For more great baseball stories like this one, 'like' us on Facebook - Facebook.com/Greatest21Days

Saturday, March 2, 2024

John Massarelli showed positive attitude over decade in pros

John Massarelli 1990 Osceola Astros card

Going into his fifth pro season in 1991, John Massarelli hoped to start at AA. Instead, he started where he'd played the previous year, high-A Osceola, The Orlando Sentinel wrote.

Massarelli chose to respond with a positive attitude, he told The Sentinel.

"I had to realize anybody can only control what you can control, and that means I have to go out and play hard," Massarelli told The Sentinel that June.

Massarelli work was soon rewarded with a promotion to AA Jackson and even AAA Tucson. But, in a career that spanned a decade, he never could make the bigs.

Massarelli's career began in 1987, taken by the Astros in the eighth round of the draft out of the University of Akron.

Massarelli started with the Astros at short-season Auburn and single-A Asheville. He hit .206 in 29 games.

He returned to Auburn for 1988, then Asheville in 1989. He hit .248 in 90 games at Asheville. After Osceola in 1990, where he stole 54 bases, he saw 12 games at Jackson in 1991 and then 46 games at AAA Tucson. He hit .268 at Tucson.

Massarelli split 1992 between Jackson and Tucson, then played 1993 completely at Tucson. He hit .281 in 114 games. That May, he started a ninth-inning rally, singling and stealing second, The Tucson Citizen wrote.

"I like leading off the inning because I feel with my speed, I can make things happen,," Massarelli told The Citizen. "It's part of hustling throughout the game."

He moved to the Marlins and AAA Edmonton for 1994, then to the Indians for 1995 at AA Canton-Akron and AAA Charlotte. He then finished out his career with the Padres in 1996 between AA Memphis and high-A Rancho Cucamonga.

By 1998, he started a career as a coach at Walsh University, The Akron Beacon Journal.

"I was so happy to bring in another assistant coach," Walsh head coach Tim Mead told The Beacon Journal. "And John not only brought his experience, but also his passion for teaching the game."

Massarelli then returned to the pros. He managed with the Astros at short-season Auburn, then single-A Michigan for 2001 and high-A Salem for 2003. For 2004, he moved to independent ball at Washington. He's most recently credited as manager at independent Kansas City in 2015.

John Massarelli 1990 Osceola Astros card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,318
Made the Majors:1,396-32.3%
Never Made Majors:2,922-67.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:569
10+ Seasons in the Minors:351-X

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Manny Acta played in minors, became manager, trusted voice

Manny Acta 1990 Osceola Astros card

Former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta joined the Mariners as third base coach in 2015 and later moved to bench coaching duties.

The Mariners needed Acta's experience in the dugout, Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto told MLB.com in February 2018.

"He was already running a good deal of the bench-coach duties, and the one thing we didn't let him do was influence the in-game situations," Dipoto told MLB.com. "But by bringing him in the dugout, he's a natural source. He's an ally and a trusted voice."

Acta gained that experience over three decades in the game, first as a player and then as a young manager in the minors, then in the majors as a manager and coach.

Acta's career began in 1987, signed by the Astros out of his native Dominican Republic.

Acta started with the Astros in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He moved to single-A Osceola for 1988, then saw 41 games between AA Columbus and Osceola for 1989.

In July 1990, at high-A Osceola, he spoke to The Associated Press about language issues.

"When I started, language was a big problem. If you didn't understand a coach, he didn't say, 'He doesn't speak English.' He said, "This guy is stupid," Acta told The AP. "Now every rookie team has a Spanish speaker and they pay for English school."

He saw 44 games at Osceola that year and 41 games at Columbus. He finished out his playing career in 1991 at single-A Burlington.

Acta then got his first managerial job at short-season Auburn for 1993, at age 24. He then stayed at Auburn for four seasons. He managed 1997 at single-A Quad City. He served as hitting coach at AAA New Orleans for 2001.

