50 Years in 50 Days: 1981

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 31.

31 Years Ago:
The Foxes stumbled to an 80 loss season.

The 1981 cover screams fun!

Foxes Information:
Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox (16th season)
Manager: Sam Ewing (1st season)
1st Half: 29-36
2nd Half: 25-44
Overall: 54-80

Future MLB Players:
Outfielder Cecil Espy hit .201 with a homer and 19 RBI in 72 games
Outfielder Leo Garcia hit .261 with a homer and 38 RBI in 107 games
Pitcher Reggie Patterson (0-0, 1.80) in one game – one start – with two strikeouts in five innings pitched
Pitcher George Riley (0-3, 3.60) in seven games – five starts – with a save and 27Ks in 30IP
Pitcher Jim Siwy (5-0, 1.96) in eight games – eight starts – with 32Ks in 55IP

Category Leaders:
AVG: Ray Torres – .306
HR: Ray Torres – 12
RBI: Ray Torres – 63
SB: Ray Torres – 21
OPS: Ray Torres – .887
WINS: Jesse Anderson & Steve Pastrovich – 7
ERA: Steve Pastrovich – 3.34
IP: Jesse Anderson – 131
SO: Jesse Anderson – 106
SAVES: Kevin Flannery – 10

Most Valuable Player, Most Popular, Sportsmanship, and Most Valuable Pitcher awards were handed out to members of the 1981 Foxes.

Who is Ray Torres Stat: Ray Torres did not make it to the big leagues with the White Sox, but he is a legend in the Mexican League.  From his baseball reference Bullpen page here is a recap on his career south of the border from 1985-1994.

Thanks to the high-flying Comando ball, Torres hit .341/~.438/.608 with 23 homers in 1985. In 1986, Ray batted .325/~.428/.612. It was the highest-octane season in Liga history and Torres set a career high with 31 home runs. He scored 88, drove in 92 and drew 65 walks as his walk total had climbed in each of his LMB seasons (6-23-23-37-39-40-54-65).

In 1987, the 29-year-old outfielder hit .290/~.399/.531 with a career-best 93 runs. He drove in 95, hit 28 homers and stole 16 bases in 19 tries. He continued to increase his walk total, taking 74 free passes. The Yucatan star put up a .280/~.369/.511 campaign in 1988 with 25 home runs and 93 RBI. His walk total fell for the first time during his 10 years in the Mexican League.

During the 1989 season, Torres hit .293/~.393/.543 with 26 home runs and a career-high 102 RBI. He was third in the Liga in RBI, behind Willie Aikens and Alejandro Ortiz. In 1990, Raymundo slipped to .222 in his 7th year in Yucatan, with an OBP around .345 and a .467 slugging percentage. He still clouted 20 homers, the 6th straight season he had reached that level.

In 1991, Torres Ruiz split the year between the Monterrey Industriales and the Campeche Pirates, again struggling in average (.229), doing okay in OBP (around .353) and showing good pop (.506 slugging, 30 HR, though he only had 8 other extra-base hits). It was his last season with double-digit steals (11 in 15 tries) after three years in a row with 1 or 2 with stolen bases.

Torres ended his career with Yucatan in 1998 and his numbers:

Torres hit .268/~.378/.472 in 1,930 games in the Mexican League. He scored 1,086 runs, had 1,700 hits, 3,000 total bases, 283 doubles, 311 home runs, 1,146 RBI, 106 times hit by pitch, 91 sacrifice flies, 1,018 walks and 112 steals in 172 tries. Through 2000, he was 16th in LMB history in runs, 10th in RBI, 6th in home runs (behind Hector Espino, Nelson Barrera, Andres Mora, Alejandro Ortiz and Ronnie Camacho), 8th in walks, 4th in strikeouts (1,303), 13th in total bases, 6th in sacrifice flies and 5th in times hit by pitch. He was 24th in games played.

The smidgen of Spanish allows me to know that – when I read this website – Torres is a member of the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.

His Hall of Fame plaque notes that he hit 13 grand slams in his career, which is still a record down in Mexico.  The full internet translation is a bit spotty, so click on that second link and work your way through it.

Ray Torres, Campeche Pirates.

And THAT is who Ray Torres is.

