Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ramon Henderson, His Losses - 29

Bobby Abreu won the 2005 Home Run Derby by hitting a record-setting 41 home runs. Serving him up those home runs was his personal batting practice pitcher, Ramon Henderson, according to The Associated Press.

"Bobby did all the work," Henderson told The AP afterward. "It takes a lot of talent and a lot of power to do what he did. I was just happy to be part of it."

Henderson had worked in the pros at that point as a player and as a coach for nearly a quarter century. But he had yet to accept his hardest task of his career - fighting alcoholism. That ultimately led him away from the game.

"My losses have been priceless," Henderson told MLB.com in 2012. "I can only tell you that people can't understand it unless they were in my shoes. The alcohol took what I loved to do the most, which is baseball, what I've done all my life."

Henderson's long career in the pros began in 1982, signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent out of his native Dominican Republic.

Henderson started as a player at rookie Helena. He then moved to single-A Spartanburg for 1983 and briefly made AA Reading for 1985. He returned to Reading for all of 1986 and 1987, hitting .279 and .261 respectively.

He made AAA Maine for 1988, but hit just .190 in 54 games. He finished out his playing career in 1989, back at Reading.

Henderson started his coaching career in 1990 with the Phillies at rookie Princeton. (His manager that year was Eli Grba had his own struggles with alcoholism.)

He got his first managerial job in 1993, at rookie Martinsville. He stayed there four seasons. Along the way, he spoke to author Hank Davis about his job as a rookie league manager, according to Davis' book "Small-Town Heroes."

"A lot of these kids are barely eighteen," Henderson told Davis. "Some of them haven't been away from home before. I'm a cross between a coach, a father figure, and a baby-sitter. It's all part of the job."

Henderson moved to AA Reading as coach for 1997, then all the way to Philadelphia as bullpen coach. He stayed there for a decade, helping Abreu to the 2005 derby title. He also threw to Ryan Howard in 2006, when Howard won the derby.

Then, in 2008, he went into rehab for alcohol-related issues. He briefly in 2009 to coach high-A Clearwater. He returned for one more season as manager in the rookie Gulf Coast League in 2013.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,695
Made the Majors:1,031-38.3%-X
Never Made Majors:1,664-61.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 426
10+ Seasons in the Minors:263

Steve Liddle, On Talent - 25

Originally published Oct. 7, 2014
Whether a play turned was a base hit or an error is an important decision, but 1983 Nashua Angel Steve Liddle knew that one decision wasn't that important given everything else in the game, according to The Nashua Telegraph.

"Guys will make it to the big leagues on talent," Liddle said, according to The Telegraph, "not the scoring position on one play."

Liddle never did make it to the big leagues on his playing talent. His coaching talent, though, got him there for more than a decade.

Liddle first made the majors with the Twins in 2002 as a bench coach and he stayed with the club for 11 seasons, ending as the team's third base coach in 2012.

Liddle's career in baseball began in 1981, signed by the Angels as an undrafted free agent out of Lipscomb University in Nashville.

Liddle played his first season between rookie Idaho Falls and single-A Redwood. He made AA Holyoke in 1982, then AAA Edmonton in 1984.

At Edmonton in 1984, Liddle hit .262, with six home runs and 51 RBI. He returned to Edmonton for 1985, but only got into 25 games. Liddle moved to the Twins system for 1987.

He played that year at AA Orlando and the next at AAA Portland, rounding out his playing career and ending it short of the majors.

Soon after, Liddle started his coaching and managerial career. He took over single-A Kenosha as manager in 1989, returning there for 1990.

For 1991, Liddle took over high-A Visalia, staying there for 1992. He also watched over young Twins prospect Marty Cordova. In July 1992 Liddle assessed the future major leaguer's early minors struggles.

"He possesses a major league tool that you can't teach, and that's bat speed," Liddle said, according to The Los Angeles Times. "But he never came to spring training in baseball shape. It's a year-round job, and it took two years for Marty to realize that."

Liddle managed at high-A Fort Myers in 1993 and 1994, then served as hitting coach at AAA Salt Lake in 1995. In 1999, he became Twins' minor league field coordinator. Then, in 2002, he became bench coach in Minnesota.

Liddle spent a total of nine seasons as Twins' bench coach. Then, in 2011, he became the Twins' third base coach. That was a job he had performed in the minors, when he was managing.

"You have to make split-second decisions based on a lot of information," Liddle told MinnPost.com of his role that April. "I can't be a high-risk guy, because I've got to play the percentages."

Liddle continued with the Twins through 2012. That August, he explained to LipscombSports.com his approach to players.

"If you want respect, you have to give respect," Liddle told the site for his alma mater. "It is a two-way street. I give respect to the players and they respect me, not because of my position, but because of how I try to treat them."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Luis Brito, Good Living - 3

Luis Brito explained to The Spartanburg Herald-Journal in 1993 just how far his minor league salary with his single-A squad went.

Brito, a native of the Dominican Republic, measured it by what he could send home.

"Every 15 days, I send money home by Western Union," Brito told The Herald-Journal. "I get 12 1/2 pesos for one American dollar. It’s a pretty good living."

Brito made that living at Spartanburg in his fifth pro season. He went on to play in 11 pro campaigns. He made AAA, but he never had the chance to make a living in the majors.

Brito's career began in 1989, signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent out of his native Dominican Republic.

Brito started with the Phillies at rookie Martinsville. He got into nine games there, then moved to rookie Princeton for 1990. He singled in a run in a July game and hit .242 overall.

He played 1991 between short-season Batavia and Martinsville. He singled and scored in a June game for Martinsville. He hit .286 on the season.

