Results tagged ‘ Appleton Baseball History ’
The Milwaukee Brewers have announced the signing of Dontrelle Willis to a minor league deal heading into Spring Training of 2015.
The one-time pitching phenom, who hasn’t appeared in the major leagues since 2011, signed a minor-league deal Wednesday with the Brewers with an invitation to their spring camp.
“You never know,” said Melvin, who has been looking for left-handed relief help. “You give guys another chance and sometimes they come through for you. He has kept himself in shape and continues to work at it.”
Melvin has tried reclamation projects in the past. Some worked out (Gabe Kapler), some didn’t (Bobby Crosby, Kelvim Escobar). The way he sees it, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
“I know some other clubs gave him a shot and it didn’t work out,” Melvin said. “Sometimes, things change and work out differently. There might be something that clicks.”
Willis, 33, was a sensation as a young pitcher, going 14-6 with a 3.30 earned run average for the World Series champion Florida Marlins in 2003 to earn National League Rookie of the Year honors. In 2005, he went 22-10 for the Marlins and is still their only 20-game winner.
I saw that and just couldn’t believe that it had been almost THIRTEEN years since Willis was in the Midwest League and – it seemed – made it his personal mission to crush the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Flashback to 2002: The Kane County Cougars were in their final season as the Midwest League affiliate of the Florida Marlins and Willis was listed by Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook (2002) as the #21 prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization. Willis had joined the Marlins on March 27, 2002 in a trade with the Cubs. (Antonio ALfonseca & Matt Clement to the Cubs. Willis, Julian Tavarez, Ryan Jorgenson, and Jose Cuteo to the Marlins).
Just over two weeks later – April 13 at Kane County, Willis made his first start against the Timber Rattlers (a Seattle affiliate at the time). I missed that game due to the Green Bay Gamblers being in the USHL playoffs in Des Moines on that day. But, I heard about his performance – 7IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, BB, 2K – in a no decision.
The first time I got a chance to see Willis in person was on May 7 at Fox Cities Stadium. It was the first game of a doubleheader and it was….eye-opening. Willis pitched a 7-inning, complete-game, shutout in an 8-0 Kane County victory. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Dan Floyd singled to start the frame to break up the no-hitter. The Rattlers would collect four hits that day – singles by Floyd, Shin-Soo Choo, and Jason Rainey and a double by Jerry Amador. Willis walked two and had just one strikeout, but picked up the win to run his record to 3-0.
The final matchup between the Rattlers and Willis was set for June 23 at Kane County. To put this in context, the Rattlers finished the first half of the season with a 30-39 record. They would open the second half of the season at Kane County. The Cougars were – somehow – just 29-40 in the first half. Both teams were looking to get a good start to the second half.
June 23 was a Sunday afternoon and it was the fourth game of the four-game series. The Rattlers had lost the first three games of the series and were trying to avoid the sweep. Kane County scored six times in the second inning off Emiliano Fruto to give Willis a 6-0 lead.
Wisconsin scored their first earned runs off Willis in the top of the third inning with an RBI double by Floyd and an RBI grounder from Choo. They Rattlers would get another run off Willis in the sixth when Greg Dobbs doubled and scored on a single by Jason Van Meetren. That would make the score 7-3. Kane County would win 10-3.
Willis went seven innings again in this game and allowed six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
His totals in three starts against Wisconsin:
21IP, 13H, 4R, 3ER, 5BB, 7K, 2-0 with a 1.29ERA.
The Rattlers would go on to lose their first eight games of the second half with an eventual record of 2-20 in the first 22 games of the second half of the 2002 season.
Just under a year after his last start against the Timber Rattlers, Willis was pitching for the Marlins in the Major Leagues.
Alumni Birthdays for January 22:
Tyrone Taylor (’13) – 21
BROCK! Kjeldgaard (’09) – 29
Shawn Nottingham (’05) – 30
Dave Leonhard (’63) – 74
This week’s Flashback Friday is…amazing.
