Friday, August 29, 2014

Walk off Balk, Huntsville gets Reprieve?

Its been a year since Victor Mateo tossed his no hitter, the first in Montgomery Biscuits homefield history and on Thursday Mike Colla tried to match him. Unfortunately the Skitz are so woeful at the plate that they were unable to give him any run support. A pair of tenth-inning balks handed the win to the Biscuits, likely the best way Montgomery could win a game.

Its been frustrating watching Biscuit hitters swinging for the fences when they really just need a single. Fantastic performance by Mike Colla, who has been a joy to watch develop over the summer from struggling hurler to gritty pro pitcher.

Its a nice win, but just playing out the string kind of takes a little of the zip out of it.



In the news this week, the ownership of the Stars/Biloxi team is now considering playing in Huntsville in 2015. This is a drastic change from just a few weeks ago when it was said that there was little to no chance of that happening.

Seems the date for the Biloxi park opening has been pushed back to August 1st now. That's going to mean just about a full season of missed games, by comparison Montgomery has just 14 home dates in August this year.

Also a factor - the city of Huntsville has not been informed "officially" of the Stars leaving, and in fact holds a lease that should have been keeping the Stars at the Joe through this coming season.


I find this to be a stunning coincidence.

The Stars lease thru 2015, in July the Biloxi builders chose a 12 month build plan over shorter ones, the team ownership stands to make 10K per game for each game not played in Biloxi.

I would say that there is a sheep being shorn here.
All these are factors the Stars ownership had to be aware of, and get to enjoy milking the press surrounding the pretend confusion.

This has to be by design, the only kink in the plan is the Southern League schedule. League Prexie Webb says there is no including Huntsville in the schedule, but its obvious she will toe the line.
She won't have a choice, Biloxi wont have a ballpark to accommodate the schedule. The question about what division MGM plays in has yet to be discussed.

The bottom line here, the Stars owners are getting a fat check from one city to play in another and building up the anticipation in Biloxi.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Motter walkoff, New Biscuits unis, Skitz MVP Discussion

Taylor Motter walkoff video? Right here!

Since we are nearing the end of the season, I thought I would open the discussion on which player should be dubbed the Biscuits Most Valuable Player. Most years there is a top choice but this group provides a little room for debate on the subject.

Here are the main suspects candidates, though I am curious to know who blog readers prefer. Sound off on the comments, tweet me or just tell me who you prefer when you see me at the park!

Ryan Brett leads the team in batting average, stolen bases and other stats, he has been a plus defender all year long as he battled through injuries.
Popular with fans for his consistent good play, Brett has played his way onto the prospect lists. His defensive range at second base has been stellar and he is among the top contributors with the bat.

Does Ryan Brett know he is just a few steals from being the Biscuits single-season franchise leader in stolen bases? Here's hoping he does!

Taylor Motter has provided boost in the power department, made stellar throws from the outfield and played at six different positions as the Biscuits super-utility man.

With over twenty outfield assists against just three miscues, Motter has drawn oohs and aahs from the crowd by throwing out baserunners all summer long.

Driving in a pile of runs to lead the team in RBI, Motter has gotten the job done at the plate.
With just about a dozen games left in the season, it seems likely Motter could finish the year as the team leader in Homeruns.

Cameron Seitzer has been a steady lefthander and one of the leaders in homers. He has played excellent defense at third base and picked up a couple games at shortstop and third base when the team was shorthanded.

 His average has slipped as his power surges but he has been a team leader on the field. Second on the team in walks, Cameron knows the strike zone well and forces the other team to pitch to him.

Curt Casali - twenty games, one homer for MVP? Probably not. But I am open to other candidates, or anything that sets one of these guys apart from the others. They are all pulling the weight in their own ways, so its tough to choose!

and in a related story....

This past offseason I was told the team would be auctioning the Silver Surfer jerseys, but in fact they are offering the home whites.

The white home tops are popular charity auction items due to the name on back and its simply what the fans see the Biscuits in. I think its a good idea, only nuts like me want the silver mesh road alternates that don't match the pants.

Beckham in road alternate

The reason given is that after two seasons in them, the team will be getting all new home jerseys next year. The current ones are very nice, maybe too nice. They are heavy fabric with sleeves, players feel they are too hot to wear!

