Friday, March 31, 2017

The Babe's In Town, Hank vs Jackie In Mgm, Redus File

The last few cuts of spring are coming down and the rosters are starting to take shape for the Rays and its affiliates.

With the additions of catchers at the MLB level, Luke Maile was sent to Durham and Kurt Casali is likely going to be traded. That probly brings Mike Marjama back to Montgomery to take over the catching duties. Marj was on his way to being the Biscuits MVP when he was sidelined with injury and should be ready to prove himself again quickly.

Along with Marjama, Justin O'Conner and/or switch hitting Jonah Heim could share time wearing the tools of ignorance. No matter who ends up on the roster, good catching should be on display nearly every night for Montgomery this year.


Joining the Biscuits in 2017 is a new coach, Gary Redus.

Redus is an Alabama native, born in Tanner, Gary attended Calhoun CC in Decatur and then Athens State in Athens, Al.

Playing for the Reds, Phillies, White Sox, Pirates and Rangers made for a solid thirteen year career in the big leagues. Redus saw the postseason three times, batting .275 for the Pirates in 1990, '91 and '92.

Redus was a first base-outfielder, a leadoff hitter with good speed and occasional power. Gary was in one game as a second baseman, spending one inning at the center sack for Texas. In the outfield Redus was known to have a good arm, leading the league in outfield assists in 1986.

Collecting over 300 career stolen bases, Gary was successful in 80% of steal attempts. Redus averaged 45 thefts annually, twice he swiped home plate.

Of his 90 career homers, 14 were leadoff shots. On Garys list of victims are pitching greats like Tom Glavine, Frank Viola, Mike Mussina, Fernando Valenzuela and both Niekro brothers.

Redus holds the All-Time MiLB Batting Average record with a .462 mark in Billings in 1978.


This is the time of year teams break camp and head home to start the season. Traditionally they traveled by train, playing exhibition games along the way. Since Montgomery was one of the regular stops on the rail lines, these exhibition games were often the only way area residents ever saw MLB teams in action.

Perhaps two of the most famous exhibition games in Montgomery took place this week in history - the Bambino and Jackie Robinson both drew huge crowds to see their heroes.

MARCH 29 1925 
Dodgers play Yankees at Cramton Bowl, Yanks win 5-4 in ten innings, with future Hall of Famers Herb Pennock and Dazzy Vance facing off against each other. Vance is the reigning National League MVP, winning the award in 1924 with 28 wins and a 2.16 ERA.

MARCH 29 1926 
The New York Yankees play Montgomery at Cramton Bowl "where the fences are in the next county" and the papers were all over this contest.

The Bowl was packed to standing room only, fans came from all over to see the famous New York team and its historic lineup.

The whole country knew who the Sultan of Swat was when the Bronx Bombers came to town in '26 and took on the local minor league nine.

MARCH 29 1941
The Yankees trounced the Montgomery team 17-1, a sixth run 8th inning put the locals down for good. Homers from Keller, Priddy and pitcher Red Ruffing highlighted the Yankees baserunner carousel.

MARCH 31 1904 
The World Champion Boston Americans play an exhibition game at Montgomery, they would stay overnight and play again the next day before heading north. No game notes for this one, I am actively searching for the box score or game report.

This pair of games would likely have been held at Pickett Springs Park, north of the city. There is now a historic marker at the site of the Park, along the Emerald Mountain Toll Road.

MARCH 31 1942 
Montgomery is trounced in a game vs the NY Yankees in exhibition, Yankees win 14-4 at Cramton Bowl. The Yankees are defending World Champions, maybe making the lopsided score a little less embarrassing for the locals!

APRIL 1st 1904 
The Boston team plays its second exhibition game at Montgomery. Chick Stahl scores the go-ahead run and the RedSox narrowly defeat Montgomery 2-1.

APRIL 1 1955 
Braves vs Dodgers at Montgomery in an exhibition contest at Paterson Field that matched Hank Aaron against Jackie Robinson at Paterson Field.

On the Braves side, Hall of Famers Warren Spahn and Eddie Matthews pepper the lineup. Also young slugger Henry Aaron is there, readying for his second campaign. Aaron knows Montgomery, having played here with Jacksonville in 1953 - integrating the league as the first black player he took the MVP and led the J-Braves to the title. Now he is still just 21 years old, but is one of the brightest prospects in the Braves lineup.

Aaron doubled in the first inning and after a fly ball and base on balls puts men on the corners, Joe Adcock drives a three run homerun into the kudzu covered hill to put the Braves ahead.

Jackie Robinson had two singles and was the defender involved in a force play at second that elicited a call from umpire Frank Secory that Duke Snider took issue with. Snider was ejected and the Braves scored six runs in the inning en route to a 9-5 win over the Bums of Brooklyn.

Sandy Koufax was there too, a rookie lefthander with control issues but a world of potential. Tommy Lasorda and Don Newcomb were also witness to the contest, but didn't get into the game.

APRIL 1st 1977 
The Rebels are sold to a Paintsville Ky radio station owner. The Rebels have won four of the last five SL pennants, but in many ways this is the beginning of the end of a baseball era in Montgomery. After a series of ownership changes, the team will be moved to Birmingham after the 1980 season. The city would go without affiliated ball for over twenty years, until the Biscuits arrived.

APRIL 2 1939 
St. Louis Cardinals beat Montgomery 11-5 in exhibition at Montgomery, slugger Johnny Mize homers for the Cards.

APRIL 2 1941 
Cincinnati shuts out the Boston Redsox in an exhibition game  at Montgomery's Cramton Bowl.

APRIL 2nd 1948 
The Brooklyn Dodgers defeat hometown Rebels 10-2. Al Gianfroddo homers as Ralph Branca allows 8 hits to the Rebels. Montgomery Pitchers Wendell Davis and Joe Demoran allow 14 hits. Both teams commit a pair of errors, the Dodgers starting nine go the distance with no substitutions in the exhibition game.

APRL 2 1954 
The Boston RedSox beat the Phillies 8-0 in Montgomery in an exhibition game, Mel Parnell over Simmons in a game that featured a triple play in the very first inning!

APRIL 2 1955
Pittsburgh Pirates take on the Baltimore Orioles at Montgomery's Paterson Field. Rookie outfielder Roberto Clemente had two hits but it was George Freese's double that sealed the victory. Just two weeks later Clemente would make his Major League debut.

1 comment:

CH said...

Thanks for the great history posts! Fascinating to know so many iconic players passed through Montgomery over the years.