Results tagged ‘ Foxes ’

50 Years in 50 Days: 1985

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 27.

27 Years Ago:
The Foxes are trying for their fourth straight MWL Pennant.

Request:  This is the point where I would normally place the cover of the program.  Later in the post a team photo would be placed.  This is where some of the blanks appear in Appleton baseball history.  If anyone reading this has old Foxes programs and old Foxes photographs, please drop a comment on this post and I’ll respond with a way to contact me.  (I will also toss out a request for Papermakers programs and photos at this point).  Thank you in advance.

FOXES INFORMATION:
Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox (20th season)
Manager: Sal Rende (2nd season)
Record: 85-54 (1st, North)

Future MLB Players:
Pitcher Ed Correa (13-3, 2.53) in 18 games – all starts – with 128K in 139IP
Shortstop Norberto Martin hit .198 with no homers and five RBI in 30 games
Pitcher Tony Menendez (13-4, 2.74) in 24 games – all starts – with 100K in 148IP
Pitcher Bobby Thigpen (1-0, 0.00) in one game – not a start – with 4K in 2.2IP
Pitcher Ed Sedar (1-3, 4.20) in 7 games – all starts – with 24K in 40.2IP

Category Leaders:
AVG: Troy Thomas – .290
HR: Tom Forrester – 15
RBI: Jim Winters – 91
SB: Mike Taylor – 51
OPS: Mike Taylor – .827
WINS: Ed Correa & Tony Menendez – 13
ERA: Ed Correa – 2.53
IP: Tony Menedez – 148
SO: Ed Correa – 128
SV: Dave White – 17

He’ll Be A Record Holder Someday Stat:  Bobby Thigpen made just one regular season appearance for the 1985 Foxes.  He started his minor league career with Niagra Falls in the New York Penn League after being drafted in the fourth round of the 1985 draft out of Mississippi State by the White Sox.   In 1990, Thigpen set a record for saves in a single season when he had 57 for the White Sox.  He was an All-Star and finished in the top five in both the AL Cy Young and AL MVP voting.

Bobby Thigpen's 1990 Fleer card.

Sal Stat: Sal Rende had a very nice run in two years as the manager of the Foxes.  He finished both seasons with the best record in the league.  There was the championship in 1984 and another playoff appearance in 1985.  Rende had retired as a player after the 1983 season and stepped right in with the Foxes. After 1985, he went on to manage in the Mariners, Royals, and Marlins system.  His bullpen page notes that he was the hitting coach in Lehigh Valley (Phillies – AAA) for 2011.

Sal Rende as the manager of the Omaha Royals in 1989.

He’s Back Stat: Ed Sedar returned to the Foxes in 1985 as a pitcher.  Sedar had been an outfielder for Appleton in 1982 and 1983.  He still got some swings in 1985 and went 4-for-12 with an RBI.  Sedar is now the third base coach for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Ed Sedar congratulates Jonathan Lucroy after a home run.

1985 Season:

Two affiliation changes before the season.  The Peoria Chiefs became an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.  Quad Cities switched back to the California Angles and changed their nickname to the Quad Cities Angels…again.

North: Appleton Foxes, Kenosha Twins, Madison Muskies, Wausau Timbers
Central: Beloit Brewers, Cedar Rapids Reds, Clinton Giants, Springfield Cardinals
South: Burlington Rangers, Peoria Suns, Quad Cities Angels, Waterloo Indians

1985 MWL All-Star Game:
The game was held at Cedar Rapids on July 8.  The South scored twice in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 4-2 win over the North.  The losing pitcher for the North was Dan Scarpetta of the Beloit Brewers.  He is the father of current Brewers prospect Cody Scarpetta.

1985 MWL Postseason:
The division winners were the Foxes (North, 85-54); Beloit (Central, 79-57); and Peoria (South, 75-65).  Kenosha finished second in the North (79-60) to get the Wild Card.

Beloit and Peoria played in one divisional series.  The Chiefs won Game Three of the best-of-three series to advance to the Championship Series.

The Foxes and Kenosha also went to a Game Three, but the ending was…odd.

The 3-year reign of the Appleton Foxes as Midwest League champions officially ended as the clock struck midnight Thursday, and just about everyone was long gone from Goodland Field.

With the Twins leading 4-3, the game had been suspended after the seventh inning that would have done Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles proud.

After holding up the game for more than 2-1/2 hours, the umpires ruled that conditions hadn’t improved enough. So they called the game, bringing a strange and disappointing conclusion to the Foxes’ otherwise stellar season. 

“Fog is a weather condition just like rain,” said Jim Cutler, vice president of the Midwest League. “We waited a reasonable length of time and treated it just like a rainout. I talked with Bill Walters (the ML president) on the phone to make sure that there was no special rule for playoff games. I was told that there was no special rule for this situation.” 

Earlier in the day the park was drenched by 2 inches of rain. The efforts of groundskeepers Rick Raasch and Ray Remmel along with Foxes manager Sal Rende, pitching coach Mitch Lukevics, trainer Ken Koch and players Greg Tarnow and Ken Reed got the field into reasonable playing condition. Despite the work, wet spots caused treacherous footing in the outfield. 

“Of course we’re disappointed to lose,” said Rende. “But lose we did. But, there are no losers in this (locker) room. We knew that we would be competitive coming into the season. We did better than we thought we would after spring training. This team came out and did the job every day. They’re also good people, and that says a lot about them and their character.”

And that is how the Foxes season ended in 1985

In the Championship Series, Kenosha topped Peoria in four games.

1985 MWL Alumni of Note:

A couple from the Peoria Chiefs first season as a Cubs affiliate:

Greg Maddux

Oddly, Greg Maddux got better AFTER ditching the mustache.

Maddux went 13-9 with a 3.19ERA in 27 games – all starts – for the Chiefs in 1985.  He struck out 125 batters in 186 innings pitched.  In 1986 he was in Chicago pitching for the Cubs.  When his career ended after the 2008 season, Maddux had an armful of Cy Young Awards, won 355 games, and struck out 3371 opposing batters.  It’s only a matter of time before he is in the Hall of Fame.

Rafael Palmeiro

Rafael Palmeiro card

Palmeiro appeared in 73 games for the Chiefs and hit .297 with five homers and 51 RBI.  He had been picked by the Cubs with a first round selection in the 1985 draft.  He joined the Chiefs after finishing his season with Mississippi State where he was teammates with Bobby Thigpen, who played for the Foxes in 1985.  As a note, other Mississippi State players drafted in 1985 included Will Clark and Jeff Brantley.

Palmeiro also made it to the big leagues in 1986 and he spent 20 seasons in MLB with the Cubs, Texas Rangers, and Baltimore Orioles.  He collected 3,020 hits and had 569 home runs.  As of now, his call to Cooperstown is on hold.

1985 Brewers Farmhand of Note:

BJ SurhoffBeloit Brewers

BJ Surhoff, Milwaukee Brewer

Milwaukee took Surhoff out of the University of North Carolina with the #1 overall pick in the 1985 draft.  He played 76 games for Beloit in 1985 and hit .332 with seven homers and 58RBI.

He was in the big leagues by 1987.  He was a Brewer through 1995.  Then, he went to Baltimore until a trade to Atlanta during the 2000 season.  Surhoff remained with the Braves through 2002 before returning to the Orioles for the final three seasons of his 19 year career.

During his nine seasons in Milwaukee, Surhoff played 1,102 games, with a .274 average and 57 homers.

Opening Day, 2012 is on April 5.  Get here soon!

50 Years in 50 Days: 1984

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 28.

28 Years Ago:
The Foxes are trying for their third straight MWL Pennant.

Request:  This is the point where I would normally place the cover of the program.  Later in the post a team photo would be placed.  This is where some of the blanks appear in Appleton baseball history.  If anyone reading this has old Foxes programs and old Foxes photographs, please drop a comment on this post and I’ll respond with a way to contact me.  (I will also toss out a request for Papermakers programs and photos at this point).  Thank you in advance.

FOXES INFORMATION:
Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox (19th season)
Manager: Sal Rende (1st season)
Record: 87-49 (1st, North)

Future MLB Players:
Pitcher Britt Burns (1-0, 1.80) in one game – a start – with 5K in 5IP
Pitcher Ed Correa (10-6, 3.44) in 26 games – all starts – with 135K in 149IP
Pitcher Joel Davis (1-2, 6.02) in 11 games – 10 starts – with 38K in 40.1IP
Pitcher Doug Drabek (1-0, 1.80) in one game – a start – with 6K in 5IP
Pitcher Kevin Hickey (4-3, 2.36) in 10 games – 8 starts – with a save and 40K in 49.2IP
First baseman Russ Morman hit .262 with seven homers and 80RBI in 122 games
Pitcher Bruce Tanner (12-4, 1.96) in 37 games – nine starts – with 2 saves and 91K in 123.2IP
Outfielder Kenny Williams hit .286 with five homers and 26RBI in 38 games

Category Leaders:
AVG: Dave McLaughlin – .305
HR: Roger Jensen – 13
RBI Russ Morman – 80
SB: Mike Taylor – 49
OPS: Tom Moritz – .789
WINS: Jim Hickey – 13
ERA: Jim Hickey – 1.81
IP: John Johnson – 170.1
SO: John Johnson – 136
SAVES: Jim Hickey – 20

Probably Brothers Stat:  Jim Hickey and Kevin Hickey are both from Chicago. Kevin was a member of the Foxes in 1979 and spent 1981-1983 with the White Sox and 1989-1991 with Baltimore.  Judging by the category leaders, Jim Hickey appeared to have a VERY interesting 1984 season as he went 13-5 with a 1.81ERA and 20 saves in 99.1IP.  He did this in 49 games – all in relief.  Yes. VERY interesting.

Schoup Stat:  Kevin Hickey’s bullpen page notes that he played Schoup in Major League II.

