50 Years in 50 Days: 1965

Fifty years ago, the Foxes joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 47.

47 Years Ago:
The Fox Cities Foxes tried to defend their 1964 Midwest League Pennant.

Team Name: Fox Cities Foxes
MLB Affiliate: Baltimore Orioles
Manager: Billy DeMars (3rd Year)
1st Half Record: 25-35 (8th)
2nd Half Record: 30-28 (5th)
Overall Record: 55-63

Future Major League Players:
Pitcher Paul Gilliford (0-0, 0.00ERA) Pitched in six games all in relief
Outfielder Curt Motton hit .275 with six home runs in 44 games

Paul Gilliford, a member of the 1965 Foxes

Curt Motton, a member of the 1965 Foxes, on his 1969 Topps card

Motton was the subject of this Flashback Friday (Ed.: I wonder where they got that title? I’ll just borrow the Motton card from them) on a Baltimore sports website.  It’s about his pinch-hit, game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game Two of the 1969 ALCS against the Twins for a 1-0 Orioles win.

Future Major League Coach: Billy DeMars

Category leaders:
Average: Elmore “Moe” Hill – .275
Homers: Hill and Raymond Woitkowski – 7

Wins: Larry Connell & Richard Herman – 10
ERA: Derrel Wilkerson – 2.16
Innings Pitched: Henry Pawlowicz – 150
Strikeouts: N/A

Ties? Stat: MWLGuide.com notes that the Foxes played a pair of tie games in 1965.  One with Quincy and the other with Waterloo.

Different Times Stat: Henry Pawlowicz was 18 when he racked up 150 innings pitched during the 1965 season.  That wasn’t all for him either.  He also pitched 27 innings in Stockton, Baltimore’s California League affiliate, for a total of 177 innings.  He had tossed 43 innings for a Giants affiliate in the Pioneer League in 1964.

Mr. Perfect Stat: Duane Janne was 7-0 in 27 relief appearances for the Foxes.  He did lose that season.  Janne went 6-1 in Stockton.

Midwest League 1965:
Fox Cities Foxes, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Cardinals, Clinton C-Sox, Decatur Commodores, Dubuque Packers, Quad Cities Angels, Quincy Cubs, Waterloo Hawks, Wisconsin Rapids Twins.

1965 MWL Postseason:
There was no postseason.  The Burlington Bees, the affiliate of the Kansas City Athletics, won both halves to claim the pennant.  They were 40-20 in the first half and 42-20 in the second half.

MWL News for 1965:
There was no All-Star Game in 1965.
Cedar Rapids changed their name from Red Raiders to Cardinals (3rd year in a row for a name change)
Quincy changed their name from Gems to Cubs (3rd year in a row for a name change)

MWL Alum of Note from 1965:

A member of the 1965 Burlington Bees

Sal Bando played for the Burlington Bees in 1965. He was drafted by the Athletics in the 5th round of the June, 1965 draft out of Arizona State University.  He would play 60 games and hit six homers for the Bees after signing his contract.

Bando made his MLB debut with Kansas City in 1966 and went on to become the third baseman for the Oakland A’s dynasty of the early 1970’s. He was a 4-time All-Star and finished second (1971), fourth (1973), and third (1974) in AL MVP voting while in Oakland in Then, he was the first big name free agent signed by the Milwaukee Brewers. Bando was part of the 1981 Brewers that made the playoffs.

Bando worked in the Brewers front office from 1982-1999.  First, he was an assistant to Harry Dalton.  Then he was the General Manager of the Brewers from 1992-1999.

Bonus Foxes Alumn of Note:

Moe Hill tips his cap at Witter Field in Wisconsin Rapids in 2010. (From WAOW.com)

The story of Elmore ‘Moe’ Hill is one with which you should be familiar.  Hill played for the Foxes at the age of 18 in 1965.  He climbed through the Baltimore organization, but missed the 1969 season with an illness.  He would sign with the Twins for 1970 and Minnesota sent him to the MWL to play for Wisconsin Rapids for part of the 1971 season.  Hill would start the 1972 season in Wisconsin Rapids and he played there – and only there – through the 1978 season when he was 31.

It’s not that Hill was bad.  No. He was outstanding. He won a triple crown in the league in 1974.  Baseball America named him the greatest Midwest League player in 1999.   He is very popular with baseball fans in Wisconsin Rapids.  But, he was held back in the Midwest League.  Why?

Friend of the blog Ben Hill wrote about Moe Hill for milb.com back in 2007.

The numbers Hill put up in Wisconsin Rapids are nothing less than staggering. Over 862 games spanning eight seasons, he hit .283 with 194 home runs and 669 RBIs. From 1974-77, he led the Midwest League in homers, and in three of those campaigns, he also led the circuit in RBIs. In 1974, he batted a career-best .339 to go with 32 home runs and 113 RBIs, becoming the first player in Midwest League history to win the Triple Crown.

The obvious question, of course, is why didn’t Hill receive a promotion? Why, in the prime of his career, was he allowed to stagnate at a relatively low level? What could the Twins have been thinking?

Hill has a few thoughts.

“It’s sad to say, but I think that being a black man in baseball played a big part,” said Hill, who had broken the color line by becoming the first black player in the North Carolina American Legion. “That’s not to say that there weren’t white players who were treated unfairly, just that I think it may have been easier for the Twins to ignore me because I was black.

“But, regardless of race, the guys who had gotten big bonuses when they signed were gonna move up and a lot of the other guys weren’t. That’s just the way it was.”

There is a lot more to the story. Make sure you click that link.

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