Monday, March 31, 2014

Biscuits Win

Wow, did we really beat the Rays?
Yes, indeed, and a fine start to the season it was!

A couple excellent throws from the outfield to gun down Rays runners at the plate, keeping the score just close enough to overcome with timely hitting.

The day started with Joe Maddon giving a QnA session for season ticket folks. The worst part of it was that staffers were unable to tell me how to submit a question before the event, and then we spent longer hearing the mayor incorrectly say that we had never hosted a parent club in the city. Quickly we learned that the only questions being answered were submitted well ahead via twitter and facebook and we wouldnt get to ask anything.

Deep topic questions were not included, and when the question "whats your favorite hoodie" incited a five minute plus reply, the group I was with decided it wasnt worth it to sit in the sun while NOT getting a chance to ask a baseball question. It was a decision I supported fully!

I didn't even want to waste video time on it, and was probably not alone in feeling a bit shorted on the Q and A, though it wasn't Joe's fault.

BP started at 12:15 and we saw the big league club swing fence on a windy, overcast day. A few of the Rays made our park look alot smaller than we usually see it. James Loney was the first to reach the fence, but several of the Rays regulars sent balls into the crowd.


Then the warmups, including the appearance of the Tampa starter, Chris Archer. Archer has always been a cool drink of water, having now developed a classic style of his own that is a blend of modern pitcher and classic era player.

Chris' tall sox and quiet swagger reminded me of one of everyones favorite Negro league players. He has a similar delivery and a similar smoke ball!

Got to meet Zobrist and Joyce, very cool to have the big leaguers say hi. Not alot of autograph chances, though I did get Wil Myers to sign a bat. I felt fortunate, because obviously I wasn't the only one hoping for a signature!
Face in the Crowd

The Game

The Rays jumped out in front on starter Victor Mateo, including an Evan Longoria RBI single. Mateo was making his first start at Riverwalk since tossing the stadiums first No-Hitter, and handled the Rays easily through the first three frames, equaling Archers fine mound work.

Somehow, the Biscuits managed to overcome the deficit once the Rays pulled their starters. Wholesale lineup changes went in the Skitz favor, and Im sure most of you know how it turned out.

A rare victory indeed, as the Montgomery team has only come out on top in a handful of the approximately 50 exhibition games to have taken place here. Oh, and one tie!

The day after the game I hosted our long standing fantasy league draft. Our 26th annual event, the dynasty league format was a tough order the day after such a big game, but went off without a hitch. The only casualty was the instant posting of my usual Sunday evening blog post! haha

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Not Bedard, Big Mo's Friend

Saturdays starter wont be Eric Bedard - the veteran was released/opted out of his contract with the Rays when he didn't make the major league team.

Its also not going to be Alex Colome, who was suspended 50 games for using a steroid intended for horses. Wow, I dont usually say it, but how stupid can a guy be? Come on, Alex, you gotta be kidding! 

It also probably won't be Matt Moore, who wore a line drive and had to have stitches. Good thing he got that glove up enough to get a piece of the ball before it got a piece of him!

Bullpen watches Mateo work
However, my prediction of Victor Mateo is still alive, and there are two teams that he could take the hill for. My chances are good!haha


This morning we learned that Big Mo was lonely and needed a friend. A quick check of Mo's photo history agrees...
You wanna YMCA for a dollar, lady?

Its nice, but not likely to have an effect on attendance. You can see the new "friend" here....

Yes, its a pig
We get to name the pig that Big Mo will be chasing around the bases before each game to the cries of "soo-ey" and comments like "thems good eatin.." and "I told you cornfields were awesome".


Biscuits Owner

Have you noticed how she looks abit like the team owner from the movie Major League?
Movie Owner

Back in 1906?

The Mack-led Athletics were training here, Rube Waddell had just been told to stop eating crackers in bed - Rube's roommate Ossie Shreckengost had held out during contract negotiations until that clause was put into the deal!

The Yanigans were one of the two scrimmage teams the Mackmen were assigned to during spring camp, essentially the varsity squad.

Who could forget the time Chief Myers let himself out for the first time? 

We dont get the final score, but that we scored three runs and theres no mention of the A's tally could mean that we got the better of that affair. Perhaps the Pittsburgh Press didn't want to let the fans at home know the A's were shut out and beaten three to nothing!

