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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Todd Mayo knew in baseball the outcome is never certain; Saw four pro seasons, made AA

Todd Mayo's University of California team took the close loss on a late home run in this April 1988 game, but Mayo knew it could have easily gone the other way, according to The San Francisco Examiner.

The close loss came after the club had lost seven of their previous 13 games, The Examiner wrote.

"In baseball, you're always going to slump," Mayo told The Examiner. "You're going to get them. If that ball doesn't go out, we win. You never know what's going to happen."

Mayo went on to turn pro the next season, in 1989. For him, what happened in the pros ultimately spanned five seasons. He made AA.

Mayo's career began that in 1989, taken by the Expos in the 32nd round of the draft out of Cal. He earlier graduated from Los Gatos High School in California.

At Los Gatos, Mayo played football and baseball and he made the school's Hall of Fame.

With the Expos, Mayo started at short-season Jamestown in 1989. He hit .303 in 68 games.

He then moved to high-A West Palm Beach for 1990. He hit .261 there in 108 games. He threw out a runner at home in the 12th inning of an April game. 

That July, he commented to The Palm Beach Post about the team's good pitching.

"We know that with our pitching, it might just take a hit or two for us to win," Mayo told The Post. "It's kinda been a crazy year."

Mayo returned to West Palm Beach for 1991 and got a 17-game look at AA Harrisburg. He picked up two hits and a stolen base in a May game for West Palm Beach. He hit .251 overall.

He then saw Harrisburg again for 1992, but his season proved brief. He saw five games that year and went 1 for 12 to end his career.

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,565
Made the Majors:1,235-34.6%
Never Made Majors:2,330-65.4%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:513
10+ Seasons in the Minors:305

Jeff Plympton made bigs, then worked to stay; Saw four ML contests

Originally published Jan. 8, 2014
Fresh off his major league debut, Jeff Plympton told the Bangor Daily News he was ready to do whatever the team needed him to do.

The University of Maine product spoke after getting himself into a jam in that June 1991 debut, then getting himself out of it, without giving up a run.

"I'm the 11th pitcher on an 11-man staff and I've got to work my tail off to show that I belong here," Plympton told the Daily News. "If I get people out and do my job, I might stay around for the season."

Plympton was around for the end of the season, but just not straight through. He also wasn't around in the majors again.

Plympton's major league career began and ended in 1991. It also lasted all of four outings, and ended with an ERA of 0.00.

Plympton's professional career began in 1987, taken by the Red Sox in the 10th round of the draft, out of the University of Maine. He grew up in Massachusetts, graduating from King Phillip High School in Plainville.

At Maine in 1986, Plympton helped his team to the College World Series. Going into the tournament, Plympton told the Daily News of the importance of his and his teammate's changeup.

"At this level, hitters one through nine are capable of hitting the ball out of the park," Plympton told the Daily News. "You've got to mix it up and show them a third pitch or they'll kill you."

With the Red Sox, Plympton used his changeup and other pitches in starting at AA New Britain. He got into 23 games there, six starts. He had a 3.82 ERA.

He moved back to single-A Lynchburg for 1988, then returned to New Britain for 1989 and 1990. In 1990, Plympton also first saw AAA Pawtucket, getting 17.1 innings of work there without giving up a run.

In 1991, Plympton got 41 outings at Pawtucket, with a 3.12 ERA. He also got those four outings in Boston.

In those four major league outings, Plympton pitched 5.1 innings. He gave up five hits, but he gave up no runs.

Plympton played two more seasons, but never made it back to the majors. He has since returned to Massachusetts, serving as recreation director for the town of Wrentham.

The former Red Sox hurler with the 0.00 ERA has also returned to Fenway with other former Red Sox. In 2012, he was there for the park's 100th anniversary. On the occasion of Fenway's 100th, Plympton recalled his original move up to Boston to Wrentham Patch.

"That was a huge thrill for me just to get to Pawtucket at the time because I spent so much time as a kid going to Pawtucket games," Plympton told Patch. "Then to get the call to Boston is an amazing emotion that you can’t even describe."

Monday, January 25, 2021

Mike Twardoski brought fundamentals to college squad; Saw 10 pro seasons, made AAA

Originally published Jan. 12, 2014
Mike Twardoski brought some power to the Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team, but what his coach Barry Shollenberger liked about him were his fundamentals, according to The Tuscaloosa News.

"Mike handles the bat well," Shollenberger told The News in February 1986. "He's one of the best bunters on the team. He can handle the hit-and-run or go to the opposite field to advance a runner."