The letter in the Flashback calls the item depicted below as a ‘Calliola’….But, a google search of Calliola brings up somewhere in Finland. We will stick with calliope. Yes. part of the marketing plan for the Appleton Foxes was a calliope.
Here are full sized pictures of the Foxes Calliope from the late 1960’s. As always….click for the full-sized pictures.
Alumni Birthdays for November 21:
Jeff Perez (’02) – 36
Mike Mason (Pitching Coach ’91, ’92) – 56
Alumni Birthdays for November 22:
Greg Hopkins (’11, ’12) – 26
Eddy Fernandez (’07) – 28
Lindsay Gullin (’98) – 38
Gene Walter (’90) – 54
Mike Henley (’83) – 55
Alumni Birthdays for November 23:
Karl Drezek (’88, ’89) – 49
Fred Blackwelder (’67, ’68) – 68
Jerry Nyman (’66) – 72
John Griffin (’61) – 75
Jack MeKeon (Manager, ’59) – 84
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, World Series Champions of 2014.
That was their third Championship in the last five years. The last time the Giants were this successful was back in the early 1920’s. John McGraw managed the New York Giants to four straight National League pennants from 1921-1924 with wins over the New York Yankees in 1921 and 1922 and losses to the Yankees (1923) and Washington Senators (1924).
There is a slight Appleton tie to that Giants dynasty. Travis Jackson played for the Giants briefly in 1922 and saw more playing time in 1923 and 1924.
During the 1920s and 1930s the New York Giants captured seven National League championships. While they had great outfielders like Mel Ott and Ross Youngs as well as solid pitching, most prominently Carl Hubbell, it was their infield that anchored the team in its success. George Kelly, Fred Lindstrom, and Bill Terry each had a hand in many of the successful Giants campaigns during this era. They, along with several other prominent teammates including Frankie Frisch and Rogers Hornsby, were recognized for their play; each was selected to the Hall of Fame.
Over time, recognition of how the Giants arrived at their success gained a different perspective. It dawned on those invested with selection to the Hall of Fame that these Giants infielders had one factor in common from the early 1920s through the mid-1930s: their shortstop, Travis Jackson. That realization, almost belatedly made, crystallized in 1982 when the Veterans Committee elected Jackson to the Hall. While a solid hitter, Jackson was not in the mold of a Hornsby or Terry, but he was considered by his peers as the defensive anchor for his team and one of the best at his position, if not the best.
Unfortunately, Timber Rattlers fans – along with the rest of the fans in the Midwest League – have not had a chance to see many of the Giants players when those players were in the minor leagues. The Giants have not been affiliated with a Midwest League team since 1996 when they wrapped up a two year deal with the Burlington Bees.
According to MWLGuide.com, The San Francisco Giants were affiliated with a MWL team from 1956 to 1996. They were with the Michigan City White Caps (1956-59), Quincy Giants (1960-61), Decatur Commodores (1962-74), Cedar Rapids Giants (1975-79), Clinton Giants (1980-93), and Clinton Giants (1994).
There was also one year (1954) when the Giants were affiliated with a MWL team by the name of the Danville Dans.
For a more local – as in Northeastern Wisconsin – flavoring of Giants baseball, look back to the old Wisconsin State League. The New York Giants were affiliated with Oshkosh’s WSL franchise in 1942 and – once the league restarted after World War II – again from 1946 through 1953, when the WSL folded.
The Oshkosh Giants won the Wisconsin State League title in both 1949 and 1950.
Speaking of the old Wisconsin State League, here is another photo of that Papermakers Pen that was mentioned in yesterday’s post.
Corby Heckman (’95) – 31
Manny Parra (’11) – 32
Craig Anderson (’00) – 34
Tom Poquette (Manager, ’92) – 63
Mark Tanner (’73) – 64
The Royals forced a Game Seven in the 2014 World Series with their 10-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.