Kevin Hickey with the Chicago White Sox, in his pre-Major League II phase.

 

Only The One Start Stat: Doug Drabek made one start for the Foxes in 1984.  He also pitched in Glens Falls, Chicago’s AA affiliate in the Eastern League, and went 12-5.

But, That’s Not The End Stat:  Drabek’s transactions page has this: August 13, 1984: the Chicago White Sox sent Doug Drabek and Kevin Hickey to the New York Yankees to complete an earlier deal made on July 18, 1984. July 18, 1984: The Chicago White Sox sent players to be named later to the New York Yankees for Roy Smalley.

Future Foe Stat: Russ Morman, would go on to manage against the Timber Rattlers in 2000 and 2001 as the skipper of the Kane County Cougars.  His bullpen page notes that he was the hitting coach in Fresno last season.

1984 MWL Season:
Two changes in the MWL for 1984.  The Wisconsin Rapids Twins were sold and moved to Kenosha.  In Peoria, the Suns changed their nickname to the Chiefs.  No changes were made in the three division setup:

North: Appleton Foxes, Kenosha Twins, Madison Muskies, Wausau Timbers
Central: Beloit Brewers, Cedar Rapids Reds, Clinton Giants, Springfield Cardinals
South: Burlington Rangers, Peoria Suns, Quad Cities Cubs, Waterloo Indians

1984 All-Star Game:
The South beat the North 5-4 at Burlington on July 28.

NOTE: That the details on the All-Star Games are going to be a bit spotty for the next 10 or 11 posts.

1984 Postseason:
The Foxes had the best record in the Midwest League during the 1984 season.  Beloit won the Central with an 86-53 record.  Springfield won the South with a 70-69 record.  Madison finished second in the North with a 77-61 record for the Wild Card.

The Foxes beat Madison in Game Three of a best-of-three first round.  Springfield swept Beloit in the other Divisional series.

This set up the third straight playoff meeting between the Foxes and Springfield.  Appleton defeated the Cardinals in the divisional round in 1982 and in the Finals in 1983.  In the best-of-five 1984 Championship Series, the Foxes took their third straight pennant with a Game Five win over the Cardinals.

The only other franchise to win three straight MWL pennants was Waterloo (1958-60).  At the time, Waterloo was an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

1984 MWL Alumni of Note:
Edgar MartinezWausau Timbers

Edgar Martinez played for the Wausau Timbers in 1984.

Edgar Martinez hit .303 with 15 homers and 66 RBI in 126 games for the Timbers.  Martinez was signed as a free agent by the Mariners in 1982.  The 1984 season was his first full season in pro ball.  Eleven years after Wausau he helped save baseball in Seattle with The Double.  He has a real possibility of becoming the first designated hitter to be elected to the Hall of Fame.  Plus, the MLB award for DH’s is named after him.

Brewers Farmhands of Note:
Joey Meyer – Beloit Brewers

Donruss put DH on the card, but used a picture of Joey Meyer playing defense?

Meyer, a 5th round pick in 1983, had a breakout season with Beloit in 1984.  He won the MWL Triple Crown by hitting .320 with 30 homers and 102 RBI.  Meyer was known for his prodigious power.  His bullpen page remarks that while he was in Denver: One of his homers was estimated at a titanic 582 feet.

Continuing on from the bullpen page:

Meyer had a decent year at Milwaukee in 1988 (11-45-.263), but was disappointing in 1989, returning to Denver for part of the year. Ray Poitevint then helped Joey land a job in Japan. He hit .275-26-77 for the Taiyo Whales in 1990, but didn’t enjoy his stay in Japan, citing disagreements over injuries. The Daily Yomiuri also stated that Meyer was let go “because he could not play Manager Yutaka Sudos brand of baseball that stresses speed and defense.”

Joey signed a Triple-A contract with an invitation to Major League camp with the Minnesota Twins following the season. Meyer wound up playing with the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He retired after a mediocre 6-35-.250 showing in 75 games, as a broken wrist ended his career.

Chris Bosio – Beloit Brewers

Chris Bosio TOPPS card.

Bos was in Beloit in 1983, but 1984 was a big year for him.  Bosio, a 2nd round pick in the January draft in 1982, was 3-10 in 13 starts with an ERA over 5.00 in 17 starts.  But in 1984 he went 17-6 with a 2.73ERA in 26 games – all starts – and struck out 156 batters in 181 innings pitched during 1984.  He topped the Midwest League in wins, was second in innings pitches, and finished fifth in strikeouts.

Bosio became a Brewer in 1986 and – after bouncing between the bullpen and starting for a few seasons – joined the rotation full time in 1989.  He was 16-6 in 1992 with just 44 walks in 231-1/3 innings pitched.

Bosio, who is now the pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs, went 67-62 in seven years with the Brewers.  He pitched a no-hitter and made his only postseason appearances for the Seattle Mariners.

Chris Bosio celebrates his no-hitter. From SI.

Bosio, a personal favorite of mine and someone I have been lucky enough to interview and talk with over the years, pitched eleven seasons in the big leagues with a 94-93 record.

Good luck in Chicago, Bos.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5.  Get here soon!

50 Years in 50 Days: 1983

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 29.

29 Years Ago:
The Foxes go for their second straight MWL pennant with a future MLB GM in the front office, a future MLB manager on the bench, a future MLB coach in the lineup, and another future MLB GM on the field.

FOXES INFORMATION:
Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox (18th season)
Manager: John Boles (1st season)
Record: 87-50 (1st, North)

Future MLB Players:
Pitcher Bill Atkinson (6-2, 3.60) in 20 games – five starts – with two saves & 50K in 80IP
Outfielder John Cangelosi hit .282 with a homer, 48 RBI, and 87 SB in 128 games
Pitcher Ed Correa (3-9, 4.45) in 19 games – 18 starts – with 87K in 97IP
Pitcher Al Jones (11-1, 0.97) in 55 games – no starts – with 22 saves and 124K in 102IP
Catcher Ron Karkovice hit .239 with 13 homers and 48RBI in 97 games
Pitcher Joel McKeon (5-5, 2.62) in 19 games – all starts – with 110K in 99.2IP
Infielder Craig Smajstrla hit .276 with no homers and 24 RBI in 93 games
Pitcher Bruce Tanner (0-1, 3.00) in four games – no starts – with a save and a strikeout in 3IP
Pitcher Mike Trujillo (15-8, 2.40) in 29 games – all starts – with 148K in 198.2IP
Outfielder Ken Williams hit .231 with 12 homers and 53 RBI in 124 games

Nine members of the 1983 Appleton Foxes.

Category Leaders:
AVG: Dave McLaughlin – .319
HR: Pat Adams & Ron Karkovice – 13
RBI: Pat Adams – 71
SB: John Cangelosi – 87
OPS: Pat Adams – .859
WINS: Rich DeVincenzo – 18
ERA: Al Jones – 0.97
IP: Mike Trujillo – 198.2
SO: Rich DeVincenzo – 193
SV: Al Jones – 22

Pythagoras Stat:  The Foxes outscored opponents 650-449 (+201) during the 1983 season.  According to Pythagoras, the Foxes should have won 91 games that season.  They won 87.

Different Era Stat: I bring this up here to stress this point.  Al Jones appeared in 55 games during the 1983 season.  He pitched 102 innings.  In 2004, Mike Hrynio appeared in 54 games for the Timber Rattlers.  He was credited with 62.1IP.

That’s Italian Stat: DeVincenzo had the best season of his six season minor league career during the 1983 season.  Not only did he lead the team in wins and strikeouts.  He also had eight complete games and two shutouts.  DeVincenzo won the league strikeout crown by 31.

Speedster Stat: John Cangelosi stole 87 bases and was the league leader in that category.  It should be noted that Cangelosi was caught 35 times in 1983.

Related Stat: Bruce Tanner is the son of Chuck Tanner and would play a much bigger role in the Foxes 1984 season, but this is worth a mention here.  The elder Tanner was the manager of the White Sox from 1970 to 1975.  Chuck Tanner was frequently mentioned in the Foxes programs at the time.  Chuck Tanner would go on to manage in Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta with a World Series Championship in 1979 with the Pirates.   Bruce Tanner appeared in 10 games with the White Sox in 1985 and retired as a player after the 1989 season.  He coached in the minor leagues and – according to the sources available – has been an advance scout for the Detroit Tigers since 2008.

Sedar Stat: Now, Ed Sedar is the third base coach for the Milwaukee Brewers.  In 1983, Ed Sedar was a 21-year-old outfielder who hit .251 with four homers and 34RBI.

Little Grey Cells Stat: Joel McKeon, a first round pick of the White Sox in 1982, is interesting for what he did after he stopped playing in the US.  According to his bullpen page, McKeon went to Europe to play in 1992 and was a member of the Brasschaat Braves in Belgium.  The story:

McKeon had planned to play in Italy’s Serie A1 in 1992 but his contract fell through. Instead, he signed with the Brasschaat Braves of Belgium’s First Division; his catcher had trouble dealing with McKeon’s pitches, which were faster and more mobile than those offered by Belgian pitchers. McKeon went unbeaten in three seasons in Belgium, helping his club win three straight titles. He managed the Belgian national team in the 1995 European Championship.

Two Future AL Central GMs Stat:  Bill Smith took over as the GM of the Appleton Foxes in 1983.  Kenny Williams was an outfielder for the Foxes in 1983.

We need a bigger card.

That's better.

Ken Williams, 1983 Foxes.

Smith would become the GM of the Minnesota Twins.  Williams is the GM of the White Sox.  There is more on Smith in this edition of The Interrogation Room and in this Flashback Friday.

Hall of Fame Stat: Williams, Boles, and Cangelosi are all in the Appleton Pro Baseball Hall of Fame.

