Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hadda Blog

Yes I hadda blog about something, because I hadda blog but didnt like it so I trashed it and now dont have one so I hadda have one! How bout that for Stengel-ese?

I had written a draft post but found it wasn't quite up to snuff, so I put it in the bin to start afresh. So its a mix of minor notes and lesser info, but its my mix so here it goes:


The front office was thrilled to be click-voted the top name in minor league baseball, over the Toledo Mud Hens.

Unconfirmed, but I expect a pitch clock to be at Riverwalk this year, probably in front of my own damn seat! I will do all I can to sabotage it, though having our booth run it is probably the worst thing we can do to it.

Maxx Tissenbaum and other Brisbane Bandits are headed home after the Australian Baseball League's conclusion. I think we can expect Maxx to be the first Biscuit with double-XX's in their first name.

The Back-to-the-Future Jerseys probably are going to depict Marty McFlys red down trucker vest. Proceeds from the auction of the jerseys will go to Parkinsons charities.

I spoke with the city Parks dept, who put me in touch with Neil at the O'Connor tennis facility that was Bruce Park. He knew nothing of the locations past other than its start as a tennis court was in 1971.

Its quite a popular spot for local tennis players in part due to it having a view of the courts from the clubhouse - a view not available at Lagoon Parks tennis clubhouse. They have 12 courts available and while it is an older facility its well maintained by an able staff - if you play tennis I suggest you put it on your list. Its conveniently located off of Highland Ave at 1616 Reuben Street.


This week the Braves Caravan arrives in Montgomery, with Bo Porter and Ryan Klesko as headliners.

I won't dog it, we love the caravan, but you have to admit the Braves caravan is pretty weak this year. Chattanooga gets 2b Phil Gosselin. Just Phil, alone. No coach, no other players, maybe not even Homer. One player isnt much of a caravan.

Thursday April 9th is Biscuits Opening Day - we get a look at the Twins-flavored Chattanooga Lookouts. Doug Meinkevich will have his first game as a manager and we might get to see super-prospect Byron Buxton.
Chattanooga was also a charter member of the Southern Association when it began play in 1901. After the 1902 season, however, owner Mims Hightower sold the team to interests in Montgomery, Alabama.  

April 13,14,15 Marlins visit the Braves, loaded with talent this could be a series fans want to see. Or not, since it is the Marlins.

May 19 & 20th the Tampa Bay Rays return to the Ted to face the Braves for the first time in a couple seasons. The parent club looks alot different than the last time we saw them, it will be interesting to see the new look Rays.

MAY 22nd
Hot Dog Festival - how ironic that we host the Smokies as opponents for this promotion

May 26th How about that Rickwood Classic? Its a Wednesday afternoon of baseball paradise. This years guest of honor is Darryl Strawberry.

July 14th is the MLB AllStar Game, the first series after the break will see the Cubs visiting Atlanta. July 17,18,19 means for a hot three game set in Hot-Lanta for Cubs fans.

August 3-5 The Giants make one appearance in Atlanta in the first week of August, the 3rd through the 5th.

August 6,7,8,9 The Marlins return to Atl.

August 30th Motley Crue plays in Atlanta for the final time. So they say.

August 31, Sept 1 & 2 Pesky Marlins back to Atlanta.

Now that I revisit the promotions list, I DONT see the Desmond Jennings Bobblehead we were told to expect. I hope its just yet to appear, as Skitz fans won't be thrilled to hear they don't get a bobble for yet another season.

Also missing - Rays Night, Fan Appreciation Night, Splash Day, Eat-A-Palooza, Big Mo's Birthday, Charities Night, Auburn-Alabama Night, Pub Crawls.

when I found this undated mention of a local great, I knew I had to share it
The Whip writer found a promising answer in an Associated Press report about a young colored southpaw holding down the mound for the Montgomery Grey Sox who “would prove Babe Ruth’s master. Streeter is the name of this king pitcher. In a recent game played with some of the greatest players in the Southern League this giant struck out 27 men in succession. He did not allow a single man to knock a foul ball. It is said he has more curve and better control than any man who has tossed a ball.”


