Monday, December 16, 2013

GMan Dealt to Dbax

Todd Glaesmann learned a new way to spell his name - PTBNL. He was included in the Heath Bell trade and heads to the Arizona organization where he will join other former Biscuits Mark Thomas and Tyler Bortnick.

Todd had 11 three-hit games with Montgomery in 2013!
It appeared that Gman learned of being included in the deal via twitter on Friday afternoon. He was the Rays minor leaguer of the year in 2012 but had a bit of a down year for the Skitz this past summer - the third round pick of 2009 he hit just .240 with 11 homers.

makin it rain up in here
Gman also has wicked medicine man skills for the making of rain charms and can now help so many people in the desert with his rain making talents.

We all wish Todd the best in the new organization, I'm guessing he will rise to the opportunities in fine form!

Tim Beckham, former first round pick taken ahead of Buster Posey, has torn his ACL during an offseason workout and will miss significant time in 2014.

Beckham was expected to compete for a bench role in Tampa's spring training, now he will spend most of the season on the DL alongside rehabbing Hak Ju Lee.

Former Skit OF Justin Ruggiano was dealt from the Marlins to the Chicago Cubs.

In 2006 Justin played about 30 games for Montgomery after coming over from the Dodgers as the PTBNL in the Dionner Navarro-for-Mark Hendrickson swap. He tore it up for us, swatting four homers and 27 rbi with a stout .333 batting average as the Biscuits rolled to their first title!

The 'Naz
Craig Albernaz, diminutive defensive catcher for Montgomery in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 departed the Tampa Rays system for a contract with the Detroit Tigers. He hoped to find a better opportunity for playing time.

He played in just 105 games for Montgomery in six seasons, but warmed up pitchers in about 900 other games! His six different stints with the Biscuits may place him atop the list of service time, with two more seasons than Biscuit stalwart Gabriel Martinez.

Ryan Reid was DFA'd by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Reid was a seventh round choice in 2006 and played for Montgomery 2008-11, posting a 10w-8L record in about 125 games.

Ryan made his big league debut this past summer with the Pirates, playing in seven games and earning his first MLB save with three innings vs Milwaukee on June 28th.

Some teams in the Southern league are griping about moving the Stars to Biloxi. What was expected to be a formality when the SL owners met to vote at the Winter Meetings must have become a debate and either no vote took place or the move was voted down.

Southern League owners are supposed to meet again before the end of the year, possibly by video conference, and may approve the move then. Or not.

Obviously, some teams have issues with the move or aspects of it. Its a stretch to think that the distance added for three teams, Jackson Tn Generals, Tn Smokies and Chattanooga Lookouts, would derail the move. Those teams may even vote against the deal, its their right to do so, but they alone wouldn't be able to keep the Stars from heading to Biloxi.

Prz Webb oversees rough transaction
Maybe the Miss Braves griped about not getting a piece of the oil-spill money. Perhaps Jacksonville didn't vote, abstaining to obstruct the move by creating a 4-4 tie.

Maybe Biscuits owner Sherrie Myers voted against it because she didn't like not being informed about it at the league meeting. Could be Birmingham voted against so they would still be the newest park in the league.

Its possible Pensacola voted along with Mobile in an effort to keep a third team out of the area. It can't be going over well with the new league prez, who has MLB looking over her shoulder at her first real leadership test.

Its within the realm of possibility that MLB and SL lawyers are skeptical about having a casino as a landlord. Another concern could be in the fact that it is oil-spill money and if its deemed that this use isnt kosher, the SL would not be happy giving money back.

Its been mentioned that the Stars owner might be trying to keep his team and move them himself, or keep an interest in the team after its moved. Along those lines, the news station in Huntsville has switched from calling it the "sale of the team" to the "relocation of the team" so the ownership may be trying to hold onto their shares.

Which would be terrible, because if we have learned anything from this whole thing, its that the Stars owner is probably closer to being the problem than the solution whether its in Huntsville or Biloxi.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Falling Stars

No comment... yet
Another step towards defunct-ity for the Stars as the Southern League owners have been summoned to Orlando for a vote on the sale of the Huntsville franchise today.

The Brewers have deferred comment to the Huntsville Stars front office. The Stars front office says "talk to the league office" and the Southern league pres has no comment.

From that, we can likely say that the Stars are doomed following the vote and that Biloxi has indeed gotten its team for 2015.

