In 1958 Charles and Norma Speck with their three sons moved to Houston. A few years later they moved into a home behind St. Theresa Church next to Memorial Park. It was at about this time that the new softball fields were built in the park, right next to the Speck home. One of the three sons loved to go to the fields at night to watch his favorite team, which was led by one of the Houston Oilers, linebacker Johnny Baker. Baker who would play catch with all the kids at the park took a shine to the nine year old Speck boy and asked if he would like to be the team’s batboy. Starting in 1964, the batboy grew up with the team spending every summer traveling with his hero Johnny Baker.
In 1973 the sponsor of the team, Budget Tapes and Records, wanted to open a sporting goods store to cater to the Houston softball teams. Thus the name Budget Sporting Goods, run by the former batboy just out of St. Thomas High School and his little brother Steve, still at St. Thomas. The new company struggled early on and was saved when Johnny Baker became a partner replacing the original sponsor. Soon the third brother, David, joined the team and for the next decade the company grew in sales, as all three boys now worked together with Mom and Dad always there when needed.
It was the first baseball/softball specialty store of its kind and the marketing approach was also something new. Whereas the big team dealers of the day concentrated on “league” business, Budget was about individual teams and players. For the first time one team or player could get the same attention as a hundred team league and the Houston baseball/softball community responded in a big way!
In 1976 Budget moved to its current location at 6611 Westcott, and the Baseball Softball SuperStore became “the” place in Houston where local teams went for the best service and equipment in the area. Baseball and softball teams and players came from other states and even Mexico to visit the unique Speck family business that always went the extra mile for their customers.
In 1986 the Speck family took the business to the world as they went into the mail order business as Softball Sales and Baseball Sales. The company grew exponentially, soon doing ten times the business in most states and many foreign countries. The company was one of the first internet sporting goods retailers at During this incredible growth every family member was called on, wives, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and especially Randy Jatzlau, a brother in law, who at only eighteen ran the mail order business. The company grew to over 40 employees and expanded locations four times. In 1999 the mail order/online portion of the business was sold to Baseball Express out of San Antonio, creating the largest baseball/softball mail order, online retailer in the country.
In 2019, after 47 years, several members of the family decided it was time to retire. There was an outcry in the Baseball/Softball community as many thought it might mean the end of a Houston Institution. We’ve all heard that history repeats itself, so when Jake Baker(Johnny’s son) stepped in, it was like deja vu all over again. Jake and his best friend Lance Berkman are now partners with the remaining family members energizing the next chapter in our family and business history. Lance is “that” Lance Berkman. Jake and Lance played college baseball together at Rice University in Houston. Of Course Lance went on to star in the Major Leagues with the Astros, Cardinals, Yankees and Rangers and is now the Head Baseball coach at HBU University in Houston.
If you are ever in Houston, we hope you’ll have time to visit the BaseBall Softball SuperStore. Come help us make history as the oldest independent Baseball/Softball store in America… and that means the world.