2005 WORLD SERIES PROBABLE PITCHERS (Records listed are regular season/postseason)

Game 3 at Houston: JON GARLAND (18-10, 3.50/1-0, 2.00) vs. ROY OSWALT (20-12, 2.94/3-0, 2.11)

Game 4 at Houston: FREDDY GARCIA (14-8, 3.87/2-0, 3.21) vs. BRANDON BACKE (10-8, 4.76/0-0, 4.91)

TUESDAY'S PRE-GAME EVENTS:

ON-FIELD PERFORMANCE: The new song, Heart of America, will be performed by Eric Benet, Michael McDonald, Wynonna Judd, Terry Dexter, and the Full Gospel Choir of New Orleans. The song was inspired by the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It will be performed as part of a special pre-game show highlighting the efforts of Major League Baseball to support Habitat for Humanity International and its Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts.

FIRST PITCH: Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, who now is a Special Assistant to Astros General Manager Tim Purpura

STAR SPANGLED BANNER: Grammy award winner Michael McDonald

GOD BLESS AMERICA: Four-time Grammy recipient and R&B singer Aaron Neville

2005 WORLD SERIES RESULTS AND SCHEDULE

GAMEDAY/DATESITE/RESULTSW/L PITCHER/ATT
1Saturday, Oct. 22@Chicago 5, Houston 3WP-Contreras/LP-Rodriguez/41,206
2Sunday, Oct. 23@Chicago 7, Houston 6WP-Cotts/LP-Lidge/41,432
 Monday, Oct. 24OFF DAY 
3Tuesday, Oct. 25Minute Maid Park7:38 p.m. CDT
4Wednesday, Oct. 26Minute Maid Park7:33 p.m. CDT
*5Thursday, Oct. 27Minute Maid Park7:28 p.m. CDT
 Friday, Oct. 28OFF DAY 
*6Saturday, Oct. 29U.S. Cellular Field7:58 p.m. CDT
*7Sunday, Oct. 30U.S. Cellular Field8:13 p.m. CDT

*If Necessary

DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS: In its 44th year of hosting Major League Baseball, the State of Texas will be the site of its first World Series game tonight. The Houston franchise made its debut as a National League expansion team in 1962, and the Washington Senators moved to Arlington ten years later and became the Texas Rangers.

Texas becomes the 15th different state to host a World Series game, the 1st new state to join the list since Arizona in 2001. In addition to the 15 states, the fall classic has been played in Ontario, Canada and the District of Columbia. The numbers by state:

188-New York
59--Missouri
57-California
57-Pennsylvania
42-Illinois
41-Ohio
38-Massachusetts
28-Michigan
17--Maryland
14--Georgia
12--Minnesota
10--Wisconsin
10-Washington, D.C.
7--Florida
6-Ontario, Canada
4-Arizona

Two states which have major league teams have never hosted the fall classic, Colorado and Washington.

POPULATION CORRELATION: With tonight's game in Texas, the World Series will have been played in each of the nine most populated states in the U.S.:

Pop. RankState
1California
2TEXAS
3New York
4Florida
6Pennsylvania
7Ohio
8Michigan
9Georgia
5Illinois


The highest populated state that has never hosted a World Series game is New Jersey, which ranks 10th. The state with the current lowest total population that has hosted the fall classic is Minnesota, which ranks 21st.

2-0 LEADS: Chicago is the 50th team to win the 1st two games of a World Series, the 2nd straight and the 15th time in the last 20 fall classics starting in 1985. The exceptions in this span were 1992, 1993, 1997, 2002, and 2003.

Of the 49 previous times that a team has gone up 2-0, 38 have gone on to capture the World Championship. That has occurred on each of the last five occasions (Yankees in 1998-99-2000; Arizona in 2001; Boston in 2004) and 11 of the last 12 times, the exception being Atlanta in 1996. The Braves won the 1st two games at Yankee Stadium but dropped the next four contests.

A 3-0 ADVANTAGE: Of the previous 49 clubs that have started a Series, 21 have also won the 3rd game. That has been the case three of the last five times (Yankees in 1998 and 1999; Red Sox in 2004) but on just six of 20 occasions beginning 1971. In all six instances, the team going up, 3-0 has gone on to sweep the Series: Reds in 1976 and 1990; A's in 1989; Yankees in 1998 and 1999; and Red Sox in 2004. All 21 teams starting 3-0 have won the World Championship, 18 in four games.