Chief Bender is an Ace, I would loved to have seen him pitch, even in a spring game. He is a Hall of Famer who appeared in five world series, won almost twice as many games as he lost and posted a stellar 2.46 ERA in 16 seasons. He also hit .212 lifetime, an all around player.

Yes, he is a real indian, a Native American who grew up in a log house with a dirt floor. Charlie went on to be an innovator and all around renaissance man who said he was proud of his heritage but would rather be known as "pitcher".

Monday, March 24, 2014

busy week ahead!

Wow, so much coming up...

Spring brings out baseball in Montgomery, the warm weather drawing the game out of its long winter torpor.

Historically, this is the time of year that our area has had some of its most amazing times - certainly our brushes with the big leagues. And of course, perhaps the biggest baseball headline in Montgomery history takes place at the end of this week....
Ruth and the Yanks play Montgomery on March 29, 1926

here is just a sample of what we have for for this week:

MARCH 23 1934
Cincinnati Reds vs Minn Millers at Montgomery
1934 Cinci Reds

The Redlegs faced the Millers as both worked their way north for the season.

The Reds are a good enough team, though they wont finish well this year they have high hopes for players like Chick Hafey. Future Hall of Famer Ernie Lombardi handles the Reds catching duties.

The Millers are a strong triple-A team, players like Joe Hauser and Spence Harris aren't household names but almost all the Millers players will or already have spent time in the majors.

MARCH 23 1936
Cubs vs Giants in Selma

Cubs mgr Grimm
The Chicago Cubs are barnstorming their way to Chicago from Catalina Island and come thru Alabama?

Its not known who drew up the travel plans, but former Cubs manager Charlie "Jolly Cholly" Grimm wasn't too jolly about it, calling it "the longest road trip in baseball history".

In the days before air travel, the team spent more than a week riding the rails while playing exhibition games in various cities on this trip, Dothan and Selma among them.

MARCH 24 1936
Cubs vs Giants in Dothan

NY Giants Mel Ott was already a tough hitter to face, but a monumental train ride didn't do the Cubs pitchers any favors.

Its a homecoming of sorts, Giants manager Bill Terry began his baseball career in Dothan Alabama, where he was told to go home and find another profession as he was too small and would never cut it.
I dont have page 21, someone took it for the comics
MARCH 24 1906

Montgomery's new team ownership announces its lineup, as well as touts its new playing field of ten acres at Electric Park!

MARCH 24 1911
Our local team defeats Philly NL in exhibition game, walkoff style!

Yes! We walkoff with the victory over the Phillies! Always a good feeling. Too bad Clemens isnt listed on our roster for the regular season, likely a late spring cut.

"Happy" Henry Smith is tho, he would spend time with the Brooklyn Superbas in 1910 before becoming a Billiken in Montgomery and supplying the walkoff RBI double against the Phils.

MARCH 25 1908
Cubs play Mgm in exhibition game
Frank Chance caught a train and met his World Champion Chicago Cubs at Montgomery, where the reigning Champs take on the local Climbers in a lopsided contest.

MARCH 26th 1903 
White Sox vs Montgomery

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.”
The White Sox promptly lose to Montgomery, 10-9 in 10 innings.

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

MARCH 27 1918
At Montgomery, an exhibition between Cleveland and Cincinnatti takes place as the Reds beat the Indians 3-1.

Who are they? Just the usual collection of hall of famers, allstars and infamous characters!

For Cleveland, Tris Speaker returns to Montgomery, where he was an opposing player ten years earlier. Smokey Joe Wood, taking a break from pitching to play outfield, is a deadball era pitching great.

Also with Cleveland, Germany Schaefer, on the cusp of renaming himself "Liberty" Schaefer for the duration of the war as Americans are wary of associating with things German.

Stan Coveleski, Hall of Fame spitball pitcher, he later would be the opposing pitcher in the game that saw Carl Mays throw a pitch that killed Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman in 1920.

On the other side of the diamond, we recently covered the 1918 Reds who were training/barnstorming at Montgomery - manager Christy Mathewson, enigmatic Hal Chase, moody Edd Roush and the crew.
1B Hal Chase

March 28, 1913
Buzzy Wares

The St. Louis Browns make an unusual “trade,” sending infielder Clyde “Buzzy” Wares to the Montgomery team in exchange for the rental of a stadium.