The Smokies open their home season with a day game. Starting on the road means the Cubs affiliate will have opening day a week late and the scheduled day game home opener is indeed a throwback to old Southern League afternoon start times. Too bad they aren't making it a true throwback, with classic uniforms and lemon ices. Still, its an odd start to the season for the Smokies.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Which Biscuit Are You? Suns Sold, Bruce Park Mystery

Im always scouring the interwebs for Biscuit related material, hey, its what I do! One thing I ran across this week really cracked me up, not sure how it got past me but I HAVE to share it with everyone.
It surfaced last summer sometime, a quick quiz that tells you exactly as it sounds - simply tick the boxes and find out which Biscuit you are most like. Its fun, so have a go and enjoy!

Simply click here = WHICH BISCUIT ARE YOU?
I loved it, it might be my favorite Biscuit-related link this offseason!


I was honored to be asked by the Biscuits Booster Club to come and speak at their next meeting on Montgomery and its baseball history. Its a topic I usually have no trouble filling 15 minutes with and I look forward to the chance to both share what I know and perhaps learn from them at the same time. I'm guessing I can bring some good facts to the talk, but I will miss the snarky visual aids I rely on for the blog posts!


On the same day I also got an invite to be in attendance for the annual meeting of the baseball researcher group SABR at B'hams historic Rickwood Field in early March. I won't be speaking, for me its more of a spectator event as its my first time and I look forward to learning as much as I can sponge up.

It was humbling and rewarding to receive these invitations. I wrote some time ago that doing a blog can make one wonder who, if anyone, reads it. A robust "Thank you!" to all readers is in order, I am so thrilled to be reminded that it is a journey not made alone.


As I combed the Alabama State Archives Dept website, I found some great photos of Montgomery, including quite a few aerial images, taken decades apart, showing the downtown area. These are fabulous for research and show the location and details of the cities many ballparks.

Among them was a shot of a ballpark I had not seen before - here it is for reference, visible in the original image at lower left, at approx 7 o'clock.
 Located between Highland Avenue and Mt.Meigs road, this park is now a series of tennis courts. Here is a current google maps image showing the tennis courts at lower left, near the former railroad tracks.
1616 Reuben Street, Bruce Park has mysterious origins even locals never heard of!

However we can see from the images taken in 1955 that it was indeed designed for baseball and included a grandstand of considerable size.

But who played there?
These black and white photos were taken in 1955, when the Rebels were playing at the nearly-new Paterson Field.

Cramton Bowl was trucking along just fine, hosting mostly football after the Rebels moved across the street to Paterson Field.
1952 Cramton Bowl & Paterson Field

The negro league teams in Montgomery were known to play games either at the athletic field of Alabama State University or at the "south side grounds" located near where Holt street now meets the interstate.
1961 image of ASU athletic fields, including baseball diamond
At this point, I can only speculate who may have played there - my first guess is the local industrial league. Montgomery's industrial league was popular and in the mid-20th century often gave players more money than minor league ball. However I was under the impression that those games were played at Paterson Field when the Rebs were on the road.

One thing is for sure, the location is prime. Situated between Capitol Heights and Cloverdale within walking distance to Oak Park would have meant easy access for a majority of Montgomery residents. Even Paterson Field wasn't in such an auspicious place!

The address is 1616 Reuben St. and called the O'Connor Tennis Center, boasting 12 tennis courts. It borders the Highland Park Apartments. Its a topic I will be posting on again when I can learn more about the teams that utilized the facility.


An article in their local paper let it be known that the Suns will be sold by longtime owners the Bragan family. A local buyer was outbid by the owner of the Akron RubberDucks. Perhaps a bad sign, as the Akron owner changed the team name in spite of public outcry. The comments to the article make us aware that the Bragan family will be missed for their stewardship of the team in spite of low support.

