Thursday, January 31, 2013


Having a blog is sometimes like holding the talking stick in the dark, you arent sure who is around to hear what you say!

He speaks softly


I got a phone call returning my message asking/complaining about the start time being moved to 6:30 on Saturday Biscuits games. The reason I was given is to "have the games earlier so more kids can stay to see the fireworks".

Uhm, okay but, how are the kids going to survive the heat? And what about the rest of us, who already border on heatstroke?

"We all hope its not too bad this year" was the team line on how hot it is.

So I checked the facts -
In 2011 The Weather Channel listed Montgomery Alabama as the third hottest city in the USA. 

In the first two weeks of the month of June....
All but three of the record high temps occur in my lifetime.
Only four of those fifteen record high temps are less than triple digits.
The average temp on June 15th is 90 degrees

And then it gets hot, the start of June is often just a tease compared to what comes after, with July being the hottest month in the hottest city of the Southern League.

Also, consider this - summer solstice is June 21st, the sun sets at 7:56.... an hour and twenty minute game would be super fast, but it would be twice as long as the shortest game in minor league history! We might get to see fireworks before it gets dark.

Daytime Fireworks = Impressive!

Also stated in connection with the early start was to "Make it more 'family friendly'"
Thats a statement I hear often when they dont have a reason, or dont want to share the reason. Its another way of saying "the owner thinks its cheaper" or "the staffers decided it would be cute" or, in this case perhaps "we hope it will keep the drunks away".

I think the early starts will be very effective at letting those who work at the ballpark get off work early on weekends, at the expense of the attendees sitting in the the afternoon sun for thirty more minutes.

Obviously its an idea generated by someone in an air conditioned office. I challenge that person to come and sit with me on those six thirty starts before calling the change a success.
KITTY LEAGUE - A different kind of heat problem

Of course, there heat wouldnt be an issue if the team addressed it. Its only because they choose to ignore the fact that high temperatures affect attendance. On one hand they use it as an excuse for not being better at drawing customers the past few years, yet on the other offering no relief whatsoever to the fans who do show up.

The real question for the ownership, are they running a baseball team or a fireworks show? If they want to have baseball they should work harder on that, because at this point they seem to be letting fireworks dictate their operation.

Its a bad trend a team has taken when they start overlooking miserable fans in large numbers, no matter what the reason. Instead of raising prices on concessions to cover slipping profit they should address the real issue, as many other teams in places cooler than our city have done.


Congrats to Ryan Garko, who signed with the Colorado Rockies organization. I think he will really enjoy the thin air out west! Hes a great guy who really knows how to hit, plus he is a super positive influence on younger players. Not to mention he has one of the happiest faces in the game today.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013



So I predicted two of the three Biscuits coaches this year, Billy Gardner Jr and Ozzie Timmons return along with pitching coach RC Lichtenstein. I suggested recently that they would probably be back with a new pitching coach.

RC is the coach who handles the pitchers, both starting and bullpen. Who is RC Lichtenstein? Baseball Reference dawt-cawm says it succinctly: R.C. Lichtenstein has played, coached and managed in the minors.

RC Lichtenstein - Man of Mystery
Read his page on BR, and you get the overview, the usual litany of stops at lower levels which is a colorful read including Roadrunners, Muddogs and Snappers.

One day at the ballpark I wondered aloud, Who IS RC Lichtenstein? And not in a Pedro Martinez mocking way, in a serious, where exactly is this guy coming from sort of way.


 One of our previous pitching coaches, Neil Allen, came with plenty of backstory. He admitted to bizarre behavior in the bigs. Did he wear his NY Yankees and Mets hats to Studio 54 after home games? "If thats all they said I wore, yeah I did that" was his response. Did he uncork wild pitches at the start of every game? "Of course! At first it was just being wild, but being wild makes guys nervous so I kept doing it later" he replied.