The Montgomery Black Sox will allow the Browns to use their stadium during spring training-rent free in return. Wares will be sent back to the Browns later in the season.

MARCH 28 1926
Yankees beat Dodgers at MGM, 2-0

Dazzy Vance
Dodgers pitcher Dazzy Vance goes six strong innings, striking out six and allowing just one hit, but the bullpen fails to nail it down and the Bronx nine end up scoring a pair of runs late to win it.

MARCH 28 1941
Yankees vs Rebels at MGM

The Yankees again dominate the local nine, scoring early and often to rack up 17 runs.

Red Ruffing
Star pitcher Red Ruffing and reliever Johnny Lindell must have liked Bill Dickey's pitch selection, the Rebels only tallied a single run.

Its okay though, the Rebels will have another chance at a big league team next week when the Cardinals come to town!


We are finally get some moves, though injuries could affect assignments.
Matt Moore took a liner off the face, requiring stitches he doesn't think he will miss any time, but we will see if Mgr Joe agrees.

Eric Bedard will opt out of his contract with the Rays, his opt out date being March 31. It likely puts him out of the running for an appearance at Riverwalk, as predicted by Uncle Mikey.

Jeremy Moore and Eddy Rodriguez were sent to minor league camp last week, and both could be ticketed for the Biscuits.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

March 20 - Biscuits News & Bring DJ Kitty


There aint none.

And for the record, the Rays are the only parent of a Southern league club that HASNT assigned a player to or released a player from Double-A this month.

We haven't even heard what the Alfa giveaway would be, and I was under the impression we might have seen an announcement about that a few weeks ago. Perhaps they realized a Victor Mateo bobblehead was needed and had to make alterations to the R.C.Lichtenstein nodder?

Whatever the reason, the next two weeks should ramp up the readings on the Skitz-meter.

Some fans have been asking me if DJ Kitty will be coming with the Rays. I hope so, I think its a rare chance to get DJ Kitty and the Rays. We have had Raymond visit in the past, hopefully we can get him to come again and bring his friend DJ Kitty for the full *Rays* experience!

I think its a perfect fit, be sure to tweet to @BiscuitsBaseball and the @TampaBayRays that you want to #BringDJKitty to the #RaysAtRiverwalk to help convince them! Maybe send them the super-high quality photo above!


So here the idea is a simple tribute to those who we have cheered at Riverwalk that have gone on to realize every boys dream of making the Big Leagues.

Chris Seddon - an early MLB-skit
Somewhere in the park, paint the names of those players who were Biscuits and the year he was here along with the year he made it to the bigs on the sidewalk.

The walking path behind the left field wall would be perfect, near the already popular train tracks. It would give a simple tip of the cap to the ballplayers and offer a nice photo op for fans in the form of a stepping stone path of names.

It would be a nice way to remind fans who we have had and add interest to the park without going overboard with some expensive or pretentious display.

John Jaso as a Biscuit
I think we need this to educate folks about our rich baseball history, even the recent players. Its gotten so many of the fans, and even the staff, don't realize the players we have had.

Sure, everyone knows Price and Longo, but last summer I had Big Mo give me a hard time about the AllStar Jersey I was wearing - Big Mo obviously didn't remember when AllStar reliever Evan Meek was lurking in our own bullpen!


This is the time of year Montgomery baseball history is really brimming with interesting anecdotes and important events.

MARCH 20 1902 Announcement that W.H.Raglan has bought Mgm a team in the Southern league is made official locally.

Raglan is one of the heads of Mgm Traction Company. The Traction Co. is the street railway system, the trolley line that provides Montgomery with its public transportation. Obviously its a great investment for Raglan, as fans flock to games on the streetcar, generating volumes of riders during the summer months.

MARCH 20 1908 Philadelphia vs Mgm, game two.
Overshadowed by the big news of the day, Ty Cobbs signing for $4ooo with an $800 bonus if he hits over .300 Montgomery hosts the Athletics in a second exhibition game.

In game two, no box score has been found yet. Bummer, as I would love to know how it turned out.