The motivating force of the sale is the death of the elder Bragan in 2012, leaving his son in charge. No intent to move the team has been stated, but it must be known that the Suns have struggled at times to put butts in seats. The Bragan family has owned the team since 1984.


It was announced that manager Carlos Subero will man the helm for the Biloxi Brewers/Shuckers in 2015. The field staff from Huntsville will remain the same in most respects as last season, including playing games at the Joe for an undetermined amount of time.


Manger Jim Horner and pitching coach Lance Painter will return to their duties for the Generals, along with Roy Howell as hitting coach. Howell was due to be hitting instructor for the Gens last year but a late shuffle sent him to skipper the Tacoma team.

Howell played 11 mlb seasons, from 1974 with the Rangers thru the Brewers and Blue Jays. Hes a big league AllStar and appeared in the 1982 World Series.

That leaves the Biscuits and Barons of Bham as the last teams to announce it coaches!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Look Into Dr.Miraculous' Crystal Ball for Skitz Roster 2015

Time again for predictions and prognostications!

Every January we take a look into the future and put together a list of what could be the Biscuits roster for the summer. Its my favorite post of the year, and the hardest to put together.

While never 100% right, I feel that we get more right than wrong and even the ones we miss on usually end up with the Skitz at some point during the season. This list is independent of other projected lists, we simply look at a player and ask "is he ready for double-A?". Sometimes its "does he need more time at double-A?".

There are a couple more names listed than the roster size allows for. One of these guys is on injury rehab and could start on the DL (Linsky) while another (Seitzer) is likely here only for a couple weeks at the start of the season, Casali-style, due to a logjam at the position.

Your 2015 Montgomery Biscuits

Brady Williams mgr
RC Lichtenstein Pitching coach
Ozzie Timmons Hitting coach

I think the Skitz coaches do a Led Zep - the song remains the same. 

Last year the Rays announced coaching assignments on Jan 10th and on Jan 8th the year previous, so its a fair bet that we will learn our coaching staff this week.


LHP Grayson Garvin SP
RHP Jared Mortensen SP
RHP Austin Pruitt SP
RHP Mark Sappington SP
LHP Blake Snell SP

Rhp Roberto Gomez
Rhp Jhan Martinez
Rhp Colton Reavis - closer
Rhp Ryan Garton
Lhp Jordan Harrison
Rhp Parker Markel
Lhp Kevin Brandt
Rhp Lenny Linsky

1b Patrick Leonard
2b Leo Reginatto
3b Richie Shaffer
SS Dan Robinson
MI Hector Guevara
1b/DH Cameron Seitzer

OF Johnny Field
OF Andrew Toles
OF Kes Carter
OF Marty Gantt
OF Joey Rickard

C Justin O'Conner
C Maxx Tissenbaum

I said in a previous post that Brady Williams was manager of the Brisbane Bandits. In fact, he is a coach but not manager. My bad.

To Neil Allen, former Biscuits pitching coach, on getting a big league gig with the Twins.

And to former Biscuit Rocco Baldelli, who also lands a major league post as the new first base coach for the Tampa Rays.


JANUARY 12 1954 

Mgm Mgr "Sparky" Olson
Marv "Sparky" Olson named Mgm Mgr in Montgomery - the former major league second baseman with the RedSox in the 1930s and joins Hoke Vandigriff's Rebels just as the Montgomery team integrates for the first time.

Players like Robert Wiltse signed after his military service time is done, harry desert, bill glendenning and Jerry Kliensmith are also purchased.

The team changes name from Grays to Rebels officially. Mgm had been the Rebels in the old Southeeastern League, but switched when they entered the Sally League in 1951 to avoid confusion w. Charleston Rebels. With Charleston dropping out of the league, the Montgomery team is free to reclaim their long-standing team name.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Coaches Corner, Mgm Owner Plane Crash Anniversary Marked

The coaching staffs (staves?) of Southern league teams have slowly been coming to light over the past few weeks. Here is what we have heard about so far...

