Monday, April 27, 2015

Biscuits En Fuego



The Skitz are off to their usual fast start, fresh biscuits are always best and the team is hot from the oven. They may cool off, but its good to be hanging around the .500 mark. The weather has played along nicely and the schedule has now given fans a chance to see their home nine face division doormat Jackson Generals.

The Generals came in for the weekend with simply the worst record in the league. Montgomery took advantage of the situation by winning the first two games and now seek to capture another series victory. 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR


With three games left in the series vs Jackson, fans should look for more of what the Biscuits do - starting pitching and late inning baserunners. Scoring after the 7th inning is a good habit to have and the Skitz stay in the game to the last hitter.

Look for the Generals to break out at some point, though with any luck it will be after wednesday's day game finale! The Gens are armed with prospects such as 3b D.J.Peterson and 1b Jordy Lara as well as former LSU standout "Neon" Leon Landry. Managed by Lance Painter, the Generals have a tough task to turn around a terrible start.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN...
Thursday the Biscuits begin a road series in Mississippi against the Braves, a series which will open a new month and close the book on April.


When the Biscuits next series begins, look for "The Clock" to be a factor for umps and players as we learn what issues arise from timing a game that probably shouldn't be timed.




APRIL 26 1906
Ike Durrett
Montgomery manager Ike Durrett, in a game at Birmingham, assaults umpire Buckley. This would be a factor two days later, when Durrett is refused permission to sit in the dugout during the game and results in a forfeit when manager Durrett refuses to leave.

APRIL 28 1906
Montgomery forfeits to the Barons after manager Ike Durrett is refused permission to sit in the dugout by an umpire he attacked two days before. Durrett will be fined $300 by President Kavanaugh and eventually released by Montgomery.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Biscuits vs BayCity Bears, What to Look For, History Lesson!



Hey who was that getting a start for the Biscuits yesterday? Why it was Drew Smyly, rehabbing major leaguer!

Smyly joins the ranks of those who have appeared in Biscuits uniforms but not seen in Montgomery. For whatever reasons, the Rays seem more likely to send a big league talent to any facility other than Riverwalk. The Rays hope Smyly will be back in the Tampa rotation by Friday's tilt vs Toronto.


Catcher Justin O'Conner
In his Biscuits debut, Drew Smyly tossed one hit ball with his 70 pitches, Hagens relieved and got the win. Jhan Marinez notched his second save. The scoring largely came on Justin O'Conner's third homer of the young season. 


BISCUIT ACTION
The Skitz on the road in Jacksonville turned out a series victory with wins in nearly every possible combination. One game was a 12 run slug fest, one low scoring contest almost got away and one saw a pitcher from the bigs leading us in a shutout.



AND NOW....
Back by request, the forecast for the upcoming series. We don't often get requests but when it happens I try to accommodate, and this one was due to return - so enjoy!



WHAT TO LOOK FOR

The Mobile BayBears make their first visit to Montgomery laden with prospects and lofty expectations. Touted pitchers Blair, Shipley and Sherfy will be a challenge for the hot Skitz hitters.

Look for tough pitching from the Mobile Shippers hurlers. Bats like Drury and Haniger provide the Bay-city pop. Alex Glenn leads the league in runs batted in.

Ex-Skit G-man
Familiar faces are found on this team as well, former Biscuits Mark Thomas and Todd "Rain Turtle" Glaesmann return to Riverwalk for the first time in 2015.



PEN WOES
Look for the Biscuits bullpen to be under scrutiny - the late innings have been a weakness even in games Montgomery wins. Biscuit closer Marinez picked up his first save on Friday but didn't exactly slam the door, giving up three hits and a run while getting a four out save. Relievers Markel and Lollis both took losses on the roadtrip, though Markel is one of just two Skitz bullpen tossers to possess a sub-6 ERA.

Montgomery hit an anemic .170 with runners in scoring position over the last five games (8 for 47).

Johnny Field had the only sacrifice on the trip to Jacksonville.

Richie Shaffer is tied for league lead in strikeouts.

Tyler Goeddel leads Rays minor leaguers in OPS (1.009) and is in the top 5 in BABIP (.471)

Zack Cooper's FIP is the highest in the Rays organization at 19.70, not a good thing.



