Thursday, November 16, 2017

Steve Ford, Dodger Way - 20

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette checked in on Dodgers farmhand and local Pittsburgh-area product Garrett Beard in 1989 and short-season Salem General Manager Steve Ford offered the update.

"He hits the ball very hard and goes with the pitch," Ford told The Post-Gazette, "which is something we usually have a hard time teaching the younger players. He is a terrific line drive hitter. Garrett's defensive play is sound, too, but he still has to work on learning some of the Dodgers' way of doing things."

Ford knew the Dodger way well. That season marked his 13th in the Dodgers system working in front office roles. He served as general manager at Salem that year in 1989 and followed the Dodgers to short-season Yakima in 1990. He served much of that time at AA San Antonio.

Ford's career in minor league baseball began after he graduated from Arizona's John Brown University, where he earned a degree in physical education, according to his Yakima card.

Ford started with the Dodgers by 1977, at San Antonio. In 1989, he served as the club's assistant general manager as Fernando Valenzuela played for the team. Ford told a book author about trying to get the Spanish-speaking Valenzuela to sign his first check without an interpreter.

Ford continued with San Antonio through 1987. He moved to short-season Salem for 1988 and returned there for 1989.

In September 1989, Ford speculated about changes in the Northwest League landscape in 1990. Boise and it's new field was an attractive spot for a team, he told The Salem Statesman Journal.

"That's the key," Ford told The Statesman Journal about the new facility. "There has been a lot of concern because of the travel from Boise, but that factor can take care of a lot of problems."

The Dodgers then moved their affiliate for 1990 to Yakima. He continued at Yakima into 1991.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,813
Made the Majors:1,065-37.9%
Never Made Majors:1,748-62.1%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 443
10+ Seasons in the Minors:266

1990 Bellingham Mariners

Features on each member of the 1990 Bellingham Mariners, short-season affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

Bellingham Mariners (39)
1 - Dave Adam, His Spots, 10/16/17
2 - Rob Callistro, His Faith, 10/19/17
3 - P.J. Carey, His Time, 10/29/17
4 - Jim Converse, First Win, 11/7/17
5 - John Cummings, Learned To, 11/5/17
6 - Kyle Duke, Top Prospect, 10/23/17
7 - Doug Fitzer, That Coaching, 10/17/17
8 - Rick Green, Home Run, 10/9/17
9 - John Hoffman, Second Generation, 11/8/17
10 - Greg Hunter, Enjoyed It, 10/20/17
11 - Kevin King, Good Game, 11/10/17
12 - Clay Klavitter, Mentally Ready, 11/5/17
13 - Matt Kluge, Strong Defense, 10/26/17
14 - Tony Kounas, His Chance, 11/12/17
15 - Rich Lodding, Physical Effort, 10/15/17
16 - Bobby Magallanes, No Joke, 10/8/17
17 - Jim Magill, All Around, 10/18/17
18 - Dave McDonald, Nice Job, 11/14/17
19 - Fred McNair, Good Bat, 10/25/17
20 - Lipso Nava, Kept Learning, 11/11/17
21 - Rob Nichols, Fired Up, 10/22/17
22 - Myron Pines, Unique Situation, 11/1/17
23 - Glen Raasch, College Prospect, 10/20/17
24 - Randy Rivera, Could Go, 10/15/17
25 - Willie Romay, Their Projection, 11/6/17
26 - Ruben Santana, Little Things, 10/10/17
27 - Brian Stephens, Extra Concentration, 10/28/17
28 - Doug Tegtmeier, Summer Title, 10/16/17
29 - James Terrell, Pretty Fun, 10/28/17
30 - Bill Tucker, True Passion, 11/13/17
31 - Sean Twitty, Closest Friends, 10/14/17
32 - Jerry Walker, Eclipsed Perspective, 11/4/17
33 - Spyder Webb, His Name, 11/2/17
34 - Gary Wheelock, Further Development, 10/30/17
35 - Willie Wilder, His Dedication, 10/9/17
36 - Willie Wilkerson, Home State, 10/21/17
37 - Tyler Williams, Six Innings, 10/27/17
38 - Kevin Yianacopolus, Highest Ability, 11/15/17
39 - Todd Youngblood, Bulldog Type, 10/21/17

Buddy Micheu, His Officers - 14

Originally published May 21, 2014
The Albuquerque Journal traveled to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and followed a group of officers trying to keep the peace.

Heading up the group The Journal followed was New Orleans Police Sgt. Tony Micheu.

"I know you guys have been working 24-7, round the clock, you're tired and you want to see your families," Micheu told his officers before they went out on their sixth consecutive all-night patrol, The Journal wrote. "We're working on finding you guys some time off, really we are."

