Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Skitz Bushmann Beats Baybears

In a morning affair, the Biscuits Matt Buschmann righted the ship after the Montgomery team had dropped four in a row. Mark Thomas had Monday off and the rest must have done him well, the Biscuit catcher hit a grand slam in the first inning of the aptly-dubbed Grand Slam School Day game.

Greg Sexton also connected for his first round-tripper of the young season and Riccio Torrez added to the tally with an 8th inning home run - his second.
Sexton connected
Stole a base
Stole two
O'malley and Mahtook each swiped bases, O'malley getting two bags in the game as the Skitz team speed starts to come around in the warmer weather - 75 degrees at the first pitch quickly warmed in the spring sunshine.

Buschmann got the win, Holmberg the loss, there was no save in the ball game.
Note to self, take new Matt Buschmann picture

For Mobile, Nick Evans and Jon Griffin were a combined two for seven. Nick Evans homered in the first inning, but the solo shot would have been a two run homerun but pitcher Buschmann picked David Nick off at first base.

A hot start put to rest by a four game skid, the home team has gotten back to .500 and sends Merrill Kelly to the hill against BayBears starter Zeke Spruill on Wednesday.
Merrill Kelly - Wednesdays announced starter

It was ten years ago this week, my first Biscuits game.

I admit I skipped the opening day pomp - and the crowds that I still dodge from on occasion. But after the first few games I went to the ticket window for my first taste of Biscuitville. I chose a date at random from the upcoming homestand and had two tickets in hand. The night before the game, just before going to bed at about four am, I checked my tickets - it was a DAY GAME!
Oh man, that ten-thirty start was harsh, Michelle had agreed to go with me and stuck by it, even though she was more than a little skeptical about sitting in the sun for a few hours. We straggled in about twenty minutes before the game and were seated among a throng of schoolchildren in bright sunlight on a very warm morning.

"My head is burnin" the kid a few rows back drawled as the BayBears Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks took the field against BJ Upton and Delmon Young of the Biscuits at the brand new ballpark - yet Big Mo doing the Chicken Dance was far and away more interesting to this crowd.

A foul ball was lifted high in the air above the crowd. I lost it completely as my eyes burned from looking straight up into the tall sky after just a few hours sleep.

"Look around, son, theres seven thousand people here, and ALL our heads are burnin!" I replied curtly, because I had just found out that even worse than burning in the sun was the fact that beer wasnt sold during Grand Slam School Day!

However, despite that, I came back.
So did Michelle, who should be rewarded with a medal for being the support team on our many baseball expeditions since then!

1908 saw Lucky back with Houston when Boston didn't bring him back after his cup of coffee with the Red Sox. In Houston, Whiteman had a nice season - hitting .271 with six homers in over five hundred at bats. That summer Whiteman made a pitching appearance in relief, earning his only career victory on the hill.

Lucky Whiteman makes it to Montgomery in 1909, a fresh start from his four straight tours in the Tx League.

However he would see improved level of pitching he was facing, and offered up a considerably lower average than his previous numbers - batting just .237 with a pair of home runs the first season. His eight triples suggests that he had opposite field power, which in Cramton Bowl leads to a spacious portion of the outfield with plenty of room to run.

Your 1910 Montgomery Climbers, Whiteman front row second from left
Champ Osteen
While with the Climbers the long time outfielder starts making appearances at third base, taking over in 1910 when regular third baseman Champ Osteen was injured sliding into second base.

Osteens injury was a break for Lucky, who got into more games by playing a second position. He saw his appearances rise from 128 games to 141, second only to Osteen. Though at the plate his average dipped he smacked 15 doubles and 10 triples.

Cramton Bowl during baseball game

November 23, 1910, the Atlanta Constitution reported that George was sold to the Mobile Gulls for “the measly sum of $400.” Apparently, he wasn’t getting along with some of his teammates.

Once the former daredevil left the Climbers and the Southern Association behind, he signed with Missoula but appeared in just under two dozen games before coming home to the Texas League. Lucky takes up with Houston again, and after a bad season in 1911 he regains his batting stroke.
In 1912 Whiteman puts up his first career .300+ average, slugs .425 and bangs out 25 doubles on his way to a career year.

Back again in 1913 with Houston, Lucky play in over 150 games and enjoys the success of every day play when it attracts the eyes of big league scouts. This time its the Yankees who are interested in Lucky.

Former Cub great Frank Chance skippers the Yankees at the Polo Grounds, not yet the Bronx Bombers - this '13 edition is made up of names like Birdie Cree and Ezra Midkiff. Well on the way to losing 94 games, the Yanks are playing out the string when Lucky shows up.

1913 New York Yankees - can you find Lucky?
Whiteman has his best major league totals while with New York, getting 11 hits in 11 games at a .344 pace. Lucky also swipes two bases, takes seven walks and is credited with a pair of sacrifices. He scores runs, hits the ball and runs the bases well.
He also miffs two of the 32 chances hit his way in the outfield, earning his first career errors.

Its back to the minors again in 1914, but this time its a step up - Double-A baseball in Montreal. He would spend two seasons in the International League with the Royals, feasting on pitching as he posted batting averages of .313 and .312.

Eight home runs and twenty doubles in 1914 turned into 14 homers in 1915 as Lucky led the league in round trippers and runs scored. With numbers like that, the big leagues might soon be calling again.

In 1915 as the season wore down, Lucky got a chance to play in New York again, though this time it was the outlaw Federal League that wanted him. The Brooklyn Tip-Tops were interested, and George even jumped his contract to join them, but never appeared in a game.

As 1916 begins, Giants patriarch John McGraw is said to have expressed interest in the former daredevil diver, but it was back to the minors for Lucky, where he signed on with Louisville for 1916.
1916 Louisville would win another Pennant for Lucky

After the championship campaign in Louisville where he hit .273 he was brought back and resigned, but it took all of three games for Lucky to decide to head back north. He spent the rest of 1917 in Toronto, helping the Maple Leafs to the International League title by batting .342.

Another pennant for Lucky!

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