Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rickwood Classic & Kes Carter replaces Jeremy Moore

I took in the Rickwood Classic, it was my first trip to the old yard and I have to admit it was a fabulous experience.

Not being the type to do things half way, I donned my throwback flannels and represented my House of David barnstormers all the way down to long sleeved undershirt and stirrups. I posed for upwards of twenty photos, everyone must have liked the classic attire!

We found the Rickwood with little problems and parked easily nearby for five bucks, ten more got a ticket into what I found to be Disney+Christmas=Baseball heaven. After getting our tickets at the main window we passed into the the green painted concrete entrance. Our tickets were torn and I purchased a program. I wouldn't be scoring the game today but you can't NOT buy one.

We had a chance to meet the guest of honor, Dwight Gooden. It was a short fifteen minutes or so wait before we found ourselves in an air conditioned room where the former Pitcher was meeting the peeps. Not sure what was cooler, the air conditioning or the New York star hurler himself.

Doctor K was all smiles and very friendly and outgoing, it was a joy to meet him, even in that situation. It can be awkward in a meet and greet scene sometimes but Doc was at ease and smooth to talk to. He even took a moment to pose for a quick photo, very cool!


Our group grabbed a frozen lemonade and headed down the right field line to grab a seat. The first five or six rows were fenced off and reserved seats, we took general admission like everyone else and had a fine view of the classic outfield ads.

The hand-operated scoreboard was a treat to see, as are the vintage style lighting standards.

The bleachers were angled aluminum with a back to lean against. They were very comfortable for metal bleachers, many a ballpark bleacher has numbed my butt with its waffle or linear imprints, but Rickwoods bleachers were rather comfy and provided plenty of space for the 8600+ attendees!

Fans were also rewarded with a swift breeze and friendly clouds, making the upper 80s temps much more bearable. The concrete and steel structure seemed to cool the air as it wound its way up the ramps to the grandstand and the field beyond, offering a respite to overheated fans and players alike. The ramps are worn like the steps of a Roman road, nearly a hundred years of faithful feet seeking summer distraction and hoping for a breeze to carry the cheers of a home team rally.

The pastoral scene would have been nearly unbearable without that breeze to cool the air and carry the chatter of the interested bystanders. The game itself was quiet, overwhelmed by the excitement of the crowd in the midst of the experience. Until the first long fly ball cleared the centerfield fence and brought the fans attention back to between the lines.


The game saw the Barons fall to the Braves, 5-2.

Mississippi's Lohman hit the home run, doubled and drove in three runs. Australian-born backstop Matt Kennelly tripled and the Braves added three other extra base hits to boot.

Starter Greg Ross pitched very well, reliever John Cornely got seven big outs on three strikeouts. Chasen Shreve struck out the side in the ninth for the save.
Sp Greg Ross delivers a pitch, 1b Seth Lohman covers the bag as Barons Medina leads off

For the Barons, only catcher Martin Medina posted multiple hits. He had two knocks and threw out a runner attempting to swipe second base. Leadoff hitter Jared Mitchell had a hit but was picked off first base.
Mitchell strays too far from first base

B'ham starter Chris McCully pitched better than the fate he received, five innings with just two earned but took the loss.
McCully warms as lineups are announced

Also I got to meet the Negro League Reunion players. Those guys are just cool, no two ways about it. Its fun to just stand there and hear them talk baseball, their games, their kids, their cars or whatever is on their mind! I didn't take any photos here, I spent all my time with my ears open...

player one "...I had three hits every day for a week and never once had to stop at first base, they was all doubles, triples and home runs"

player two "Man you never had three hits in a week! You didn't stop at first cause you always made the last out and was scared to go back to the dugout!"

player one "Aw, you don't know, you were playin for pesos the year I should have won the league Mvp, I had four home runs in that one week alone"

player two "You must have been playing alone for three weeks to hit four home runs"

player three "hey now, I played in Texas, those pesos spend too"

I liked them and they seemed to like me - it was wonderful to see smiles from the faces of these guys, several of whom proudly announced that they played against the House of David. The guys pointed and talked to each other about my old flannel uni, sparking a new conversation on hot uniforms.

player one "I'm from Oklahoma and I am here to tell you, this is hot enough for me today"
player two "Hot?! Man you ain't know'd hot, today is nice weather!"

and so began a new round of good natured ribbing!

