50 Years in 50 Days: 1974

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 38.

38 Years Ago:
The 1974 Foxes bounced back from a difficult 1973 campaign to make another run at the pennant.

I think the only change from 1973 cover was making the date 1974.

FOXES INFORMATION:
Team Name: Appleton Foxes
MLB Affiliate: Chicago White Sox
Manager: Gordy Lund (1st year)
1st Half: 26-32 (4th, North Division)
2nd Half: 47-18 (1st, North Division)
Overall: 73-50

The 1974 Appleton Foxes

Future MLB Players:
Third Baseman Kevin Bell hit .276 with 15 homers and 59 RBI in 77 games at the age of 18
Catcher George Enright hit .255 with a homer and 21 RBI in 63 games (3rd season w/ Foxes)
Pitcher Jim Geddes (4-2, 3.54) in 12 games – 7 starts – with 55 strikeouts over 56 innings pitched
Pitcher Richard Gossage (0-2, 3.38) in 2 games – 2 starts – with five strikeouts in eight innings pitched
Pitcher Jack Kucek (5-2, 1.76) in 9 games – 5 starts – with 49 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched
Pitcher Larry Monroe (2-1, 1.12) in 3 games – 3 starts – with 17 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched
Pitcher Pete Vuckovich (1-0, 1.20) in 5 games – no starts – with 22 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched.

Category Leaders:
AVG: Nick Medrano – .280
HR: Kevin Bell – 15
RBI: Bell & Larry Walters – 59
SB: Clyde Jeter – 36
OPS: Bell – .839
WINS: Barry Smith – 12
SAVES: Paul Sands – 9
ERA: Tom King – 2.40
IP: Smith – 129
SO: Robert Combs – 92

It’s Not a Common Name Stat: Michael Dlugach hit .282 in 77 games for the Foxes in 1974.  In 2005, Brent Dlugach played against the Timber Rattlers for the West Michigan Whitecaps.  Michael and his son Brent both played at the University of Memphis.

Switching Horses Midstream Stat:  Barney Wilson appeared in 27 games during the 1974 season.  He made 26 appearances as a pitcher.  He played with both Appleton and Decatur, but no splits were available at baseball-reference.

Just a Rehab Stat: Goose Gossage pitched two rehabilitation starts for the Foxes in 1974.

Resting the Bullpen Stat: Larry Monroe made three start with the Foxes in 1974.  He pitched three complete games, including two shut0uts.

VUKE! Stat: Pete Vuckovich made five relief appearances for the Foxes in 1974.  He had three saves and a 22:3 K:BB ratio in his 15 innings.

Vuuuuuukkkkke!

The Man Who Would Be A GM Stat:  Jack Zduriencik was 22 years old.  He played seven games with the Foxes in 1973.  He returned to the Foxes for 11 games in 1974.  He went 3-for-44 in 47 plate appearances.  He walked three times and struck out 16 times.  Now, Zduriencik is the general manager of the Seattle Mariners.

Jack Zduriencik as GM of the M's. From SeattlePI.com

Triple Crown Stat: Elmore “Moe” Hill was back with the Wisconsin Rapids Twins for 1974.  He was 27 years old.  That was not his fault.  He was just playing where Minnesota put him.  Hill took out any frustration he may have had out on the pitchers of the MWL by winning the Triple Crown with a .339 average, 32 home runs, and 113 RBI.

The 1974 Foxes schedule

1974 MWL Season:
North Division:
Appleton, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Wisconsin Rapids, & Waterloo.
South Division: Burlington, Clinton, Danville, Decatur, & Quad Cities.

Quincy moved to Dubuque for the 1974 season. Dubuque was back in the league for the first time since 1968.  For the 1974 season, they were a co-op team.

Also, Clinton moved to the South Division to take Quincy’s spot.  Dubuque, which is north of Clinton, took Clinton’s spot in the North.

1974 All-Star Game:
This was still one team against a team of All-Stars, bit the MWL flipped the script a bit.  On July 22, 1974, a team of Midwest League All-Stars faced the Iowa Oaks at Quad Cities.  The Oaks were the Triple-A affiliate of the White Sox and were playing in the American Association.

And since they were an affiliate of the White Sox, Iowa had plenty of former Foxes on the squad.  Most notably, Lamar Johnson and Jerry Hairston.

The Midwest League won this game 3-2 in 13 innings.  Moe Hill drove in the winning run with a single in the bottom of the 13th.

Kevin Bell was the only Foxes player to appear in the game.  Larry Foster was named to the roster, but did not play in the game.  MWLGuide.com notes that Foster had been promoted before the game.

1974 Postseason:
The Foxes swept Wisconsin Rapids in the best-of-three North Division playoffs
Danville, the Brewers affiliate, won a Game Three from Quad Cities in the South Division playoffs
But, for the second time in three years, the Foxes lost to Danville in the Finals.  This time it was in a Game Three.

This was also the third time in four years, Appleton lost in the finals.

1974 MWL Alum of Note:
Joe Sambito (Cedar Rapids Astros)

I picked Joe Sambito for two reasons. He was a good player AND - Kenesaw Mountain Landis help me - I LOVE those 1979 Astros jerseys.

Joe Sambito was an excellent reliever in the big leagues.  But, in 1974 he was a starter for the Cedar Rapids Astros.  Sambito went 11-8 with an ERA of 3.00 and 182 strikeouts in 156 innings.  He also pitched 13 complete games.

In the big leagues, Sambito was an All-Star for the Astros in 1979 and finished fifth in the NL Cy Young Award voting in 1980.

He would pitch eight years with the Astros, briefly with the Mets, and wrapped his career with two years as a member of the Boston Red Sox.

1974 Brewers Farmhand of Note:  The 1974 Danville Warriors had players like Jerry Augustine and Dick Davis.  But, I want to focus on a player that should be on any MWL All-Time All-Name Team:  Delancey Lafayette Currence

Lafayette Currance, a 1974 Danville Warrior & a 1975 Milwaukee Brewer

The 1974 season in Danville was the best season in his career.  Currence went 15-6 with a 2.73ERA and 17 complete games.  Currence, who went by his middle name, had been in the Pirates organization from 1970-1973.  In September, 1973 the Brewers traded Greg Erardi to the Pirates for Currence.

Currence pitched eight games – with one start – for the Brewers in 1975.  He was 0-2 with a 7.71ERA.  Currence pitched 1976 and 1977 in the Brewers organization, but did not make it back to the big leagues.

1974 MWL Managers of Note:
Dubuque – Bert Thiel
Burlington – Rene Lachemann
Quad Cities – Jimy Williams

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

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