50 Years in 50 Days: 1966

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 46.

46 Years Ago:
The Fox Cities Foxes begin their first season as an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.

Main change from previous covers: Addition of the White Sox Pennant and the removal of the Fox Cities map.

Team Name: Fox Cities Foxes
MLB Affiliate: Chicago White Sox
Manager: Stan Wasiak (1st year)
1st Half Record: 42-19 (1st)
2nd Half Record: 35-28 (3rd)
Overall Record: 77-47

Future MLB Players:
Catcher Doug Adams hit .195 with a homer in 74 games
Outfielder Al Fitzmorris hit .237 with 5 homers in 104 games
Pitcher Ken Frailing (0-1, 6.43) in one game, a start
Outfielder Deacon Jones hit .353 with 18 homers in 114 games
Outfielder Ron Lolich hit .236 with 2 homers in 36 games
Pitcher Jim Magnuson (5-4, 2.04) in 13 games, all starts
Outfielder/1B Ken Melton hit .284 with 12 homers in 97 games
Pitcher Jerry Nyman (2-3, 1.97) in 5 games, all starts
Pitcher Fred Rath (17-3, 1.92ERA) in 23 games, all starts

Fred Rath, a 17-game winner with the Foxes in 1966.

Future Major League Coach: Deacon Jones with the Astros from 1976 to 1982 and with the Padres from 1984 to 1987.

Category Leaders:
Hitting: Deacon Jones – .353*
Homers: Jones – 18

Wins: Fred Rath – 17**
ERA: Rath – 1.92
Innings Pitched: Rath – 169
Strikeouts: N/A

Double Duty Stat: Al Fitzmorris also pitched in four games during 1966.  This included one start.  Fitzmorris allowed two runs in 14 total innings and had no record.

He Can Hit, Too Stat: Fred Rath also hit a home run in a game during the season.

Family Ties Stat: Ron Lolich is the cousin of Mickey LolichFred Rath is the father of Fred Rath, JrTimothy McClain is the brother of Denny McClain.

Midwest League 1966:
Fox Cities Foxes, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Cardinals, Clinton Pilots, Decatur Commodores, Dubuque Packers, Quad Cities Angels, Quincy Cubs, Waterloo Hawks, Wisconsin Rapids Twins.

The one name change was Clinton changing from the C-Sox to the Pilots.  Clinton became a Pittsburgh farm team as the White Sox moved to Wisconsin.

1966 Midwest League All-Star Game:
Since the Foxes won the first half title, they hosted the 1966 All-Star Game on July 18.  The setup for this All-Star Game was the Foxes took on the Midwest League All-Star Team.  The Foxes won 1-0 with an unearned run.  Bob Van Epps drove in the only run of the game with a sacrifice fly.  MWLGuide.com has the boxscore.

1966 Midwest League Postseason:
The Foxes beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 2 games to 1 in a best-of-three championship series.  You can read about the pennant clinching win in this Flashback Friday column.

Chicago White Sox president Arthur Allyn’s prophetic statement at the mid-winter “Red Smith Awards” banquet was realized on the Veterans Memorial Park diamond here Wednesday.

The Fox Cities Foxes, rebounding from a 7-3 loss in the Midwest League’s championship playoff, followed Tuesday’s 8-1 conquest of Cedar Rapids with a 4-2 triumph last night to capture the ML flag for the second time in three years.

Allyn bluntly assured the packed house of 500 at the mid-winter fete that the Fox Cities baseball club, in its first year of affiliation with the Chisox would have a championship team – and that it did.

Southpaw Andy Rubilotta, who hurled no-hit ball for the first five and one-third innings, and righthander Willie Hooler, making his third appearance in the best-of-three series, combined to check the Cardinals on just three hits en route to last night’s decisive 4-2 victory.

MWL Alum of Note:

Graig Nettles learned how to do this in Wisconsin Rapids...probably.

Graig Nettles played for the Wisconsin Rapids Twins during the 1966 season.  He led the Midwest League in homers with 28 during that season.  He played in the big leagues with the Twins, Indians, Yankees, Padres, Braves, and Expos.

Nettles was best known for his defense during his run with the Yankees.  But, he did hit 37 homers and drive in over 100 runs in 1977.

ONE LAST THING:  No. I didn’t forget. The first Foxes No-Hitter was thrown on May 28, 1966.

Pitched the first Foxes no-hitter

Mickey Abarbanel was the pitcher and he shutdown the Twins in a 9-1 win.  Flashback Friday has the story from that game.

Flame-throwing Mickey Abarbanel, the Fox Cities Foxes’ version of Sandy Koufax, masterfully mixed his fast ball with a hard snapping curve and twirled a no-hitter at the Wisconsin Rapids Twins Saturday night at Goodland Field. The score was 9-1.

Not allowing a man to reach until one man was out in the sixth inning, Abarbanel exhibited pinpoint control, averaging eight pitches per inning in each of the first four innings. He finished with 12 strike outs and three bases on balls. The Jersey City native lowered his diminutive earned run average to 1.79.

As could be expected, the Foxes’ fielding was superb. Abarbanel committed the team’s only miscue in the eighth inning on a wild throw to second base.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5. Get here soon.

1 Comment

The newly-published SABR book on scouts (Can He Play) has an excellent chapter on Deacon Jones, who served as an advance scout for the O’s for nearly two decades.

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