December 2007

On the Bookshelf

A week ago, I wrote a column called "Guilty Pleasures" about some of the baseball-related items I’ve collected.

I said I’d leave until another time a discussion of the books I have on the bookshelf. With nothing else going on, I might as well do that column now.

A lot of them are reference books. Every spring, I order from Baseball America their annual references — the Prospect Handbook, the Directory, the Almanac, and the Super Register.

BA recently updated a classic work called The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, which was last updated in 1997. It lists from 1883 forward every league for every year, the teams, their parent club affiliations (if any), win-loss records, manager, statistical leaders, and playoff results. It also has a "This Date in Minor League History" section at the end of each year; for example, on August 14, 1921, "First baseman Bunny Brief of Kansas City, American Association, was stopped by Minneapolis pitcher Grover Lowdermilk after having hit safely in 31 consecutive games." But you already knew that …

I also have the Angels Media Guides for every year except 1962. It shows up on eBay once in a while but the final bids approach $100 and I’m not that desperate.

For some time, I’ve been wanting to build a searchable online database of Angels historical minor league statistics. The BA almanacs have that data going back to the mid-1980s, but earlier than that I’m relying on The Sporting News Official Baseball Guide published every year. Those are also available on eBay, but I still have a couple holes left to fill.

The further we go back, the more fragmentary the available data, especially for the lower minors. I just renewed my membership with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and will try to rely more on those good folk to track down detailed records.

To complement the BA annual prospect books, I also order John Sickels’ annual Baseball Prospect Book. John started years ago in the sabermetric community, and still relies on statistics for his analysis, but he’s evolved to also include context, e.g. a player’s tools, injuries, the opinions of professionals, and whatnot. For those who want an independent and knowledgeable opinion, John is a good choice. Unlike amateur fan sites and the stathead publications, John actually makes an effort to go out and see the players with his own eyes, although since he’s based in Kansas most of the players he sees are in Midwest leagues. I trust his reviews of our players with Arkansas and Cedar Rapids.

It’s out of date (published in 1993) and not entirely accurate, but a handy reference is Professional Baseball Franchises by Peter Filichia. Want to know if your hometown ever had a professional baseball team? You can look it up in this book. Before Gene Autry brought the Angels to town, Anaheim had a team in the California League (not the same as the current Cal League) in 1929, although the franchise moved to Pomona in the middle of the season. A new California League formed in 1941, and Anaheim had a charter team called the Aces, but the league disbanded with the outbreak of World War II. After the war, Anaheim had a team 1947-1948 in the newly formed Sunset League called the Valencias, but in mid-1948 the team moved to San Bernardino.

Yes, I have Moneyball, the quasi-fictional book about Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s written by Michael Lewis. Although some treat it like a newly issued Third Testament to the Bible, if you go back and research the first year after its publication a number of articles quoted Beane and others as saying parts of the book were made up. Oakland tanked this year and Beane has spent much of the off-season trading experienced talent to replenish his farm system, which should be Exhibit A that Moneyball failed as a mad science experiment. But some people continue to blindly believe in it.

A more honest work about scouting is Dollar Sign on the Muscle, by Kevin Kerrane. Last updated in 1999, it could use an update.

Another excellent read is The Numbers Game: Baseball’s Lifelong Fascination with Statistics, by Alan Schwarz. Lo and behold, baseball fans have been analyzing the game’s statistics for well over 100 years, struggling since its origins to come up with useful measurements. The sabermetrics movement may claim it’s cutting edge, but in reality it’s no more than the latest generation.

Of course, a mandatory work for any Angels fan’s bookshelf is Ross Newhan’s The Anaheim Angels: A Complete History. Published in 2000, it too could use an update.

I enjoy books about baseball history, and have many of them, including a couple books on ballparks that long ago disappeared. Nobody gets weepy about football stadia or basketball arenas, but baseball parks are treated like cathedrals. Why we feel a sense of holiness entering a ballpark, I’ve no idea. But Susan Sarandon was right when she said in the opening scene of Bull Durham, "I believe in the Church of Baseball."