HOME TEAMS which have taken a 2-0 lead have won the Series on 26 of 33 occasions entering 2005, including the last 10 times it has occurred. Boston accomplished that feat in 2004. The last time the home team started 2-0 and lost a Series was 1981, when the Yankees defeated the Dodgers in Games 1 and 2 in New York but lost in six games.

Of the 33 times that a home team has won the 1st two games, that team is 12-21 in Game 3, losing four of the last six. Of the 12 times it has been victorious, it has gone one to sweep the Series ten time

COMING BACK FROM 0-2 ON THE ROAD: A team has lost the 1st two games of the World Series on the road and come back to be crowned World champs seven times but not since the Dodgers in 1981:

TEAMS LOSING FIRST TWO GAMES ON THE ROAD AND WINNING WORLD SERIES

YearTeamOpponentGame 3Series
1955BrooklynNew York (AL)W, 8-3W, 4-3
1956New York (AL)BrooklynW, 5-3W, 4-3
1958New York (AL)MilwaukeeW, 4-0W, 4-3
1965Los AngelesMinnesotaW, 4-0W, 4-3
1971PittsburghBaltimoreW, 5-1W, 4-3
1978New York (AL)Los AngelesW, 5-1W, 4-2
1981Los AngelesNew York (AL)W, 5-4W, 4-2


THE WHITE SOX have taken a 2-0 lead in the World Series for the 2nd time in club history. The only other instance was in 1917, when the Pale Hose won the 1st two contests at Comiskey Park over the Giants, lost the next two games in New York, and then went on to win their last world title in six games. In four previous World Series Game 3's, the White Sox are 2-2, winning at the Cubs in 1906, losing at the Giants in 1917, winning over the Reds at home in 1919, and losing at the Dodgers in 1959.

CHISOX IN THIS POSTSEASON: Chicago is 9-1 in this postseason, winning its last six games since dropping the opener of the ALCS vs. Los Angeles. The Pale Hose was 3-0 in the Division Series vs. Boston and 4-1 in the ALCS before winning the 1st two games of this Series. Since the advent of the Division Series in 1995, only two other teams have started a postseason with nine wins in 10 games, Atlanta in 1995 and the Yankees in 1999. New York is the only team to start a postseason at 10-1 en route to an 11-1 final postseason mark and the World title.

Prior to Boston winning the final seven games of the 2004 postseason, the last team to win more than six consecutive contests in a single postseason was the New York Yankees in 1998, last three games of the ALCS and all four World Series contests.

ROAD WINS: The White Sox are 4-0 on the road in this postseason, winning Game 3 of the Division Series in Boston and Games 3, 4, and 5 of the ALCS in Anaheim. The Red Sox won their final four postseason road games in 2004, Games 6 and 7 of the ALCS at New York and Games 3 and 4 of the World Series in St. Louis.

The Pale Hose are 7-6 on the road in 13 career World Series games. Chicago won its last World Series away contest as Bob Shaw defeated Sandy Koufax, 1-0 on October 6, 1959, Game 6 at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

THE ASTROS have lost consecutive games for the 1st time in this postseason. Houston is 4-1 at Minute Maid Park in this postseason, winning its 1st four games (Game 3-4 of DS vs. Atlanta; Games 3-4 of LCS vs. St. Louis) before losing Game 5 of the LCS to the Cardinals.

OPEN AND SHUT: Minute Maid Park is the third ballpark with a retractable roof to host a World Series Game. SkyDome in Toronto was the site of Games 3-4-5 vs. Atlanta in 1992 and of Games 1-2-6 against Philadelphia in 1993. The roof was closed for all six of those contests. Games 1-2-6-7 in 2001 were played at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix between the Diamondbacks and Yankees. The roof was open for all four games.

The only other World Series games to be played indoors were at the Metrodome in Minnesota, Game 1-2-6-7 in both 1987 and 1991.