Factors in the voting include getting a majority of owners to approve the sale, as well as MLB blessing to abandon Huntsville and open shop in Pensacola for the 2015 season.


Some teams may have issues over travel time, going to the Mississippi coast instead of centrally located Huntsville will surely mean a change in how the divisions are drawn in the Southern League.

A few possible changes in divisions were covered in an earlier post, but it comes down to Montgomery moving to the North or the league going back to East-West divisions.

Mobile could be unhappy having to share market space with yet another gulf coast team. They may ask for money, like they did from Pensacola.

Chattanooga, the Smokies or Jackson Generals could have hurt feelings for adding to their travel time, but even if all three and Montgomery vote against there could be a majority for passing the sale.

I have considered there was a chance of a major minor league overhaul, and at every turn I was told that it would have to be directed by MLB. It looked to me like this is being directed by MLB, so I think anything is possible. We may never know the depth of the discussion, or all the possible angles involved.

It could be a very interesting meeting, consisting of Southern League team owners, MLB representatives and assorted posse, League pres Webb, MiLB representatives and their crew, the marketing and economics experts and a Baskin-Robbins of Lawyers (all flavors).

All options, no matter how bizarre are on the table when at the owners meetings.

The announcement could come out of such a meeting with a marketing survey filled out by crosseyed Bieberfans as Selig nods off his dozing is mistaken for approval, then who knows WHAT we end up with!

The Stars have been on their way out of Huntsville for most of the past year, some would say much much longer.

The Joe
The Joe is one of the worst ballparks for seeing baseball in the league, and abused fans dont keep showing up to games... eventually forcing this kind of change.

Politics of Huntsville and the economy kept the city from backing any effort to build a new park, which meant that the team would go elsewhere.

playoffs vs stars
The victims of the whole affair have to be the few loyal Stars fans, who have tried to support the team in spite of the crappy ballpark and bad teams and lousy local politics. They deserve better.

They have had no help from anyone, Stars ownership, city of Huntsville, Southern league, the media and least of all - from Biloxi and their large pile of oil-spill cash.


Its hopefully the last stab that car saleman from Wisconsin can throw at us before they cart him away.

Monday, December 9, 2013



Delmon in 2013
Former Biscuit and Alabama native Delmon Young, who wore the buttery uni again in 2013, continues to work to find ways to improve. Young has been learning to play first base in an effort to be more versatile.

At only 28 years old, Delmon has dropped his weight to just under 220 and looks to land on someones roster this spring.

Young had three hits in 11 at bats this postseason, homering once and driving in three runs. For his career the former first round pick has an even 100 homers and a .285 batting average in eight seasons.

Former Biscuits starting pitcher Chris Seddon is said to be on the radar of the Giants - the Yomiuri Giants of Japans NPB league.

The lefty Seddon has had stints with the Indians and Mariners after making his big league debut in 2007 for the Marlins. He spent last year with the SK Wyverns of the Korean league.
Chris Seddon with Rainiers

Chris Seddon was a fifth round draft pick by the BayRays way back in 2001. He played for the inaugural Skitz in 2004, getting an early season promotion gave him 21 starts for Montgomery that year and ten more in 2005 before he was promoted to Durham. After a season and a half in triple-A he was returned to the Biscuits where he started a dozen more games when the Marlins claimed him on waivers.

His record for Montgomery is 18w-15L, a pretty fair tally considering he pitched on some really bad teams in '04-05. He was one of the first Biscuits pitchers to make their debut in the big leagues for a team other than the Rays.

If Seddon or Leslie Anderson should sign with Yomiuri, I believe they would be the first Biscuits to play in Japan for the storied Tokyo franchise. They could be the first Giant Biscuits!
Giant fan base

Classic look for a class act
Henry Wrigley, who should have been Biscuits MVP in 2011 with 17 homers and a .274 average, has tweeted upon his arrival to Caracas to play in Venezuelan league.

He was just 31 games into this season when he sustained an injured tendon that forced him to miss the rest of the year. He had been with Tulsa, the triple A affiliate of the Rockies franchise when the ankle injury cut his season short.

Fun to watch

HenWrigs now returns to the Leones where he is a fan favorite after his impressive .299 avg with 11 homers for the Caracas team in last years championship season. Wrigley says he "loves Venezuela and the intensity of the fans" and looks to re-establish himself during winter ball.

