Results tagged ‘ Appleton Baseball History ’

Flashback Friday Supplemental: MWL Top Prospects of 1990

The season premier of Flashback Friday is available on the main website.  It’s a review of Appleton Baseball History from 1891 through 1990 and of the 1990 Appleton Foxes season from the 1991 Midwest League Yearbook.

This is the map that shows all the franchises in the league for 1991 and the various distances between the cities.  Click the image for full size.
1991 MWL Map

Curt Rallo’s list of the MWL’s Top 10 prospects of 1990 for Baseball America is on page nine of the yearbook.  There is also a list of the MWL Top Ten from 1985.  Just for fun, here are those lists.

Top 10 MWL Prospects of 1990:

  1. Reggie Sanders, OF, Cedar Rapids Reds
  2. Scott Bryant, OF, Cedar Rapids Reds
  3. Rafael Novoa, LHP, Clinton Giants
  4. Alan Newman, LHP, Kenosha Twins
  5. Lance Dickson, LHP, Peoria Chiefs
  6. Rich Tunison, 1B, Appleton Foxes
  7. Ramon Caraballo, SS, Burlington Braves
  8. Javy Lopez, C, Burlington Braves
  9. Troy O’Leary, OF, Beloit Brewers
  10. Damion Easley, SS, Quad City Angels

Top 10 MWL Prospects of 1985:

  1. BJ Surhoff, C, Beloit Brewers
  2. Eddie Williams, 3B, Cedar Rapids Reds
  3. Greg Maddux, RHP, Peoria Chiefs
  4. Alan Sontag, RHP, Kenosha Twins
  5. Edwin Correa, RHP Appleton Foxes
  6. Tony Mendez, RHP, Appleton Foxes
  7. Jim Fregosi, SS, Springfield Cardinals
  8. Miguel Roman, OF, Waterloo Indians
  9. Bill Mendek, LHP Wausau Timbers
  10. Bryan House, 2B, Peoria Chiefs
    Rafael Palmiero, OF, Peoria Chiefs
    Jackie Davidson, RHP, Peoria Chiefs

Three way tie for tenth in 1985.  Like no one could pick Palmiero over those other two guys on the Chiefs.


Remembering a Mayor

I saw this tweet from Ed Berthiaume of The Post-Crescent yesterday and it reminded me of some photos in old Appleton Foxes Programs.

The link in the tweet went to this article.

Former Mayor Dorothy Johnson was remembered Tuesday as a trailblazer for women in politics and a champion for Appleton.

Johnson died Saturday from natural causes at her home in Highlands Ranch, Colo., where she and her husband, Rue, lived for the past five years. She was 89.

In 1980, Johnson was elected as Appleton’s first and only female mayor. She served three consecutive terms, leaving office in 1992. Before her reign as mayor, she served a term on the Appleton Board of Education.

The 1981 Appleton Foxes Home Opener at Goodland Field was the first with Johnson as the Mayor of Appleton.  This page in the 1982 Foxes program documents here throwing out the first pitch along with a brief recap of the game and a photo of the Paranaut Skydiving team landing!

1981 Opening Day

The 1983 program included this letter from Johnson:

1983 letter from mayor

Click the image for the full text of the letter.  It reads, in part:

To the Players, Management, and Fans of the Appleton Foxes:

Among the outstanding attractions of our city is a professional baseball team: the Appleton Foxes.  Our community takes great pride in this highly respected and talented group of athletes.

As Mayor of Appleton, I convey my admiration and personal endorsement to the team members, their sponsors and fans during this year.  May 1983 be the best ever!

She wasn’t far off.  The 1983 Foxes went 87-50 for the best record in the Midwest League.  Then, the Foxes beat Waterloo in the first round and Springfield in the Championship Series to win their second straight MWL Pennant.

This is new

I was in another lifetime one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness a creature void of form
“Come in” she said
“I’ll give you shelter from the storm”.

The other choice was Gimme Shelter….But, I never realized how dark those lyrics were.

The Timber Rattlers haver added a tent to the third base picnic area.

Tent 1

Tent 2

Tent 3

Tent 4

Looking sharp!

Alumni Birthdays for March 17:
Patrick Lutz (’65) – 73
Pat Seerey (’41) – Would have been 92
George Hogriever (1891, 1910, 1911; Manager 1911) – Would have been 146

Pat Seerey as a Papermaker in 1941.

Pat Seerey as a Papermaker in 1941.


