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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Tye Waller made bigs, later coached: Baseball Profiles

Tye Waller 1990 Riverside Red Wave card

More than two seasons removed from his last major league time, Astros AAA outfielder Tye Waller worked to make it back to the bigs, he believed he would do it, The Arizona Daily Star wrote in June 1985. 

"I believe I'll be called up for my glove, speed and arm," Waller told The Daily Star. "That's what has kept me in the game, because I'm an inconsistent hitter."

Waller did make it back to the majors with Houston, but not for another two seasons, for 11 final games.

He then stayed in the game much longer, as a coach. in both the minor leagues and the majors, with the Padres and Athletics.

Waller's long career in the game began in 1977, taken by the Cardinals in the fourth round of the draft out of San Diego City College. Waller's name has also been spelled Ty Waller.

Waller started with the Cardinals at rookie Calgary. He made AA Arkansas in 1979 and then AAA Springfield and St. Louis in 1980.

He saw five games with St. Louis in 1980, then got traded to the Cubs and saw 30 games in Chicago in 1981. He hit .268, with three home runs. 

Waller returned to Chicago for 17 more games in 1982, then moved to the White Sox at AAA in 1983 and the Astros at AAA Tucson in 1984. He stayed at Tucson for three full season and into a fourth before returning for his 11 final games in 1987.

Waller then turned to coaching with the Padres. He coached for 1988 at short-season Spokane before becoming Padres minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator in 1989. He's recorded as staying in that role for five seasons, and got a card as a coach at high-A Riverside in 1990.

He managed at Spokane in 1994, then became Padres bullpen coach in 1995 before he turned Padres coordinator of minor league instruction.

Waller continued with the Padres as director of player development in 2000. That September, he spoke with The Hanover Evening Sun about what's needed to advance.

"It all depends on the player," Waller told The Evening Sun. "Getting the innings of play is the biggest thing (in the minor leagues.)."

Waller joined the Athletics as a major league base coach in 2007 and he continued there through 2015. In 2014, he spoke with CNET as he worked to gather data on opposing players for an application to give the A's an advantage.

"I'm an old-school guy with a new-school spin," Waller told CNET. "Some people might consider me a geek, but I just consider myself a baseball guy trying to make a difference on the field."

Tye Waller 1990 Riverside Red Wave card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,354
Made the Majors:1,402-32.2%-X
Never Made Majors:2,952-67.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:571-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:352

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Jim Edmonds adjusted to 17 ML seasons: Baseball Profiles


Young Angels farmhand Jim Edmonds described life in the minor leagues, and the transition from high school to pro ball to The Moline Dispatch in May 1989.

Edmonds had been taken by the Angels in the seventh round of the draft out of Diamond Bar High School in California and played 1989 at single-A Quad City.

"It's been getting much better, but it's been a struggle to adjust to what professional baseball is all about," Edmonds told The Dispatch then. "It was a big-time change from being on top at the high school level to facing everyone equal or better at this level."

Edmonds eventually fully adjusted - and went on to a long career in the game that continues into 2024. His playing career saw him play in the major leagues over 17 seasons, make All-Star games and the World Series. He's since become a broadcaster.

Edmonds' career began that year in 1988, taken by the Angels out of Diamond Bar.

Edmonds started with the Angels at short-season Bend. He made Quad City in 1989, then high-A Palm Springs in 1990. He saw AA Midland and AAA Edmonton in 1992. 

In September 1993, he made California. The outfielder threw out a crucial runner at home in his debut, The Associated Press wrote.

"When I finally saw it, I just grabbed, and tried to make a nice throw home," Edmonds told The AP. "Luckily, (catcher) Greg Myers saved me, and made a nice play."

He saw 18 games that year and 94 the next. In 1995, he saw 141 games, made his first All Star Game and even garnered some MVP talk in April as he led the majors in August in runs scored and RBI, The Orange County Register wrote.

"I'm just trying to score as many runs and drive in as many as I can," Edmonds told The Register. "It's no big deal really."

Edmonds stayed with the Angels through 1999. He hit over .300 twice and hit more than 20 home runs four times, including 33 in 1995. 

He then moved to the Cardinals in a trade for 2000. He promptly hit .295, 42 home runs. He then stayed with the Cardinals for eight total seasons, and played in the 2004 and 2006 World Series.

He helped them get to the 2004 series with a NLCS Game 6 12th inning home run that forced the deciding Game 7.

"It was a fastball up," Edmonds told The AP after that home run. "I was just trying to be short and quick."

Edmonds stayed with the Cardinals through 2007. He then played with the Padres and Cubs in 2008. He last played in 2010, between the Brewers and the Reds.

He ended his career with 2,011 games played, 393 home runs and a .284 average. He made the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot, getting  2.5 percent of the vote.

Edmonds then went into broadcasting, working as an analyst for Cardinals game for a decade, continuing  in 2024.

