Results tagged ‘ Appleton Baseball History ’

Flashback Friday Supplemental – February 5, 2015

The main Flashback is over at Timber Rattlers.com.  It has the details on Dairy Night.  It also promotes the exhibition game with the Ethiopian Clowns and Eddie Dancisak Night as part of a Day-Night Doubleheader.

The Supplemental Flashback has photos and the story on the doubleheader from the August 31, 1940 edition of The Post-Crescent, statistical information from the Wisconsin State League through games of August 30, and the boxscores of the doubleheader on August 30 between Appleton and Sheboygan.

Cow Milking Contest 1

Cow Milking Contest 2

Cow Milking Caption

 

Higgins and Borchart Star In Both Games

With big Jim Higgins doing double duty as a relief hurler and Buddy Borchart connecting for some timely blows, Appleton Papermakers downed the Sheboygan Indians 5 to 4 and 6 to 2 in two well-played Wisconsin State league games at Spencer street park last night.  Higgins, who also turned in a good relief job the previous night, mopped up for Millimaki in the first game and helped McIntyre out of a hole in the second.

Borchart, youthful second baseman from Marion, committed some errors afield but more than made up for it at the plate.  He smacked a double in the fourth inning of the initial tilt to drive in two runs and knot the score at 3-3, rolled a sacrifice in the sixth frame to advance what proved to be the winning run, and hammered a triple in the nightcap to plate two runners.

Millimaki was going along in good 4-hit style, but took sick on the mound in the sixth inning and it was decided he needed bed more than a victory.  Higgins allowed but one safety the rest of the way and got credit for the win.  Though he gave way to the giant Appleton hurler in the sixth after the bases were loaded and he had forced in a marker with a walk, McIntyre cut a victory notch in his belt in the aftermath.

Sheboygan Takes Lead

Sheboygan took a 1-run lead in the first frame of the opener when Oberlander was safe on Malewig’s error and Reiss reached first on a fielder’s choice, Oberlander being forced at second.  Herich spanked a triple down the right field line to score Reiss.  Millimaki fanned the next two batters and whiffed two more in the second frame.

The Indians collected two more markers in the fourth when Zydowsky drew a walk, took second on Pizzi’s grounder, and scored on Kushta’s hard triple to left field.  Kushta plated when Malewig fumbled Firtko’s bouncer.  Malewig later made up for these errors by turning in some beautiful stops and sparkling pegs to first.

Appleton knotted the count in the fourth when Dancisak singled and took third on Chell’s drive.  Dancisak scored on Toraason’s hit to left center, Chell taking second.  Borchart came through with his double to tally two more runs.

Both Teams Score

Both teams scored in the fifth with Herich smashing a long triple and scoring on Millimaki’s wild pitch.  Malewig burned one into short right, took second on a wild pitch, third on Dancisak’s safety, and home on Clawson’s bad throw to first.

The Papermakers tallied the winning marker in the sixth when Toraason drew a walk, gained second on Borchart’s sacrifice, and went home on Kania’s hit.  Kania, who tried his hand at Class D ball with Sheboygan earlier in the season was recruited from Kimberly to plug a hole at shortstop.  Clawson started for Sheboygan and was relieved by Knowles.

Sheboygan started its ace hurler, Crowley, in the second game but he found the going a bit rough and retired in favor of Holtz in the fourth inning.

Four-Run Splurge

After two scoreless innings, Crowley doubled, took third on Oberlander’s sacrifice and scored on Herich’s single.  Appleton evened the score in the fourth when Chell drew a walk, took second on Toraason’s sacrifice roller, third on a wild pitch by Crowley, and home on a wild pitch by Holtz.  The Papermakers blasted out four runs in the fifth to put the game on ice.  Malattia walked, stole second, and advanced when the Sheboygan catcher threw wild to second.  Dancisak was given an intentional walk to fill the bases.  Chell daisy-cut to left field to bring in two runs and Borchart followed with a lusty triple to left to bring in two more.

Sheboygan started a rally which netted one run in the sixth but Higgins snubbed it effectively.  With two out, Pizzi singled, went to second on Kushta’s single and Holtz walked to fill the bases.  McIntyre then walked Oberlander to force in Pizzi.  Higgins was called into action and Reiss grounded to Borchart who pegged to Malattia for the third out.

