Monday, August 21, 2017

A Ten Day Biscuit Party, The All-Gump Team

The Montgomery Biscuits open a ten game homestand on Monday, hosting visits from the Smokies and Baybears in their final regular season games at Riverwalk. This is a huge ten game set and could open the door to Montgomery making the postseason for the third straight season.

Highlights for fans at this homestand include Craft Beer Fest, a pair of football promotions, Fan Appreciation Night, Hat Giveaway Night, Fireworks, Massive Fireworks, TWO Dollar HotDog Nights, the last Bark in the Park, TWO Specialty Food Fests and - if we are lucky - a Biscuits Clinch party.

The Biscuits could be on the brink of clinching a playoff spot - though the math is murky since they finish the schedule on the road. Winning the series vs the Smokies is first on the list, a five game lead over the Smokies could evaporate quickly when facing off against them. Surely the Smokies know that a sweep of Montgomery would put them holding playoff tickets and leave Montgomery little time to chase them.

A sweep the other direction, with Montgomery beating the Smokies, could launch a Biscuits clinch party - depending on how the Generals fare during their next five games.

Expect the Skitz to offer postseason ticket packages quickly should the team earn a playoff berth. But even the dates are still up in the air. If the Lookouts win both halves, they would have first choice on scheduling options. Biscuits manager Brady Williams, however, has not given up on winning the second half outright.

The Smokies come to Montgomery fresh from a series loss against the Lookouts. The Cubs affiliate will be glad to be looking at an opponent NOT wearing a Chattanooga uniform.

Look for Montgomery to hit the ball and score runs often. The Biscuits lead the league in both stats and enjoy playing at home with a nice 16-9 record at Riverwalk in the second half.

Smokies pitcher Zach Hedges
Look for the Biscuits to get men on base against Smokies starting pitchers. Smokies pitcher Zach Hedges is third in the league in Hits allowed and teammate Trevor Clifton is second in WhIP, both with twenty starts each in double-A this year.

With the lowest percentage of successful steals in the league, the Smokies are not known to be the best on the basepaths. Look for the Biscuits catchers to cut down errant baserunners.

On the flip side, Montgomery leads the circuit in stolen bases and triples. Look for Brady Williams to use the team speed to keep the Smokies on the defensive.

Look for Hunter Adkins on a milk carton soon. Last seen August 7th pitching in Montgomery, the righthander made five starts and two relief appearances for Montgomery before disappearing from game action, although no roster move has been announced regarding him we must assume he snuck off to the DL.

Duane Underwood
Mostly pitching prospects on this squad, with a pair of top ten guys in Alzolay and Clifton. Many of the great Cubs prospects have graduated to higher levels, leaving these Smokies with more of a blue collar roster.

P Adbert Alzolay, ranked #3 according to MLB pipeline
P Trevor Clifton ranked #9
P Duane Underwood ranked #17
OF Charcer Burks ranked #22

Co-Closers Kyle Winkler and Ian Gibaut have combined for 24 saves so far this year. Kyle Bird leads the league in holds with ten.  

Grant Kay's 34 doubles is tied for second in the league with Kevin Cron. Joe McCarthy is third.

Cade Gotta and Joe McCarthy are among the top five in the league in batting average.

Joe McCarthy
Mojo McCarthy is also third in the league in OPS and leads the league in Bases on Balls. Joe has likely played his way higher on the organization prospect list and has become one of the top fifty players in MiLB power ranks.

Smokies cornerman Jason Vosler's 79 RBI leads the circuit and his 18 homers is good for second place in the Southern loop.

Cade Gotta's 28 steals is tops on the Montgomery club and puts him third among southern leaguers.

Biscuits stolen base leader Cade Gotta


Iron Man Joe McGinnity
I was involved in a great email exchange with a friend who is active in the Bham SABR chapter. They started a discussion on Birmingham's greatest players to form an "All Time" team and asked me to submit my list of Montgomery's finest players at each position.

The restrictions are simply that they had to have played minor league ball in Montgomery, leaving out negro league players and indie ball guys. Also that omits several local-born players, as well as the excellent military teams Montgomery had during wartimes.

Montgomery has hosted a trio future Hall of Famers who rank among our All Timers. Pitcher Joe McGinnity, who began his career with Montgomery, turn of the century era star Fred Clarke and the legendary Casey Stengel. They made the list easily based on their inclusion in Cooperstown. Earl Weaver played for Montgomery and later was inducted in the HOF, but his playing numbers didn't rank among the best IMO.

Like the HOF'ers, most of these guys are on this list due to their stellar careers more than their great Montgomery seasons. However a few, like Goat Walker, Dick Egan and Joe Pepe, were so excellent while in Montgomery that they made the list.

