Sunday, February 17, 2019

John Cain, Winter Meetings - Expos

Years after his baseball training days ended, John Cain saw a big league city - and he did so at winter meetings. These winter meetings continued in relation to his initial job as a trainer for the Rockford Expos, but with a different focus.

These meetings were the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers Association's winter meeting in Minneapolis in 2011, and Cain went as an athletic trainer for local Rockford-area Ogle County Physical Therapy, according to The Rockford Register-Star.

The meeting covered baseball and softball injuries, concussions and Kenesio taping, among other topics, The Register-Star wrote.

Cain attended those meetings just over two decades after his last recorded time as a trainer in minor league baseball.

Cain's career as a trainer started about 1988, as an assistant with Rockford. He received a card in that year's team set, his hometown listed as Byron, Ill.

He didn't get a card in 1989, but returned to the Rockford set for 1990 as the team's full trainer. His card noted he had received his athletic training certification the previous year. It also incorrectly identified 1990 as his first year in professional baseball.

Those two cards are the only two he is credited as having. Years later, he was in Ogle County, just south of Rockford, heading to those training winter meetings.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,060
Made the Majors:1,124-36.7%
Never Made Majors:1,936-63.3%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 466
10+ Seasons in the Minors:278

Michael Grace, Extended Lead - 34

Originally published Dec. 12, 2013
The Salt Lake Trappers had taken the lead in this late-June 1989 game and Mike Grace helped them extend it.

Leading off the seventh inning, Grace hit one over the fence, to extend that lead to 7-4, according to The Deseret News.

That home run was one of six Grace hit in 63 games that summer for independent Salt Lake City. It was a performance that caught the eye of the Montreal Expos, seeing his contract purchased by the club before the year was out.

Grace ultimately played in four more seasons, but he never made it above AA.

A native of Texas, Grace's pro career began that year in 1989, signed by the independent Salt Lake City Trappers.

With the Trappers, Grace hit .350 while knocking in 37. He also hit 17 doubles, one in a late-June game and another in a mid-July game to help extend a Trappers lead.

After moving to the Expos, Grace played four games at short-season Jamestown. He then moved to single-A Rockford for 1990. He hit .287 on the year, with three home runs and 42 RBI. Grace also won organization player of the month honors that June.

For 1991, Grace moved to the Cubs system, playing at high-A Winston-Salem and AA Charlotte. He hit .339 in 51 games at Winston-Salem and .207 in 73 games at Charlotte.

Grace returned to Charlotte for 1992, hitting .249, then stayed at AA with the Cubs at Orlando in 1993. He hit .271 at Orlando, over 120 games, but it was his final season as a pro.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Joe Hall, Normal Things - 16

After six seasons in the minor leagues, Joe Hall made the White Sox out of spring training 1994 and he initially proved why by hitting .393 over his first 17 games, The Baltimore Sun wrote later.

His season, however, and possibly his career, then ended with a jump into the wall and a torn hamstring, The Sun wrote.

"That was tough to go through," Hall told The Sun in February 1996. "It took nearly a year to get over that. You find out how much you take normal things for granted, when everything you do, it hurts. There were times it hurt so bad I wanted to cry."

Hall returned from that injury to again make the majors. He saw seven games with the Tigers in 1995 and two more in 1997 to mark the extent of his big league career.

Hall's career began in 1988, taken by the Cardinals in the 10th round of the draft out of Southern Illinois University. Ge went to Southern Illinois out of St. Mary's High in his native Paducah, Kent.

Hall started with the Cardinals at short-season Hamilton. He hit .285 in 70 games. He made single-A St. Petersburg for 1989, then AA Arkansas for 1990. He hit .271 in 115 games at Arkansas in 1990.

Hall moved to the White Sox and AAA Vancouver for 1991 after a trade. He hit .248 at Vancouver in 1991 and .283 there in 1992. He then stayed at AAA with the White Sox for 1993, then got his shot in Chicago in 1994.

Hall got into those 17 games for the White Sox and went 11 for 28. He also hit a home run. He then got injured.

