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Re: [TexasCzechs] News Article re: Carroll Sembera, former pro baseball player (d. 2005)

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  • Andikat@aol.com
    Being that my dad was from Shiner and we lived in nearby Gonzales, my family spent many a weekend at the Semberas 10th Inning. So, I probably met him at some
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 30 8:32 AM
      Being that my dad was from Shiner and we lived in nearby Gonzales, my family spent many a weekend at the Semberas 10th Inning.  So, I probably met him at some point but being a kid at that time can't say I remember.
       
      Andrea


      Matt Cross <lennonluv@...> wrote:
      News Article
      Victoria Advocate Online
      23 Jun 2005

      Family, baseball mattered most to Sembera

      Thursday, June 23, 2005

      Carroll Sembera made his first start for the Houston Astros on the final day
      of the 1965 season. Unfortunately for Sembera, it was also the last start of
      the season for St. Louis' Bob Gibson.
      "I remember my dad saying while Bob Gibson was going for (win No.) 20, he
      was going for 1," Michael Sembera said. "My dad got the 1, but it wasn't the
      1 he wanted."

      Many of Michael Sembera's memories of his father are about baseball, which
      comes as no surprise since Carroll Sembera's greatest loves were his family
      and baseball.

      Sembera, who died Wednesday, June 15, at the age of 63, was working as the
      Midwest scouting coordinator and national cross checker for the Seattle
      Mariners.

      But Sembera was also looking forward to retiring so he could spend more time
      at home in Shiner with his wife, Margie, and visiting their family, which
      includes Michael and daughters Sonya, Jacqueline, Michelle, and LeeAnn.

      "He was an outstanding baseball man," said Jim Walton, Sembera's first
      professional manager and the person responsible for bringing him into the
      scouting profession. "He was dedicated to the game. He also had a light
      side. He had his own domain, which was his wife, children, and family."

      There was not much doubt Sembera, who was a member of Shiner's first Little
      League all-star team in 1952, was headed for a career in baseball.

      Dorothy Seale remembers her brother was "always outside with a ball in his
      hands," and often threw rocks or "green plums he picked off the tree" when a
      ball wasn't available. Seale recalls the time the school principal asked
      Sembera to throw him the ball and Sembera threw it so hard it left the
      principal's hand "burning."

      Even though Sembera grew to over 6 feet tall, he never weighed more than 160
      pounds. Thus, it came as no surprise that the high school football coach
      told Sembera to stick to baseball, which proved to be wise advice. Sembera,
      as a sophomore at Shiner High School, struck out 24 batters in a
      seven-inning game.

      Sembera earned a scholarship to Trinity University in San Antonio but
      returned to Shiner in short order after discovering one of his duties was to
      hold tackling dummies for the football team.

      Sembera pitched for the semi-pro Shiner Clippers throughout high school and
      beyond and was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1962 - the same year he
      married Margie - after a throwing session with scout Red Murff.

      Sembera's professional career was delayed when his father suffered a serious
      accident, which left him in a coma for months before claiming his life.

      Sembera eventually reported to Moultrie, Ga., where Walton took note of the
      tall, lanky pitcher from Texas.

      "In those days they didn't have radar guns," Walton said. "It was hard to
      judge someone on anything other than the quality of their pitches. He had a
      fastball and a great natural slider. I was amused with him. I'd say,
      'Carroll you have this natural slider,' and he'd say, 'I don't know how I
      throw it. I just throw it.' "

      Sembera's slider was good enough to earn promotions to Modesto, Calif.;
      Durham, N.C.; and Amarillo before he was called up to Houston, which had
      switched its name to the Astros while playing its first year in the
      Astrodome.

      Sembera not only made use of his slider in Houston, he also revealed his
      sense of humor on a club filled with characters, including his roommate, the
      late John Bateman.

      Sembera earned the nickname "Pencil" from the media because of his slender
      build, but his teammates called him "The Hat" in a pun-like reference to his
      surname.

      "He was skinny, but he could run everybody into the ground," said Astros
      broadcaster Larry Dierker, who played with Sembera in Houston. "I wasn't
      around him that much, but I remember him well. He was kind of a character.
      He had kind of a dry, Texas sort of a wit."

      "He was one of those dry-witted guys," Walton added of Sembera, who often
      pointed out he made it into the Hall of Fame through the back door by being
      among the pitchers who surrendered home runs to Hank Aaron. "The things he
      said were very amusing and sometimes quite comical."

      Sembera played three seasons with the Astros, appearing in 71 games and
      going 3-9 with four saves before being selected by the Montreal Expos in the
      1969 expansion draft.

      Sembera earned the first save in Expos history by protecting the lead in the
      franchise's first game. Sembera appeared in 28 games during his two seasons
      with the Expos, going 0-2 with two saves before being released in 1970.

      Margie and the children, as they were born, were there at virtually every
      stop, which also included a winter league stint in Puerto Rico. They joined
      Sembera as soon as school ended and returned to Shiner after the season
      concluded.

      "That was our life," said Margie, who remembers the snow on the ground when
      she arrived in Montreal, the car getting a flat tire on the road from either
      Montreal to Vancouver or Vancouver to their next destination, and being
      dropped off at their house in Puerto Rico at night by a cab driver who
      didn't speak English and not having any food or water only to be welcomed by
      their neighbors across the street. "He was on the road so much. It was quite
      different, but I enjoyed it."

      Sembera spent three years in the minor leagues with the St. Louis and
      Cincinnati organizations before arm trouble forced him to retire in 1973.

      The family purchased the 10th Inning Lounge in Shiner in 1975, but at the
      urging of Walton, Sembera joined the Major League Scouting Bureau in 1982.

      "He always said he would like to be a scout," said Margie, who ran the 10th
      Inning until the family sold it in 1996, a year after three men attempted to
      rob Sembera shortly after he had closed the lounge one night. He fought the
      intruders off with the lounge's moneybag until a passing car caused them to
      flee.

      Sembera worked 11 years for the Major League Scouting Bureau - turning in a
      positive recommendation on University of Texas pitcher Roger Clemens, which
      some teams chose to ignore - before going to work for the Mariners in 1993.

      "He had a talent for doing what we do," Walton said. "He had a keen eye for
      evaluating players. Carroll was an extremely honest guy. He always had an
      opinion and if you asked him for an opinion, he'd give you an answer."

      Sembera, who said Roberto Clemente was the toughest hitter he ever faced,
      was often so blunt in his scouting reports, he was given the moniker "Mr.
      Chainsaw Scout," in reference to the movie, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

      "He was super critical of the guys that he was going to see," Walton said.
      "He was not an easy grader. You had to earn it with him."

      Or as Margie so aptly said of her husband: "If he didn't like something, he
      would let you know."

      Sembera rarely had anything bad to say about baseball, even though he never
      made much more than the minimum salary, which was around $12,000 when he
      played, and he always had good things to say about his family, which
      includes 10 grandchildren.

      "He'll be sadly missed across baseball and even more by his family," Walton
      said. "You can't replace someone like him."


      Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at
      361-580-6588, or by e-mail at mforman@....





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