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Appleton Baseball All Decade Teams: Position Players 1978-8706/11/2008 4:51 PM ET
By Jay Grusznski / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Appleton Baseball All Decade Teams
1978-87: Position Players
Catcher - Ron Karkovice (1983)
Ron Karkovice was the 14th overall selection in the 1982 draft by the Chicago White Sox. He hit a solid .262 with 7 HR in his pro debut with the White Sox affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. The following year brought Karko to Appleton, where he hit .239 with 13 HR. The "speedy" Karkovice hit three triples and stole ten bases for the Midwest League Champion Foxes. He really struggled with the bat the following two seasons for Double A Glens Falls (.215 is '84, .216 in "85) and Triple A Denver (.221 in '84), but had a breakout year with Birmingham in 1986. A .282 batting average with 20 home runs for the Barons earned Ron a trip to Chicago. He made his Major League debut on August 17, 1986, catching future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton against the Milwaukee Brewers. Karkovice went 1 for 4 with an RBI batting 9th in a lineup that featured four other former Appleton Foxes (as well as John Cangelosi as a defensive replacement). Also, ex-Foxes pitcher Bobby Thigpen picked up the first save of his Major League career.
Karkovice split time between the Majors and Minors (including a partial season with the Triple A Hawaii Islanders) in 1987-88 before securing a full time spot with the White Sox in 1989. He was a solid hitter his first few years in the league, but his average slid as his knees started to go, as he failed to hit over .220 in any of his last four Big League seasons. His career average ended at .221, and he hit 96 homers with 335 RBI over 2,597 games in the Majors, all with the White Sox.
First Baseman - Greg Walker (1980)
Greg Walker was a 20th round selection of the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1977 draft. After a slow start to his professional career, Walker showed promise as a 19 year old with the Peninsula Pilots of the Carolina League, hitting .280. He was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 1979 rule V draft, and his career took off. After hitting just 23 home runs in his first three years of pro ball, Walker smacked 21 for the Appleton Foxes in 1980, while keeping his average at a solid .280 and driving in 98 runs. He followed that up by hitting .321 with 22 HR and 86 RBI for Double A Glens Falls. He hit .350 in a shortened 1982 season with Triple A Edmonton and received a September call-up to the Majors. He singled as a pinch hitter against the Oakland Athletics on September 18, 1982.
Walker hit over 20 home runs three times in his career, including a career high 27 in in 1987. In 1985, Walker played in a league leading 163 games (the White Sox and Red Sox were tied when rains came, the stats count, but the game had to be replayed). He suffered a life-threatening seizure before a game in 1988 and missed the remaining part of the season. He returned to the White Sox for the 1989 season, but would only play 79 more games for the organization before being released. He would finish his career with the Baltimore Orioles, hitting just .147 in 14 games. He was a career .260 hitter, slugging 113 home runs and knocking in 444 runs.
Second Baseman - Tim Hulett (1980)
Tim Hulett was the 3rd overall selection in the 1980 draft by the Chicago White Sox out of Miami Dade College. As a High School senior, Hulett had been a 39th round pick of the Texas Rangers, but didn't sign and went to college. He played at all three levels of the White Sox chain after signing, starting with 79 games in Appleton, hitting .259 with 13 home runs and 47 RBI. He spent all of the following two seasons at Double A Glens Falls, struggling in 1981 (.227), but rebounding in 1982 (.271, 22 HR, 87 RBI). A strong season with the Triple A Denver Bears (.273, 21, 88), earned him a September call-up to Chicago. Hulett appeared as a defensive replacement in a 12-0 White Sox victory over the Mariners at Comisky Park on September 15, 1983.
After making the Sox out of Spring Training, Hulett would return to Denver for the majority of the season again in 1984 after only 8 games. He would finally get his chance, and Hullet would play in 720 games in the Majors for the Sox, Orioles, and Cardinals. He hit .249 in over 2100 at bats in the big leagues, with 90 2B, 48 HR, and 220 RBI.
Third Baseman - Luis Salazar (1986)
Luis Salazar was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Royals in 1973. But he would only appear in two games for the Gulf Coast League Royals in 1974 before being released. The native of Venezuela would not resurface in the States until 1976 with the Pirates organization. He would put up solid numbers as he climbed through the minors, reaching Triple A in 1980. Pittsburgh would deal him to the Padres during the season, and he would make his Major League debut for the Padres later that season. He was a pinch runner in a 20 inning, 6 hour 17 minute marathon game against the Astros on August 15, 1980.
Salazar would stay with the Padres until 1985, when he was traded to the White Sox in a deal for former Foxes pitcher LaMarr Hoyt. He appeared in 21 games for the Appleton Foxes in 1986 on a rehab stint. He hit .203 with 2 HR in 79 at bats in the Midwest League. He was released by teh Sox after the season and he returned to the Padres. He would also play for the Tigers and Cubs (not to mention a third stint with the Padres) before hanging up the cleats after the 1992 season. Salazar hit 144 doubles, 33 triples, and 94 home runs in his career while batting .261.
