Appleton Baseball All Decade Teams
1958-67: Position Players
Catcher - Art Kusnyer (1967)
Art Kusnyer was drafted by the White Sox out of Kent State in the 37th round of the 1966 June Draft. After a successful stint with the Gulf Coast League White Sox (.300, 2 2B, 20 AB) following his signing, Kusnyer was moved up to Appleton for the 1967 season. The Ohio native hit .250 for the Foxes with 8 doubles, 3 triples, 7 home runs, and 37 RBI in 81 games. He would return to the Fox Cities the following season, putting up similar numbers with a .248 batting average, 5 homers, and 38 RBI. After stops in Lynchburg (High A) and Mobile (AA), Art made his Major League debut on September 21, 1970 against the Kansas City Royals, going hitless in four at bats. He would play three more games for Chicago in 1970 (including picking up his first Major League hit), but they would be the only appearances he would make for the team that drafted him.
Kusnyer was traded to the California Angels during Spring Training in 1971. He would spend the majority of the year playing at Triple A Salt Lake City. This would turn out to be his most successful season of his career to this point, as he hit .316 with 10 home runs and 75 RBI. The Angels would reward him with a late season callup, appearing in 6 games. He would catch 105 games for California over the next two seasons, none more memorable than being behind the plate for Nolan Ryan's second career no-hitter in 1973
Art then had to wait through two full seasons in the minors before another shot at the big leagues after a blockbuster nine player trade sent him to Milwaukee following the 1973 season. He saw action in only 15 games with the Brewers and just 9 with the Royals after a 1978 trade. He rejoined the White Sox organization in 1979, becoming a player coach with Iowa. This would be the beginning of a very successful coaching career. He became the White Sox bullpen coach in 1980 and held that job through 1987. He joined the A's staff in 1989, reuniting with one of his former Sox bosses, Tony LaRussa. In 1997, Kusnyer once again returned to Chicago, spending eleven more seasons as their bullpen coach.
First Baseman - Boog Powell (1960)
John "Boog" Powell was signed as a free agent by the Baltimore Orioles in 1959. Powell, just 17 at the time, was sent to Bluefield in the Appalachian League to begin his professional career. He hit .351 with 14 homers and 59 RBI in only 56 games. He would move up to the Fox Cities Foxes of the Three I League for the 1960 season. He continued to show great promise in Appleton, hitting .312 with 100 RBI and 13 home runs in 136 games. His power would develop the following year in Triple A with Rochester, as he mashed 32 homers to earn a late season call up with the Orioles. Boog, just a month after his 20th birthday, made his Major League debut against the New York Yankees on September 26, 1961. Even though he only had one hit in thirteen at bats, Powell would be in the big leagues to stay.
Boog was named to the All Star Game four times, including starting two. He was voted the American League MVP in 1970, a year after being the runner-up to Harmon Killebrew for the award. His Orioles went to the World Series four times, winning twice, against the Dodgers in 1966 and over the Reds in 1970. After two sub-par seasons, Powell was traded to the Cleveland Indians prior to the 1975 season. He responded with a fine season, winning the Comeback Player of the Year after hitting .297 with 27 homers and 86 RBI. He would spend one more year with the Tribe, followed by a season with the Dodgers before hanging up the cleats. He was a career .266 hitter with 339 home runs and 1187 RBI in 2042 games spanning 17 seasons.
Second Baseman - Jake Wood
Jake Wood was signed as an undrafted free agent from Delaware St. by the Detroit Tigers in 1957. Wood was loaned by the Tigers to the Fox Cities Foxes, who were a Washington Senators affiliate at the time. He burst onto the scene in 1961, when he played in all 162 games as a 23 year old rookie with the Tigers. He finished 8th in the American League in runs, 6th in hits, 3rd in stolen bases, and first in triples. He finished 6th in the Rookie of the Year balloting. He never could recapture the magic of his rookie season, losing his starting spot at second base during the 1962 season. He became a utility infielder, staying in the Majors until 1967. His big league career ended after a short stint with the Cincinnati Reds. He appeared in 608 games in the Majors over 7 seasons, hitting .250 with 26 triples, 35 home runs and 168 RBI.
Third Baseman - Pete Ward (1960)
Pete Ward signed with the Baltimore Orioles in 1958 as an undrafted free agent out of Lewis & Clark College. He played for the Appleton Foxes in 1960 under Manager Earl Weaver. The Foxes compiled an 82-59 record, winning the Three I League Championship, with Ward leading the league in hitting at .345 and being named Most Valuable Player. The Canadian-born Ward would make his Major League debut two years later on September 21, 1962. Ward hit a two run pinch hit single to snap a 1-1 tie, and that hit proved to be the game winner. Those were the only two RBI that Ward had for the Orioles.
