Results tagged ‘ Flashback Friday ’
The main Flashback is over on the main website. It is the game story about the Foxes pennant-clinching victory in Game Three of the 1967 Midwest League Championship Series. The Supplemental Flashback is the notes column on that game from Tim Petermann. But, FIRST!…some photos!
‘It Was a Real Team Effort,’ Says Cosmidis
‘2 Years, It’s Skill,’ Quips Hooker
“I don’t know what to say,” a happy but not overexuberant Alex Cosmidis said amidst the joyous shouts of his Appleton Foxes in the locker room following their 3-2 comeback conquest of Wisconsin Rapids for their League pennant.
“It was a real team effort,” the congenial skipper finally managed to say, “Cooper was great in relief. He was really blowing them.” After a slight pause he quipped, “I got to go with those Carolina boys.” (Both Cooper and Cosmidis are from North Carolina.) He also noted “Radmaker hit the ball hard.”
Cooper admitted to it being his best game ever saying that he felt real good. He added that he was nervous once and that was when Wisconsin Rapids cleanup hitter and ML batting champion Chuck Manuel came up.
Uses New Bat
Roy Radmaker, who came up with hits his last two times up Friday night and had two straight hits Saturday night noted that he broke out a new bat just Friday. He and Cosmidis both felt that his last hard shot at Twins’ shortstop Emil Gove, which was ruled an error, should have been a hit, giving him five in a row.
Player-coach “Deacon” Jones was flowing with praise for Jose Ortiz. “I couldn’t say enough about Jose,” said the 13-year veteran who has now played on 12 championship teams. “He was directing traffic out there in the outfield, telling me where to play. And that catch (Jose’s grab of Manuel’s smash at the fence with a man on second in the sixth) was fantastic. I’m so happy they won, the kids won,” the beaming veteran stated. “They beat a good club. It was the crowning touch…my second and maybe final year in Appleton.”
Karl Simon, who was brushing his teeth when this writer finally cornered him in the locker room mumbled that the 400-foot-plus home run he hit was a fast ball a little outside.
Wily Willie Hooker, one of four veterans (Hooker, Jones, George Hunter, and Al Fitzmorris) that have been on both Foxes playoff championship teams was the man of the hour when he shouted aloud during the champagne showers, “One year, it’s luck; two years, it’s skill.”
Boxscore from Game Three of the 1967 MWL Championship Series
The main Flashback is the game story by John L. Paustian about Game Two of the 1967 Midwest League Championship Series. It may be found on the main Timber Rattlers site. The supplemental Flashback is a notes column on the game by Tim Petermann.
Cosmidis Proud of Foxes’ Comeback
Twins’ Winning Streak Ends at 7
“I was proud of the way they came back,” Appleton manager Alex Cosmidis stated in the locker room following his Foxes’ 8-5 victory over Wisconsin Rapids in the second game of the Midwest League playoffs.
With their backs to the wall, having lost the first game of the best-of-3 series, the Foxes halted the momentum of a 7-game Wisconsin Rapids win streak to even the series at one game apiece. The Twins have now lost only three of their last 15 games, but all three defeats have been administered by the Foxes.
Cosmidis said that he felt before the game “we would win”.
The mild-mannered first-year skipper could not single out any individual stars for the Foxes, noting that everyone contributed something. Cosmidis did state that Jose Ortiz is the key to the offense and has been all year. “When he gets on base we win,” Cosmidis related. The Puerto Rican speedster was on base all five times he was up.
Wisconsin Rapids pitchers also showed great respect for the Foxes’ speed merchant, who established a club record with 64 stolen bases, as over a dozen throws were directed to first to keep him close to the bag. He was finally picked off once.
After making the statement, “We need more hitting out of our Np. 3, 4, and 5 men,” following Thursday’s loss, Cosmidis was pleased to point out that “Deacon” Jones, George Hunter, and Roy Radmaker (the No. 3, 4, and 5 men) had six hits between them to account for half of the Foxes total.
Cosmidis also praised the veteran Willie Hooker for his “superb job” of relief, one of his longest relief stints of the year.
Hooker was a littler perturbed with himself after the game for walking three Twins in the final frame but stated that he was not the least bit tired. When queried about what appeared to be a control problem, Willie said he was “choking his curve ball.”
Hooker administered a little teasing to teammate Pedro Rivera in the locker room after the game because Pedro looked “a little tired.” Rivera replaced Hooker in the ninth with two out and threw one ball, a screwball, which was hit back to him and he threw the runner out to end the game.
In explaining his decision to take Hooker out, Cosmidis said that this is the hardest part of managing because he has one guess while everyone in the stands can second guess him. He added that in tonight’s game the decision will be even harder with almost the entire Appleton staff available, yet he doesn’t want to pull a pitcher before he gets in the groove.
Cosmidis not only directed praise to his own team but he also directed some to the Twins. He credited them with not giving up and being in the game right up until the end.
Player-coach “Deacon” Jones showed the same respect for the Twins. He stated that Ray Bellino has done a good job with the Twins and they have always had good hitting. He added that they are all a bunch of hustlers.
Both also agreed on another thing – that the Foxes had mental lapses in the field and gave the Twins a couple of runs.
Jones might have mixed feelings about his eighth inning hit off Twins’ veteran Ollie Brantley. Brantley and Jones were roommates several years back in triple A ball.
