Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Biscuits Hot Stove

Yes, I know, its been almost a month since the last post. So dive right into a hefty helping of holiday Biscuits fresh from the hot stove....

Jared Mortensen
Skitz knuckleballer Jared Mortensen was taken in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft, packing up his flutterball and Kurt Cobain-era heater to pitch for the Astros.

Good news for Morty, who has fewer obstacles in the Houston organization between himself and the big leagues. Also, its closer to home - the Canadian Biscuit has been making his home in Texas for a while now.

Mortensen had been stuck in a holding pattern in Montgomery for three seasons, going 19w-13L and striking out 224 in 70 games at double-A.

Richie Shaffer
Former Biscuit Richie Shaffer was shipped to Seattle in trade, then DFA'd by the Mariners and claimed by the Phillies.

Again, a good thing for Shaffer as it means he has only to wait for the Phils front office to tire of Maikel Franco's slow development in order to get his big league gig.

Shaffer played for the Skitz in 2014 and 2015, appearing in 158 games with 26 homers, 91 RBI and .233 average.

Justin O'Conner
Biscuit catcher Justin O'Conner was also Designated For Assignment after the Rays piled millions of dollars onto catcher Wilson Ramos and needed a roster spot.

Its a good bet that some team will claim O'Conner, who possesses one of the best throwing arms behind the dish.

Its not out of the realm of possibility that O could be moved back to his original position - third base. He also pitched before turning pro and could be a candidate for becoming a pitcher again.

Some have labeled Justin as an injury risk, though I don't agree with that - until jacking his back up this spring he had been in over 100 contests for three straight seasons.

Ryan Brett
Another former Biscuit, Ryan Brett, was released by the Rays and then quickly resigned back with Tampa Bay. Brett is also accused of being injury prone, although with him the label is much more accurate. After being hurt in his third MLB game back in 2015, he has yet to play in a game since.

Brett played for the Biscuits in 2013 and 2014, batting .290 with 31 stolen bases in 132 games.

I like Ryan Brett but honestly I wonder how the team can value a second baseman who has chronic shoulder issues and average range so highly. With such a plethora of infielders in the organization, it seems odd that the Rays would retain the diminutive third round infielder and let a first round catcher like O'Conner get away.

The new Biscuits hat, the "Biscuit Lid" is taking pre-orders, but it requires a down payment in advance? $15 down now reserves you the chance to pay twenty bucks when the hats finally arrive, though its not yet known what the actual price will be. Somewhere in the $35 range.

Come on, Biscuits! Figure out the price and sell the merch. The team has already missed their best chance to sell the hats when there was a buzz about the new design and now are unable to deliver the goods for Christmas, it will be February before they are made available.

The new cap is the winning submission from the recent hat design contest and will be a pretty cool top for fans when they do come in.

I am humbled and honored to have been asked to give a scholarly presentation to a group of baseball researchers on Montgomery's original first baseman, Dr. A.T.Pearsall. Pearsall, the subject of a blog post a while back titled "Ex-Excelsior", brought baseball to Montgomery and indeed he can be said to be the Father of the game in Alabama, if not all of the South.

I have learned more than a little of the good Dr's background, it is a fascinating story of a player banned from the game for saving lives as a Confederate doctor. Also Pearsall founded Montgomery's baseball team and played first base for its first team in 1867.

The presentation will be part of the annual conference of baseball historians, researchers and authors held every spring at Rickwood Field in Birmingham.

After being asked to speak, I went back to fact check my work and learned there was much more to the story of Dr.Pearsall and am looking forward to presenting my newest findings to the Southern Association Conference and the Rickwood SABR chapter.

Thats not the only speaking engagement I have coming up in the new year. I have also been asked to speak for the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association state conference. I will host a one hour educational presentation on the history of baseball in Montgomery, covering topics from the 19th century through current events.

Attendees can accrue college credit for attending, which is a first for me - how cool is that?

New from Clarence Watkins
I was given an early sneak peek at a new book titled "Baseball in Montgomery: Images of Baseball" by its author, Clarence Watkins. I am proud to call Clarence a friend as well as colleague, we got together for lunch earlier this month and he had an advance copy of the book that is due out in February 2017.

Watkins has authored books on the game in other cities and this time he has taken on the Montgomery history with a very visual telling of the past teams. Full of images and info with a tasteful and honest look at the players and games, it provides a nostalgic overview and is chock full of rare photos from years gone by.

Did I mention the great pictures? Seriously, Clarence has unearthed photos that have only been seen in former players mothers scrapbooks. This publication features three of my fave folks on the cover, Goat Walker is featured in the forefront and behind him is a Biscuits team photo that shows coaching legend Ozzie Timmons and Victor "No-Hitter" Mateo.