Hall saw 57 more games in the minors for the White Sox that year. He then played 1995 with the Tigers at AAA Toledo.

He returned to the majors with the Tigers in June. He saw time in seven contests and went 2 for 15.

Hall played 1996 with the Orioles at AAA Rochester, then returned to the Tigers in 1997 for two final major league appearances. He went 2 for 4.

He continued in the minors, Mexico and independent ball over the next two seasons. In 2001, he served as manager at single-A Peoria, then later as hitting coach at Great Falls and Kannapolis.

Hall then returned home to Paducah to manage the Paducah Chief of the Ohio Valley League. He is listed as continuing there for 2019.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,059
Made the Majors:1,124-36.8%-X
Never Made Majors:1,935-63.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 466
10+ Seasons in the Minors:278

Jim Eddy, Some Competition - 58

Originally published Dec. 15, 2013
After a professional career that lasted four seasons, Jim Eddy soon found himself back on the field, playing baseball on the weekends, according to The Deerfield Beach Observer.

"You want to have some competition, so that's why I don't play softball," Eddy told The Observer. "I wouldn't play in a league if there wasn't any competition."

Eddy spoke to The Observer as an athletic trainer and high school football coach. He also spoke two decades after the end of his professional baseball career, one that took him to high-A, but no higher.

Eddy's pro career began in 1989, taken by the Expos in the 38th round of the draft, out of Marietta College in Ohio.

At Marietta, Eddy pitched well enough to win first-team post-season All-American honors in 1989. He also won honorable mention all-conference in 1987 and second-team in 1989.

With the Expos, Eddy played his first year between the rookie Gulf Coast League and short-season Jamestown. Between them, he went 9-1, with a 2.16 ERA.

That September, Eddy helped pitch Jamestown to the New York-Penn League championship, with a complete-game shutout in the deciding game over Pittsfield.

Eddy moved to single-A Rockford, going 7-7 over 34 outings, eight starts. He ended that year with a 3.48 ERA.

For 1991, Eddy made high-A West Palm Beach. He got just 13 outings, four starts. He was also back in the playoffs, picking up a post-season win.

He returned to West Palm Beach for 1992, but got just four outings. He picked up a save in one of those outings in late-April. In another April outing, it was three innings, without giving up a run. But his career ended abruptly after those four appearances, with time in four professional seasons.

Eddy has gone on to serve as a trainer, serving in 2013 in that post for Highlands Christian Academy in Florida.

Ed Fulton, Confidence Built - 14

Originally published Aug. 26, 2017
Ed Fulton helped get his team out of a slump in this July 1990 game - and himself, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal.

Fulton hit his first AAA home run to start the Redbirds scoring and break a team scoreless-inning streak. Fulton also knocked a triple and a single, The Courier-Journal wrote.

"We needed to win that game, and Ed needed that for his confidence," Louisville manager Gaylen Pitts told The Courier-Journal afterward.

Fulton continued at AAA for parts of the next five seasons. He never made the majors. He has, however, gone on to help build the confidence of other players as a longtime coach in college. Fulton has served two decades as the head coach at Averett University in Virginia.

Fulton's career began in 1987, taken by the Cardinals in the 16th round of the draft out of Florida State University.

At Florida State, Fulton helped the Seminoles to the 1986 College World Series. Going into Omaha, Florida State and Fulton prepared for rival Miami.

"Chances are good that if I get a good throw, I can throw them out," Fulton told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel then. "But if I make a good throw and they steal, they've probably stolen off the pitcher anyway. There's nothing I can do about it. So, what I have to do from that point is play my game, which is to catch the ball and throw the ball."

Fulton started with the Cardinals at rookie Johnson City. He hit .290 with 13 home runs in 67 games. He moved to single-A Springfield for 1988 and then single-A St. Petersburg for 1989.

Fulton then made both AA Arkansas and AAA Louisville in 1990. He hit .240 in 36 games at Louisville and .264 in 48 at Arkansas. He singled in a run in an April game for Arkansas.

