"Twenty-five dollars," Mr. Herbert replied immediately. He then turned to a friend and asked, "What's an assist?"
Chris Lacy, Mr. Herbert's grandson, says, "I think he liked baseball people even more than he liked the game."
That may have been true, but there was no question about Mr. Herbert's competitive nature when it came to the game. After Alpine qualified for the 1956 tournament at Wichita, Mr. Herbert heard that several other teams were padding their rosters with major leaguers picked up from military bases around the country. So Chandler was given permission to sign righthander Jack Sanford of the Philadelphia Phillies, future White Sox pitcher Joel Horlen and future Dodger slugger Carl Warwick.
At the same time Mr. Herbert also delivered on a promise he had made in the Brooklyn clubhouse after the Dodgers' 1955 World Series victory. He had pushed his way up to the Series hero, pitcher Johnny Podres, congratulated him and said, "I want you to come down to Texas sometime and pitch for us."
"I can't just pitch for every hick town in America that wants me to," Podres responded. Whereupon Mr. Herbert informed him, "I'll make it worth your while," and whispered some figures in his ear.
"When do you want me?" asked Podres.
The answer turned out to be the summer of '56, when Podres was due to go into the Navy. "He flew me out to Wichita and gave me a thousand bucks, plus 100 dollars a strikeout, to pitch for him," says Podres. "That was more money than I made with the Dodgers. I struck out seven guys in four innings, and they wanted me to pitch again, but the Navy wouldn't let me."
In general, though, Mr. Herbert disliked the idea of putting major leaguers in Cowboy pinstripes. "I was mostly restricted to using college kids," says Chandler. "He told me, 'If I wanted to run a pro team, I'd buy the Yankees.' "
In 1958 Mr. Herbert decided to put lights in Kokernot Field. Before installing them, he toured lighted ballparks all over Texas to be sure that his field would have more bulbs than any other in the state. "He told the contractor, 'I want lights better than Yankee Stadium's,' " says Cats second baseman Ray McNeil. "It didn't matter to him what they cost."
The following year, against his better instincts. Mr. Herbert became the president of a professional minor league baseball team. Southwestern semipro baseball was dying. With the end of the Korean War, the Army had ceased sponsoring the service teams that had long been an important element of semipro competition. Bad times in the oil business eliminated another major group of sponsors. The Cowboys were running out of teams to play. When the Boston Red Sox offered to make Alpine the smallest town to have a pro team by giving it a franchise in the Class D Sophomore League, Mr. Herbert said he would give it some thought. The Red Sox were willing to call the team the Cowboys. They even agreed to keep the outfield fences free of advertising, which would make the field perhaps the only ballpark of its kind in the minors.