Monday, November 12, 2018

Buffalo Bill, Offseason To-Do's and Scrap News, Montgomery 1st State Champs in History


watch world series

reacquaint myself with layout of home

talk to neighbors/squash rumors of alien abduction in April


catch up on five months of emails

convince family pets I do indeed live here full time in the winter

see a show/concert

locate warm clothes

catalogue scorebooks from this summer

try to remember what tv shows are worth watching

update the blog

Hey, we can knock that last thing off the list!

With the last out of the World Series, the offseason began again. Days have passed with little to no Biscuits news and that will mostly be the norm moving forward, as fans are well aware. Posts in the winter tend to lean towards history/research, where we have some interesting items coming, starting with today.

So here is what we got...

David Price
Two ex-Biscuits were on the right side of the final contest, David Price and Nate Eovaldi enjoyed champagne as world champs.

As Biscuits. the two of them could not be more different - on one side is young left-handed starting pitcher David Price, who spent a couple months as a prospect dominating Southern League hitters.  Price seemingly shook hands with every single Biscuits fan and became immensely popular over three months in Montgomery.

Nathan Eovaldi
On the other, veteran right-handed reliever Nathan Eovaldi made a single rehab appearance in a road game for Montgomery that only a handful of Biscuits fans saw with their own eyes and isn't listed on baseball reference.

Still, to many Montgomery fans, those are both "our guys" all the way.

Dylan Floro
When Nathan Eovaldi got to the plate in the 14th inning to take an at bat in the marathon third game against the Dodgers Dylan Floro, it marked the first time two former Biscuits had faced each other in a World Series game.

But it was not the first postseason matchup of ex-Biscuits.

On September 30th of 2014 the former Biscuit Jason Hammel of the Royals faced another ex-Biscuit in Oakland's Stephen Vogt in the AL Wild Card Game. Vogt walked in the second inning and struck out in the 4th in the rare postseason matchup of two Montgomery players.

The first former Montgomery Biscuit to win a World Series ring? I believe that honor belongs to Jean Machi, who won a title with the San Francisco Giants in 2012 and again in 2014.
Jean Machi


Charlie Montoyo and Rocco Baldelli were both hired as major league managers, in one day sending the number of former Biscuits managing MLB teams from zero to two in a matter of hours. In a wildly strange twist, as Biscuits both wore #25 with Montgomery!

Baldelli, now taking over as manager in Minnesota, is remembered as the first bearded Biscuit. Few Biscuit players can be said to have set new standards for style, but Rocco actually did change how players in Montgomery could look in the 21st century.

Rocco found out that rehabbers were not held to the same dress code and facial hair requirements minor leaguers were restricted to. He decided not to shave until he made it back to the majors and was well past scruffy during his stay in double-A.

While working his way back to the bigs as a player, Rocco showed determination and excellent skills during his time in Montgomery, as well as an easy-to-talk-with personality.

He also provided his fellow Biscuit players with lavish postgame feasts and set a precedent that all following big-league rehabbers had to buy dinner for the team.

2004 Opening Day Montoyo
Montoyo, who will manage Toronto, was the first Biscuits manager and led the team to its first title in 2006. Charlie Montoyo had even more success in Durham, supplied with a steady stream of Biscuits talent he took the Bulls to the Title game four times, winning three.

Montoyo also led some bad teams in the early days of Biscuits lore. In 2005 the club was so awful he made a clubhouse speech to the players before the All-Star break that included "take this time off to decide if professional baseball is really the right career for you."

Someone asked, so I looked em up!


Ed Mickelson
Former Montgomery Rebels first baseman Ed Mickelson is the oldest surviving Montgomery Rebel to make the big leagues.

Getting the last ever RBI for the St. Louis Browns franchise in 1953, he spent most of his career in the minors and wrote a book about it. Called "Out of the Park: Memoir of a Minor League Baseball All-Star" it should be on the to-read list of all fans. Mickelson compiled over 1300 hits in his minor league career but only got cups of coffee with the Browns, Cubs and Cardinals.

With Montgomery in 1950, the slugging first baseman hit .417 with 21 homers and 33 doubles in 300 plate appearances. It was an offensive onslaught that punched holes in outfield fences and opposing pitchers ERA's.

Twelve of Mickelsons home runs cleared the fences at newly minted Memorial Stadium, later to be known as Paterson Field, and earned the young man a dozen new pairs of pants thanks to a promotion by a local tailor. For each home run at the new park, a new pair of pants from George Williams mens clothiers!

The Rebels of 1950 were a Juggernaut under popular skipper Charlie Metro, winning 77 and losing just 54 games as a B League affiliate for the St. Louis Cardinals.