Twardoski took those fundamentals to a pro career that lasted a decade. It was a career where Twardoski made AAA in five seasons, but he could never make the majors.

Twardoski has since took those to his new role as a coach, teaching them to college players as head coach at Emory University in Atlanta.

Twardoski's professional career began in 1986, taken by the Indians in the 29th round of the draft, out of Alabama.

With the Indians, Twardoski started at short-season Batavia, moving to single-A Kinston for 1987. He played at AA Canton-Akron for 1989, then moved to the Red Sox and AA New Britain for 1990 after a trade.

Twardoski hit .293 for New Britain in 1990, making AAA Pawtucket for 1991. He stayed at Pawtucket for two seasons, largely playing first base. For 1993, he moved to the Mets and AAA Norfolk.

In May 1993, Twardoski started getting hot. His teammates were getting hot, as well, according to The Newport News Daily Press.

"It's the dominoes theory - one guy starts hitting, and everyone starts hitting," Twardoski told The Daily Press. "You win one game and you just keep winning."

Twardoski hit .281 that year for Norfolk. He played in just two more seasons, returning to Pawtucket for 1994, then getting a brief stint with the Braves at AAA Richmond in 1995.

His playing career over, Twardoski went into instructing, starting the East Coast Baseball Academy, according to his Emory bio. He arrived at Emory in 1999, becoming head coach in 2000.

Since then, Twardoski has taken the Eagles to more than 400 wins. He's also coached his team to three Division III World Series. In 2007, Twardoski's club made it to the championship game, losing in extras.

"It was an absolutely incredible season," Twardoski told his hometown Tonawanda News afterward. "We have a real family of players out there."

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Dave Milstien expressed determination to make bigs; Saw nine pro seasons, made AAA

Originally published Jan. 7, 2014
Dave Milstien had made AAA by 1992, but he hadn't yet made the majors. To the Los Angeles Times in July 1992, Milstien said he was still determined to make the majors.

Quitting then, in his seventh season as a pro, he told the Times, would be a waste.

"Getting to the big leagues is not about how old you are or how many years you've been playing," Milstien told the Times. "It's when they think you're ready."

Milstien went on to play in a total of nine professional seasons. But he never played in the majors.

According to a story years later in the Ventura County Star, he did get called up to Boston once, but was never activated. He then never got back.

Milstien's career began in 1986, taken by the Red Sox in the 8th round of the draft, out of Simi Valley High School in California.

Milstien signed, then was sent to short-season Elmira. He isn't recorded as playing that year, though. His first recorded playing time came in 1987, at single-A Winter Haven. He hit .221 over 100 games.

Going into 1987, Milstien told the Times about the experience of finally being a professional.

"The whole thing is hard to comprehend," Milstien told the Times. "You get a dream and you go for it. But still, when it happens, it takes you by surprise. It kind of takes your breath away."

Milstien made AA New Britain in 1989, staying there into 1991. In 1991, he first hit AAA Pawtucket. He then stayed with Pawtucket for all of 1992 and 1993, hitting .248 and .252.

Around that time, Milstien got called up to Boston, according to the Star. But he wasn't activated because the player he would have replaced went on to play.

Milstien moved to the White Sox and AAA Nashville for 1994 and then the the Brewers system for 1995.

His career over, Milstien returned to Simi Valley with his wife, Kim. The two met when Milstien played for New Britain. The two soon married and traveled together as Dave's career progressed. In 2012, Kim Milstien became CEO of Simi Valley Hospital.

"It's a rough life," Kim Milstien told the Star in August 2012. "There's a lot of travel and a lot of time spent at the park. It's very unpredictable. Your life is not your own."

Saturday, January 23, 2021

John Wenrick got good action on his fastball in 1986 game; Saw five pro seasons, made high-A

John Wenrick's fastball had good action on it this night in August 1986. The result for his rookie Kingsport squad, a four-hitter and a 1-0 loss, The Kingsport Times-News wrote.

"It's the game I've been waiting to pitch all season," Wenrick told The Times-News afterward. 

Wenrick pitched that game in his first professional season. He went on to see four more. He topped out at high-A.

Wenrick's career began that year in 1986, taken by the Mets in the third round of the secondary phase of the June draft out of Long Beach City College. 

Wenrick started with the Mets at rookie Kingsport. He got into 12 games, 11 starts. he went 2-6, with a 5.56 ERA.

Wenrick isn't recorded as playing in 1987, but he returned for 1988 at short-season Little Falls. He saw 23 relief outings, picked up two wins, two saves and an ERA of 3.30.