MARCH 20 1911
Sunday Baseball Bill Goes Through

Measure is Passed by Senate By 12 to 11 Votes

Mobile rep. Bart Chamberlain’s Sunday baseball bill came to the senate and passed by nearly a tie vote of 12 to 11. It allowed cities to hold baseball games on Sundays, often a valuable weekend date for drawing crowds, but not previously allowed under state law.

Thomas Kilby
The bill was not without its detractors. Mr. Kilby of Anniston, speaking against the bill, compared city of Mobile with Sodom and Gomorrah and said the bill was an effort to repeal the Ten Commandments. 

Kilby, for whom the state prison is named, would later be governor. In a possibly related story, the Sunday baseball bill would later be repealed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Busy history day in 1908


Philadelphia faces Montgomery in exhibition game on this date in 1908.

Your 1908 Montgomery Climbers
In an afternoon exhibition game on March 19th, the Philadelphia Athletics took on the local Montgomery Senators/Climbers. It gives Montgomery fans a chance to see the major league A's as they barnstorm their way north for the start of the season. Also it helps spark interest in our own team, officially still called the Senators but quickly becoming known as the Climbers for the hilly field they play on.

The A's finished in second place in the AL the previous season, though its a much different team than the one that trained here before in 1906.

Chief Bender
Manager Connie Mack has sold off eccentric Rube Waddell, leaving veteran hurlers Eddie Plank and Chief Bender to shoulder more of the pitching duties.

Catcher Ossie Schreckengost is still with the team, adding character with his outspoken antics, though he shuns the new-fangled shinguards being worn by Giants catcher Bresnahan.

Rube Oldring
Former Montgomery star Rube Oldring patrols the outfield for the Mackmen, along with Socks Siebold and Danny Murphy. Oldring played with Montgomery in 1905 as shortstop, third base and outfielder before being sold to Connie Mack's A's.

Among the other regulars on the team, Eddie Collins is rounding out his career, as is Plank and the first baseman Davis. This team is considered the last year of the "First Dynasty" of Connie Macks Athletic teams. Several of the veteran players have left from the championship A's teams, many more will be gone after this year, making it a transitional season for Philadelphia.

However today belongs to the Athletics....


A throw from the catcher to second base hit the student athlete, presumably while he was batting a runner tried to steal second base. The injured student was brought to Montgomery where he passed away in an unspecified local hospital.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Price of Victory

How much would you pay for a champion baseball team?

Back in 1906 the Montgomery ownership announced on March 15th that they had "hung a $3000 purse" on the pennant - if the team took the flag the players would each bring in about the equivalent of a months pay.

Your 1906 Montgomery Senators
It behooved the owners to encourage their team. It shows well in the press in mid-March when baseball is starting to be on the minds of the fans, encouraging them to come to games.

The owners want lots of fans at the games, not just to sell seats. For in order to get to the ballpark fans ride the trolley - owned by the same firm that owns the team! The team plays many of its home games about two miles east of the city, near the enterprising entertainment and theater district known as Electric Park.


Mobile BayBears team president Bill Shanahan announced his resignation from the Baybears front office this week. He is the only president in BayBears history.

This is the first of what could be many upcoming changes in Mobile, soon to be the third franchise in the gulf coast area. Its been a popular opinion that the arrival of the Wahoos in Pensacola and the impending arrival of the Biloxi Whatever-they-will-be-called don't bode well for the Mobile franchise.

The parent Dbax have asked/demanded improvements to the clubhouse and field, the city of Mobile has a shortfall of money to make improvements and the BayBears team had to negotiate out of a giant sized past-due rent bill last year.

The departure of the team president likely strains the already tenuous relationship between team and city, leaving fans in Mobile caught in the same spot as the fans in Huntsville found themselves. For them, its support a team in decline due to lack of organized, focused team and civic leadership - or become Wahoos fans.

Its looking abit grim for Mobile. The best the fans can hope for is a patch to the park problems, as a city in debt cant build a new field. Even the renovation of the clubhouse and playing field leaves the Hank as the old park between two brand new facilities.

The fans in Mobile should be very concerned by the change in their front office.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mgm welcomes Christy Mathewson, Skitz News weakly!