1983 MWL Season:

The 1983 Foxes Schedule

The Danville Suns moved to Peoria, but kept the nickname.  There was also a shuffling of teams withing the divisions.  Peoria took a spot in the South and Cedar Rapids moved to the Central.

North: Appleton Foxes, Madison Muskies, Wausau Timbers, Wisconsin Rapids Twins
Central: Beloit Brewers, Cedar Rapids Reds, Clinton Giants, Springfield Cardinals
South: Burlington Rangers, Peoria Suns, Quad Cities Cubs, Waterloo Indians

MWL Managers of Note: Former Appleton Foxes catcher Bruce Kimm was the manager of the Cedar Rapids Reds in 1983.  Charlie Manuel was the manager of the Wisconsin Rapids Twins in 1983.

1983 MWL All-Star Game:
The Madison Muskies hosted the All-Star game on July 30, 1982.  The South Beat the North 1-0.  Plenty of Foxes representation in the game for the North.  John Boles was the manager.  John Cangelosi (CF), Dave McLaughlin (LF), and Ron Karkovice (C) were in the starting lineup.  Pat Adams (1B) and Al Jones (P) entered the game as substitutes.  Pitchers Rich DeVincenzo and Mike Trujillo were both selected to the team, but did not play.

1983 MWL Postseason:
The Foxes won the North.  Springfield (80-59) won the South.  Cedar Rapids and Waterloo tied for the Central Division title with a record of 76-64.  It appears that Cedar Rapids took the title as they faced Springfield in the first round because the Foxes had the best record in the league and took on Waterloo in the first round.

Appleton needed a third game in the best-of-three series and moved on to the Finals.  Springfield swept the Reds to get a rematch with the Foxes in the Finals.

The 1983 Championship Series is notable because it was the first best-of-five Finals in league history.  The Foxes claimed their seventh MWL pennant with a win in Game Four over the Cardinals.

MWL Alumni of Note:
Shawon DunstonQuad Cities Cubs:

#1 pick of the 1982 draft.

Shawon Dunston was the top pick in the 1982 draft.  His first full season of professional baseball was in 1983 and he spent it in the Midwest League.  Dunston played 117 games, hit .310 with four homers, and drove in 62 runs.  Dunston was also the MVP of the 1983 MWL All-Star Game.  He tripled and scored the only run of the game.

Dunston was called up to Chicago in 1985.  He was an NL All-Star in 1987 and 1989.  The 1989 season was the year that the Cubs won the NL East only to lose to the Giants in five games during the NLCS.  He spent 12 seasons with the Cubs before moving on to play for the Pirates, Giants, Indians, Mets, and Cardinals.

He was on the San Francisco team that made the World Series in 2002, but never captured the big ring.

In 1,814 games at the MLB level, Dunston was a career .269 hitter with 150 home runs.

Brewers Farmhands of Note:
Juan Nieves -Beloit Brewers

The man who would throw the first no-hitter in Brewers history was 18 and in his first year of pro baseball when he put on the Beloit jersey for 1983.  Nieves was 7-1 with a 1.30ERA  in 12 games – 10 starts.  He tossed a pair of complete game shutouts and struck out 89 in 69.1IP.  Nieves also got to bat four times during the 1983 season. He went 0-for-4.

It is hard to believe that he spent just three seasons in the big leagues.  But, he has this moment:

Juan Nieves in Baltimore.

After his playing days, Nieves was a pitching coach in the minor league systems of the Yankees and White Sox.  Apparently, he is now the bullpen coach for the White Sox,.

Billy Jo RobidouxBeloit Brewers

Billy Jo Robidoux!

Robidoux was the 6th round pick of the Brewers in the 1982 draft.  The 1983 season was his first full season of pro ball – he played in Pikeville in 1982.  Robidoux played most of his 126 games at third base for Beloit and hit .317 with ten homers and 60 RBI.  He also added 30 doubles to his total.

He was the 1985 Texas League MVP for the El Paso Diablos after he

Robidoux spent parts of four seasons with the Brewers from 1985 to 1988.  The most games he played in a season for the Brewers was 56 – during the 1986 season.  Robidoux played part of 1989 with the White Sox and part of 1990 with the Red Sox.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5.  Get here soon!

50 Years in 50 Days: 1982

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 30.

30 Years Ago:
The Foxes made the Midwest League Championship Series as the league expanded to 12 teams and won their first Pennant since 1978.

The cover of the 1982 Appleton Foxes program.

Foxes Information:
Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox (17th season)
Manager: Adrian Garrett (1st season)
Overall: 81-69 (2nd, North)

The 1982 Foxes led the Midwest League in STYLE!

Future MLB Players:
Outfielder Daryl Boston hit .279 with 15 homers and 77RBI in 139 games
Outfielder Leo Garcia hit .264 with two homers and 37RBI in 117 games
Pitcher Al Jones (2-4, 3.32) in 26 games – one start – with 64Ks in 57IP
Third Baseman Wade Rowdon hit .284 with 12 homers and 79 RBI in 126 games
Infielder Craig Smarjstrla hit .241 with no homers and two RBI in eight games
Pitcher Eddie Solomon (3-1, 4.38) in 4 games – all starts – with 22K in 24.2IP

Category Leaders:
AVG: Curt Reed – .293
HR: Daryl Boston – 15
RBI: Wade Rowdon – 79
SB: Leo Garcia – 30
OPS: Curt Reed – .874
WINS: Mike Tanzi – 14
ERA: Mike Tanzi – 2.22
IP: Mike Tanzi – 166
SO: Mike Tanzi – 142
SAVES: Steve Pastrovich – 13

Foxes from 1982

More Foxes from 1982.

Please Come to Boston Stat: Daryl Boston was the #1 pick (7th overall) of the White Sox in the 1981 June draft.  He played 139 games for the Foxes at the age of 19 in 1982.  He led the team in homers and was second in RBI.  The average age of the Foxes in 1982 was 21.  The average age of the Midwest League in 1982 was 21.6.  He struck out 147 times, but Boston had an .OPS of .776 while playing in a league that was almost three years older than he was.  Boston went to play 11 seasons in the big leagues with the White Sox, the New York Mets, Colorado, and the New York Yankees.

Daryl Boston from 1982.

1990 TOPPS card of Daryl Boston

Tanzi Stat: Mike Tanzi was the 10th round pick of the White Sox in 1981.  The 1982 season with the Foxes was his best as a professional.  I can only guess, but since he pitched in five games for Glens Falls in 1983, appeared briefly back in Appleton in 1984, and appeared in six games at Glens Falls in 1984, injuries may have derailed Tanzi’s career.  But, he was a big part of the Foxes MWL Championships season.

Mike Tanzi, 1982 Foxes.

Yo, Adrian Stat:  Adrian Garrett played against the Foxes in the Midwest League in 1961 and 1962.  He would go to the majors in 1966, but went back to the minors until 1970 and he stayed in the big leagues until 1976.  Then, he spent time (1977-1979) in Japan.  His position as the manager of the Foxes was his first.  After winning, the 1982 MWL championship, Garrett managed in Glens Falls (1983) and Denver (1984).  IN 1985 he was the hitting coordinator for the entire White Sox minor league system.  Then, he moved on to a major league coaching job with the Royals and positions in the Marlins and Reds minor league system.  Garrett’s very thorough bullpen page at baseball reference notes that he will be a part-time instructor for the Reds organization.

Adrian Garrett, 1974.

They Are In The Hall Stat:  Both Daryl Boston and Adrian Garrett were inducted into the Appleton Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.

1982 MWL Season:

The schedule for the 1982 Appleton Foxes.

There were a LOT of changes in the Midwest League for 1982.  Four teams joined the league through expansion.  The Beloit Brewers, Danville Suns, Madison Muskies, and Springfield Cardinals all joined the loop.

The league from two divisions with four teams in each to three divisions with four teams in each.  The league also did away half seasons.  The season would be played as a single 144-game schedule. There would be four playoff teams – the three division winners and a wild card team with the best record of the non-division winners.

Additionally, the Brewers moved their affiliation out of Burlington and went with Beloit.  The Bees not only changed affiliation to the Texas Rangers, they also became the Burlington Rangers.

The 1982 Foxes are also notable for this statistical anomaly:

The Appleton Foxes made a little go a long way in a doubleheader against Wisconsin Rapids Saturday night.  Although they got just one hit in each of the two games they managed to sweep the Twins before 2,557 fans.

Click through for the boxscores for an interesting night in Wisconsin Rapids.

North: Appleton Foxes, Madison Muskies, Wausau Timbers, Wisconsin Rapids Twins
Central: Beloit Brewers, Clinton Giants, Danville Suns, Springfield Cardinals
South: Burlington Rangers, Cedar Rapids Reds, Quad Cities Cubs, Waterloo Indians

1982 MWL All-Star Game:
The North beat the South 4-2 at Quad Cities on July 14, 1982.  Foxes manager Adrian Garrett was then skipper of the North squad.  Daryl Boston (CF) was the only Foxes player to start in the game.  Wade Rowdon (3B) and Ramon Romero (2B) entered the game as subs.  Dave Nix, Art Niemann, and Mike Tanzi were selected to the roster, but did not play.

1982 MWL Postseason:
The Foxes got into the playoffs as the wild card.  They finished 6-1/2 games behind Madison (87-52) in the North.  But, the Foxes were well in front of Beloit and Waterloo for the fourth playoff spot.  The other division winners were Springfield (83-53) in the Central and Quad City (79-60).

The Foxes swept Springfield and Madison swept Quad City in the best-of-three divisional round.

Then, the Foxes prevailed with a win in Game Three of the best-of-three Championship Series.  This was the sixth MWL pennant for the Foxes.

1982 MWL Alum of Note:
Eric DavisCedar Rapids Reds

They couldn't retake the picture? Really?

