Skip to main content
jump to navigation
The Official Website of Minor League Baseball
Below is an advertisement.

Top 100 Teams

See all 100 teams >>

72. 1992 Columbus Clippers
Record: 95-49
International League (Triple-A)

By Bill Weiss & Marshall Wright, Baseball Historians

Bernie Williams
(photo courtesy of Columbus Clippers)

Following an unbroken string of 50 years in the American Association, with numerous pennants and championships, Columbus left the league for other pastures. After leaving the Association glory years behind, Columbus went on to success in their new home--the International League. In 1992 this success reached a peak with one of the best teams in the city's history.

In 1878, the city of Columbus, located in central Ohio, joined the ranks of professional baseball. Here, a club called the Buckeyes played in a loosely organized conglomerate called the International Association. In this circuit, arguably called the first minor league, the team went 4-8 and finished last.

Five years later, a team from Columbus joined the major leagues, placing a team in the 19th century rival of the National League, the American Association. In its five years in the league (1883-84, 1889-91) the team finished second twice (1884 and 1890) and deep in the second division the other three years.

During the rest of the 1800s, Columbus fielded teams in a variety of leagues. In 1887 and 1888, a team called the Senators played in the Tri-State League. A few years later, Columbus joined the high-power Western League for five years. In 1899, another Columbus team joined the Interstate League for a ten-day tryout, becoming a full time member in 1900. The following season, the Senators played one season in the Western Association.

In 1902, Columbus joined a new league, which would serve as its home for the next 53 years--the American Association. This elite midwestern circuit also featured teams in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Kansas City, Toledo, Indianapolis and Louisville. As a mark of stability, this octet of teams remained intact until 1952.

Three years after the start of the league, the Senators became the first triple winner, taking home flags in 1905-06-07. After a 20-year dearth, the team received a shot in the arm when they became a farm team of the Cardinals. Now playing as the Red Birds, the team enjoyed a run of success from 1934 to 1950, finishing in the playoffs nine times, with seven league championships and six Junior World Series crowns.

Following the 1954 season, the team jumped from one elite league to another. After a fourth place finish, the Cardinals decided to move their top farm team to Omaha for the 1955 season. The city was not without a team for long as a new team called the Jets joined the prestigious International League. Here, as a Pittsburgh farm team, they won pennants in 1961 and 1965. Fourteen years after their latter flag, the team, now a farm team of the Yankees known as the Clippers, ripped off three flags in a row (1979-80-81), followed by another pair in 1983 and 1984. Success continued for the club through the ensuing years as they took home the bunting in 1987, 1990 and 1991.

In 1992, the Columbus Clippers finished with a 95-49, .660 record to win their third straight flag for the second time in 12 years. The team finished atop the West Division, 22 games ahead of the Richmond Braves. In the first round of the playoffs, the Clippers whitewashed Richmond, three games to none, before dispatching Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, three games to two in the finals. As a team, the Clippers showed a good balance of power and speed, leading the league in home runs (127) and stolen bases (188).

Rick Down
(photo courtesy of Columbus Clippers)

The Clippers were managed by 41-year-old Rick Down, who was in his fourth year in the Yankees organization. Down was an outfielder in the Montreal farm system from 1969-75. He managed in the Seattle Mariners organization in 1977-78, then coached the University of Nevada-Las Vegas team from 1979-84. He was a roving instructor for the Angels from 1985-88. He joined the Yankees in 1989, starting the season as their roving minor league hitting instructor before being promoted to manager at Columbus for the last 16 games of the season when Bucky Dent was named New York manager. He started 1990 as skipper of the Yanks’ AA club at Albany and was named Columbus manager in June when Stump Merrill took over the reins of the Yankees. In the three years he was at Columbus, he guided the Clippers to three consecutive International League Western Division titles and two straight Governor’s Cup championships. The 1992 team set a franchise record with 95 wins. Down’s Clippers were in first place for 385 of the 391 games during which he was manager.