One of the best historical books I’ve read is Breaking Into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime by Jean Ardell. You can order the book through her website, www.jeanardell.com. Jean’s husband Dan played in the Angels’ minor leagues in the early 1960s, and had a token appearance with the parent club in 1961. Jean and Dan are very active in SABR and the annual NINE baseball conference held each spring in Tucson.

I have a couple technical books on baseball mechanics, including Ted Williams’ classic work The Science of Hitting. And how many of you actually have the Official Baseball Rules on your shelf? I do.

Next time, I’ll talk about the baseball videos I have — not just movies like Bull Durham but documentaries and some other obscure stuff you might want to add to your collection.

In closing … I mentioned upstream the database project. With the 2007 photos finally posted on-line, I have the time available to start working on it. Maybe within a week or two I’ll have some sample pages for you to view.

The Minor League Game of the Week


Ben Johnson was 3 for 4 with 3 RBI in the Bees’ May 18 game at Fresno.

May 18, 2007 — The Salt Lake Bees romp at Fresno in a Pacific Coast League contest.

Several players contributed to the offensive fireworks. Howie Kendrick was on rehab assignment with the Bees; he hit a three-run homer in the top of the 2nd. Right after him was Brandon Wood, who then hit a solo homer. Those who’ve followed the Angels minor leagues over the years know that Kendrick and Wood are good friends who hang together away from work. They were an infield duo with Provo in 2003, Cedar Rapids in 2004 and Rancho Cucamonga in 2005. Howie received a mid-season promotion in 2005, separating the duo except for a mutual 2005 stint in the Arizona Fall League. So this game was an opportunity to reunite them, with Kendrick at 2B and Wood at his familiar shortstop position.

Ben Johnson had three hits in this game for three RBI. Ben had been sent from Rancho to Salt Lake on May 10 while the Bees were a bit thin in the catching ranks, and returned to the Quakes after his May 20 appearance. Later in the season, he was promoted to Double-A Arkansas. He’s one of those "good soldier" organization players who goes whereever he’s needed; he might have the inside track on the Arkansas catching job to start 2008.

Click Here to listen to the game. You need Windows Media Player to listen.

Cephas Howard


Cephas Howard pitches in fall instructional league.

I’m working on the last of the 2007 photos, those I shot at fall instructional league in September.

I just came across some photos of Cephas Howard, a relief pitcher this year for Rookie-A Tempe. Curious about his background, I did a Google search and came up with this post on the WRDW web site by reporter Prentice Elliott:

Cephas Howard has a story to tell that seems to only get better with each passing day. The 22-year-old former Glenn Hills Spartan was just drafted by the LA Angels as a pitcher.

Here’s the kicker; Cephas has never pitched in an organized baseball game before.

The 22 year told us the tale at his house on Monday, the day before he was to leave for the Angels rookie league club in Arizona. It seems Cephas always played and always thought of himself as a catcher. That’s where he played while on the Glenn Hills team. And he stayed behind the plate when he went to junior college for 2 years. Then came the knee injury that changed his life. It required surgery and the doctors told Cephas he could no longer play catcher. So Howard signed to play with USC Aiken as a 1st baseman and possible pitcher. He redshirted his first year in Aiken as he healed but just as he was about to start his Senior season this Spring he found out his grades and credits fell short and he couldn’t play.

That’s when Howard took matters into his own hands.

Howard says, "In the Spring I got a job and I was like, I don’t know about this. So I moved to Atlanta and I got a trainer and a pitching coach and it went from there."

That’s when Howard got on the horn and contacted major league scouts to try and set up workouts.

Some were interested, some weren’t but the Angels decided to take a look and were impressed. The kid who had never pitched in a baseball game before was throwing 93 miles per hour. They were so impressed in fact, they drafted Howard in the 37th round.

Howard says, "After the 31st round…I’d worked out for the Reds and this guy got drafted in the 31st round that I threw with and I was like, oh man!. I put my head down on the computer and I looked up after the 36th round and the Angels were next and it took a while for it to come up and I saw it and I was like, wow!"