Currently without a job in MLB affiliated baseball, the power hitting first baseman could be a threat to pitchers and a thrill for fans in Venezuela!

Not known for wheels
Bubba reminds us that on Nov 26 there was a tweet confirming that former Biscuits backstop Nevin Ashley was headed to the Pirates organization. A nice upgrade to the Pirates catching depth, and we wish him the best of luck with Pittsburgh!

The 6th round pick out of Indiana State was a three-time Biscuit, appearing first in 2009 for 35 games and batting just .212. In 2010 he was the main catcher for Montgomery, dialing into 7 homers and a .255 average. Finally he turned the corner in his development in 2011 and batted .280 before his midseason promotion to Durham and points beyond.

Listed among his intangibles, but almost as important as his on-field ability is his wife, Ashley Ashley. How important is she to Nevins game? So much so that she was mentioned by name when former Tampa catchers were discussed during the TBS Postseason coverage by Keith Olbermann and Dirk Hayhurst!

Classic Olbermann

Friday, December 6, 2013

Convo with the Owner

Skitz Owner
Back in October I had a chance to have a conversation with Biscuits co-owner Sherry Myers at the World Series party. It was as enlightening, though not earth shattering informal discussion in a relaxed group setting. I mentioned it briefly a few weeks ago but thought to offer up a few more details, as I love having good baseball conversations, especially about Biscuits. And certainly there were some interesting topics covered!

There were a handful of us at our table, we were about three innings into Game One when Sherrie Myers worked her way around to our side of the room, hob-nobbing with the season ticket holders.

Who IS that guy?
I'm not sure she really knows who I am. She sees me all the time, but in the past I have wondered if she ducked out or cut things short when faced with the prospect of having to chat with me for more than a minute or two. So I was pleasantly surprised when she took a breath and dove into a fresh discussion with our motley band of (ir-)regular Skitz fans!

She started by thanking us for supporting the team, that they relied on our being fans, etc etc. The usual front office script, but it gave me a chance to start asking questions that I had been storing up for some time.

Biscuits opening nite 2004
I smiled and started with a compliment, that it must be nice to have the new ballparks using Riverwalk and the Biscuits as the model for their own franchises.

Ms.Myers responded with how hard it is in the Montgomery market for a baseball team. She mentioned the costs of keeping the team in the city were rising and the level of competition for entertainment was higher. The economic downturn hurt everyone, that they needed help from season ticketholders to keep the team doing well.

Also, that it was a football town and how that was so much more of a challenge than they realized it would be when they first bought the team.

I point blank asked Ms.Myers about Biloxi and the chances of the Huntsville Stars or another team moving. Her response was that the League meetings were held the previous week, and no mention of any team sale was made. There were no discussions about any teams moving, at all. "IF Biloxi gets a team, it won't be any time soon, not in the next few years" she said.

Proposed Biloxi ballpark
She brought up the problems with getting a Bond approved and how "even if they do, having a ballpark and getting a Southern league team are two different things". She described to the folks at the table that it would have to be an existing Southern league team, since you cant have a league with an odd number of teams.

"Is there any chance MiLB could reorganize double-A baseball?" I asked her, mentioning the fact that there are 12 Eastern league teams, 10 Southern League teams and 8 Texas League teams. "Could they move a team like Little Rock? Or alternatively, is it possible we could see New Orleans and Jacksonville switch?" I made sure to get the whole concept in, so she couldn't get around it.

"Not any time soon, not in the next few years. I haven't heard anything about expansion, and it would have to be a change designed by MLB teams and they fight for years over any changes to how the territory is divided" she replied, and followed with an example including getting a hypothetical Rays tv broadcast in Montgomery and the difficulty involved.

I consider myself more informed than the average fan, so when the conversation turned to basic territory & TV rights and being Braves territory, I felt like she was speaking to us as though we were children. I mentioned afterwards that I was a little annoyed that she would assume we didnt know anything about that topic, but Michelle burst my bubble by saying "I didn't know it, and I dont think anyone else at the table did either, so that was just you".

Whoa, okay! Point taken, it must be tough or even impossible, as an owner to meet everyone's questions with an answer of appropriate depth. No matter who you talk to, any statement runs the risk of going over the head of some while others think it sounds like a preschool teacher. Tough gig.


Former Biscuit Leslie Anderson is being scouted by the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese NPB league.

Anderson played for Montgomery in 2010, hitting .304 in 48 games, hitting six homers as he split his playing time in the field between first base and left field.

