50 Years in 50 Days: 1988

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 24.

24 Years Ago:
Tom Gordon was an Appleton Foxes pitcher.  He was pretty good.

Another Paul Birling design on the cover of the 1988 Foxes program.

Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Kansas City Royals (2nd Year)
Manager: Brian Poldberg (1st season)
First Half Record:  28-38 (4th, North)
Second Half Record: 30-44 (6th, North)
Overall Record: 58-82

Future Major Leaguers:
Pitcher Mike Butcher (0-1, 3.38) in 7 games – 4 starts – with 14K in 24IP
Pitcher Tom Gordon (7-5, 2.06) in 17 games – all starts – with 172K in 118IP
Shortstop David Howard hit .223 with a homer and 22 RBI in 110 games
Pitcher Mike Magnante (3-2, 3.21) in 9 games – 8 starts – with 40K in 47.2IP
Pitcher Dennis Moeller (3-5, 3.18) in 20 games – 18 starts – with 88K in 99IP
Catcher Jorge Pedre hit .272 with six homers and 54RBI in 111 games
Second Baseman Terry Shumpert hit .242 with seven homers and 54RBI in 114 games
Catcher Tim Spehr hit .264 with five homers and 22RBI in 31 games

Category Leaders:
AVG: Bobby Knecht – .282
HR: Terry Shumpert – 7
RBI: Bobby Knecht – 82
SB: Terry Shumpert – 36
OPS: Bobby Knecht – .769
WINS: Tom Gordon & William Stonikas – 7
ERA: Tom Gordon – 2.06
IP: Jesus DeLeon – 152.1
SO: Tom Gordon – 172
SV: Brian McCormack – 12

Tom Gordon at Goodland Field in 1988.

Look at that Number Again Stat:  Tom Gordon struck out 172 batters in 118 innings pitched.  That is 13 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.  You can see why he was named the Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America for 1988.  Well, that…plus this game:

Gordon presented the team with a gift of a 16-strikeout, 3-1 gem over the Burlington Braves.

Gordon, a 20-year-old native of Avon Park , Fla. , went the distance in reducing his earned-run average to 1.33 in 54.2 innings. He now has 78 strikeouts. He threw 127 pitches and scattered six hits.

Still with the Royals Stat:  Brian Poldberg managed the Foxes again in 1989.  He was still with the Royals as of the end of the 2011 season.  Poldberg managed the Northwest Arkansas Naturals last season, his fourth season at the helm of the Naturals.  He had another pretty good pitcher who played in Appleton on that roster last year.

Running Out of Time Stat: Opening Day, 2012 is almost here.  Time constraints will keep me from being as detailed as I would like to be on this series of posts.  Apologies up front.

1988 MWL Season:
Lots of changes for the 1988 season.  Two teams (South Bend and Rockford) were added to the league.  The Expos moved their affiliation from Burlington to Rockford.  The White Sox became a parent club of South Bend.  Burlington became the Burlington Braves.

Also: The league split into a pair of seven team divisions and went back to the split season schedule.  The playoff teams would be the teams that won each division in each half.

North: Appleton Foxes, Beloit Brewers, Kenosha Twins, Madison Muskies, Rockford Expos, South Bend White Sox, Wausau Timbers,
South: Burlington Braves, Cedar Rapids Reds, Clinton Giants, Peoria Chiefs, Quad City Angels, Springfield Cardinals, Waterloo Indians

1988 MWL All-Star Game:
Clinton hosted the game on July 11.  The North beat the South 5-2.

No details other than Jesus DeLeon of Appleton was the winning pitcher and Jorge Pedre of Appleton was the MVP.

1988 MWL Postseason:
In the North Divisional series, Kenosha swept Rockford 2-0.  In the South Divisional series, Cedar Rapids swept Springfield

The Cedar Rapids Reds won the best-of-five Championship Series 301 over Kenosha.

1988 MWL Alumni of Note:
Chuck CarrWausau Timbers

Chuckie Carr is not taking his hacks here.

Chuck Carr played 82 games for the Timbers, an affiliate of Seattle, during 1988.  He hit .299 with six homers and 30RBI with 41RBI.  Brewers fans always perk up a little bit when they hear the name Chuckie Carr.  Adam McCalvy explains why:

It was May 16, 1997, a 5-1 Brewers loss to Chuck Finley and the Angels. Carr led off the eighth inning with the Brewers down, 4-1, ignored a “take” sign and popped a 2-and-0 pitch weakly to third base. After the game, before reporters were let in, then-manager Phil Garner approached him in front of that locker and asked Carr what he was thinking. The response, as most Brewers fans know, was classic. 
“Chuckie don’t play that game,” he said. “Chuckie hacks on 2-and-0.”

It was Carr’s last at-bat for the Brewers, who released him with a .130 batting average.

Rod BeckClinton Giants

Beck went 12-7 with a 3.00ERA in 28 games – 23 starts for Clinton in 1988.  I miss Shooter.

There are good Giants. And there are GREAT Giants.

Rod Beck, who died on Sunday at age 38, was a GREAT Giant.

The swinging arm, the messy mullet, the Fu Manchu, the gut that said to everyone at Candlestick Park: “Gym? What gym? Where’s the bar?”

Indeed, the hardcore dirtball Giants fans — including this Fool — who went to the Stick for baseball church services in the Beck Years (1993-’97), will always remember “Shooter” as the ballsy pitcher who looked decorum and tradition in the face and — hawked a 98 mph loogie.

Stationary bike? How about a stationary shot glass, and keep it full.

In 1993, during perhaps the best Giant pennant race ever, Beck (48 saves, 2.16 ERA) was a rock down the stretch. He pitched in almost every game down the stretch. Toward the end, he had nothing. He dared batters to hit whatever he threw and it was mostly slow and not very straight.

And they still couldn’t it very hard.

1988 Brewers Farmhands of Note:

Pat Listach

One of these players won a Rookie of the Year Award.

Listach hit .240 with a homer and 18RBI in 53 games for Beloit in 1988.  He would go on to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1992.  He beat out Kenny Lofton, Dave Flemming, and Cal Eldred.

Dave Nilsson

Dave Nilsson's 1993 Fleer card.

Nilsson appeared in 95 games for Beloit in 1988.  He hit .223 with four homers and 41 RBI. The Australian was 18 years old and in his second season with the Brewers organization.

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

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