Happy Veteran’s Day 2013. Please take time to thank a Veteran today — in fact, this is something we should do everyday.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods are taking some time this Veteran’s Day to single out and honor an original Bowling Green Minor Leaguer, Robert W. Stephens. Bob Stephens was a member of the Bowling Green Barons, Bowling Green’s original Minor League Team, whose professional baseball career was interrupted by military service after just one season.
The Bowling Green Barons played from 1939-1942 and disbanded upon the start of World War II.
Give yourself 10-15 minutes and read the entire write-up about Bob Stephens on the great website Baseball In Wartime. Here is an excerpt that explains Stephens’ quick but memorable professional baseball career:
Evansville promptly assigned the young right-hander to the Bowling Green Barons of the Class D Kitty League (the nickname given to the K-I-T League, which was short for the Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League). Bowling Green is in south central Kentucky, about 300 miles southeast of St. Louis, and professional baseball had come to the town in 1939 when Vick Smith, Sr. – a local businessman – bought the Lexington (TN) Bees franchise.
At a time when Bowling Green was an isolated community due to poor highway connections, ballgames and the movies were the biggest things in town. The Barons could always expect a good crowd at the Fairgrounds Stadium in Lampkin Park and they didn’t disappoint the fans by finishing second in 1939 and winning the Kitty League pennant in 1940.
When Stephens joined the Barons in June 1941, 40-year-old Ossie Bluege – who had an 18-year major league career as an infielder with the Washington Senators – was the manager and Ossie’s brother, Otto, an infielder with the Reds in the early 1930s, was playing his last season of pro ball as the Barons’ shortstop. The 1941 Barons, with only two players returning from the previous year’s pennant-winning squad, had gotten off to a slow start and were sitting in the league basement. Having dropped 11 of their last 12 games, Ossie was fired as manager in late June, and another former big leaguer, 40-year-old outfielder Mel Simons – who played with the White Sox in the early 1930s – took over as skipper of the club.
Stephens had a steady rookie season with the seventh-placed Barons. He made his first appearance as a relief pitcher against the Fulton (KY) Tigers on June 13 in a 9-1 loss. His first start came on June 26 against the Jackson (TN) Generals and it was an impressive showing; going the distance he shutout the Generals after the first inning allowing eight hits in a 6-3 win. He was the starting pitcher again on July 5 in a 5-4 win over the Union City (TN) Greyhounds and followed that up on July 15 as the starter in a 7-2 win against the Paducah (KY) Indians. The following night – the same night future Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio hit in his record-setting 56th and final consecutive game – Stephens helped the Barons beat Paducah, 6-2, with a relief appearance. During August he helped beat the Owensboro (KY) Oilers and Paducah, while making relief appearances in losses to Jackson, the Mayfield (KY) Browns and the Hopkinsville (KY) Hoppers. He beat Mayfield, 5-4, on September 1 and his final appearance of the season came on September 4 as a reliever in a 13-inning, 10-9, loss to Hopkinsville.
In 23 appearances on the mound he was 5-6 with 43 strikeouts in 127 innings, and his earned run average was a respectable 3.97 (second best on the team).
It looked like the young Missourian had a promising career ahead of him but 1941 was to be his only season in professional baseball. On December 7, 1941, peace in the United States came to an abrupt end as the Japanese launched a devastating surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that sank or damaged 18 warships of the United States Pacific Fleet and claimed over 2,000 lives.
Tim Beckham and Enny Romero each made their MLB debut on the same Rays homestand this past weekend.
In their quest to lock down one of the final two American League Wild Card spots, the Tampa Bay Rays called upon two former Hot Rods to fill vital roles: Tim Beckham, the first overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft and a member of the inaugural Hot Rods team in 2009, and Enny Romero, a 2011 Hot Rod and a left-handed pitching prospect with a lot of buzz.
Beckham debuted on Thursday night, appearing as a pinch-hitter for Matt Joyce. The Georgia native singled in his first at bat (view the video below!).
Romero cryptically tweeted the following in the wee hours of Saturday morning…
I could come and pitch tomorrow 😃 #Rays
— Enny Romero (@EnnyRomeroTB) September 21, 2013
…and would end up making his MLB debut on Sunday. Marc Topkin, Rays beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times, chronicled Romero learning about his call-up to the Big Leagues in the Dominican Republic. Check out Romero’s highlights from his first career start on Sunday.