Welcome Back, Ewing Stat:  Sam Ewing started his professional career with the Foxes in 1971.  He had been selected out of the University of Tennessee in the first round (fifth overall) of the 1971 January Draft by the White Sox.  Ewing played in the big leagues for the White Sox and Blue Jays.

Sam Ewing's 1978 Toronto Blue Jays card.

He also played in Japan.  During his time there, this happened:

In January 1979 the Nippon Ham Fighters bought Ewing’s contract. Sam hit .286/.327/.452 with 15 homers for Nippon Ham. When teammate Bobby Mitchell was fined for poor defense, Sam rose to Bobby’s defense, feeling that an American was being singled out when Japanese players who made similar miscues were not given equivalent fines. He got into a bilingual shouting match with manager Keiji Osawa by the dugout and the 6′ 3″, 200-pound American grabbed the 5′ 8″, 170-pound Osawa. Interpreter Toshi Shimada tried to intervene and the two went into a private meeting. Shimada toned down the rhetoric from both parties, enabling Ewing and Osawa to make peace with one another. Ewing finally apologized in front of the team as a good conclusion was reached.

Ewing was a minor league player/manager for the final thirty games of the 1980 season for Iowa in the PCL.  His one season in Appleton was his only full season as a minor league manager.

1981 MWL Season:
The Wausau Timbers received a new parent club as they moved from a co-op team to an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

North Division: Appleton, Wisconsin Rapids, Waterloo, & Wausau.
South Division: Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, & Quad Cities.

1981 MWL All-Star Game:
The game was held on June 20 at Cedar Rapids.  The South beat the North 5-4 with a run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

No Foxes were in the starting lineup.  Mike Morse (2B), Ray Torres (DH), and Jesse Anderson (P) all came in as substitutes.  Pitcher Jim Siwy was named to the Northern team, but did not play in the game.

1981 Postseason:
The Timbers would celebrate their new affiliation.  They defeated Waterloo 2-1 in the best-of-three North Division playoffs.  Quad Cities moved to the finals with a Game Three win over Cedar Rapids in the South.

Wausau swept the Cubs in the Finals.

1981 MWL Alumni of Note:
Harold Reynolds: Wausau Timbers

1981 Wausau Timber Harold Reynolds.

The player off the 1981 MWL Championship winning Wausau Timbers who is best known today is Harold Reynolds.  That would be due to his high profile broadcasting jobs.  He was on ESPN first and can now be seen at MLB Network.  But, he got his start in professional baseball in North Central Wisconsin.

Seattle selected Reynolds with the second pick of the 1980 draft out of Canada College, a JUCO in Redwood City, California.  He played 127 games with the Timbers in 1981.  He hit .296 with eleven homers and 59 RBI with 69 stolen bases.  Reynolds was also the starting second baseman for the North Division in the MWL All-Star Game.

Reynolds made the major leagues in 1983.  In 1987 he lead the AL in stolen bases with 60.  He was an All-Star in 1987 and 1988 and won three straight gold gloves at second base from 1988-1990.

In all he played 12 seasons in the big leagues and parlayed that into his current broadcasting career.
1981 Brewers Farmhand of Note:
Randy ReadyBurlington Bees

Randy Ready, 1981 Burlington Bee.

If you followed the Brewers in the 1980′s, the odds are pretty good that you saw (or thought of) the following headline: Is Randy Ready?

Ready was the third baseman of the future for the Brewers.  He put in a great season in Burlington in 1981.  He hit .308 with 17 homers and 56 RBI in 110 games.

He skipped to El Paso in 1982 (20 homers, 99 RBI) and Vancouver in 1983 (13HR, 59RBI).  He received a call up to Milwaukee for 12 games in 1983.

Ready shuttled between Milwaukee and Vancouver until June of 1986 when he was traded to the Padres for a Player to Be Named Later – who turned out to be Tim Pyznarski.

Ready spent time with the Padres, Phillies, A’s, & Expos in a major league career that lasted 13 seasons.

Ready would come back to the Midwest League as the manager of the Fort Wayne Wizards from 2004 to 2006.  He worked his way up the Padres system and was named their hitting coach for the 2010 season.  But, Ready was let go by the Padres at the end of the 2011 season.

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

1 Comment

A better version of the Randy Ready joke, courtesy of the 1985 Elias Baseball Analyst: “Randy Ready wasn’t.”

He musta gotten real tired of those….

& thanks for the Torres story. I’m really enjoying these.

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