Eric Davis was a much better player than a photographer’s model.  Eric the Red was an eighth round pick of Cincinnati in the 1980 draft.  He played for 17 years in the big leagues and was at his most productive during nine years with the Reds.  He was an All-Star in 1987 and 1989 and won a World Series in 1990.

I always thought that he was fun to watch.

Future Timber Rattlers Manager:
Gary VarshoQuad Cities Cubs

Former UW-Oshkosh Titan and future Wisconsin Timber Rattlers manager Gary Varsho's Upper Deck card.

Gary Varsho was selected by the Chicago Cubs out of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the fifth round of the June draft in 1982.  He started his professional career with the Quad Cities Cubs and hit .251 with three homers and 50 RBI in 76 games in the MWL.

More on Varsho when he becomes the Timber Rattlers manager for the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

1982 Brewers Farmhand of Note:
Bill WegmanBeloit Brewers

Bill Wegman on his 1989 Donruss card.

Wegman was the 5th round pick of the Brewers in the 1981 draft.  He went 12-6 with a 2.81ERA in 25 games – all starts – for the Snappers.  He tossed ten complete games and struck out 129 batters in 179-2/3 innings pitched.

He spent 11 years with the Brewers and went 81-90.  His best season was 1991 when he was 15-7 with a 2.84ERA.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5. Get here soon!

50 Years in 50 Days: 1981

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 31.

31 Years Ago:
The Foxes stumbled to an 80 loss season.

The 1981 cover screams fun!

Foxes Information:
Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox (16th season)
Manager: Sam Ewing (1st season)
1st Half: 29-36
2nd Half: 25-44
Overall: 54-80

Future MLB Players:
Outfielder Cecil Espy hit .201 with a homer and 19 RBI in 72 games
Outfielder Leo Garcia hit .261 with a homer and 38 RBI in 107 games
Pitcher Reggie Patterson (0-0, 1.80) in one game – one start – with two strikeouts in five innings pitched
Pitcher George Riley (0-3, 3.60) in seven games – five starts – with a save and 27Ks in 30IP
Pitcher Jim Siwy (5-0, 1.96) in eight games – eight starts – with 32Ks in 55IP

Category Leaders:
AVG: Ray Torres – .306
HR: Ray Torres – 12
RBI: Ray Torres – 63
SB: Ray Torres – 21
OPS: Ray Torres – .887
WINS: Jesse Anderson & Steve Pastrovich – 7
ERA: Steve Pastrovich – 3.34
IP: Jesse Anderson – 131
SO: Jesse Anderson – 106
SAVES: Kevin Flannery – 10

Most Valuable Player, Most Popular, Sportsmanship, and Most Valuable Pitcher awards were handed out to members of the 1981 Foxes.

Who is Ray Torres Stat: Ray Torres did not make it to the big leagues with the White Sox, but he is a legend in the Mexican League.  From his baseball reference Bullpen page here is a recap on his career south of the border from 1985-1994.

Thanks to the high-flying Comando ball, Torres hit .341/~.438/.608 with 23 homers in 1985. In 1986, Ray batted .325/~.428/.612. It was the highest-octane season in Liga history and Torres set a career high with 31 home runs. He scored 88, drove in 92 and drew 65 walks as his walk total had climbed in each of his LMB seasons (6-23-23-37-39-40-54-65).

In 1987, the 29-year-old outfielder hit .290/~.399/.531 with a career-best 93 runs. He drove in 95, hit 28 homers and stole 16 bases in 19 tries. He continued to increase his walk total, taking 74 free passes. The Yucatan star put up a .280/~.369/.511 campaign in 1988 with 25 home runs and 93 RBI. His walk total fell for the first time during his 10 years in the Mexican League.

During the 1989 season, Torres hit .293/~.393/.543 with 26 home runs and a career-high 102 RBI. He was third in the Liga in RBI, behind Willie Aikens and Alejandro Ortiz. In 1990, Raymundo slipped to .222 in his 7th year in Yucatan, with an OBP around .345 and a .467 slugging percentage. He still clouted 20 homers, the 6th straight season he had reached that level.

In 1991, Torres Ruiz split the year between the Monterrey Industriales and the Campeche Pirates, again struggling in average (.229), doing okay in OBP (around .353) and showing good pop (.506 slugging, 30 HR, though he only had 8 other extra-base hits). It was his last season with double-digit steals (11 in 15 tries) after three years in a row with 1 or 2 with stolen bases.

Torres ended his career with Yucatan in 1998 and his numbers:

Torres hit .268/~.378/.472 in 1,930 games in the Mexican League. He scored 1,086 runs, had 1,700 hits, 3,000 total bases, 283 doubles, 311 home runs, 1,146 RBI, 106 times hit by pitch, 91 sacrifice flies, 1,018 walks and 112 steals in 172 tries. Through 2000, he was 16th in LMB history in runs, 10th in RBI, 6th in home runs (behind Hector Espino, Nelson Barrera, Andres Mora, Alejandro Ortiz and Ronnie Camacho), 8th in walks, 4th in strikeouts (1,303), 13th in total bases, 6th in sacrifice flies and 5th in times hit by pitch. He was 24th in games played.

The smidgen of Spanish allows me to know that – when I read this website – Torres is a member of the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.

His Hall of Fame plaque notes that he hit 13 grand slams in his career, which is still a record down in Mexico.  The full internet translation is a bit spotty, so click on that second link and work your way through it.

Ray Torres, Campeche Pirates.

And THAT is who Ray Torres is.

Welcome Back, Ewing Stat:  Sam Ewing started his professional career with the Foxes in 1971.  He had been selected out of the University of Tennessee in the first round (fifth overall) of the 1971 January Draft by the White Sox.  Ewing played in the big leagues for the White Sox and Blue Jays.

Sam Ewing's 1978 Toronto Blue Jays card.

He also played in Japan.  During his time there, this happened:

In January 1979 the Nippon Ham Fighters bought Ewing’s contract. Sam hit .286/.327/.452 with 15 homers for Nippon Ham. When teammate Bobby Mitchell was fined for poor defense, Sam rose to Bobby’s defense, feeling that an American was being singled out when Japanese players who made similar miscues were not given equivalent fines. He got into a bilingual shouting match with manager Keiji Osawa by the dugout and the 6′ 3″, 200-pound American grabbed the 5′ 8″, 170-pound Osawa. Interpreter Toshi Shimada tried to intervene and the two went into a private meeting. Shimada toned down the rhetoric from both parties, enabling Ewing and Osawa to make peace with one another. Ewing finally apologized in front of the team as a good conclusion was reached.

Ewing was a minor league player/manager for the final thirty games of the 1980 season for Iowa in the PCL.  His one season in Appleton was his only full season as a minor league manager.

1981 MWL Season:
The Wausau Timbers received a new parent club as they moved from a co-op team to an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

North Division: Appleton, Wisconsin Rapids, Waterloo, & Wausau.
South Division: Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, & Quad Cities.

1981 MWL All-Star Game:
The game was held on June 20 at Cedar Rapids.  The South beat the North 5-4 with a run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

No Foxes were in the starting lineup.  Mike Morse (2B), Ray Torres (DH), and Jesse Anderson (P) all came in as substitutes.  Pitcher Jim Siwy was named to the Northern team, but did not play in the game.

1981 Postseason:
The Timbers would celebrate their new affiliation.  They defeated Waterloo 2-1 in the best-of-three North Division playoffs.  Quad Cities moved to the finals with a Game Three win over Cedar Rapids in the South.

Wausau swept the Cubs in the Finals.

1981 MWL Alumni of Note:
Harold Reynolds: Wausau Timbers

1981 Wausau Timber Harold Reynolds.

The player off the 1981 MWL Championship winning Wausau Timbers who is best known today is Harold Reynolds.  That would be due to his high profile broadcasting jobs.  He was on ESPN first and can now be seen at MLB Network.  But, he got his start in professional baseball in North Central Wisconsin.

Seattle selected Reynolds with the second pick of the 1980 draft out of Canada College, a JUCO in Redwood City, California.  He played 127 games with the Timbers in 1981.  He hit .296 with eleven homers and 59 RBI with 69 stolen bases.  Reynolds was also the starting second baseman for the North Division in the MWL All-Star Game.

Reynolds made the major leagues in 1983.  In 1987 he lead the AL in stolen bases with 60.  He was an All-Star in 1987 and 1988 and won three straight gold gloves at second base from 1988-1990.

In all he played 12 seasons in the big leagues and parlayed that into his current broadcasting career.
1981 Brewers Farmhand of Note:
Randy ReadyBurlington Bees

Randy Ready, 1981 Burlington Bee.

If you followed the Brewers in the 1980’s, the odds are pretty good that you saw (or thought of) the following headline: Is Randy Ready?

Ready was the third baseman of the future for the Brewers.  He put in a great season in Burlington in 1981.  He hit .308 with 17 homers and 56 RBI in 110 games.

He skipped to El Paso in 1982 (20 homers, 99 RBI) and Vancouver in 1983 (13HR, 59RBI).  He received a call up to Milwaukee for 12 games in 1983.

Ready shuttled between Milwaukee and Vancouver until June of 1986 when he was traded to the Padres for a Player to Be Named Later – who turned out to be Tim Pyznarski.

Ready spent time with the Padres, Phillies, A’s, & Expos in a major league career that lasted 13 seasons.

Ready would come back to the Midwest League as the manager of the Fort Wayne Wizards from 2004 to 2006.  He worked his way up the Padres system and was named their hitting coach for the 2010 season.  But, Ready was let go by the Padres at the end of the 2011 season.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5.  Get here soon!

50 Years in 50 days: 1980

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 32.

32 Years Ago:
The Appleton Foxes finish 13 games over .500, but miss out on the playoffs.

The cover of the 1980 Appleton Foxes Souvenir Program.