History Lesson!

APRIL 20 1893 
McGinnity
 Future HOF Pitcher Joe McGinnity is signed to play for the Montgomery Colts by skipper John McCloskey and gets off the train just in time to make his first start. McGinnity beats Nashville 10-4, the future Iron Man holding Ted Sullivan's Nashville Tigers to just five hits literally arriving at the train station just before the game.
 Ted Sullivan will manage Montgomery in 1899, our only Irish-born manager!




APRIL 20 1908 
The Nashville Vols and Montgomery Senators battle for 15 innings without a run before darkness ends the contest.



APRIL 20 1920 
Negro Southern League is Formed 
- Montgomery Team Will Play Exhibition Game With Crack Indianapolis Club -

The local negro baseball team known as the Grey Sox will open the Negro Sourthern League season in Montgomery on Friday, April 30, May 1 and 2 with the Birmingham Giants. The league is composed of eight clubs, Knoxville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, Pensacola, New Orleans, and Jacksonville. The opening dates are Birmingham at Montgomery, New Orleans at Pensacola, Knoxville at Nashville, Jacksonville at Atlanta.

President Staples of the local club has gathered together one of the strongest aggregations of ball tossers in the South, having returned from a scouting trip Wednesday with three new pitchers. He assures the public of clean baseball and is out for the first pennant of the new league. No games will be played in any town when a Southern League team is playing.

ABC's star O.Charleston
On Tuesday, April 20, the Grey Sox will entertain the strong A.B.C. club of Indianapolis, Indiana, the strongest negro club in the country. The game will give the local fans an opportunity of seeing just what kind of club the Grey Sox will be. The game will be played in Southside park on South Holt street, just one half block from the car line. The new park has a special grand stand for white patrons.

Monday, April 13, 2015

First Week Review & How to Get Free Biscuits

With rainstorms fast approaching and the day game finale in question, the Biscuits have given fans a look at what they offer even if the last contest of the series should fall to mother nature. We welcomed the team to town last week with the happy return of the Meet the Team event, which gave us a chance to get a first look at the players and put faces to the names on the roster.

"Shaffer and O'Conner say if we ask Sherry Myers she will give us all the free biscuits we can eat"
Four games, one win and lots of strikeouts on both sides of the ball. There is some speed at the top of the lineup, some power in the middle and good defense in the field. Starting pitching has been strong, the bullpen has yet to decide if it is very good or very bad.

"Dude, I can't believe they fell for that!"


THE CLOCK
For the first time, an official clock adorned the stadium walls. One was behind home plate and a second located near the left-field pole. Its there, no doubt, but until the start of May clock rules won't be included as a part of the game action.

My opinion of the clock? I think its useless - we will probably not see many opportunities for the clock to come into play. Even rarer will we actually see an umpire issue a punitive ball or strike. Rarer still will be a game in which the outcome is determined by such a call by an on-field arbiter.

And that day we will be on every sports highlight show when the manager of the affected team expresses his opinion to the offending official!


WHAT WE LEARNED
A very well-placed-yet-unnammed source in the Skitz front office informed me that we have almost zero chance of getting Lou Whitaker to come to Montgomery for the AllStar Game. While it is the league that reaches out to those who have been inducted into the SL Hall of Fame, we should not have high hopes on getting much response from the former greats who are used to commanding tall dollars for appearances.


FLIP SIDE - WE HAVE BEEN HEARD!


On the good news side, I was given the heads up on one special guest - D.J.Kitty! The fave feline of Rays fans everywhere, there is a very good chance we will see the Tampa hepcat at the Southern League ASG this June.

DJ Kitty and Astro
While not exactly mainstream, DJ Kitty is a blog fave and always popular at The Trop! This is a real win for the blog, we tried to convince the Rays to put the cat out for the Rays visit last spring. Even though we didn't get kitty then, it must have been enough to be noticed and we look forward to welcoming the fuzzy friend to Riverwalk.




