This week’s main Flashback is on the main website and it deals with Bill Veeck being Bill Veeck at the 1976 Welcome, Foxes Banquet.
The Foxes of this era held their welcome banquet on an off day after the season had started. Appleton lost the opening game on April 17 at home to Wisconsin Rapids. Their game at Wisconsin Rapids on April 18 was rained out.
The banquet was held on April 19 at Country Aire, which was located at 2311 W. Spencer Street in Appleton. Monarch Gardens Banquet is at that address now.
For the supplemental to the Flashback, here is the story from Roger Pitt that appeared in the April 20, 1976 edition of The Post-Crescent that is about the kind of team manager Jim Napier thought the Foxes would be for that season.
Napier likes Foxes’ pitching
“He who hesitates is lost.”
That old proverb is one which new Appleton Foxes Manager Jim Napier believes in.
Napier isn’t one to wait around for something to happen. Fans can expect to see a lot of old-style baseball at Goodland Field this season – stealing, bunting, and hit-and-run.
“A player is only out on the field 2-1/2 to 3 hours,” Napier, a former catcher, said. “There is no reason for him to give less than 100 per cent while he is out there.”
“We expect there are going to be physical errors and we’re going to try to cut the mental errors to a minimum,” he said, “but I won’t tolerate a lack of hustle. Anyone who doesn’t give the effort will find himself out of the lineup.”
How well does he know his team? How long will it take to put the best team together?
Although the Foxes were the last of the White Sox three minor league teams to be finalized, Napier said, “I know the personnel quite well. We (he and White Sox farm system people) have known for 2-1/2 or 3 weeks who would be playing here. Although they weren’t on the same team in practice games in Sarasota, I knew who I was going to have and watched them pretty close. I have a good idea of their capabilities.”
“The team on the field for the first game should be the one which we go with. There may be some changes but the best team will come as the players develop confidence in their ability,” the affable manager, who gives the impression of being a hard-nosed player who learned his lessons well behind the plate, said.
One of the lessons he learned was the style of ball he favors on offense.
“I learned from playing against the Dodgers,” Napier said, “that it exerts a lot of pressure on the defense, particularly the catcher, when you are continually challenging the opponent.”
“This team should have good speed on the base paths. We should have a good defense and, most of all, the club has pretty good pitching.”
Napier, expounding on his offense, said, “We’re going to run every chance we get and we’ll use the bunt and hit-and-run.” This go-go style of play resulted in a pair of first inning runs in the opener Saturday without the benefit of a hit.
“If you have a power team you can probably sit back and wait for somebody to jack the ball out of the park. We won’t be doing that. I consider a legitimate power hitter as a player who is going to hit 20 or more home runs. Most everyone in the starting lineup has average or above average speed,” Napier analyzed.
Pitching is the main factor in baseball and Napier thinks he has some excellent arms on this year’s staff. He currently has 12 pitchers, a rather large number, but has a few “young arms” who he will not put on the line until he thinks they are ready. “We have some veterans back,” he said, “who should form the nucleus of the staff. There were a lot of young kids on this team last year and many are back. A year’s experience should be beneficial to them.
Napier plans on a four-man rotation to start. Three of the names are familiar to Foxes followers: Jay Attardi, Roy Coulter, and Bill Kautzer. Attardi started the season here last year with a 4-2 record but was sent to Sarasota.
Later, Mike Farrell or Steve Nored is expected to move into the rotation as a fifth starter. The short relief assignment will fall on Bill “Popeye” Lehman, a favorite of Foxes fans. Lehman touched base with all White Sox farm operations last year.
On a whole, Napier is “very happy with the personnel on the team.”
“We have the kind of balance it takes to win. Defense, speed, and pitching.”
“We expect to provide an exciting brand of baseball. If everything jells, we can have a good team. My job is to get these kids to know that they can do it.
Dave Leonhard played for the Foxes in 1963. His SABR Biography starts off with this:
Dave Leonhard had a mediocre high-school and college pitching career. He refused a scout’s first offer to sign him, then changed his mind and signed for a $9 bonus. From that humble start, he carved out a six-year career as a pitcher with the Baltimore Orioles.
