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Appleton Baseball All Decade Teams: Pitchers 1968-7705/28/2008 5:29 PM ET
By Jay Grusznski / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Appleton Baseball All Decade Teams
Bart Johnson (1968-69, '72)
Bart Johnson was the 2nd overall selection in the 1968 June draft by the Chicago White Sox. The tall lanky right hander was recruited by John Wooden to play at UCLA, but decided to go with baseball. After signing, Johnson reported to Appleton to begin his career. He appeared in 12 games, going 3-5 with a 2.69 ERA while striking out 69 batters in 67 innings. He came back to Appleton the following year and dominated the circuit, winning 16 games and striking out 200 hitters in 170 innings. He earned a late season call-up to the White Sox, and 19 year old made his Major League debut on September 8, 1969. He took the mound at Sick's Stadium, going 6 innings against the Seattle Pilots, allowing two earned runs and striking out five while taking the loss. Overall, the youngster had a productive cup of coffee with the big club, going 1-3 with a 3.22 ERA.
Johnson spent time with Double A Mobile and Triple A Tucson as well as making 15 starts for the White Sox in 1970. He won 12 games and saved 14 for Chicago in 1971, throwing 178 innings with a 2.93 ERA. 1972 would see a return to Appleton for Johnson, as he spent 5 games with the Foxes, rehabbing from a knee injury. He won 10 games for the Sox in 1974 with a 2.74 ERA. He was released by Chicago in 1978 and never played in the Majors again. He went 43-51 in his career with 520 strikeouts in 809.1 innings.
Chris Knapp (1975)
Chris Knapp was chosen by the Chicago White Sox with the 11th overall pick in the 1975 draft out of Central Michigan. After just 14 appearances in the Minors with Appleton (6-6, 1.97 ERA), Knapp made his Major League debut. He threw a scoreless inning of relief against the Kansas City Royals on September 4, 1975.
Knapp split the following two years between the Majors and the Minors, but he won 12 games for the Sox in 1977 after being promoted from Iowa. The White Sox sent him to the Angels along with fellow Appleton alum Brian Downing following that season. He won 14 games in his first season with California, but he struggled the next two seasons, going 5-5 (5.51 ERA) in 1978 and 2-11 (6.14) in '79. Even with the poor end to his time in the Majors, Knapp finished his career with a winning record (36-32) and a 4.99 ERA.
Terry Forster (1970)
Terry Forster was the Chicago White Sox 2nd round pick in the 1970 draft. He made a successful professional debut with the Appleton Foxes, going 6-1 with a 1.33 ERA in 54 innings. As a 19 year old, Forster made the White Sox out of Spring Training in 1971 and made his Major League debut on April 11th with a scoreless relief outing against the Minnesota Twins. He had a solid rookie season, going 2-3 with a 3.99 ERA out of the White Sox bullpen.
Forster took a much more prominent role in the Sox pen during the 1972 season, becoming the closer and nailing down 29 saves, the second highest total in the American League. Two years later, he would lead the league in save, closing out 24 games for the Pale Hose. He was moved into the starting rotation in 1976 however, with less than stellar results. His ERA was a respectable 4.37 (although much higher than his 2.19 out of the pen the previous year), but he went 2-12 for a White Sox team that lost 97 games and finished in sixth place. He was dealt to the Pirates after the season and spent only one season in Pittsburgh before signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent. He appeared in two World Series with the Dodgers, losing to the Yankees in 1978, but avenging the loss in 1981. He threw 7.2 innings in the post season without allowing an earned run. Terry went 54-65 with 127 saves and a 3.23 ERA during his career that also included stops in Atlanta and California.
Goose Gossage (1970-71,74)
Rich "Goose" Gossage was a 9th round selection of the Chicago White Sox in 1970. The Colorado native debuted with the White Sox Gulf Coast League team, but appeared in only three games before being moved up to Appleton for a brief taste of the Midwest League to finish the year. He returned to the Foxes for the 1971 season and had one of the best seasons in the history of the league. Goose went 18-2 with a 1.83 ERA. He threw 15 complete games, with 7 of them being shutouts, and struck out 149 batters in 187 innings. The following spring, Gossage impressed the White Sox to make the Opening Day roster, making his Major League debut on April 16, 1972 against the Royals.
