Monday, March 19, 2018

New Look Bar, Rebel to make 1st Pitch, History Funtime!

It sounds like if you enjoyed the view of the ballgame from the Club Car Bar, you may have to find a new spot to take in the game. The Biscuits are enclosing the bar and adding a deck facing the street. I haven't seen it yet but hope they take good care of our historic building - its one of the best features of the stadium!

Lots of excitement building for the new season of Biscuits, though its still a couple weeks before we learn the players.

No word yet on a "Meet the Biscuits" event, but its been an annual thing so I would expect it to happen. Hopefully at the new Club Car Bar, to give fans a chance to check out the fresh work.

*** UPDATED *** Hearing a rumor that the Meet the Biscuits event will be held in The Alley.

The magnet schedule may be the smallest one yet, if what I was told is true. 

If the Biscuits plan to laud the two new Hall of Famers who wore Montgomery uniforms, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, it could happen on April 19th. On that same Thursday a former Rebels player, catcher Larry Anderson, will be in attendance and throwing out the first pitch.

I look forward to seeing the former catcher and finding out what the team has to offer in tribute to the cities baseball history, though the schedule only lists that date as "Mardi Gras Night".

The '56 Rebels, with Anderson, pick up a trophy at a local school
That's Catcher Larry Anderson, not pitcher Larry Anderson who is the radio guy with the Phillies. Laurits Anderson played for the Barons in '54 then came to Montgomery midseason and stuck with the Rebels through 1958. I don't see any numbers for him in one year, 1957, and look forward to asking him if he missed a year due to injury, personal reasons or military service.

Anderson got to Montgomery as a 24 year old and caught games for manager Marv Olsen. Over the next few years he would play under a litany of All Stars and baseball lifers, learning the game under the lights of Montgomery's Paterson Field.


MARCH 18 1905 
Governor Cummings meet the NY Highlanders as they arrive/leave at Montgomery. The Sporting Life of Jan 1905 shows NY planned to break camp on the 18th, leaving for a game at New Orleans on the 20th.

The Highlanders, later earning some success as the Yankees, have been spring training in Montgomery but many of their star pitchers, have been in town for more than a month. Manager Clark Griffith sent them early to learn a new pitch, the SpitBall from future Hall of Famer Jack Chesbro.
Jack Chesbro

MARCH 19 1908 
S.H. Smith, a student at Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn Uni), hit in the head by a ball in a game on the 18th, passes away. A horrible story, one of the early instances of a player being killed in a game happens here in our area.

MARCH 19 1908 
Philadelphia defeats Montgomery 11-1
One in a series of spring games against the Athletics, who are training in Montgomery. The Connie Mack Athletics have workouts in the mornings and practice games in the afternoons against the local competition. Minor league teams, local amateur teams, MLB teams barnstorming north are all on the slate for the A's.

Obviously, the Senators of Montgomery are little match for one of the top teams in the American League, falling easily in a lopsided affair on the same day as the Auburn student dies from his injury. A second game will be held on the next day, March 20th, though the score of that game is unknown.

MARCH 20 1904 
Announcement comes that W.H. Ragland has bought Mgm team. Raglan is one of the heads of Mgm traction co street railway.

As the railway changes hands following legal issues in part regarding scheduling league baseball games that can only be reached by streetcar, so does the baseball team change hands also.

 Ragland will be an active owner, increasing the payroll and bringing in top players from across the major and minor leagues. At one point, he will even offer a hefty bonus for the players as incentive to bring home a championship.

MARCH 20 1911 
Sunday Baseball Bill Goes Through
Measure For Mobile is Passed by Senate By 12 to 11 Votes

Bart Chamberlain’s Sunday baseball bill came to the senate and passed by nearly a tie vote of 12 to 11.

Mr. Thomas Kilby, later Governor Kilby, speaking against the bill, compared Mobile with Sodom and Gomorrah, and said the bill was an effort to repeal the Ten Commandments.

Known as an ardent prohibitionist, Kilby obviously wasn't a big fan of Mobile!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Star Pitcher Kidnapped in Montgomery

a special edition of this day in baseball, one of my favorite events in Montgomery's past....