Wow, indeed. The first game for the rookie league Tempe Angels is set for next Friday as Cephas’s big adventure continues.

In 21 1/3 innings over 20 relief appearances, Cephas had a 7.17 ERA and an average against of .308. The numbers in his favor — a SO:BB ratio of 26:9. Eleven strikeouts per nine innings should keep him around for a while, but the rest is a work in progress. Hey, a catcher conversion worked for Troy Percival …

Guilty Pleasures


Baseballs were neatly aligned within catcher Bobby Wilson’s equipment bag when I found it on the Arkansas Travelers’ dugout bench last June.

What’s your baseball guilty pleasure?

I have quite a few.

I don’t think the FutureAngels.com web site is a guilty pleasure, although I lose enough money every year running around the country shooting photos and video that it could fall into that category. It’s a business, as far as the IRS is concerned, but within that business I do have a few guilty pleasures.

Any professional sports photographer can shoot an action shot. Pitchers pitching, hitters hitting, we see those every day in the newspaper.

I try to create artistic images that depict aspects of the game not seen by the casual fan.

One "guilty pleasure" is photographing baseball equipment. Buried deep within the FutureAngels.com Digital Photo Gallery is this link, Miscellaneous Baseball Gear. The idea is to create "baseball art," for lack of a better phrase. These images you could enlarge to poster size and post in a den or memorabilia room. The main rule when shooting these photos is DON’T TOUCH. I want to photograph it exactly as I found it. None of those photos were staged. I haven’t sold a single one of these photos, but I’d like to think that some future baseball historian will see these and marvel at the primitive tools used by baseball players in the early years of the 21st century.


The VERY future Angels line up against an outfield wall at last January’s Quakes youth baseball clinic.

Another artistic guilty pleasure is on the page titled, Miscellaneous Baseball Youth Photos." Children and baseball go together like Florida elections and hanging chads. Both are a part of Americana. So I’ll go out to the Quakes’ annual kids clinic in January, or just keep an eye out before minor league games, looking for boys and girls who would make an interesting subject for a photo.

A lot of us collected baseball cards in our youth. I’ve been tracking down card sets for Angels minor league teams. It doesn’t look like anything exists earlier than the mid-1970s. My main dealer is Steve Green (not the former Angels minor league pitcher), who runs STB Sports. Steve also carries other memorabilia, such as score cards, game programs, and whatnot. I gave him a list of Angels minor league teams over the years and he was able to provide me with some programs and scorecards going back into the 1970s. He has serious collectors from all over the country who will use him to find other collectors interested in this stuff. If you look at my December 13 blog on the Jack Hiatt interview, the scan of Jack’s 1982 Holyoke Millers card was from a set I acquired from STB Sports.

I have in the closet some uniforms worn in the minors by Angels top prospects. Some went on to major league stardom, others went on to obscurity. One is a tie-dyed jersey worn by John Lackey with Lake Elsinore in 2000. It was a one-game promotion to raise money for charity. Many of these are "shirt off their back" promotions auctioned during the game; the winning bidder gets to come down to the field after the game to collect the shirt literally off the player. I took it directly to the cleaners and had it bagged without cleaning; the joke with Lack was that if anything ever happened to him, we’ve got his DNA so he can be cloned. I also have some Casey Kotchman jerseys, and one of Tom Kotchman’s Orem jerseys; one of these days, I’ll get them framed and put them on the wall together.

My wife came up with a nifty idea. She has small vials used for carrying makeup. She suggested using them to scoop dirt from the infields of the various ballparks in the Angels system. I have here on my office desk two vials with dirt collected after the final game at Gene Autry Park, the Angels’ old minor league complex in Mesa, Arizona. One was scooped from the mound, the other from in front of home plate.

I’ve run across other collectors of Angels memorabilia. One gentleman in south county collects Angels jerseys. I know an employee in the organization who collects information about people who played only one year for the Angels. I’ve been in the homes of Angels Booster Club members who have all sorts of memorabilia, some of it homemade.

And then there’s the bookshelf, but I’ll save that for another blog.

Feel free to post your baseball guilty pleasures.