8 30 40 WSL Game One Boxscore

8 30 40 WSL Game Two Boxscore

8 30 40 WSL Standings

8 30 40 WSL Team Stats

8 30 40 WSL Batting Leaders

8 30 40 WSL Pitching Leaders

Supplemental Flashback – January 29, 2016

Free Beer and Hot Dogs 1

Free Beer and Hot Dogs 2

Free Beer and Hot Dogs 3

Free Beer and Hot Dogs Caption

The main Flashback may be found over at TimberRattlers.com and it deals with some late-season promotions the 1940 Appleton Papermakers were trying as a way to entice fans to attend games.  The Supplemental is about a Papermakers proposal that was shot down and the game that occurred on August 29, 1940.

Won’t Extend Season

Officials of the Wisconsin State league rejected a proposal to extend the season one week by a 5 to 1 vote during a meeting at Wisconsin Rapids last night for fear a dangerous precedent would be established.  The Appleton Baseball club submitted the request because it has 12 unplayed games, most of them resulting from the recent unusual August rainy period.  General league matters also were discussed.  Clarence Baetz, president of the Appleton club, attended the meeting.

Papers Bow To Indians
Umpire’s Ruling Contributes to Appleton Downfall

Showing the effects of a prolonged layoff and playing with a makeshift lineup, Appleton Papermakers bowed to the Sheboygan Indians by a 7 to 3 count in a Wisconsin State league game at Spencer street park last night.  Dick Williams, an Appleton castoff, mounded for the winners and confined the Papermakers to four scattered hits until the ninth inning when Appleton rallied with three hits and two runs.  Sheboygan built up a 5-run lead before Appleton tallied in the fourth.

Both literally and figuratively, Manager Eddie Dancisak was the fall guy last night.  Al Standaert had been doing a bang-up job at shortstop in place of Tommy Hawk, who is being groomed for an appendectomy, but is out for the season with an injured shoulder.  Les Hoeffken, the only other man available to play the shortstop position is on the sick list so, rather than letting one of his boys take a beating, Eddie tried his hand at the post for the first time in his life and found himself biting off more than he could chew.  He bobbled a grounder, threw wild to first base and went flat on his tokus while trying to field a slow roller on the wet grass.

Lousy Decision

One of the rankest decisions made at the park this season also contributed to the Appleton downfall.  With two men down in the fourth inning, Borchart stopped Oberlander’s hard drive and threw to Malattia’s left at first base.  Malattia was pulled off the base as he caught the ball but whirled and obviously tagged the runner coming into first.  Apparently everybody except Umpire Anderson saw the play for he ruled Oberlander safe.

Sheboygan went on to score three runs in that inning as Reiss hammered a triple to score Oberlander, Henrich singled to plate Reiss, Gasper was sage on Dancisak’s bad throw to first with Henrich taking third and Henrich scoring on Zydowsky’s single.

The Indians pounded two Appleton hurlers for 14 hits.  LaGrow started for Appleon and was touched for nine hits before giving way to big Jim Higgins after Zydowsky singled in the fourth.  Higgins was touched for three safeties in the fifth which led to two runs but held Sheboygan scoreless the rest of the route.  Williams pitched himself into several holes but got out of them with little damage.  He was as wild as he was good, issuing eight walked and striking out nine, fanning four consecutively.  At one time his control faded so much that he walked Higgins, second tallest man in organized baseball.

Sheboygan Scoring

The Indians counted in the initial frame when Oberlander was safe on Dancisak’s error.  He went to second on Henrich’s safety and both advanced on a blow by Gasper.  Oberlander plated on Zydowsky’s long fly to left.  Sheboygan added another marker in the third when Gasper was safe on a fielder’s choice and counted on Pizzi’s double.  Three runs came in after the ruinous umpire’s decision in the fourth for a 5-0 lead.  Sheboygan wound up its scoring for the night in the firth when Kushta led off with a right field line triple and scored on Firtko’s single.  Oberlander was safe when Dancisak slipped while trying to field his roller and Firtko gained third.  Firtko crossed the plate when Reiss grounded and Oberlander was forced at second.

The Papermakers had many chanced to score but couldn’t quite turn the trick their batting eyes seeming to be a bit rusty as the result of the wet weather which kept them inactive for nearly a week.  Malattia and Malewig walked and Dancisak bunted safely to load the bases in the first frame.  Chell was out on an infield fly and Malattia was forced when Toraason dribbled.  Millimaki went down swinging to leave three men on base.

Appleton left two men on in the third frame.  The Papermakers got into the payoff column in the fourth when Aranson doubled and Borchart and Higgins walked to load the bags.  Malattia socked a hard grounder to score Aranson and forced Higgins at second.  Malewig fanned for the third out leaving two men high and dry.  The locals rallied in the ninth and scored two runs after two were out.  Anderson made another disputed decision in the ninth when he declared a batted ball hit pinch hitter Nowak when he was going down to second.  Those in a good vantage point said the ball “missed him by two feet.”  Malattia singled, Malewig drew a free trip and Dancisak singled to fill the bases.  Chell got hold of one to bring in two runners.  Toraason fanned to end the threat.