This guy probably shouldn't be driving
Neil was a talker, he was a constantly moving and speaking machine. I wondered if he talked in his sleep, or how he managed to brush his teeth in the morning without drowning himself. Neil was a fine pitching coach who really seemed to enjoy the attention and wasnt afraid to tell stories to anyone who would listen. He seemed nice enough, had quit drinking and partying long ago, though he is still just as energetic without additives.

RC Lichtenstein is not that type of guy.

When I wondered aloud, in a non-Pedro way, who RC Lichtenstein was and where he came from, I got out his baseball card and flipped it over. Thats how you learn about a ballplayer, right?
Teddy Ballgame liked fishing

It read as though it had been copied verbatim from Baseball Reference. Nothing more, nothing less. Stops at lower level teams as a coach, his pro ball numbers, everything. We dont know what RC stands for, if he likes to fish or builds model airplanes. I suppose I will have to make it my mission to find out more about the guy this year!

Now, having seen the team with my own eyes, I knew one other thing about RC. He has the cutest kid who runs the bases after every home game. After that, all I can say is that we have a pitching coach who may also be a secret agent spy.
Morris Berg - the original baseball spy


Having now established the possibility of of our current PC being involved in espionage, I offer up the odd fact that he takes the coaching seat given up by Bill Maloney. Bill will always be remembered as the Montgomery coach who was shot, though not killed, during a robbery in the parking lot of the apartment complex he was staying at.

No word on whether he got a nickname out of the deal, "Kevlar Willie" would be my suggestion.
the ever cheeful Bulletproof Bill Maloney

 It was not a tough prediction to say that Maloney would probably be pitching coach in a different city after that experience, but it is tougher to predict where the Rays felt RC Lichtenstein would be most effective. I would think that the good showing the 'Skits had last summer probably helped edge the front office into keeping things the same at the double-A level.

Winter Drags On

Ouch man, tough month. Lost a couple mlb hall of famers as well as a good friend. Its hard when those you have known to always be there suddenly arent. What more can I say, just that they will all be missed in their own ways, each having touched lives with their own special moments.
Sometimes bad times can be good times too
God bless you Jim

Tuesday, January 22, 2013



Theo says the Cubs are in it to win it this year. Of course we are still in it, its on January!

Love ya cubbies, but you arent likely to make it out of the cellar, 13 will not be lucky for the Wrigley faithful. It pains me to say so, since I am a Cub fan and have been. My grandfather was born in 1908 so none of the men in my family that I have met remember seeing the North Siders take the pennant.Im ready to see it happen, but I just don't see it in the cards for this year.
1908 Cadillac - brand new when the Cubs last won the World Series

Certainly not with talk that will send Garza away in trade. I think its tough to replace a guy like Matt Garza and the Cubs are a better team with him than without him plus prospect. Its not my usual opinion that we should deal a good pitcher now for a maybe later. I give maybe nows for maybe laters, or not nows for maybe laters. You dont hand off a sure thing for an unsure thing!

I loved seeing Theo say that he wasn't sure about trading Alphonso Soriano because Fonzie has become such a great teammate. Wasn't so long ago that great teammate was telling HOF manager Frank Robinson that he wouldnt move to RF from 2b and intended to hold out from spring training until the Nats let him stay on the infield.

If Soriano has become a great teammate, it must be due to Franks fatherly guidance as Nationals manager. Or Theo is touting intangibles that might be exaggerated or nonexistent. And of those two options I think the latter has happened way more often!