So we will see another new home uniform top for the Biscuits next year. No word yet on a redesign, or if it will be the same look on a cooler weather fabric. Surely an updated design is tempting, though potentially expensive, for the AllStar Game hosts.

The bad news? Expect a mesh fabric home jersey next year.


So, how about a Big Mo Beer stein? We have spent over a decade drinking the most expensive beer in the league, how about a giveaway that rewards the faithful beer swillers who cheer the team no matter what place its in!

Big Mo would be a perfect subject, and beer steins are popular giveaways that don't cost a ton of money to produce.

This is a conversation I heard at the Biscuits game yesterday.

Big Mo attacks Fernando Cortez 2004
Dude, here comes the Biscuit thing.
The what?
The biscuit.
That thing there. (points to Big Mo)
Dude, remind me not to eat biscuits at your house.
No, thats their Biscuit thing, their mascot.
What is it?
I dont know, like a snuffleuphagus or something
An aardvark maybe, a big fuzzy anteater?
No dude, hes a biscuit-snuffleuphagus.

After eleven seasons grown men still have no idea what the Biscuits mascot is. Im just sayin.

AUGUST 20 1968 
Jim Floor
Montgomery uses five pitchers to beat Bham and maintain the league lead. Lefty Jim Floor, just 19, gets his third win in four days as a reliver.
Montgomery has won seven straight games and 13 straight against Bham.

Also on this date Satchel Paige is announced as a pitcher for the Braves.

AUGUST 21 1920 
Montgomery, AL
"Birmingham Wins Final From Locals - Grey Sox Infield "Blows" in Fifth Inning, Giving Game to Visitors -
Taking advantage of error made by the Grey Sox infielders, Birmingham All Stars defeated the local aggregation Saturday afternoon by the score of three to one.

The Grey Sox infield "blew up" in the fifth inning and the visitors scored three runs, a lead which the locals were unable to overcome. Solman and Streeter pitched good ball, but the "breaks" of the game were against the local twirler.

The Grey Sox batters hit the ball hard, but the visiting players made almost impossible stops and plays on several drives and this play killed all chances of the locals. In the fifth inning, McCormick made two errors, each being responsible for runs and Williams permitted another to score when he allowed a third strike to get away from him. After this inning the locals settled down and played good ball. The visiting twirler kept his hits well scattered and at no time during the game did he allow them to be bunched.

The two teams will play again this afternoon, the game starting at 3:30 o'clock. Manager Cunningham will probably send Myers to the mound, while Zeige will hurl for Birmingham."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Southern League Rumors, Fayetteville NC? Biloxi Begins Building

Smokies are bashing Biscuits, needing just one more win for a series victory in the final three games. The Skitz get good starting pitching, but the defense has been challenged to make the tough plays and the bullpen has to swim upstream.

Sadly, the Biscuits bat rack has fallen into a deep slumber and may be in early hibernation for the winter. The Biscuits could be eliminated from postseason play as soon as Wednesday. Thankfully we get to play out the string against under-achievers Pensacola and Jackson as the only opponents left on the schedule who have as little to play for as Montgomery. At this point, its all about pride.
Sun setting on Biscuits season


With the city leaders of Fayetteville North Carolina on a scouting trip to Durham NC to check out the facilities, word on the street is that Fayette wants back into the baseball-entertainment field. The Fort Bragg and Fayetteville area has a population that is somewhere north of the 350K range. The city hopes to build a new ballpark and lure an existing team, though there is no word on what level they are interested in attracting.

The current Jacksonville-to-Jackson TN jaunt is over 700 miles as well. For me, this puts Fayetteville North Carolina in the range of getting a possible Southern League team.

Located about 750 miles from Biloxi, the Fayetteville-Biloxi commute would be the longest in the league but by less than 50 miles.

Running a single-A team in the SALLY league from 1987-2000, the area is considered a good spot for minor league ball due to its economic situation and lack of strip clubs.

Fayetteville has a long baseball history, dating back to the early days of the Eastern Carolina League and the mid-50s Carolina League. That franchise was sold and relocated in 2001 as the Lake County Captains, which obviously meant a serious demotion from being the Fayetteville Generals.

Guys like Travis Fryman, Jose Lima, Van Mungo and Gabe Kapler have all worn the Fayetteville uniform with pride. And so did Bob Fazekas.