Tim Beckham is leading the Durham Bulls with a .412 batting average in the 2013 AAA Playoffs (Al Drago — Bull City Summer)
Outside of the Hot Rods, two other Rays Minor League teams made the 2013 postseason — the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Advanced-A Florida State League) and the Durham Bulls (Triple-A International League). Both the Stone Crabs and the Bulls advanced to their respective league’s championship series with the Bulls still battling it out in their series (Game 1 was Tuesday night). Here’s a breakdown of how Hot Rods alums have performed in the 2013 Minor League playoffs:
We’ll start first with the Charlotte Stone Crabs:
Willie Argo (’12): 2-24
Kes Carter (’12): 0-11, BB, RS
Hector Guevara (’11): 1-15, 2 BB
Jake Hager (’12): 6-23, BB, RS
Jeff Malm (’12): 4-18, 2B, 2 RBI, 3 BB
Taylor Motter (’12): 2-12, 2B
Alejandro Segovia (’12): 3-14, 4 BB, RS
Drew Vettleson (’12): 6-20, RS
Andrew Bellatti (’12): 5.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H
Shay Crawford (’12-’13): 0.2 IP, 0 R, 2 H
Dylan Floro (’13): 14.0 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 12 H, 9 K, 2 GS, L
Nate Garcia (’11): 3.0 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 K. W
Lenny Linsky (’11): 3.1 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 H, 4 K
Jake Partridge (’12): 2.1 IP, 0 R, H, K, W
Matt Ramsey (’13): 1.0 IP, 0 R, H
Felipe Rivero (’12): 12.2 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 8 H, 6 K. 2 GS, W
And now for the still-alive Durham Bulls:
Tim Beckham (’09): .412 (7-17), 2 2B, BB, RBI, SB, 3 RS
Kevin Kiermaier (’11): 2-10, 2B, 3 BB, 3 RS
Merrill Kelly (’10): 5.2 IP, 0 R, 7 H, 6 K, W
Kiby Yates (’10): 2.0 IP, 0 R, H, 4 K, 2 SV
Bowling Green broadcaster Chris Kleinhans-Schulz chatted with Hot Rods manager Jared Sandberg prior to Thursday’s contest, game two of the Midwest League Quarterfinals with the Fort Wayne TinCaps. Fort Wayne opened the series with a 6-1 win on Wednesday and puts Bowling Green in a must-win situation on Thursday.
Game 2, Midwest League Quarterfinals – Bowling Green Hot Rods (82-56 / 0-1) @ Fort Wayne TinCaps (72-67 / 1-0)
Today’s Game at a Glance
Facing elimination, the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays) need a win on Thursday against the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres) to stay in the 2013 Midwest League Quarterfinals. Fort Wayne defeated Bowling Green 6-1 in Wednesday’s opener at Bowling Green Ballpark. The loss sends the Hot Rods to 0-5 all-time in playoff games, with three losses to Fort Wayne.
Season Series: During the regular season, the Hot Rods held the edge against the TinCaps by a margin of 10-5, including five wins at Parkview Field.
RHP Reinaldo Lopez, 22, is set to make his first playoff start in three seasons. Lopez started game two of the Gulf Coast League Championship Series (5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, K), which the GCL Phillies won en route to the league title. As a Hot Rod this season, Lopez served as a quality pitcher and finished tied for third in Midwest League pitching with Cedar Rapids’ Brett Lee (2.95 ERA).
RHP Zach Eflin, 19, will make his third start against Bowling Green in 2013. Eflin lost a pair of starts at Bowling Green Ballpark in the regular season, including his most recent appearance on August 24 (5.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 ER, BB, 3 K). The 33rd overall pick of the 2012 MLB June Draft, Eflin has pitched significantly better at home, holding a 3-1 record and 1.56 ERA in games at Parkview Field.
If necessary, game three of the Midwest League Quarterfinals will take place on Friday evening at 6:05 PM CDT at Parkview Field. The winner of this series will face either the South Bend Silver Hawks (Diamondbacks) or the Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers) in the Midwest League Division Championships.