Shortstop - Randy Velarde (1986)
Randy Velarde was the Chicago White Sox 19th round draft pick in the 1985 draft. He struggled in his first taste of pro ball, hitting .220 for Niagara Falls of the New York-Penn League. He performed better for Appleton in 1986, batting .252 with 31 doubles, 11 homers, and 50 RBI in 124 games for the Foxes. Following the season, Velarde was traded to the Yankees, and his career would take off. He hit .316 in Double A to start the 1987 season, then hit .319 after being promoted to Columbus. He got a brief call-up to the Majors during the season. Velarde was the starting shortstop (batting 7th in the lineup, behind former Foxes slugger Ron Kittle) in the Kingdome against the Mariners on August 20, 1987.
Velarde became a solid utility player for the Yankees, appearing at 2B, 3B, SS, and all three outfield spots. He played in 1273 games over his 16 year Major League career, playing for the Angels, Athletics, and Rangers after leaving the Bronx. In 1999, Velarde hit .317 with 16 homers and 76 RBI for the Angels and A's, leading the Majors in singles with 152. The next season, Velarde became the 11th player in Major League history to record an unassisted triple play. He hit .276 in 4,244 career at bats with 214 doubles, 100 home runs, and 445 RBI.
Outfielder - Ron Kittle (1979-80)
Ron Kittle was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an undrafted free agent in 1977. After two rough seasons with Clinton in the Midwest League, Kittle was released by the Dodgers. The White Sox picked him up and once again sent him to the Midwest League, this time with Appleton. He had more success with the Foxes, hitting .258 in 35 games and earning a promotion to Double A Knoxville. He returned to Appleton in 1980 and tore up the league, hitting .316 with 12 HR and 56 RBI in just 61 games, again earning a promotion to Double A. Then came the power surge. Kittle hit 40 home runs for Glens Falls in 1981, then hit a whopping 50 for Edmonton in 1982. He is the last minor leaguer to accomplish the feat of hitting 50 home runs in a season (Ryan Howard came the closest when he hit 46 for Scranton and Reading in 2004). He received a September call-up from the White Sox, making his Major League debut as a pinch hitter on September 2, 1982.
Kittle kept slugging when he made the White Sox out of spring training in 1983. He popped 35 homers, drove in 100, and hit .254 on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year Award and earning an All Star selection. He never hit for much average (.239 career mark), but Kittle could hit for power, hitting 20+ home runs in each of his first four years in the league and finishing with 176 for his career. He spent time with the Yankees, Indians, and Orioles in his career, as well as three stints with the Sox.
Outfielder - Daryl Boston (1982)
Daryl Boston was a 1st round pick, 7th overall, by the Chicago White Sox in the 1981 draft. He reported to the White Sox Gulf Coast League affiliate shortly after signing and hit .291 in 189 at bats. He showed his all around skills with Appleton in 1982, hitting .279 with 19 doubles, 9 triples, 15 homers, 77 RBI, and 28 stolen bases. He was a unique blend of speed and power. He really put everything together for Denver in 1984, hitting .312 with 21 doubles, 19 triples, 15 homers, 82 RBI, and 40 stolen bases. Boston would make his Major League debut as a 21 year old on May 13, 1984. He tripled off Charlie Hough in his first at bat, the first of three hits on the day for Boston. He also had two RBI and stole a base in a 8-1 White Sox victory over the Rangers at Comiskey Park.
Boston struggled to establish himself with the White Sox however, never starting more than 100 games in his seven season in Chicago. The White Sox finally gave up on Boston and released him five games into the 1990 season. He hooked on with the Mets and had a fine season, hitting .273 with 12 HR, 45 RBI, and 18 stolen bases. He played two more years with the Mets before finishing his career with single seasons in Colorado and again in New York, this time with the Yankees. Un-ironically, Boston never played for the Red Sox. He played in 1,058 games, batting .249 with 83 HR, 278 RBI, and 98 stolen bases, never really fulfilling the promise he showed in the minors.
John Cangelosi (1983)
John Cangelosi was a 4th round pick in the 1982 draft by the Chicago White Sox out of Miami Dade College. He debuted with the Niagara Falls Sox following the draft and quickly showed his best tool, speed. He stole 45 bases in only 76 games in the New York-Penn League. The following season with Appleton, Cangelosi terrorized Midwest League catchers, swiping 87 bases. He stole 65 more bases for Glens Falls in 1984, and after some time with Triple A Denver, made his Major League debut on June 30, 1985, going 0 for 2 against the Twins.
Cangelosi used his speed as a weapon in the Majors as well, stealing 50 bases, 2nd most in the American League behind Ricky Henderson, as a rookie in 1985. After one more season with the Sox, he was traded to the Pirates, beginning his life as a baseball nomad. He would play for a total of seven Major League teams, as well as playing in the Minors for two other organizations. He was a bench player for the 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins. He hit .250 in 1,038 career games and stole 154 bases.
Special Mention - Harry Chappas (1976, 1978)
The 5 foot 3 inch shortstop went straight from Appleton to the Majors during the 1978 season. After hitting .302 with 23 doubles, 14 triples and 60 stolen bases for the Foxes, Chappas got a September promotion to Chicago. The following spring, Chappas was featured on the cover of Sport Illustrated as "The Littlest Rookie".
Previous All Decade Teams:
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.