Lorenzo Cain (’09) played his part:
It also shouldn’t be surprising to Timber Rattlers fans that Yordano Ventura pitched as well as he did last night. Ventura was a member of the Kane County Cougars in 2011 and was 4-6 in 19 starts. But, in his two starts against Wisconsin Ventura had no record, but allowed no runs on four hits with two walks and 15 strikeouts in nine innings.
It also wouldn’t surprise Rattlers fans that Mike Moustakas is hammering the baseball out of the yard in the World Series. Moustakas was a Burlington Bee in 2008 and in 16 games against the Timber Rattlers he was 22-for-61 (.361) with four doubles, a triple, four home runs, and twelve RBI. Plus, he walked ten times while striking out eleven times.
Still playing a little catch up from the hiatus and this story has been sitting in my inbox for a bit.
The Country Today, a newspaper based out of Eau Claire, did a story on the Timber Rattlers Vegetable Garden.
A new stream of fresh vegetables is flowing to a Fox Valley food program thanks to a triple play by the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers baseball organization, GreenStone Farm Credit Services and the Freedom FFA.
As of Aug. 20, volunteer efforts of those three groups had made possible the donation of 79 pounds of fresh vegetables through the “Grow a Row for St. Joe” project from a 30-by-20-foot garden behind the left-field bleachers at Neuroscience Group Field of the Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton.
“We’ll keep on doing it throughout the fall too as long as vegetables are to be harvested,” said Jerrad Radocay, corporate marketing manager for the Timber Rattlers, a Midwest minor league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The St. Joseph Food Program is a nonprofit that for 32 years has made weekly distributions of fresh food and non-perishable items to the elderly, working poor and temporarily unemployed in the Fox Valley.
The team is looking at expanding the garden for 2015.
Circling back to the opening image of the post. That is a pencil giveaway from the Appleton Papermakers in either the 1940’s or 1950’s…It’s all sorts of cool.
If you have something like this – or any piece of Appleton Professional Baseball meorabilia in your basement, storage unit, attic, garage, or…I don’t know…. kitchen???…. feel free to bring it into the ballpark. We can either take a picture of it to document it and share on the blog, or find a place to display it at the stadium.
Flashback Friday is up on the main website. It deals with the 1965 announcement that the Foxes would be the Midwest League affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
One of the reasons given for the White Sox partnership with Appleton’s professional baseball team was the proximity to a Boys’ Camp run by the White Sox in Brothertown, Wisconsin.
There is a news story in the Milwaukee Journal from August 20, 1964 available on Google News about the camp receiving the blessing of the WIAA and other high school athletic associations around the Midwest.
The amazing thing about this story is that Bart Starr and Jerry Kramer tried for a camp for boys in Wisconsin during 1963 and received reluctant approval from the WIAA along with outright rejection from Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois. They abandoned the project.
The White Sox ran some ads for the camp in the Foxes program over the years. I have scanned in the ads from 1967 through 1970 to give you an idea of what went on there:
This is the first advertisement from a Foxes program that I could find. It would be in the second year of the affiliation between the Foxes and the White Sox.
They put a photo of the camp counselors…directors….coaches…staff in this ad. But, they did not identify those in the picture.
So…What happened on a typical day at the camp?
A few minor changes to the ad for this program from the previous year.
The director of the camp was named George Sobek. He has a BR-Reference Bullpen page.
Sobek was later a Chicago White Sox scout from 1950 to 1984, signing Denny McLain (most notably), Steve Trout, and Mike Squires. He also managed several seasons in the Sox organization. He also scouted for the San Francisco Giants from 1985 to 1988.
This ad added a few more photos of the actual activities at the camp.
The Boys’ Camp is no more. Keuler’s Bar & Grill was sold in 1984. BUT, Gobbler’s Knob is still around!
I would love to see the Full Color Brochure that was used to promote the camp.
I want to take a trip over to Brothertown in the near future.