Game Two Boxscore:
The main Flashback is over on the main Timber Rattlers web page. It is about the Game One loss by the Foxes at Wisconsin Rapids in the 1967 Midwest League Championship Series.
The supplemental Flashback is a quick notes column from Tim Petermann that appeared in the September 1, 1967 edition of The Post-Crescent.
Cosmidis Keeps His Confidence Despite Opening-Game Defeat
“We got the men on base, we just didn’t hit with them on,” a disappointed but not entirely disgusted Alex Cosmidid stated Thursday night after the Appleton Foxes had dropped the first game of the Midwest League Playoffs to Wisconsin Rapids.
“We need more hitting out of our No, 3, 4, and 5 men,” said the skipper. We got it from our No. 2 and 7 men.” (Usually heavy-hitters “Deacon” Jones and George Hunter were hitless for the night while leaving eight men on base between them while Stu Singleton and Chuck Brinkman had five of Appleton’s eight hits.)
Cosmidis further commented, “The boys might have been trying a little too hard. Tomorrow night might be different.”
Other than the fact that the Foxes might have had a few mental lapses in their base-running, Cosmidis admitted the team played a good game. He noted especially that it was the Foxes’ second-best pitched game in Wisconsin Rapids (Steve Kokor limited the Twins to six hits and three runs in Witter Field in July) and was a good pitched game all around.
Despite the setback, Cosmidis remained that the Foxes will win the playoffs. He admitted the Twins had the momentum coming into the game and still have it going for them. (Wisconsin Rapids has now won its last seven games in a row and 12 of their last 14, losing only to Appleton). He added that the Foxes have got to snap out of their hitting slump.
Cosmidis lauded the performances of 18-year-old Stu Singleton and Chuck Brinkman. Brinkman also sparked defensively in addition to his hitting as he picked off a runner at first and threw out another stealing.
Al Fitzmorris, who was victim of the two Wisconsin Rapids home runs, said afterwards that both pitches were sliders, the one to Robinson was inside and the one to Nordberg got away with him.
Although getting off to a shaky start (he threw 11 balls and 14 strikes in the first inning to account for over one quarter of the pitches he threw in seven innings). Fitzmorris admitted it was one of his better performances in his last several outings and he felt pretty good.
George Hunter, the Foxes usually productive clean-up hitter admitted that he had been trying to “hit one out” and probably accounted for his hitless night. He had two towering fly balls that he felt might have gone out had he not hit them so high.
Game One Boxscore
The main Flashback is the recap of the 1941 Wisconsin State League All-Star Game and you may see it here on the main Timber Rattlers website.
This Supplemental Flashback is MAC’s Notes from that All-Star Game, which was hosted by the Appleton Papermakers. It also includes some photos from the July 15, 1941 edition of The Post-Crescent.
Notes on the Game by MAC
President Herman D. White of Eau Claire was more than pleased at the big turnout. Before the game he said that if a left-handed pitcher started for Appleton he’d go out and bat for the ‘Stars. But when informed that the hurler was Lefty Kleine he resigned – apparently for good reason.
Last night was one night when foul balls didn’t come back when hit into the stands. They were much too good as souvenirs. The ushers tried to get the first or second ball, but the fans set up a howl and that ended that. It was perfectly all right and good advertising – but tonight when the crowd doesn’t run almost 4,000 persons the folks better heave the balls back or the club will be broke.
Manager Ed Konetchy of the ‘Stars couldn’t scare up any runs so he indicated once he might take a camera and shoot pictures of some railbirds along the third base line who have been giving him a ribbing this season. Ed wanted to win that game badly but it wasn’t in the books.
Joe Tipton was on the sidelines because he broke a finger fielding a ball at Green Bay Saturday. Thereafter he hit two home runs with the finger taped. News of the injury prompted someone to crack that if he could hit two homers with a broken finger he should have broken his arm.
What with a five day suspension and now five or six days on the bench with a broken finger, Tipton is getting rather long on rest.
The fans booed when the Green Bay all-stars were introduced but it wasn’t because of the individuals. The fans would have booed anything from Green Bay and much of it was in fun. Some of the Appleton fans didn’t like the idea of yelling every time the lads came to bat and we also felt that it was carried a bit too far – even in fun.
But a certain Green Bay radio announcer really got the bird. As a matter of fact the crowd stood up and booed him. It was because of his comments on the Green Bay-Appleton series. He was the object of considerable rathy comment Monday here and there were more than a few phone calls on whether something couldn’t be done about him.
Umpire Chapman, who called the strikes and balls for the last 4-1/2 innings appeared here for the first time in several weeks. He really calls the strikes and his antics brought a hand from the crowd. Chapman also uses the new National league system of peering over the catcher’s shoulder instead of standing directly behind him.
Manager Red Smith of Green Bay was around beaming over the attendance at the Green Bay-Appleton series even if his team did drop two games. He’s still a little peeved over things but Red isn’t the guy to carry the peeve forever – not when it reacts favorably at the gate.
The Appleton management entertained at a chicken dinner at the Hoffman hotel, Hortonville, after the game. Because the game lasted less than two hours the party started early and broke up shortly after midnight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
Here is a better look at the photo of Junior signing for the fans before the rain:
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.
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.
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
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.