For 2002, he made the majors as third base coach with the Expos. He moved to the Mets in 2005. Then, in 2007, he became manager of the Nationals. He managed there three seasons before joining the Indians as manager in 2010.

"We went through a thorough process, talked to people who had managed against him and played for him at every level," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro told reporters of the hire, "and the same kind of comments about Manny kept coming through -- his character, his resourcefulness, his desire to continue to improve, his ability to teach and bring the best out of players.

Acta stayed with the Indians three seasons. He later joined the Mariners. He continues with the Mariners in 2024 as third base coach.

Manny Acta 1990 Osceola Astros card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,317
Made the Majors:1,396-32.4%
Never Made Majors:2,921-67.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:569
10+ Seasons in the Minors:350

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Pat Wernig settled in for AAA no-hitter, saw 7 pro seasons

Pat Wernig 1990 Huntsville Stars card

Tacoma starter Pat Wernig thought he struggled over the first few innings of this June 1991 game, then settled in and cruised, he told The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

By the time the last out came, a pop to right, Wernig had a no-hitter.

"It was kind of shocking," Wernig told his hometown Times-Dispatch. "Everybody was going nuts. I said, 'Wow. I did it."

Wernig threw that no-hitter in his fifth season as a pro and his first at AAA. He saw two more pro seasons, but he topped out there at AAA.

Wernig's career began in 1987, taken by the Athletics in the 15th round of the draft out of Texas A&M University.

Wernig started with the Athletics between short-season Medford and single-A Modesto. He went 2-4 between them, over 23 outings, three starts, with a 4.74 ERA.

He moved to single-A Madison for 1988 and went 11-6, with a 3.02 ERA in 26 starts. He threw a complete game for a 13-3, despite having a rough three-run inning in the third, The Wisconsin State Journal wrote.

"I just went into the soft stuff and the off-speed pitches that inning," Wernig told The Journal. "I went back to the fastball and had a lot of good movement on it."

Wernig made AA Huntsville for 1989. He went 7-6, with a 5.15 ERA in 17 starts. He returned to Huntsville for 1990 and went 5-4, with a 3.27 ERA in 19 outings, 11 starts.

He then played 1991 at AAA Tacoma. He ended 7-8 there, with a 1.91 ERA in 39 outings, 8 starts. In another outing that June, he provided key long relief after an injury to the starter, The Tacoma News Tribune wrote

"Short relief is easier," Wernig told The News Tribune. "But things change, guys move up and I have to take on new roles."

Wernig started 1992 back at Huntsville. He then moved to AAA Las Vegas with the Padres. He saw 17 relief outings at Las Vegas. He then played 13 final games with the Angels at high-A Palm Springs in 1993 to end his career.

Wernig has since gone into coaching, serving as an assistant coach with Cox High School in Virginia Beach in 2024.

Pat Wernig 1990 Huntsville Stars card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,316
Made the Majors:1,396-32.4%
Never Made Majors:2,920-67.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:569
10+ Seasons in the Minors:350

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Marteese Robinson played 4 seasons, then became scout, coach

Marteese Robinson 1990 Huntsville Stars card

Seton Hall's Marteese Robinson had a 21-game hitting streak his junior year and powered his club to an 18-4 record by early April, The Morristown Daily Record wrote.

In addition to helping his team, he also looked ahead to the possibility of turning pro, The Daily Record wrote.

"It all depends on how the scouts see my individual skills," Robinson told The Daily Record. "I'm trying to play as hard as I can defensively, too, because I feel that is an underrated part of my game."

Robinson did go on to turn pro that year in the draft. His pro career ended up lasting four seasons. He topped out at AA. But he ended up staying in the game, as a scout himself.

Robinson's career began in 1987, taken by the Athletics in the sixth round of the draft out of Seton Hall University.

Robinson started with the Athletics between short-season Medford and single-A Modesto. He hit .231 in 54 games. He then moved to single-A Madison for 1988. He hit .251 in 125 games.

