50 Years in 50 Days: 1983

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 29.

29 Years Ago:
The Foxes go for their second straight MWL pennant with a future MLB GM in the front office, a future MLB manager on the bench, a future MLB coach in the lineup, and another future MLB GM on the field.

FOXES INFORMATION:
Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox (18th season)
Manager: John Boles (1st season)
Record: 87-50 (1st, North)

Future MLB Players:
Pitcher Bill Atkinson (6-2, 3.60) in 20 games – five starts – with two saves & 50K in 80IP
Outfielder John Cangelosi hit .282 with a homer, 48 RBI, and 87 SB in 128 games
Pitcher Ed Correa (3-9, 4.45) in 19 games – 18 starts – with 87K in 97IP
Pitcher Al Jones (11-1, 0.97) in 55 games – no starts – with 22 saves and 124K in 102IP
Catcher Ron Karkovice hit .239 with 13 homers and 48RBI in 97 games
Pitcher Joel McKeon (5-5, 2.62) in 19 games – all starts – with 110K in 99.2IP
Infielder Craig Smajstrla hit .276 with no homers and 24 RBI in 93 games
Pitcher Bruce Tanner (0-1, 3.00) in four games – no starts – with a save and a strikeout in 3IP
Pitcher Mike Trujillo (15-8, 2.40) in 29 games – all starts – with 148K in 198.2IP
Outfielder Ken Williams hit .231 with 12 homers and 53 RBI in 124 games

Nine members of the 1983 Appleton Foxes.

Category Leaders:
AVG: Dave McLaughlin – .319
HR: Pat Adams & Ron Karkovice – 13
RBI: Pat Adams – 71
SB: John Cangelosi – 87
OPS: Pat Adams – .859
WINS: Rich DeVincenzo – 18
ERA: Al Jones – 0.97
IP: Mike Trujillo – 198.2
SO: Rich DeVincenzo – 193
SV: Al Jones – 22

Pythagoras Stat:  The Foxes outscored opponents 650-449 (+201) during the 1983 season.  According to Pythagoras, the Foxes should have won 91 games that season.  They won 87.

Different Era Stat: I bring this up here to stress this point.  Al Jones appeared in 55 games during the 1983 season.  He pitched 102 innings.  In 2004, Mike Hrynio appeared in 54 games for the Timber Rattlers.  He was credited with 62.1IP.

That’s Italian Stat: DeVincenzo had the best season of his six season minor league career during the 1983 season.  Not only did he lead the team in wins and strikeouts.  He also had eight complete games and two shutouts.  DeVincenzo won the league strikeout crown by 31.

Speedster Stat: John Cangelosi stole 87 bases and was the league leader in that category.  It should be noted that Cangelosi was caught 35 times in 1983.

Related Stat: Bruce Tanner is the son of Chuck Tanner and would play a much bigger role in the Foxes 1984 season, but this is worth a mention here.  The elder Tanner was the manager of the White Sox from 1970 to 1975.  Chuck Tanner was frequently mentioned in the Foxes programs at the time.  Chuck Tanner would go on to manage in Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta with a World Series Championship in 1979 with the Pirates.   Bruce Tanner appeared in 10 games with the White Sox in 1985 and retired as a player after the 1989 season.  He coached in the minor leagues and – according to the sources available – has been an advance scout for the Detroit Tigers since 2008.

Sedar Stat: Now, Ed Sedar is the third base coach for the Milwaukee Brewers.  In 1983, Ed Sedar was a 21-year-old outfielder who hit .251 with four homers and 34RBI.

Little Grey Cells Stat: Joel McKeon, a first round pick of the White Sox in 1982, is interesting for what he did after he stopped playing in the US.  According to his bullpen page, McKeon went to Europe to play in 1992 and was a member of the Brasschaat Braves in Belgium.  The story:

McKeon had planned to play in Italy’s Serie A1 in 1992 but his contract fell through. Instead, he signed with the Brasschaat Braves of Belgium’s First Division; his catcher had trouble dealing with McKeon’s pitches, which were faster and more mobile than those offered by Belgian pitchers. McKeon went unbeaten in three seasons in Belgium, helping his club win three straight titles. He managed the Belgian national team in the 1995 European Championship.

Two Future AL Central GMs Stat:  Bill Smith took over as the GM of the Appleton Foxes in 1983.  Kenny Williams was an outfielder for the Foxes in 1983.

We need a bigger card.

That's better.

Ken Williams, 1983 Foxes.