One of the highlights of the game was Aranson’s brilliant work in left field.  He caught one fly on the dead run to his right and backed up on another to spear what looked like a sure triple.

Boxscore from the August 29, 1940 Appleton v. Sheboygan game.

Boxscore from the August 29, 1940 Appleton v. Sheboygan game.

Flashback Friday Supplemental – January 22, 2015

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 Midwest League standings after the first weekend of the 1976 season.

The Midwest League standings after the first weekend of the 1976 season.

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.

Appleton Pro Baseball Birthdays – January 22:
Tyrone Taylor – 22
Brock Kjeldgaard – 30
Shawn Nottingham – 31
Dave Leonhard – 75

Tyrone Taylor in 2013.

Tyrone Taylor in 2013.

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

VIDEO: MLB Pipeline on Orlando Arcia

Milwaukee Brewers #1 prospect Orlando Arcia, a Timber Rattler in 2013, was mentioned in this tweet by MLB Pipeline:

 

 
Which leads to this video:
 

 

Orlando Arcia as a Timber Rattler in 2013.

Orlando Arcia as a Timber Rattler in 2013.

Appleton Pro Baseball Birthdays – January 20:
Seth Harvey – 28
Chris Mears – 38
Rolando Pino – 52
Cecil Espy – 53
Dave McLaughlin – 56
Clarence Glenetzke – Born 1922

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.

 

Glenetzke with the Merrill Raiders (Photo Credit: WAOW)

Glenetzke with the Merrill Rangerers (Photo Credit: WAOW)

 

Seth Harvey as a Timber Rattler in 2012.

Seth Harvey as a Timber Rattler in 2012.

Appleton Pro Baseball Birthdays – January 19

Three of today’s birthdays are for players who were Foxes and that includes one from Marion, Wisconsin.

January 19:
Mike Burrows – 40
Sal Urso – 44
Marshal Harper – 61
Ken Frailing – 68

The Marion native is Ken Frailing, who made the major leagues with the White Sox and the Cubs.

Marion, Wisconsin native Ken Frailing. From SABR.org

Marion, Wisconsin native Ken Frailing. From SABR.org

Ken Frailing
There was a Flashback Friday about Frailing back in 2013.

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.

There is also a SABR Biography on Frailing.

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.

Flashback Friday Supplemental – January 15, 2016

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.

1966 player awards Full

 

8 23 66 boxscore

Appleton Pro Baseball Birthdays – January 15:
Trey Witte – 46

1993 Classic Best Appleton Foxes #24 - Trey Witte - Courtesy of COMC.com
1993 Classic Best Appleton Foxes #24 – Trey Witte

Appleton Pro Baseball Managers with multiple seasons

The announcement was made earlier today that Matt Erickson will return as the manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers for his sixth consecutive season.

Matt is back!

Matt is back!

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:

Six Seasons:
Matt Erickson: 2011-present

Five Seasons:
Gordy Lund: 1974-75, 1977-78, & 1980

Three Seasons:
Billy DeMars: 1963-65
Gary Thurman: 2000-02

Two-and-a-half Seasons:
Eddie Dancisak: 1940-42

Two Seasons:
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

One-and-a-half Seasons:
Joe Skurski: 1950-51
Stan Wasiak: 1966, 1968
Bert Thiel: 1972, 1973

Appleton Baseball Birthdays – January 13:
Reggie Keen – 28
Eric Marzec – 28
Nick Tyson – 28
Jerry Amador – 36
Jeff Heaverlo – 38
Justin Smith – 39
Mike Buskey – 67

Mike Buskey played 122 games with the Foxes in 1972. He appeared in eight games with the Phillies at the end of the 1977 season.

Mike Buskey played 122 games with the Foxes in 1972. He appeared in eight games with the Phillies at the end of the 1977 season.

Appleton Baseball Birthdays for January 10 & 11

Appleton Baseball Birthday (January 10):
Juan Silvestre – 40

Silvestre is the only Rattler to have TWO walkoff home runs.

Silvestre holds the Timber Rattlers franchise record for career home runs with 36.  He hit 15 in 1998 and 21 in 1999.

Appleton Baseball Birthdays (January 11):
John Cole – 36
Rafael Chaves – 48
Rob Wolkoys – 51
Donn Pall – 54
Jack Zduriencik – 65
Glenn Redmon – 68

The Champs are here!