The Biloxi ballpark is called MGM, and the gamble is paying off Grands for team ownership who wagered correctly that the city would drag its feet in building the park on time. However reports are that construction has started with the arrival of a single crane and a few test pilings being put in.

The report also states that Opening Day in Biloxi is hoped to be July 1st, but the idea of missing another months worth of games or more seems possible.

One of the best parts to come from this - the City of Biloxi has had to buy its own supplies for the construction in order to get around the Sales Tax on them. The city has been trying to cut costs at every turn, so its expected to be the worst ballpark 30 million dollars can buy.

Already described as "pre-fab" the Biloxi team should be called the Orphans no matter what the results of the Name-The-Team contest!

A bigger story, though currently un-confirmable so it drops down to page two in the blog, could be the rumor floating around the park concerning the Southern league and its continued efforts to move teams struggling at the gate.

More than one person has suggested that the Huntsville city leaders are looking to building a new ballpark and will lure the Jackson Generals for 2016.

I am not sure I buy this, as it does little to solve the main problem the league has, which is Mobile's attendance. It also would have to be on the fast track in terms of construction and funding, thats currently not happening publicly enough to convince me that Huntsville could have a new park built in time. We see the time it takes in Biloxi for their pre-fab park and the funding for it has been in the public eye for two years or more.

With the Baybears drawing 300 fewer fans a night than the Generals the  rule of worst-first should dictate the Mobile franchise gets first fixings. Not to mention the expiring Player Development Contract with the BayBears and the new parks flanking the Hank.

The real issue that League Prexie Webb should be trying to address is how to get the BayBears out of Mobile and into a new stadium without angering the Arizona Diamondbacks. The parent club has already seen enough of Mobile, just as the Padres did before them.

If there is a Double-A league that is struggling, its the Southern League. At the same level, both the Eastern Leagues 12 teams and the Texas leagues 8 teams all draw much higher attendance totals than in the South. All the Texas league teams average at least 4200 fans a night, where in the Eastern League all teams but one bring in three thousand per game.

In the Southern league, half our teams draw 3500 or less per night. Two teams, Mobile and Huntsville, fail to attract even 2000 a night. Now that the Stars have found a new home, attention must turn to the Baybears.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Finally - Smokies!

The last team to debut at Riverwalk is the one we will see most of next year - the Cubs double-A affiliate Tennessee Smokies.

Being a Cubs fan, its been a long wait to see the BabyBears. Already gone are a host of prospects that have inhabited the Smokies roster this year and last. There is no Baez or Bryant, no Soler.

We do see some fine prospects though - Addison Russell tops among them. Russell is fresh from Oaklands chain, arrived in the Samardijza deal. Glad that guy is gone, i never could learn to spell his name. Good pitcher, but a beast of a typo to fix.


The Smokies being one of the top teams in the league, the Biscuits will have their hands full in the next five games. The Smokies hit the ball well and have the dreaded lefty pitchers, kryptonite to biscuit bats.

And so the Grape Jelly Series begins!

we should have gotten him the chicken


AUGUST 16 1906 

Montgomery pitcher William Breitenstein shuts out Atlanta on 3 hits.

"Vinegar Bill" wins 11 and loses 11 in 26 games on the hill, splitting time between the Oh-Six Shreveport Pirates and the Montgomery Senators.

Breitenstein  makes his appearance in the t208 set as a late issue red border during his management gig with Columbia S.C. in 1910, coaching for the University of South Carolina.

AUGUST 16 1920 
Montgomery, AL

"Grey Sox Win Second From Knoxville Team - Locals Take Advantage of Visitors' Errors and Win Monday's Game - Taking advantage of errors made by their opponents, the Montgomery Grey Sox team defeated the Knoxville Giants Monday afternoon by the score of 5 to 1.

Dickey and Mason pitched good ball, but the former received poor support at critical stages of the game, while the local twirler was given jam up support whenever the visiting team threatened to score."

AUGUST 17th 1906 
Bert Maxwell
The day after Breitenstein shuts out the Crackers, Montgomery Pitcher Maxwell again shuts out Atlanta, this time on one hit.

The Senators squeak out just 3 hits themselves, scoring once off Crackers pitcher Childs as the Senators record back-to-back shutouts.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Making the Manager Uptight, Mgm Grandstand Destroyed, Rebels Perfect Game

This just in - the Biscuits may miss the playoffs this season.... whats that? You knew that? Okay, well then, on to the other stuff!


