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Friday, May 17, 2024

Craig Wallin became South Bend mainstay: Baseball Profiles

Craig Wallin 1990 South Bend White Sox card

The fledgling South Bend Midwest League franchise picked a radio station in January 1988 and they got an announcer with local sports experience, Craig Wallin, The South Bend Tribune wrote.

Wallin, who was then the WHME morning drive time disc jockey, previously worked Notre Dame basketball and high school sports for another local station, WCMR, The Tribune wrote.

"This is another step in the building of a quality franchise," South Bend White Sox public relations director Marc Whitney told The Tribune. "We expect nothing but great things from Craig and the entire station."

Wallin would go on to be a cornerstone in local South Bend sports, as the voice of Notre Dame athletics and even a collegiate league team executive himself.

Wallin's career began out of his native Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and soon found himself in South Bend.

By mid-season, Wallin had put together a minor-league radio network, The Tribune wrote.

"I don't think there's ever been anything like it on the minor-league level," Wallin told The Tribune.

Wallin's broadcast career has since spanned 35 years, including 20 years working Notre Dame athletics radio and TV. He even hosts a Notre Dame football pregame show.

In 2013, he announced the Elkhart County Miracle as team owner, though the team didn't hit the field until 2023.

"We really want this to be the greater Elkhart County's hometown team," Wallin told The Tribune.

Craig Wallin 1990 South Bend White Sox card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,368
Made the Majors:1,407-32.2%
Never Made Majors:2,961-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:573
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Chris Delawelle made most of chance: Baseball Profiles

Chris Delawelle 1990 Kenosha Twins card

Newly minted Twins minor leaguer Chris Delarwelle didn't get drafted. So, he explained his philosophy to The Kenosha Sunday News that July.

"I've got nothing to lose here," Delarwelle, a member of the single-A Kenosha Twins, told The Sunday News. "I've got a degree to fall back on. I'm doing what I always wanted to do and I just want to make the most of it."

While he started strong, hitting .390 by mid-July, Delarwelle's career proved brief. He saw three seasons. He topped out at AA.

Delarwelle's career began that year in 1990, signed by the Twins as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

At Oshkosh, Delarwelle won first-team All-American honors and NCAA Division III Player of the Year.

Delarwelle started with the Twins at Kenosha. He got into 66 games and ended with a .298 average and four home runs.

Going into the 1991 season, Delarwelle assessed his first-year performance to The Green Bay Press-Gazette.

"It might prove to other people I can play," Delarwelle told The Press-Gazette. "I didn't have to prove anything to myself."

He moved to high-A Visalia for 1991. He saw 119 games there and hit .280. He then moved to AA Orlando for 1992. He saw 94 games there and hit .264. That season at Orlando, however, proved his last as a pro.

Delarwelle then turned to a different game, men's fastpitch softball and coached baseball. As a coach, he assisted at Oshkosh, then turned head coach in high school. 

For 2024, he continues as a head coach at Denmark High School in Wisconsin. He also serves as owner and instructor at The Hitting Zone baseball and softball facility in Denmark.

Chris Delawelle 1990 Kenosha Twins card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,367
Made the Majors:1,407-32.2%
Never Made Majors:2,960-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:573
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Jayhawk Owens got his majors chance: Baseball Profiles

Jayhawk Owens 1990 Kenosha Twins card

After three seasons in the Twins system, catcher Jayhawk Owens had made AA. He'd also done enough to catch the eye of the fledgling Colorado Rockies, who took him in the first round of the 1992 expansion draft.

"I guess I'll have a chance to get to the big leagues quicker now, and I'm pretty excited about it," Owens told The Daily Murfreesboro News-Journal.

Owens did make the majors and he did make it pretty quickly after that, that next June. He ultimately saw time in four major league seasons, including a 73-game campaign in 1996.

Owens' career began in 1990, taken by the Twins in the second round of the draft out Middle Tennessee State University.

Ahead of the draft, Owens spoke to The Memphis Commercial-Appeal about learning the catcher's position, having spent his first full college season there.

"I learn stuff about catching every game I catch," Owens told The Commercial-Appeal. I don't think you'll ever learn it all because it's so complex."

Owens started with the Twins at single-A Kenosha. He got into 66 games and hit .236. He moved to high-A Visalia for 1991, then AA Orlando for 1992. He hit .267 in 102 games at Orlando.

Then came his move to the Rockies. Owens had actually been known as Jay Owens to that point. But Denver media keyed on his full name, Claude Jayhawk Owens and Owens started to be known as Jayhawk, a name based on his Native American heritage, Scripps Howard News Service wrote.

Owens saw 33 games with the Rockies that year and hit .209. He saw six more in 1994 and 18 in 1995. 

Going into 1996, though, Colorado traded away starting catcher Joe Girardi leaving Owens as the presumptive starter, The Tucson Citizen wrote.