Jim Edmonds 1990 Palm Springs Angels card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,354
Made the Majors:1,402-32.2%-X
Never Made Majors:2,952-67.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:571-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:352

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Michael Shull played, then coached kids: Baseball Profiles


Angels farmhand Michael Shull once played as an outfielder and catcher, The Desert Sun wrote to start the 1987 season.

But he'd since been converted to pitching and he impressed his new manager at single-A Palm Springs, Bill Lachemann, The Sun wrote.

"He looked strong in spring camp," Lachemann told The Sun. "He goes out after guys."

Shull ultimately went after them over three seasons. He topped out at high-A.

Shull's career began in 1986, signed by the Angels as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech University.

Shull started with the Angels at single-A Quad City, already competing as a pitcher. He saw 35 outings, one start. He went 1-5, with a 2.53 ERA and saved three. he also saw a start at single-A Palm Springs.

He returned to Palm Springs full time for 1987. He started the year going 41 innings, while giving up just four earned runs for a 0.86 ERA. He cited work with the Angels' minor league pitching instructor and his pitching coach for his run, The Sun wrote

Shull finished the year with 28 relief outings, seven saves and a 2.06 ERA.

But then Shull isn't recorded as playing in either 1988 or 1989. He returned to the field for 1990, back at high-A Palm Springs. Shull saw 15 outings, three starts. He went 0-6, with a 6.99 ERA to end his career.

Shull soon returned home to Texas, worked in accounting and coached kids. He coached a local San Antonio team to the Little League World Series in 2009.

He passed away in July 2020 after a battle with COVID-19

"His two favorite mottos were: 'Kill them with kindness.' and 'It's bad luck to be superstitious,'" his obituary read. "Mike was a strong, kind man with a big heart and an infectious smile. His quick-witted and sarcastic humor filled any room."

Michael Shull 1990 Palm Springs Angels card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,353
Made the Majors:1,401-32.2%
Never Made Majors:2,952-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:570
10+ Seasons in the Minors:352

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Masahiro Kuboto knew acupuncture: Baseball Profiles

Masahiro Kuboto 1990 Salinas Spurs card

Masahiro Kuboto may not have been interesting enough to name, but what he did was.

Kuboto served as the trainer for the 1990 Salinas Spurs and his specialty was acupuncture, something writers featuring the unusual minor league that melded players from Japan and the United States invariably referenced, though without actually naming Kuboto.

"The eight (Japanese) players - plus the Japanese manager, batting coach and trainer specializing in acupuncture - belong to the Salinas Spurs," The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote in a feature on the team that June.

Kuboto actually joined the team through its Japanese manager Hide Koga. Koga brought Kuboto with him to be trainer and to administer acupuncture to players when needed, The Associated Press wrote in a story that also did not name Kuboto. This version put the acupuncture reference in the headline.

Kuboto grew up in Nagoya City, Japan, located between Tokyo and Osaka. He went to school in Tokyo and made that his off-season home, according to his card back

He actually graduated that March in 1990 from Acupuncture/Chiropractic College in Japan. He also had an acupuncture/massage license, his card reads.

Kuboto also got a reference in a New York Daily News article that May on Salinas, also not by name, as "a trainer who specializes in acupuncture."

That season appeared to be Kuboto's only season in the minors.

Masahiro Kuboto 1990 Salinas Spurs card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,352
Made the Majors:1,401-32.2%
Never Made Majors:2,951-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:570
10+ Seasons in the Minors:352

Monday, April 15, 2024

Yoshi Okamoto has had long sports career: Baseball Profiles

Yoshi Okamoto 1990 Salinas Spurs card

Asked in 2015 to name some of the more influential people in his long and varied career in the sports business, Yoshi Okamoto cited influences from throughout his career, for JoeFavorito.com.

He cited New Jersey Nets executive Jon Spoelstra, and minor league baseball team owners Bobby Brett and Joe Buzas, all of whom Okamoto had worked with over more than a quarter century in sports, JoeFavorito.com wrote.

"I've had the chance to work under them during my career in the United States, and I'm thankful for the fair opportunities they gave me despite the language barrier," Okamoto told the site.

Okamoto's long sports career began in the United States with the Salinas Spurs, owned by Joe Buzas.

Okamoto graduated from Chuo in Tokyo, where he played baseball. He found his way to Salinas by 1989, described in one account that summer as an intern. 

By the start of 1990, Okamoto was the team's operations manager. He then shared general manager duties after the original GM departed mid-year.

By 1993, Okamoto was with the Nets, as team director of international marketing

To start 1996, he had the title New Jersey-based sports consultant as he worked with Team Japan, getting ready for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

"Everything's perfect so far," Okamoto told The Fort Myers News-Press in February 1996 of early workouts there.

Okamoto joined the Twins as director of Pacific Rim Baseball operations by 2003. He commented to The News-Press that March on new Yankee Hideki Matsui and how powerful Matsui might be for fans.

"If he hits 30 homers it will be great," Okamoto told The News-Press.

He then became a part-owner of a minor league team himself, the Tri-City Dust Devils.