If you caught today’s Flashback Friday on the Timber Rattlers website, you saw a cropped photo of the 1969 Appleton Foxes. They are posing before heading out on their final road trip of the season.
Here’s that whole photo – with the caption to identify all the people.
My only wishes are that it would be to have the color photo….And to see if we could get the Timber Rattlers players and coaches of 2014 to wear matching outfits on a bus ride.
I stopped in at the library today. I needed to replenish my supply of stories for the return of Flashback Friday. (Tentatively set for September 27 – two weeks from today).
This ad screamed at me as I looked through the early 1991 Appleton Foxes season for some ideas. I did put it up on twitter, but to share it with everyone…..
I would like to know how they would enforce this Everyone Must Root for the Foxes policy. They probably could have picked out who was not rooting for the Foxes for one of those dates. Sadly, the attendance for a doubleheader on frigid May 6, 1991 was 74. As in 74.
Nathan Baliva of the Chiefs let me now the following information: Pitcher David Swartzbaugh was – not including a rehab appearance by Rick Sutcliffe – the only future major leaguer on that 1991 Chiefs team.
Flashback Friday will need to take a look at some of the other Foxes/Papermakers newspaper ads…at least on the blog.
The 2013 Timber Rattlers are sending three players and an entire coaching staff to the game.
The only season that I am missing is1995 and I hope to do that this off season. So, for now, here is an incomplete list of Timber Rattlers All-Stars. Starters are in bold:
Mike Goff – Manager of the West (Lost 10-4)
1997 (The Rattlers players were on the East team):
Gary Varsho – Manager of the West (Lost 6-5)
Luis Figeuroa - 3B
Shawn McCorkle – 1B
Chris Snelling – OF
Jamie Bubela – OF
Shin-soo Choo – OF
Greg Dobbs – 3B
Rene Rivera – C
Bobby! Livingston – P
Ryan Feierabend (Winning Pitcher)
Yung Chi Chen
Scott Steinmann – Manager (Lost 4-2)
Ron Garth – 3B
Edilio Colina – 2B
Khris Davis – OF
Scooter Gennett – 2B
Chris Dennis – DH
Greg Hopkins – 2B
Matt Erickson – Manager
When you come out to a game at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium this season – and there will be games at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium this season — you will see some new things.
I am not talking about the club level and the suites and the other renovations around the stadium. I’m talking about the decorations. The Wall of Fame came down because of the renovations, but that is just temporary. To make sure there wasn’t just a blank concrete block wall when you walk into the ballpark, we hung the most recent championship banners of Appleton Professional Baseball:
There are some banners on the outside of the stadium. We selected a group of former Timber Rattlers players who are either Brewers prospects or are currently with the Brewers.
There are a few others, but you’ll just have to come out to the stadium to see who they are.
This is the part I really like. This old photograph of Goodland Field from the days of the Appleton Papermakers is on the wall behind the registers in the new Snake Pit Team Store. It is awesome. Sadly, the location is not lit properly for a good photo to be taken. Also – if you’ll remember – I am a bad photographer.
Look at the bat rack outside the dugout in the last picture. Heck, look at the dugout in that last picture. There are plenty of details in this photo on the wall. When you come out to the team store, look at it and sees what grabs your attention.
In case you missed it, the Rattlers were rained out again. Thursday is the third straight game at home that has been rained out. This weather….ugh. I had to give the penguin the day off. He was out enjoying this weather and wouldn’t check in with me. Jerk.
However, Fang & Whiffer both got out in the elements to sing and dance and emote their fuzzy hearts out. Enjoy:
It’s been a lot of fun looking back at the walkoff heroics of various Timber Rattlers players through the years. Yeah, I guess it’s been fun to look back at the opposing team’s wins in that same fashion. That’s what Walkoff Wednesday has been about.
Now is the time to break things down by team and by walkoff event from 1995-2012.
Additionally, I will list the walkoff homers both for the Timber Rattlers and against the Timber Rattlers.