Way back in 1918, the season was being overshadowed by the War in Europe, and folks were starting to scale back their travel.

A side of that included sports teams, the Cincinnati Reds decided to take spring training a little closer to home. Here at Camp Sheridan, the YMCA workers got together and decided to invite a major league team to have its spring training here.

The YMCA and City Council sent Cinci owners the offer of free spring training, the Y and the city covering the bill if the Reds would hold spring training in Montgomery. It was felt that the Reds spring games would help in boosting the YMCA's war effort as well as entertaining the soldiers at Camp Sheridan.

The Reds acccepted the Montgomery proposal. The team arrived on March 12th under manager Christy Mathewson and trained at the park known at the time as "The Coliseum", near where Garrett Coliseum is now.
1918 Cincinnati Reds

The Reds face All-Army teams from Camp Sheridan, the NY Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians. The visiting teams would also play the All-Army teams, often in a doubleheader.

Montgomery baseball fans were in for a treat, as the Reds had some recognizable players!

Hal Chase
Hal Chase

Back for a second go round in Montgomery is Hal Chase, the superstar who is known to throw a game and would eventually be banished from baseball. Later in the season Chase will be fined and suspended by manager Mathewson for lackluster play and a mysterious $50 payment to pitcher Jimmy Ring after a Reds loss.

Edd Roush
Future Hall Of Famer Edd Roush is the Reds star centerfielder.
Edd Roush

Roush will have an 18 year career and hit .323 lifetime, but when he is in Montgomery he is 25 years old and the defending NL batting champ.

Roush is with the Reds as a part of the trade that also brought them...

Christy Mathewson - Superstar, pitcher and Reds Manager.

Christy Mathewson
Matty retired from pitching after 1916, moving to managing full time, at the Reds helm for the third season when he gets to Montgomery.

Before this season ends, Mathewson won't be their manager - he is drafted and given a commission in the Chemical Warfare Division, where he is among a group accidentally gassed. He survives and returns to the States but wont manage again.
Matty in service

Known as "Big Six" for his ability to pitch out of trouble the same way the 6th NY Fire Brigade was able to put out fires, Christy is one of the deadball era's pitching superstars.

Mathewson popularized the screwball, known as the "fadeaway" because of its movement away from right handed hitters. Matty won 373 games with a 2.13 ERA in his career and is considered one of the best pitchers of his or any other era. He was inducted into Cooperstown in 1936.

Black Sox
Oddly, its Matty who would uncover the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

While attending the world series he sees Hal Chase in the lobby of a hotel as Chase meets with players from the White Sox. With this in mind, Mathewson discussed the possibility of a fix with sportswriter Hugh Fullerton and they agree to circle the names in their scorecards if they saw suspicious play during the game. Mathewson is disgusted and forwards his findings to the league, washing his hands of the scandal and those involved.

There are of course, the usual assortment of classic baseball names - Greasy Neale, Hod Eller, Heinie Groh, Lena Blackburn, Ivey Wingo, Snipe Conley, Rube Bressler, and even Manuel Cueto.
When checking in at the hotel, after all those names, the desk clerk probably thought utility man Harry Smith was using a fake name, but didn't want to ask. In fact, its Lee Magee, whose real name was Leopold Hoernchemeyer who is using the false name!

Weekly - weakly...
Seems to be the only chatter for the 'Skitz lately, once a week one thing sneaks thru and it aint much to go with.

This week we have the Cup Design!
Thanks to Casey Ivy for tweeting the pic - good job!

In years past there have been mostly good cup designs, but that one season they put the Health code on the cup was such a bust, beer drinkers have worried ever since. Fears abated, nothing left to worry about on the brew front except the price!

The season ticket packages are at the printers, and could be available as soon as this week - or so I was led to believe. Check back...

Pitching Prediction...
Turn your guesses in on who the Rays starting pitcher is for the Rays-Biscuits matchup.
Could Kelly face Skitz?
When asked, I guessed Enny Romero, Merrill Kelly or another likely Durham bound arm getting a last look.

The person asking - Uncle Mikey - suggested Erick Bedard.
I have my doubts about Bedard, idk if they want to risk more mileage on the veterans arm. I think its a perfect time to get a last look at a young guy on the cusp of making the squad.
So, who do you guys think it will be?