For the Braves, the field assignments remain the same for manager Aaron Holbert and pitching coach Dennis Llewallyn, but the hitting coach will be Garey Ingram who returns after one season at Gwinnett. We will only host the Braves once this year.

In Chattanooga, where the new affiliation with Minnesota will bring alot of new faces to the Southern league. One of them will be a rookie skipper in mlb veteran Doug Mientkiewicz.

Hitting coach Chad Allen and pitching coach Stu Cliburn also bring major league experience to the new-look Lookouts. Googling Chad Allen tells us that the hitting coach has the same name as an actor in Dr.Quinn Medicine Woman. The Lookouts are the first team the Skitz face at home in the new season, so we will get to see the first game for the newly minted manager.

For the Smokies, there is no change from last year - Buddy Bailey remains at the helm, Storm Davis returns as pitching coach as well as hitting coach Desi Wilson. While the Biscuits hosted them only once last summer, Montgomery fans will have a every opportunity to get to know the Smokies and their coaches well. Very well.

The BayBears will be skippered by former D-backs backstop Rob Hammock. Hammock was the guy receiving the tosses during Randy Johnsons no hitter.
Mobile's pitching coach was named as Orlando Cepeda, back for his first season as a BayBear, likewise for hitting coach Jason Camillia.



January 1st marked the 60th anniversary of the death of multi-millionaire Rebels owner Hoke VanDeGriff in a New Years Eve plane crash. He had taken his private plane and a small party of family and friends to the Gator Bowl to watch the Auburn Tigers face Baylor. 

The plane went down on its return flight, there were no survivors.

The Auburn Tigers were in TWO Gator Bowls in 1954. The first was early in the year, in January and the second was on December 31st. It was at this second game that Vandegriff made his fateful flight.

I haven't been able to confirm this yet, but I am pretty much working from the assumption that the construction of Paterson field was facilitated by H.L.Vandigriff. I would say there is a strong chance that his construction company built it, or had a hand in its building. Vandigriff's company was one of the largest and most active in the area at that time, so it only stands to reason.

Built in 1949, Paterson Field is largely the same today as it was then, though renovations have been discussed.


 Obviously this tragic event had a major effect on the team, in just about 18 months the Rebels of the Sally League would be replaced by the Southern Associations Little Rock Travelers, and by 1957 Montgomery would be just a D-League team in the Ala-Fla circuit.

We wouldn't get back to double-A until 1965. After Vandigriff and his associates put up more than $35,000 to bring Montgomery into the league in 1954, the Rebels were sold for a meager $3,500 in June of 1956.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Kill The Joe... But First - the Shuckers!

An article on AL.com states the city of Huntsville will demolish Joe Davis Stadium. Hidden in it is the admission that the Shuckers will indeed open the season in Huntsville for an undetermined number of games. Maybe even as much as the full season that the lease deems.

Not surprised they will tear down the Joe, there have been many who have volunteered for the job. At the same time, the Shuckers front office is calling 2015 the year that baseball returns to Biloxi.


The Brisbane Bandits of the Australian league are led by Brady Williams, as seen in last weeks post, but it also features four Tampa Rays who were StoneCrabs last summer. The top half of the Bandits batting order could well be the top half of the Biscuits opening day lineup also.

1st Skitz Skipper Montoyo
Durham will be seeking a new manager after former Biscuits skipper Charlie Montoyo was given a post as the 3rd Base Coach for Tampa. It made me wonder if Billy Gardner Jr would have stayed around if he had known there would be a possible promotion in just one more year.

a list of Montgomery natives who played in MLB

Marlon Anderson
Brian Bass
Craig Brazell
Art Brouthers
Mike Champion
Clint Compton
Brandon Dixon
Terrence Long
Mickey Mahler
Brian Meadows
Billy Moran
Tom Oliver
Jarrod Patterson
Tommy Sewell
Taylor Thompson
Lou Thornton
Dave Veres
Willie Wilson
Wesley Wright