Micheu has worked for the New Orleans Police Department for more than two decades. Before that, Micheu played baseball, online records show.

Micheu played at both Nicholls State and in the Rangers system. With the Rangers, he could play only two seasons. He briefly made AA, but not the bigs.

Micheu started his baseball career in 1989, signed by the Rangers as an undrafted free agent out of Nicholls State in his home state of Louisiana. Micheu is also known by his nickname, Buddy Micheu.

During the summer, Micheu played collegiate ball in Ohio, with Lima in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.

With the Rangers, Micheu got time his first season at rookie Butte and AA Tulsa. At Butte, he got 15 games, going 12 for 35. At Tulsa, he went 6 for 23, with his first professional home run.

For 1990, Micheu moved to single-A Gastonia. In 71 games, the catcher hit .219. He also hit five home runs. He's then credited as playing in Mexico, with Tabasco, in 1991, ending his career.

He soon entered a new career, in law enforcement, records show. He's also stayed in the game, serving as a youth baseball coach. He's listed as a coach for 2013 for NOLA Baseball.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Kevin Yianacopolus, Highest Ability - 31

Kevin Yianacopolus start at Stoneham High School in Massachusetts and eventually made it briefly to the pros. In 2013, he returned to Stoneham as the school's head baseball coach.

After the appointment, Yianacopolus told the local Patch that his team would focus on the basics.

"Playing fundamentally sound baseball and teaching our players to compete at their highest ability is what will make us competitive," Yianacopolus told Patch.

Yianacopolus' highest ability took him from Stoneham to college and then the pros. His ability, however, only got him a single professional season. That ability then showed itself in other ways, as a longtime high school coach.

Yianacopolus' career began and ended in 1990, signed by the Mariners as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine. His name is also spelled Kevin Yianacopolos.

At Stoneham, Yianacopolus played baseball, football and basketball. He quarterbacked the football team and pitched for the baseball team. He struck out 19 in one senior-year game. He made the school Hall of Fame in 2012.

After heading to Bridgton Academy and Maine, Yianacopolus turned pro with the Mariners.

Assigned to short-season Bellingham, Yanacopolus got into 23 games in relief. He gave up a home run in a July game. Overall, he went 2-5, with a 4.46 ERA. Those stats marked the extent of his pro career.

Yianacopolus then returned to Massachusetts and eventually took a job as assistant coach at Lexington High School there. He then returned to Stoneham in 2011. He continued there as head baseball coach and assistant football coach in 2017.

He took over at Stoneham from longtime coach Bill Seabury.

"It's nice to be back and to give back," Yianacopolus told in 2013. "At Stoneham, we've only had three coaches in the past 70 years so it's quite an honor to get the job and hopefully stay."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,812
Made the Majors:1,065-37.9%
Never Made Majors:1,747-62.1%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 443
10+ Seasons in the Minors:266

Randy Whisler, Developed Them - 29

Originally published June 8, 2014
Randy Whisler left pro baseball for a year in 2006. He then found out he wanted back in, he told The Oklahoman.

"I missed the competitiveness, the working with the guys and getting them better, developing them," Whisler told The Oklahoman. "It was great to be home with my family for a year, but I missed baseball and it's great to be back."

Whisler spoke having returned as a coach for the AAA Oklahoma RedHawks. He was resuming a coaching career that stretched back to the late-1980s, one that began after a brief career as a player.

That return also wasn't the first time Whisler left and then came back to pro ball. Previous times, he left for college ball.

Whisler's pro career began in 1985, taken by the Blue Jays in the 27th round of the draft out of Oklahoma State University.

At Oklahoma State, Whisler helped his team to the 1984 College World Series. He knocked a bases-loaded triple in one game there.

With the Blue Jays, Whisler started at rookie Medicine Hat. He hit .265 in 58 games. He then moved to single-A Florence in 1986. He hit .279 there, ending his brief career.

From there, Whisler soon went into coaching. He served as an assistant coach back at Oklahoma State for 1988 and 1989. In 1990, he joined the pros, serving as a coach at single-A Gastonia for the Rangers.

Whisler stayed with Gastonia for 1991. He continued as a minor league instructor for the Rangers through 1994. For 1995, he accepted a head coaching job at Edmonds Community College in Washington state.

"I love pro ball. This is different, but I like it," Whisler told The Seattle Times that May. "I like the kids. They're hungry and eager to learn. The player development is what I like best about it, to watch them improve, then go on to the next level. That's my job, to get that done for them."