On this date in 1906, star pitcher Rube Waddell of the Philadelphia Athletics filed a report with Montgomery police that he had been "sandbagged" by two men and robbed of all his cash. The top American League pitcher then disappeared again, missing spring training workouts for a second day and causing A's manager Connie Mack considerable consternation.

The report stated that the robbery took place on Bell street and the amount taken was $40.

Rube eventually returns to camp and the eccentric lefthander anchors the Philadelphia rotation, leading the league in strikeouts again in 1906.

Waddell, who adopts Mobile as his offseason home for a while, enjoys his time in Montgomery and becomes a popular figure in local lore for more than just his baseball accumen.

The Rube fancies himself a fireman and helped extinguish a fire on Decatur street, hefted a large wagon from streetcar tracks to clear congestion and led the A's players on rollerskates in a crazed ride up and down the streets and sidewalks of downtown Montgomery.

In a game against local Alabama players, Waddell was pitching and snared a line drive bare handed, pulling the ball out of the air just before it would have struck the umpire standing behind him in the face. Witnesses said Rube saved the mans life.

Waddell and Mathewson
In 1906 Waddell is simply the best pitcher not named Christy Mathewson.  While Matty is the best in the National League, George "Rube" Waddell is his equal in the American League.

Rube is the AL leader in wins with 27, has led the league in strikeouts for four of what would become six consecutive seasons. His 1.48 ERA is tops in the American League as well to bring the fabled Triple Crown of pitching. In the coming year he would allow only one lone home run in forty-three games.

The A's training camp in Montgomery is just one of many southern cities hosting major league teams.

Connie Mack found other cities like New Orleans a distraction for his players as a training site, particularly Rube Waddell. Montgomery was a better fit for Mack's A's and he later agreed to a two year deal that helped improve the ballpark facilities that became Cramton Bowl.

The Rube enjoyed his drink and gambling so Mack tried to limit his star pitcher's ability to find trouble. One way was by giving a daily allowance instead of paying him a weekly salary and doing his best to steer his ace away from tempting situations like spring training during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Cornelius MacGillicuddy, aka Connie Mack

Another trick employed by the legendary manager Mack was designed to keep Rube in shape. Assigning him as "ball captain" in charge of the stock of baseballs meant Waddell was chasing foul balls all day instead of just hanging around.

Players had to come to the ball captain if they needed a ball and there was a five cent fine for losing one. Rube took the job to heart and was enthusiastic about climbing walls and crawling under the grandstand in search of a lost ball.

However eventually the Rube got suspicious of his teammates weak swings resulting in foul balls that required extra effort to retrieve and gave up being the A's "ball captain".

Friday, March 2, 2018

Marching Out

Following a rather drab offseason, spring camps are open and the glacial thaw of Biscuits news has begun to flow again. Now back after a hiatus, we can get back to the business of watching some baseball!

When asked about the Sktz promotional schedule, I can sum it one word = disappointed.

I honestly believed there would be significant change in the promotions this year. Dollar Dog Tuesday, Military Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, Bark in the Park Sundays, Weekend Fireworks.... stop me if you have heard this before. Pumping up the same schedule is not working hard to create a new one.

Maybe there is some life in it that wasn't there before, but it looks like more of the same with a few tshirt and hat giveaways. No risks were taken in the planning of this seasons events.

Also, the only time in the cities history we have TWO players newly elected to Baseballs Hall of Fame and there is zero recognition planned.
Former Montgomery Rebels Alan Trammel and Jack Morris
The touted throwback uniform is a fauxback for Forrest Gump, a movie that glorifies a fictional Alabamian and ignores our actual history. Added to the three other movies that will be honored (star wars, harry potter, sandlot) it appears that the stewards of our cities team care very little about our rich baseball legacy.

The Skitz will don sky blue jersey tops on Sundays this year, giving the team a new alternate top.

What is new is the Biscuits radio show, which could bring a trove of information to the masses once a week at nine in the morning on saturdays. This is part of the new radio home on sports radio 740. Hopefully the station comes in at the park after the sun sets or it will continue to be largely ignored by fans at the home games.