Glenn Redmon is in the middle row, second from right.

Flashback Friday Supplemental – January 8, 2016

To see the main Flashback Friday for this week, follow this link to the Timber Rattlers website.

I wanted to supplement this week’s entry with a column and a few notes on the Seattle Mariners exhibition game that was rained out.  Plus, there are a few photos from the front page of The Post-Crescent that I wanted to share in a fuller size…speaking of…Click the images for full size.

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Here is a better look at the photo of Junior signing for the fans before the rain:

mariner exhibition 96 Junior Autographs

The first entry is a Chuck Carlson column from July 30, 1996:

Rattlers try to keep a sunny disposition

In barely 45 minutes, two years’ worth of work was washed away.

Literally, figuratively, meteorologically.

It was supposed to be the glorious capper to a wonderful season for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.  After two years of negotiating, begging, and wrangling, the Rattlers had finally worked out a way to get their big club, the Seattle Mariners, in town for an exhibition.

And Monday evening, Ken Griffey, Jay Buhner, prodigal son Alex Rodriguez and all the other big-leaguers would give the home folks a treat they wouldn’t soon forget.

Well, forget it.

The weather, horrendous weather, which has tortured this team all season, got in one more shot and ruined yet another important night for the Rattlers.

And this one really hurt because it seemed the weather, which had toyed and taunted with the game all day, seemed ready to behave itself.

The Mariners arrived, took batting practice and fans oohed and aahed as Griffey, Buhner, Rodriguez, and others sent rockets over the stadium walls.

But it was all just a cruel hoax.  Five minutes before the game was to start, the skies unloaded and the rains came.

Again.

Just as they had a month or so earlier during the second most important night of the Rattlers season – the Midwest League All-Star Game.

Remember?  It poured that night too, but at least the Rattlers, by working all night, were able to get the field playable and the game in the next night.

There will be no such reprieve for this one.

“If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll get (the Mariners) back in six or seven years,” said John Wollner, president of Appleton Baseball Inc.

Luck? The Rattlers? Please.

“Thank God I’m young and my heart is strong,” said Rattlers general manager Mike Birling, who has watched nine precious home dates rained out this season after only five all of last year.  “It’s so disheartening, but I guess that’s life in Northeast Wisconsin.”

After the initial 10-minute deluge, Manager Lou Piniella was still willing to play a seven-inning game, though without most of his key players.  But when the second round came through, that clinched it.

“Timing is everything and our timing was lousy,” Birling said.

But it wasn’t a total disaster.

The Mariners agreed to participate in a home run derby, with Griffey, Rodriguez, and Dan Wilson against Rattlers Luis Tinoco, David Arias, and hitting coach Joaquin Contreras.

For the record, Wilson won, beating out Arias in the final round.

But while it wasn’t exactly what the fans had shown up to watch, most of the sellout crowd stuck around to observe.

“That shows how big an event this was,” Birling said, “Thank God the Mariners agreed to the home run derby because this would have been a disaster for us and the community.  Just to get the Mariners on the Fox Cities Stadium field was something.  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance.”

You really have to feel for these guys.

First it was the cold and wind in April and May.  Now it’s been the rain of June and July.

What will August bring?  Locusts?  A plague or two?  Who knows?

As for the Mariners, they hopped on their bus afterward and headed for a four-game series in Milwaukee that starts today.  The Rattlers hit the road for a game in Beloit.

And the forecast today?  More rain.

Figures.

 

RATTLERS NOTES by Chuck Carlson and Jeff Sherry

Rodriguez an old-fashioned guy
The Mariners all-star shortstop prefers Goodland Field to Appleton’s new home for minor league baseball

If Alex Rodriguez’s taste in cars is anything like his taste in ballparks, his next vehicle will probably be a Pacer.

Rodriguez, who made his professional debut two summers ago with the Appleton Foxes, returned to the area Monday as an all-star shortstop for the Seattle Mariners.  The 21-year-old participated in the home run derby after his team’s exhibition with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers was cancelled by rain.

It was his first trip to Fox Cities Stadium and Rodriguez, who played at Goodland Field with the Foxes had mixed thoughts on the team’s new home.

“It’s a night and day difference,” Rodriguez said.  “But for me, I like Goodland Field more.  It was kind of like my first girlfriend.  It was the first professional experience I had and it was a lot of fun.  I love the mystique of that field.”

Apparently Rodriguez has yet to be spoiled by his new four-year $10.6 million contract extension.