I broke it down into two teams with Pre-WW2 as "Old Timers" and post-war "Modern Era". Its a discussion, not written into stone. I would love to hear your suggestions and opinions, especially for the old timers!

SS Joe Pepe

C Heinie Peitz,
1b Ed Gremminger,
2b Cupid Childs
3b  Kid Elberfeld
ss  Joe Pepe
Rf  Fred Clarke *HOF/ Casey Stengel *HOF
Cf  Harry "The Hat" Walker
Lf  Riggs Stephenson
DH George Whiteman
Old Timers bench: Util Del Pratt, OF Rube Oldring

Old Timers Pitching
P Goat Walker (all time Mgm career wins leader)
P Kirby Higbe
P Luther "Dummy" Taylor
P Joe McGinnity *HOF
1930 Montgomery opening day vs Columbus at Cramton Bowl, pitcher Goat Walker fifth from right

C  Lance Parrish
1b Jason Thompson
2b  Lou Whitaker
3b  Evan Longoria
ss  Alan Trammell
Rf  Delmon Young
Cf  Kevin Kiermaier
Lf  Dick Greco
Modern bench: SS Tom Veryzer, C Jim Leyland, Util Jimmy Johnston

Rebels pitcher Mark Fidrych meets Gov. Wallace
Modern Era Pitching
P Dan Petry
P Jack Morris
P Mark Fidrych
P Dick Drago
P Mike Marshall
P Vern Rhule
P Pat Dobson
P Dick Egan (all time Mgm single season K leader)
P David Price

To the person who asked me to look up the Rebels jersey number - I found the number listed but the player it was issued to never appeared with the team. Likely this was made for display and would be considered "team issued" but not "Game Used". Contact me again and I can share more info, I should have gotten your email addy when we talked.

I am having a very tough time finding info/stats on Montgomery area Industrial League teams and players. If anyone has info on such, any help would be greatly appreciated.

For the person who wanted me to look up players on the team signed ball - I think you have a 2011 ball. I havent checked the roster against the uniform numbers yet, but I haven't forgot about you!

I am still open to Nickname The New Guy suggestions, currently "Tony Torpedo" tops the list. Send your nickname in soon, he pitches Monday and I will have to learn to spell it for the next blog!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Charging Biscuits, Nickname the New Guy, Historic Stuff

Bradys Boys have not given up on winning the division, threatening to sweep the Generals on Monday and make a late season charge at the 20 games left in the second half.

Dalton Kelly
The Generals scored first in the series on a Kevin Cron homer in the top of the first but since then the series has been all Biscuits. Scoring eleven runs in the bottom of the first quieted the opposing bench and in each game the Skitz have answered each Jackson run with multiple tallies of their own.

The new farmhands have firmly taken hold in the Skitz lineup and rotation. Guys like 1B Dalton Kelly and SP Benton Moss have Biscuit fans hoping for a bit of postseason magic.

The final few weeks of the regular season has a favorable schedule for the Biscuits. This week, after the current home series against the Generals wraps up, the Skits commute to Bham for five games.

SP Anthony Mi-something-something
Okay, Anthony, I have to admit, I can't spell your name yet.
Or pronounce it.

But you pitch great and I can't wait to hear everyone around me having the same trouble figuring out how to say it. Followed by, "whatever his name is he pitches great."

The lefty looked great in his first Biscuits game, southpaw heat and tough as nails. So I am asking for help here. Can we get a nickname for this dude?

Anthony is a six-foot-one lefthander from Detroit. He went to Michigan State and is wearing #29 for Montgomery. He has dogs and a girlfriend visible on his twitter feed, so the chances of him being a serial killer are probably low.

He deals it and we are gonna be talking about him alot over the next couple weeks, so a nickname would be super helpful. Something I can spell would be a bonus. 

Send Submissions to: DrMiraculous atsign Knology dot net
or via twitter to @DrMiraculous

I asked pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein about the Biscuits high number of pitches per inning. I mentioned that Montgomery hurlers are among the highest pitches per inning in all of MiLB but R.C. was not at all concerned about it.

"To be honest, I haven't even talked about it before," Lichtenstein told me. "A lot of that comes from pitchers like Baez, Espinal, guys who are still learning how to put hitters away. That can skew team averages really badly. It's not a concern at all."

Fans at the park who score the game and count the pitches have noticed that opposing teams seem to throw fewer pitches than Biscuit moundsmen. But it doesn't seem to be something the organization feels is a problem.

Remember Jhan Marinez?
No, I didn't really think you would and thats okay. He only tossed five games for the Skitz back in 2015. But Marinez has a place in history that is pretty unique. Marinez is one of just six players in baseball to have been traded for a MANAGER.