WALK-OFF WINNER: SCOTT PODSEDNIK hit the 14th walk-off home run in World Series history on Sunday night:

PlayerTeamDateInning
Tommy HeinrichNew York (AL)10/5/49-19
Dusty RhodesNew York (NL)9/29/54-110
Eddie MathewsMilwaukee10/6/57-410
Bill MazeroskiPittsburgh10/13/60-79-LAST GAME OF SERIES
Mickey MantleNew York (AL)10/10/64-39
Carlton FiskBoston10/21/75-612
Kirk GibsonLos Angeles10/15/88-19
Mark McGwireOakland10/18/88-39
Kirby PuckettMinnesota10/26/91-611
Joe CarterToronto10/23/93-69-LAST GAME OF SERIES
Chad CurtisNew York (AL)10/26/99-310
Derek JeterNew York (AL)10/31/01-410
Alex GonzalezFlorida10/22/03-412
SCOTT PODSEDNIKChicago (AL)10/23/05-29


THAT BLAST was Podsednik's 2nd homer of this postseason (Game 1 of DS) after he had none in 507 regular season at bats. Of the players with walk-off Series homers, Chad Curtis had the previous fewest regular season hrs, with 5 in 1999.

COOPERSTOWN BOUND: Podsednik has donated the bat that he used to hit Sunday's game-winning homer to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY. The White Sox flyhawk hails from West, Texas, which is located about 200 northwest of Houston.

WALK-OFF WIN: Sunday was the White Sox' 2nd lifetime walk-off victory in a postseason game, the other being Game 2 of this year's ALCS vs. Los Angeles. Overall, it was the 54th game in World Series history that did not end with an out. That last one was October 22, 2003, Game 4 when Alex Gonzalez won the game for Florida with a 12th inning home run.

...AND WALK-OFF LOSS: Sunday marked the 5th time that the Astros have lost a postseason game in walk-off fashion: 1986 NLCS, Games 3 and 5 at New York; 2004 DS, Game 2 at Atlanta; and 2004 NLCS, Game 6 at St. Louis.

SERVING UP GO-AHEAD HOMERS: Brad Lidge has allowed a go-ahead homer in the 9th inning in each of his last two appearances of this postseason. In addition to Sunday night, the Astros righthander served up a three-run homer in the top of the 9th to Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the NLCS on October 17, turning a 4-2 lead into a 5-4 deficit.

In postseason history two other pitchers have issued two go-ahead homers in the 9th inning or later in a single postseason: TOM NIEDENFUER of Los Angeles in 1985 (Game 5 of NLCS, bottom of 9th to Ozzie Smith at St. Louis and Game 6 of NLCS, top of 9th to Jack Clark at Los Angeles) and DAN MICELI of Houston in 2004 (Game 2 of DS, bottom of 11th to Rafael Furcal at Atlanta and Game 6 of NLCS, bottom of 12th to Jim Edmonds at St. Louis).

TONIGHT'S STARTERS:

JON GARLAND makes his World Series debut and just his 2nd start of this postseason. The righthander pitched a four-hit complete game in his postseason debut in Game 3 of the ALCS at Los Angeles, issuing two runs with seven strikeouts. Tonight marks just his 2nd appearance in the last 24 days since winning his final regular season start on October 1 in Cleveland.

FEW STARTS: The one start by Garland in the first two rounds is the fewest of any pitcher starting in a World Series in that same season since Florida's CARL PAVANO in 2003. Pavano's only start in the 1st two rounds came in Game 6 of the NLCS vs. the Cubs before a Game 4 World Series start vs. New York. Pavano did make several relief appearances in that span.

The last time a pitcher had just one appearance, that being a start, in the 1st two rounds of the postseason and made his 1st outings in the Series as a starter was in 1999, The Yankees David Cone started Game 2 of the ALCS vs. Boston, his only outing before a Game 2 World Series start at Atlanta.

ROY OSWALT will be on the mound tonight for his 4th start of the 2005 postseason. The righthander has won all three of his previous outings with a 2.11 era, 7-3 in Game 3 of the DS vs. Atlanta (7.1 ip, h, 3 r-er); 4-1 in Game 2 of the NLCS at St. Louis (7 ip, 5 h, 1 r-er); and 5-1 in the 6th and deciding game of the NLCS at Busch Stadium (7 ip, 3 h, 1 r-er).