This article is copyright © 2007 Stephen C. Smith DBA FutureAngels.com. It may not be reprinted elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author. To obtain permission, e-mail Stephen at home@futureangels.com.

The Minor League Game of the Week


Sean O’Sullivan pitches on May 13 for Cedar Rapids at Clinton.

May 13, 2007 … Sean O’Sullivan, who will be named the Angels’ 2007 minor league pitcher of the year, gets the start as the Cedar Rapids Kernels visit the Clinton LumberKings.

This game has some visual aids.

I travelled to Cedar Rapids on May 12 to shoot four games — two in Clinton, then two in Cedar Rapids. The towns are separated by about 80 miles of farmland, so it was a two-hour drive one-way across rural Iowa.

The trip was well worth it, because Alliant Energy Field is an historic ballpark, built in 1937, and these "classic" parks are disappearing fast.

I shot plenty of video that day, which is in the FutureAngels.com Video Gallery. You need Windows Media Player and a high-speed Internet connection (cable modem, DSL) to watch. Among the highlights:

Starting pitcher Sean O’Sullivan. Sean went on to be named the Angels’ minor league pitcher of the year.

Ryan Mount’s steal of home. The play is in the 4th inning. P.J. Phillips takes off for second, and after he draws the throw from Clinton catcher Kevin Gossage (the nephew of “Goose”) Mountie takes off for home.

Aaron Cook closes for the Kernels in the 9th. It’s always fun to watch submarine pitchers, especially from home plate which is where this video was shot.

You’ll also find May 13 clips in these videos of Peter Bourjos, Hank Conger, Julio Perez, Chris Pettit, Matt Sweeney, and Mark Trumbo. Pettit went on to be named the Angels’ 2007 minor league player of the year.

This group should arrive largely intact in Rancho Cucamonga for 2008, the best group of talent to hit town since the 2003 team that featured Casey Kotchman, Jeff Mathis, Dallas McPherson, Ervin Santana, Jake Woods, Mike Napoli and more.

From a personal perspective, the trip was my first to Cedar Rapids since August 2003. It costs about a thousand dollars to do a trip to Cedar Rapids or Arkansas, when you add up plane fare, hotel room, rental car, meals and general running-around expenses. Even though four years had passed, everyone recognized me right away and were happy to see me.

Broadcaster John Rodgers didn’t know I was coming, but as soon as we crossed paths in the Clinton ballpark he gave me a big hug and invited me up to the press box. I was supposed to do analyst work with him on the May 15 game, but we got rained out. He recorded a pre-game interview which aired on May 17; you can hear it on the MiLB.com webcast archive.

Host parents Lanny Peterson and Tom Pumroy were generous enough to take me to breakfast. Host parents are one of the many unsung heroes in minor league baseball. They open their home to flat-broke minor leaguers who need only a clean bed and a shower because they’re so busy with baseball. Tom and Abby Pumroy host the Latin players as Abby is bilingual. Host parents get to know these players when they’re still accessible and often establish lifelong relationships, whether the player goes on to stardom or obscurity.

Anyway, lots of fond memories from this series, and the May 13 game was one of them. Click Here to listen. It’s actually Clinton’s webcast, featuring broadcasters Gary Determan and Dave Lezotte. Dave also handles media relations and was very helpful with my access to their park. Dave’s career began with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he worked with former Angels broadcaster and minor leaguer Daron Sutton. We talked about Sut, which is one of the great things about the “inside” part of baseball — you can always strike up a conversation about mutual friends. The uniforms may differ, but for the most part it’s one big happily dysfunctional family.

This ‘N That


Casey Kotchman’s banner at The Epicenter.

With nothing else in particular going on …

I’m trying to finish processing the last of the 2007 photos. I’m working on the final Quakes game right now, September 1 against Modesto. Hopefully they’ll be done tonight.

If you’re not a serious photographer, you probably wouldn’t know how hard it is to get decent photos during a night game in a minor league ballpark. Ever since I started doing this gig in 1998, I’ve struggled with technology and resources to figure out a way to shoot acceptable photos in dismal conditions. A basic rule of thumb in photography: light is everything. Whether you’re using film or a digital camera, the principle is the same — the camera is capturing light. The more light, the higher quality the image.

