50 Years in 50 Days: 1986

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 26

26 Years Ago:
The incredible four year run of the Appleton Foxes comes to an end along with a much longer run.

The cover of the 1986 Appleton Foxes program. The first in a series of covers designed by Paul Birling.

Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox (21st Year)
Manager(s): Duke Sims/Rico Petrocelli
Record: 56-83

Future Major Leaguers:
Outfielder Mark Davis hit .228 with three homers and 22 RBI in 77 games
Shortstop Norberto Martin hit .303 with no homers and two RBI in nine games
Pitcher Donn Pall (5-5, 2.31) in 11 games – all starts – with 51K in 78IP
Third Baseman Luis Salzar hit .203 with two homers and four RBI in 21 games
Shortstop Randy Velarde hit .252 with 11 homers and 50RBI in 124 games

Category Leaders:
AVG: Bill Eveline – .285
HR: Ron Scruggs – 15
RBI: Randy Velarde – 50
SB: Aubrey Waggoner – 29
OPS: Randy Velarde – .774
WINS: John Stein – 11
ERA: Steve Oswald – 2.35
IP: John Stein – 183
SO: John Stein – 170
SAVES: John Boling – 9

No Hit Stat: John Stein tossed a no-hitter against the Beloit Snappers on May 26.

Manager Switch Stat:  This was the third time the Foxes changed managers during the season.  The article on Duke Sims in the 1986 program states that he played for five MLB clubs between 1964 and 1974.  After he retired in 1974, Sims began working in financial planning and real estate.  But, he wanted to get back into the game.

Duke Sims as a Yankee in 1974. He hit exactly 100 homers in his career.

On June 10 – about two months into the season, the White Sox flipped Sims to Peninsula and brought Boston Red Sox legend Rico Petrocelli to Appleton.

Sims managed the one season in baseball.  Petrocelli would manage in Birmingham in 1988 and 1989 and Pawtucket in 1992.

An Extended Stay Stat:  Luis Salazar had been in the big leagues starting in 1980.  He played 21 games for the Foxes during 1986 and only four with the White Sox.

Luis Salazar's 1987 White Sox card.

Salazar went on to play for Detroit and the Cubs.  He is currently a manager in the Atlanta system after a horrible accident during 2011 spring training.

End of the Line Stat:  The Foxes and the Chicago White Sox parted ways after the 1986 season.  This ended a 21-year relationship.  The Foxes won pennants as a White Sox affiliate in 1966, 1967, 1969, 1978, 1982, 1983, & 1984.  The regular season record for the Foxes as a Chicago affiliate was 1,473-1,251.

1986 MWL Season:
The only change in the league for 1986 was in Burlington.  They change their affiliation and nickname to Expos.  Burlington was also partly a co-op team as they received 10 players from the Royals during this season.

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

1986 MWL All-Star Game:
Beloit hosted the All-Star Game on July 7.  The North won the game 4-2.

1986 Postseason:

The playoff teams were:
North: Madison (86-54)
Central: Waterloo (78-62)
South: Springfield (87-53)
Wild Card: Peoria (77-63)

In the best-of-three divisional round: Waterloo swept Madison and Peoria swept Springfield.

In the best-of-five Championship Series, Waterloo swept the Chiefs.

1986 MWL Alumni of Note:
Mark Grace – Peoria Chiefs

Mark Grace as a Peoria Chief in 1986.

Grace made his pro debut with the Chiefs in 1986.  He hit 15 homers and drove in 95 runs with a .342 batting average in 126 games.  Two years later he was with the Cubs and finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.  Grace played 13 years with the Cubs and won a World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.  He retired after the 2003 season as a career .300 hitter with 2,445 hits.

Larry WalkerBurlington Expos

Larry Walker bunted at one time.

Omar VizquelWausau Timbers

Yes. It's him. Just an unfortunate typo in 1986.

Omar Vizquel was still playing in the major leagues in 2011.  Do you think he found the Fountain of Youth up on Rib Mountain during an off day in Wausau?  Or was he just hoping that people would spell his name the right way?

1986 Brewers Farmhand of Note:
Doug HenryBeloit Brewers

Doug Henry, Milwaukee Brewer.

Henry was 7-8 with a save and a 4.65ERA in 27 games – 24 starts – for Beloit in 1986.  Henry also had a plate appearance in a 1986 game. He returned to the MWL with the Brewers in 1987 and shuffled around the Brewers organization until reaching the big leagues in 1991.  Henry was eighth on the ballot of the AL Rookie of the Year in 1991 after he collected 15 saves and allowed four runs in 36 innings.

He saved 29 games in 1992 and 17 in 1993, but appeared in 25 games without a save during 1994.  Henry went on to pitch for the Mets, Giants, Astros, and Royals.  He retired after the 2001 season.

Opening Day is April 5.  Get here soon!

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