Sold Out

And now a word from out Sponsor:

The Fang & Whiffer Valentine’s Deliveries for February 13 are sold out.

mascot_delivery web

Don’t bother the snake….Leave the snake alone:

Alumni Birthdays for February 4:
Brett Iddon (’96) – 39
Rick Thoren (’76, ’77) – 60
Larry Smith (’63) – 74
Rex Carrow (’47, ’48) – Would have been 88

Rex also played baseball and basketball at Michigan State, played on the European Baseball Championship winning team while in the military beating the Mediterranean Champions in Leg Horn, Italy, and went on to play professionally as a third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians for a total of seven seasons. He was a non-rostered player on the 1948 Cleveland Indians World Series team. Rex served in the U.S. Army during WWII in the 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One) and as an MP, personally guarding infamous Nazi war criminals, Hermann Goering (Commander of the German Air Force) and Ernst Kaltenbruner (Commander of the German Gestapo) during the historic Nuremburg Trials in 1945-46.

Flashback Friday Supplemental – January 30, 2015

This week’s Flashback Friday is an article by Gordon McIntyre that appeared in the 1948 Appleton Papermakers program.

Bill Miller, who has dropped off some other cool things from Appleton Pro baseball’s history, brought a few more things this week.  I’ll be going through those and sharing them from time to time.

Here are the front and back covers of the 1948 Papermakers program.
1948 cover

1948 back cover
Alumni Birthdays for January 30:
Matt Miller (’11, ’12) – 26
Joel Davis (’84) – 50

Matt Miller in 2011 (Photo Credit: Ann Mollica)

Matt Miller in 2011 (Photo Credit: Ann Mollica)

Joel Davis 86 White Sox

Was it really that long ago?

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

Tyrone Taylor in 2013.

Tyrone Taylor in 2013.

There once was a Calliope – November 21, 2014

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.

I wish there were a color photo of this.

I wish there were a color photo of this.

Left to right: Ed Holtz, Business Manager of the Appleton Club; Ed Rosenthal, Business Manager – Wisconsin Rapids; Ray Burchell, President of Wisconsin Rapids Club; Jim Doster, President of Midwest League; Fritz Colschen, General Manager Clinton Club; Jim Choudoir, Appleton Director; and Walter Wagner, Vice President of League.

Left to right: Ed Holtz, Business Manager of the Appleton Club; Ed Rosenthal, Business Manager – Wisconsin Rapids; Ray Burchell, President of Wisconsin Rapids Club; Jim Doster, President of Midwest League; Fritz Colschen, General Manager Clinton Club; Jim Choudoir, Appleton Director; and Walter Wagner, Vice President of League.

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

They Might Be Giants – October 30, 2014

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.

Jackson, who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, managed the Appleton Papermakers in 1952 and 1953.

Jackson Travis Plaque 258__0

Managed the Appleton Papermakers in 1952 and 1953.

The SABR biography on Jackson is a good read, too.

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,  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.

This is great!

Boost the Home Team….That is great!

Alumni Birthdays:
Corby Heckman (’95) – 31
Manny Parra (’11) – 32
Craig Anderson (’00) – 34
Tom Poquette (Manager, ’92) – 63
Mark Tanner (’73) – 64

Craig Anderson ('00) is pitching well in his homeland.

Craig Anderson (’00) is with the Sydney Blue Sox for the Australian Baseball League this season. They open the season tomorrow.

Tom Poquette, the manager of the Foxes in 1992.

Tom Poquette, the manager of the Foxes in 1992.

Always a hit! – October 29, 2014


I’ll explain in a bit.

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.

Vegetable Garden

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.

I'll explain in a bit.

Or is that…All sorts of coal!?!?!?

Great giveaway.

Great giveaway.

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.

Start searching!

Alumni Birthdays:
Marcus Sturdivant (’94) – 41
Kerwin Moore (’90) – 44
Bill Gilmore (’87) – 51

Kerwin Moore


Flashback Friday Supplemental – December 6, 2013

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.


That photo doesn’t even get the whole complex.


They put a photo of the camp counselors…directors….coaches…staff in this ad.  But, they did not identify those in the picture.


Three three-week sessions in 1968.

So…What happened on a typical day at the camp?

That's a lot of activity.

That’s a lot of activity.


A few minor changes to the ad for this program from the previous year.

Not much

Two two-week sessions and two three-week sessions.

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.

Sobek was the athletic director and baseball coach at Thornton Fractional North High School in Calumet City, IL for 26 years and he directed the White Sox Boys Camp in Chilton, WI.


They didn’t mention the scout part of his job with the White Sox.


This ad added a few more photos of the actual activities at the camp.


Only three sessions for 1970, but they allowed 9-year-olds to attend.

The Boys’ Camp is no more.  Keuler’s Bar & Grill was sold in 1984.  BUT, Gobbler’s Knob is still around!

Two things:

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.


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