Soon, though, Whisler was back in the pros. He was also on his way to the majors.

For 1997, he joined the Padres as manager in the rookie Arizona League. In 2000, he became hitting coach at AAA Las Vegas.

After a stint in the Marlins organization, Whisler joined the Reds for 2004 as major league first base coach and infield instructor. In July 2005, Whisler worked with third baseman Edwin Encarnacion on his throwing.

"We worked on keeping his front side together," Whisler told "A lot of times when he goes to throw, his front side opens up, and that makes the ball have a lot of run on it. We try to make him more accurate on the throw."

Whisler worked with the Reds for those two seasons. He then took a year off and coached two seasons with the Rangers at AAA Oklahoma.

More recently, Whisler has been back in Oklahoma, working with The Bullpen as an infield instructor with the Whisler Infield Academy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dave McDonald, Nice Job - 19

San Bernardino Spirit starter Roger Salkeld started this August 1990 game strong and reliever Dave McDonald finished it.

By game's end, the Spirit had a 12-1 victory and Spirit manager Keith Body had praise to hand out, according to The San Bernardino County Sun.

"Great job by Roger," Bodie told The Sun. "And it was a nice job by McDonald. We played a great game."

While Salkeld went on to make the majors over three seasons, McDonald never made it there. McDonald pitched in two professional seasons. He made it up to high-A San Bernardino, but no  higher.

McDonald's career began that year in 1990, taken by the Mariners in the 29th round of the draft out of Brandeis University in Massachusetts. McDonald is also credited by his formal name, David McDonald.

McDonald turned pro in baseball after he played baseball, basketball and soccer in high school. He also played basketball at Brandeis. He averaged a blocked shot every 2.5 games over 25 contests in 1987.

With the Mariners, McDonald started at short-season Bellingham. He got into eight relief outings there, picked up one win and turned in a 1.13 ERA. He then moved to San Bernardino for another nine relief outings. He gave up eight earned in 13.2 innings of work there.

McDonald returned to San Bernardino for 1991. In 43 outings, two starts, McDonald went 2-3, with a 5.33 ERA. He also earned two saves. That season marked his last as a pro.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,811
Made the Majors:1,065-37.9%
Never Made Majors:1,746-62.1%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 443
10+ Seasons in the Minors:266

Jessie Hollins, Gentle Giant - 14

Originally published May 2, 2013
Jessie Hollins tried to explain his situation to The Orlando Sentinel in 1994.

He he was 12 months out from rotator cuff surgery. He hadn't pitched in a game since 1992, the year he'd made the majors his one and only time.

"I was one of the hottest pitchers in baseball 'til I got hurt," Hollins told The Sentinel as he prepared to start his comeback. ''Since, my life has been put on hold. It nearly destroyed me when I got hurt."

Hollins never did complete that comeback. He also hardly pitched again, his arm problems claiming his career.

Hollins later returned home to Texas. In 2009, a fishing accident claimed his life.

Hollins' career began in 1988, the Cubs taking the 6-foot, 3-inch hurler in the 40th round of the draft out of Willis High School and San Jacinto College in Texas.

Hollins first took the field in 1989, playing at rookie Wytheville. He went 3-1 with a 4.84 ERA in 22 outings, three starts.

In 1990, Hollins picked up 16 starts and six relief appearances between short-season Geneva and single-A Peoria. He went 10-3, with a 3.03 ERA on the year.

Hollins moved to high-A Winston-Salem for 1991, then AA Charlotte for 1992. At Charlotte, Hollins was a full-time reliever. In 63 outings, he posted a 3.20 ERA. He also saved 25 games and earned a September call-up to Chicago.

With the Cubs that September, Hollins got into four games in relief, giving up seven earned runs in just 4.2 innings of work. He gave up four of those runs in one inning of work against the Cardinals.

Then came Hollins' arm troubles. He missed all of 1993, undergoing the shoulder surgery that June. In 1994, he's credited with getting back to pitch for high-A Daytona. He gave up four earned runs in five innings of work.

Then, in April 1995, he was released.

He's credited with making another attempt in 1997, with the Yankees in rookie ball and in independent ball in Tyler. But it was brief. His career was over.

It was in July 2009 that Hollins went fishing with at least one of his sons and a brother. Hollins tried to help a boater with a struck line, according to Houston station KTRK. But Hollins got into trouble and drowned.

"My brother would walk into the room and suck the air out of it," Stacy Hollins told The Houston Chronicle after his brother's passing. "It was almost like the building would shake.

"But while he was very large," Stacy Hollins continued to The Chronicle, "he was very kindhearted. To be as big as he was, he was a gentle giant."


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