Tho Not a Living One

Walking around Rickwood I came upon a familiar face, one that looks like it could hit 714 home runs or win 20 games on the mound.

It was a great reunion for me, as I hadn't seen The Bambino since we put a fake beard on him for that old photo op at a House of David vs Babes Bashers barnstorming game sometime around 1929. Ah, the good old days!

I got a very cool invite to the March conference in Bham, I'm told there is a group that studies the Southern league and has a spring meeting annually. The next one will be centered on the pre-1900 era SL history, so I will have to study up on my early Gump-teams!

I met so many folks at the park its impossible to list all of them, but it was wonderful to put faces to some names, names to some faces and meet brand new friends all in one day! I simply don't have the space to go over all that happened or was discussed, it was a great day of baseball in so many ways.

Roberto Gomez hits the DL, Bryce Stowell returns.
Jeremy Moore heads to Durham and to replace him we get Centerfielder Kes Carter.

Hey man, someone screwed up.... Kes Carter is a first rounder! I was thinkin we would get the usual third catcher or another starting pitcher with a 25 pitch count limit. Instead we get pleasantly surprised with the arrival of Carter, who will offer us the chance to rest an oufielder without locking in an oh-fer in the fifth spot of the batting order.

Biscuits CF Kes Carter
A first round pick in 2011, Carter has worked his way up quickly. Batting .230 in 61 games for the StoneCrabs, Kes has two homers and five steals. He struck out 100 times last year in 400 at bats...
wait, why are we getting this guy?
He must have glove! Defense, right?
Not so much. He's got a .968 fielding percentage this year, similar to his low average afield in 2o12. He does have an arm, posting five double plays and 16 assists in his 217 career games.

Maybe he is more than the sum of his parts, maybe he is the defensive diamond in the rough. Maybe they want Ozzie to fix his swing or teach him the strike zone. Maybe he is the missing ingredient in this batch of Biscuits.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Series vs Mobile Wrapped, On the Road Vs Stars

The Biscuits took the series vs Mobile by the skin of their teeth and a little help from mother nature. Scoring just before the rains came on getaway day Monday helped Bradys Boys save face and escape with a series win just before the dugout flooded.

This was an odd series for many reasons - the BayBears won the first half and should have easily walked over Montgomery. Perhaps they were tired from celebrating and mailed it in, but there was little fight in the Bears during the first game.

Game two saw a friday nite loss as the Biscuits stranded seven runners. They did manage one run in the ninth inning but fell short 5-3. Starter Grayson Garvin was allowed almost 50 pitches before being pulled from the game. Mike Colla allowed two unearned runs and big Matt Lollis gave up three earned in the 8th inning.

Saturdays victor mateo victory was marred by a horrific injury to a fan hit by a line drive in the ninth inning. With Tom Belza leading off the inning with a three ball, two strike count, Matt Ramsey delivered a low and away fastball that Belza fouled off.

It was a low liner that just barely cleared the padded barrier between the first row of seats just beyond the home dugout and the field. There was no time to react, no way to defend against that kind of line drive. It struck a male patron squarely in the jaw.
Tom Belza reacts to fan in stands hit by foul ball
 Immediately screams for help went up and the man, who looked to be in his 60s or 70s, went down and stayed down until paramedics arrived to take him away on a stretcher.
Tom Belza, teammates and fans watch as medics attend an injured fan
It was just the second time in Riverwalk history that an ambulance had to be brought onto the field. There was nearly 30 minutes delay while the injured spectator was attended to and eventually driven to hospital.

Ushers, stadium workers, players from both teams and fans in attendance called it the most horrible foul ball incident in Biscuits history.

The hardy fan survived and was released from the hospital, though teeth were still being found the next day in the GRASS ON THE FIELD.
Distance between grass and first row? About 12 feet!

Sunday's game was a drubbing as the Skitz fell 12-6, though the score implies the game was closer than it really was.

Angel Sanchez got the start for the Skitz and was quickly dubbed "Angel of Death" by fans for his every-other inning earned runs allowed game plan.