I think we knew that, but its progression is moving along. Now we have a timetable, location and plan to view, all that is left is the approval of the baseball brass and the shovels will start turning dirt near Huntsville.

The biggest takeaway from the info on the new ballpark in Madison, for me at least, is that the feasibility study suggested a 6-thousand seat capacity and the new owners increased it by a thousand. That will guarantee plenty of empty seats, making the park look vacant even for well attended games.

The Lookouts want to move and the city would like to use the space they currently occupy for other things, so it looks like this should happen. Montgomery fans might want to keep an eye on this move, as it could be a blueprint for the Biscuits should they ever decide to relocate within the Montgomery area.

The Chattanooga ballpark being discussed among city leaders and developers would be one of those evil alliances between money and municipal powers. The new park would "anchor" development that includes housing and retail.

I am not sure they need a new park, but I could easily see how developers would drool over the location of the current stadium for their own uses.

Former Biscuits Stephen Vogt and James Shields have both been slowed in their respective spring camps due to shoulder injuries. For Vogt it could mean losing his job in Milwaukee, for Shields it means losing time at the start of the year for the White Sox.

James Shields with Montgomery at the 2006 Rickwood Classic rain-out
Jhan Marinez
Several former Montgomery players are non-roster invitees to spring training camps.

Shawn O'Malley is in camp with the Rockies.
Jose Lobaton is taking spring with the Mets.
Reid Brignac is encamped with the Nationals.
Jhan Marinez is working out with the Orioles.
Richie Shaffer is with Cleveland for spring camp, along with Melvin Upton.
Mike Broadway is trying to catch on with the Royals.
Ryan Garton is hoping to make the Mariners club.
Curt Casali is in camp with the Rangers.

Former Biscuits closer Jaye Chapman called it a career after sustaining an injury to his pitching arm this offseason.

Technically its a stress fracture to the olecranon but for Chappy its an opportunity to begin a new chapter in life following surgery to put his soup bone back in working order.

Chappy promised to get back with me and catch us up on his progress as well as share a few baseball stories "once I get on the other side" of the recovery.

1918 Baseball Team of the 46th Infantry regiment at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery


In late January former major league pitcher and ex-Biscuit Marcos Carvajal passed away in his native Venezuela at the age of just 33 years. He had been hospitalized in December with pneumonia, recovered somewhat but relapsed a few weeks later and fell victim to a very treatable ailment due to a lack of antibiotics and medicine in his home country.

In 2005 Marcos Carvajal was a young Colorado Rockies bullpen arm, finishing up big league games and making 39 MLB appearances at just twenty years of age. By 2007 he would be back in the bigs with Florida for a few games, wrapping up his major league service.

photo courtesy of the Mike Harders Collection
But sandwiched between his two major league gigs, Marcos pitched for the Biscuits.

In 2006 Carvajal matched his previous seasons total exactly with 39 appearances for Montgomery. Marcos finished 18 games and sported a nice 3.86 ERA out of the Biscuits bullpen. Carvajal pitched well for the Skitz, earning a championship ring with Montgomery's first Biscuits-era title.

Where Waldo Marcos? Carvajal celebrates the 2006 Biscuits victory with teammates

Marcos Carvajal was remembered fondly by long time Biscuit supporters as well as players from the '06 team. "Sad." was the only comment Biscuits fan and Montgomery baseball enthusiast Michael Harders could muster. Harders said he often enjoyed sitting behind the Biscuits bullpen during the early years due to the camaraderie and hi-jinks among the pitchers, including Carvajal.

Brian Henderson
Carvajal was a hard working pitcher known for his affable personality and bright smile.

Former Biscuits pitcher Brian Henderson, Marcos Carvajal's teammate during the '06 season, offered this response when asked:
"I do remember him, that was really sad to hear about. He had a great time pitching and was a very happy person all around."

The New York Post article on Carvajal states that he was working as a youth coach in his native Bolivar. Surely he will be missed by many.