He started 1989 struggling at Modesto, He then moved back down to Madison. He also started questioning himself, he told The Capital Times that May. But, once he got on the field, he picked it up, took the pressure off himself and helped his new squad to six wins in nine games, The Times wrote.

"People would say 'you're not the same as you were in college,'" Robinson told The Times. "I started thinking what I did in college that was so different and I realized that in college I didn't put any pressure on myself - I just went out and had fun."

Robinson saw 16 games that year at AA Huntsville. He then returned to Huntsville for 1990. He saw 104 games there and hit .265. That season proved his last.

Robinson soon turned scout. In 2001, he was headed the Cardinals new pro scouting division, including scouting minor league talent from other teams, The Memphis Commercial Appeal wrote.

"We want to know as much about a player as you can, seeing them every year and talking to people, watching them develop," Robinson told The Commercial Appeal that June.

In 2024, Robinson is serving as an assistant coach with Morristown Beard School in New Jersey.

Marteese Robinson 1990 Huntsville Stars card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,315
Made the Majors:1,396-32.4%
Never Made Majors:2,919-67.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:569
10+ Seasons in the Minors:350

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Peter Bauer learned screwball changeup, saw 6 seasons, AA

Pete Bauer 1990 Osceola Astros card

Jackson reliever Pete Bauer developed a unique pitch in the minors, first in the Mets system and then continuing with the Astros, The Jackson Clarion Ledger wrote in July 1991.

The pitch, dubbed "The Freak," was described by The Clarion Ledger as a screwball changeup that usually broke down and away.

"I'll throw it any time, preferably when I'm ahead," Bauer told The Clarion-Ledger then. "Hopefully, when I got two strikes, I can make the hitter chase it."

For Bauer, though, that pitch wasn't enough. That season marked his sixth season as a pro, and also his last. He topped out at AA.

Bauer's career began in 1986, taken by the Mets in the eighth round of the draft out of the University of Minnesota. He was also credited as Peter Bauer.

At Minnesota, Bauer went six innings in a win, working out of early trouble, The St. Cloud Times wrote.

"I wasn't getting a lot on the ball early," Bauer told The Times afterward. " ... All I wanted to do was throw strikes, because with our defense, that's all you have to do."

Bauer started with the Mets at short-season Little Falls and single-A Lynchburg. He went 4-4 on the year in 29 relief appearances, with a 1.96 ERA.

He returned to Lynchburg for 1987. That May, he came on in a game and didn't give up a hit over 2.1 innings of relief, though he walked in a run, The Lynchburg News and Advance wrote.

"I got kind of lucky tonight," Bauer told The News and Advance. "I got behind a lot of the hitters. But I was able to come back for the most part, except for walking in that run."

Bauer played 1988 at single-A Columbia, then made AA Jackson with the Mets for 15 outings in 1989 before moving to the Astros and single-A Osceola.

He then split 1990 between Osceola and AA Columbus, going 4-5 on the year, with a 2.16 ERA in 58 relief outings. He also saved 13.

For 1991, he played back at AA Jackson with the Astros. He saw 46 relief outings, went 3-7, with a 3.81 ERA to end his career.

Pete Bauer 1990 Osceola Astros card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,314
Made the Majors:1,396-32.4%
Never Made Majors:2,918-67.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:569
10+ Seasons in the Minors:350

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Kenny Lofton helped teams many ways over 17 majors seasons

Kenny Lofton 1990 Osceola Astros card

As he geared up for a new season with his new team in early April 1997, Kenny Lofton explained his game to The Atlanta Constitution.

He was the type of player, he told The Constitution, who was going to go out there and give 110 percent each day.

"A lot of times, I play when I'm hurt. I feel my presence there is needed," Lofton told The Constitution. "If I can't do it offensively, I'll do it defensively. I feel if I can't help you one way, I'll help you another."