Corey Burns was sent to Durham.
Not a surprise, we weren't using him. No need for a closer if you can't win a game, the poor guy was starving to death for a chance to pitch with a lead.
Good luck, Burns!

We got swept by the Lookouts, and have lost a pile of games. Its not looking good for the next couple weeks as the season ends. But hey, its not all bad! Next year we get to play in the weak North Division, where a .500 record gets you a game or two out of first place. Sure, we would still be in fourth place up there but we would be in serious contention.


With the team mailing it in, at least football will start soon and nobody will be there to witness the carnage.


I tried to ask Manager Brady Williams about the strategy used in a recent game situation and seemed to hit a nerve. With the recent losing streak halted only by Mother Nature, the Biscuits captain led his team to the concourse to fulfill the Autograph Day requirement. There he was available for autographs and a captive victim of fans questions, including mine.

I asked about bringing the infield in with runners on second and third, with one out in the inning. I have always wondered why we don't see the Biscuits issue an intentional walk and try to get a double play to get the last two outs of the inning.

"Is there a stat you're looking at, or are you going with a gut feeling?" I asked.
Williams stood up and replied "the strategy is to cut down the run at the plate and keep the game close, so we can WIN it." Williams was not smiling.

Well, I know that, I wasn't born yesterday! "Yeah, but what determines bringing the infield in? Are you looking at groundball percentages or what?" I continued.

"So you want to know what the thought process is? We have a groundball pitcher on the hill, we are trying to cut down the run at the plate." the manager tells me, sizing me up to see if I am questioning his moves.

"Sure, but the same groundball gets you out of the inning if you intentionally walk the hitter and pitch with the bases loaded. Whats the magic number that says we pitch the first guy and cut the run at the plate instead of walking him and trying for the inning-ending double play?"

Brady was not happy, not sure if I was giving him a dig. He knew the situation I was talking about, in that game the run was cut down at the plate BUT the next hitter drove in a run with a double.

The infield-in-close defensive strategy worked halfway, saving a run but in vain. The first-year Biscuits manager took a breath.

"It comes down to thinking this is the guy we want to get out" he says.
"So you play the matchups?" I ask.
"Yeah, I guess thats it" Brady says, realizing I may not be blaming him for a single play costing the team a playoff berth.
"Okay, thanks Skipper!"

I didn't feel comfortable asking our pitching coach about our bullpen after that, here's hoping I didn't rile Brady too badly. I would like to keep our manager on the friendly side, but I seem to ask him too many questions. I stumped him at the pre-season meet with "Who is the surprise player on the Biscuits this year?".

Now I see how tough a question it really was. This team has not had many surprises at all. Since the end of May, we have barely had a pulse.


AUGUST 12 1907 
The new grandstand at the Montgomery baseball park was blown down by "a terrific windstorm which ranged over a limited area 2 miles east of Montgomery."

Montgomery's destroyed grandstand resembled the one in this photo of an unknown Alabama location, it may even have been this very one!

AUGUST 14 1908 
Charles McCafferty

Montgomery surrenders 14 hits and 11 runs to Bham. McCaffey of Mgm is the pitcher.

Actually, its probably Charles McCafferty as the hapless hurler for the Sens that August afternoon.

AUGUST 14 1939 

Rebels defeat Pensacola Fliers for second straight day, repeating 6-3 score as SP Crawford held P-cola in hand.
Thats Larry Crawford, he spent two seasons with Montgomery, winning 15 games in 1939. Crawford attended Princeton and had been in the Major Leagues with Philadelphia NL. He didn't impress in six games, his ERA is 15.00.

AUGUST 14, 1970 
Southern League/ At Patersen Field; Montgomery, AL
Montgomery Rebels 3, Savannah Indians 0.
Charles Swanson of the Rebels pitched a  perfect game.

Swanson will go 12-5 for Montgomery in 1970, earn a promotion to triple-A Toldedo where he is promptly hammered. He returns to Montgomery in '71, '72 and '73, he spends 1974-5 being less than average in Triple-A before hanging up the spikes. Swanson was a second round pick in the 1967 draft for Atlanta.