Foxes Information:
Name:
Appleton Foxes
Affiliate:
Chicago White Sox
Manager: Gordy Lund (5th season)
1st Half: 34-37 (3rd)
2nd Half: 42-26 (2nd)
Overall: 76-63

Future MLB Players:
Pitcher Juan Agosto (11-6, 2.69) with a save in 23 games – 16 starts – with 93Ks in 144IP
Pitcher Francisco Barrios (2-0, 0.69) in 2 games – both starts – with 5Ks in 13IP
Pitcher Mark Esser (4-0, 1.22) in 5 games – all starts – with 34Ks in 37IP
Pitcher Bob Fallon (11-5, 3.54) in 22 games – all starts – with 103 Ks in 122IP
Infielder Tim Hulett hit .259 with 13 homers and 47RBI in 79 games
C/OF/DH Ron Kittle hit .316 with 12 homers and 56RBI in 61 games
First Baseman Greg Walker hit .280 with 21 homers and 98RBI in 135 games

Category Leaders:
AVG: Keith Brown – .305
HR: Greg Walker – 21
RBI: Greg Walker – 98
SB: AJ Hill – 33
OPS: Greg Walker – .873
WINS: Larry Wright – 12
ERA: Chuck Johnson – 2.63
IP: Larry Wright – 174
SO: Chuck Johnson & Bob Fallon – 103
SAVES: Dennis Vasquez – 16

Once More With Feeling Stat:  Gordy Lund returned to manage the Foxes for a fifth season.  He would wrap up his Foxes career with 350 wins.  Lund went on to manage Edmonton, the PCL Affiliate of the Foxes, in 1981 and 1982.

Gordy Lund, circa 1974

Just Missed Stat:  The Foxes won 42 games in the second half of the season.  But, they finished behind Wisconsin Rapids as the Twins went 45-25.

Talked about Kittle yesterday. Talking about Walker and Doby today.

Walker, Appleton Fox Stat:  Greg Walker was a Rule V pick of the Phillies in December of 1979.  He came to Appleton and raked.  Walker led the MWL in RBI with 98 and finished second in the league in homers.  He made the majors in 1982 and was part of the White Sox AL West Championship team in 1983.  Walker spent nine years in the big leagues with all but 14 games played as a Chicago White Sox player.  He became the White Sox hitting coach in 2003 and remained in that position until resigning at the end of the 2011 season.  Walker was a 1999 inductee into the Appleton Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.

Greg Walker's 1989 Donruss card.

Proud Papa Stat:  Tim Hulett would play 12 seasons in the major leagues.  He played with the White Sox, Orioles, and Cardinals. Tug Hulett is the son of Tim was in the Rangers organization and played against the Timber Rattlers in Clinton in 2005.  Hulett the Younger made the major leagues with the Mariners in 2008 and the Royals in 2009.

I’m Not Sure Stat:  William Luzinski appeared in eight games for the Foxes in 1980.  At the time, Greg “The Bull” Luzinski was playing for the Philadelphia Phillies and one year away from becoming a member of the White Sox.  Greg’s br bullpen page notes that he has a brother (Richard) and a son (Ryan) who played minor league ball.  But, the page does not note any relation to William.

Yep, He is My Dad Stat:  Larry Doby, Jr played for the Foxes in 1980.  His father is Hall of Famer Larry Doby, Sr.  The elder Doby broke the color barrier in the American League and was the manager of the White Sox in the second half of the 1978 season.  The younger Doby, who played his college baseball at Duke, hit .286 with five homers and 43 RBI in 67 games in Appleton during 1980.  He also briefly played with the Foxes in 1981.  Doby did not make it to the major leagues, but according to this 2007 story from the Cleveland Indians website, everything was just fine:

“I could run, and I could hit,” he said. “It ended up that I couldn’t hit the breaking ball, and that’s what ended up sending me home. I had a lot of fun and great memories from that. I played against and with a bunch of guys who made it to the big leagues. Unfortunately, it was a marriage I was divorced from. I didn’t get to say when it ended.”

Soon after it ended, however, a very happy marriage began.

In 1982, Doby became a union stage hand, working at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Meadowlands Arena in his native New Jersey and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island.

The first show Doby Jr. worked at was a Billy Joel concert, and Joel’s production manager, Bob Thrasher, ended up asking Doby Jr. if he would consider going on the road with the “Piano Man.”

Doby Jr. accepted, and he’s been touring as part of Joel’s crew ever since.

Apparently, Doby Jr. also had a brief role in an episode of a show called Sex & The City.

Meet the Assistant GM Stat: There is a brief article in the 1980 Foxes program about the new Assistant General Manager:

Sue Iverson, a senior at the University of Massachusetts, is the assistant general manager of the Foxes.  Ms. Iverson is studying sports management with a concentration in professional sports.  Her work with the Foxes during the 1980 season will complete the internship requirement for her B.S. degree.

As a 1977 graduate from Quabbin Regional High School in Barre, Massachusetts she was voted most athletic female.  She played field hockey for six years, basketball for three years, winter cheerleading for two seasons, track and field for two seasons, a softball pitcher for three years, and officiated high school track meets.  She was a captain in both field hockey and basketball.  In addition, Sue participated volleyball, gymnastics, skiing, and instructed swimming.

While at UMASS she was a member of the bowling team, ski and outing club and participated in intramural volleyball, football, and tennis.

She was also the manager of the UMASS men’s varsity baseball team  Some of the areas of her responsibility included a budget, team travel, and media coverage.  Through this experience, she acquired a dedication for the sport and furthered her interest in baseball.

Ms. Iverson acquired this job through attending the Winter Meetings.  She  will be dealing in all aspects of the Foxes operation with primary duties including concession management.

Once and Future Major Leaguer Stat:  Francisco Barrios went 14-7 for the Chicago White Sox in 1977.  By 1980, he made three starts for the White Sox, two for the Foxes, and one for Iowa in the American Association.  Baseball Library notes his troubles.  Wikipedia notes that he was about to sign with the Brewers for the 1982 season, but he died of a drug overdose on April 9, 1982.

Francisco Barrios on his 1978 TOPPS card. In 1980, he pitched two games for the Foxes.

1980 MWL Season:

Here's the Foxes schedule for the 1980 season.


Changes from 1979 were the Dodgers leaving Clinton and the Midwest League.  The Giants moved their affiliation to Clinton.  The Reds joined the MWL by partnering with Cedar Rapids.  Hence, the new nicknames: Clinton Giants and Cedar Rapids Reds.

North Division: Appleton, Wisconsin Rapids, Waterloo, & Wausau.
South Division: Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, & Quad Cities.

1980 MWL All-Star Game:
Cedar Rapids hosted the 1980 All-Star game on June 21.  The North defeated the South 6-1.  The South was held to just three hits as the North banged out 13 hits.  Greg Walker was the starting first baseman and Ron Kittle was the starting center fielder for the North.  Catcher Jeff Vuksan and pitcher Dennis Vasquez were on the roster, but did not play in the game.

1980 MWL Postseason:
The maximum number of games were played in the 1980 postseason.  In the North, Waterloo took Wisconsin Rapids to three games and advanced to the Finals.  In the South, Quad Cities edged Burlington, the Brewers MWL affiliate, in a decisive third game.

The Finals saw Waterloo win their third MWL pennant since 1975 with a win over Quad Cities in Game Three of the best-of-three finals.

1980 MWL Alumni of Note:
Way to many to choose just one so here are five players from around the Midwest League in 1980 whom you may recall making some kind of impact in the major leagues.

Von Hayes of Waterloo Indians hit .329 with 15 homers & 90 RBI in 134 games
Kent Hrbek of Wisconsin Rapids Twins hit .267 with 19 homers & 76 RBI in 115 games
Gary Gaetti of Wisconsin Rapids Twins hit .266 with 22 homers & 82 RBI in 138 games
Rob Deer of Clinton Giants hit .263 with 13 homers & 58 RBI in 127 games
Jim Presley of Wausau Timbers hit .245 with 12 homers & 52 RBI in 126 games

1980 Brewers Farmhand of Note:
Dion James (Burlington Bees)

Dion James 1984 Donruss rookie card.

James was the first round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers (25th overall) in the 1980 draft.  He played just three regular season games with the Bees in 1980 and he went 1-for-10 with an RBI.  James was taken two spots after the Mets took Billy Beane.

James had hit .317 in Butte, Milwaukee’s Pioneer League team, before joining the Bees.  He was 17 years old at the time.

James worked his way up the minor league ladder and made his MLB debut with Milwaukee in 1983.  James played in 128 games for the Crew in 1984 and hit .295 with a homer and ten stolen bases.

Milwaukee traded James to the Braves for Brad Komminsk before the 1987 season.  James went on to put together his best MLB season in 1987.  He hit a career high ten homers, picked up 37 doubles, and hit .312 with an OPS of .869 in 134 games.  The only season he had a better batting average was in 1993 when he hit .332 in 115 games for the New York Yankees.

James would play with the Braves, Indians, and Yankees between 1987 and 1996.  The Yankees released him in 1996 and Milwaukee re-signed James.  They assigned him to Stockton and New Orleans, but James career ended without a return to the majors.

In eleven seasons, James was a career .289 hitter.  Part of his first professional season was in the Midwest League.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5.  Get here soon.

50 Years in 50 Days: 1979

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 33.

33 Years Ago:
The Foxes used the 1978 Championship ring on the cover of their 1979 program:

The cover of the 1979 Appleton Foxes Souvenir Program.

