Former MWL president George Spelius dies at 83

Former longtime Midwest League president George Spelius died Wednesday night. He was 83.

Spelius served as president of the Midwest League for 28 years, beginning in 1987. He stepped down on Jan. 1, 2015, at which time current MWL president Richard “Dick” Nussbaum II took over. At that time, Nussbaum said the following about Spelius:

George Spelius has left this league in great shape, and I know with the quality of ownership in our league, we will continue to be leaders in providing outstanding service to our fans and the best opportunity for the young stars of tomorrow in their development as players.

A florist by trade, Spelius first became involved with the Midwest League as part of the original group of investors who helped Beloit get a team. The club was known as the Beloit Brewers when it began play in 1982, and changed its nickname to the Snappers in 1995.

The Midweast League stabilized and expanded from 12 to 16 teams while Spelius was president. He twice was given the Warren Giles Award for outstanding service as a league president, in 1997 and 2010.

Even after he became league president, Spelius often was seen watching Snappers baseball with his wife, Nancy, from their Pohlman Field seats in the front row behind home plate.

The Snappers released this statement on social media Thursday afternoon:

We are very sad to say that George Spelius has passed away. George was the driving force behind bringing Minor League Baseball to Beloit back in 1982. In addition to being on our Board of Directors and an original founder of Beloit Professional Baseball, he was the President of the Midwest League for 28 years. You could always find him in the very front row of Snappers games. His upbeat attitude and humor will certainly be missed around Pohlman Field, Beloit, and the Midwest League. He was 83 years old. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Last year Midwest League officials unveiled a newly-designed championship trophy for their league champions. They named it the George Spelius Championship Trophy.

Former Midwest League president George Spelius (right) and current MWL president Dick Nussbaum pose for a photo with the George Spelius Championship Trophy last year.

Former Midwest League president George Spelius (right) and current MWL president Dick Nussbaum pose with the George Spelius Championship Trophy last year.

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Ex-TinCaps outfielder Renfroe plates 7 for Padres

Former Fort Wayne TinCaps outfielder Hunter Renfroe made quite an impression in the first week of his big-league audition with the San Diego Padres, from being intentionally walked in his first MLB plate appearance to driving in seven runs in Tuesday’s game.

Renfroe is batting .353 (6-for-17) with a double, three homers, eight runs batted in, and four runs scored through his first six MLB games. This comes after he batted .306 with 30 HR, 34 doubles and 105 RBI in 133 games with the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas this year, earning him the Pacific Coast League MVP award.

The Mississippi native drove in all seven of San Diego’s runs in the Padres’ 7-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, via a three-run homer and a grand slam. He is the first Padres rookie to plate seven in a single game, and is one of only 10 Padres players ever to drive in that many runs in one game. (The franchise record is eight RBI in one game, set by Nate Colbert in 1972 and matched by Ken Caminiti in 1995.)

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Hunter Renfroe bats for the Fort Wayne TinCaps during the 2013 Midwest League playoffs. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

UPDATE: Renfroe had another big game against the Dodgers on Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with 4 RBI. He homered for the third time in two games and is now 8-for-21 with 4 HR and 12 RBI in seven MLB games. His most recent homer was an impressive one, too — it landed on the roof of Petco Park’s Western Metal Building, something that previously had only been done in batting practice and this year’s All-Star Home Run Derby.

Posted in 2013 Playoffs, El Paso Chihuahuas, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Midwest League, Pacific Coast League | Leave a comment

Grueser named MWL executive of the year

Lansing Lugnuts general manager Nick Grueser was named the Midwest League executive of the year Tuesday. Here is information about Grueser and the award, from the Midwest League’s press release:

Grueser presided over a groundbreaking renovation that has drawn international acclaim, strengthened the bond between the Lugnuts and the Lansing community, persevered to execute a resoundingly successful postseason exhibition against Michigan State University, and turned Cooley Law School Stadium into a premier venue for special events in the mid-Michigan community.

He first joined the Lugnuts as a group sales representative in August 2001, working his way to the general manager role in July 2012, and in the process becoming the longest-tenured employee in team history. During the 2016 season, Grueser’s 15th full season in the Midwest League, the Lansing Lugnuts welcomed in their eight millionth fan in August. That fan was one of 311,190 for the year, marking the 21st straight season that the Lugnuts surpassed the 300,000 mark.

The Midwest League Executive of the Year is nominated and selected by the league’s sixteen member clubs. The award is presented to an individual who has had a successful season in the areas of leadership, attendance accomplishments, marketing initiatives, promotions, stadium projects/enhancements, gameday and non-gameday events, community/charity involvement, and overall baseball operations.