HOF Frank Robinson using his fatherly influence to make Soriano a good teammate


1 Quality baseball. The level of play is super, teams are stocked with high grade talent
2 The restrooms are always very tidy. If anyplace expects people to come back, this is a must.
3 There is plenty of free parking if you look for it. Consider the walk that saves five bucks a just effort to cover the cost of that first brew.
4 Not a bad seat in the house. Be prepared to duck because all seats are close to being in play!
5 Almost all the food is edible. I am told that is sort of a rarity at Minor League stadiums.
6  Outdoors with no bugs. Whatever they do keeps down the bugs, which is a major victory down here!
7 Great fans. Cliche' yes, but true. The peeps at the park are fun and smart and friendly. They are considerate and outgoing, the girls are cute and the children barely obnoxious at all.
8 Beautiful ballpark by the river. This thing is really nice, there are newer and bigger, but this is a fine spot to catch a game.
9 Cheerful. Seriously, if you are bummed out or just grumpy, it will be tough to not smile back because there are so many happy people around. Even the employees, who are notoriously sullen in other ballparks, are outgoing and cheerful and making sure happiness is being spread around.
10 Its home. No matter if you live here or visit, when you walk in you feel like its your own back yard.

The combination of the above somehow becomes vastly more than the sum of its parts and creates a fabulous environment for a baseball fan. Since it opened in 2004 the ballpark has been a site of happy times and great sports viewing.

Sorry its been a little slow on the updates, I have been totally immersed in reading Charlie Grimms book "Baseball, I Love You" and preparing for the upcoming Rebel Baseball League Winter Meetings - its YooHoo day for me!
Hopefully it wont be that cold this weekend!

Coming this weekend to Academy Sports, the Atlanta Braves Caravan 2013, But they must not like us as much this year, the announced caravan players are Paul Maholm, Cory Gearrin, J.R. Graham, Scott Fletcher, Don Sutton. Other than Sutton, who was here last year, its a pretty sorry group to offer up. Im pretty sure Graham and Gearrin were here last year with the MsBraves. Oh well, at least I can sleep in on saturday!

Monday, January 14, 2013

roster predictions


Every year in January I predict the players that will appear on the roster - the past few years I have had the good fortune to get more right than wrong! Time to check in again....

Its not an exact science, nor a completely occult divination. More a blend of the two and a consideration of what players should advance against what each team needs to fill its positional requirements.

Our team was pretty good last year, and many of the positions are set at the Major league level, as well as in Durham. From that one would guess that we would see several returning players, guys like mahtook and sexton.

Also, a couple guys return from injury will get a chance to play where they left off, if not opening day soon afterwards. Velazquez and Nommensen both lost time to the DL and have an opportunity to show their ability in a fresh campaign.

OF Mahtook
Kiermaier cf

1b Sheridan
SS Dietrich 2b-ss
2b Price 2b-3b-of

3b Sexton
util Tinoco 1b-2b-3b-of

C's - tough to predict the rays at this position sometimes

Albernaz - if not opening day at some point after, the question will be how many times we need him to pitch!

Pitchers - always tough to predict, but could be a bunch of the usual faces
SP Cruz
Dyer or Paduch, both were hammered at Durham and could be sent back to AA

RP - the pen had its ups and downs last year, hard to say who fits until spring training
Montgomery -might be the first time the biscuits have had the word "montgomery" appear on their uniforms, could drive up the price at the jersey auction?
Nevarez - is he still with the Rays?
Patterson - lefty
Geith - lefty

Will Alex return or move to Durham & woo triple-A chicks?

I have hopes that the Rays will sign us another Garko type guy to DH and help season our players as well as pad the roster with runs driven in. I think its too much to ask Ryan to come back here, at the very least he deserves to log his at bats in Durham.

Mike Montgomery will open the year at Montgomery, he came over in the deal that sent former-skit James Shields to KC. Should be nice to watch him while he is here, even if that isnt likely to be very long at all. A strong spring training could mean we miss seeing him entirely.

A really bad spring outing from Roberto Hernandez-formerly Fausto Carmona - could mean we get a former big leaguer on the pitching staff, though thats a long shot given how much the Rays pay him. 3.25 million bucks including bonus money for being healthy and using his real name.

Even harder to predict is the Coaching assignments for the Rays organization. Its easy to expect Billy Gardner back, but conventional wisdom says that a double A manager doesnt stay so long in one city. Like the players, he is ready for advancement and likely a little burned out on life in Montgomery. Not that its bad, just that he may be ready to take on new challenges.