FOXES INFORMATION:
Team Name: Appleton Foxes
MLB Affiliate: Chicago White Sox
Manager: Jim Breazeale (1st year)
1st Half: 38-29 (2nd)
2nd Half: 25-43 (4th)
Overall: 63-72

Future MLB Players:
Designated Hitter Jim Breazeale hit .357 with five homers and 24RBI in 36 games
IF/OF Lorenzo Gray hit .313 with two homers and eight RBI in 17 games
Pitcher Kevin Hickey (5-10, 3.57) in 29 games – 15 starts – with 121 IP
Pitcher Guy Hoffman (0-0, 0.00) in 2 games – no starts – with five IP
IF/OF Randy Johnson hit .263 with nine homers and 46RBI in 105 games
C/OF/DH Ron Kittle hit .258 with two homers and 12 RBI in 35 games

Question: What is more frightening? Homer the mascot or the collared jerseys? Answer: Homer. Those jerseys must be brought back for a retro night at some point in the near future.

Category Leaders:
AVG: Ivan Mesa – .283
HR: Dave White – 11
RBI: Vincent Bienek – 58
SB: David Daniels – 31
OPS: Randy Johnson – .820
WINS: Paul Soth – 10
ERA: Kevin Hickey – 3.57
IP: Kevin Hickey – 121

Player Manager Stat: Jim Breazeale was a Major League player (with Atlanta and the White Sox) before he was the manager of the Foxes. He was a first round pick of the Braves in 1968 and was in the big leagues in 1969.  But, he was backing up this guy by the name of Aaron…Hank Aaron.  Maybe you’ve heard of him.  According to his bullpen page, Chicago picked up Breazeale in the Rule V draft.  In 1978, Breazeale played for Iowa in the American Association (for former Foxes manager Joe Sparks) and also with the White Sox.  He hit a pair of homers in a game for the Sox on June 20, 1978 against the Mariners..  The image below is taken from the 1979 Foxes program.  It notes that Breazeale suffered a serious leg injury in a car accident early in his career.

Jim Breazeale, manager of the Foxes in 1979.

It’s Not Him Stat:  The Randy Johnson on this Foxes team is not the Randy Johnson known as ‘The Big Unit’.

Kittle Stat: Ron Kittle played against the Foxes in 1977 and 1978 as a member of the Clinton Dodgers.  After the 1978 season, LA released Kittle and the White Sox signed him.  The future AL Rookie of the Year played just 35 games for the Foxes in 1979 and returned to the team again in 1980, but he was on his way.

Lapels were everywhere in the White Sox organization.

1979 MWL Season:

There were two big changes in the Midwest League heading into the 1979 season.

The first was the end of the long affiliation between Quad Cities and the Angels.  The team in Davenport became the Quad Cities Cubs for 1979 as the Chicago Cubs returned to the MWL for the first time since 1973.

The second was Wausau becoming a co-op team after the Mets left the MWL.

North Division: Appleton, Wisconsin Rapids, Waterloo, & Wausau.
South Division: Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, & Quad Cities.

Note the start and end dates for the 1979 season.

1979 MWL All-Star Game:
The MWL returned to the traditional All-Star Game format with players from one division within the league taking on players from the other division.  The South beat the North 9-2 in Cedar Rapids on June 20, 1979.  The Foxes had four players in the starting lineup for the North: Vince Bienek (LF); Ivan Mesa (SS); Vito Lucarelli (C); and Phil Bauer (2B).  Pitcher Mark Teutsch got into the game as a reliever and worked two scoreless innings.  Pitcher Mark Platel was named to the squad, but did not play in the game.

Mitch Webster of the Clinton Dodgers had three hits and two RBI for the South.

1979 MWL Postseason:
All three series went to a decisive third game during the 1979 playoffs.  Quad Cities edged the Dodgers in the South and Waterloo beat Wausau in the North during the divisional round.

In the Finals, Quad Cities beat Waterloo in Game Three.

1979 MWL Alum of Note:

Orel Hershiser (Clinton Dodgers)

A LumberKings bobblehead giveaway from a couple of years ago. The number for Orel Herhiser, who played in Clinton in 1979, seems a bit low.

The Dodgers selected Hershiser with a 17th round selection in the 1979 draft out of Bowling Green State University. Hershiser started his professional career with Clinton. He went 4-0 with a 2.09ERA and appeared in 15 games – four starts)

I only note this to note it, not to make a judgement. Seattle picked Bud Black with the first pick of the 17th round in 1979. The Brewers had the pick right before the Dodgers in the 17th round in 1979. They took Ray Alonzo, an outfielder from Grand Canyon University.

Eight years later, this was Hershiser:

Former Clinton Dodger on the cover of SI after the defeat of the A's in the 1988 World Series.

1979 Brewers Farmhand of Note:

Doug Jones (Burlington Bees):

Doug Jones with the Burlington Bees in 1979.

Doug Jones with the Milwaukee Brewers circa late '90s.

Doug Jones was drafted by the Brewers in the third round of the 1978 draft.

He was a starting pitcher for the Burlington Bees in 1979 and went 10-10 with a 1.75ERA in 28 games – 20 starts – and racked up 190 innings.

He made his MLB debut with the Crew in 1982, but that was just a cameo. He stayed in the Brewers organization -mainly as a starting pitcher – through 1984. Just before Opening Day in 1985, Jones signed with Cleveland. It took about two seasons, but The Undertaker became one of the very good American League closers and was an AL All-Star from 1988-1990. After stops in Houston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the Cubs, Jones returned to Milwaukee as the setup man for Mike Fetters in 1996. He became the closer for Milwaukee in 1997 and saved 36 games that season.

Jones started 1998 as the closer, but he was replaced by Bob Wickman during the season and the Brewers traded Jones to Cleveland for Eric Plunk.

Jones finished his career with two seasons in Oakland (1999-2000). Jones saved 303 games in his career.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5. Get here soon!

50 Years in 50 Days: 1978

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 34.

34 Years Ago:
The Foxes had the greatest season in Appleton Baseball History.

The cover of the 1978 Foxes program

FOXES INFORMATION:
Team Name: Appleton Foxes
MLB Affiliate: Chicago White Sox
Manager: Gordy Lund (4th year)
1st Half: 51-17 (1st, North Division)
2nd Half: 46-23 (2nd, North Division)
Overall: 97-40

Future MLB Players:
Outfielder Rod Allen hit .243 with seven homers and 55 RBI in 100 games
Pitcher Ross Baumgarten (9-1, 1.82) in 10 games – all starts
Pitcher Britt Burns (3-2, 2.40) in 6 games – all starts
Shortstop Harry Chappas hit .302 with a homer, 62RBI, and 60 Stolen Bases in 130 games
Pitcher Mark Esser (9-2, 4.29) in 41 games – one start
Infielder/Outfielder Lorenzo Gray hit .293 with two homers and 35RBI in 100 games
Pitcher Guy Hoffman (2-0, 2.38) in seven games – four starts
Pitcher LaMarr Hoyt (18-4, 2.90) in 28 games – 27 starts
First Baseman Chris Nyman hit .292 with five homers and 20 RBI in 22 games
Pitcher Dewey Robinson (10-3, 1.72) in 50 games – zero starts
Outfielder Leo Sutherland hit .263 with four homers and 50 RBI in 127 games

Your 1978 Appleton Foxes!

Category Leaders:
AVG: Harry Chappas – .302
HR: Curt Etchandy – 17
RBI: John Hanley – 68
SB: Harry Chappas – 60
OPS: Harry Chappas – .802
WINS: Lamar Hoyt – 18
ERA: Jackie Smith – 2.89
IP: Lamar Hoyt – 189

Up to Eleven Stat:  The Foxes outscored opponents 731-550 for the 137 game season.  The Pythagorean System extrapolates that run differential out to a record of 86-51.  The Foxes finished the year with a 97-40 record meaning that they outperformed the expected win total by ELEVEN!

Versatility Stat:  Lorenzo Gray appeared in 100 games for the Foxes in 1978.  His position breakdown was: 1B-44; OF-23; 3B-16; 2B-3; and SS-1.  That leaves 13 games in which he either appeared as the DH or as a pinch hitter.

Let’s Be Curt About This Stat:  Curt Etchandy spent all of 1976, part of 1977, and all of 1978 with the Appleton  Foxes.  He led the Foxes team in home runs in 1976 and 1978 and tied for the team lead in homers in 1977.  Etchandy hit 39 homers in 319 games for the Appleton Foxes.

Durable At Any Size:  Harry Chappas (all 5’7″, 150 of him) played 130 of 137 games at short for the Foxes in 1978.  He was voted by the fans as the most popular Foxes player in 1978.  Oh, and how did Chappas lead the Foxes in OPS at .802 despite just one home run?  He had 23 doubles, 14 triples, and 71 walks in 564 plate appearances.

Eighteen Stat: LaMarr Hoyt had one spectacular season for the Foxes.  A record of 18-4 in 28 games (27 starts).  He went on to win the AL Cy Young Award in 1983 with a 24-10 record.

Double LaMarr!

A Record Year Stat:  The Foxes won 51 games in the first half and 97 games overall.  Add to that LaMarr Hoyt winning 18 games, Chappas stealing 60 bases – with the team stealing 241, and the the Foxes drawing over 93,000 fans…Well, you can see why this was the best season in Foxes history and why they were considered one of the top 100 teams in MiLB history.

Three of the Foxes – Chappas, Ross Baumgarten and Britt Burns – finished the year with the fifth-place parent Chicago White Sox, an unusual number of players going directly from Class A to the majors. All of the three enjoyed modest success in the years to come. In 1979, Baumgarten had a 13-8, 3.54 ERA record for Chicago, one of the leading rookie pitchers in the American League that year. Burns was the the American League Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1980 (15-13, 2.84 ERA) and was a member of the American League team for the 1981 Major League All-Star Game, but did not pitch. After an 18-11, 3.96 ERA year in 1985, Burns was traded to the Yankees, but never pitched an inning for them, his career abruptly ended by an injury.

Check this list

1978 MWL Season:
North Division: Appleton, Wisconsin Rapids, Waterloo, & Wausau.
South Division: Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, & Quad Cities.

Two teams, the Foxes & Waterloo, won more than 90 games in 1978.  None of the other eight teams were above .500 for the season.  Burlington, the Brewers affiliate, finished right at .500 with a 69-69 record.

