Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Say Hey April!

April has seen some great games in Montgomery, beginning way back when our Montgomery Senators, new to the Southern Association faced the Boston Beaneaters of the National League in 1904.

The Montgomery nine were defeated 2-1 by the Boston NL franchise to start the month of April and in doing so also inaugurated the spring tradition of hosting a major league exhibition game or taking them on with our own minor league team.
1904 Montgomery Senators

In 1910, on April 1st Montgomery played the second of two exhibition games vs the Cleveland Naps. Yes, Napoleon Lajoie was there, thats why they are called the Naps! An older Cy Young and a younger Shoeless Joe were also on that team, so it was a very notable occasion for baseball in our area for even the most casual of sports fans.
Rare photo of Shoeless Joe hitting in 1922, after being banned

In 1955 it was the Braves and Dodgers facing each other at Paterson Field on April first.

Decades later, on April 1st 1977 the team changed hands.

As busy as that day is in our baseball history, its just a sample of the exhibition games and front office changes that fill this week with anniversaries and notable moments.

APRIL 2nd, 1939
Mize in 1940s
The Montgomery Rebels are trounced by Johnny Mize and the Cardinals, 11-5. Four of the Rebels runs were scored in the last inning when the game was well in hand for the St.Louis Cards who likely started pulling their punches.

Future Hall of Famer Johnny Mize homered.

APRIL 2nd, 1941
Two years later, to the day, in 1941 the World Champion Cincinnati Reds would shut out the Boston Red Sox at Cramton Bowl.

The same two teams will meet again the next day, April 3rd, for a second game. Pitcher Johnny "Double-No Hit" VanderMeer was the starter for the Reds and completed the two game sweep himself.
VanderMeer, the only pitcher to toss back to back no hitters!

APRIL 2nd 1948
the Montgomery Rebels face the Dodgers.

Joe Demoran, Mgm pitcher
Al Gianfroddo homers and Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca allows 8 hits to the Rebels.

Montgomery Pitchers Wendell Davis and Joe Demoran allow 14 hits. Both teams commit a pair of errors, the Dodgers starting nine go the distance with no substitutions in the exhibition game.

More cool than the score was the appearance of Jackie Robinson. Jim Tocco wrote an excellent piece on Jackies day in Montgomery for the Skitz program years ago, I need to find a copy and post it.


APRIL 2 1954 
The RedSox face the Phillies in an exhibition game here in Montgomery, one of the last pre-season games of the spring.

 The final score was 8-0, with Boston the victor over Philadelphia.

Bostons starting pitcher Mel Parnell got the victory over Curt Simmons of the Phils.

For Parnell, its not his first start at Cramton Bowl, he was here in the 1941 learning to fly B-52's and pitching for the base team The Maxwell Bombers (see Best Pitching Rotation in Mgm History post for more).
RedSox-Phils in Mgm game notes

Red Sox manager Lou Boudreu's batting star Ted Williams doesn't play here -  why?

A hill in the outfield?
So no Teddy Ballgame, bummer.
Cramton Bowl 1942 aerial photo

April 2 1955 
Pirates vs Orioles at Montgomery


The "Meet the Team" "Season Ticketholder Welcome" event was held, and I learned some interesting facts to share. Here they are in no particular order.
Mgr Brady Williams takes a question from the crowd. He wont answer it, but he takes one. Just one.

New Marketing Director Staci knows the shine is off the Biscuits, and is trying to "do new things" to put butts in seats.

The giveaway this year wont be a player, so no Victor Mateo No-Hitter bobblehead. Boooo.
It also won't be the pig, so thats a win. Yaaay.

The attendance for the Rays-Biscuits game was in the top ten, not the top five of largest crowd at Riverwalk.

Saturdays victory was the first time manager Brady Williams had beaten a major league team.

We don't yet know if we are still in line to get the 2016 Southern league AllStar game.

Manager Williams said there would be a rotating outfield, and demurred from naming a starting centerfielder.

Outfielder Ty Morrison wont be expected to return before AllStar break. He is still recovering from Tommy John surgery.

We can expect to see Jimy Williams at the park to check out his son at work.

The rotation consists of Mateo, Floro, Colla, Mortenson and Garvin, though Im not sure that is the order!

We could know by AllStar Break if the league will have Montgomery change divisions in 2015.

Manager Williams was unable to name a player who he felt would have a surprising season for the Biscuits.

bring me Big Mo's head!
Fish tacos will now be available in the suites, designed by the new head Chef at Riverwalk stadium.

Joe Maddon made several specific requests for the Rays visit, including insisting on using the visitors dugout and clubhouse. Skitz officials were surprised by a few of the requests but visiting teams will enjoy seeing upgraded amenities from the major league visit.

A new item is the sweet potato waffle fry. Not bad, gotta make sure you get them while they are hot - I could tell they will lose a little something after the fifth inning. They have a sweet brown sugar and spice coating.

Which is a baseball front office standard - sugar coat it for the fans!

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