Oswalt is 4-0, 3.10 (14 er/40.2 ip) in seven games/six starts in his postseason career.

WINS IN POSTSEASON: With a victory on Tuesday, Oswalt would become the 11th pitcher to post at least four wins in a single postseason:

WinsPitcherTeamYearSeries
5Randy JohnsonArizona20012 LCS; 3 WS*
5Francisco RodriguezAnaheim20022 DS; 2 LCS; 1 WS**
4Burt HootonLos Angeles19811 DS; 2 LCS; 1 WS
4Dave StewartOakland19892 LCS; 2 WS
4Jack MorrisMinnesota19912 LCS; 2 WS
4Orel HershiserCleveland19951 DS; 2 LCS; 1 WS
4John SmoltzAtlanta19961 DS; 2 LCS; 1 WS
4Livan HernandezFlorida19972 LCS; 2 WS
4David WellsNew York (AL)19981 DS; 2 LCS; 1 WS
4Curt SchillingArizona20011 DS; 1 LCS; 1 WS

*One win in relief
**All 5 wins in relief

20-GAME WINNER: Oswalt is the 7th 20-game winner from a National League team to start a World Series game in the same season in the last 20 years (beginning 1986):

YearPitcherTeamYearPitcherTeam
1988Orel HershiserLos Angeles1996John SmoltzAtlanta
1991Tom GlavineAtlanta2001Randy JohnsonArizona
1992Tom GlavineAtlanta2001Curt SchillingArizona


BULLPEN FIGURES: Chicago has posted a 4.50 era (2 er/4 ip) in the 1st two games of this Series. The bullpen era for Houston is 7.56 (7 er/8.1 ip).

A RELIEF FIRST: With Wandy Rodriguez and Brad Lidge taking the losses in the Games 1 and 2, this marks the 1st time in history that a team has lost the 1st two games of a World Series with relievers taking both losses. The last team to have at least two relief losses in one WS was the Yankees in 2003, Jeff Weaver in Game 4 and Jose Contreras in Game 5 at Florida.

A NEW LINEUP: Unless Carl Everett is a late addition as the White Sox starting pitcher tonight, Chicago will have a different batting order for the 1st time in this postseason. Chicago's ten straight games in one postseason with the same batting order is the longest such streak in history. The Toronto Blue Jays went six straight games (all ALCS) in 1992 with the same lineup, the longest previous streak.

PAUL KONERKO has 15 rbi in his ten postseason games, four of the all-time rbi mark for a single postseason:

PLAYERS WITH 16 OR MORE RBI IN A SINGLE POSTSEASON

RBIPlayerTeamYearGames
19Sandy Alomar, Jr.Cleveland199718
19Scott SpiezioAnaheim200216
19David OrtizBoston200414
17John ValentinBoston199910
17Rich AuriliaSan Francisco200217
17Ivan RodriguezFlorida200317
16Barry BondsSan Francisco200217
16Benito SantiagoSan Francisco200217
16Fred McGriffAtlanta199615

Konerko also has five homers in this postseason. The record is eight, by Barry Bonds in 2002.

CHISOX SLAM: Konerko's grand slam on Sunday was the 18th in World Series history, 1st ever for a White Sox player:

PlayerTeamDate/GameInning
Elmer SmithCleveland10/10/20-51
Tony LazzeriNew York (AL)10/2/36-23
Gil McDougaldNew York (AL)10/9/51-53
Mickey MantleNew York (AL)10/4/53-53
Yogi BerraNew York (AL)10/5/56-22
Bill SkowronNew York (AL)10/10/56-77
Bobby RichardsonNew York (AL)10/8/60-31
Chuck HillerSan Francisco10/8/62-47
Ken BoyerSt. Louis10/11/64-46
Joe PepitoneNew York (AL)10/14/64-68
Jim NorthrupDetroit10/9/68-63
Dave McNallyBaltimore10/13/70-36
Dan GladdenMinnesota10/17/87-14
Kent HrbekMinnesota10/24/87-66
Jose CansecoOakland10/15/88-12
Lonnie SmithAtlanta10/22/92-55
Tino MartinezNew York (AL)10/17/98-17
PAUL KONERKOChicago (AL)10/23/04-27


LANCE BERKMAN is Houston's leader with 13 rbi in this postseason. He has driven in five runs in the 1st two games of this Series, the most by a player in the 1st two contests of a fall classic since 1996, when Andruw Jones (5 in Game 1; 0 in Game 2) and Fred McGriff (2 in Game 1; 3 in Game 2) both accomplished the feat for Atlanta.

FORMER PRESIDENT FODDER: The 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, attended all three games of the NLCS here in Houston. Former Presidents who have attended World Series Games include Jimmy Carter (Atlanta). Former President Bush never attended a World Series game while in office but Barbara Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 2 of the 1990 Series in Cincinnati while she was First Lady.

Copious research has uncovered the following: President Bush would be the 1st former President who is the father of a sitting U.S. President to attend a World Series game. The nation's 2nd President, John Adams never attended a World Series game during the term of his son, the nation's 6th President John Quincy Adams, who served from 1825-29. The elder President Adams died on July 4, 1826. In addition, the 1st World Series game was not played for another 78 years.

WEDNESDAY'S PRE-GAME EVENTS:

FIRST PITCH: Hall of Fame pitching great Juan Marichal will make the toss to 10-time Gold Glove recipient Ivan Rodriguez

STAR SPANGLED BANNER: Grammy award winner Jon Secada

GOD BLESS AMERICA: Grammy recipient and Texas native Lyle Lovett

DELIVERING THE FIRST PITCH: Prior to every World Series Game, one youth from a local chapter of Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) in the host city will deliver the game ball to the mound. Tonight the first pitch ball will be delivered by Texas Southern University freshman Jason Phillips, an alumnus of the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Metro Houston.

CLEMENTE AWARD PRESENTATION TONIGHT: The annual Roberto Clemente Award presented by Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig at a press conference prior to tonight's Game 3 of the 2005 World Series. The press conference will take place in the interview room at Minute Maid Park at approximately 6:15 p.m. CDT. The Roberto Clemente Award is presented each year to the Major League Baseball player who combines outstanding baseball skills with devoted work in the community.

HANK AARON AWARD PRESENTATIONS: The 2005 Hank Aaron Awards Presented by CENTURY 21 will be announced at a press conference on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. in the Interview Room at Minute Maid Park. Commissioner Bud Selig, all-time home run king Hank Aaron, and John Greenleaf, Sr. Vice President of Marketing for CENTURY 21 Real Estate Corporation, will make the presentations of the awards, which began in 1999 and are given to the top offensive performers in each league.

BBWAA MEETING: The annual meeting of the Baseball Writers of America will take place on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. in the interview room at Minute Maid Park.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, CHEVROLET TO UNVEIL THE ALL-TIME LATINO TEAM PRIOR TO GAME FOUR OF 2005 WORLD SERIES

Academy Award Nominee Edward James Olmos to Emcee Pre-Game Ceremony Live on FOX

Major League Baseball (MLB) and Chevrolet, the official vehicle of Major League Baseball, will unveil the "Chevrolet presents the Major League Baseball Latino Legends Team," prior to Game Four of the 2005 World Series. Academy Award nominee, Edward James Olmos will emcee the pre-game ceremony which will recognize the 12 players selected by the fans to the "Chevrolet Presents the Major League Baseball Latino Legends Team." The festivities will be televised live to viewers in the United States by FOX Sports on Wednesday, October 26 at 8:00 p.m. EDT and to viewers around the globe by MLB International and its rightsholders.

The "Chevrolet presents the Major League Baseball Latino Legends Team" program was created to commemorate the storied history and immense contribution that players of Latin American heritage have made to Major League Baseball. As part of the program, a special ballot was created that featured 60 Latino players representing seven different countries and territories. Representatives of Major League Baseball and the editorial staff at MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, selected the current and former Latino MLB players who appeared on the ballot. In addition, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum provided statistical research services for the program.

From August 29 through October 10, fans were able to vote via English and Spanish ballots in participating Chevy dealerships nationwide, or online at MLB.com. Chevy supported the program with special ballot boxes and program themed point-of-sale materials in participating Chevy dealerships.

The final "Chevrolet presents the Major League Baseball Latino Legends Team" selected by the fans consists of eight position players, one at each infield position and three outfielders, three starting pitchers and one rehlief pitcher.