1950 Montgomery Rebels, Mickelson center in back row
Charlie Metro, with 18 homers, along with Mickelson were the most dominant players on the club which finished third in the Southeastern League. As good as they were, the '50 Rebels only had three players who would get MLB time (Mickelson 18 MLB games, Metro played 170 MLB games and James Van Noy with six games) with the rest of the team being career minor leaguers.

Born in 1926, Ed Mickelson is the oldest living Montgomery Rebels player with MLB experience.


From a quick scan of the info it looks like former MLB outfielder Gail Henley is the oldest living Montgomery Rebels manager.

Henley managed the Rebels in 1961, his first assignment as a rookie skipper came at the helm of the Tigers Montgomery affiliate, having played for the Bham Barons the previous three seasons.

With Montgomery, Henley appeared in seven games as an outfielder/pinch hitter, getting a pair of hits in seven trips to the plate. More importantly, he was only able to muster a 56-62 record in the class D Alabama-Florida League. Montgomery finished fourth and fifth in the split season under Henley, who would would head to Lakeland after just one season with the Rebels.

Henley, who homered in his first major league game with Pittsburgh, would manage throughout the minors for the Tigers and Dodgers systems over twelve seasons.

His major league playing time was cut short after a dramatic on-field injury was incurred when Henley ran into an outfield wall chasing a fly ball. Henley sustained a fractured eye socket and separated wrist. Gail Henley is notably proud of his first MLB hit, which came off of Warren Spahn.

Born in 1928, Gail Henley is the oldest surviving Rebels manager.


This edition has just two baseball entries, but they are hugely important in the development of the game in our area. The first baseball champions are crowned and the most serious financial push towards hosting a professional baseball team comes in this weeks history.

As reported in the NY Clipper
Montgomery faces Mobile Dramatics in the deciding game of the Championship of Alabama, defeating the Mobile club in a series of five games. The NY Clipper reports the final game was won by Montgomery 33 to 19.

John Payne
This lopsided score is likely a reflection of the different composition of the two clubs players.

Montgomery is comprised of former Confederate military officers and well-to-do locals with athletic aspirations, led by slugging first baseman A.T. Pearsall.

The Mobile club consists of cast members of the Mobile Amateur Dramatic Society, thusly their team being called the Mobile Dramatics. The Dramatics are led by Confederate war hero John Payne (who keeps cropping up in my research as a much larger figure in the Alabama sporting and cultural scene than initially known).

NOVEMBER 12 1904 
Sporting News reports Mr. Jos. E. E.Winters made a stock company of the Montgomery club and put some shares on the market which sold "like hotcakes".

Starting in 1903, the Montgomery franchise would be bought and sold several times, practically every year as the city tried to figure out how much it could/would spend on players and which league had an opening. 

The purchase by Joseph Winters begins this parade of new owners and increased quality of players as well as improved fan experience with the building of new facilities. It also connects the baseball team to the city public transportation system, with Winters the head of the trolley car company, the two would be closely connected during the first quarter of the 20th century.

NOVEMBER 16 1875 
Buffalo Bills Show makes its first visit to Montgomery, an early incarnation of the western show called Buffalo Bills Combination acting troup. It would become the largest touring attraction to appear in the city when it returned in 1879 as a Wild West spectacular, but this early trip was among Bill Cody's first touring ventures and saw fantastic success in Montgomery.

The famous cowboy scout would make six appearances in Montgomery through 1912.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

MLBiscuits Jersey Auction, Skitz Announcer Way Off Base


Many former Biscuits players jerseys were made available from the Players Weekend uniform auction. Bidding ran thru September 20th and a few until the 24th, its cool to see what the former Skitz chose for their nameplates. Also, that there are so many former Biscuits in the bigs!

Dylan Floro
Mikie Mahtook
Wade Davis
Curt Casali
David Price
Kirby Yates
Matt Moore
Alex Colome
Kevin Kiermaier
Jake Bauers
Jose Alvarado
Brandon Lowe
Yonny Chirinos
Diego Castillo
Hunter Wood
Adam Kolarek
Willy Adames
Ryne Stanek


Scott Trible
Longtime Biscuits General Manager Scott Trible has announced he is leaving the team and moving to pursue other ventures. Trible has been a friendly and easily accessible front office guy, guiding the business end since taking over for Marla Vickers back in like, 2007 or so. Best of luck to him in his future endeavors. Biscuits COO Brendan Porter will be at the helm and should be a fine steward for the Montgomery club going forward under the new ownership.