Gossage, who made it to the bigs at age 20, would pitch in the Majors until age 43. He was the seventh youngest player in the Majors as a rookie, and was the oldest when he retired. He appeared in 1002 games for the White Sox, Pirates, Yankees, Padres, Cubs, Giants, Rangers, Athletics, and Mariners. He was a nine time All Star and finished in the top five of Cy Young voting four times. He led the league in saves three times, and finished his career with 310 and a 3.01 ERA. He pitched in three World Series (two with the Yankees, one with the Padres) and was a World Champion in 1978.
Pete Vuckovich (1974)
Pete Vuckovich was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 9th round of the 1974 draft out of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He jumped right to Appleton to make his professional debut. He pitched in five games for the Foxes, going 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA and striking out 22 batters in only 15 innings. He moved through the Minors very quickly, appearing in only 37 games for Sox farm teams before making his Major League debut. He got the start for the Sox in Metropolitan Stadium against Minnesota on August 3, 1975. The Twins lineup, featuring Rod Carew and Tony Oliva, took it to the rookie, touching Vuckovich up for 7 runs in 2.1 innings.
Vuckovich spent one more season with the White Sox before being selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the expansion draft. But he didn't last long north of the border either, getting shipped to the Cardinals after only one season with the Blue Jays. After mainly being a reliever early in his career, St. Louis inserted Vuke into the starting rotation. He responded by winning 39 games in three seasons with the Cardinals. His career would take another big turn in December of 1980. Vuckovich, along with Ted Simmons and Rollie Fingers, was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. After a 14-4 season and a Brewers playoff birth in 1981, things really got rolling in '82. He went 18-6 with a 3.34 ERA and won the Cy Young Award while leading Milwaukee to the World Series. He hurt his arm down the stretch however and was never the same, winning only 8 more games in his career. He ended up with 93 wins and a 3.66 ERA over 1,455 innings. He is also well known for playing Yankees first baseman Clue Haywood in the movie Major League.
Steve Trout (1977)
Steve Trout was the 8th overall pick in the 1976 June draft by the Chicago White Sox. He saw action in nine games for the Gulf Coast League White Sox after signing, going 1-3 with a 2.61 ERA. The 19 year old reported to Appleton in 1977, appearing in 21 games for the Foxes. He went 6-8 with a 4.05 ERA in the Midwest League. He was moved up to Triple A Iowa during the season and struggled, taking the loss in four of the five games he pitched in. He would make his Major League debut the following season. He pitched one inning of mop up duty in a 10-0 loss to the Twins on July 1, 1978 before being sent back down to the Minors. He would get three starts during a September call up, and won all three.
Trout won 34 games over the next four seasons for the White Sox before being traded across town to the Cubs. His best season came in 1984, when Steve went 13-7 for the NL East Division Champion Cubs. After stints with the Yankees and Mariners, the Michigan native finished his career with 88 wins and a 4.18 ERA in over 1,500 innings.
Manager - Joe Sparks (1971)
Joe Sparks managed the 1971 Appleton Foxes to a league best 79-44 record. They lost to the Quad Cities Angels in the Midwest League Championship Series. It was the second stop of a very successful Minor League coaching career that saw Sparks win 1,346 games. He was named American Association (Triple A) Manager of the Year five times and coached in the Major Leagues for four different organizations.
Special Mention - Wayne McCauley (1972-73)
He never made it to the Major Leagues, but McCauley had a week to remember during the 1972 season. Just six days after losing a 2-1 decision in which he struck out 20 batters, McCauley threw a 7 inning no hitter against Quincy. (Special thanks to mwlguide.com for the tidbit)
Previous All Decade Teams:
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