As the presenting sponsor of the "Major League Baseball Latino Legends Team," Chevy launched an exciting sweepstakes which will give one lucky fan a trip for four to Game Four of the 2005 World Series and behind the scenes access to the official unveiling of the team. Fans entered the sweepstakes through the paper ballot available at participating dealerships and online at MLB.com.

WORLD SERIES SHORTS: NEAL COTTS recorded the 1st decision by the White Sox bullpen in this postseason with his win on Sunday...All nine White Sox starters hit safely in Game 2, the 1st time that all nine players in a WS starting lineup have produced at least one hit since San Francisco on October 20, 2002, Game 2 vs. Anaheim.

HISTORY OF BASEBALL IN TEXAS: Below is a brief history of baseball in the State of Texas, written by Dr. Bill McCurdy, a Houston resident and Board President & Executive Director of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. The 2005 class to the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame includes former Astros players Bob Aspromonte and Joe Niekro and Astros Senior Vice President, Ballpark Operations & Customer Service Rob Matwick.

A Brief History of Baseball in Texas
By Bill McCurdy
Board President & Executive Director, Texas Baseball Hall of Fame

The State of Texas is viewed nationally as a football territory that only recently discovered the great game of baseball with the coming of major league baseball to Houston in 1962. - Nothing could be further from the historical truth. - In spite of football's current popularity in the state, there was an ancient time in which baseball was king.

How far back to we have to go to find baseball germinating in Texas? - Try the start of the Civil War. - The Houston Base Ball Club was formed in 1861 to promote the playing of baseball locally in much the manner that Alexander Cartwright and others started the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club in Manhattan during the 1840's. - The movement was interrupted briefly by a little event now remembered as The Civil War, but it soon picked up again upon that great struggle's end.

On April 21, 1868, the first record of a local base ball game was recorded by the Houston Post. At the San Jacinto

Battlegrounds near Houston, where General Sam Houston led Texas to victory in the War for Independece from Mexico in 1836, a base ball game was played on the anniversary of the date now celebrated as Texas Independence Day. - In another obvious rout that would rival the outcome of the original battle on that same site, the Houston Stonewalls blew away the Galveston Robert E. Lees by a score of 35-2.

Base ball spread throughout the state over the next two decades as a popular amateur game in other cities and small towns. The seed of that influence may have spread from the cradle of Houston's attention to organizing the sport, but it probably was influenced also by those who learned the game from their Civil War travels - and from new immigrants to Texas during the Reconstruction Era who already knew the game. - If there's an explanation for Houston's earlier start, it may be linked to the fact that Houston was founded in the 1850s by the Allen Brothers of New York - the early hotbed of base ball infancy. - That thought is conjectural, but one worthy of further research.

This much is fact. - By the 1880s, the spread of professional "baseball" had brought the two words together and the popularity of baseball had taken off like a brushfire in Texas. Houston was a founding member of the Texas League in 1888 - and they won their first league pennant the following year. For whatever reason, perhaps it was simply a misguided note of celebration for their new club's infancy, the first local professional baseball club started out as the Houston Babies. - The nickname quickly went through several changes, but, by 1907, it became the Houston Buffalos or Houston Buffs and it remained so for the balance of this city's long and rich minor league baseball history (1888-1961).

Speaking of 1907. here's an interesting footnote. A talented young outfielder for the Houston Buffalos won the Texas League batting title that year with a batting average of .314. His name was Tris Speaker.

Through the first three decades of the 20th century, the passion for baseball in small Texas towns was starting to produce big league caliber, and sometimes, future Hall of Fame level players. Tris Speaker of Hubbard, Rogers Hornsby of Winters, and Ross Youngs of Shiner stand out as future Cooperstown members from the then all-white ranks of professional baseball, but they were not alone as significant early Texas stars. - Forced into the shadows of segregated play by the racist zeitgeist of that period in American culture, native Texas blacks began to distinguish themselves also as true baseball pioneers. - Andrew "Rube" Foster, a great black baseball pitcher may may well have taught Christy Mathewson how to throw his famous fadeaway ball, became even more important as the founder of the Negro National League in 1920. - Smokey Joe Williams of Seguin became the legendary Negro League pitcher who may have been better than Satchel Paige. - Shortstop Willie Wells of Austin, pitcher Hilton Smith of Giddings, Rube's younger brother, and pitcher Bill Foster of Calvert all followed and made their own marks. In justice over time, each of these five Texas Negro League stars eventually would be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

By the early 1920s, Houston and the Texas League were well established and drawing strong local support. This fact was not lost upon Branch Rickey, the boy genius general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, who was busy developing a minor league farm system that would propel his club to their first World Series victory in 1926 - and launch the Cardinals on the road to becoming the most successful club in National League history.