At the bottom of this page there will be a link to every Walkoff Wednesday post of this offseason.
Timber Rattlers Walkoff Victories 1995-2012: 118
Opponent Walkoff Victories 1995-2012: 103
Wisconsin’s 118 Walkoff Events:
Triple: 1 (Michael Marseco – 4/22/09 v. Peoria)
HR: 27 (Includes three walkoff grand slams)
Opposing Team Error: 14
Wild Pitch: 8
Sacrifice Fly: 6
Bases Loaded Walk: 4
Fielder’s Choice: 2
Eleven of Wisconsin’s 118 Walkoff Victories have happened when the team was trailing heading into the plate appearance that led to the walkoff win.
WALKOFF WINS AGAINST MWL OPPONENT (1995-2012):
Bowling Green: 0
Cedar Rapids: 7
Fort Wayne: 5
Great Lakes: 3
Kane County: 15
Lake County: 0
Quad Cities: 9
South Bend: 10
West Michigan: 2
FORMER MWL TEAMS:
Michigan/Southwest Michigan/Battle Creek: 3
MWL OPPONENT WALKOFF WINS vs. WISCONSIN 1995-2012:
Bowling Green: 1
Cedar Rapids: 8
Fort Wayne: 5
Great Lakes: 1
Kane County: 16
Lake County: 2
Quad Cities: 8
South Bend: 2
West Michigan: 3
FORMER MWL TEAMS:
Michigan/Southwest Michigan/Battle Creek: 10
TIMBER RATTLERS WITH MORE THAN TWO CAREER WALKOFF HITS:
Mike Marchiano: 5
Nick Ramirez: 3
Ariel Durango: 3
TIMBER RATTLERS WALKOFF HOMERS (1995-2012):
David Ortiz – June 8, 1996
Mike Burrows – May 11, 1997
Ramon Vazquez – August 30, 1997
Juan Silvestre – June 18, 1998
Mike Marchiano – July 13, 1998
Juan Silvestre – September 11, 1999 (Grand Slam)
Fernando Espino – September 16, 1999
Gorky Estrella – June 25, 2000 (Grand Slam)
Joe Rodriguez – April 13, 2001
John Castellano – May 15, 2001
Ariel Durango – June 12, 2001 (Grand Slam)
Sean Peless – April 16, 2002
TJ Bohn – April 27, 2003
Matt Tuiasosopo – April 13, 2005
Mike Wilson – September 9, 2005
Ron Garth – May 21, 2006
Johan Limonta – August 6, 2006
Curt Ledbetter – August 25, 2006
Andy Hargrove – May 13, 2007
Scott Robinson – May 17, 2008
Gavin Dickey – June 5, 2008
Brock Kjeldgaard – June 10, 2009
Mike Walker – April 17, 2011
Mike Brownstein – August 1, 2011
Greg Hopkins – April 25, 2012
Yadiel Rivera – June 10, 2012
Ben McMahan – July 18, 2012
OPPONENT WALKOFF HOMERS (1995-2012):
Demond Smith (Cedar Rapids) – July 10, 1995
Bo Porter (Rockford) – August 2, 1996
Chris Haas (Peoria) – September 3, 1996
Jamie Lopiccolo (Beloit) – August 10, 1997
Greg Clark (Peoria) May 15, 2000
Ryan Gripp (Lansing) – August 11, 2000
Hunter Wyant (Kane County) – April 13, 2002
Eric Lis (Beloit) – April 11, 2006
Eli Tintor (Beloit) – July 19, 2007
Dusty Coleman (Kane County) – May 21, 2009
Wang Wei Lin (Beloit) – May 3, 2010
Danny Rams (Beloit) – July 9, 2010
Virgil Hill (Quad Cities) – June 17, 2012
Zach Borenstein (Cedar Rapids) – July 6, 2012
Previous Walkoff Wednesdays:
Walkoff Wednesday (1995 season)