Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Biscuits v Braves,The Unusual Kilkenny, A Big Week in History!

A minor tech issue has kept me from posting as often as I like lately, so hopefully we are past that now.

The Biscuits are now tied for first place in the North Division, a three way split with the Smokies and Barons also getting a share. There is a lot of baseball left to play and Montgomery has as good a chance as any, plus a history of strong second half finishes.

Man its tough to bring folks to the ballpark in Montgomery. Under the new ownership, the team has done everything it can to stem the tide of people not showing up.

While the attendance numbers officially show that the Biscuits average 3500 a night, it is tough to sell a team that has a losing record at home and plays at a park nicknamed "The Oven".

The Skitz might not bring in 30K attendees this year, a notable benchmark for minor league teams at this level. Fans have noticed concession prices rising since opening day and other corners being cut, leaving us to wonder what direction the new ownership will take after their first full season of new ideas.

The team that Montgomery could have had if we had waited a season or two, the Mississippi Braves, arrive for a visit. Looking at the roster there are a couple prospects but their top guy was recently promoted to triple-A in Touki Toussaint.

Now boasting four guys listed on MLB Pipeline, three pitchers and an outfielder, the Ms.Braves are a five hundred team capable of being a tough opponent or an easy mark - depending on how their pitching holds up.

Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson are the right handed pitching prospects and Ricardo Sanchez is a lefty, the Braves strength is in its hurlers and the Biscuit hitters will be challenged at the dish by these top guys. Beyond that, there are some good arms but nobody with eye-popping numbers.

Pitcher Kyle Wright is from Huntsville. His 96 strikeouts in 94 innings so far this year are among the league leaders.

On the batting side, Travis Demeritte in the outfield is a utilityman who saw time in the Australian Baseball League in 2015 and is at double-A for the second season. Shortstop Luis Valenzuela is among the batting leaders with a .284 average.



Former Rebels pitcher Mike Kilkenny passed away late last month at the age of 73. To say he was a lefthander with an unusual story is putting it mildly.

Mike Kilkenny spent five seasons in the bigs with Detroit, the Padres (briefly), Oakland (very briefly) and Cleveland, pitching in 139 games. He finished with a 23-18 win loss record in the majors.

Mike was with Montgomery for three seasons, starting in 1966 and thru 1968 he logged 178 strikeouts in 189 innings for the Rebels. He won ten and lost seven while putting up a stellar 2.95 ERA for Montgomery in those three years.

Kilkenny is also known for setting the Southern League record for wild pitches in an inning with five. In his defense he said that the ballpark in Macon was next to a foundry and the blast furnace ash was so thick the catcher couldn't see. He was also coming off an injury to his finger that kept him from pitching early that '66 season and affected his control.

Control was an issue for the reliever again in '67 though he mowed down Southern League hitters at one strikeout per inning pitched. In '68 he really figured it out and was given a midseason promotion to triple-A and earned World Series Champion cufflinks for being in spring camp with the Tigers that year.

He would spend the next five years in the majors, making his MLB debut on his birthday in April of 1969, against the New York Yankees.

In 1972 Kilkenny would be traded three times in a month and played for four different clubs after a clubhouse shouting match with manager Billy Martin got him dealt from the Tigers. On the back of Kilkenny's 1972 Topps card is a trivia question "How many pitchers have pitched for four teams in one season?"

While with Montgomery, Kilkenny once sent Governor Wallace a postcard telling the Gov that the pitcher had left him a couple free tickets for the game. Governor Wallace showed up and went down to the bullpen and waived to the young lefthander with a shout of thanks before leaving in the seventh inning.

The curious lefty also built an odd friendship with J. Edgar Hoover, meeting him once and later sending Hoover a suit that looked like the one J. Edgar was wearing when they met. Afterwards they would often meet for lunch when the schedule allowed a trip to Washington or Baltimore.

After baseball, Kilkenny spent time as a racehorse owner and ran a golf pro shop, among other things.


JULY 16 1904 
At LittleRock, in a freak injury to end all freak injuries, Montgomery Pitcher Duke Carter falls from a third story window while sleepwalking at the Capital Hotel and is badly injured. Obviously, it would be some time before Carter recovers, but he survives and eventually returns to pitching.

JULY 16 1920 
Montgomery, AL
"Local Negro Team Splits Double Bill - The Grey Sox and the New Orleans team split a double header yesterday at Southside park. The first game was close, with both pitchers going good. The locals scored two runs in the first inning. Then the visitors scored three in the third, but the locals tied the score in the fifth and the visitors were unable to overtake the lead.

1920 Montgomery Grey Sox
The locals scored two more in the sixth and won the game 5 to 3. Williams and Mason were successful in getting two long safe hits and the entire hitting of the team showed some improvement over the last two or three games.

The second game was won by the visitors, 3 to 1, and was a much prettier and faster game than the first. This was a pretty pitchers' battle between Jim Moss and Marfoot, but the visitors gave their pitcher better support. The visitors scored in the first and again in the fourth and fifth. The locals scored their lone run in the third and staged a rally in the seventh with two out that looked sure for winner. With two out and two on bases in the seventh, Williams came to the bat and everybody was sure that he would break the game up, but he was thrown out on a little grounder to second.

The teams will play a double header this afternoon at 3:45."

JULY 18 1970 
The Montgomery Rebels take first place in league, beating Mobile in both end of a doubleheader by the same 1-0 score. Jim Foor pitched a three hitter in the first game, outdueling Mobiles four hitter. Marty Barski doubled and then scored on a wild pitch.

In game two, Steve Cushmore struck out seven and gave up just five hits. John Young scored the games only run in unearned fashion when he walked, stole second and raced home on throwing errors by the catcher and centerfielder.

Another doubleheader follows the next day vs Mobile.

JULY 19 1906 
Montgomery Pitcher Ted Breitenstein shuts out Shreveport on 2 hits.

JULY 19 1907 
Montgomery bashes out 16 hits against Memphis pitcher Suggs but only plates six.

JULY 20 1968 
Pitcher Jim Brown of Rebels No-Hits Hornets at Charlotte.

JULY 22 1920 
Montgomery, AL
Grey Sox Defeat Chicago Black Sox

Sam Streeter
GAME NOTES: Montgomery, AL
"Montgomery Sox Swamp Chicagoans - The Chicago Black Sox colored baseball club team was easily defeated Thursday afternoon by the Montgomery Gray Sox team by the score of 15 to 1.

The visiting team putting up a miserable exhibition of the national pastime. Streeter, for the Grey Sox, was a puzzle to the Chicago players, and after the first inning he had his opponents at his mercy.

Kemp, who started for Chicago, was easy pickings for the locals, and Smith, who succeeded him, could not check the assault. Williams, Scales, "Red" Cunningham and Herman Cunningham carried off the batting honors for the day, the quartet had little trouble in hitting the ball, when hits meant runs.

Streeter established a record on the local field when he pitched twenty consecutive balls for strikes, without having a ball called by the umpire. The Chicagoans came to the city highly rated, and are leading the league in the National league for colored clubs, but their performance Thursday was the poorest seen on the loacl field this season. Nashville opens a three-game series here this afternoon."

JULY 22, 1966 - 
The Animals, Hermans Hermits and others play at the State Coliseum in a huge moment for local music.

JULY 22 1967 
Tigers Prospect Southpaw Les Cain throws No Hitter for Montgomery Rebels, and its mentioned on his rookie card!


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Craig said...

Great post Dr. M - thank you. Enjoy following the Biscuits and your blog from Miami.