 ASSORTED IMAGES
Yes, I know, I was gruff and didn't have pics edited for the last blog. I'm sorry, and to make up for it here are some more of the photos I have from the first week of the Biscuits season.
Big Mo sneaking up on Hector
Catchers during practice

Timmons introduces outfielders to "Death Valley"

Their prospect, Byron Buxton

Our prospect, Daniel Robertson


Friday, April 10, 2015

A Fine Start

The first game is in the books, a walkoff victory rewarding a strong pitching effort by the new Biscuits.

The evening started with a few light moments.

The Lookouts players were ushered to the first base line and asked to stand in numerical order. It was fun watching them try to figure out what their own number was, as they were all new to the uniforms they were wearing. Many had to turn to the guy next to them and ask "what number am I wearing?"

Usually reliable Rick Hendricks, popular DJ and longtime Riverwalk p.a. announcer, completely botched the Lookouts managers name. Doug Mientkiewicz can be tough to spell, but even casual fans should remember the man who caught the ball for the out that ended the Red Sox curse!

We managed to avoid the usual preseason speaking and got down to baseball - the teams were announced and the anthem sung. 



NEW GUY NOT BAD
The Skitz starting pitcher wore the name "Schultz" on his back, but we were pretty sure it should have said "Houdini".

The hurler used triple digit heat and a good changeup that dove out of the strike zone to minimize the damage and rack up nine punchouts. The K's were sweet, but cut into his pitch count and he exited in the fifth inning after allowing a pair of earned runs.


RAYS TRADED FOR HIM
Newly acquired pitcher Bradin Hagens proved his worth, shutting the door in his first Skitz appearance. He provided strong relief early, arriving in the 5th inning to stifle Lookout bats allowing one hit and posting an impressive nine strikeouts in his three and a third IP.

Biscuit veteran Parker Markel was next in line, and he tossed an inning and made a mistake. It resulted in a Miguel Sano home run that would have struck the passing train had the jumbo-tron not knocked it down. Its a good thing, as any train might have been derailed by such a shot as the Twins prospect launched.

Fresh Biscuits are the Best
However the Biscuits made Markel a winner in spite of his one pitch oops, as the Lookouts snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Chatt reliever Nick Burdi couldn't find the strike zone with a map, a hit and four walks put two runs across the dish. With the bases full of Biscuits, Burdi was mercifully pulled and could only watch as Boog Powell singled home a pair to walk off winners.


Cue fireworks!

Yes, I have more pics and video of opening night. No, I didnt have time to edit them for use. This aint no pay site!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Happy New Year!



A new year is upon us, the Biscuits ready to start play and the fans clamoring for a playoff-worthy team. Many changes greet the new season, from the new uniform tops to the cooling air-movers on the concourse - the theme of the team this spring seems to be all about keeping cool.

Of course there are familiar things at hand, the coaches and many of the visible staff are back for more Biscuits. Big Mo has yet to eat Miss Gravy, though the pig is considerably larger than when she made her debut last year.



Usually the rosters come out on Sunday, this year it was held off a day but there were some players who tweeted that they were Biscuit-bound. The team is infield heavy, with two good first basemen in Seitzer and Leonard. I've added an asterisk by players who were on my early roster prediction list!



infield
Thomas Coyle - 30 stolen bases last year for Charlotte
Tyler Goeddel - 1st round 2011 pick had 60+ RBI last year
Patrick Leonard* - good power/speed combination
Leo Reginatto* - brazilian infielder returns
Daniel Robertson - the prospect shortstop we have been looking forward to seeing
Cam Seitzer* - returning 1b is a defensive wizard and rbi threat
Richie Shaffer* - second go round at double-A for the 1st round pick

outfield
Kes Carter* - looked good in a short stint with Skitz last year
Johnny Field* - hit .320 last summer, spent winter in Australian league
Boog Powell - hit .345 at two levels last year


Catchers
Jake DePew - good backstop spent time at two levels last year
Justin O'Conner* - prospect catcher poised for big year