Fulton continued with the Cardinals through 1993, playing much of his time back at Louisville. He didn't see St. Louis. He then played 1994 at AAA Toledo with the Tigers and briefly at AAA Pawtucket with the Red Sox in 1995, ending his career.

Fulton soon signed on with Averett, shortly after the school started its baseball program. He's worked with the school since, continuing in 2017. His teams have won 25 games seven times, but saw a down year in 2017.

"We're just going through some growing pains," Fulton told GoDanRiver during the 2017 slump. "That's what happens when you lose seven, nine and 10 seniors in the last three years. So we're running a lot of young guys out in situations where they're having to learn on the go."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,059
Made the Majors:1,124-36.7%
Never Made Majors:1,935-63.3%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 467
10+ Seasons in the Minors:278

Bill Cramer, Home Run - 48

Originally published Nov. 29, 2013
Expos minor leaguer Bill Cramer wasn't a home run hitter. That could be seen in his first two professionals seasons, where he hit no home runs.

In his third professional season, though, Cramer finally got onto the home run board. On June 20, Cramer hit his first professional home run.

For Cramer, though, that's where his career home run total would stay. He finished out that season at high-A West Palm Beach, finishing out his brief career.

Cramer's career began in 1989, taken by the Expos in the 27th round of the draft, out of Cal State-Sacramento.

With the Expos, Cramer played his first season between the rookie Gulf Coast League and short-season Jamestown. At Jamestown, Cramer got into 31 games, hitting .229. He knocked in 14, scoring 16 runs.

Cramer moved to single-A Rockford for 1990. In 66 games, he hit just .158. He also picked up eight doubles and 12 RBI. The catcher also turned first-baseman, getting 36 games at first to 13 behind the plate.

For 1991, Cramer played at West Palm Beach, getting into 61 games and hitting .211. He hit another eight doubles, one knocking in two runs in a July game. He picked up another 33 games at first in 1991 to 15 at catcher. It was Cramer's final year as a pro.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Chris Bushing, Somewhere Else - 39

Originally published Dec. 10, 2013
Five years into his professional career, Chris Bushing was still at high-A, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote.

But the West Palm Beach Expo was also still looking ahead to, he hoped, eventually making the majors.

"I wouldn't give it up for nothing," Bushing told The Sun-Sentinel in June 1991. "If they didn't keep me around here I would try to go somewhere else. That's what I want to do with my life. I want to play baseball."

Bushing eventually had to do somewhere else, moving the next year to the Phillies organization and then to the Reds. That last move eventually got him to where he wanted to go, the majors.

Bushing's career began in 1986, signed by the Orioles as an undrafted free agent out of Broward Community College in Florida. He went to college out of South Broward High School.

Bushing's coach at South Broward praised Bushing's dedication after his signing with the Orioles, according to The Sun-Sentinel.

"When he played for me he constantly wanted to improve," South Broward High coach Lenny Koch told The Sun-Sentinel in July 1986. "He's a kid who simply loves baseball. It's his only sport. It's all he's ever wanted to do. And he's good at it because of that."

With the Orioles, Bushing played his first two seasons at rookie Bluefield. He got 13 outings, one start his first year there, with a 1.37 ERA. He then got 20 relief outings in 1987, with a 3.65 ERA.

Those were his only two seasons in the Orioles system. He didn't play in 1988, then returned for 1989 at independent Peninsula. He got 35 outings, 14 starts, with a 4.33 ERA.

He then moved to the Expos system and single-A Rockford for 1990, then West Palm Beach for 1991.

Bushing played most of 1992 with the Phillies at AA Reading, taken by the club in the minor league draft. He was then traded to the Reds that August. He then played 1993 at AA Chattanooga. He got into 61 games there, with a 2.31 ERA.

Then, in September 1993, Bushing made Cincinnati. He got into six games in relief, 4.1 innings. He gave up six earned runs. It was the extent of his major league career. He then played his final game in the minors in 1995.

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