Anderson stretches to get Ichiro in WBC
The Yomiuri Giants won Japans Central league title but fell to the Rakuten Eagles in the Championship series.
The Giants are looking for other options besides DH-1b John Bowker and see the 31 year old Cuban Anderson as a possible fit.

Ex-Skitz catcher Mark Thomas has signed with the Arizona Diamonbacks.

He will miss the first ten games of the 2014 season finishing his drug suspension, but its not a stretch to think he would be on the roster when Mobile comes to Riverwalk next.

The irony?  At the same time Thomas' suspension came down for recreational drugs of abuse, so did one for the Mobile BayBears pitcher Eric Smith for the same reason. The Biscuits were in Mobile when the news broke, and we joked that the two had been caught partying together. Now theres an even better chance of that happening!

Joking aside, Thomas is an excellent defender and a better player than his 2013 numbers. He is an asset to any teams catching depth and I look forward to seeing him this year as he is always nice and easy to talk with.

Former Biscuit outfielder Jason Pridie signed with the Colorado Rockies and will try to make his fifth different major league team. He hasnt played more than ten games at the big league level in any of his five seasons except 2011, when he appeared in 101 games for the Mets.

Jason bunts for the Skitz on the road
Pridie, who played for the Biscuits way back in 2005, 06 and 07, had 35 stolen bases during his time with Montgomery.

The 30 year old Pridie, has over 1200 hits in his minor leagues career, with a .275 average.

Jason was a second round pick for the BayRays in 2002. The Rays included him along with Delmon Young in a trade for Matt Garza before the 2008 season.

I remember Pridie mostly for the exuberant female fan who sat behind me one night, cheering him heartily heartily. A few Thirsty Thursday beers later she let out an ear-splitting "I LOVE YOU JASON PRIDIEEEEE!!!".

I wonder what ever happened to her?

Getting a feel for the game

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Big Leagues in Montgomery, Schenk Retirement

Going over game notes and newspaper accounts of the past, its apparent Montgomery has hosted major league teams often in history even if such games are absent in recent memory.

It was the excitement of seeing the Big League teams that came to the Capitol City that brought baseball to central Alabama and wove the game firmly into the fabric of our area during the early years of the 20th century.

For Biscuits news, skip to the bottom of post!

Beginning in 1900, the City of Montgomery was not represented by professional baseball in any way. It was a time of classic stars on the diamond, an era when the gentleman's game of the previous century was becoming the working-mans past time and the fans cheered some of the toughest competitors in history.

It is also the age of train travel, Montgomery had state of the art public transportation and a luxurious new train station with a fresh coat of paint. Built in 1898, Union Station was the visible evidence to be seen at the start of a civic push by area leaders to bring Montgomery into the 2Oth century and attract new business and tourism.
Looks about the same even now!

A campaign to showcase Montgomery as a "progressive Southern destination" was launched. The fruits of the organized efforts included a flight school founded by the famous Wright Brothers, managed by airship pioneer Roy Knabenshue. The creation of a College for Women was also part of the push for development of higher progress in Montgomery, later it would be known as Huntingdon College.

The Wright Bros Flight School helped attract entrepreneurs

FNB Bldg
Theaters were built, including an auditorium and new City Hall. The 12 story First National Bank building was the tallest structure in the state, across the street the New Exchange hotel was seven stories. Together the pair gave Montgomery a very modern feel to visitors just off the train.

Another part of the Progressive Montgomery project included sending emissaries of the Chamber of Commerce and other important business leaders to travel to extoll the virtues of  Montgomery. The effort was coordinated to tie into a marketing program railways were using to promote train travel to New Orleans.
Montgomery street view

Attracting popular people and events viewed as current and modern were highlighted. Montgomery was trying to be in vogue, and in many ways it was working. Baseball wouldn't be far behind...


The bar scene in Montgomery was lively back then!
Major league teams had begun to train in Florida and while taking the train north the station in Montgomery was already a stopover for them.

Major League teams barnstorming in smaller towns like Dothan, Selma or Enterprise were a short train ride to Montgomery where the players were able to take the night life in at one of the many restaurants and casinos the Heart of Dixie offered.

Quickly the city got to work getting a team and putting those traveling major league teams onto the field, not to mention charging admissions and selling popcorn! By the start of the 1903 season, Montgomery had gained entry into the highly competitive Southern Association.
The Sporting News announced the Southern League news!