In January of 1963, Ward was dealt to the Chicago White Sox in a deal that involved future Hall of Famers Hoyt Wilhelm and Luis Aparicio. The Sox made him their starting third baseman, and he rewarded them with a fabulous season. He hit .295 with 34 doubles and 22 home runs while driving in 84 runs. He was in the top ten in the league in batting average, slugging percentage, hits, total bases, doubles, and triples. Not only did he finish second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, but he finished ninth on the league MVP ballot. He finished sixth in the MVP voting the following season, setting career highs in home runs (23) and RBI (94) while hitting .282. Pete played seven seasons for the Sox before finishing up with the Yankees. Ward played in 973 games, hitting .254 with 98 homers and 427 RBI.
Shortstop - Zoilo Versalles (1959)
Zoilo Versalles joined the Washington Senators as a free agent signing out of Cuba in 1958. He would be assigned to the Fox Cities Foxes for the 1959 season. He batted .278 for the Foxes as a 19 year old before getting promoted all the way to the Majors in August. He would make his debut on the first of the month, going hitless in four at bats against the Chicago White Sox. He went on to appear in 29 games that season, as well as 15 the following year before getting a full time gig in 1961, after the Senators had relocated to Minnesota.
Versalles hit .280 in his first full season in the Majors and won his first Gold Glove and was the All Star starting shortstop in his third year. His best season came in 1965, when he went to his second All Star Game, won his second Gold Glove and was voted American League MVP. He led the league in runs (126), total bases (308), doubles (45), triples (12), and extra base hits (76) while leading the Twins to the World Series. He ended his career by playing with the Dodgers, Indians, the second version of the Senators, and the Braves. He played in 1400 games, hitting .242, with 230 doubles, 95 home runs, and 471 RBI.
Outfielder - Jimmie Hall (1958)
Jimmie Hall was signed as an amateur free agent in 1956 by the Washington Senators. The native of North Carolina joined the Fox Cities Foxes for the 1958 season. He would make his Major League debut with the Minnesota Twins on April 9, 1963 against the Indians. He would go on to hit 33 home runs, breaking Ted Williams record for most homers by an American League rookie. Hall also drove in 80 runs while batting .260. He finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, one spot behind another Foxes alumni, Pete Ward.
Hall was an American League All Star in both 1964 and '65. He hit .282 with 25 homers and 75 RBI in '64, then followed it up by hitting .285 with 20 bombs and 86 driven in. After a subpar 1966 campaign, the Twins dealt him to the California Angels in a deal that included former Foxes pitcher Dean Chance. He would bounce around the Majors for the next couple seasons, seeing time with the Indians, Yankees, Cubs, and Braves. He played in 963 games, batting .254 with 100 doubles, 121 home runs, and 391 RBI.
Outfielder - Dave May (1963)
Dave May was signed by the San Francisco Giants as an undrafted free agent in 1961. The Delaware native was selected by the Orioles from the Giants in the first year minor league draft in 1962. May got off to a hot start for the Foxes in 1963, hitting .310 in 71 games before moving up to High A Stockton. He would return to Appleton for the entire 1964 season, batting a league leading .368 with 14 homers and 74 RBI. His .368 batting average is the highest by any player in the Midwest League since the Foxes joined in 1962. He continued to hit well throughout the minors, but had to play 212 games at Triple A Rochester before getting the call to the Majors.
After getting 388 at bats over the course of the 1967-70 seasons with the Orioles, May would get traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970, who would give him his first real shot at playing, giving him 342 at bats over the remainder of the season. He would blossom in Milwaukee, including becoming an All Star in 1973 when he hit .303 with a league leading 295 total bases, 25 home runs, and 93 RBI. In November of 1974, may was traded to the Atlanta Braves in return for Hank Aaron. He spent two seasons with the Braves, one with the Rangers, before returning to the Brewers and then ending his career with the Pirates. He hit .251 with 96 homers and 422 RBI during his big league career that spanned 1252 games
Outfielder - Carlos May (1967)
Carlos May was the 18th overall pick in the 1966 draft by the Chicago White Sox. In his first taste of professional baseball, May batted .426 for the Gulf Coast League White Sox. The Sox sent their top prospect to Appleton in 1967 and he showed off his skills, hitting .338, with 10 homers and 48 RBI. After 113 games at High A Lynchburg the following season, May got the call to the Majors, making his debut on September 6th, 1968, going hitless in four at bats against Baltimore.
May hit .281 as a rookie and was named an All Star as well as finishing third in the Rookie of the Year balloting, which was won by Lou Pinella. He would again be an All Star in 1972 when he batted .308 with 12 home runs, 68 RBI, and 23 stolen bases. After a mid-season trade with the Yankees in 1976, May got his first taste of the post-season, going to the World Series, where the Bronx Bombers lost to the Big Red Machine. He played in 1165 games in the Majors, hitting .274 with 90 homers and 536 RBI. Following his playing career in the States, May played four seasons in Japan.
Special Mention - Deacon Jones
Grover "Deacon" Jones never got much of a chance in the Major Leagues (49 at bats), but he terrorized Midwest League pitching in 1966, leading the league in hitting (.353), RBI (80), on-base percentage (.484) and extra-base hits (58).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.