Several ex-MWLers on HOF’s Today’s Game Era ballot

Four of the 10 people being considered for enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame via the HOF’s Today’s Game Era ballot are former Midwest League players, and one of them also managed in the MWL.

The Today’s Game Era (TGA) is one of four Eras Committees that provide an avenue for HOF consideration to managers, umpires and executives, as well as players retired for more than 15 seasons. The TGA ballot will be voted upon by a 16-member committee on December 9 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Any candidate who receives votes on 75 percent of the ballots (12) will earn election to the Hall of Fame.

The candidates are Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Lou Piniella, Lee Smith and George Steinbrenner. Baines, Belle, Carter, Clark, Hershiser and Smith are being considered for their contributions as players. Johnson, Manuel and Piniella are included for their contributions as managers, and Steinbrenner for his work as owner of the New York Yankees.

Baines, Belle, Hershiser and Manuel are former MWL players. Manuel also managed in the MWL.

Baines was a rare No. 1 overall draft pick who began his playing career in the Midwest League. He batted .261 with 18 extra-base hits and 29 RBI in 69 games with the 1977 Appleton Foxes, who were a Chicago White Sox affiliate.

Belle briefly played for the 1988 Waterloo Indians, batting .250 (7-for-28) with one homer, one double and two RBI in nine games.

Hershiser pitched for the 1979 Clinton Dodgers, going 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA, 33 strikeouts, 17 walks, two saves and one complete game in 43 innings (15 games/four starts).

Manuel was an outfielder and a manager for the Wisconsin Rapids Twins, in 1967 and 1983, respectively. He batted .313 with 15 homers, 29 doubles and 70 RBI in 111 games for ’67 squad. That was almost good enough to win the MWL triple crown, as he finished first in batting average, second in home runs, and tied for first in RBI. The ’67 team went to the MWL Championship Series, which they lost to the Appleton Foxes. As a manager, Manuel led the ’83 team to a 71-67 record, which was pretty good considering the team started 9-27!

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Cubs extend PDC with South Bend through 2022 season

Four Winds Field, home of the South Bend Cubs. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Chicago Cubs announced Wednesday that they have extended their player development contracts with all of their minor-league affiliates — including the South Bend Cubs in the Midwest League — through the 2022 season.

South Bend became the Cubs’ MWL affiliate beginning with the 2015 season, after a four-year deal was reached between the clubs in September 2014. The Cubs extended the deal in June 2016, putting it into effect through the 2020 season. Now, again, the Cubs have extended their PDC with South Bend well before it expired.

Clearly, and not surprisingly, the Cubs are pleased with the affiliation.

“We couldn’t be happier to extend our relationship with South Bend through at least 2022,” Jason McLeod, Cubs Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development, said in a press release. “Andrew Berlin and Joe Hart, along with their talented front office group, have gone above and beyond to give our young players an environment in which they can mature both on and off the field.”

Next year is a big one for the South Bend Cubs, who will host the Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday, June 18 — South Bend’s first Class-A midseason classic since 1989.

Posted in 2019 All-Star Game, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

New Blue Jays manager played in Midwest League

The Toronto Blue Jays announced longtime Tampa Bay Rays coach Charlie Montoyo as their new manager Thursday.

Montoyo spent 18 seasons (1997-2014) managing Rays’ minor-league teams, though never the Bowling Green Hot Rods. He joined Tampa Bay’s major-league coaching staff in 2015, serving as third-base coach for three seasons before becoming bench coach for the 2018 campaign.

The former infielder played 10 seasons in the minor leagues, from 1987 to 1996. He spent part of his first pro season in the Midwest League, batting .266 with 16 extra-base hits, 19 runs batted in, 46 runs scored, and eight stolen bases in 55 games with the Beloit Brewers. He appeared in four games in the major leagues, for the 1993 Montreal Expos.

Montoyo’s contract with the Blue Jays is for three years, with a club option for the 2022 season.

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Midwest League | Leave a comment

MWL president Dick Nussbaum wins Warren Giles Award

Midwest League President Dick Nussbaum is the 2018 recipient of Minor League Baseball’s Warren Giles Award, which honors outstanding service as a league president.

“Dick Nussbaum has led the Midwest League to new heights in his four years as league president and has proven to be an effective leader of one of Minor League Baseball’s strongest leagues,” said Minor League Baseball President and CEO Pat O’Conner. “Dick’s role with the league prior to becoming league president made for a seamless transition, and he has evolved into a tremendous league president. On behalf of Minor League Baseball, it is my pleasure to present Dick with this honor.”

The Warren Giles Award has been presented annually since 1984 and is named for the longtime baseball executive who served as the National League president from 1951 to 1969. Nussbaum is the third Midwest League president to win the award, following Bill Walters in 1985 and two-time winner George Spelius in 1997 and 2010.

“Warren Giles was known for his love of the game, and he led at a time when the inclusion and diversity found in the National League caused it to consistently be the dominant League in Major League Baseball,” Nussbaum said. “I accept this award as a challenge for me to do the same for the Midwest League while at the same time being a good partner in all the joint efforts of Minor League Baseball through my fellow presidents, the board of trustees, and the outstanding Minor League Baseball staff led by Pat O’Conner. Those efforts have and will continue to make our industry a needed and welcome respite from the challenges of modern life.

“I thank my wife, Mary Pat, for her support and encouragement, which makes me a better person and president,” he continued. “I thank the Midwest League, especially its owners and staffs, who challenge me every day by their examples of excellence. I see this award as evidence of the strength of the Midwest League with the best yet to come. Finally, I thank our God, who has blessed me way beyond what I deserve.”

During Nussbaum’s tenure as league president, the Midwest League has had two clubs win Minor League Baseball’s John H. Johnson President’s Award (the South Bend Cubs in 2015 and the Fort Wayne TinCaps in 2016), one team win a John Henry Moss Community Service Award (the Fort Wayne TinCaps in 2015), a Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year (Brandy Guinaugh of the Dayton Dragons), and the Dayton Dragons have extended their ongoing streak of consecutive games sold out (1,316 — a professional sports record).

Prior to becoming Midwest League president at the start of 2015, Nussbaum had served as the league’s general counsel since 1993. He also previously served as South Bend’s city attorney, as well as general counsel to the lieutenant governor and special counsel to the governor of Indiana while the former owner of the South Bend club, Joe Kernan, was mayor, lieutenant governor and governor. The Notre Dame graduate remains a partner at the law firm of Sopko, Nussbaum, Inabnit & Kaczmarek.

Nussbaum will receive his award at the Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet on Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Timber Rattlers catcher wins MiLB Gold Glove Award

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers catcher Payton Henry won a MiLB/Rawlings Gold Glove Award for defensive excellence this year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Milwaukee Brewers prospect Payton Henry, who was the starting catcher for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers this year, won a Minor League Baseball/Rawlings Gold Glove Award for defensive excellence at his position this season.

Henry committed only three errors in 801 chances during 93 games as a catcher for the Timber Rattlers this season. That equates to a .996 fielding percentage. He thwarted 43.8 percent of would-be base stealers, throwing out 46 of the 105 who made the attempt while he was behind the plate. That percentage ranked third in the Midwest League.

Henry recorded 78 assists, picked off four runners, and was part of four double plays defensively. He allowed only six passed balls in 805.1 innings. Offensively, the 21-year-old batted .234 with 10 homers, 15 doubles, and 41 RBI in 98 games.

Rawlings awards Gold Gloves to one MiLB player per position, chosen from qualifying players in the ten domestic-based, full-season minor leagues.

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