1978 MWL All-Star Game:
The Waterloo Indians hosted the All-Star Game on June 6, 1978.  This game was still a squad of MWL All-Stars facing a Triple-A team from the American Association.  But, the Omaha Royals took over for the Iowa Oaks.  The MWL won the game 11-7.

Six Foxes appeared in this game as MWL All-Stars.  Ross Baumgarten was the starting pitcher for the MWL.  Leo Sutherland (LF), Harry Chappas (SS), and Curt Etchandy (3B) were in the starting lineup.  John Hanley (DH) and Mark Esser (P) entered the game later.  Oddly, LaMarr Hoyt was not selected to the squad, which was managed by Gordy Lund, the skipper of the Foxes.

One former Fox played for the Omaha Royals.  Art Kusnyer (Foxes,  ’67 & ’68) hit fifth and was the catcher for the Royals.

MWL Guide has the boxscore with some details.

1978 MWL Post Season:
The two 90+ win teams faced off in the North Division playoffs and the Foxes swept Waterloo in a best-of-three.
Burlington swept Quad Cities in the South Division Playoffs.

In the 1978 MWL Finals, Appleton beat the Bees in Game Three of a best-0f-three series.  Despite 100 wins prior to Game Three of the MWL Finals AND leads of 6-0 and 7-3 in Game Three, a win by the Foxes was anything but a sure thing.

The Bees chipped a run off the lead in the bottom of the sixth on Foley’s opposite field homer and made it a 9-7 contest with three in the bottom of the eighth. A double play after Smith singled prevented an even bigger rally. Bass walked, Foley beat out an infield hit and Duke Duncan lined his seventh homer of the season to left. After Chris Carstenson singles, Lund called Smith in to retire pinch-hitter Terry Bevington on a fly to left.

Vuksan gave his team some breathing room and provided the eventual winning run with his two out, two run homer to center in the ninth.

Smith didn’t retire a hitter in the ninth as Ivan Rodriguez doubled to left. Manning cracked his seventh home run of the season and Bobby Smith tripled to center. John Skorochocki greeted Robinson with a single to left to score Smith, but then Bahns and Robinson went to work to preserve the victory.

Also, the Bees had home field advantage over the Foxes, despite Appleton’s 97 win regular season.

On top of it all, Goodland Field was honored in 1978, too.

Bud was a definite Friend of the Foxes. Bowie Kuhn attended the Red Smith Banquet.

1978 MWL Alum of Note:
Chili Davis -Cedar Rapids Giants

Chili Davis was with the Cedar Rapids Giants in 1978. He went on to play 19 years in the big leagues.

Davis hit .281 with 16 homers in 124 games for Cedar Rapids.  During his long and well-traveled major league career, Davis collected 2,380 hits.  His 350 home runs ranks as #5 on the list of career homers by a switch-hitter.  Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, Chipper Jones, and Lance Berkman are the only switch-hitters to hit more career homers than Davis.

1978 Brewers Alum of Note:
Kevin BassBurlington Bees

Kevin Bass in 1978

At this point of Brewers history, Kevin Bass was one of the hot prospects in the Brewers system.  He was the second round pick of the Brewers in the 1977 draft.

He came up with the Brewers in 1982, but only played 18 games for the Crew before being part of the trade with the Astros that brought Don Sutton to Milwaukee.

At some point, Bass grew a glorious mustache

Kevin Bass with the Astros.

He was an All-Star AND finished 7th in NL MVP voting  in 1986.  Bass spent 14 seasons in the majors and was a career .270 hitter with 118 homers and 151 stolen bases.  His son Justin played for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2010 and 2011.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5.  Get here soon.

50 Years in 50 Days: 1977 (Updated)

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 35.

35 Years Ago:

The cover of the 1977 Foxes Program.


 

FOXES INFORMATION:
Team Name: Appleton Foxes
MLB Affiliate: Chicago White Sox
Manager: Gordy Lund (3rd year)
1st Half: 26-44 (5th, North Division)
2nd Half: 28-40 (3rd, North Division)
Overall: 54-84

Your 1977 Appleton Foxes!

Future MLB Players:
Pitcher Ross Baumgarten (3-6, 3.75) in 17 games – 12 starts – with a save and 65 Ks in 84IP
Outfielder Harold Baines hit .261 with five homers and 29 RBI in 69 games
Pitcher Mark Esser (3-4, 7.80) in 12 games – 8 starts – with 53Ks in 45 IP
Catcher Marv Foley hit .272 with three homers and 21 RBI in 48 games
Infielder Lorenzo Gray hit .237 with two homers and 15 RBI in 55 games
Pitcher Fred Howard (2-5, 2.14) in 9 games – 8 starts – with a save and 52Ks in 63IP
First Baseman Chris Nyman hit .300 with five homers and 17 RBI in 59 games
Pitcher Dewey Robinson (0-0, 2.40) in 10 games – no starts – with four saves and 19 Ks in 15 IP
Outfielder Leo Sutherland hit .264 with no homers, 36RBI, and 49 stolen bases
Pitcher Steve Trout (6-8, 4.05) in 21 games – 18 starts – with 101 Ks in 111 IP

Category Leaders:
AVG: Andy Pasillas – .318
HR: Curt Etchandy & Orestes Minoso – 8
RBI: Ed Olszta – 52
SB: Leo Sutherland – 49
OPS: Andy Pasillas – .786
WINS: Robert Madden – 9
ERA: John Martin – 3.26
IP: John Martin – 171
SO: John Martin – 139
SAVES: Marshall Harper – 6

Yes He Is Stat:  The Orestes Minoso who hit eight homers in 95 games for the Foxes in 1977 is actually Orestes Minoso, Jr…Son of Orestes Minoso, Sr…You might know Minoso the elder as Minnie Minoso.

Minnie Minoso card from baseball-almanac.com

Going Somewhere Else Stat: Candy Mercado played in Appleton in 1975 and 1976.  He appeared in 105 games, including one game as a pitcher, for the Foxes in 1977, but wrapped the season with 21 games for the Burlington Bees, the Brewers Midwest League affiliate that year.

Gordy’s Back Stat:  Gordy Lund, the Foxes manager in 1974 & 1975 returned to the Foxes for the 1977 season.  He spent 1976  as the manager for Knoxville, Chicago’s Southern League affiliate.

#1 #1 Stat:  Harold Baines was the first #1 overall pick in a draft to play for the Foxes.  Baines, was picked by the White Sox with the #1 pick of the June draft in 1977.  He was 18 and made his pro debut with the Foxes.  Baines played just 59 games with the Foxes that season.  He was in the big leagues to stay in 1980.

Harold Baines. Great player...horrible uniform.

Baines was inducted into the Appleton Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

1977 MWL Season:
The Midwest League did something counter-intuitive for the 1977 season.  The league contracted to eight teams as Dubuque and Danville folded and were not replaced AND they went from a 130 game schedule to a 140 game schedule.  MWL Guide notes that Opening Day was April 15 and the last scheduled regular season game was August 31.

North Division: Appleton, Wisconsin Rapids, Waterloo, & Wausau.
South Division: Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, & Quad Cities.

1977 MWL All-Star Game:
The Burlington Bees hosted the 1977 Midwest League All-Star game on June 8.  The game pitted a squad of MWL All-Stars against the Iowa Oaks, the AAA Affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.  The All-Stars won the game 5-3.  Leo Sutherland was the only Foxes player to participate in the game for the MWL.  Pitcher Fred Howard was picked for the team, but did not play.  Lots of former Foxes played for Iowa in the game, including Kevin Bell, Nyls Nyman, & George Enright.

I’m just going to swipe a few things from Joel’s notes at the bottom of the boxscore:

  • Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Grove attended this game as guests of Burlington GM Dave Hersh. It seems that Commissioner Kuhn threw out the first pitch, and Lefty told stories. Ernie Banks was also scheduled to attend, but high winds in Chicago prevented his plane from leaving.
  • League President Bill Walters appointed Christine Wren umpire crew chief for the game. The papers seemed to think he was sending a message to the Commissioner.
  • It rained in Burlington. The game’s start was delayed 45 minutes by the weather.

I’ll focus on that middle bullet point in a little bit.

1977 MWL Postseason:
Waterloo won both halves of the North Division to earn a bye into the Finals.  Burlington defeated  Cedar Rapids in a one game playoff for the South Division Championship.

The Bees claimed the title and denied the Royals a third straight MWL pennant with a sweep in the finals.

1977 MWL Alumni of Note:

Paul Molitor (Burlington Bees)

Paul Molitor on his 1979 TOPPS card. In 1977, he played for the Burlington Bees.

Sorry, Mike Scioscia and Dave Stewart of the 1977 Clinton Dodgers, it really couldn’t be anyone else.

Molitor was the third overall pick of the 1977 draft.  The Milwaukee Brewers took him out of the University of Minnesota.  Molitor was in the big leagues for 1978, but his brief time in Burlington made a large impact on the Midwest League.

He appeared in just 64 games, but he hit .346 with eight homers with 50 RBI and 14 stolen bases for the Bees.

Burlington went 28-42 and finished in fourth in the Southern Division in the first half.  Add Molitor to the mix for the second half and the Bees went 43-26 to claim the second half playoff spot and an eventual MWL championship.  Despite playing less than a half season in the MWL, Molitor was named the league MVP for 1977.  On second thought, that may be because he played less than half a season.

After that season… oh, you know…Hall of Fame Career.

Paul Molitor as a Burlington Bee and as a Milwaukee Brewer. From gobees.com.

There were only two other players from the 1977 Bees to make it to the big leagues.  First baseman Jesus Vega and pitcher Willie Mueller.  Mueller went 15-7 for the Bees in 1977.

