Thursday, March 16, 2017

Calm Before The Storm

This is the season people start thinking about Biscuits yet there isn't all that much news to go around. Spring camp has just begun for minor leaguers but very little has been sorted out as far as player assignments. Speculation is easy, but few facts are known so its tough to form a picture of what the team will look like - but only for a few short weeks.

Hero interview for Jake Bauers
The Rays made their first cuts, among the seven players reassigned to minor league camp were six former Biscuits. Jake Bauers was not among them, Willy Adames was.

Hey, when I predicted the Skitz back in January I neglected to list Joe McCarthy, an oversight on my part as he is likely ticketed to double-A, if not opening day soon after. Dude is awesome, a 5th rounder in 2015, he has moved up quickly since signing. Swatting at a .282 clip at three levels over two seasons, Mojo_JoeJoe should be fun to watch at first base or in the outfield.

We saw the Biscuits tweet a picture of their new blue alternate jerseys.

Hopefully the team saves a few dollars on the rarely-worn blue tops, it would be foolish to spend a lot of money on a jersey they generally only wear for game two of a doubleheader on the road.

Overall, fans seem really happy with the Biscuits uniforms and their classic look. Some fans obviously prefer the old vest style, but the logo and colors have remained the same since the first season.

Its not known if the new new owners would want to make any changes to the Skitz raiment, but I wouldn't expect them to fix something that isn't really broken.

If they do choose to update the look, it might be a cool idea to have a different Friday home jersey and still wear the classic jerseys the rest of the time. Lots of teams are doing it. It could ease fans into the concept instead of a sudden change.

The opening day festivities have been announced, they include a chance to meet and greet the Thunderbirds flight team as well as the French precision flying team PAF. This includes a pre-game ceremony with the flyers on the field and an autograph session afterwards.
The bonus here should be an impressive flyover!

Also, the Lo-Fi Loungers will perform before and after the game.

I had a great time at the 14th Annual Southern Association Baseball Conference in Bham the first weekend of March. Held at historic Rickwood Field in Bham, its a yearly gathering of historians, authors and baseball researchers. I was humbled to be asked to attend a few years ago and this year it was my privilege to be a speaker.

The first half of the day focused on Montgomery baseball origins, with an overview of the cities ball teams by author Clarence Watkins and my presentation on Dr. Pearsall, the founder of Montgomery's first baseball team.

Ted Brazell, former Rebels player
The guest of honor was the lunch speaker, former Rebels catcher Ted Brazell and his fantastic array of stories and baseball trophies.

Telling tales from his days at Paterson Field playing for managers Les Moss and Jim Leyland ("Leyland didn't do very well, it was the only year we didn't win the pennant" he joked) as well as stories of teammates like Mark Fidrych and Lance Parrish.

Ted Brazell and Mark Fidrych helping the Rebels grounds crew shovel turf!

I asked Ted about his thoughts on the old ballpark, what his impression of Paterson Field was when he got to the team - "its a dump" was the honest assessment, noting the low attendance even during the championship years.

I also asked for his take on former Rebels GM Woodford Parks. "He scared me to death!" though he didn't have a reason why, adding that "he was tight with the books but ran the team well".

The Rebel Roost
Mr. Brazell confirmed the old story of the "Rebel Roost", a house a couple blocks from the ballpark on Madison Ave that was rented by a group of players, who raised more than a little hell at the location.

Southern League Trophy
I also asked about how he felt about his son, Craig, and his success in Japan. Ted said he thought his father, Craigs grandfather, was "probably turning over in his grave - he was on a ship that was torpedoed by a Japanese sub in WW2!" but laughed it off and is obviously proud of Craigs baseball career.

Ted felt that teams in Japan stopped pitching to Craig when the younger Braz had a chance of breaking the single-season Homerun mark set by Saddaharu Oh.

 The Rebels won five titles in six years and Ted Brazell has the trophies, the story says they were saved from the dumpster when the team was sold and moved to Bham after the 1980 season. Ted donated one of the trophies to the Rickwood for preservation and was visibly choked up from the attention lauded him during the event.

 In the afternoon we heard from others on Selma baseball history, the demise of the Southern Association and the 1894 Savannah Modocs team. Displayed at the event was a fantastic assortment of memorabilia pertaining to the subjects discussed as well as other rare Alabama-centric baseball stuff.
I brought my old Rebels stuff

It was a very fun and informative event, one I would encourage anyone interested in local baseball history to check out!

On a side note, Selma has a serious need for a baseball historian. The city has a long and fascinating history with the game, some excellent teams and interesting players as well as being a site of Major League teams spring training.

Selma has also hosted Major League exhibition games and other curious sporting events. Much of Selma's team history has been neglected so long, it is a challenge to research, but is also a mostly untapped area of exploration.

Hopefully, someone with a connection to the area takes it upon themselves to safeguard those valuable stories of the game in the Queen City.


Craig H. said...

Dr. M,

Have been in Montgomery for about 10 months and have really enjoyed learning about the history of Montgomery baseball. Was wondering if you have any pictures of the old Rebels teams? I would like to look into having some Rebels caps made for myself and some family who are big baseball fans. Thanks for your help with this and for a great blog!

Craig H.

Anonymous said...

I like the photo of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych helping the ground crew with the field. Not something you would likely see anymore.
Any idea what jersey number Mark wore for the Rebels in '75? Great blog!