50 Years in 50 Days: 1985

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 27.

27 Years Ago:
The Foxes are trying for their fourth straight MWL Pennant.

Request:  This is the point where I would normally place the cover of the program.  Later in the post a team photo would be placed.  This is where some of the blanks appear in Appleton baseball history.  If anyone reading this has old Foxes programs and old Foxes photographs, please drop a comment on this post and I’ll respond with a way to contact me.  (I will also toss out a request for Papermakers programs and photos at this point).  Thank you in advance.

Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox (20th season)
Manager: Sal Rende (2nd season)
Record: 85-54 (1st, North)

Future MLB Players:
Pitcher Ed Correa (13-3, 2.53) in 18 games – all starts – with 128K in 139IP
Shortstop Norberto Martin hit .198 with no homers and five RBI in 30 games
Pitcher Tony Menendez (13-4, 2.74) in 24 games – all starts – with 100K in 148IP
Pitcher Bobby Thigpen (1-0, 0.00) in one game – not a start – with 4K in 2.2IP
Pitcher Ed Sedar (1-3, 4.20) in 7 games – all starts – with 24K in 40.2IP

Category Leaders:
AVG: Troy Thomas – .290
HR: Tom Forrester – 15
RBI: Jim Winters – 91
SB: Mike Taylor – 51
OPS: Mike Taylor – .827
WINS: Ed Correa & Tony Menendez – 13
ERA: Ed Correa – 2.53
IP: Tony Menedez – 148
SO: Ed Correa – 128
SV: Dave White – 17

He’ll Be A Record Holder Someday Stat:  Bobby Thigpen made just one regular season appearance for the 1985 Foxes.  He started his minor league career with Niagra Falls in the New York Penn League after being drafted in the fourth round of the 1985 draft out of Mississippi State by the White Sox.   In 1990, Thigpen set a record for saves in a single season when he had 57 for the White Sox.  He was an All-Star and finished in the top five in both the AL Cy Young and AL MVP voting.

Bobby Thigpen's 1990 Fleer card.

Sal Stat: Sal Rende had a very nice run in two years as the manager of the Foxes.  He finished both seasons with the best record in the league.  There was the championship in 1984 and another playoff appearance in 1985.  Rende had retired as a player after the 1983 season and stepped right in with the Foxes. After 1985, he went on to manage in the Mariners, Royals, and Marlins system.  His bullpen page notes that he was the hitting coach in Lehigh Valley (Phillies – AAA) for 2011.

Sal Rende as the manager of the Omaha Royals in 1989.

He’s Back Stat: Ed Sedar returned to the Foxes in 1985 as a pitcher.  Sedar had been an outfielder for Appleton in 1982 and 1983.  He still got some swings in 1985 and went 4-for-12 with an RBI.  Sedar is now the third base coach for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Ed Sedar congratulates Jonathan Lucroy after a home run.

1985 Season:

Two affiliation changes before the season.  The Peoria Chiefs became an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.  Quad Cities switched back to the California Angles and changed their nickname to the Quad Cities Angels…again.

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

1985 MWL All-Star Game:
The game was held at Cedar Rapids on July 8.  The South scored twice in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 4-2 win over the North.  The losing pitcher for the North was Dan Scarpetta of the Beloit Brewers.  He is the father of current Brewers prospect Cody Scarpetta.

1985 MWL Postseason:
The division winners were the Foxes (North, 85-54); Beloit (Central, 79-57); and Peoria (South, 75-65).  Kenosha finished second in the North (79-60) to get the Wild Card.

Beloit and Peoria played in one divisional series.  The Chiefs won Game Three of the best-of-three series to advance to the Championship Series.

The Foxes and Kenosha also went to a Game Three, but the ending was…odd.

The 3-year reign of the Appleton Foxes as Midwest League champions officially ended as the clock struck midnight Thursday, and just about everyone was long gone from Goodland Field.

With the Twins leading 4-3, the game had been suspended after the seventh inning that would have done Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles proud.

After holding up the game for more than 2-1/2 hours, the umpires ruled that conditions hadn’t improved enough. So they called the game, bringing a strange and disappointing conclusion to the Foxes’ otherwise stellar season. 

“Fog is a weather condition just like rain,” said Jim Cutler, vice president of the Midwest League. “We waited a reasonable length of time and treated it just like a rainout. I talked with Bill Walters (the ML president) on the phone to make sure that there was no special rule for playoff games. I was told that there was no special rule for this situation.” 

Earlier in the day the park was drenched by 2 inches of rain. The efforts of groundskeepers Rick Raasch and Ray Remmel along with Foxes manager Sal Rende, pitching coach Mitch Lukevics, trainer Ken Koch and players Greg Tarnow and Ken Reed got the field into reasonable playing condition. Despite the work, wet spots caused treacherous footing in the outfield. 

“Of course we’re disappointed to lose,” said Rende. “But lose we did. But, there are no losers in this (locker) room. We knew that we would be competitive coming into the season. We did better than we thought we would after spring training. This team came out and did the job every day. They’re also good people, and that says a lot about them and their character.”

And that is how the Foxes season ended in 1985

In the Championship Series, Kenosha topped Peoria in four games.

1985 MWL Alumni of Note:

A couple from the Peoria Chiefs first season as a Cubs affiliate:

Greg Maddux

Oddly, Greg Maddux got better AFTER ditching the mustache.

Maddux went 13-9 with a 3.19ERA in 27 games – all starts – for the Chiefs in 1985.  He struck out 125 batters in 186 innings pitched.  In 1986 he was in Chicago pitching for the Cubs.  When his career ended after the 2008 season, Maddux had an armful of Cy Young Awards, won 355 games, and struck out 3371 opposing batters.  It’s only a matter of time before he is in the Hall of Fame.

Rafael Palmeiro

Rafael Palmeiro card

Palmeiro appeared in 73 games for the Chiefs and hit .297 with five homers and 51 RBI.  He had been picked by the Cubs with a first round selection in the 1985 draft.  He joined the Chiefs after finishing his season with Mississippi State where he was teammates with Bobby Thigpen, who played for the Foxes in 1985.  As a note, other Mississippi State players drafted in 1985 included Will Clark and Jeff Brantley.

Palmeiro also made it to the big leagues in 1986 and he spent 20 seasons in MLB with the Cubs, Texas Rangers, and Baltimore Orioles.  He collected 3,020 hits and had 569 home runs.  As of now, his call to Cooperstown is on hold.

1985 Brewers Farmhand of Note:

BJ SurhoffBeloit Brewers

BJ Surhoff, Milwaukee Brewer

Milwaukee took Surhoff out of the University of North Carolina with the #1 overall pick in the 1985 draft.  He played 76 games for Beloit in 1985 and hit .332 with seven homers and 58RBI.

He was in the big leagues by 1987.  He was a Brewer through 1995.  Then, he went to Baltimore until a trade to Atlanta during the 2000 season.  Surhoff remained with the Braves through 2002 before returning to the Orioles for the final three seasons of his 19 year career.

During his nine seasons in Milwaukee, Surhoff played 1,102 games, with a .274 average and 57 homers.

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

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