Monday the rubber match was a tight contest until the 8th inning when the home team pushed a few runs across as the bottom fell out of the summer clouds and sent fans scurrying. It seemed the Baybears were trying to slow down the game in hopes the rain would come, if they had one more pitching change it might have worked!

Last night the Stars and Biscuits played ten innings but the 5-4 final score doesn't do justice to the valiant efforts by both teams to lose this game.

Its the old story, we scored on their closer in the ninth inning and then they scored on ours.

In the tenth inning we got a pair of runners on and were just about to strand them in scoring position when we were gifted a run on a wild pitch. The play, and the inning, ended when cameron seitzer attempted to score from second on a wild pitch. Fortunately Motter was on third and had already touched the dish. Not sure why Brady would send Cam Seitzer on that kind of play, but hey, at that point maybe he was just to empty the gun and throw it at them.

Lefty Jimmy Patterson got the final three outs and picked up the save.

True to form, all five Montgomery runs were scored after the 6th inning.

Departing the team is Jeremy Moore, headed to Durham where his skills are sure to be more appreciated. In 38 games JM had 120 at bats and hit a robust .183 with six homers and 16 rbi. His roster spot on the team was not immediately filled, out of respect.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MGM to host 2015 AllStar Game, promotion suggestion, history abounds!

Lots to get to with the second half starting up on Thursday, so lets get to it!


Montgomery will host the SL AllStar game next year. With Mobile passing, our fair city moves up!

Thats right fans, as predicted here in the blog we get the '15 SLASG and you heard it here first! Tell your friends how DrM told you about it!

 I hope we can do what the Lookouts did and host our home run derby in our historic park, Paterson Field, site of the very first Southern League All Star Game in 1972.

Announced this week, plans for a busy offseason of work on Paterson, which hosts over 200 events annually, making it still the most-used sports venue in the city.

The old park is basically the same as it was when it was built in 1949, except for the dugout roofs which were added later.

Among the renovations being discussed is the removal of the old roof, hopefully to be replaced or fans will bake!

Also needed would be updates for the clubhouse and press box.

Oh, and the turf and infield grass and the drainage.

Oh and the seats, they say they want to replace the old wooden bleachers with seats, but I suspect thats a stretch.

However for a home run derby, Paterson Field is the perfect venue with a deep history for Montgomery including MLB players like Bucky Dent and Cal Ripken Jr.

What better way to raise a few funds for the old park and honor the cities history than to hold our own home run derby at the old park?
Paterson overlooks the cemetery


Thursty Thirsday should be lively this week now that the weather has heated up. With Jello Shooters added into the factor it could be a memorable event for some and a forgotten night for others.

So with the thursday promotion, I felt it was time to offer up a suggestion to the Biscuits for a future promotion. Its a very similar thing to what other teams have done, but I think the Biscuits are a perfect fit.

Two words...

Biscuit Headphones

Teams have already been giving away themed headphones, but what would be a more iconic way to promote the brand! Here is example A - the Washington Nats gave away team colored headphones...

Now if they were just biscuits for headphones, wouldn't it be perfect??

If you doubt the food-for-headwear concept, just check out Josh Gates hamburger ear muffs -  they became a runaway viral holiday purchase.

Google Josh Gates Hamburger Earmuffs and see for yourself!

Go ahead, I mean it, I'll wait....

Told ya!
So whats to stop the Biscuits from having the best giveaway by any minor league baseball team ever?

I better get an extra pair for this suggestion, which I do consider my finest offering for a giveaway short of a Victor Mateo Bobblehead!

I am thinking of ordering a small run of Victor Mateo No-Hitter Bobbleheads, please contact me if you are interested in getting one, though it may take until the offseason to get together. More details coming!


With the second half we finally get some new teams coming to call. First up is powerhouse Mobile's BayBears.

The BayBears are led by top prospect Jake Lamb, who would be the studliest player in the Southern league if it weren't for some Cub named Kris Bryant. Also the Mobile team features power-hitting Jon Griffin, currently second in the league in homers.

Justin Fitzgerald leads the BBs with six wins in ten games, and Bradin Hagens with five. Jake Barrett is the closer, second in the league in saves.

As a team, Mobile is a good hitting club, among the leaders in batting average. However they struggle to touch the dish, currently last in the league in runs scored. They hit the ball over the wall, second in homeruns and leading the league in RBI.