At Rickey's urging, the Cardinals bought the Houston Buffalos franchise in 1924. - By 1928, Rickey had built an 11,000 seat stadium in Houston to accomodate the larger crowds he expected for the talented players that the Cardinals were farming to Houston. - Buff Stadium sort of resembled a junior version of Sportsman's Park in St. Louis - but without the outfield pavilion seating. Rickey attended the first game ever played in the shiny new Buff Stadium on April 11. 1928 and he was accompanied by Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. When asked for his opinion of Buff Stadium by the Houston Post, Commissioner Landis proclaimed it to be "The finest minor league baseball park in America.

It didn't take long for Rickey to fulfill his promise to Houston. - 1931 stands out as the year of the arguably greatest club in Houston minor league history. - The Buffs ran away with the Texas League title that year - and they were helped considerably by a roster which included pitcher Dizzy Dean, infielder Pepper Martin, and outfielder Joe Medwick. - Rickey figured it right! - Incubating in 1931 Houston was the heart of talent that would three years later surface in St. Louis as the 1934 World Series champions we remember best today as The Gashouse Gang.

Not to be outdone, other cities if the Texas League were also booming in their success on the field during the 1920s - and none more so than the Fort Worth Panthers. Under the leadership of manager Jake Atz, "The Cats" captured the Texas League regular season pennant going away in 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, and 1925. - Other lower level minor leagues were also forming in Texas during the 1920s and paving the way for the major expansion of leagues in Texas following the end of World War II.

The apex of support for minor league baseball in Texas came in 1951 when the Houston Buffs won the Texas League pennant and drew a season attendance of 333,201 under the creative leadership of Buffs President Allen Russell. - That same year, the 1951 St. Louis Browns of the American League drew only 293,740 fans. - Almost needless to add, Houston's success at the gate found the city moving onto the radar screen as a possble relocation site for troubled major league clubs looking for a new home. - It almost happened sooner than most people realize.

In 1953, Cardinals owner Fred Saigh was in deep trouble with the IRS. He had been charged with income tax evasion and was thinking about selling or moving the Cardinals to either Milwaukee or Houston as a remedy for his financial woes. - The result, of course, was that August Busch stepped up and bought the Cardinals, saving the franchise, and driving the Browns to Baltimore as the Orioles in 1954. - Had the Cardinals moved to Houston in 1954, the effect upon baseball history is staggering to imagine.

As it turned out, Houston entered the National League later as the Colt .45's in 1962 under the early promtional leadership of Houston writer George Kirksey, the financial backing of Houstonians Craig Cullinane and R.E. "Bob" Smith, and the entreprenerial genius of Judge Roy Hofheinz.

In 1965, Judge Hofheinz opened the publicly financed Harris County Domed Stadium, the first domed venue for a major league baseball club, but with a couple of marketing changes. He dubbed the place as The Astrodome and he renamed the team as The Houston Astros. He also modestly advertised the new one-of-a-kind venue as "The Eighth Wonder of The World."

On the heels of Houston's success, the Washington Senators relocated to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 1972 under owner Bob Short and set up shop in Arlington as the Texas Rangers.

Until 2005, neither Texas major league team had won a pennant and advanced to the World Series. That is now changed. - The Houston Astros defeated the ancient parent of the Houston Buffs, the St. Louis Cardinals, in the National League Championship Series, four games to two, advancing to play the champions of the American League, the Chicago White Sox.

Texas baseball has come a long way since its earliest organizational start in Houston in 1861. The 2005 Houston Astros are now the National League champions. - Whatever happens from here, as the World Series plays on this week, is simply the latest chapter of Texas baseball history in the making.