Down was the Yankees’ major league hitting coach from 1993-95 and Baltimore’s major league hitting coach from 1996-98. The Yankees led the American League in hitting the first two seasons he was in New York and the 1996 Orioles set a major league record of 251 home runs. Down is now major league hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox after two years in the same role for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In the infield, the Clippers were led by a strong hitting contingent, most of whom later saw action in the majors. First baseman J.T. Snow (.313-15-70), who won the batting title by .00005 over Luis Mercedes of Rochester, currently plays for the Giants. He has won six consecutive Gold Gloves (Angels 1995-96, Giants 1997-00) for fielding excellence. Shortstop Dave Silvestri (.279-13-73) has served as a backup infielder for the Yankees, Expos, Rangers and Devil Rays.

Gerald Williams
(photo courtesy of Columbus Clippers)
He started his managerial career at Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League in 2000 and will manage Great Falls in the Pioneer League this year. Third baseman Hensley Meulens (.275-26-100), who led the league in homers and RBIs, later played for the Yankees, Expos and Diamondbacks. Finally, catcher Brad Ausmus (.242) has been a full-time major league backstop since 1994 for the Padres, Tigers and Astros.

The team was also paced by a pair of Williams in the outfield. Gerald Williams (.285), who led the league in hits (156), has found a starting role for the Devil Rays, while Bernie Williams (.306) has been a mainstay in the Yankees outfield for nine seasons, winning a batting title (.339) in 1998. The third member of the Clipper outfield, Mike Humphreys (.282) also stole a league-best 37 bases. In addition, designated hitter Torey Lovullo led the league in doubles (33). Lovullo played for six American League clubs from 1992-98, while Humphreys played 54 games for the Yankees in 1991-92-93.

The pitching staff was anchored by Sam Militello (12-2) and Bob Wickman (12-5). Both pitchers finished tied for third in wins while Militello also won the ERA crown (2.29).

Sam Militello
(photo courtesy of Columbus Clippers)
Militello went 4-4 in 12 games for the Yankees in 1992-93, while Wickman, converted to a reliever, enjoyed a 14-4 season for the 1993 Yanks. Militello, his career cut short by injury, became a minor league pitching coach. Wickman is currently the closer for Cleveland.

Other good performances included Russ Springer (8-5, 2.69), who finished with the third best ERA, and Mike Draper, who led the way with 37 saves. Springer, who has pitched in the majors for all or part of the last 10 years, is now with Arizona. Draper pitched one season, 1993, for the Yankees, going 1-1, 4.15 in 29 games in relief. In addition, Royal Clayton (10-5), the older brother of White Sox shortstop Royce Clayton, is pitching coach for Arizona’s Class A South Bend affiliate in the Midwest League.

No club has ever dominated an end-of-the-season All-Star team as completely as the 1992 Columbus Clippers. Columbus players won 8 of the 11 selections: Snow, Meulens, Silvestri, B. Williams, G. Williams, Lovullo, Militello and Draper. In addition, Snow was named MVP and Militello was Pitcher of the Year. Surprisingly, Down was not the Manager of the Year. The Clippers had five of the top ten prospects as selected by the managers: Militello (1), Snow (2), Bernie Williams (4), Meulens (9) and Gerald Williams (10).

Bob Wickman
(photo courtesy of Columbus Clippers)

Snow, Militello, Draper and Wickman made Baseball America’s AAA All-Star Team. Snow, Gerald Williams and Militello were named to the National Association AAA All-Star Team. Meulens, Bernie Williams, Gerald Williams, Militello, Wickman and Draper played in the AAA All-Star Game and Militello was Co-MVP. Wickman, Snow and Lovullo won International League Topps’ Player of the Month awards for June, July and August, and Wickman was USA Today Baseball Weekly’s Player of the Week for June 17-23.

The Clippers continued to prosper through the 1990s, winning a pair of divisional crowns in 1996 and 1997. They remain the Yankees top farm team.

Although the American Association’s Columbus franchise won an impressive amount of titles, they were nearly matched by their International League counterparts. Not too many teams can boast of a pair of triple-winners only eleven years apart. The capstone, was the sixth and final winner of that group - the 1992 Clippers--who finished as the league’s best team in the past 25 years.