A manager change would likely open the door to Jim Morrison or another lower level manager to advance up the coaching ladder. Most have performed their duties well at the levels just below the Biscuits, and would be in line for a promotion. Another choice would be a new hire, though its tough to see that when they have had such a low turnover of coaches in the system.

My guess, Billy and Ozzie Timmons return for one last roundup in Mgm and bring a new pitching coach along. If its not that, then I suspect the Charlotte staff would be brought up to Montgomery.


Any day now I expect to learn where some of my fave players will land, though it has been known to happen that it takes until just ahead or even just after the start of spring training. When guys like Craig Albernaz start signing, you know teams have decided on their strategy for the coming season!

Where will Brent "El Trotamundo" Leach pitch this season? After spending last year with the Braves organization he could end up making another run in the far east, a return to Japan would be a good opportunity for both pitcher and organization.

Will Clay Zavada return? The wildman of Streator with the inspirational handlebar moustache has been out of the game since being cut by the Reds last spring. Turning 28 during this season, the former Dbax lefty could be called to leave his ranch long enough for one more roundup.

Where will Matt Fields play? Matty had to take a stab at independent ball until getting an offer from the Royals. He hit .281 with 17 homers and gobbled up High A+ pitching, Im sure he will move up or get another chance elsewhere. Switch hitting 1b guys with good leather and great demeanor are always popular!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

best pitching rotation in Montgomery

The Best Rotation in Montgomery History

We have had some good teams, like GOOOD teams. Teams so good they have an extra O, they are goood. Hall of famers have played here, both against and for us. All Stars and Cy Young winners, David Price and James Shields and Matt Moore recently have anchored teams that border on greatness while making pitching coaches jobs easier.

I mentioned our great Negro League team and some of its top notch talent in the last post. That team was good enough to be considered the first Major League team fielded by the city of Montgomery and had one of the best rotations seen in town.

Well, almost the best.
The Best pitching in Montgomery history may have been better than the GraySox team that was invited to play in Comisky Park. Better than the Biscuit teams that won back to back Southern League championships, better even than the Montgomery Rebels teams that read like a who's-who of 1970's AllStar ballots. Better than the Climbers and the Billikens, of course better than the Wings though they all played in the same neighborhood.

Tip your cap to the best Pitching Rotation in Montgomery History,

The Maxwell Bombers of 1942-45
The military team here during WW2 was formidable to say the least. Lets take a look!

Known officially as Flying Training Service Baseball League (Alabama) 1945, the Montgomery entry was the Maxwell Field Bombers. They played their home games four nights a week at Cramton Bowl from around 1942-1945. The team usually faced other military teams in league play. Tyndal, Napier, Spence, Turner and neighboring Gunter Field all had teams of semi or even pro players. Games were also scheduled against collegiate teams, the Bombers playing road games in Tuscaloosa and other area schools and even Bryce Hospital - known as a mental institution!
Cramton Bowl, home of the Maxwell Field Bombers

Also the Bombers faced barnstorming teams and other local pickup and industrial teams, though barnstormers probably found themselves with more than they bargained for as the Bombers had players at every position who would or had already spent time on Major League rosters.

 Mel Parnell
A future AllStar, 21 year old Mel Parnell is fresh off a 16 win season 1.59 era in his second year of minor league ball when war breaks out. Between learning to fly B-52's, he was pitching for the Bombers staff.
Red Sox would get a no hitter from Mel Parnell after he pitched here

Parnell would go on to throw a no hitter for the BoSox in the Big Leagues. Parnell is in the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.

Royce Lint, who you dont know can hurt you, as the PCL would learn after the war when Lefty Linty won 22 games for Portland. The Bham native took the hill for the Bombers during their wartime stint, throwing two no-hitters in the 1945 season for the Montgomery team!
His first no hitter was against Pine Castle Air Field, early in the season.
Pirates property, Royce Lint was one of three lefties on the Bomber staff

In his second no-no vs Craig Field Ala, he struck out ten and walked just two men, with three reaching first via fielding errors. This no-hitter was in the championship round of the playoffs.

