50 Years in 50 Days: 1987

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 25

25 Years Ago:
The Appleton Foxes became an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

The cover of the 1987 Foxes program.

Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Kansas City Royals (1st Year)
Manager: Ken Berry
Record:  71-69 (2nd, North)

Future Major Leaguers:
Pitcher Mike Butcher (10-4, 2.67) in 20 games – 19 starts – with 89K in 121.1IP
Pitcher Tom Gilles (0-0, 0.00) in one game – a start – with a strikeout in 3IP
Pitcher Greg Hibbard (7-2, 1.11) in 9 games – all starts – with 61K in 64.1IP
Pitcher Carlos Maldonado (0-0, 11.57) in 2 games – no starts – with 4K in 2.1IP
Pitcher Dennis Moeller (2-5, 7.20) in 18 games – 13 starts – with 49K in 55IP
Outfielder Harvey Pulliam hit .276 with nine homers and 55RBI in 110 games

Category Leaders:
AVG: Pat Bailey – .328
HR: Kenny Jackson – 19
RBI: Francisco Laureano – 87
SB: Harvey Pulliam – 21
OPS: Francisco Laureano – .874
WINS: Mike Butcher and Luke Nocas – 10
ERA: Mike Butcher – 2.67
IP: Mike Tresemer – 121.2
SO: Mike Tressemer – 90
SAVES: Joe Skodny – 15

New Affiliate Stat:

Instead of retyping the story, here is John L. Paustian’s story from The Post-Crescent at that covers the new partnership with the Royals.  Click for a larger image.

Ken Berry Stat: The new manager of the Appleton Foxes for 1987 was Ken Berry.  Berry had played in the major leagues for the White Sox, Angels, Brewers, and Indians from 1962-75.  He was an All-Star in 1967 and won gold gloves in 1970 and 1972.  He went on to manage a few more years in the minors after his one season in Appleton.  He made a few trips back to the Fox Cities as a roving instructor for Milwaukee after the Brewers became the parent club of the Rattlers.

1987 MWL Season:
The only change was the Foxes affiliation.

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

A very tight five team race for the Wild Card Spot went down to the final weekend of the regular season.  But, the Clinton Giants edged into the playoff picture.

Wild Card Standings:
Clinton (72-67)
Waterloo (72-68)
Appleton (71-69)
Peoria (71-69)
Cedar Rapids (70-70)

1987 MWL All-Star Game:
Wausau hosted the All-Star Game on July 13.  The North won 9-8 in 11 innings.

1987 Postseason:
Playoff teams:
North: Kenosha (82-58)
Central: Beloit (76-64)
South: Springfield (94-46)
Wild Card: Clinton (72-67)

Both of the divisional series went three games.  Kenosha and Springfield advanced to the Championship Series.

In a foreshadowing of the 1987 World Series, the Twins beat the Cardinals in the MWL Finals.  However, Kenosha needed just four games (in a best-of-five) series to claim the pennant.

1987 MWL Alum of Note:
Jerome Walton – Peoria Chiefs

Jerome Walton, Peoria Chief

Walton hit .335 and stole 39 bases for the Chiefs.  In 1989, he was the NL Rookie of the Year.  A 30-game hitting streak and helping the Cubs win the NL East that year probably had a lot to do with that win.

Todd Zeile – Springfield Cardinals

Todd Zeile, Springfield Cardinal

Zeile hit .292 with 25 homers and 106 RBI for the Cardinals in 1987.  He was a co-MVP for the MWL.

Future Rattler Coach Stat:
Pat RiceWausau Timbers

Pat Rice as a Wausau Timber in 1987 from checkoutmycards.com

Rice went 12-11 in 28 games – 27 starts – for the Timbers in 1987.  He was the Timber Rattlers pitching coach from 1995 to 1997.  He moved on to New Haven (AA) for two seasons and eventually was the he pitching coordinator for the entire Mariners system from 2000 to 2007.  Rice was the pitching coach for Fresno, the AAA affiliate of the Giants, last season.  If that sound familiar, it should.  Former Appleton Fox Russ Morman was the hitting coach in Fresno last year.

1987 Brewers Farmhand:
Greg Vaughn – Beloit Brewers

Greg Vaughn in 1987.

Vaughn hit .305 with 33 homers and 105 RBI in 1987 with Beloit.  He shared the 1987 MWL MVP award with Zeile.  Vaughn was in the big leagues in 1989.  If you went to Milwaukee County Stadium while Vaughn patrolled left field for the Brewers, you probably sat in the left field bleachers that were designated Vaughn’s Valley.  As a Brewer Vaughn hit 169 homers.  He played with the Padres, Reds, Devil Rays, and Rockies during a career that lasted 15 seasons.

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

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