The 2012 Hot Rods lineup pregame for the last home playoff game played at Bowling Green Ballpark.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays) host their playoff opener in the Midwest League Quarterfinals on Wednesday evening against the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres). This will mark the first time that the Hot Rods will open the postseason at home and the second time they will meet the TinCaps in the playoffs. Bowling Green’s playoff debut occurred against Fort Wayne in the 2011 Midwest League Quarterfinals, which the TinCaps took two games to none. Season Series: During the regular season, the Hot Rods held the edge against the TinCaps by a margin of 10-5, including five wins at home and on the road.
RHP Jeff Ames, 22, serves as Bowling Green’s first playoff starter. Ames, the 2013 Opening Day starter, has put together one of the best campaigns for a full-season starting pitcher in Hot Rods history. The Vancouver, WA native set a team record for WHIP (1.09) and also ranks among the Midwest League leaders in WHIP (2nd), ERA (6th, 2.98), and opposing batting average (1st, .210).
RHP Joe Ross, 20, will be the opening pitcher this postseason for the TinCaps. Like Ames, Ross was the first pitcher for his team this season, making his debut at Great Lakes on April 4. Ross does not have a victory in three outings against Bowling Green, featuring an appearance of six shutout innings at Fort Wayne’s Parkview Field in a Hot Rods win on August 16 (6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 3 K).
For the third consecutive season, the Bowling Green Hot Rods will participate in the Midwest League Playoffs! Bowling Green lost in the quarterfinals in each of the last two seasons and will face the Fort Wayne TinCaps in this season’s quarterfinals. Fort Wayne led wire-to-wire in a pair of wins against Bowling Green in the 2011 Midwest League Quarterfinals in the first Hot Rods playoff appearance in team history. During the 2013 regular season, Bowling Green went 10-5 against Fort Wayne, including five wins at Bowling Green Ballpark and five wins at Parkview Field.
Bowling Green will host the first contest of a best-of-three quarterfinal match-up with Fort Wayne at Bowling Green Ballpark at 7:05pm CDT tonight! The series will continue in at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne on Thursday and Friday (if necessary) with games scheduled for 6:05pm CDT. Below is a full playoff bracket and schedule for the postseason.
South Bend Silver Hawks (First Half Champion) vs. Great Lakes Loons (Second Half Wild Card)
Fort Wayne TinCaps (First Half Wild Card) vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods (Second Half Champion)
Beloit Snappers (First Half Champion) vs. Clinton LumberKings (Second Half Wild Card)
Cedar Rapids Kernels (First Half Wild Card) vs. Quad Cities River Bandits (Second Half Champion)
MWL DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS – Best-of-Three – September 7-9
Winner of South Bend/Great Lakes vs. Winner of Fort Wayne/Bowling Green
Winner of Beloit/Clinton vs. Winner of Cedar Rapids/Quad Cities
MWL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS – Best-of-Five – September 11-12, 14-16
Eastern Division Champion vs. Western Division Champion
Home-Field Advantage Notes: Home-field advantage is the final two games that can be played in the first two rounds and the final three games that can be played in the third round
Home-field advantage in the quarterfinals was chosen by the First Half playoff qualifiers
Home-field advantage in the division championships is chosen by the team with the best overall record (Eastern: Bowling Green, South Bend, Fort Wayne, Great Lakes – Western: Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities, Beloit, Clinton)
In the league championship, the Eastern Division champion will host the first two games with the remaining game(s) as needed to be hosted by the Western Division champion
Beloit: One title (1995), four-time runner-up (1992, 2000, 2003, 2007)
Bowling Green: No titles or second place finishes
Cedar Rapids: Three titles (1988, 1992, 1994), no runner-up finishes
Clinton: Two titles (1963(a), 1991), four-time runner-up (1957, 1964, 1993, 2010)
Fort Wayne: One title (2009), one second place finish (2012)
Great Lakes: No titles or second place finishes(b)
Quad Cities: Five titles (1968, 1971, 1979, 1990, 2011), five-time runner-up (1970, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981)
South Bend: Three titles (1989, 1993, 2005), Three-time runner-up (1990, 2001, 2008)