If baseball wasn’t action photography, it would be much easier, because you can just tell your camera to leave its aperture open for a long time. But baseball is all about action. It’s kinda like combat photography — you don’t know what to expect, but you can make an educated guess. And you have no control over the conditions.

Shooting in major league parks like Angel Stadium is easy, because the lighting is excellent. But the lower you go in the minor leagues, the more modest the ballparks and therefore the more inferior lighting.

During the September 1 game, I was experimenting, seeing what I could get away with. Back in the film days (pre-July 2002), it was very frustrating because I never knew what to expect until the film was developed. Experimentation equalled money. But with digital, I can experiment all I want. Worst case scenario, I just delete the JPEG files.

I tried opening the aperture longer, but when you do that you get more of a "smear" effect as the player moves. Even if he’s relatively stationary, any movement can lessen the resolution of the image. Digital images also start to suffer from pixelation, which can look like rain or streaks or just bizarre color grainy effects.

One day, I’m sure, camera technology will evolve to the point where images in low light conditions won’t be a concern. But that day ain’t today.


Greg Dini in the bullpen before the Quakes’ September 1 game.

As the year passed, I found myself experimenting more with cropping photos in Adobe PhotoShop to come up with some interesting images. I’ve always had a thing for photographing catchers. They’re kinda like the knights of old with helmets, chest protectors, shin guards, etc. To me they’re the most visually interesting. The photo to the left of Greg Dini is an example. He was warming up Blake Holler before the game. In many minor league ballparks, the bullpens are down the foul lines so it’s easy to go down there with a camera and shoot some photos.

With two exceptions … I remember in May 2002 I went down the line at Ray Winder Field in Arkansas to shoot photos of Bobby Jenks warming up. Pitching coach Mike Couchee asked me to stop because Bobby said it made him nervous. Mind you, anyone could go stand next to the chain link fence and watch him warm up. But as we know, Bobby is in his own world. Anyway, I honored the request and stopped … The other exception was July 15, 2003, when Randy Johnson made a rehab appearance with Lancaster at Rancho Cucamonga. I went down the line as always and shot photos of him warming up. Johnson didn’t object, but the Lancaster players who were in awe of The Unit were a bit unhappy that I’d crossed an invisible line they weren’t willing to cross. Any other night, they wouldn’t have cared less. But they seemed to think Randy deserved some space.

One rule I learned early on was to respect the game, and after a while you get the knack for what crosses the line. When Jered Weaver was pitching at Rancho Cucamonga, a free-lancer came through there who had no experience with sports photography. He went out on the infield while Weaver was warming up before an inning, crouched in front of him, and started shooting pictures! Jered didn’t seem to notice, but I couldn’t believe this guy. In the minors, photographers can pretty much shoot in foul territory so long as they use common sense. But on the field?! Holy Cow, to quote Harry Carey.


A photo of Tim Mattison pitching on September 1. Note the blur effect (which looks kinda cool) in his leg because the shutter speed was slowed down to capture more light.

If you look at photos shot before World War II, it’s not unusual to actually see photographers crouching in foul territory near home plate to get pictures of a batter’s swing. That was because cameras were primitive compared to today. (You will see this simulated in The Natural.) NO WAY I’d get that close!

I’ve also posted some photos of the banners hung at Rancho Cucamonga’s Epicenter of players with the Angels who once played with the Quakes. Among the players with banners are Casey Kotchman, Dallas McPherson, Mike Napoli, Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver, Brandon Wood and Howie Kendrick. Most of the photos were supplied by FutureAngels.com. If you look up these names in the FutureAngels.com Digital Gallery you’ll see what they look like.

Anyway, after the Rancho game I have the three fall instructional league game photos to process, and I’ll be done with 2007. I’ll post an announcement on the web site home page.