Smith would become the GM of the Minnesota Twins.  Williams is the GM of the White Sox.  There is more on Smith in this edition of The Interrogation Room and in this Flashback Friday.

Hall of Fame Stat: Williams, Boles, and Cangelosi are all in the Appleton Pro Baseball Hall of Fame.

1983 MWL Season:

The 1983 Foxes Schedule

The Danville Suns moved to Peoria, but kept the nickname.  There was also a shuffling of teams withing the divisions.  Peoria took a spot in the South and Cedar Rapids moved to the Central.

North: Appleton Foxes, Madison Muskies, Wausau Timbers, Wisconsin Rapids Twins
Central: Beloit Brewers, Cedar Rapids Reds, Clinton Giants, Springfield Cardinals
South: Burlington Rangers, Peoria Suns, Quad Cities Cubs, Waterloo Indians

MWL Managers of Note: Former Appleton Foxes catcher Bruce Kimm was the manager of the Cedar Rapids Reds in 1983.  Charlie Manuel was the manager of the Wisconsin Rapids Twins in 1983.

1983 MWL All-Star Game:
The Madison Muskies hosted the All-Star game on July 30, 1982.  The South Beat the North 1-0.  Plenty of Foxes representation in the game for the North.  John Boles was the manager.  John Cangelosi (CF), Dave McLaughlin (LF), and Ron Karkovice (C) were in the starting lineup.  Pat Adams (1B) and Al Jones (P) entered the game as substitutes.  Pitchers Rich DeVincenzo and Mike Trujillo were both selected to the team, but did not play.

1983 MWL Postseason:
The Foxes won the North.  Springfield (80-59) won the South.  Cedar Rapids and Waterloo tied for the Central Division title with a record of 76-64.  It appears that Cedar Rapids took the title as they faced Springfield in the first round because the Foxes had the best record in the league and took on Waterloo in the first round.

Appleton needed a third game in the best-of-three series and moved on to the Finals.  Springfield swept the Reds to get a rematch with the Foxes in the Finals.

The 1983 Championship Series is notable because it was the first best-of-five Finals in league history.  The Foxes claimed their seventh MWL pennant with a win in Game Four over the Cardinals.

MWL Alumni of Note:
Shawon DunstonQuad Cities Cubs:

#1 pick of the 1982 draft.

Shawon Dunston was the top pick in the 1982 draft.  His first full season of professional baseball was in 1983 and he spent it in the Midwest League.  Dunston played 117 games, hit .310 with four homers, and drove in 62 runs.  Dunston was also the MVP of the 1983 MWL All-Star Game.  He tripled and scored the only run of the game.

Dunston was called up to Chicago in 1985.  He was an NL All-Star in 1987 and 1989.  The 1989 season was the year that the Cubs won the NL East only to lose to the Giants in five games during the NLCS.  He spent 12 seasons with the Cubs before moving on to play for the Pirates, Giants, Indians, Mets, and Cardinals.

He was on the San Francisco team that made the World Series in 2002, but never captured the big ring.

In 1,814 games at the MLB level, Dunston was a career .269 hitter with 150 home runs.

Brewers Farmhands of Note:
Juan Nieves -Beloit Brewers

The man who would throw the first no-hitter in Brewers history was 18 and in his first year of pro baseball when he put on the Beloit jersey for 1983.  Nieves was 7-1 with a 1.30ERA  in 12 games – 10 starts.  He tossed a pair of complete game shutouts and struck out 89 in 69.1IP.  Nieves also got to bat four times during the 1983 season. He went 0-for-4.

It is hard to believe that he spent just three seasons in the big leagues.  But, he has this moment:

Juan Nieves in Baltimore.

After his playing days, Nieves was a pitching coach in the minor league systems of the Yankees and White Sox.  Apparently, he is now the bullpen coach for the White Sox,.

Billy Jo RobidouxBeloit Brewers

Billy Jo Robidoux!

Robidoux was the 6th round pick of the Brewers in the 1982 draft.  The 1983 season was his first full season of pro ball – he played in Pikeville in 1982.  Robidoux played most of his 126 games at third base for Beloit and hit .317 with ten homers and 60 RBI.  He also added 30 doubles to his total.

He was the 1985 Texas League MVP for the El Paso Diablos after he

Robidoux spent parts of four seasons with the Brewers from 1985 to 1988.  The most games he played in a season for the Brewers was 56 – during the 1986 season.  Robidoux played part of 1989 with the White Sox and part of 1990 with the Red Sox.

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

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