MARCH 26th 1903


Nixey Callahan

Chicago White Sox manager Nixey Callahan announces that he expects his team to win every single exhibition game during the spring. “The boys are now in fair shape to show their true form. We want to return home with a full string of scalps.”
Mgm mgr and 1B

The White Sox promptly lost to the newly minted Montgomery Black Sox, 10-9 in 10 innings.

Montgomery’s manager and first baseman, Lew Whistler, went 4-for-5 and belted two home runs to lead his team to victory.

A former bigleaguer himself, Whistler would lead the league with 18 homers this year as he managed the first team in Montgomery since the 1800's.


MARCH 29th 1903

Just three days after the Black Sox turned away the Chicago White Sox in extra innings, Montgomery was playing host to the Boston Nationals, known as the BeanEaters and later as the Braves.
1903 Boston Beaneater/Braves
The Boston Beaneaters pitcher Wiley Piatt’s finger is so sore that a hotel physician cuts into it to drain the blood to avoid blood poisoning. Piatt is scratched from his scheduled start against Montgomery.

Piatt is one of only seven pitchers Boston uses that season and goes 9-14 with a 3.18 ERA. The 1903 season proves to be his last in the big leagues, capping off a six-year career in which he posts a record of 86-79 with an ERA of 3.61.
SP Wiley Piatt

He is also the only man in the 20th century to earn losses while tossing two complete games on the same day in MLB.

A record that will surely never be topped, getting beat twice on the same day without a relief pitcher in either game is a tough task just to equal in todays era of bullpen specialists!

So far I have yet to find the box score from this game, so no telling how the teams fared. Hopefully I can come up with it before the 101st anniversary of the game, which is the day the Rays visit Riverwalk stadium.

The following year the Beaneaters return to play exhibitions in Montgomery on back-to-back days as they prepare for the 1904 season. Also still trying to locate the box score from these contests - the Advertiser had a fire that destroyed old records, so its tough to come up with some of the numbers from this era.

Your 1904 Montgomery Senators

1905 - The Yankees hold spring training at Montgomery, including exhibition games. The New York team was yet to be known as yankees, at the time they were going by the Highlanders name. Willie "hit em where they aint" Keeler, Hal Chase, Jack Chesbro and manager Clark Griffith were premier players of the age.
Shortstop for the Highlanders in 1905, Kid Elberfeld would appear on the Montgomery roster later in his career, appearing in 78 games for us in 1912.

Frank Delahanty is shown on this Highlanders/Yankees team photo, he played with Montgomery in just the previous year and would be sold to New York by Birmingham in August of 1905, in time to make the Sporting Life end of the season coverage!


Other games range from exhibitions and baseball camps, to well as several teams who set up their full spring training either in Montgomery or nearby cities, including:

The RedSox were here in 1939...
Bill Cutler with Joe Cronin at Cramton Bowl

In 1941 its the reigning World Champions, the Cincinnati Reds who play an exhibition game at Cramton Bowl.
1941 Cinci Reds came to town

The spring of 1948 saw Montgomery facing Dem Bums, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and took on the Rebels as they worked their way north ahead of Opening Day. Ralph Branca pitched all nine innings.

The very next year, 1949, Montgomery plays host to the Philadelphia Phillies, losing 2-1 in a rain shortened six inning game. No photo available!

The Dodgers return in '54, holding a baseball camp for military teams in the morning and playing their exhibition game in the afternoon.
Dodgers Walter Alston takes questions from GI's before an exhibition game in Mgm

So if you read a press release that says the Rays vs Biscuits game is the first time a big league team has played in Montgomery, don't be fooled. Lots of big league teams play games here!



I got a letter from Biscuits reliever Neil Schenk last week in which he states that he will likely retire from baseball and pursue a career in clinical pharmacy after the Rays gave him his release last month.

He says he is applying to schools so he can continue his education in that direction. "... I am in the rare position of being totally content with moving on to my next career" and expressed his gratitude to the fans for their support over his three seasons in Montgomery.

Schenk, the 23rd round pick in 2008 out of the U of Memphis, appeared in 110 Biscuits games the past three years. Schenk won five games and lost five games for Montgomery during that time, and while he got knocked around abit in 2013 he was a fan favorite out of the bullpen. A good guy who was a solid lefty out of the bullpen, he will be missed by Skitz faithful.

We all wish him the best of luck in his future ventures!