Lofton, a veteran of three previous All-Star games with the Indians, went out there and made another one that year with the Braves in 1997. He then saw two more in a career that spanned 17 major league seasons.

Throughout, he used his speed, ending with 622 stolen bases, good for 15th all time.

Lofton's career began in 1988, taken by the Astros in the 17th round of the draft out of the University of Arizona.

Lofton started with the Astros at short-season Auburn. He made single-A Asheville for 1989 and high-A Osceola for 1990. He then saw AAA Tucson for 1991 and then Houston that same year.

Lofton saw 20 games that first year with the Astros. He then moved to the Indians and became a major league regular. 

"He hasn't played very much, but his baseball sense and instincts are very good," Cleveland first base coach Dave Nelson told The Los Angeles Times that May in 1992. "He's not doing this on sheer speed."

Lofton ended up playing 148 games that year. He stole 66 bases to lead the league, the first of five-straight seasons where he would do so. 

In 1993, he stole 70 bases and hit .325. Lofton earned his first All-Star nod in 1994, his first of six straight.

In 1995, he helped the Indians to the World Series, scoring from second on a passed ball in one ALCS game.

"I think that's basically a lead-off hitter's job, to get on base and make things happen," Lofton told The Associated Press then. "That's what I try to do."

Lofton continued with the Indians through 2001. He then went through eight different organizations into 2007 before returning to the Indians. 

Lofton ended with 2,103 total games played, a .299 batting average and those 622 steals.

Lofton has since turned to filmmaking. And, after failing to make it past the first ballot in Hall of Fame voting, he held out hope that he'd one day make it through the veteran's committee.

"They know the era I played in and all the things I was dealing with. I played against steroids guys and I still was competing during that time," Lofton told the New York Post in 2019. "At my position, I felt like I stood out."

Kenny Lofton 1990 Osceola Astros card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,313
Made the Majors:1,396-32.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,917-67.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:569-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:350

Monday, February 19, 2024

Scott Makarewicz thought big things at AA, saw 10 seasons

Scott Makarewicz 1990 Osceola Astros card

Scott Makarewicz stepped to the plate in this July 1992 game for AA Jackson with the go-ahead run on third and one out in the ninth. His thoughts, he told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger: Big things.

"I went up there saying, 'Hey, this is it. This is what gets you to the big leagues," Makarewicz told The Clarion-Ledger.

Makarewicz ended up getting a single to bring in the run. In a career that spanned a decade in the pros, though, he never did make the majors. He topped out at AAA.

Makarewicz' career began in 1989, taken by the Astros in the sixth round of the draft out of Michigan State University.

Makarewicz started with the Astros at short-season Auburn. He hit .241 over 61 games. He then moved to high-A Osceola and AA Columbus for 1990. He hit .277 in 93 games at Osceola. He also made the Florida State League All-Star team.

"We want to go out there and make a contribution," Makarewicz told The Orlando Sentinel after his selection. "This is a game that brings all of the league's best and we're glad to be a part of it. We'll be out there to have fun, but we also will play to win."

He then played 1991 at AA Jackson, then 1992 and 1993 there. He made AAA Tucson for 1994 and saw 63 games, hitting .287.

Makarewicz returned to Tucson for 1995, then moved to the Tigers system and AA Jacksonville in 1996 and AAA Toledo in 1997. Makarewicz played his final season in 198, between the Marlins and Astros systems.

By 2016, Makarewicz had settled in Florida heading the Florida Collegiate Summer League's Winter Park Diamond Dawgs, coaching his son, The Sentinel wrote.

"It's the American pasttime," Malarewicz told The Sentinel then. "Sports is big in my family, and I know that sports keeps families together. It's a good connection, hard work, goal-setting. I just helps you grow in life."

Scott Makarewicz 1990 Osceola Astros card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,312
Made the Majors:1,395-32.4%
Never Made Majors:2,917-67.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:568
10+ Seasons in the Minors:350-X