"Some of the guys had said it was going to happen," Owens told The Citizen that February. "It was very exciting. It put me to the level I've been trying to get to. Before, I've been trying to stay up and survive."

Owens then got into his 73 games that year and hit .239. That season, however, ended up being his last.

Owens saw time in three more seasons in the minors. He last played for the Reds at AAA Indianapolis and AA Chattanooga in 1999.

Owens then turned minor league coach and manager. He's last credited as managing at AA Chattanooga in 2007.

Jayhawk Owens 1990 Kenosha Twins card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,366
Made the Majors:1,407-32.2%-X
Never Made Majors:2,959-67.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:573
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Rick Stiner hit, then taught game: Baseball Profiles

Rick Stiner 1990 Stockton Ports card

Rick Stiner helped his high school team to the Indiana state championship, then played two seasons as a pro.

In November 1997, he opened his own youth baseball facility in his hometown of Kokomo, The Kokomo Tribune wrote.

"Batting was something I've always known a lot about and teaching was something I'd always wanted to do," Stiner told The Tribune then.

Stiner's pro career saw him top out at high-A.

Stiner's brief pro career began in 1990, signed by the Brewers as an undrafted free agent out of Grand Canyon College.

At Grand Canyon, Stiner participated in a record scoring game, where his team scored 45 runs, The Associated Press wrote.

"In the eighth inning, one of our coaches said let's score 30 runs," Stiner told The AP. "And then, when we got to 30, we said, why don't we try for forty? When we got to 45, everybody was wanting 50 real bad."

Stiner signed as a pro in February 1990. He spoke to The Tribune then expressed optimism about his career.

"I believe in my heart I have a chance to make it," Stiner told The Tribune. "I think I have the qualities. I have a good arm and hit well for a catcher."

Stiner started with the Brewers at high-A Stockton. He saw 58 games and hit .159. He then moved to independent high-A Reno for 1991. He saw just three games to end his career.

He then starting instructing. He continues as a youth instructor in 2024, with Stiner's Hitting Academy in Indianapolis. 

Rick Stiner 1990 Stockton Ports card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,365
Made the Majors:1,406-32.2%
Never Made Majors:2,959-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:573
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Steve Sparks learned ML knuckleball: Baseball Profiles

Steve Sparks 1990 Stockton Ports card

Five seasons into his professional career, Brewers minor leaguer Steve Sparks seemed to need something else - a knuckleball, Brewers officials thought, The Los Angeles Times wrote years later.

So, they went to Sparks with an idea - Sparks needed to develop a knuckleball, The Times wrote.

"They gave me a three-year plan, which is a lot, of leeway to develop a pitch, and I was 26 at the time," Sparks told The Times in April 1999. "I figured there was no sense in trying at at all if I wasn't going to give it my best shot, so I went in with a good attitude."

Sparks went and learned the pitch. Four seasons later, he was in the major leagues. He ended up staying for nine seasons.

Before he made the bigs, came the incident for which Sparks came to be best known, an incident involving a phone book and a dislocated shoulder.

Sparks' career began in 1987, taken by the Brewers in the fifth round of the draft out of San Houston State University.

Sparks started with the Brewers at rookie Helena. He made single-A Beloit in 1988 and then AA El Paso briefly in 1990. He played 1991 largely at high-A Stockton. He went 10-7, with a 3.69 ERA in 19 starts at Stockton.

He then started working on his knuckleball. He played 1992 at El Paso, then 1993 and 1994 at AAA New Orleans. Then, in 1995, he made the majors.

Sparks picked up his first big league win that May, with the spring 1994 phone book incident prominent in the win story.

After a motivational group demonstrated mind-over-matter techniques that included ripping a telephone book in half, Sparks tried to do the same and dislocated his shoulder.

"That was blown a little out of proportion but for whatever reason, that's what stuck with me," Sparks told The Associated Press after his first major league win. "Hopefully I can go ahead and prove myself."

He saw 33 games, 27 starts that first year. He went 9-11, with a 4.53 ERA. He then saw 20 outings, 13 starts.

After losing 1997 to injury, he played 1998 and 1999 with Anaheim. He then moved to the Tigers for 2000 and he stayed into 2003. After finishing 2003 with Oakland, he rounded out his career with the Diamondbacks.

He ended with nine seasons played, 270 outings and 182 starts. He went 59-76, with a 4.88 ERA.

Sparks has since gone into broadcasting. Since 2015, he's worked as an Astros radio broadcaster. He continues that work in 2024.