By the way, if you haven’t checked out the main site at www.futureangels.com, I’ve added a new bulletin board application written in PHP, called phpBB. I’m still exploring the features when I have the time, but in the interim I’d like to suggest you check out the new board. I see several people here responding to my blogs who haven’t registered for the bulletin board. Here, you can only post in reply to my blogs, but over there you can start your own topics.

I’ve been trying to find the time to read the Mitchell Report, but other matters have taken priority. Y’know, I’m not sure there’s really anything I can say that hasn’t been said. I’m not particularly shocked or surprised. Ballplayers are bred to be competitive at everything — even with their own bodies. In a lot of these instances, they were either marginal players looking for an edge to keep their jobs, or injured players who thought they could hasten their recoveries by taking HGH. That’s what probably happened with Gary Matthews, Jr. in 2004 — he’d suffered a hip injury and was trying to get healthy for the stretch run.

I’m not convinced this stuff makes much of a difference. The HGH might make you heal better, but from what I’ve read it would take massive doses to give you any more strength. Steroids tend to bulk up your body, and help you tolerate the wear ‘n tear over a 162-game season.

But there’s no magic pill to turn you into a 50-homer hitter or a 20-game winner. At best, it might give you more of what you already have.

I’ve always thought it a bit hypocritical that we get all upset over performance enhancing substances, but no one ever talks about performance degrading substances. How much did Mickey Mantle hurt his team by all the injuries that resulted from drinking and carousing? How many homers could Babe Ruth have hit if he didn’t eat himself into obesity and suffered from siphilis?

Back on the subject of performance-enhancing substances, what about the eight cups of coffee Troy Pervical used to chug-a-lug before a relief appearance so he could get a caffeine high? Caffeine is legal, amphetamines are not, but both are supposedly "performance-enhancing."

Go back to the early 20th Century, and you had players throwing spitballs, sharpening their spikes, openly gambling, and so on.

Cheating has always been a part of the game. Yet somehow, the game has survived. And it will survive this.

Personally, when it comes to stuff like that, I’ve always been a goody two-shoes. I was about the only guy on my dorm hall in the mid-1970s who didn’t smoke pot. It was around. I just didn’t see the point. So I wouldn’t be interested in steroids or HGH, but having been around players for ten years I can see the psychology that leads to its use.

Elsewhere …

Hopefully you’ve listened to the Jack Hiatt interview. Documenting the history of the Angels minor leagues continues to be an interest of mine, although I have limited time. Several related ideas are percolating, but as always it boils down to time and money.

In closing, I’ll note the torment of my colleague John Sickels who’s been flamed for his top prospect reports. I only get flamed for the Angels list. He gets it times thirty. C’mon, people, it’s only an opinion. It’s not life and death.

This article is copyright © 2007 Stephen C. Smith DBA FutureAngels.com. It may not be reprinted elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author. To obtain permission, e-mail Stephen at home@futureangels.com.

The Minor League Game of the Week


Brad Coon led the Angels’ system in 2007 with 56 stolen bases.

April 30, 2007 … The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes visit the Visalia Oaks in an early California League contest.

Center fielder Brad Coon is the star of the show. Normally known as a speed merchant with little power, Brad muscled up for a homer and triple. At season’s end, Coon led the Angels system with 56 stolen bases. In 74 games (299 AB) with Rancho, his AVG/OBP/SLG were .258/.311/.344. Promoted on June 27 to Double-A Arkansas, in 58 games (226 AB) his numbers were .301/.372/.385.

In the recently published FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects Report, I wrote about how pitcher-friendly is the Travs’ Dickey-Stephens Park, so let’s look at Brad’s home/road splits. At home, his line was .265/.311/.363. On the road, his line was .336/.427/.407. (113 AB for both.)

People ask me who’s a “sleeper” in the system. Coon might fit into that category, although at age 25 (December 11, Happy Birthday) he’s behind the age curve. The Angels are into speed, and Brad is someone the Angels have hoped would move up quickly.

Tampa Bay top prospect Justin Upton is in the lineup for the Oaks. Robert Mosebach gets the start for the Quakes.

Click Here to listen to the game. You need Windows Media Player to listen.