How is it I can find a pic of the guy in 1908 who lost badly and never made the majors, the guy who was mediocre in the 1930s and only had a handful of MLB games before WW2 - but we dont have even ONE pic of the Second Round Draft Pick who tossed the Southern Leagues first Perfect Game in 1970?!?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lookouts Arrive

And we finally get to see the Chattanooga affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers make their first appearance of the summer. Currently last in the North Division with 18 wins and 25 losses, but they are just 4 games out of first place.

Simply put, the Biscuits need to take advantage of every opportunity. Even tho the Lookouts are under .500 they would be happy to make up the difference while in Montgomery.

Former Biscuit Daniel Mayora resides on the Lookouts roster, as does top prospect Corey Seager.

Scott Schebler has played his way up the prospect ladder with fine play this season, exhibited by his 20 homers.

2b/SS Darnell Sweeney also ranks on the prospect list, though he is blocked at the major league level by Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez. 

Not-former Biscuit Angel Sanchez is on the roster, the Lookouts Shortstop is Angel Sanchez but not the Angel who was pitching a couple games for Montgomery earlier in the season. This Angel is a former big leaguer, made his debut in 2006 with the Royals.

Chris Obrien is a pedigreed catcher, his dad Charlie having caught eleven different Cy Young award winners, including Greg Maddux during the 1995 World Series Braves games. Chris is pretty good too!

O'Koyea Dickson has been a hot hitter lately, batting .293 since the AllStar Break and helping provide the Lookouts power.

Starting Pitcher Chris Reed is a native of London, England. He is also a top-ten prospect.


 I put my two recent suggestions, Big Mo Footrace and Bring DJ Kitty, to the Biscuits staff and team Prez Scott Trible. I was told they were pretty good ideas!
That puts me officially on a roll, after getting Big Mo a regular card in the team set I could be doing as well as three for three!

Not being one to stop while I am ahead, I will continue with the suggestions for the All Star Game next summer.


I would love to see them bring back The San Diego Chicken. He was here in 2006 for the last AllStar Game in Montgomery.

I think it would be cool to have him be a regular tradition, as its a rare thing to see the Famous Chicken in town. When you see the Chicken, you know it must be the AllStar Game!

AUGUST 6 1920 
Montgomery, AL
"Errors Were Costly For the Grey Sox -
Due to costly errors by the Grey Sox the Atlanta Black Crackers won the first game of the series yesterday afternoon at South Side park, 4 to 1.

The Crackers had only one earned run, the other three being the result of errors.

Scales w/Baltimore
Lewis Hampton
pitched a good game and was given jam-up support. The locals only score came in the third inning when Scales hit for three bases and was scored by Preston.

They threatened to upset the dope in the ninth inning but were unable to ever get a run across.
Pete "Preston" Hill

The honors of the game go to Scales, whose heavy hitting was a feature of the game, and to Red Cunningham, who made two sensational stops at first that held the score down.
The teams will play a double-header this afternoon, the first game to begin at 3:30 o'clock."

Current view of old SouthSide Park location, I-65 near Mill & Holt Streets

AUGUST 7 1920 
Montgomery, AL
"Black Crackers of Atlanta Win Both -
Montgomery Grey Sox Fall Before Hurling of Harris Who Pitched Doubleheader -
The Atlanta Black Crackers won both games of a double header yesterday afternoon from the Grey Sox. The first game 4 to 2, and the second 2 to 1.

Sam Streeter
Streeter started the first game for the locals and held the visitors scoreless until the seventh frame when the Crackers got on to his fast ones and scored four runs. Mason relieved Streeter in the eighth and held the Crackers scoreless for the rest of the game. 

The locals scored two runs in the first inning but were never able to cross the plate after this inning. Harris, who pitched both games for the Black Crackers, was in great form in the 18 innings he allowed only 3 runs.

Mason pitched a good game for the locals in the second game and held the visitors scoreless up until the sixth inning. The locals scored one run in the seventh.

These teams have played three games here this week. Atlanta winning all three of them by small scores. It will be remembered that the locals won five straight games from this team back in July and it seems that the Black Crackers are determined to even up with the Grey Sox.

The last game of the series will be played at South Side Park this afternoon."

August 7, 1969 

Lerrin H. LaGrow of the Montgomery Rebels had 5 wild pitches in a game against the Birmingham A's.

August 7, 1972 

Danny W. Fife of the Montgomery Rebels issues 5 intentional walks.