The Midwest League also announced its nominees for five prestigious Minor League Baseball awards, which you can read about here.

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Midwest League announces MiLB award nominees

The Midwest League announced its nominees for five prestigious Minor League Baseball awards Tuesday.

The Fort Wayne TinCaps are nominated for the John H. Johnson President’s Award, which honors a “complete” baseball franchise that has demonstrated franchise stability and significant contributions to its community, league and the baseball industry.

For the second consecutive year, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are nominated for the Larry MacPhail Promotional Award. The award is presented to a club that demonstrated outstanding and creative marketing and promotional efforts within its community, its ballpark (including non-game day events), and in media and other promotional materials.

The West Michigan Whitecaps are nominated for the John Henry Moss Community Service Award, which goes to a club that demonstrates an outstanding, ongoing commitment to charitable service, support and leadership within its local community and within the baseball industry.

The Dayton Dragons are nominated for the Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award, which is presented to a club or individual employed by a club for outstanding support of and engagement with the United States Armed Forces and veterans, both at the ballpark and in the community.

Dragons vice president of sponsor services, Brandy Guinaugh, is nominated for the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award, which goes to a woman who has made outstanding contributions to her club, her league or to baseball.

The winners of these awards will be announced at the Baseball Winter Meetings in early December.

Posted in Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

2016 Snappers pitcher wins MiLB Gold Glove Award

Oakland Athletics prospect James Naile delivers a pitch for the Beloit Snappers earlier this year. (Photo by Dave Baker)

Oakland A’s prospect James Naile delivers a pitch for the Beloit Snappers earlier this year. (Photo by Dave Baker)

A 2016 Midwest Leaguer is among the nine Minor League Baseball players announced as recipients of Rawlings Gold Glove Awards on Monday.

The award winners were chosen from the 10 domestic-based, full-season MiLB leagues, with a player selected for each position. They each get a Rawlings Gold Glove Award modeled after the one given to Major League Baseball’s top defensive players.

“These nine players were truly the finest in the field this summer, and it is my pleasure to honor them with a Rawlings Gold Glove Award,” Minor League Baseball President and CEO Pat O’Conner said in a press release. “These players displayed extraordinary skills at their positions this season, and on behalf of Minor League Baseball, I congratulate them on this outstanding accomplishment.”

Oakland Athletics prospect James Naile, who spent half the 2016 season with the Beloit Snappers, is the pitcher who received the award. He posted a perfect fielding percentage on 48 chances in 156.2 innings pitched in 28 games (26 starts) for Beloit and three other A’s farm teams.

The other award winners, listed with their MLB organization and when they played in the Midwest League (if applicable), are:

1B Matt Skole (Washington Nationals)

2B Joey DeMichele (Chicago White Sox)

SS Zach Vincej (Cincinnati Reds; played for Dayton Dragons in 2013)

3B Carlos Rivero (Arizona Diamondbacks)

LF Charcer Burks (Chicago Cubs; played for South Bend in 2015)

CF Greg Allen (Cleveland Indians; played for Lake County Captains in 2015)

RF Mike Gerber (Detroit Tigers; played for West Michigan Whitecaps in 2014-15)

C Jose Trevino (Texas Rangers)

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Dayton Dragons, Gold Glove Awards, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Former Snappers infielder Bostick traded to Pirates

Chris Bostick lays down a bunt for the Beloit Snappers during the 2013 season. (Photo by Dave Baker)

Chris Bostick lays down a bunt for the Beloit Snappers during the 2013 season. (Photo by Dave Baker)

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired former Beloit Snappers infielder Chris Bostick from the Washington Nationals for catcher Taylor Gushue and cash considerations Monday.

Bostick played 129 games for the 2013 Snappers, batting .282 with 14 HR, 89 RBI and 25 SB. He split this season between Washington’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, cumulatively batting .250 with 8 HR, 51 RBI and 11 SB in 135 games.

Gushue did not play in the Midwest League. He batted .226 with 8 HR and 38 RBI in 90 games with Pittsburgh’s High-A affiliate this season.

Torres makes MLB debut

Former Snappers reliever Jose Torres made his major-league debut for the San Diego Padres on Thursday, limiting the San Francisco Giants to one hit in a scoreless 9th inning. He struck out two batters.

Torres pitched for the Snappers in 2015, going 4-5 with a 2.69 ERA, eight saves, 80 strikeouts and 23 walks in 73.2 innings (44 games).

Torres is the 200th former Beloit player to reach the major leagues. The 2016 season was Beloit’s 35th year in the Midwest League.

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