The BayBears are last in stolen bases with just 19 on the year - thats less than Willie Argo!

In the field the BayBears have the best ERA in the Southern League, more than a full run lower than the Biscuits.


Mobile has one name Biscuits fans will know - catcher Mark Thomas.

Now with a new team Thomas has finished his league obligations and been reinstated just in time for him to hit three homers in his first 11 games.

Thomas shares catching duties with Steve Rodriguez and RayWilly Gomez.


yes, Raywilly Gomez.

THE Raywilly Gomez.


The Mobile BB's are tough at the plate and on the hill, it could be a harsh start to the second half for the MoSkitz. Hopefully the Montgomery players have rested and the new meat on the team will be up to the task at hand.

Bradys Boys will need pitchers to keep the ball in the yard and figure out a way to stop the Mobile thundersticks from putting up crooked numbers. Also the home team needs baserunners, an endangered species on the last homestand. The GumpSkitz need to keep running to survive and without baserunners the team has no weapon to score.

I talked to Joe at the last homestand and learned that he was the PA Announcer for the Rebels in the 1970s! Sweet gig, I had no idea he was the man behind the mic.

So now I am working up questions, its always cool to find a Rebels fan, especially someone connected with the team. Getting the history is wonderful and Joe was there in the booth when the team was at its zenith.

Superfan Richard, Uncle Mikey, Joe and Big Mo kicking back at the game

Already he shed some light on the reason for the teams move, and its pretty much what we could have suspected.

A new face in municipal government didn't want to put budget towards upgrading the stadium - see above - and put the ownership in a tough spot. The reasons cited in the newspaper are attendance but its obvious thats not the problem, winning pennant after pennant the Rebels put about the same numbers up annually. But when the city pulled support for the park it became impossible for the Rebs to do business and so Montgomery lost its baseball team.

JUNE 18 1907 
Montgomery and Little Rock play to a 13 inning tie, 3-3

1907 Montgomery Senators

JUNE 18 1920 
 Knoxville, TN
"Grey Sox Win and Lose to Knoxville

In two games thus far played between the Montgomery Grey Sox and the Knoxville team of the Negro Southern League of baseball clubs, each has one game to its credit.
Steel Arm Dickey

Sam Streeter
Today's game was won by the visitors, 5 to 2, with Maddox in the box. Streeter hurled for the locals and was hit at opportune times by the Alabamians.

In yesterday's game the Knoxville team defeated Montgomery 5 to 3, Dickey working for the visitors, while Moss hurled for the local club."

JUNE 19 1916 

John Dodge
Third baseman John Dodge of Mobile is killed by a pitched ball during a Southern league game.

Tom Rogers
With over 100 games in the major leagues as a Phillie and Cinci Red, the light hitting Dodge was unable to dodge a high and tight fastball from Nashville pitcher Tom Rogers. He was hit in the face and did not recover, dying the next day.

Rogers was just 11 days removed from his perfect game against Chattanooga when his errant pitch struck Dodge. Rogers would go on to a long career including four MLB seasons and over 160 minor league victories.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday the 13th

 The 13th

The unlucky numbered friday brings images of curses, black cats and bad occurrences happening without reason. In fact, most bad luck is self made, a fact not lost on irony as concerns the Biscuits team, who already have just four wins against seven losses in the month of June.

Not all black cats are bad luck!
 We did take the second game against the Barons, even though we are just playing out the first half string. The next team we host is Mobile, after the SL Allstar Break.

Perhaps on the next homestand we can get Brady Williams or RC Lichtenstein to shed some light on the recent roster moves. Of course, there may be more moves before we get the chance!


JUNE 8, 1942

The Montgomery Rebels added to the drawing power of the club by signing Auburn Tiger Lloyd Cheatham.

He would hit .324 in 30 games for Montgomery and later would play four seasons of pro football for New York and St.Louis in the 1940s.

JUNE 11, 1937 

Pete Reiser appears for Union Springs in a game vs Pensacola, going O-4 with an error at third base.

Reiser, aged fifteen at the time, later claimed never to have appeared in a game for Union Springs, but the box score indicates a forgettable game did happen.