The 1977 Burlington Bees. from gobees.com

You know that Harold Baines was the #1 pick in 1977 and Paul Molitor was #3.  Did you know that the Montreal Expos drafted Bill Gullickson with the #2 pick?  Here is the entire first round of the 1977 draft.

Back to that bullet point:
Christine Wren was a female umpire in the Midwest League in 1977.  I’m just guessing here, but it appeared that she  did not have a pleasant time.

Christine Wren, a MWL Umpire in 1977. From Women Umpiring Baseball

That picture is from this website.

MWL Guide has this entry for Wren.

1977 was Wren’s third professional season; she’d worked in the Northwest League during the previous two summers. She’d also worked in spring training for two years, though she’d not been invited to participate in the 1977 spring. In 1975, she’d umpired a Dodgers/Southern Cal exhibition game before 51,000 baseball fans.

Wren’s umpiring received generally good reviews, even from those who didn’t approve of a woman ump. According to most reports, she was an excellent balls-and-strikes umpire; as a basepath umpire, it was claimed she needed some work. It was also reported that her basepath work improved from year to year. Some baseball men, including Baseball Umpire Development administrator Barney Deary, expressed concerns about her stamina which, quite frankly, read like sexism.

Joel notes that Wren was invited back to the MWL for the 1978 season, but she took a leave of absence and did not umpire in organized ball again.  Joel also notes that he cannot discover what happened to Wren after she left baseball.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5.  Get here soon.

50 Years in 50 Days: 1976 (UPDATED)

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 36.

36 Years Ago:
The Foxes celebrate the bicentennial spiffy cover:

Why all the red, white, and blue?

FOXES INFORMATION:
Team Name: Appleton Foxes
MLB Affiliate: Chicago White Sox
Manager: Jim Napier (1st year)
1st Half: 24-38 (5th, North Division)
2nd Half: 32-36 (3rd, North Division)
Overall: 56-74

Future MLB Players:
Shortstop Harry Chappas hit .262 with four homers in 102 games
Pitcher Fred Howard (0-0, 4.85) in six relief appearances over 13 innings

Your 1976 Appleton Foxes!

Category Leaders:
AVG: Harry Chappas – .262
HR: Curt Etchandy – 14
WINS: Jay Attardi & Mitch Lukevics – 10
ERA: Mitch Lukevics – 3.00
IP: Jay Attardi – 162.

End of An Era Stat: The 1976 season was the year – apparently – when the DH rule made its down to the Midwest League.  A few pitchers hit games, but nowhere near the level of the previous season.

It’s Not the Size of the Man in the Fight; It’s the Size of the Fight in the Man Stat: Harry Chappas is listed at 5’7″ & 150 pounds.

It got him on this SI cover.

You can read about ‘The Littlest Rookie’ in the SIVault starting with page 24 at this link.

Sorry, Silvio.  Sorry, Phil. We Are Sending You To Clinton Stat:  Outfielder Silvio Robles and Catcher Phil Trucks split time between the Foxes and the Clinton Pilots in 1976.  The Pilots were a co-op team in 1976.

Future Director of Minor League Operations Stat:

Mitch Lukevics from 2006 mlb.com story

Mitch Lukevics was as second round pick of the White Sox in 1975.  He pitched for the Foxes in 1976 and was in the system until 1980.  After his playing career…well, here is an article from December, 1988 from The Morning Call…Lehigh Valley’s Newspaper.

It’s a long way – 1,170 miles, to be precise – from the pitcher’s mound at Liberty High’s Sheridan Field to the New York Yankees’ brand new minor league complex in Tampa, Fla.

For Mitch Lukevics, it’s been a 16-year journey, a journey that frequently took him down back roads and through backwater towns.

Lukevics was a standout pitcher for Bernie Fritz’s 1970 through 1972 Hurricane teams and later at Penn State. At Liberty, he won seven letters in three sports.

Last Thursday, he accepted the post of Director of Minor League Operations for the New York Yankees.

Lukevics was drafted by the White Sox in June of 1975 after he compiled an 11-1 record at Penn State (the loss came in the opening game of the College World Series in Omaha). He was released after bouncing around the backwaters of the minor leagues for six years (and substitute teaching in Bethlehem in the off-seasons), but Dave Dombrowski, who was the Sox’ director of player personnel at the time, offered him a job as a minor pitching instructor.

Since then, Lukevics has been out of baseball operations for just weeks – and his rise has been, frankly, almost meteoric.

“My first six years in pro ball were as a player,” he reminisced last night. “Then came five more as a coach. When ‘Hawk’ Harrelson and Alvin Dark took over, they fired all of us except one coach. But, within six weeks, they rehired me and put me in the administrative end.

“Under Harrelson and Dark, I was Administrative Assistant for Player Development and Scouting. When they were let go, I became Minor League Administrator for Larry Himes, the Sox’ current general manager.

Leave the “backwaters” comment out of the mix and it’s a pretty interesting note.  Especially the Hawk Harrelson stuff.  That would have been right around the time that the Foxes & White Sox parted ways.

Part of Lukevics rise out of the “backwaters” was a stop as the pitching coach of the Foxes in 1985.

These days, Lukevics is the Director of Minor League Operations for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Here’s a little something I found on e*bay

Nine cards featuring players from the 1976 Foxes.

Lukevics is the middle card on the bottom row. Click the image to see all of the players.

1976 MWL Season:
North Division: Appleton, Dubuque, Wisconsin Rapids, Waterloo, & Wausau.
South Division: Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Danville, & Quad Cities.

The main change, as noted above, was Clinton became a co-op team for 1976.  They had been a Tigers affiliate in 1975.

1976 MWL All-Star Game:
Riverview Stadium in Clinton hosted the All-Star Game on July 12, 1976.  The game was a contest between a squad of MWL All-Stars and the Iowa Oaks, who were once again the AAA affiliate of the White Sox.

The All-Stars had the game locked up until three errors in the top of the ninth inning gave the Oaks a two run ninth and a 5-3 win.  Many former Foxes appeared in the game for the Oaks.  Most notably there was Jack Kucek as the starting pitcher, Nyls Nyman, and George Enright both got starts.  And Silvano Robles was called up just to play in this game…apparently.

Also, click the link for the boxscore and look at who came into to pinch hit for Sonny Jackson and play third base.  (Hint: Initials are TLR)

Mitch Lukevics was selected to play in the game, but did not pitch.  The only 1976 Foxe to see action in the All-Star Game was pitcher Bill Lehman, who tossed a scoreless seventh inning.

1976 MWL Postseason:
Waterloo won both halves of the Northern Division to receive a bye into the Championship Series.  Quad Cities beat Cedar Rapids in a one game playoff for the right to face the Royals in the finals for the second year in a row….BUT…

Waterloo won their second straight MWL title with a sweep of the best-of-three Finals.

1976 MWL Alum of Note:
Joe Maddon (Quad Cities Angels)

Joe Maddon wants YOU to remember his time in the Midwest League. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

If I chose to single out the current Tampa Bay Rays Director of Minor League Operations, OF COURSE I’m going to pick the current manager of the Tampa Bay Rays for this segment.

Maddon appeared in just 50 games for the Angels during his first season of professional baseball.  He hit .294 with no homers.  Maddon will return to the Midwest League as the manager in Peoria during 1984 as part of his climb to be the manager of the Rays for the 2006 season.  Since taking over in Tampa, Maddon has made the playoffs three times and won one AL pennant.

This is the mlb.com story from which I got he picture of Mitch Lukevics and it has a little about the relationship between the two former Midwest League rivals:

Lukevics admits the only offseason he has falls on Thanksgiving and Christmas. After 32 years in professional baseball, though, it doesn’t bother him a bit. It’s even better, he said, with a Major League manager like Joe Maddon spearheading the cause of the importance of Lukevics’ role with the Rays organization.

“[Maddon] just re-emphasizes what we’ve done in the past all along, and continues to stress [fundamentals],” Lukevics said. “It’s absolutely great. Joe knows what we do on the farm because he’s done it a long time as well. I think he and our entire Major League staff have an appreciation for what we go through on a daily basis.”

One more future MLB Manager:
Clint Hurdle (Waterloo Royals)

Clint Hurdle on the cover of the March 20, 1978 issue of SI.

Hurdle was the ninth pick in the 1975 draft.  He was 17.  In 1976, at the age of 18, he hit 19 homers and helped lead Waterloo to the pennant.  Hurdle’s MLB career lasted 515 games as a player, but he has won 534 games as a major league manager – so far – and he heads into this season as the skipper of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1976 Brewer Farmhand:
Ed Romero (Burlington Bees)

The card screams utility man and mustache. And I loved him for both.

Romero was the only position player from the 1976 Bees to make the major leagues.  Romero filled an important utility role for the Brewers from 1980 through 1985.  He went to the Red Sox from 1986-1989 and finished his career with Atlanta (1989), Milwaukee again (still 1989), and Detroit (1990).

Romero played in over 100 games for the Brewers in 1984 and reached 100 games for the Red Sox in 1986.

He was a career .247 hitter and belted eight home runs in 730 games over 12 seasons.

The moment in the sun for Romero was in the final game of the 1982 season.  He got the start over Jim Ganter at second base as the Brewers battled the Orioles for the AL East pennant.  However, Keith Jackson & Howard Cosell kept calling Romero Gantner.  Seriously.  Here is the third SI reference in this post.

TITANIC AWARD FOR DISASTER AT SEA—To ABC for its coverage of the Brewers-Orioles game on the final day of the American League season. Director Chet Forte missed Ben Oglivie‘s sliding catch in the leftfield corner, which may have saved the year for Milwaukee. Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell mistook Ed Romero for Jim Gantner for five innings. Once clued in, Jackson left the impression that Romero, who had started, had just then pinch-hit for Gantner. To the lifeboats, gentlemen.

Whoa, Nelly!

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5. Get here soon!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 51 other followers

%d bloggers like this: