Saturday, September 21, 2019

Mike Kennedy played, then coached at Elon University; In between, he played as a pro - 18

The Mariners seemed to have an eye on North Carolina's Elon University and SB Nation's Lookout Landing spoke to Elon head coach Mike Kennedy in 2019 about why.

Seattle took four players from the school from 2016 to 2019, including making an Elon player the organization's first-round pick in 2019, Lookout Landing noted.

"I don't think it was one particular player where all of a sudden, here come the Mariners," Kennedy told Lookout Landing. "We have a pretty good idea of how to coach guys, how to let them play and figure things out."

By 2019, Kennedy knew about players being drafted out of Elon as the 2018-2019 season marked his 23rd season as head coach at the school. Before that, though, Kennedy was a player at Elon himself, one who got drafted and played in the pros.

Kennedy's career pro career began in 1990, taken by the Athletics in the ninth round of the draft out of Elon.

At Elon, Kennedy won honorable mention All-American twice as a catcher and hit .321 in 1990.

Kennedy started with the Athletics between the rookie Arizona League and high-A Modesto. He it .174 in 27 games between them.

He then moved to short-season Southern Oregon for 1991. He got into 33 games there and hit .294, but that season turned out to be his last as a pro.

Kennedy soon found his way back to Elon. By 1993, he was serving as the school's pitching coach. In 1997, he made the move to head coach, a job he continues to hold in 2019.

In his time as head coach, Kennedy has led his squads to 19 winning seasons and 17 of those that included 30 or more victories.

"I don't think I could do anything but coach baseball," Kennedy told The Magazine of Elon in 2010, before adding a joke, "I'm not good at anything else."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,174
Made the Majors:1,154-36.4%
Never Made Majors:2,020-63.6%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 478
10+ Seasons in the Minors:283

John Briscoe, Last Few - 5

Originally published Feb. 16, 2014
The Brewers were trying to mount a comeback and the Athletics turned to John Briscoe to shut them down.

Brought in with two outs in the ninth inning, the tying run on deck, Briscoe proceeded induce a ground out, sealing the win and Briscoe's second career save.

"That was definitely a lift for us," Briscoe told The Associated Press afterward. "They've beaten up on us pretty good the last few years. It would be nice to change that."

Briscoe knew how the last few years went for Oakland because he'd been with the team for those years. That season in 1996 was Briscoe's sixth with time with the team.

Briscoe's career began in 1988, taken by the Athletics in the third round of the draft out of Texas Christian University.

Briscoe started in the rookie Arizona League. He moved to single-A Madison in 1989 and single-A Modesto in 1990. He also got three games at AA Huntsville that year.

Then, with little time above single-A, Briscoe made the jump in April 1991 all the way to Oakland. Briscoe got into 11 games for the Athletics in Oakland that year, giving up 11 earned in 14 innings of work.

He returned to Oakland for two outings in 1992, then 17 in 1993. In 1994, Briscoe returned for a career high 37 outings. He also came in with a 4.01 ERA and his first career save. He also went 4-2 that year, picking up a win in an August game by getting one out.

Briscoe got into another 16 outings for Oakland in 1995 and 17 in 1996. In 1996, he posted a 3.76 ERA, picking up one save and a loss. The loss came in an April game on a home run.

"I tried to throw him a fastball away, but it tailed back over the plate and he smoked it," Briscoe told The AP after that game. "I think that ball would have gone out of any ballpark on the planet."

Those 17 outings in 1996 were also his last outings in the majors. Briscoe, though, continued playing in the minors and independent ball through 2002. He played his final five seasons with independent Somerset in the Atlantic League.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Fred Hina, Well Organized - 6

With a spot in the 2013 Final Four on the line, University of Louisville guard Kevin Ware went down with a leg injury, perhaps the most gruesome one imaginable.

Right there to get Ware the help he needed was Louisville trainer Fred Hina.

"We provided him the emergency care he needed in a timely fashion," Hina told CBS Sports afterward. "It was very well organized."

Hina had been putting his organizational skills to work for Louisville for 12 years by that point. Before that, he put them to work in the minor leagues for the Mets.

Hina's long career as a trainer began in 1987, as trainer for the rookie Kingsport Mets, after he graduated from the University of Western Kentucky with a degree in health care administration.

He moved to single-A Columbia for 1988, then single-A St. Lucie for 1989. He then served as trainer at AA Jackson in 1990.

Hina soon moved up further, to Flushing. He served as the head athletic trainer for the Mets for seven seasons, until his move to Louisville after the 2001 season.

Among the players he watched over with the Mets was future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. In 1999, Piazza missed the final two games of the NLDS with a thumb sprain that inflamed his thumb, according to The New York Times.

"In response to the inflammation, the proper thing is to immobilize it, to take stress off it," Hina explained to The Times.

Hina also appeared in Piazza's autobiography, "Long Shot," according to ESPN. Piazza wrote of asking Hina about human growth hormone, which Piazza didn't know was banned. Hina checked into it and returned to say he shouldn't.

In August 2001, Hina made the decision to return home to Kentucky and take the basketball trainer's job at Louisville.

"This is probably the only job in America that I would leave the Mets for now," Hina told Newsday after taking the position. "The university is only 10 minutes from my house. I get to sleep in my own bed for more than four months a year, which is nice."

Hina continues as Louisville's director of sports medicine for men's basketball in 2019.

Asked in 2008 by the site Training and Conditioning, about the hardest part of his job, Hina responded that he didn't have one.

"To be honest, I don't feel like I've ever worked a day in my life," Hina told the site. "I don't consider anything that I do hard because I enjoy it so much. I get my greatest satisfaction when I help an athlete and then during a game the player says thanks."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,173
Made the Majors:1,154-36.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,019-63.6%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 478
10+ Seasons in the Minors:283

1990 Southern League All-Stars

The AA Southern League held its 1990 All-Star Game at Chattanooga. These were the players selected, as well as some dignitaries who attended.

Southern League
1 - Tony Brown, Hit Hard, 7/13/19
2 - Jeff Conine, Ground Floor, 7/4/19
3 - Will Magallanes, From Injury, 7/9/19
4 - Mike Maksudian, Those Guys, 7/5/19
5 - Brian McRae, Relaxed and Confident, 7/7/19
6 - Kenny Morgan, Real Pop, 7/20/19
7 - Jorge Pedre, Pretty Consistent, 7/8/19
8 - Stan Royer, Different Feeling, 7/24/19
9 - Matt Stark, Positive Attitude, 7/26/19
10 - William Suero, Been Tattooing, 7/10/19
11 - Frank Thomas, Dimension of Power, 7/15/19
12 - Lenny Webster, Tough Decision, 7/12/19
13 - Eddie Zosky, Confidence Builder, 7/16/19
14 - Scott Centala, Could Throw, 7/21/19
15 - Steve Chitren, Drove Him, 8/19/19
16 - Greg Johnson, Called On, 7/3/19
17 - Carlos Maldonado, Fifth Outing, 7/22/19
18 - Will Schock, His Passion, 8/3/19
19 - Doug Simons, As Excited, 8/25/19
20 - Woody Williams, Good Time, 8/23/19
21 - Rob Wishnevski, Every Day, 8/21/19
22 - Mike Bell, New Opportunity, 9/14/19
23 - Adam Casillas, Most Unselfish, 9/18/19
24 - Greg Colbrunn, Was Himself, 8/27/19
25 - Benny Colvard, His Role, 9/16/19
26 - Wil Cordero, Athletic Ability, 9/1/19
27 - Tony Eusebio, Hit Anything, 8/29/19
28 - Jeff Forney, Skills Learned, 8/20/19
29 - Luis Gonzalez, One Hit, 8/22/19
30 - Terrel Hansen, Wrong Time, 8/24/19
31 - Brian Hunter, Hit it Hard, 8/26/19
32 - Andy Mota, More Confident, 9/17/19
33 - Tom Redington, Next Year, 9/15/19
34 - Chico Walker, Playing Time, 9/14/19
35 - Doug Banning, Second Run, 8/31/19
36 - Brian Barnes, Had Heart, 9/2/19
37 - Kent Bottenfield, Tough Insides, 8/14/19
38 - John Kilner, More Consistent, 7/19/19
39 - Gino Minutelli, Found It, 7/18/19
40 - Heathcliff Slocumb, Next Level, 8/18/19
41 - Fernando Zarranz, Contending Talent, 8/10/19
42 - Mike Bell, New Opportunity, 8/11/19
43 - Jeff Conine, Ground Floor, 8/4/19
44 - Frank Thomas, Dimension of Power, 8/5/19
45 - Andy Mota, More Confident, 8/6/19
46 - Frank Thomas, Dimension of Power, 8/15/19
46 - Jeff Conine, Ground Floor, 8/16/19
47 - Eddie Zosky, Confidence Builder, 8/17/19
47 - Mike Bell, New Opportunity, 8/18/19
48 - Ken Berry, Eventual Goal, 8/12/19
48 - Buddy Bailey, One More, 8/13/19
49 - Rick Sweet, That Mentality, 8/7/19
49 - Ron Gardenhire, Certain Way, 8/8/19
49 - Jeff Cox, More Practice, 8/9/19
49 - Jim Tracy, His Steadiness, 8/10/19
50 - Jimmy Bragan, Greatest Game, 8/11/19
50 - Harmon Killebrew, Some Shots, 8/12/19
50 - Cal Ermer, So Much, 8/13/19

Mike Conte, Dual Role - 9

Originally published March 29, 2015
Mick Fennell made his choice of colleges based on his choice of positions. He wanted to both pitch and play in the field, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Coach Mike Conte at California University of Pennsylvania allowed him to do that, The Post-Gazette wrote.

"There is precedent at Cal for dual-role players and Mick fits that role very well because of his talents," Conte told The Post-Gazette. "He has tremendous work ethic and a great passion for the game."

Conte turned coach after being a player himself. He also welcomed the dual-role Fennell after playing a dual role himself as a pro, just not at the same time.

Conte started his career in the field, then turned to pitching later. He didn't make the majors in either role.

Conte's career began in 1989, taken by the Athletics in the 19th round of the draft out of Virginia Tech. 

Conte played his first year with the Athletics an outfielder at short-season Southern Oregon. He hit .302 in 61 games. He went 2 for 7 in a July 15-inning game.

He split 1990 between single-A Madison and high-A Modesto. He it .215 between them with 10 home runs.

Conte played 1991 mostly at AA Huntsville. He hit .228 in 104 games there. He knocked in a run on a single in an August game. He drove in two on a double in another August contest.

Conte returned to Huntsville and the outfield for 1992, hitting .238. He also got into five games in relief as a pitcher. He then took on his other role full time.

Conte got into 24 games, starting seven, playing between short-season Southern Oregon and high-A San Bernardino. Between the two levels, he had an ERA of 8.86. It was his final season as a pro.

Conte then turned to coaching, starting as an assistant coach at California in 1994. He made head coach in 1997 and he's continued in that role in 2015. Through 2013, he had a record of 485-330-4 and his teams had won two conference championships.

In 2010, Conte watched over a young Randy Sturgill, who had come back from a shoulder injury to be a top pitcher on the team, according to The Pittsburgh Tribune.

"To rebound from an injury like that is amazing," Conte told The Tribune. "It's a credit to his work ethic and his level of seriousness. He is the epitome of what a top pitcher should be."

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Ron Witmeyer, What Happens - 34

Originally published Feb. 28, 2014
Ron Witmeyer arrived in the majors in August 1991. His thoughts quickly turned to the next step, he told author George Rose years later.

"I don't think about how much I'm going to play," Witmeyer told Rose. "While I'm here, I'm going to bust my butt and see what happens."

Witmeyer spoke to Rose for his 2003 book "One Hit Wonders." His stay with the Athletics produced just a single hit. He never got back.

Witmeyer's career began in 1988, taken by the Athletics in the seventh round of the draft out of Stanford University.

Witmeyer helped Stanford to the 1988 College World Series title. A Witmeyer home run against Fullerton sent Stanford two wins from the title. The title was the school's second-straight.

"No one thought we would come back for a second title," Witmeyer told reporters afterward. "So this one's probably more satisfying than the first one. Everyone said we couldn't do it,"

With the Athletics, Witmeyer didn't join the team until 1989. He played his first season at single-A Modesto. He hit .204 in 134 games.

He then played much of 1990 back at Modesto, getting some time at AA Huntsville and AAA Tacoma. Between them, his average came in at .255.

He played 1991 back at Tacoma. It was in August that he got that call to Oakland. What happened was he got into 11 games, 19 total plate appearances. He got that single hit, a fourth-inning single Sept. 7 off Mark Leiter.

Witmeyer returned to Tacoma for the next two seasons, hitting .236 and .254. He didn't return to Oakland. His last recorded season was 1994 at independent Amarillo.

Toward the end of his career, Whitmeyer got married. His wife, Marianne Witmeyer Werdel, was a tennis player, making the semifinals of the Australian Open in 1995.

His own career over, Witmeyer soon went into coaching. He coached back at Stanford for 1996. From 1997 to 2000, he coached at City College of San Francisco. In June 2000, he was named to the staff at Cal.

He has since gone into youth instruction, co-owning Frozen Ropes in San Diego. 

"Our gratification comes from watching all the participants get really excited about being at the facility," Witmeyer told 92127 Magazine in 2010. "And it is really special to see the kids improving in all aspects of the game."

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Mike Miller, Possible Promotion - 18

The Mets looked to possibly bring up a few players to AAA Tidewater from AA Jackson in June 1990 and one of them mentioned was pitcher Mike Miller, according to The Newport News Daily Press.

Miller was in his fourth season as a pro and had made it to Jackson. The starter was also 4-2 by that point in the 1990 campaign and had a 2.83 ERA, The Daily Press wrote.

But however seriously the Mets considered Miller for a promotion, he never received it that year or any other time. He remained at Jackson for 1990 and didn't return for 1991.

Miller's career began in 1987, taken by the Mets in the fourth round of the draft out of St. Louis Community College, Meramec Campus.

Miller started with the Mets at short-season Little Falls. He started 13 games and went 2-5, with a 4.01 ERA. In June, he gave up two hits over seven innings in one start. In August, he went eight innings and gave up three earned, but missed out on the win.

He moved to single-A Columbia for 1988. He went 14-8, with a 2.76 ERA over 31 outings, 20 starts. He also saw one start at single-A St. Lucie.

Miller returned to St. Lucie for 1989 and went 13-6 over 26 starts. He also turned in a 2.38 ERA.

He then made it up to Jackson for 1990. In May, he struck out 11 over seven innings, while he gave up two earned runs in a loss. He went 7-7 on the year, with a 2.91 ERA to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,172
Made the Majors:1,153-36.4%
Never Made Majors:2,019-63.6%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 478
10+ Seasons in the Minors:283


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