Way back in 2011 Marinez was one of two players sent by the White Sox to the Marlins for Ozzie Guillen. There are only four other such trades involving players swapped for a manager in all of MLB history.

How did it feel?
"When they told me I was traded for the manager, I thought "Seriously?'" said Marinez, "I must be a good player to be traded for a manager."

Skeeter slides into third base vs Montgomery Rebels
We see Skeeter Barnes in Montgomery a few times a year as a roving instructor for the Tampa Bay Rays.

He was our hitting coach back in 2004 and is still one of the friendliest faces to see in the Biscuits dugout. Occasionally he will coach first base, getting a good look at the team's hitters up close.

But back in the day, Skeeter was a ballplayer. And he wasn't helping Montgomery win any games!

Barnes played his double-A ball for Nashville in 1979 and managed at least one triple against the Rebels, immortalized in this press photo.

For the record, Barnes hit .266 with a dozen homers and 77rbi in 1979, just his second season in pro ball. He would go on to play in nine seasons at the major league level.


AUGUST 14, 1970
Southern League/ At Patersen Field; Montgomery, AL; Montgomery Rebels 3, Savannah Indians 0. Charles "Chips" Swanson of the Rebels pitched a  perfect game.

AUGUST 15th, 1909 
Pitcher Ted Breitenstein hurls a no hitter versus Montgomery, walking only four men during the game. New Orleans wins 2-0

AUGUST 15 1920 
Montgomery, AL
"Grey Sox Return to Play Knoxville - After a successful road trip, in which they won three straight games from the Birmingham All-Stars, the Grey Sox returned home yesterday for the hardest battle of the season when they will meet the fast Knoxville Giants in a series of games to determine the pennant winners of the Southern League for negroes.

The Grey Sox are still leading the lead by a safe margin and the only obstacle in their path to the pennant is the strong Knoxville team who have played such sensational ball all of the season."

1920 Montgomery Gray Sox

Montgomery, AL
"Grey Sox Defeated Knoxville Sunday
Local Negro Team Wins First Game of Big Series From Near-Champs, 2 to 1

In a game that was featured by sensational plays and jam up pitching, the Grey Sox won the first game of the series from Knoxville, 2 to 1 at South Side Park, yesterday.

Despite the cloudy weather before the game there were approximately fifteen hundred fans present and it was acclaimed by all present to be the best game that has been seen on the local diamond this season.

Things looked pretty bad for the locals in the first inning when the visitors had two men on bases and one out and the batter hit a long fly to left field scoring the man on third, but McGavock made a perfect peg, to the plate, from deep left and cut the second runner out at home. The pitchers then settled down to a grueling duel, and both pitched jam up ball until the eighth inning but in this inning, Williams connected with one of Posts's fast curves for a single, McGavock stepped in to one for a double and Meyers hit for a single, scoring Williams, McCavock scored on a wild throw to the plate by Post and the locals took the lead, which the visitors were unable to overcome.

The honors of the day go to McGavock, the local left fielder. It was his perfect peg to the plate in the first that held the visitors down and then in the ninth inning he pegged in a long fly from deep center that cut the runner off at the plate and saved the game for the locals. In the eighth his two bagger was largely responsible for the locals first score and later he scored the run that gave his team the lead.

Both teams played good errorless ball and had it not been for one bad inning, the first, the locals would have made a better showing. The teams will play again this afternoon at South Side Park at 4 o'clock."

Site of South Side Park, near Holt Street

Monday, August 7, 2017

Are Biscuits Lucky or Good?

Are the Biscuits a great team with rotten luck or an average team with great luck? Would you rather be lucky or good?

Its hard to know which is which sometimes as ability and fortune mingle on the field.

But consider that the Biscuits avoided a sweep at the hands of the Lookouts by one game, involving the aid of a ball that hit the second base bag, a pitcher dropping the ball on the mound for a balk and a soft liner that fell in fair territory just inches from the chalk. Whatever it was, Biscuit fans will take it!

The team itself is a very good squad, more apt to win than lose on any particular day. However they face a high roster turnover rate this summer and have three quarters of a new infield.

New men Cronenworth, Lowe and Kelly have all appeared in recent weeks, giving the Biscuits a new look for the second half of the season.

The reinforcements have arrived, now Montgomery will try to nurse a slim lead through the last month of the season to earn a postseason rematch against the Lookouts.

Man, who can keep up?
We have between twenty and thirty guys. If someone you are looking for isn't there, he has likely been promoted to Durham. Or on rehab in Tampa. Either way, he will probably be back. Unless he's been traded.

