Kasko was at shortstop. I remembered him from his days with Cincinnati, third base was Bob Aspermonte, the outfield was Al Spangler, Jimmy Wynn and Joe Gaines. The pitchers were Bob Bruce, Turk Farrell, Ken Johnson, Don Nottebart and closer Hal Woodeshick.

Most games started at 7 PM and ended by 9 to 9:15 PM back then. I would sit on my bed reading the Baseball Magazine and The Sporting News while Gene and Loel told their never ending stories. That was the year I grew to love baseball. As a ten-year-old boy, there was nothing better. Television, playing with friends and everything else took a back seat to listening to the game on KBAT, 680, AM in San Antonio, Texas.

Listening to baseball on the radio was fun. It still is. I am listening to the New York Mets playing the Texas Rangers in the next to last exhibition game of the 2015 exhibition season as I type this story. No, I don’t have the game on the television. I am listening to it on the radio.

Baseball on KBAT, 680, AM, San Antonio, Texas in 1963-64

1963 Houston Colt .45s
1963 Houston Colt .45s

In June of 1963 my family moved from Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix, Arizona to Seguin, Texas. Seguin was thirty miles east of San Antonio and near my mother’s family. The reason we moved was my dad’s orders to go to South Vietnam for a one-year tour of duty. He would be there from August 1963 to August 1964.

If anything good came out of a year’s family separation, it was my getting my very own electric AM radio. Dad also got me a one-year subscription to The Sporting News Magazine and well as Baseball Magazine’s 1964 season preview magazine. It contained all the official records for the then twenty Major League Baseball teams.

When we moved to Sequin, Texas dad made sure I knew the Houston Colt .45s baseball team’s games were easily found on my radio. He found the game on KBAT, 680, AM, San Antonio, Texas. He put a spot on the radio dial using red fingernail polish in case I lost the station. That way I could dial it back in. It would be years before digital dials would be available on radios. He also gave me a copy of the Houston team’s schedule for 1964. I lived my life with the ball games being the focal point.

Gene Elston and Loel Passe were the radio announcers. I spent almost every night with them talking on my radio in August and September of 1963 and then again in April through September 1964.

Today baseball gets a bad rap for being slow in the age of video games and Sportscenter highlights. Baseball is not boring. I like to call baseball a talking sport. I love the stories the announcers tell between the ebb and flow of the game. The stories start during the pre-game broadcast. Many times they would begin with a story from baseball’s past, sharing the history of the game. Yes, they would do a preview of the day’s game before moving to the action. I would get excited as Loel and Gene would comment on Houston Manager Harry Craft taking out the line-up card and meeting to opposing manager. I always like it best when the Colts played the Los Angeles Dodgers. They would mention Walter Alston taking out the line-up card. They had Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

The pregame broadcast would be especially fun when the Colts played the Milwaukee Braves with Hank Aaron and Eddi Matthews. The Braves manager was Bobby Bragan. He was a southerner who later was president of the Texas League. Bobby Bragan could spin a yarn as good as anyone. His stories are still legendary.

Back in 1964 baseball games were only on television on Saturdays, so the radio was the window to the world. Gene and Loel could paint a picture with words. The grass was greener when they described it. The humidity in old Colt Stadium in Houston had me sweating 150 miles away.

The team wasn’t very good in 1964. It was a bunch of young kids and older players.  I didn’t care how bad they were. They were my team. Before the season ended manager Harry Craft was replaced by Luman Harris as manager. I still remember the players. Jerry Grote and John Bateman split the duties at catcher. Walt Bond played first base. He was the best offensive player on the team. At second base was an old Nellie Fox. The hall of fame would be in his future. It would be for his paly with the Chicago White Sox in the 1950s, not Houston. Eddie Kasko was at shortstop. I remembered him from his days with Cincinnati, third base was Bob Aspermonte, the outfield was Al Spangler, Jimmy Wynn and Joe Gaines. The pitchers were Bob Bruce, Turk Farrell, Ken Johnson, Don Nottebart and closer Hal Woodeshick.

Most games started at 7 PM and ended by 9 to 9:15 PM back then. I would sit on my bed reading the Baseball Magazine and The Sporting News while Gene and Loel told their never ending stories. That was the year I grew to love baseball. As a ten-year-old boy, there was nothing better. Television, playing with friends and everything else took a back seat to listening to the game on KBAT, 680, AM in San Antonio, Texas.

Listening to baseball on the radio was fun. It still is. I am listening to the New York Mets playing the Texas Rangers in the next to last exhibition game of the 2015 exhibition season as I type this story. No, I don’t have the game on the television. I am listening to it on the radio.

March 14, 2014

Jack Ruby
Jack Ruby

This Day in Texas History:

It is Friday March 14, 2014. It is the 73rd day of 2014. There are 292 days left in the year. It was 50 years ago today that Jack Ruby was convicted of the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. Less than four months earlier, back on November 24, 1963, Ruby had shot and killed Oswald. Lee Harvey Oswald was the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. The shooting took place on live national television in the basement of the Dallas City Jail.

I find it amazing that the trial and conviction happened so quickly – less than four months after the crime. Most people don’t know the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Jack Ruby’s conviction. Mr. Ruby was awaiting a retrial when he died in prison in 1967. Ruby always denied he was part of a conspiracy. He stated until his death that he shot Oswald on impulse from grief and outrage over his concern for Jackie and the kids, referring to President Kennedy’s widow.

My Memories:

I was living at 803 Jefferson Avenue in Seguin, Texas when John Kennedy was assassinated. I was a fifth grade student at Jefferson Avenue Elementary School. I saw Ruby shoot Oswalt. It was craziness on television and the world felt out of control to me. My father was in South Vietnam at the time. He was in the United States Air Force. We were proud that Texas Lyndon Johnson was the new president as we had no doubt he could lead the country and protect us from the Soviet Union. Mostly, I remember being sad about the entire assassination.

Photo Credit: Image can be found at http://www.history-matters.com/archive/archive_holdings.htm Originated from the report of the Warren Commission a US Government report. From WH Vol.18 p.32, detail. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code. See Copyright.