1992 International League Standings
TEAM W L PCT GB TEAM W L PCT GB
EAST WEST
SCRANTON/W-B 84 58 .592 - COLUMBUS 95 49 .660 -
PAWTUCKET 71 72 .497 13.5 RICHMOND 73 71 .507 22.0
ROCHESTER 70 74 .486 15.0 TOLEDO 64 80 .444 31.0
SYRACUSE 60 83 .420 24.5 TIDEWATER 56 86 .394 38.0

1992 Columbus Clippers batting statistics
BATTER POS GP AB R H BI 2B 3B HR BB SO SB BA
J.T. Snow 1B,OF 135 492 81 154 78 26 4 15 70 65 3 .313
Bobby DeJardin 2B,SS 124 416 51 99 42 14 3 3 40 80 13 .238
Dave Silvestri SS 118 420 83 117 73 25 5 13 58 110 19 .279
Hensley Meulens 3B 141 534 96 147 100 28 2 26 60 168 15 .275
Gerald Williams OF 142 547 92 156 86 31 6 16 38 98 36 .285
Mike Humphreys OF 114 408 83 115 46 18 6 6 59 70 37 .282
Bernie Williams OF 95 363 68 111 50 23 9 8 52 61 20 .306
Brad Ausmus C 111 364 48 88 35 14 3 2 40 56 19 .242
Torey Lovullo DH,2B,3B,1B,OF 131 468 69 138 89 33 5 19 64 65 9 .295
Billy Masse OF 110 357 52 95 60 13 2 12 51 51 7 .266
Dave Sax C,1B 58 188 23 41 20 4 1 4 22 37 3 .218
Mike Draper P 58 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Don Stanford P 40 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Royal Clayton P,OF 37 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
Jay Knoblauh OF 34 104 14 28 18 4 0 2 8 13 6 .269
John Ramos C 18 64 5 11 12 4 1 1 8 14 1 .172
Mike Hankins 2B,3B 7 22 3 4 2 0 0 0 2 4 0 .182
Jeff Livesey C 3 9 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 .111
Carlos Rodriguez 2B 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
Totals 144 4763 768 1305 712 237 47 127 572 897 188 .274

1992 Columbus Clippers pitching statistics
PITCHER W L PCT G GS CG SH SV IP H BB SO ERA
Sam Militello 12 2 .857 22 21 3 2 0 141 104 46 152 2.29
Bob Wickman 12 5 .706 23 23 2 0 0 157 131 55 108 2.92
Royal Clayton 10 5 .667 36 15 1 1 1 131 132 45 72 3.58
Ed Martel 10 9 .526 26 25 3 2 0 15 159 59 94 5.56
Russ Springer 8 5 .615 20 20 1 0 0 124 89 54 95 2.69
Dave Rosario 8 5 .615 54 1 0 0 6 73 67 41 65 2.33
Andy Cook 7 5 .583 32 9 0 0 2 100 85 36 58 3.16
Francisco DeLaRosa 6 1 .857 48 0 0 0 3 56 47 18 43 3.72
Don Stanford 5 3 .625 40 2 0 0 3 82 81 20 54 4.37
Mike Draper 5 6 .455 57 3 0 0 37 80 76 28 42 3.60
Curt Young 3 0 1.000 3 3 0 0 0 16 16 6 2 3.38
Shawn Hillegas 2 0 1.000 4 4 0 0 0 27 24 10 20 3.29
Scott Holcomb 2 0 1.000 18 0 0 0 0 19 15 19 23 2.79
Jeff Johnson 2 1 .667 11 11 0 0 0 58 41 18 38 2.17
Scott Kamieniecki 1 0 1.000 2 2 0 0 0 13 6 4 12 0.69
Tom Popplewell 1 0 1.000 4 0 0 0 0 6 6 11 7 7.71
Rafael Quirico 1 0 1.000 1 1 0 0 0 6 6 4 1 3.00
Mark Hutton 0 1 .000 1 0 0 0 0 5 7 2 4 5.40
Larry Stanford 0 1 .000 2 0 0 0 1 2 2 1 5 4.50
Kevin Minahat 0 0 ---- 2 2 0 0 0 7 4 8 7 2.45
Gerald Nielsen 0 0 ---- 4 0 0 0 1 5 2 2 5 1.80
Keith Seiler 0 0 ---- 3 0 0 0 0 4 5 2 2 4.50
Wade Taylor 0 0 ---- 1 1 0 0 0 3 2 4 2 3.00
Ken Greer 0 0 ---- 1 0 0 0 0 1 3 1 1 9.00
Tim Rumer 0 0 ---- 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0.00
Totals 95 49 .660 144 144 10 12 54 1269 1104 500 913 3.35