Friday, January 13, 2017

An Interview with Montgomerys All Time Strikeout Leader


OUR STRIKEOUT LEADER
So here is a trivia question you can probably stump most fans with with... Who is the all-time single season leader in strikeouts by a Montgomery pitcher?

A Biscuit?
Jaime Schultz, Biscuits single season K leader
Twenty Biscuits have tallied over a hundred K's from the mound in a Montgomery uniform, only three have reached 150.

Alex Torres had exactly that many in 2010. The Biscuit franchise leader was Andy Sonnanstine with 153 in 2006 until Jamie Schultz punched out 168 in 2015.

Yet none of the three match the top "All Time" single season leader for Montgomery.

Only nine players have notched 150 K's in a single season for Montgomery, putting the three aforementioned Biscuits are in a very small fraternity, but even they are a few dozen K's behind the top spot.


The answer to the question is "Dick Egan" with 201 strikeouts in 1959.

DICK EGAN

Egan with Dodgers 1967
As a major league player, Egan was a lefthanded hurler for the Tigers, he would spend parts of four seasons in the bigs for Detroit and later the Angels and Dodgers.

Last year Dick was honored with the Legends in Scouting Award from the Professional Baseball Scouting Foundation. Among the many players he scouted and signed is five time All-Star pitcher Kenny Rogers.

Dick Egan has been in baseball for over 55 years as a player, scout and coach. Simply put, hes a lifer. Currently he is the special assistant to the Detroit Tigers General Managers office.


But before the big lefty made it to Tiger Stadium he pitched in the minors and a tour with Montgomery was his third assignment in just his second pro season.

 1959
Egan with Angels in 1966
That 1959 was a fine year for the Rebels and a great one for the 22 year old Egan, who emerged as a leader on the pitching staff. Dick won 14 games, tossed a pair of shutouts, had a stellar 2.70 ERA and struck out 201 batters to lead the Alabama-Florida League.

Egan's 15 complete games constitute one of the most dominating seasons in Montgomery baseball history and helped the team to bring home a league flag.

Dick Egan would earn 200 strikeouts again, pitching in Hawaii in 1962 he again struck out exactly 201 PCL hitters and won 17 games for the Islanders.


I contacted Mr.Egan about his season in Montgomery, specifically I wanted to know if he was aware of being the All Time Single Season Strikeout Leader for Montgomery, Alabama. He was kind enough to respond and share a little info on his time with the Rebels.

You can read the interview below....


Dick Egan with Tigers '63-64
Q: I wondered if you knew that you were the Montgomery All-Time Single season strikeout leader, and how you might view your accomplishments with the Rebels?

Egan: Nope - I knew I'd had a good year. My second full year - we were all clueless!



Q: The 1959 Rebels were one of the great teams in our history at 77w-44L. What can you tell me about the other players on the team that year, or about that winning season?

Egan: Cant remember many. We had catcher Pat Duke from Auburn and LeGrant Scott from the University of Alabama at second base. They argued constantly!

We had an old bus with room for 3-4 guys to sleep in back, just a flat area for a bed but the starting pitcher the next day got a spot!


Frank Carwsell
Q: How was it pitching for manager Frank Carswell?

Egan: Frank was an old "pro" but he could still hit - he took BP at times. In those days pitchers threw BP between starts occasionally!



Q: Do you have any specific memories of the city of Montgomery, the ballpark or games played that you would like to share?

Egan: The ballpark was ok - but left field sloped downwards. We were in the 1B dugout.

Paterson Field in 2015

Steve Dalkowski
Pitcher Steve Dalkowski of Pensacola threw a bullpen in LF corner, unreal velocity, the catcher missed a few. One fastball busted a board in the fence behind him! Hardest thrower of all time!

(Egan remembers details correctly, though he is not the only one to call Dalkowski the hardest thrower as seen in the following article)



Q: Im very curious how you felt about the Alabama-Florida League, the other teams their ballparks, if anything stood out or was unusual?

Egan: I think the league was a good Class D. Selma was who we beat to get to the playoffs, I think. Panama City had a small clubhouse that leaked badly.

Ft.Walton Beach had a family style All-You-Can-Eat restaurant. We would stop to eat and wipe em out of food!


Q: I have a hard time finding descriptions of the Rebels uniforms around that time, can you describe what the team wore? 

Egan: I can remember the heavy wool and in summer I soaked them badly in sweat, couldnt find a dry area to wipe my hands off.
1950s era Rebels team


Q: It looks like you really developed as a pitcher in 1959. What pitches were you using to strike out over two hundred hitters that year?

Egan: I threw lefthanded and had plus velocity and a sweepy curveball. Probably exceeded todays pitch counts often. Never hurt - we threw a lot- no weights no drugs just baseball!

Early in the season I was married and needed more money. The Tigers offered me some small raise if I would hang in and work hard, I got $50 a month bonus I think! haha

Baseball all I know - still love it - still with Detroit!