“I love this field, but I play in a lot of nice stadiums in the big leagues,” Rodriguez said.  “They’re nice, and their locker rooms are nice, but there’s just something I like about old parks.”

PROPERLY PAMPERED:  Timber Rattlers officials have been working hard the last few weeks to make sure everything was just perfect for when the Mariners arrived.

“Our whole purpose from when we got this game was to make them feel like this was a major league game, like they just went to another stadium,” Timber Rattlers general manager Mike Birling said.  “We wanted them to have all the novelties here that they have at major league parks.”

Among the novelties the Mariners received were free hats, free T-shirts, pregame and postgame meals…the list goes on and on.

“Each player had to have three towels, they had to have gum in their lockers, shavers – all kinds of things that normally we don’t really provide,” Birling said.  “It’s all the little things that these guys have gotten used to in the major leagues that minor leaguers don’t get.”

All the extra work seemed to pay off.  Birling said the Mariners were very complimentary about the treatment they received.

“They’ve been very pleased,” Birling said.  “Everything they’ve said has been positive so far.”

KINDER AND GENTLER: There was a time not so long ago when Mariners manager, the volcanic Lou Piniella, could work in expletives the way some artists work in oils.

As a player and then as a manger, he made his reputation as a fiery, bawdy, take-no-prisoners type who would just as soon pop his cork than look at you.

But, apparently, that’s all changed thanks to his new religious awakening.

“I’ve found the Lord,” he said.  “He has taught me what my priorities in life are.”

Piniella admits that sometimes it hasn’t been easy following the straight and narrow.

“There are days,” he said with a smile, “when I take two steps back and three steps forward.  But, I feel great.”

SIGN HERE: It was hard to tell who was more excited about the Mariners being in town – the fans or the Rattlers players.

Just about every Rattlers players had his picture taken with Rodriguez or Ken Griffey Jr. or Jay Buhner as well as procuring a raft of autographs.

“It’s weird,” said pitcher Kevin Gryboski, who was toting four baseballs to be autographed.  “Even though you see these guys in spring training, just to get an opportunity to play against them is an honor.  I know I’m a professional baseball player, but watching these guys makes me feel like a little kid again.”
Appleton Pro Baseball Birthdays for January 8:
Taylor Wall – 26
Justin Ockerman – 33
Herb Conyers – Born 1921
Nick Starasta – Born 1923
Chauncey Fisher – Born 1872

The first time Ken Griffey, Jr. came to Fox Cities Stadium

Ken Griffey, Jr. – and Mike Piazza – have both been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Griffey had already been the Seattle Mariners starting centerfielder for several years by the time the Foxes/Timber Rattlers became Seattle’s Midwest League affiliate so he never played in a minor league uniform.

However, he did come to Appleton twice for in-season exhibition games.

Ken Griffey, Jr. walks off the field during batting practice at Fox Cities Stadium in 1996 (Photo Credit: Brad Krause)

Ken Griffey, Jr. walks off the field during batting practice at Fox Cities Stadium in 1996 (Photo Credit: Brad Krause)

The exhibition game on July 30, 1996 was rained out, but there was a home run derby in which Griffey participated.  The exhibition game that was played was held on April 29, 2001.

This was before social media (what a time THAT was) so I couldn’t find a lot of photos of Griffey in town.  The following screencaps are from this KIRO-TV story that was done in 2014 by Gary Horcher, who covered the home run derby in 1996 as a reporter for one of the Fox Cities TV stations and provided the video.

Griffey at the plate during home run derby. (Screencap from KIRO-TV)

Griffey at the plate during home run derby. (Screencap from KIRO-TV)

 

(Screencap from KIRO-TV)

(Screencap from KIRO-TV)

In the dugout.

(Screencap from KIRO-TV)

(Screencap from KIRO-TV)

Dan Wilson, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey, Jr. watch the action during the home run derby.

There was a Griffey who wore a Timber Rattlers jersey.  Craig Griffey, Ken’s brother, was drafted by the Mariners in the 42nd round of the 1991 draft out of Ohio State and would play 37 games for the 1993 Appleton Foxes.

Flashback Friday will have more on the home run derby and how it happened.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Birthdays – January 7
Eric Semmelhack – 25
Phillippe Aumont – 27
Michael Marseco – 29
Jose Escalona – 30
Brian Kappel – 33
Alan Zambrano – 37

Phillipe Aumont in 2008.

Phillipe Aumont in 2008.

 

Michael Marseco has the only walkoff triple in Timber Rattlers history.

Michael Marseco has the only walkoff triple in Timber Rattlers history.

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