50 Years in 50 Days: 1969

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball 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 43.

43 Years Ago:
The Foxes tried to bounce back from a difficult 1968 season.

The cover of the 1969 Foxes program

Team Name: Appleton Foxes
MLB Affiliate: Chicago White Sox
Manager: Tom Saffel (1st Year)
1st Half: 35-19 (1st)
2nd Half: 49-22 (1st)
Overall: 84-41

Future MLB PLayers:
Pitcher Don Eddy (18-3, 1.81) in 24 games, 23 starts over 164 innings
Outfielder Ken Hottman hit .264 with eight homers in 64 games
Pitcher Bart Johnson (16-4, 2.17) in 22 games, all start over 170 innings
Pitcher Richie Moloney (5-4, 1.83) in 35 games, no starts over 64 innings
Pitcher Dan Neumeier (3-3, 2.30) in 15 games, 14 starts over 86 innings
Pitcher Denny O’Toole (8-2, 2.19) in 13 games, 12 starts over 74 innings
Third Baseman Glenn Redmon hit .274 with seven homers in 71 games
Third Baseman Hugh Yancy hit .139 with no homers in 18 games

AVG: Jim Redmon – .283
HR: Ken Hottman – 8
WINS: Don Eddy – 18
ERA: Eddy – 1.83
IP: Bart Johnson – 170

Bad Stat Stat: Don Eddy led the Midwest League in wins with 18 during the 1969 season. Eddy also homered in the game.

That Seems Like A Lot Stat: Roger Benko pitched 57 innings in 40 games during the 1969 season and went 8-5. Thirteen decisions seems like a lot.

Manager Stat: Tom Saffell flew 61 combat missions as a fighter pilot with the Army Air Corps during World War II and was honorably discharged as a Captain.

Tom Saffell as a Pittsburgh Pirate from BaseballinWartime.com

Saffell’s bullpen page notes that he was one of the pitchers on the television show Home Run Derby and held the position of President of the Gulf Coast League from 1978 through 2009.  He retired in December of 2009 at the age of 88.

1969 Midwest League:
Appleton Foxes, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Cardinals, Clinton Pilots, Decatur Commodores, Quad Cities Angels, Quincy Cubs, Waterloo Hawks, Wisconsin Rapids Twins.

The Midwest League played the 1969 season as a nine team league because Dubuque folded after 1968 and was not replaced.

1969 Midwest League All-Star Game:
The Foxes hosted the Midwest League All-Stars and beat them 5-3. Bart Johnson pitched a complete game and hit a triple. Appleton broke a 3-3 tie with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.  MWLGuide.com has the boxscore.

1969 Midwest League Postseason:
There was no postseason. The Foxes won both halves to claim their third pennant in four years.

The Champs are here!

1969 Midwest League Playoff:
But, didn’t I just write that there was no post season? How can there be a playoff?

The Foxes and the Quad Cities Angels tied for the first half title at 35-19. The teams would play for the first half title in their first meeting of the second half. That meeting was at Goodland Field on July 16. The game went 16 innings before Ken Hottman ended the game with a homer.

Things got a little crazy at Goodland Field after that home run.

Wild Celebration of Ken Hottman's home run to give the Foxes the first half pennant in 1969.


Gary Matthews (Decatur Commodores – .322 with 8 homers in 53 games):

Gary Matthews played for Dectatur during the 1969 MWL season.

SARGE!  Gary Matthews was a Commodore in 1969.  He was 18 years old and the #1 pick of the San Francisco Giants from the 1968 draft had a career ahead of him that included an NL Rookie of the Year award in 1973 with the Giants and time with the Braves, Phillies, Cubs, and Mariners.  In all, Matthews played 16 major league seasons.  He finished 5th in the 1984 NL MVP Voting as he was one of the main guys to help drive the Cubs to the NL East pennant.

And back in 1969, one of his Decatur Commodores teammates was:

Leo Mazzone (Decatur Commodores – 15-10 with a 2.52ERA in 26 games over 186 innings pitched):

Leo Mazzone (hatless) seated next to Bobby Cox. (AJC.com)

Leo Mazzone led the Midwest League in starts (26) and innings pitched (186) during the 1969 season.  He spent 10 seasons in the minor leagues, but never pitched in the big leagues.   But, that did not stop Mazzone from having an effect on the big leagues.  He started as a pitching coach in the Braves minor league system in 1979.  He became Atlanta’s major league pitching coach in 1990.  The rest is history.


Mark Marquess hit .317 without a homer in 65 games for the Foxes. The White Sox signed him out of Stanford. Marquess spent a few more years in the White Sox system and returned to Stanford. He’s still there.  Maybe you know him now:

Mark Marquess, head coach of Stanford baseball, made his professional baseball debut with the Appleton Foxes in 1969.

He spent five seasons in the White Sox minor league system.  He has been the head coach at Stanford, his alma mater, since 1977 and is one of the winningest baseball coaches in NCAA history.

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

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