Yoshi Okamoto 1990 Salinas Spurs card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,351
Made the Majors:1,401-32.2%
Never Made Majors:2,950-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:570
10+ Seasons in the Minors:352

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Mike Spiers trailblazed in travel ball: Baseball Profiles

Mike Spiers 1990 Salinas Spurs card

Mike Spiers started his work in college baseball and, briefly, in the pros. But he went on to make his name in another type of baseball, travel baseball.

His work in travel baseball grew so much that the American Baseball Coaches Association called Spiers "a trailblazer in travel baseball" when it posthumously award him its 2024 ABCA Travel & Youth Baseball Service Award. Spiers passed away in 2013.

"Beyond his success on the field, Spiers was widely-known for teaching not only baseball skills, but giving his players the tools to succeed in everyday life," the association wrote in its award announcement.

Spiers' work in baseball began in the 1980s, in college, where he played catcher. He then served as a coach at San Jose State University in 1987, then at San Mateo College in 1988 and 1989. 

For 1990, he signed on as a coach with independent Salinas, but his tenure proved brief. He was out by the end of April.

By 1992, Spiers started Amateur Baseball Development in Corona, Calif., described by the coaches association as one of the first travel teams.

The association credited Spiers with 14 national championships and with working with young players Nolan Arenado, Christian Yelich and Anthony Rizzo.

Spiers also worked as a scout for the Mariners, coached the Ecuador national team and ran his baseball academy, The Los Angeles Times wrote. His son Joe Spiers went on to play in the minors.

Spiers also scouted for the Braves and worked with the scouting organization Perfect Game. In 2008, he ran a showcase in Hawaii that resulted in four players getting junior college scholarship offers, West Hawaii Today wrote.

Hawaii youth coach Kaha Wong told West Hawaii Today, "We played two games, and he offered those kids scholarships. That's something that no coach in Hilo or anybody else has done for these kids except Mike Spiers from Perfect Game."

Upon his passing in 2013, Perfect Game's Andy Ford recalled Spiers as being closely involved with them, spending "just as much time helping Perfect Game as he did his own programs."

"He sent hundreds of players to college and professional baseball and many of the players he helped never donned an ABD uniform," Ford wrote. "Mike was never shy about sharing his opinion, and he did so intent on improving the game of baseball."

Mike Spiers 1990 Salinas Spurs card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,350
Made the Majors:1,401-32.2%
Never Made Majors:2,949-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:570
10+ Seasons in the Minors:352

Saturday, April 13, 2024

John Jonas had brief, busy stint as Salians Spurs GM

John Jonas 1990 Salinas Spurs card

As general manager of the independent Salinas Spurs, John Jonas already had his work cut out for him.

He needed to assemble a workable team, get fans in the stands, court advertisers and do it all in the competitive California League in his first job as a minor league general manager.

"This is a city with great potential," Jonas told The Salinas Californian late that March has he tried to do all those things. "Most of it is unharnessed. The question is, how do you reach that potential?"

Jonas, however, never really could succeed in any of those, all leading to his tenure as Salinas GM proving brief. He was out by the end of June.

Jonas arrived in Salinas from his native Connecticut. He'd served the previous year as business manager for the Joe Buzas-owned New Britain Red Sox. Buzas also owned the Salinas Spurs.

Jonas' 1989 campaign with New Britain also marked his first with that club. The Hartford Courant noted Jonas came from a hockey background, playing at Andrew Warde High School in Fairfield, Conn. and officiating youth hockey.

The team went down to the wire signing players. Days before opening, they had 18, including a unique eight-player loan from Japan's Daiei Hawks, The Californian wrote.

"We need to sign a few more," Jonas told The Californian five days before their scheduled opener. "We expect to have everyone signed in the next day or two."

Jonas also became the point man for updates on one signing, in particular, former Dodgers hurler Steve Howe as Howe attempted to make it back to the majors after well-publicized drug troubles. 

Early that June, Howe suffered a blood clot in his lung and was hospitalized for a time. Jonas updated media outlets on Howe's progress.

Elsewhere with the team, Jonas had watch over a team with such varying backgrounds. In a Philadelphia Inquirer feature on the Japanese aspect of the team that June, talk turned to low attendance and the locals just not noticing the team.

"The fans don't care about the Japanese ballplayers one way or the other," Jonas told The Inquirer. "They're just not eager to watch a last-place club."

Frustrations boiled over that June 26, though. A dispute with the team's operations director led Jonas to contact Buzas. By the end of the call, Jonas was out, The Californian wrote. Buzas cited Jonas' limited experience. Jonas just expressed frustration.

"You couldn't print what I want to say," a heated Jonas told The Californian the night of the call. "I'm very angry. But I feel a sense of relief. The pressure's off."

Jonas appears not to have returned to baseball. Searches for his whereabouts post-Salinas proved unsuccessful.

John Jonas 1990 Salinas Spurs card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,349
Made the Majors:1,401-32.2%
Never Made Majors:2,948-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:570
10+ Seasons in the Minors:352