Friday, November 28, 2014

Earl Steinmetz, Independent Attention - 2432

Originally published Oct. 23, 2010
Pitcher Earl Steinmetz had just been taken out of the game in the seventh and he was upset. He wasn't upset that he was taken out so much, he was still apparently upset over a call made by the home plate umpire the inning before.

Steinmetz showed his displeasure by confronting the umpire head-on. He also slammed the umpire to the ground, according to the account published in The Norwalk Hour.

This was June 1998 and Steinmetz was in independent ball, playing for the Atlantic League's Newburgh Black Diamonds. He was ejected from the game. He would also swiftly be banned from the Atlantic League for life.

It was in independent ball that Steinmetz sometimes got the most attention, not all good. It was independent ball that Steinmetz turned to after five seasons in affiliated ball, later briefly reaching AA. But he wouldn't reach the majors.

Steinmetz started off in the Braves system, taken by Atlanta in the 26th round of the 1989 draft out of Judson High in Converse, Texas.

He played that year at the Braves' rookie team in the Gulf Coast League. The right-hander went 3-2 with a 2.08 ERA in 10 appearances.

Steinmetz made single-A Sumter for 1990 and had arguably his most successful campaign. He went 11-8 as a starter with a 3.42 ERA. He also struck out 105.

Steinmetz gave up three early runs in an April 7.1-inning outing, also striking out seven. In July, Steinmetz threw six shutout innings for his ninth win. He threw seven innings in a June game for Sumter, giving up three runs and getting a win, according to The Sumter Item.

He hit high-A Durham for 1991 going just 3-7 with a 4.00 ERA. He remained with the Braves' system into 1993, when he became a Brewer. At Milwaukee's high-A Stockton, Steinmetz appeared in 28 games with a 3.92 mark.

Then Steinmetz' time in independent ball began. In 1994, Steinmetz split time between San Antonio of the Texas-Louisiana League and Lafayette, Indiana of the Great Central League.

With Lafayette, Steinmetz appeared to flash brilliance, striking out 23 Mason City batters. The outing even made it onto ESPN, according to an interview with a broadcaster years later.

What was less known, however, was that Mason City's regular players had quit after not getting paid, the batters he struck out were little more than "local farmers," broadcaster Mike Curto recalled to in 2002.

In 1995, Steinmetz tried a return through replacement ball, appearing in one early March game and giving up six runs in two innings, according to an Associated Press account.

Later that year, Steinmetz was with the Abilene Prairie Dogs, back in the Texas-Louisiana League. Steinmetz beaned a batter for the opposing Lubbock Crickets, touching off a brawl. It was a beanball that Steinmetz was ordered to throw, his manager admitted later, according to a wire account.

Several players were ejected, but that wasn't what caught the media's attention. It was the Lubbock mascot, who was also tossed.

Steinmetz was credited with playing in parts of three more seasons, making brief appearances, making brief showings in the Houston, Baltimore and Atlanta systems. He returned to the Atlanta system for 1999, the year after his incident with the umpire.

With Baltimore and Atlanta, Steinmetz got a total of seven games at AA. It was the highest he'd been and the highest he would get. His year in 1999 was his last.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,829
Made the Majors: 854 - 46.7%
Never Made Majors: 975-53.3%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 365
10+ Seasons in the Minors:215

Earl Jewett, Big Key - 2429

Earl Jewett impressed his manager in this August 1990 game, getting into the ninth while giving up just two runs, according to The Sumter Item.

"That was just a great job by Earl," Sumter manager Ned Yost told The Item afterward. "He was getting his fastball over, which is a big key for him. He was getting ahead in the count because he was throwing more fastballs for strikes."

Jewett's performance ended up going for naught, his team losing 2-0. A Jewett performance earlier that year, though, was even better. He also got the win. That performance ended with a no-hitter.

Jewett's career, though, likely didn't end up the way he had hoped. He played just one more season. He never made AA.

Jewett's career began in 1989, taken by the Braves in the 32nd round of the draft out of Wagner College in Staten Island. Jewett went to Wagner out of Bishop Gibbons High School in his native Schenectady, NY.

At Wagner, Jewett struck out 20 in 19 fall innings in 1987. Jewett played collegiate ball the next summer in his hometown with the Schenectady Mohawks. He helped the team to the league title game.

With the Braves, Jewett started at rookie Pulaski. In 14 games, seven starts, Jewett picked up two wins and had a 3.53 ERA.

Jewett moved to single-A Sumter for 1990. He got 27 outings there, starting 12 and had an overall ERA of 2.40.

It was in early July that Jewett threw his no-hitter against Spartanburg. And he almost had to be perfect as he won 1-0.

Jewett played his third season back in the South Atlantic League, at Macon. But he got into just seven games, all in relief. He gave up four earned in 10 innings. It was his final time as a pro.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,829
Made the Majors: 854 - 46.7%
Never Made Majors: 975-53.3%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 365
10+ Seasons in the Minors:215

Ray Chadwick, Without a Win - 58

Originally published Oct. 21, 2010
About to make his first major league start for the Angels in late July 1986, Ray Chadwick told The Los Angeles Times that the thought of his debut still hadn't hit him yet.

"I guess I won't know what it will be like until I get there," Chadwick told The Times. Regarding the possibility of sticking with the big club, Chadwick told The Times "I guess I make my own destiny."

Chadwick, who The Times wrote flew in his grandmother for his debut, soon found out what it was like. And it was a string of disappointments. First, one loss, then another.

By the time his season was over, Chadwick had a total of five losses, without a win. He would stay in baseball for four more seasons, without seeing the majors again.

Chadwick's career began in 1983, taken by the Angels in the 16th round of the 1983 draft. He started that year at short-season Salem, getting a win in an August game against Spokane. He hit AA Midland in 1985 and AAA Edmonton in 1986.

Called up to California in July, Chadwick made his debut July 29 against Oakland. It was a quality start. He gave up four hits and two earned runs over six innings. The Angels and Chadwick lost 4-2.

His next start was not quality in any sense of the word. He lasted just five batters against Seattle, giving up four hits, a walk and four earned runs before being pulled, all without recording an out.

"Chadwick had only one pitch get over the plate, and that's not enough," Angels manager Gene Mauch told The Times. "He got two or three of them over in Oakland--changeup, breaking ball and fastball. Today, all he had was a fastball."

By Aug. 30, the quality was back, six innings, three earned runs. This time, a no decision, but the Angels won. Despite the improvement, he also learned then he wasn't going to make the Angels post-season roster, The Times wrote.

"I'm disappointed, but it wasn't like I didn't expect it," Chadwick told The Times. "We've got a pretty solid bullpen and four very solid starters. I just wish they would go to the 25-man roster instead of the 24."

"Now, I just hope I can do my part," he told The Times, "whatever I can to help this team get there."
Chadwick's fourth loss came Sept. 5, four earned runs in 3.2 innings doing him in. After the game, Chadwick did not talk to reporters, The Times wrote.

A 3.1 inning, four-run performance Sept. 22 proved loss No. 5. One more outing, a no decision Sept. 30, and Chadwick was done.

Chadwick returned to Edmonton for 1987 before signing with the White Sox for 1988. He ended up in Omaha for 1990, getting there by way of the Boston system. Chadwick was 7-11 for the Omaha Royals that year, his final year as a professional player.

After his time as a player, Chadwick has gone on to a career as a coach. Since 2003, he's been the head coach of the Thompson Rivers University baseball team in British Columbia.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gene Martin, Big Hits - 2446

Gene Martin came through for the Sumter Braves in this May 1990 contest. With the bases loaded and two outs in the third, Martin rapped a single to tie the game at two, The Sumter Item wrote.

It was one of two hits Martin picked up in the Sumter win and the latest in a streak of good hitting for the young outfielder, according to The Item.

"Martin has been outstanding both offensively and defensively lately," Sumter manager Ned Yost told The Item afterward. "He had some big hits for us today."

Martin got those hits in his second season as a pro. He couldn't keep it up. That season was also his last as a pro.

Martin's career began in 1989, taken by the Braves in the 60th round of the draft out of Imperial Valley College in California.

When Martin turned pro, he became a second-generation professional player. His father Alvin "Lefty" Martin played in the Angels system in the 60s.

As Martin signed with the Braves, The Imperial Valley Press noted that the father, who was also the local high school coach, traded advice with the Braves scout.

"The way I look at it, at least we’ll be the first father-and-son combination to come out of the Valley that played (professionally)," Lefty Martin told The Press.

Martin played his first year in the rookie Gulf Coast League. In 41 games there, he hit .186. He had 12 RBI and stole 10 bases.

He moved to single-A Sumter for 1990. He picked up two hits in a late July game, hitting a home run. On the year, though, he hit just .232 in 79 games. He didn't get a third pro season.

His playing career over, Martin soon returned to the Imperial Valley and Central Union High School. Martin's father continued as Central Union head coach until just before his passing in 2012. Gene Martin then took over as head coach himself.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,828
Made the Majors: 854 - 46.7%
Never Made Majors: 974-53.3%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 365
10+ Seasons in the Minors:215

Ned Yost, Good Proof - 2450

Ned Yost new his role in 1990 wasn't necessarily to get wins. It was to develop players.

So, when several of his players at single-A Sumter got moved up mid-season, Yost saw that as success, according to The Sumter Item.

"If we had kept those guys hear all year there's no doubt in my mind that we would be 10 games up right now," Yost told The Item that August. "But winning a pennant is just icing on the cake."

Years later, Yost would get his pennant as a manager - a major league pennant. He would also come within a couple runs of winning a championship.

Yost became a manager and coach after time in six major league seasons as a player mainly with the Brewers. As a manager and a coach, Yost started in the minors with Sumter, then quickly moved to the majors as bullpen coach and later third base coach in Atlanta.

Then, in 2003, Yost moved to the major league manager's office with the Brewers. He joined the Royals as manager in 2010. Then, in 2014, he took Kansas City on its improbable run to the American League championship.

Yost's long career in baseball began as a player, taken by the Mets in the first round of the 1974 June secondary draft out of Chabot College in California.

Yost started at short-season Batavia. He made AA Jackson in 1976 and then AAA Tidewater in 1977. He moved to the Milwaukee system in 1978. In 1980, he made his major league debut with the Brewers.

He debuted in Milwaukee in April 1980. That spring, Yost told The Milwaukee Journal he believed he was prepared for the majors.

"There's no doubt in my mind that I'm ready," Yost told The Journal. "I have 100% confidence in myself. I should be playing in the big leagues."

Yost got into 15 games that year and 18 the next. In 1982, the year the Brewers made the World Series, Yost got into 40 games. He got one appearance in the series, a Game 6 walk.

Yost continued with the Brewers through 1983, getting into 61 games that year. He then moved to the Rangers for a career-high 80 games in 1984, then five games with the Expos in 1985, ending his big league career.

After two more seasons in the minors, Yost turned to managing and coaching. In 1991, he returned to the majors with the Braves, just in time for that club's World Series run.

Yost continued with the Braves and manager Bobby Cox through 2002, when he took his first major league manager's job with the team he once played for, the Brewers.

Brewer catcher Eddie Perez, who played with Yost in Atlanta, compared the two in April 2003 to The Associated Press.

"He's the same as Bobby," Perez told The AP. "It is a little different, though. He talks a lot more. But it's fun."

Yost managed with the Brewers through most of 2008, spending almost six full seasons with the club. He was let go in the middle of that September.

After spending a season away from the majors, Yost returned in 2010 with the Royals. He joined the team first as an adviser then, in May, was named the team's manager.