This time of year is a hotbed of history for our area, hosting spring training for major league teams and barnstorming games between MLB teams as well as minor league clubs.

MARCH 2 1905 
In Montgomery, future Hall of Famer Clarke Griffith starts along with part of his NY Yankees team in a game vs Montgomery.
1905 New York Americans (Yankees)

MARCH 2 1908 
A stock company bought the Montgomery Southern league franchise and players from the Montgomery Traction Company. The price was about $16,500. The new company is to be incorporated for $25000.
The traction company is the main streetcar provider for the city and had much invested in getting people to ride their trolleys to get to and from games in the city, owning the team added to the profit as well as helped generate more ridership.


MARCH 6 1906 
The Philadelphia A's beat Montgomery in exhibition game behind pitcher Eddie Plank.
Yanigans = Scrubs, the "B" team, not the regulars!

The Athletics are the reigning American League champions, managed by Connie Mack and led by star pitchers Eddie Plank and Rube Waddell. Waddell has quite a fine time in Montgomery, building a huge fan base with legendary antics such as singlehandedly lifting a streetcar back onto its tracks, being a one-man fire department and getting himself kidnapped.

MARCH 7 1905 
Hal Chase
The NY Highlanders, later known as the Yankees, start spring training in Montgomery.

Controversy is stirred when batting star Hal Chase jumps contract to join New York in a questionable signing.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Predicting the Skitz 2018

Toughest post of the year is predicting the team roster months in advance, but thats how I like the first post of each new season to go!


We learned the coaching assignments, the Biscuits are bringing back Mgr Brady Williams, pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein and coach Gary Redus.

Last years hitting coach Dan Dement has been promoted to Durham, filling his role in Montgomery this year is Jamie Nelson. Nelson has been a roving instructor for the Rays and is a familiar face in the Skitz dugout over the past few years.

So for the most part, its business as usual in regards to the Biscuits coaching staff.

Also among the coaching assignments for the Rays were some familiar names - Craig Albernaz will skipper Hudson Valley and Hector Torres is the Minor League Infield Coordinator.

Hector Torres
Albernaz was a catcher for the Biscuits in 2006 and again from 2008-20012. He batted .219 in 170 games during his time in a Skitz uniform, hitting three homers, playing two games at second base and one relief appearance.

Hector Torres was the Biscuits hitting coach back in 2005 and is a fascinating guy. He was a Little League World Series hero in 1958 and played professionally for the Astros and Cubs, among others. He has played and managed all over the world and is immensely suited to the role he has been assigned.


As always, this is just a guess. Its impossible to know who is going where, but we can try to predict most of these players to make appearances for Montgomery this year. Barring trade. Or injury. Or a bad spring.

That being said, lets peer into Casey Stengel's crystal ball and see what the Biscuits 2018 team looks like!

Brett Sullivan

C Brett Sullivan*
1B Dalton Kelly*
2B Brandon Lowe*
SS Jake Cronenworth*
3B Peter Maris*
RF Ryan Boldt*
LF David Olmedo-Barrera*
CF Tommy Milone*
CF Jake Fraley*

2B Riley Unroe#
C Mac James
MI Jim Haley
OF Nathan Lukes*
UT Andrew Velazquez#

Genesis Cabrera

SP Genesis Cabrera
SP Travis Ott
SP Eduar Lopez
SP Benton Moss
SP Matt Krook

RP Ian Gibeaut
RP Tyler Brashears
RP Brandon Lawson
RP Dalton Moats
RP Spencer Jones
RP Reece Karalus
RP Greg Harris
RP Ryan Askew

*indicates left handed hitter
# indicates switch hitter

Center field could go to Fraley if he swings the bat well in spring training, otherwise it is likely to be Milone. Or both, possibly.

We could start the year with Grant Kay or Mike Russell on the squad, Mike Franco could return to the staff in some role. Or another of the players on last years team, otherwise bound for Durham, could have a bad spring and return. However we can be fairly confident that most of these guys - and quite a few others - will inhabit the roster at some point this season.

I expect we will see plenty of Biscuits news popping up over the next few weeks, of course I will pass along anything I find out!