Grant Kay is back from Durham. When his number got issued to someone else we thought it meant Kay was gone for good, but not so fast. I guess the clubbie had to get out his sewing kit again!

Justin O'Conner found a way to avoid the Southern League suspension he got for arguing with an umpire and its resulting ejection. He simply took a promotion to the Durham Bulls!

Its a great thing for O'Conner, who has gotten himself back into form after a rough 2016 campaign. He remains the Biscuits all time leader in catcher arm rating with an 80/80 rank.

2B Brandon Lowe and catcher Brett Sullivan each have more homers than the Biscuits team leader. They both had .300+ batting averages for the Stone Crabs.

Jake Cronenworth takes over as the starting shortstop and leadoff man. Batting .268 for the Crabs at the time of his promotion, he also had a dozen stolen bases. He uses good speed to earn doubles and has nice range afield.

Former Skitz, catcher Mike Marjama and reliever Ryan Garton, were shipped to Seattle by the Rays. Their departure means a current Biscuit could be on the move to Durham.

On the same day, the Mariners dealt former Biscuit Boog Powell in order to make room for Garton on their 40 man roster.


Justin Williams 23 RBI over the last thirty days leads the Rays organization. His walk rate is also up from last year and is much higher than his career mark, showing improvement in patience and strike zone knowledge. J-Dubs .346 BABIP is also pretty smackin and lets us know he is making good contact when he does choose a pitch to hit.

The Rays are currently 26th in affiliate home runs. Rays minor leaguers have combined to go yard just 354 times this year.

The Biscuits have stranded a whopping amount of baserunners so far this year, only the Smokies have left more men on base.

In spite of the stranded runners, the Biscuits run differential is 40, good for third in the league. Montgomery simply scores more runs than most of the other teams in the league.

Ian Gibaut picked up his seventh save on Sunday. Gibaut has emerged as a solid option out of the pen for Brady Williams late in games when closer Kyle Winkler needs a rest.

The Biscuits pitchers have been made to work hard this year, posting an average of 16.8 pitches per inning. Only three teams in all of affiliated baseball have a higher average number of tosses per inning, and even they are a mere 0.1 higher.

The Biscuits are among the top twenty MiLB teams in total number of pitches, only two other Double-A teams reside there, the rest are triple-A clubs.

The annual charity jersey auction is expected to be featuring the home white uni tops. Always the most popular of the jerseys since they include player names, the jersey auction is an odd showdown that features the usual folks trying to take home the game used uniform of their favorite player.



AUGUST 7, 1969 
Pitcher Lerrin H. LaGrew of the Montgomery Rebels had 5 wild pitches v the Birmingham A's.

AUGUST 7, 1972 
Pitcher Danny W. Fife of the Montgomery Rebels gave up 5 intentional walks.

AUGUST 8 1906 
Southern league Umpire Frank Rudderham is convicted by jury in Montgomery County Court of using abusive language and fined $50 for cursing at a spectator on May 30th at the Montgomery Ball Park.

AUGUST 8 1973 
Rebels pitcher Dave Lemanczyk no hits Ashville 3-0

AUGUST 9 1920 
Montgomery, AL
"Grey Sox Open With New Orleans and Win - Black Pelicans Trounced 6 to 3 Yesterday; Moss Hulred Air tight Ball for Locals -
Grey Sox team photo

Grey Sox pitcher Jim Moss
By hitting the lil pill to all parts of the lot and playing tight on ball behind Moss, the Grey Sox broke their losing streak yesterday afternoon, and won the first game from New Orleans, 6 to 3. The honors of the playing go to Red Cunningham, McCormick, and Carpenter, whose heavy hitting was largely responsible for the locals six scores.

New Orleans started the scoring of the game with two in the second and one more in the fourth but after this frame Moss tightened and held them scoreless for the remainder of the game.

The Grey Sox scored five runs in the sixth inning when Carpenter slammed out a three bagger, with three men on bases and Red Cunningham hit for two bases with two men out another score was added in the seventh frame when Scales walked and scored on McCormick's three bagger.

Grey Sox OF George Scales
In spite of the fact that the Grey Sox lost four straight games in the last series, they are still leading the league by a safe margin as the strong Knoxville team, which is second in the standing, was going to Nashville, while the Grey Sox were long to the Black Crackers. Out of a four game series played with Nashville, the strong Knoxville Giants were able to witness another game which gives the Grey Sox practically the same lead that they held before the series with Atlanta.

The Grey Sox showed up in old time form Monday afternoon and it looked as though they were trying to take out their Atlanta, grudge on the New Orleans team. Every player on the team played a good game and did good work with the stick, and the team showed the old time pep and enthusiasm that was lacking in the Atlanta series."