In October 2014, after his club's run to the World Series, Yost addressed criticism of his managing style, rebutting that criticism by pointing to his success to USA Today.

"It just makes you stronger and makes what's happening now feel that much better," Yost told USA TODAY Sports. "I've always believed in what we've been doing here. We're in the World Series. That's pretty good proof that we know what we're doing."
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,827
Made the Majors: 854 - 46.7%-X
Never Made Majors: 973-53.3%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 365
10+ Seasons in the Minors:215

Barry Jones, Long Shot - 272

Originally published May 4, 2010
In his second season at single-A Sumter, Barry Jones waited as higher-touted outfielders went ahead of him. When they moved up, he would get his chance and he had to be ready.

"Even when I wasn't playing every day," Jones told The Sumter Daily Item in 1986, "I was going out and busting my butt in practice every day.

"I think of guys who don't put out all they've got during BP and that makes me work harder. I knew I would get the chance and I wanted to be ready."

Jones went on to play in 98 games for Sumter in 1986, hitting .271. He would earn a promotion himself to AA Greenville in 1988 and would play in parts of five seasons at AAA. But his waiting never paid off with a trip to the majors.

Jones made AAA Richmond for 35 games in 1988, hitting .278. He returned for 1989, then again in 1990, both for the full seasons. Jones moved on for 1991, with the Twins and the Indians systems, with similar results. A brief return to the Braves at Richmond for 1993 and his time in affiliated ball was done.

But his time in baseball wouldn't be done until seven years later, ending in 2000. Jones spent seven more seasons with the independent Texas-Louisiana League, first with Beaumont, then with Abilene then with Ozark. Mostly, Jones was a player-manager.

With Ozark in 2000, a Jones pitching decision in the playoffs did not pay off. Speaking to the Amarillo Globe News afterward, Jones stood by his decision. "If I had to do it over 1,000 times, I'd do it again."

Back in 1986, talking to The Item, Jones knew he might not make the ultimate goal of the major leagues. But he was trying to do everything possible to make that happen.

"I've always put out 110 percent," Jones told The Item. "I've always done my best by hustling. I'm a long shot in baseball. I've got to do that."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ron Thomas, Bore Down - 2434

Ron Thomas went seven innings and gave up three runs in this May 1990 game for Sumter, according to The Sumter Item.

It was enough for Thomas to get the win as teammates Earl Jewett and Don Strange came in and closed the door. It was also enough for Thomas to get praise from his manager Ned Yost, according to The Item.

"Thomas did a good job," Yost told The Item afterward. "He kept us in the game until the seventh inning and then Earl and Donnie came in and did their jobs."

Thomas did that job in his third season as a pro. He got into 16 games, 11 starts, for Sumter that year. It ended up being his final season as a pro.

Thomas' career began in 1988, signed by the Braves as an amateur free agent out of his native Oneonta, NY.

Thomas started at rookie Pulaski. He got into 11 games, starting three and ended with a 4.74 ERA.

He played 1989 between the rookie Gulf Coast League and single-A Sumter, but he only got into a total of eight games on the year. He started six of them.

He returned to Sumter for 1990. In those 16 games, he had a 3.97 ERA. He went five innings in an April game, giving up a single run in a 1-0 loss. He got two innings of scoreless relief in a June game.

Thomas went another five innings in an early May game, giving up another single run. This time, though, he got the win. Helping him do that was a crucial bases-loaded pitch that resulted in a double play, according to The Item.

"The big thing was Ron threw a strike in that situation," Yost told The Item. "He ran the count to 3-1 and had been struggling, but he bore down and did what he had to do. If he doesn't throw a strike there it's a different story."

Thomas ended his run that year with a 4-4 record. He didn't get into a fourth season.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,826
Made the Majors: 853 - 46.7%
Never Made Majors: 973-53.3%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 365
10+ Seasons in the Minors:215
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