(a) Won first and second halves in single-division setup, earning championship without a playoff
(b) Franchise previously operated as, among other teams, the Michigan Battle Cats (2000 MWL champion, 1995 MWL finalist)
The fifth season of Bowling Green Hot Rods baseball set up to be a memorable season at its outset, and the 2013 squad has already delivered an impressive campaign. Qualifying for the playoffs for the third straight year is the biggest team’s accomplishment so far, but there have also been numerous individual and team records set during the regular season…
- First Hot Rod to win a league batting championship (.326) as well as finish first in the league in hits (169) and triples (16)
- Single-season records – .326 average, 519 at bats, 169 hits, 16 triples, 242 total bases, 62 stolen bases, 17 times caught stealing, 79 stolen base attempts, and 31-game on-base streak
- Midwest League Post Season All-Star in addition to Mid Season All-Star accolades
- One of nine Hot Rods selected as Mid Season All-Stars (Coyle, Toles, Luke Maile, Tyler Goeddel, Leonardo Reginatto, Jeff Ames, Dylan Floro, Taylor Guerrieri, Reinaldo Lopez)
- Single-season record of 91 bases on balls, besting Robby Price’s 2011 mark of 86 walks that led the Midwest League
Other Individual Records Set/Tied
- Joey Rickard – Tied Mike Sheridan (2009) and Phil Wunderlich (2011) for a single-season record of eight sacrifice flies
- Jeff Ames – Lowest WHIP in team history among qualifying pitchers (1.09)
- Ryan Garton – Most intentional walks issued in a season (6)
- Blake Snell – Single-season record of 73 total walks
The Hot Rods as a Team
- New Pitching Marks: Lowest ERA (3.06), most shutouts (15), fewest hits allowed (1049), fewest runs allowed (483), fewest earned runs allowed (415), fewest hit batsmen (54), fewest balks (3), fewest wild pitches (81), lowest WHIP (1.22), lowest opposing batting average (.232)
- New General Records: Most wins (82), fewest losses (56), best winning percentage (.594)
- New Offensive Highs: Most triples (58) and most sacrifice flies (50)
- Shared Records: Fewest complete games (0), fewest games played (138)
Toles holds several records, but he also came within one double of tying the team record in two-base hits. Toles finished the regular season with 35 doubles.
Leonardo Reginatto was the runner-up for the league batting title behind Toles. Reginatto fell behind Toles by four-tenths of a percentage point.
Hot Rods pitchers walked 15 batters intentionally and helped induce 91 double plays – each finishing one tally shy of tying a franchise record.
Bowling Green, KY - On the final day of the 2013 regular season, the Bowling Green Hot Rods (44-26, 82-56) defeated the Lake County Captains (31-39, 54-83) 10-2 Monday afternoon at Bowling Green Ballpark. The Hot Rods hit four home runs in a game for the first time this season with Leonardo Reginatto, Ryan Dunn, Brandon Martin, and Tyler Goeddel all going deep. The win caps the most successful regular season in franchise history and a 15-4 stretch to end the season. http://tinyurl.com/HotRods0902
First star – #16 Leonardo Reginatto – Three consecutive base hits, including first home run of the season
Second star – #24 Joey Rickard – Three stolen bases, two singles, one run batted in, walk, and run scored
Third star – #41 Jose Molina – All six batters retired in succession to earn first victory since late July
The Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays) host its final playoff tune-up in a Monday matinee with the Lake County Captains (Indians) at Bowling Green Ballpark. With a win over Lake County yesterday, the Hot Rods locked up the Second-Half Eastern Division Championship and the choice for home-field advantage in the MWL Division Championships should the Hot Rods advance past the Quarterfinals.
Season Series: Despite the Hot Rods owning the best overall record in the Eastern Division and Lake County the worst, the Captains have defeated the Hot Rods in nine of 16 meetings in 2013.
LHP Bruedlin Suero, 23, becomes the 14th different starting pitcher for Bowling Green this season. Suero was added to the Hot Rods late in August and has two appearances in relief prior to this starting assignment. The Santo Domingo, DR native is in his fifth season as a member of the Rays organization.
RHP Juan Santana, 20, makes his Lake County debut in his team’s final game of the year. A native of Rio San Juan, DR, Santana is in his first season as a regular starting pitcher in the Indians system. Santana put up a 4-2 record with a 4.33 ERA over 12 appearances (11 starts) in the Arizona League earlier in 2013.