At the time Dave was teaching 11th grade history at Sparrows Point High School in Sparrows Point, Maryland, outside Baltimore. Believing that he was just a mediocre pitcher, Dave refused the offer. “I had a contract to teach through June and I didn’t want to leave,” he told the writer of a profile on him in a Johns Hopkins alumni magazine.4 Youse persisted and offered Leonhard $450 a month to play rookie ball after the school year. Leonhard accepted Youse’s offer, figuring it was a much better summer job than anything else he’d find, but said that he “had no intentions of being a professional ballplayer.” Meanwhile, since professional teams got a 30 percent discount at the store, Youse got Leonhard a $9 discount on the shoes. Leonhard joked, “My bonus amounted to the discount I got when I paid for the shoes.”5
Milwaukee Brewers #1 prospect Orlando Arcia, a Timber Rattler in 2013, was mentioned in this tweet by MLB Pipeline:
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 20, 2016
Which leads to this video:
Glenetzke is a Wisconsin native – born in Brokaw and raised in Wausau – played for the Papermakers in 1946 and became a member of the Merrill Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012:
Clarence Glenetzke grew up in Wausau, and was a four-time letter winner at Wausau High School. After high school he pitched for the Wausau Lumberjacks and later in the professional ranks. He eventually starred for the Merrill Rangers from 1950-’62. That was the glory years of the Rangers, when they won four league championships and three straight state titles.
Three of today’s birthdays are for players who were Foxes and that includes one from Marion, Wisconsin.
The Marion native is Ken Frailing, who made the major leagues with the White Sox and the Cubs.
The Flashback is about a no-hitter he through in an American Legion game in 1966 – days before the MLB Draft which saw the White Sox take him in the fifth round – and a 1968 article about Frailing appearing in a Cubs-Sox exhibition game in 1968.
Born in 1948 and raised in Marion, Wisconsin, a town of 1,000 about 120 miles north of Madison, Frailing grew up loving sports, particularly baseball. He came of age in the early 1960s, when baseball was still considered the national pastime. Reflecting on his youthful experiences in a 2001 interview, he remembered that most of the kids he knew had limited choices for entertainment. As a result, they would get together and play ball:
“Baseball was a big deal at Marion High. But considering our cool weather, in a good year we’d get in maybe 20 games. But we also had American Legion ball. There would be nights that we would draw 800 people in a town of 1,000 to a game. I was a pitcher in high school, but I played the outfield, too.”
The former big leaguer was modest. Playing for a high school with 200 students, Frailing, at 6-feet and 190 pounds, became an all-around athlete who starred in the three major team sports of the era, football, basketball, and baseball. He earned all-conference honors in all three sports during his senior year of 1965-66. Speaking in a 2001 interview, John Bartelt, who coached Marion High’s baseball team for 41 years, called Frailing “pleasant, conscientious, hard-working, talented—the type of kid you want to coach.”
Frailing’s peers agreed. In 2000 the school’s former ballplayers selected the left-hander as Marion High’s Athlete of the Century. Bartelt, commenting to the Marion Advertiser, called Frailing one of the most coachable athletes he ever knew: “He was an intense competitor and had just a fantastic attitude. The more I think about it, the more I realize how fortunate I was to be associated with Ken as his coach, his teacher, his neighbor, and his friend.”
A standout end in football as well as a forward in basketball who scored exactly 1,000 points in high school, Frailing was also a remarkable left-handed batter who played the outfield when not on the mound. He hurled four no-hitters for Marion, including his first game as a freshman, a 6-0 victory over Tigerton in which he fanned 16 hitters. Major-league scouts began watching him during his sophomore year, and he really caught their attention as a senior when he fashioned a 13-0 mark with a 0.17 ERA and helped Marion High finish unbeaten at 16-0.
The White Sox selected Frailing in the fifth round of the amateur draft in 1966. The club tried to sign him the day after his Mustangs finished playing in the semifinals of the state American Legion Tournament. Thanks to Coach Bartelt’s advice, Ken held out for a month, and the White Sox to offer a sizable bonus.
“To play pro baseball was my dream,” Frailing recollected. “I grew up following the Milwaukee Braves. So I got to see a couple games a year in Milwaukee, and that was really exciting. Somebody’s parents would take us. We’d go early when the gates opened, and we’d get to see the clubs take batting practice. We’d be in the bleachers and get the home-run balls hit during batting practice. I thought that was the greatest thing!”