Infielder Tristan Gray, who got his first taste of double-A in the playoffs, will be playing in Australia this offseason with the Brisbane Bandits of the ABL. Gray will likely be back with the Biscuits next spring.

Gary Redus set the all-time single season batting average record with .462 in his first pro season with Billings. One of his bats used in that campaign is on display at Cooperstown.

When I asked him about his bat being on display, he told me that it wasn't his only bat in the Hall of Fame. When catcher Johnny Bench set the record for home runs by a catcher, he used a Gary Redus bat that is now on display at the Hall.

So there are TWO Gary Redus bats in the Hall of Fame!

Espinal had hit rough patches before
During the final game of the playoffs in which the Biscuits were eliminated, Biscuit radio announcer Chris Adams-Wall absolutely roasted Yoel Espinal on the air for giving the Generals the first game and then repeatedly blamed him for the series loss.


Multiple times during the ninth inning of the final game he quoted the three walks and two runs allowed by the Biscuits closer in game one as the sole reason Montgomery would not advance to the championship round after game five.

How an announcer who travels with the team and presumably saw the same game I watched online, can throw a player under the bus for an entire series loss is beyond inexcusable.

That he would use the broadcast to single out Espinal for losing a five game series based on a game one performance is unbelievable.

That he would say it was Espinal's fault alone is simply incorrect.

It's true during that first game against the Generals, Yoel did walk three, he hit a batter, gave up one hit, allowed two runs to score and took the loss. There can be no debate about the line score.

However no mention was made in the game five broadcast by Chris Adams-Wall of the fact that during that fateful first game ninth inning Biscuits shortstop Lucius Fox mishandled/booted what could have been a game-ending double play grounder. That ball was a hit in the box score but as it happened on the field the Jackson announcer described it as an error, until the hometeam official scorer chose not to rob the Generals of postseason stats and ruled it thusly a hit.

When the closer is on the hill with the bases loaded in the 9th inning, the job definition is pretty basic. Get out of it with little or no damage.

How does it happen? Another simple recipe. Combine a strikeout or popup with a ground ball hit to an infielder for a double play usually works well.

When he gets that weak pop foul for the first out and a grounder to shortstop HE HAS DONE HIS JOB.

What more can you ask for? Another ground ball? Its baseball, not a movie script. In this instance, Espy even induced yet another weak fly ball for out two after the non-error by Fox, before the winning run scored on the third walk of the inning.

When a shortstop commits what was could be called an error and allows a run to score without getting anyone out, it is hard to single out the pitcher and say he was the cause of it.

Yet that is exactly what the Biscuits announcer did, proclaiming Montgomery the better team and saying if it were not for the bad pitching of Yoel Espinal the Biscuits would be headed to the championship.

Being a road game, most Montgomery fans didn't watch that first game in Jackson and only have the announcers word about what happened. Yet the reporting of that game action left out crucial details.

Details that didn't back the assignment of blame on Yoel Espinal, so those details were left out and listeners led to believe Espinal was a worthy sacrificial goat.

Just last year, Biscuits closer Ian Gibaut allowed a two run walk-off home run in the ninth inning of playoff game five but he was not solely blamed for losing that game, the series or the Co-Championship. Nor should he be.

A team doesn't lose a series in one game. Reliever Yoel Espinal was not the only one to blame for the game one loss, the series loss or the Biscuits failure to win the championship. In baseball, you win as a team and you lose as a team. There were nine men in the field that night, not just Espinal alone.

If one is a professional sports announcer, one shouldn't throw a player under the bus during a broadcast, regardless of the reason. Blaming Espinal for the Biscuits failure in the postseason is simply sour grapes and not factual.

If the announcer is truly part of the team, an apology may be in order. At the very least an explanation on how Espinal is to blame for giving up two runs via walks in game one this year and why Gibeaut is not after serving up a two run walkoff homer in game five last year.

Otherwise, what should Chris Adams-Wall expect when he looks those guys in the face next spring?

Friday, September 7, 2018

Playoff Biscuits in Divisional Round

The Skitz took a split in Jackson against the Generals and now face them in three home-field contests to determine the divison champ. To say these are big games would be a vast understatement.

Historically, the Generals appeared to have the Biscuits number in recent years. However skipper Brady Williams feels more confident with this group than any of his previous September Biscuits, these guys have simply played great baseball over the past few months and earned their place in the postseason.


Fans that have cardiac issues or think they may be pregnant might want to just look for the box score in the newspaper the next morning, drama is going to happen in this series. Both teams are hungry for a shot at the title, Biscuits after being denied three straight seasons and the Generals who have been preparing for the playoffs since they won the first half of the season.

The Biscuits and Generals are well matched at this point, look for the series to be won and lost on bench and bullpen depth.

The Montgomery bullpen has had some rough patches lately, particularly in finding someone to get the last three outs of the game consistently. Look for Brady Williams to trust his bullpen arms, they have gotten the team where it is.

Look for the Biscuits to play hungry, using their strengths of baserunning and situational hitting.

Look for the Generals to challenge Biscuits catchers on the basepaths, though they aren't known as a running team. Clubs have made it a habit to force Montgomery backstops to prove they can throw.

Fans should look for the unexpected hero. In big games, its often a guy without the attention that comes through.

Announced attendance for the two Jackson playoff games were listed as 1100 and 1400, respectively. And generously.

Relief pitcher Travis Ott was sent to Durham for the final days of the season, but has returned to the Biscuits bullpen for the postseason. Ott did pitch for the Bulls but it didn't go well, so maybe don't bring it up to him.

3B Kevin Padlo is with the Biscuits, though not on the roster. Probably getting a feel for where he will likely play next summer.

Pitcher Reece Karalus was sent to Port Charlotte, but I suspect he is traveling with the Biscuits. The Stone Crabs were eliminated from postseason contention on the final day of the season.

Blake Bivens
Pitchers Brandon Lawson and Blake Bivens were both activated for the Biscuits postseason.

Utilityman Michael Russell was sent to Durham and started the Bulls first postseason game at third base.

Shortstop Jermaine Palacios was sent to the Biscuits from the Stone Crabs. Palacios hit .370 with Port Charlotte, then struggled in his first taste of double-A and was sent back down where he proceeded to hit just .214 for the rest of the season.

MiLB lists Benton Moss as the starter for Friday, in fact its Sam McWilliams vs Justin Donatella.

The Generals Justin Donatella faced Montgomery five times in the regular season, including two relief appearances in April, garnering two wins and no losses. After being very good in the first half, Dontatella has been a little more mortal since the All Star break but still able to keep his team in a close ballgame. His Achilles heel is falling behind in the count, which sends opponent batters average from .168 when ahead to .284 when behind.

Biscuit pitchers will have to figure out Generals 3b Marty Herum. Batting .370 over the past month, the young third sacker has been opening eyes since he returned from the DL in June. Except the guy who writes the MiLB player bios.

In a twitter conversation I posted this image, one Biscuit fans should recall...

It got a response from the man himself...

Always happy to help out!

Rocket City Trash Pandas. We will get back to that later this offseason!



1870s ballplayers in Montgomery
Been doing a bit of interesting research lately, trying to narrow down persons involved in some 1800's local teams. Starting to suspect there was a LOT more baseball going on in the area than historians give credit for. 

Multiple examples of Alabamians playing baseball during the Civil War, with players local to Montgomery, Mobile, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, many other places. Amateur players and professional players, collegiate and civic games. Evidence leads me to believe that before 1864 there must be at least loosely-organized games and dozens of Alabamians with experience in them. It is not a game that was brought home from Yankee prison camps after the war.

Just now beginning to identify these individuals and excited about the prospect of changing how our area is viewed in terms of baseballs early days.

Montgomery wins in 14 innings vs New Orleans 4-1

Outfielder Elmer Bliss
Montgomery gets ten hits and scores 11 runs to beat Little Rock

Montgomery Pitcher Lee throws a 2-hit shutout vs Little Rock

Montgomery OF Elmer Bliss is 5-for-5 vs Mobile, as Montgomery racks up 15 hits.

SEPTEMBER 10 1906 
Montgomery pitcher Ted Breitenstein allows just one run on three hits vs Little Rock but loses as Little Rock's SP Keith shuts out Montgomery on just two hits.

SEPTEMBER 10 1920 
Montgomery, AL
"New Orleans Club Defeats Grey Sox - Mason is Driven From Mound and Streeter is Batted At Will -
By driving Mason from the mound in the second inning, and hitting Streeter at will, the New Orleans Add Club had little trouble in defeating the Montgomery Grey Sox Friday, 7 to 3.
Charlie "Two Sides" Wesley

Erratic fielding, by the Grey Sox outfielders, by the Grey Sox outfielders sided the visiting club, the local outfielders playing a slow game on safe drives. Ross for the visiting club carried off the batting honors with three triples and one single, while McGavock and Carpenter for the local each acquired a triple.

The absences of "Red" Cunningham at first base is felt by the Grey Sox, although Wesley is playing the initial corner in fair style. With Cunningham out of the game, the local players appear to lack the fighting spirit which has marked their playing all season.

The two teams will play again this afternoon, game starting at 4 o'clock."