Pitchers
Zach Cooper  - 24 yr old reliever had 5.27 era last year in A+
Garvin* - lefty, begins on DL
Bradin Hagens - In 2 games with Dbax last year, 25yr old starter has a 3.77 era in 52 double-A games
Jordan Harrison* - lefty, middle name Michael, versatile and stingy with baserunners
Matt Lollis, big dude is back for another dip
Reinaldo Lopez - tall Venezuelan starter isnt known for K's, needs to cut down on hits/walks
Jhan Martinez*- played against us in 2010, 11 & 12, southern league veteran pitcher
Parker Markel* -returning for second year
Jared Mortensen* - see Markel, above
Mikey O'Brien - selected in the rule 5 draft, TWICE!
Austin Pruett* - reliable pitcher made 25 starts last year
Colton Reavis* - in 3rd pro season, picked up 14 saves last year between two teams
Mark Sappington* - 42 games last year, 17 starts, spent time in the Texas League the last two years
Jaime Schultz - could be hidden surprise, skipping A+, '15 will be his 3rd pro season, in 104IP he has 134K career.
Robert Zarata - lefty, begins on the DL

So I picked 16 of the 25 or so Biscuits, not bad for January predictions!


BILOXI BLUES

Oh yes, the Biloxi team is at it again, gambling on when they can open the park. The team put up over $900k to try to get the park ready for the June opening, but its gonna be close. A major portion of that money went to "A-V equipment required" which likely means video for MiLB.tv as well as league and team access.

There is still a real possibility that the Biscuits series would shift to Montgomery. Even Biloxi team press releases don't mention when their home opener will be!

My friend Clarence Watkins sent me a pic he took at the park, and it looks alot like the one below that can be viewed on a stadium news report that details the progress.

That report also tells us they have just started putting in the seats and hope to begin adding grass in a few weeks. Meanwhile, every other ball field in North America is ready for opening week either this week or next. Can Biloxi be game-ready in 60 days?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I Owe Ya One


Since I wrote last spring on the Montgomery history with spring training and exhibition games, I didn't want to recycle a bunch of calendar dates for a second year in a row. You guys deserve better than that, right?

So to make up for the lack of content, I offer this rare view of the Riverwalk Stadium future site, the corner of Coosa and West Jefferson street, looking east over Tallapoosa street, circa 1906.

1906, future home of the Biscuits on left


So while its been a bit quiet on the blog, I have spent a good bit of time researching and learning which is always a winner. I registered at the Archives Dept as a researcher and got a crash course on how to dig thru old papers. But with the arrival of April, the Biscuits return and so also the blog posts!




ANSWERS COMING WITH APRIL...
This offseason has produced about as many questions as answers for the Southern league. With the sale of the Suns, Jacksonville stands a good chance of becoming a triple-A team, but what happens to the double-A team?

What happens in Mobile? The city managed to patch things up enough to move forward with the Diamonbacks, but the ballpark needs more work than either the city or the BayBears can offer. If the park cant be saved, where to the BayBears go?

The new ballpark in Biloxi is in such a state of flux, even the league can't predict where or when the team will hold its home opener! They may have chosen the name "Shuckers" but they will default into being the "Nomads".

I'm told that if the Biloxi team has to hold off its home opener in June, the Biscuits would host the series. That would fulfill the prophecy of a twenty game homestand in June. Also, its unlikely that the series would be split, it would be all five games or nothing.


BISCUITS NEWS
We should get a good idea of the roster in about a week and at that point we will all hit the ground running. It won't be long now!



RIP Bill Slayback
The former Montgomery Rebel was found dead in his L.A. apartment last week.
A real character in baseball with fine numbers as a Rebel, Slayback was as much a Renaissance man as there ever was. Not only a gifted pitcher but also a talented singer and songwriter.

Early in his baseball career he was sought out by Detroit Tigers HOF announcer Ernie Harwell - Harwell was also a songwriter and the two became writing partners lasting beyond Slaybacks baseball career. A multi-talented man, Bill Slayback will be missed.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Barons Team Photos 1904-1929

Barons Team Photos

A quick post for my Bham friends - an assortment of Barons team photos thru the 1920s.

1904


1905


1907


1908



1910


1911



1912







1913






1914







1916






1917




1920






1920's - year unknown






1921






1928



1929




edit:
found a few more

1908 Bham Giants


Birmingham Black Barons, 1948 or 1949