Enthusiastic, cheerful, and blessed with a positive attitude and a good work ethic, Frailing signed a professional contract, and when he did, the White Sox not only agreed to pay for his college education but also gave him a $25,000 bonus. He attended Wisconsin State University-Stevens Point, beginning after his stint in the Rookie Gulf Coast League in 1966.
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association run something called the MLB Rookie Development Program each January.
The Players Association and Major League Baseball each January bring together several of each clubs top prospects to take part in the Rookie Career Development Program, a private, four-day gathering in which the players get to know each other and learn about life in the big leagues.
Former Timber Rattlers outfielder Michael Reed was there and MLB Pipeline caught up with him.
This page at MLB.com has video of the players at the program and this highlight video is there, too.
Appleton Professional Baseball Birthdays:
The story of Player Appreciation Night and the near no-hitter by Mickey Abarbanel are available at this link on the Timber Rattlers website.
Click on the photo for a larger image of the award winners. The boxscore from that game is also provided.
Appleton Pro Baseball Birthdays – January 15:
Trey Witte – 46
To start off this post right. Thank you all for stopping by to read Rattler Radio today and in the last year.
The year-end rankings for MLBlogs were released earlier this week. Rattler Radio is listed in the MiLB Pro category and finished 5th. Here is the top 10 in that category as noted in this post at MLB.com Blogs Central:
1. Ben’s Biz Blog
2. MiLB.com’s PROSPECTive Blog
3. Inside the San Jose Giants
4. Crawdads Beat
5. Rattler Radio
6. The Shuck Dynasty
7. Rollin’ with Rick PawSox
8. The Dash Board
9. 45 Miles From Fenway
10. Callis’ Corner
Benjamin Hill handled being number one in his usual manner:
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) January 13, 2016
Rattler Radio started out over here on Blogspot on March 27, 2006 with this post.
Hold on…..This blog is going to be TEN YEARS OLD IN JUST OVER TWO MONTHS?
Whoa. I needed to get that out of my system.
I moved it over to MLBlogs in September of 2010 and it has been a lot of fun from the very start.
I have added some features over the years and will continue to look for ways to make this the place to follow the Timber Rattlers and to inform and entertain.
Thank you for being along for the last decade. Thank you for coming back.
The announcement was made earlier today that Matt Erickson will return as the manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers for his sixth consecutive season.
The Appleton native already holds the Timber Rattlers record for most seasons (5) and wins (326).
How does this stack up against all the managers in Appleton Professional Baseball history?
Once Erickson manages one game in the 2016 season, he will break a tie with Gordy Lund for the longest-tenured manager in APB History. Lund was the manager of the Appleton Foxes in 1974-1975, 1977-1978, and 1980. Lund also holds the Appleton Pro Baseball record for wins by a manager with 350. So, Erickson will surpass Lund’s win total some time in the first half.
Here are all the managers with more than one season at the head of an Appleton Professional Baseball Team:
Matt Erickson: 2011-present
Gordy Lund: 1974-75, 1977-78, & 1980
Billy DeMars: 1963-65
Gary Thurman: 2000-02
Eddie Dancisak: 1940-42
George Hogriever: 1911-12
Travis Jackson: 1952-53
Earl Weaver: 1960-61
Sal Rende: 1984-85
Brian Boldberg: 1988-89
Joe Breeden: 1990-91
Carlos Lezcano: 1993-94
Mike Goff: 1995-96
Gary Varsho: 1997-98
Steve Roadcap: 1999, 2004
Jim Horner: 2006-07
Jeff Isom: 2009-2010
Joe Skurski: 1950-51
Stan Wasiak: 1966, 1968
Bert Thiel: 1972, 1973
This week’s episode is with Kyle Lobner, who will have a Frosty Microbrew about Monte Harrison on the Timber Rattlers website on Wednesday. We talk about that, a little David Bowie, and a lot of baseball. Plus, if you are going to NXT Milwaukee on Thursday, maybe you will see Kyle and me there!
TO THE PODCAST!
Appleton Baseball Birthdays – January 12:
Casey Craig – 31
Juan Sandoval – 35
Blake Bone – 37
Richie Leblanc – 50
Larry Allen – 52
Tim Hulett – 56
Mike Trujillo – 56
Paul Gilliford – 71
Ivan Siegfried – Born 1923
Appleton Baseball Birthday (January 10):
Juan Silvestre – 40
Silvestre holds the Timber Rattlers franchise record for career home runs with 36. He hit 15 in 1998 and 21 in 1999.