Brito spent 1992 between Spartanburg and high-A Clearwater. He gave his team a lead with another single in a May game for Spartanburg.

Brito made AA Reading in 1994. He went 1 for 4 in an August game, scoring once. He homered in his first game for the club, tying the game.

He returned to Clearwater for 1995 before moving to the Braves system and high-A Durham for 1996. He played 1997 at AA Greenville, going 2 for 3 in an August game.

In 1998, he made his first and only trip to AAA, a nine-game stint where he went 6 for 28. He played that year at two other levels and in independent ball. He then finished out his 11-season career in 1999 in Italy.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,694
Made the Majors:1,030-38.3%
Never Made Majors:1,664-61.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 426
10+ Seasons in the Minors:263-X

Steve Dunn, Big Spot - 3

Originally published Oct. 24, 2014
When the Salt Lake cleanup hitter got called up in July 1995, Steve Dunn stepped into his spot in the batting order, according to The Deseret News.

He also quickly made himself at home, going 2 for 4 in one game, knocking a home run.

"I like hitting (in the cleanup position),"  Dunn told The News. "It's definitely a big RBI spot and I wanted to see what I could do there."

Dunn had already had a shot to see what he could do in the majors, a year before in Minnesota. Later in 1995, he got another shot, five final major league appearances to round out his big league career.

Dunn's career began in 1988, taken by the Twins in the fourth round of the draft out of Robinson High School in Fairfax, Va.

Dunn started with the Twins at rookie Elizabethton. In 26 games, he hit .284. He played 1989 between Elizabethton and single-A Kenosha.

He returned to Kenosha for all of 1990, hitting .297, with 10 home runs and 72 RBI. He then played 1991 and 1992 at high-A Visalia. In his second season at Visalia, he hit a career-high 26 home runs.

Dunn made AA for the first time in 1993 at Nashville. He hit .262, with 14 home runs there. He then made AAA Salt Lake in 1994. In May 1994, he made the majors.

With the Twins in 1994, Dunn got into 14 games, picking up eight hits in 35 at bats. He also knocked in four runs.

Dunn returned to Salt Lake for 1995, hitting .316 in 109 games. That September, he got his call back to Minnesota. In five games, he got six at bats. He walked once but didn't get a hit.

One more season at AAA in the Indians organization and Dunn's career ended after nine seasons as a pro.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mario Garcia, His Goal - 8

Mario Garcia both looked at the present in 1991 and his hoped for future in a quote included on his baseball cards that year.

"I feel good to be able to play in a great city," Garcia said, according to his card. "My goal is to make the show and become a great pitcher."

Garcia's 1991 present saw him playing in his second year as a pro, in rookie ball at Huntington with the Cubs. His future, however, included just one more season. His future never included the show.

Garcia's career began in 1990, signing a pro contract out of his native Dominican Republic. He later played in the Cubs organization, though it is unclear who he signed with originally.

Assigned to rookie Princeton for 1990, the pitcher Garcia got into 15 games, starting one. He went 3-2, with a 5.40 ERA. He also collected one save.

Garcia moved to rookie Huntington with the Cubs for 1991. He went 1-2, with a 2.19 ERA over 22 relief appearances. He then returning to Huntington for 1992, but got into only 11 games in relief. He went 0-3, with an 8.56 ERA, ending his career.

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,693
Made the Majors:1,030-38.3%
Never Made Majors:1,663-61.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 426
10+ Seasons in the Minors:262

Jose Sosa, Those Numbers - 21

Jose Sosa came to the United States in 1990 likely hoping for a long pro career, or at least one where he had a chance to show what he could do.

Instead, the Dominican native had few opportunities to show his skills. The outfielder saw time in a single season, 14 total games, marking the extent of his pro career.

Sosa's career began and ended that year in 1990, signed to a professional contract and assigned to co-op Princeton of the rookie Appalachian League. He is listed as residing in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, east of the capital of Santo Domingo.

The team that held his rights is unclear. Phillies signees predominantly filled the Princeton roster, however, the Tigers and Braves also added players to the team.

With the Patriots, Sosa got into those 14 games. He picked up five hits in 32 at bats, for a .156 overall average. He hit one double, knocked in three runners, walked twice and struck out 18 times.

Those numbers are largely all that is recorded of Sosa's pro career.

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,692
Made the Majors:1,030-38.3%
Never Made Majors:1,662-61.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 426
10+ Seasons in the Minors:262

Jody Harrington, Bad Start - 6

Originally published Oct. 25, 2014
Jody Harrington had a bad start in this July 1989 game.

The Elizabethton starter was greeted in the bottom of the first by a Princeton team that racked up seven runs, including a bases-clearing double, according to The Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Harrington ended up getting two other starts for Elizabethton that year, along with six relief outings. His ERA never really recovered. It came in on the season at 9.72.

Harrington's career began in 1988, taken by the Twins in the 10th round of the draft out of Armijo High School in Fairfield, Ca.

Harrington started with the Twins at rookie Elizabethton. He got four relief outings that first year, giving up four earned in 6.1 innings.

He returned to Elizabethton for 1989, getting those nine total outings, giving up 27 earned in 25 innings. He walked 29 and struck out 22.

For 1990, Harrington moved to single-A Kenosha. He got 22 outings, one start. His ERA came down to a good 1.74. He also picked up three wins and one save. Despite the numbers, it was his final year in affiliated ball.

Harrington is credited with coming back four years later, in independent ball. In 1995, Harrington got three relief outings with independent Winnipeg and five outings with independent Sioux Falls, ending his pro career.

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