Bill McCahan - this big right hander would later throw a no hitter for Connie Macks Athletics and was picked for the Rookie AllStar Team by the Sporting News in 1947, the first full year after he left the Bombers staff.
Bill McCahan pitcher and test pilot

Bill pitched for Duke University with other future major league players until 1942 when he became a Bomber, both as a pitcher and a pilot - testing the new B-29 Superfortress while also compiling a record of 24-1 in 1945 for the wartime ball team in Montgomery.
B-29 Superfortress at Maxwell - just another way to bring the heat

He made a splash in his big league debut, beating future Hall Of Famer Bob Feller 2-0 in a september matchup. At the time he was just the fifth rookie in history to throw a no hitter in the major leagues, just a year removed from pitching in Montgomery.

the 1940s were actually in color, here is McCayhan from Sport Magazine

After that 1946 season Bill relaxed by playing pro basketball in the NBA, averaging four points a game for the team thats now the Philadelphia 76ers.
Later he would help design the F-16 fighter.
Really, we should have heard more about this guy before now!!

George Turbeville was a lefty who ended up being on the bad end of a trivia question but was a vicious competitor. George was the rookie pitcher who surrendered Joe DiMaggio's first homer in May of 1936 as a member of the Philly Athletics. But later in the 1940s he was the veteran presence on the Bombers staff.
Tubeville had control issues, over 500 walks in his career!
The textbook definition of a hard luck pitcher, George was in 2-12 in his major league career, including being the loser in a bizarre contest in just his second big league start for Connie Mack in August of 1935.
In the bottom of the 15th inning he gives up a homer to the Indians Earl Averill to take the loss. Turbeville had started and pitched the distance, all 14 and two thirds innings worth, and had he retired Averill the game would have been called due to darkness. His pitching line isn't pretty, giving up 13 walks and three wild pitches, but the A's defense turned six double plays behind him and neither team scored till the two run Averill blast into the Cleveland night.
From 14 inning no hitter to extra inning loss, ouch!


Captained the team in 1937, and stayed on in Montgomery until his passing in 1960. He was a Montgomery baseball stalwart and former Boston Brave and Brooklyn Robin during his playing days of the 1920s. By the time of the second war he was purely a sideline coach but he brought big league experience to the guys on the field at the Bowl.

Gus Felix as a Boston Brave before coming to Mgm

Manager-PT Officer
Managing the team officially was the Physical Training officer. Mr.Motisi may still be kicking around somewhere, I would love to get a few questions in about the wartime baseball the GI's played here.

While researching this post, I came across the story of Millie Inks Dalrymple. Millie trained at Maxwell at the the same time as these ballplayers, having joined the military to serve her country. Millie didn't just do filing or handle womens work, this chick was as tough as any of above mentioned as a member of the WASPs, Womens AirForce Service Pilots.

Millie flew all styles of combat planes, including but not limited to B-17 and B-29 bombers, for hours and hours after repairs had been made, testing them to make sure the planes were ready to be put back into full combat use.
Millie boarding an AT-6 Texan at Maxwell Field
Truly a pioneer and inspiration, only in the last three decades has the story of the womens service pilots been declassified to allow history to recognize and honor the efforts of those women flyers who made sacrifices for the war effort, such as Millie Dalrymple.

Good luck to you, Henry Wrigley! The Caracas Crusher signed a deal with the Rockies, and I expect him to take good advantage of that Colorado air. The humidor has its work cut out for it.
Also to Omar Luna!
The reigning Southern League Batting champ has a new club, joining the LA Dodgers organization. We could see Omar back in double-A but I would expect him to move up and enjoy feasting on PCL pitching in Albue Alebe Alberqyer Triple-A.
Luna to Dodgertown