The Cardinals employed him as a chauffeur for scout Charlie Barrett after Reiser sneaked into a Cardinals tryout and impressed the team. Cards brass, who knew he was too young to sign, hired him to keep him loyal until he was of age. It was on his trip through the South with Barrett that Reiser wound up on the field at Pensacola.

Pete was later among a group of minor leaguers deemed free agents by Commissioner Landis, he wound up in the Dodgers chain. The Dodgers ownership had promised to sign Reiser and deal him back to the Cards, but Reiser was so impressive in spring training that the Brooklyn manager refused to part with the speedy, powerhitting lefty.

Pistol Pete is an AllStar Of/3B in the National League, mostly for Brooklyn from 1940-52. As a rookie he impressed manager Leo Durocher and later made an impression on the outfield wall in St.Louis and up to a dozen other fences in the National League.

Reiser learns the outfield wall is undefeated
Pete Reiser was carried off the field on a stretcher 11 times, he was conscious for six of them. Head injuries, shoulder injuries, broken arms and ankles, to say that Pete was injury prone is an understatement and it ended his playing career at age 30.

After baseball Reiser scouted and coached. He helped Maury Wills develop his base-stealing skills into an artform. After breaking Ty Cobbs stolen base record, Wills credited Pete Reiser as his baserunning mentor.

JUNE 13 1956

The Montgomery Rebels move to Knoxville.

A midseason shift is rare, but it did happen to Montgomery fans. Fortunately we dont go without baseball long, the Arkansas Travelers are brought in to replace the Rebels in just a few weeks.

Its a very unusual situation that will warrant its own blog post when we can dedicate more space to the circumstances!

JUNE 15 1907 

New Orleans pitcher Moxey Manuel pitches both games of a doubleheader vs Bham, winning both games 1-0 with a two hit shutout and a six hit shutout.

'06 Pelicans, Moxey top row, second from left
Not Montgomery-related, but Wow, TWO shutouts in ONE day? Impressive!

Mark "Moxey" Manuel is said to be ambidextrous, perhaps he pitched one game lefthanded and one game righthanded, but that isnt known. He would earn a trip to the big leagues with the White Sox in 1908 for his fine work with New Orleans.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Annual June Roster Revamp

Second half roster shakeup begins....

Braulio Lara returns from Durham, Luke Bailey is sent down to Port Charlotte, Bryce Stowall driven off the roster to XST, new catcher Jake DePew added to Biscuits.

Got it?

In other words...

we get a guy who is very hittable for our bullpen
Relief Pitcher Lara
Braulio returns to the 5.60 ERA he had before his trip to Durham.
Lara didn't fare any better in his run with the Bulls as his 9.00 ERA will attest. Up to his usual tricks there, losing three games before being sent back. He has good stuff, but he gives up more than a hit an inning as well as walking one per game. When Lara comes into the game, it equals an intentional walk and a base hit guarantee.

we lose a platoon catcher who made good contact
Bailey played so well as a second catcher in Double-A he has been sent to be the third catcher at Single-A Port Charlotte.
The StoneCrabs current catching tandem is excellent, perhaps with the best numbers in the Rays organization at that position. Bailey will be the bullpen catcher there, quite possibly seeing fewer at bats than he was getting here, which aint easy.

we lose an arm that was good
RHP Stowell
Stowall gets few chances to pitch in Montgomery so he gets taken off the roster.
Stow's numbers? 1w-1L 3.43 ERA, 21innings pitched 21 strikeouts. Great numbers compared to some others in the bullpen. Stowell had only allowed two earned runs dating back to May 10, both when he was asked to pitch multiple innings.

we get a backup catcher who is full of question marks
Jake DePew gets to hear a whole new league make the same old jokes about his name.
Batting .222 for Port Charlotte before his promotion, Biscuits fans will be challenged to come up with their own new puns. He does hit lefties well and can be a clutch hitter with runners on base - both of which we desperately need.

I am going to predict that we have not seen the last of the roster moves for the Biscuits, a few more may be made this week. And we can all probably agree that its for the best, even if it makes zero sense how. But hey, at least we can hear some new walkup music!

Fat lotta good it did us, we got beaten by the Barons 4-2.

On the bright side, Jeremy Moore hit a homer.

Except for his first Biscuits homer, a three run jack that helped the Skitz down the Generals at Jackson, all of Moore's homers have come in Montgomery losses.