Steve Sparks 1990 Stockton Ports card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,364
Made the Majors:1,406-32.2%-X
Never Made Majors:2,958-67.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:573-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Monday, May 6, 2024

John Jaha made majors over 10 seasons: Baseball Profiles

John Jaha 1990 Stockton Ports card

Brewers manager Phil Garner expressed confidence in the team's young first base prospect John Jaha in 1993, enough so to hand him the team's starting first baseman job, The La Crosse Tribune wrote.

"We like the kid," Garner told The Tribune, "and felt it was just a matter of time before he was going to be playing (full-time) anyway. He's got a real solid future."

Jaha's future included time spent in 10 major league seasons, seven of those with the Brewers. It also included an all-star selection, in 1999 with the Athletics.

Jaha's career began in 1984, taken by the Brewers in the 14th round of the draft out of Douglas High School in Portland Ore.

Jaha started with the Brewers in 1985, at rookie Helena. He made single-A Beloit in 1987 and high-A Stockton in 1990. His 1990 season proved abbreviated due to an early knee injury, one of multiple injuries he'd have through his career.

"Basically, I just wrote off last year," Jaha told The El Paso Times in April 1991. "I've just had to start this year all over again to get to where I wanted to be."

Jaha then came back in 1991 at AA El Paso and won league MVP honors. For 1992, he made AAA Denver. Then, that July, he made Milwaukee.

Jaha got into 47 games that year in 1992 and hit .226. He then returned for all of 1993 and saw 153 total games, while hitting .264, with 19 home runs.

Jaha saw 84 games in 1994, 88 in 1995 and another 148 in 1996. He hit .313 in 1995 and .300 in 1996 with 34 home runs. 

Despite his success, his previous knee injury came up in contract talks for 1997, leading the Brewers to only offer him a one-year deal.

Then came other injuries. He saw just 46 games that year in 1997 due to a shoulder injury., then 73 games in 1998 due to a foot injury.

He then signed for 1999 with the Athletics and played the full season, 142 games. He hit .276, with 35 home runs and made the All-Star Game.

Jaha then saw 33 games in 2000 and 12 in 2001 to end his career

John Jaha 1990 Stockton Ports card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,363
Made the Majors:1,405-32.2%-X
Never Made Majors:2,958-67.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:572-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Jeff Schwarz made bigs in 12th season: Baseball Profiles

Jeff Schwarz 1990 Stockton Ports card

After spending more than 11 seasons in the minors, Jeff Schwarz made the majors with the White Sox in 1993. After getting his first major league win that June, he was overjoyed, The St. Lucie News Tribune wrote.

In the process, he faced future Hall of Famer George Brett in Brett's 10,000th at bat and struck him our, The Tribune wrote.

"I can't believe it," Schwarz told The Associated Press after the win, according to The Tribune. "I don't know whether to cry or jump up and down. ... I'm going to FedEx that game ball to my mom and dad first thing tomorrow."

Schwarz went on to see time in two major league campaigns, including 41 total appearances that year with the White Sox.

Schwarz' career began in 1982, taken by the Cubs in the 24th round of the draft out of Fort Pierce Westwood High School in Florida.

Schwarz started with the Cubs in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He made single-A Quad City in 1984 then AA Pittsfield briefly in 1988.

Schwarz was actually drafted as a first baseman, but a scout saw him through and they tried him as a pitcher, he told The South Bend Tribune years later. He also had ultimately unfulfilled ambitions to pitch with both hands, having learned throwing lefthanded after a high school injury.

For 1989, he moved to the Orioles system and played between AA Hagerstown and AAA Rochester. He started back at Rochester in 1990 before moving to the Brewers and high-A Stockton.

He made AA El Paso in 1991. That July, he threw a four-hitter in a complete game win. He also got to pass the hat among fans and made $88, some minor league meal money, The El Paso Herald-Post wrote.

"Well, I already thawed the chicken out, so I will have to eat that (tonight)," Schwarz told The Herald-Post of his windfall. "But tomorrow I can eat lunch at Subway and have dinner at Denny's."

Schwarz moved to the White Sox for 1992, playing between AA Birmingham and AAA Vancouver. Then, in April 1993, he got his call to Chicago.

"My mom would always tell me the cream would rise to the top," Schwarz told The Moline Dispatch that June, "But I was always wondering if I would ever rise."

Schwarz ended up seeing 41 relief outings for the White Sox, 51 innings of work. He picked up two total wins and a 3.71 ERA.

He then returned for nine more relief outings with the White Sox in 1994 and four more that year with the Angels to round out his major league career.

Schwarz then saw brief time with Yokohama in Japan in 1995 and then at AAA with the Braves in 1996 to end his career.

Schwarz turned coach by 2001 at short-season Vermont. He's last recorded as coaching with the Marlins in the rookie Gulf Coast League in 2013. 

Jeff Schwarz 1990 Stockton Ports card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,362
Made the Majors:1,404-32.2%-X
Never Made Majors:2,958-67.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:571
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354-X