Wenrick moved to single-A Columbia for 1989. He started the year with an exhibition against the University of South Carolina, but had a rough start. He went three innings and gave up five earned. He also walked three.

"It's unusual for him because he doesn't walk people that much," Wenrick's manager Bill Stein told The Greenville News then. "That's not the John Wenrick you'll see during the year. He usually goes right after the hitters."

Wenrick then went 6-8 on the year, with a 4.09 ERA over 44 outings, three starts. He also saved four.

Wenrick moved to the Expos system for 1990. He played at high-A West Palm Beach. He went 4-1, with a 3.62 ERA over 21 relief outings. That season marked his last as a pro.

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,564
Made the Majors:1,235-34.7%
Never Made Majors:2,329-65.3%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:513
10+ Seasons in the Minors:305

Mike Kelly had successful run in college, saw four pro seasons, made AA

Originally published Jan. 11, 2014
Mike Kelly had a successful run at the University of South Florida in 1987.

He hit .395 that year, scoring 58 and knocking in 66. It was all enough for Kelly to earn conference Player of the Year honors.

It was also enough for Kelly to be taken in the ninth round of that year's draft. But it wasn't enough for a long pro career. Kelly played four seasons, making AA, but never making the majors.

Kelly's pro career began that year in 1987 with his selection by the Red Sox, taken out of South Florida.

At South Florida, Kelly only played that one year in 1987. Kelly's .395 average the best career average at the school. His nine triples that one year is also tied for eighth best for a career at the school.

His 96 hits that year is third best in a single season at the school. His average that year is sixth best in a single season.

With the Red Sox, Kelly started at short-season Elmira. He hit .302 there over 51 games. He moved to single-A Winter Haven in 1988, his average dropping to .229.

For 1989, Kelly moved to single-A Lynchburg and AA New Britain, splitting his time between the two. At Lynchburg in June, Kelly helped break open a game in extras with a bases-clearing double. He hit .279 on the year.

Kelly returned to New Britain in 1990, playing the year there. He had two hits in an early April game. In the playoffs, he knocked in a run on a single. It was his final year as a pro.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Chris Pollack returned from rotator cuff surgery for four more seasons, but had no Hollywood ending in bigs

After losing his third pro season to rotator cuff surgery, Chris Pollack returned in 1990 at high-A West Palm Beach and showed he could still pitch, according to The Palm Beach Post.

By early May, he had a 3.23 ERA and, as The Post wrote about him, he'd threw seven innings of one-hit ball.

"After tonight's game, I'm convinced (Pollack) is OK," West Palm Beach manager Felipe Alou told The Post. "Any time you have surgery, especially if you're a pitcher, there's some question if you can go out and do the job every five days. He's shown me he can do that."

Pollack's return to the field ended up getting him a total of four more seasons, two of those in AA. He never made the majors,

But, Pollack's baseball career didn't have a Hollywood ending, he actually had his own Hollywood beginning as the son of a movie producer and costume designer, as well as nephew to an Oscar-winning director.

Pollack's baseball career began in 1987, taken by the Expos in the 10th round of the draft out of Florida State.

Pollack's background included his movie connections, his father was Bernie Pollack and uncle Sydney Pollack. He'd spent time on movie sets, including time with one of his dad's closest friends, Robert Redford, on the set of "The Natural."

He spoke with The Post in June 1990 about the similarity between  the two professions, baseball and movies. 

"The big thing about both professions is getting the breaks," Pollack told The Post. "You're trying to make a name for yourself. A lot of times it depends on the breaks you get."

At Florida State, Pollack helped his team to the 1987 College World Series in Omaha. He also threw a six-hit, complete-game shutout to keep his team alive, an outing Polllack called his best of the year, according to The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

"It couldn't have come at a better time," Pollack told The Sun Sentinel. "My breaking ball wasn't as good as I would have liked it, but my fastball was better than it has been."

Pollack's performance soon got him selected by the Expos. He started that year with short-season Jamestown. He went 6-4 over 14 starts, with a 2.07 ERA. He went 6-4 again at single-A Rockford in 1988, with a 2.97 ERA. 

Then came his lost season in 1989 and return with West Palm Beach in 1990. He went 13-2 on  the year there, with a 2.05 ERA. 

He made AA Harrisburg for 1991 and returned there in 1992. He went 11-8 at Harrisburg in 1992m with a 4.71 ERA, marking his last season in the Expos system.

He then returned for one more season, with independent Thunder Bay in 1993, to end his career.

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,563
Made the Majors:1,235-34.7%
Never Made Majors:2,328-65.3%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:513
10+ Seasons in the Minors:305