Thursday, January 10, 2019

Who Will Manage the Biscuits? NEW! History FOUND!



Very soon we will have some news.
Not yet. But soon.


Expect the Biscuits to announce their promo calendar in the next couple weeks as well as the field staff announcement by the Rays. Which begs the question.....


WHO WILL MANAGE THE BISCUITS?
Brady Williams? How long does a guy have to manage at double-A before getting promoted? The Rays have had plenty of coaching changes at higher levels which could translate to a new job for Brady and a new skipper at Montgomery. But if not Brady, then who?

NAZ
If you said anything but Craig Albernaz, most fans probably don't want to hear it. Naz was a popular backup catcher during his days in Montgomery as a player and how has moved into coaching for Tampa. He would be the first Biscuit to return as a full time manager and should be an obvious choice. In 2018 Albernaz was manager at Bowling Green and could be on his way to Montgomery.


DANNY D.
Of course, the first former Biscuit player to manage a game for Montgomery would be Dan Dement, who had several nights at the helm after Brady Williams was tossed, albeit not a permanent position.

Dan hails from Birmingham, so he would be a fair choice to head the Biscuits due to his many connections with the area and familiarity with both the Rays and the Southern League.


GARY
Gary Redus is pretty new to coaching, as coaches go, but has a pedigree that outstrips that of most double-A skippers. Redus, like Dement, is an Alabama guy and would bring similar benefits to having already been experienced with the city and the league.

Maybe a one year managerial tryout for Redus would put him on the fast track in his coaching career and let the Rays reassign other coaches who have put in time and deserve promotions.


NELSON
Like Jamie Nelson, who is usually a roving instructor for the Rays but spent this past year as the Biscuits bench coach. Nelson has been with Tampa for some time and could easily spend a summer filling out the lineup cards for Montgomery if asked to, more than capable to the task but perhaps more valuable elsewhere.

It was speculated by some that Nelson was with Montgomery last year as an instructor to new coach Gary Redus, but perhaps it was to get Nelson ready to run the Biscuits as manager.



OZZIE
Ozzie Timmons is a long shot, probably the longest shot on this list, but worth a mention due to his desire to manage at some point in the future.

Probably Oz is not giving up his MLB gig as a first base coach with Tampa but if they decide to really shake things up Timmons might be an option for the Biscuits manager spot due to his familiarity with the Southern League.


SOMEONE ELSE?
Lots of candidates are available and would be good for promotion to Montgomery. Jim Morrison took a year off for medical reasons, if he returns he might be the easiest fit, leaving the lower coaches basically the same as last year. High-A Port Charlotte skipper Reinaldo Ruiz could move up after his first season in the FSL. Stone Crabs coach Steve Szekely is another possibility.


Destino by Salvador Dali

HOLDING OUT ON YOU
Usually we begin the year with predictions of the roster, I will save that for next time and instead offer up a few historical gems that have turned up this offseason that I am really excited about.

HOT HISTORY FINDS!!!!

The Dept of Archives as digitized a slew of reconstruction-era newspapers from our area. These include a mix of southern and northern propaganda with a smattering of local news thrown into one column with the legal notices. The baseball clubs announce their meetings in the newspaper and offer some new names associated with these early teams.

And of course, advertisements of the era.


One story that caught my eye was the formation of a womens team in Pensacola, in June of 1867. Way earlier than one might have expected, and immediately subject to ridicule.

THE HOME TEAM

The formation of Montgomery's team is known to have taken place in 1867, so I was especially interested to find it mentioned. I was rewarded with several short articles, some primitive box scores, a slew of names and absolutely zero mention of the person I expected to find - Dr. A. T. Pearsall.

One of the gems is a box score of the first game between two local teams, The Pelham Club and the Montgomery Base Ball Club faced off, with the MBBC winning 52-30 in six innings.


The Merry Nine and the Montgomery Athletic Club also put together teams and face the Pelhams and MBBC in several matches around Montgomery in 1867.


There was one name I did notice associated with Dr. Pearsall. My original interest in the subject of Montgomery's first baseball team was generated by a post from John Thorn which includes a letter written by someone who named the New York Excelsior players pictured in an early image of the pioneering ball team thanks to a former player living in the south. The letter is referring to A.T. Pearsall as the player in Montgomery, and was written by Dr. Jacobi.

We see Jacobi listed as umpire in the first summer of organized baseball in Montgomery, adding that he is attached to the Manhattan Baseball Club. More research needed, but this is a hot bit of box score history.




We also find the first organizational meeting of the first Montgomery team chronicled in the local papers:



That was in the paper on May 3rd, 1867 wishing Montgomery "Base Ball" all success. There we are, the first organized team in Montgomery, just like that.

This actually really surprised me, as historians have errantly labeled Pelham the first Montgomery club, the boxscore article above clearly notes the MBBC as being "the older" of the two teams and repeats that statement throughout its coverage of baseball that summer.

Later that month, the MBBC find an opponent in the upstart Pelham Club. (to be noted, this is not Pelham the city, the name Pelham was a popular post-war name due to its anti-federal connotations. This Pelham club is a Montgomery team)


Before even the first game is played, the first injury....

The first game was on June 1st, its box score is the one above. It was a pleasure to find, though tough to read through all those old-timey newspapers!

Monday, November 12, 2018

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


THINGS TO DO:

watch world series

reacquaint myself with layout of home

talk to neighbors/squash rumors of alien abduction in April

yardwork

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...


TWO FORMER BISCUITS GET RINGS
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.


BISCUIT V BISCUIT
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.



ONE BISCUIT HAS TWO RINGS
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

PAIR OF FORMER BISCUITS NAMED MLB MANAGERS ON SAME DAY BOTH WORE SAME UNIFORM #25

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!

ROCCO
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.

CHARLIE
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."


OLDEST REBELS QUESTION
Someone asked, so I looked em up!

ED MICKELSON

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.



GAIL HENLEY

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.






HISTORY TIME!

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.

NOVEMBER 1868 - ALABAMA CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
As reported in the NY Clipper
Pearsall
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




MLB BISCUITS
JERSEY AUCTION

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




MEAGER NEWS AND NOTES

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 IN COOPERSTOWN
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!



BISCUITS ANNOUNCER CAUGHT WAY OFF BASE
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.

Repeatedly.

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.



WHAT IS A CLOSERS JOB?
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.




LISTENERS MISLED
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?