Parkview Field grounds crew nets ‘Field of the Year’ honor

Parkview Field as seen during Game 2 of the 2017 Midwest League Championship Series. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Fort Wayne TinCaps head groundskeeper Keith Winter and his grounds crew have won another award for their work.

This time they’ve won the Sports Turf Managers Association’s “Field of the Year” award for professional baseball. All teams in Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, and independent baseball leagues are eligible for the annual award.

Parkview Field, along with other “Field of the Year” award winners (Georgia Tech football, South Carolina Upstate baseball, Stetson University softball, and FC Dallas of Major League Soccer), will be featured in a 2018 issue of SportsTurf Magazine, the STMA’s monthly publication. The TinCaps grounds crew also will receive a physical award at the 29th annual STMA Conference and Exhibition in Fort Worth, Texas, in January.

Field entries were independently scored by a panel of 13 judges, who based their ratings on playability, appearance of surfaces, utilization of innovative solutions, effective use of budget, and implementation of a comprehensive agronomic program.

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (in 2008) are the only other Midwest League team to receive the honor, which was first awarded in 1988.

The TinCaps have won the Midwest League’s Grounds Crew of the Year award six times in the last eight years, and Winter was named Minor League Baseball’s Single-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

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Ex-MWL pitcher Kluber wins second AL Cy Young Award

Cleveland Indians RHP Corey Kluber — a former Fort Wayne hurler — won his second American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday. (Photo by Phil Long/The Associated Press)

Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber received 28 0f 30 first-place votes to win his second American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday.

Kluber started the season slow, but dominated AL hitters after returning from a DL stint on June 1. He had a 1.62 ERA in his final 23 starts of the regular season, after posting a 5.06 ERA in his first six starts. He ended up leading the league with a 2.25 ERA, 18 wins, an .818 winning percentage (18-4), five complete games, and three shutouts. He struck out 265 batters in 203.2 innings.

The right-hander previously won the AL Cy Young Award in 2014. He is the 19th pitcher in MLB history to win more than one Cy Young Award, and is the only two-time winner in Indians history.

He pitched in the Midwest League in 2008, going 4-3 with a 3.21 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 56 innings for the Fort Wayne Wizards (now the TinCaps). He was a San Diego Padres farmhand at that time.

Washington Nationals RHP Max Scherzer won the National League Cy Young Award. It is his third Cy Young Award, having earned his previous two in 2016 (with the Nationals) and 2013 (with the Detroit Tigers).

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Molitor wins AL Manager of the Year award

Former Midwest League player and Baseball Hall-of-Famer Paul Molitor was named the American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday, rewarded for leading the Minnesota Twins to the playoffs one year after the team lost 103 games.

The Twins went 85-77 in the regular season and were eliminated by the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game.

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona finished second in the voting, 22 points behind Molitor. The Tribe went 102-60 in the regular season and won the AL Central Division. They also were knocked out of the playoffs by the Yankees, who in turn where eliminated by the eventual World Series champions, the Houston Astros.

Molitor played 64 games with the 1977 Burlington Bees, batting .346 with 8 HR, 50 RBI and 14 SB. He was named the Midwest League MVP and Prospect of the Year, and the Bees won the MWL championship that year.

That was Molitor’s only year in the minor leagues, though he made two brief rehab stints later in his career. One of those rehab stints was a single-game appearance with the 1990 Beloit Brewers, for whom he went 2-for-4 with a solo homer.

Francona didn’t play in the Midwest League, but he managed there in 1992. He led the South Bend White Sox to a 73-64 record. The team included future major-leaguer Mike Cameron, whose son Daz played part of the 2016 season and most of the 2017 season with the Quad Cities River Bandits before ending the 2017 campaign with the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Arizona Diamondbacks skipper Torey Lovullo won the National League Manager of the Year award. The D-backs went 93-69 in the regular season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2011. They were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series round of the playoffs.

Yost injured in fall from tree

Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost broke his pelvis and four ribs when he fell about 20 feet from a tree stand on his property earlier this month. You can read about the incident here.

Yost played in the Midwest League when he was a New York Mets minor-leaguer. He batted .192 with 6 HR and 27 RBI in 79 games with the 1975 Wausau Mets. (Wausau was the MWL team that moved to Kane County and became the Cougars in 1991.)

Posted in Baseball Hall of Fame, Beloit Snappers, Burlington Bees, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Beltran announces retirement after 20-year MLB career

Twenty-year MLB veteran Carlos Beltran is going out on top, announcing his retirement Monday after winning his first World Series title earlier this month. (Photo by Charles Krupa/The Associated Press)

Former Lansing Lugnuts outfielder Carlos Beltran announced his retirement Monday after playing parts of 20 seasons in the major leagues, capped by a World Series title won by his last team, the Houston Astros, earlier this month.

After appearing in 14 games with the Kansas City Royals in September 1998, Beltran won the American League Rookie of the Year award in his first full season. He batted .293 with 22 HR, 108 RBI and 27 SB in 156 games with the ’99 Royals. He ended up playing for seven different MLB teams during his career, collecting 2,725 hits, 435 home runs, and 1,587 RBI to go with a .279 batting average along the way.

In addition to winning the Rookie of the Year award, Beltran was a nine-time All-Star, won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards, and twice finished in the top 10 in voting for Most Valuable Player awards.

Though he fell short of 3,000 hits and 500 homers — milestones that go a long way toward helping players get into the Baseball Hall of Fame (though that’s not a guarantee anymore) — Beltran certainly will be a strong candidate when he becomes eligible for the HOF five years from now.

Beltran is already in a baseball hall of fame — the Lansing Lugnuts Hall of Fame. Although he batted only .143 (6-for-42) with two doubles, a stolen base, a walk, and 11 strikeouts in 11 games with the ’96 ‘Nuts, his subsequent major-league achievements led to him being one of three former Lansing players chosen for the team’s inaugural HOF class in 2010. (Carlos Zambrano and Brian Dopirak were the other two.)

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Two ex-MWLers on Baseball HOF’s Modern Baseball Era ballot

Former MLB pitcher Jack Morris signs his autograph during a 2014 game at South Bend’s Four Winds Field. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Nine former major-league players and one former executive are the 10 people on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Modern Baseball Era ballot to be voted upon December 10 at the Baseball Winter Meetings. Two of them played in the Midwest League.

The former players on the ballot are Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons, Luis Tiant and Alan Trammell. Also on the ballot is Marvin Miller, the influential leader of the players union from 1966 to 1982.

John and Simmons played in the Midwest League.

John was an 18-year-old pitching prospect for the Cleveland Indians when he suited up for the 1961 Dubuque Packers, his first professional baseball team. He went 10-4 with a 3.17 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 88 innings (14 games/13 starts). He made one more appearance in the Midwest League, 24 years later, when he made a six-inning rehab start for the 1985 Madison Muskies.

Simmons also played in the Midwest League during his first year as a professional ballplayer. The then-St. Louis Cardinals prospect batted .269 with 4 HR and 34 RBI in 47 games with the 1967 Cedar Rapids Cardinals. The future MLB catcher played 37 games in the outfield and 12 behind the plate while in the Midwest League.

Posted in Baseball Hall of Fame, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Madison Muskies, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment