50 Years in 50 Days: 1975

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 37.

37 Years Ago:
The Foxes stumbled and missed the playoffs.

They changed up the cover for 1975.

Team Name: Appleton Foxes
MLB Affiliate: Chicago White Sox
Manager: Gordy Lund (2st year)
1st Half: 22-37 (4th, North Division)
2nd Half: 28-40 (5th, North Division)
Overall: 50-77

Your 1975 Appleton Foxes

Future MLB Players:
Third baseman Kevin Bell hit .285 with eight homers and 42 RBI in 67 games
First baseman Marv Foley hit .308 with no homers and an RBI in six games
Pitcher Jim Geddes (1-2, 13.50) in 5 games – all starts – with 10 Ks in 10 innings
Pitcher Chris Knapp (6-6, 1.97) in 14 games – 13 starts – with 99Ks in 87 innings
Pitcher Larry Monroe (5-11, 3.57) in 23 games – 19 starts – with 89 Ks in 121 innings

Category Leaders:
AVG: Kevin Bell – .285
HR: Kevin Bell – 8
RBI: Johnny Narron – 57
SB: Tommy Toman – 29
OPS: Kevin Bell – .830
WINS: Bill Kautzer – 7
ERA: Roy Coulter – 3.00
IP: Bill Kautzer – 139
SO: Chris Knapp – 99
SAVES: Robert Combs & Paul Bock – 4

Taking the Ball Stat: Bill Kautzer appeared in 28 games – 22 starts – during the 1975 season.  He pitched seven complete games with a pair of shutouts.

Shuffling Starters Stat:  Baseball-Reference notes that there were 16 pitchers to appear in games for the 1975 Foxes.  Fourteen of those 16 pitchers made starts.

First Time I’ve Noticed It Stat: The 1975 Foxes had more triples (43) than home runs (39).

Future Brewers Hitting Coach Stat: Johnny Narron was a first baseman for the Foxes in 1975.  He hit .228 with six homers and 57 RBI in 108 games.  The Brewers hired Narron away from the Texas Rangers to be their hitting coach this past offseason.  Narron joins another former Foxes player on the Brewers coaching staff.  Ed Sedar played and pitched for the Foxes in the 1980’s.
A Word or Two About Kevin Bell:

Kevin Bell's 1978 TOPPS card.

Kevin Bell is in the Appleton Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.  He spent 1974 and 1975 with the Foxes.  He was the 7th overall pick of the 1974 draft as a high school kid out of Covina, California.  Bell was called up to the big leagues in 1976, played in his firsts MLB game on June 16, and hit an inside-the-park grand slam in Kansas City on June 22.  But, injuries derailed Bell’s major league career.

Bell still lives in the Fox Cities area and attends Timber Rattlers games often.  You might see him at a game this year.

1975 MWL Season:
North Division: Appleton, Dubuque, Wisconsin Rapids, Waterloo, & Wausau.
South Division: Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Danville, & Quad Cities.

Decatur moved to Wisconsin for the 1975 season to become the Wausau Mets.  Wausau joined the North Division.  Cedar Rapids moved to the South.

And Moe Hill hit 31 homers for Wisconsin Rapids that year.

Baseball face guy creeps me out a little bit.

1975 MWL All-Star Game:
Quad Cities hosted the game on July 14, 1975.  The Midwest League All-Stars faced the Iowa Oaks, the AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros.  The All-Stars won the game 6-2.  Seven MWL pitchers held the Oaks to three hits.

Kevin Bell was named to the squad, but had been promoted prior to the game.  The only other Appleton player named to the All-Star team was pitcher Tony Komadina.  Komadina pitched a scoreless seventh inning with a walk.  (MWLGuide.com boxscore)

1975 MWL Postseason:
There was to be two-tier playoff in 1975.  But, the Waterloo Royals and the Quad Cities Angels each won both half of their respective divisions.  So, both teams went right to the Championship Series.

Waterloo won the best-of-three Finals with a sweep.  That is about what you would expect when the Royals finished the regular season at 93-35.  Quad Cities had the second best record in the league that year at 78-47.

1975 MWL Alumni of Note:

One of the main reasons the Waterloo Royals were so good that year was due to this guy:

Willie Wilson (Waterloo R0yals – .272 with 76 steals and 92 runs scored)

Willie Wilson, a Waterloo Royal before he was a Kansas City Royal.

Willie Wilson went on to a 19 year career in the big leauges with the majority of his time being spent on those excellent Royals teams of the late 70’s & early 80s.  He was fast and he could hit.  It was fun to watch him play.

Honorable mention:
Pedro Guerrero (Danville): Imagine the Pedro Guerrero that you know playing in Danville, Illinois.  Now imagine him hitting .345 with just 10 homers.
Willie Aikens (Quad Cities):  Aikens hit 17 homers for Quad Cities in 1975. He hit four homers in the 1980 World Series for the Kansas City Royals as a teammates of Wilson and…
Dan Quisenberry (Waterloo): He appeared in 20 games – one as a starter – and had four saves for the Royals.
Juan Berenguer (Wausau):  Senor Smoke as a Wausau Met in 1975 must have been a sight to see.

1975 Brewers Farmhand of Note:

Mooooooose. From baseball-almanac.com

Brian “Moose” Haas pitched for the Burlington Bees in 1975.  He went 11-8 with a 2.08ERA in 25 games (24 starts).  Haas pitched 12 complete games with three shutouts and struck out 146 with just 49 walks in 171 innings pitched.

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

1 Comment

I think someone’s missing in this history –

Ed Holtz was general manager of the Foxes from 1966 to 1977, was on the Board of Directors from 1962 to 1965 and was Vice President of the Appleton Baseball Club in 1965. While GM of the Foxes, he was named the Sporting News Executive of the Year for Class A Professional Baseball.
Holtz was also the Midwest League Executive of the Year in 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970 and 1971.
In 1996, Holtz was inducted into the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame and the General Manager of the Year Award was named after him. Holtz had served as GM of the Atlanta Braves minor league team in Macon, Ga. from 1991 to the time of his death in 1995.
In 1992, he was given “The Forgotten Man” award at the Red Smith Banquet in Appleton.
Based on his contributions to baseball in Appleton, the Holtz children would like to see him added to the Wall of Fame at Fox Cities Stadium under “Contributors” in the “Friends of Appleton Baseball” category.
For a person whose children will tell you that he lived and breathed baseball, it seems like a fitting tribute.

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