Jack Hiatt: The Once and Future Angel


Jack Hiatt returned to the Angels organization in 1982 as the manager of their Double-A affiliate in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

In the last couple years, I’ve been working on a project to document the history of the Angels minor leagues, its origins in particular. I’ve interviewed Dan Ardell, a USC graduate who played briefly in the system before joining the Angels at the end of 1961; Paul Mosley, who played with the 1961 Angels’ Class D affiilate in Statesville, North Carolina; and Roland Hemond, the Angels’ first farm and scouting director.

Last night I interviewed Jack Hiatt, who just retired after 16 years as the San Francisco Giants’ Director of Player Development. Hiatt began his professional career at age 18 with the newly born Los Angeles Angels. He signed on March 4, 1961, just as the Angels’ first spring training began in Palm Springs.

Along with three other Southern Californians, Hiatt flew to Statesville to begin his career. As Paul Mosley and Roland Hemond told us, Statesville’s park was in a deplorable condition. It was one of four pro ball parks still with an all-dirt infield (like a softball diamond). And because it was in the Deep South, their teammate **** Simpson suffered from blatant discrimination.

Jack’s interview runs a bit over an hour, but it’s worth listening to every minute. Not only is it a recounting of the history of the Angels’ early years, but it’s also an insight into minor league baseball nearly a half-century ago. I learned a lot more about those years, including Jack’s description of his 1964 season in Triple-A when his manager was future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon, and his hitting coach was future Angels coach Jimmie Reese.

Click Here to listen to Jack’s interview. You need Windows Media Player to listen.

If you’re suffering from an overdose of Mitchell Report, this is the antidote.

During the interview, I refer to a web site with photos of Mackenzie Stadium, where Hiatt managed in 1982. Click Here to visit that web site.

We have generic plans to reunite these players sometime next year, but we’ll see.

The Departure of Dallas McPherson

MLB.com reports that the Angels chose not to offer Dallas McPherson a new contract, making him a free agent.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported a week ago that Dallas was encouraged by his trial in fall instructional league and was willing to take any job, even in the minors, to get back into the game.

This morning’s Los Angeles Times reports Dallas was offered a contract but it was withdrawn:

McPherson, 27, said the Angels offered him a one-year contract but backed off before a deal could be finalized.

"We were close to an agreement on a contract," he said. "For whatever reason, they decided to pull the offer off the table. I wanted to be an Angel.

"They’ve been loyal to me. My biggest regret [is that] I can’t return that loyalty, the investment the Angels made in me."

I don’t expect Dallas to give up and go home. He’ll sign somewhere. And maybe in a couple years the Angels will regret withdrawing that contract.

Thanks for the memories, Dallas. You’re a class act.

The Minor League Game of the Week


Nick Green ranks #8 on the new FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects Report.

April 26, 2007 … The Arkansas Travelers host the Tulsa Drillers in an early-season Texas League contest.

Travs starting pitcher Nick Green, recently ranked #8 on the FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects Report, shows why he’s worked his way into the top prospect rankings with authoritative analysts. In seven innings, Nick allowed no runs, only one hit, struck out five and walked one.

There’s another subplot to this story that wasn’t evident at the time.

Tulsa starter Jonathan Asahina took a line drive in the face in the 5th inning, suffering what was eventually diagnosed as a fractured skull. He didn’t appear in a game until August 4. Travs broadcaster Phil Elson calls the injury the most frightening he’d seen in six years of broadcasting … but that would only last until July 22.

When the Drillers returned in mid-July to Dickey-Stephens Park, they had a new hitting coach, Mike Coolbaugh. He’d joined the team on July 3, replacing coach Orlando Merced. In the 9th inning of the July 22 game, Coolbaugh was coaching first base. A line drive foul struck him in the neck, killing him almost instantly.

So this game serves as a prologue for an even greater tragedy yet to come.

A reminder that you can donate to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund, which supports his wife and two children.

Because of Coolbaugh’s fatal injury, major league general managers voted on November 8 to require base coaches to wear helmets starting in 2008.

Click Here to listen to the April 26 game. You need Windows Media Player to listen.

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