Appleton Baseball All Decade Teams
1968-77: Position Players
Catcher - Marv Foley (1975)
Marv Foley was selected in the 17th round of the 1975 draft by the Chicago White Sox out of the University of Kentucky. He had a successful debut stint with Appleton in '75, hitting .308 in six games before moving up to Double A Knoxville. He would return to the Foxes in 1977, appearing in 48 games and hitting .272. He made his Major League debut on September 11, 1978, pinch hitting against the Twins.
Foley spent three more seasons with the White Sox, including backing up Carlton Fisk in 1982. He spent his final season in the big leagues with the Texas Rangers. The last at bat of his career came as the last out of a perfect game thrown by the Angels Mike Witt. Marv hit .224 over 203 games in the Majors and .280 in 860 Minor League games.
First Baseman - Lamar Johnson (1970-72)
Lamar Johnson was the Chicago White Sox 3rd round pick in the 1968 June Draft. He spent his first two years with the Sox Gulf Coast League team before moving up to Duluth-Superior as a 19 year old in 1970. He received a late season call-up to Appleton. He spent all of the 1971 season with the Foxes, putting up decent numbers, hitting .269 with 18 homers and 97 RBI. He repeated the level the following year, dominating the circuit by hitting .313 and leading the league with 20 HR and 89 RBI. After big seasons in Double A (.293, 16 HR, 93 RBI in 1973) and Triple A (.301, 20 HR, 96 RBI in '74 and .336, 20 HR, 101 RBI in '75) and brief stints with Chicago (18 games), Lamar got his shot to prove himself with the big club in 1976, and did not disappoint, hitting .320 in 222 at bats.
The Alabama native's best season came in 1977 when he hit .302 with 18 homers and 65 runs batted in for a White Sox team that won 90 games. That would be the only winning team that Johnson would get to play on in his career though. Lamar batted .287 over 2631 at bats in the Majors, socking 64 home runs and knocking in 381 runs for the Sox and Rangers.
Second Baseman - Jerry Hairston (1971)
Jerry Hairston was a third round draft choice of the Chicago White Sox in 1970. Following his signing, Jerry reported to the Gulf Coast League and had a successful debut, hitting .333 in 56 games and earned a promotion to Appleton for the 1971 season. He hit .268 for the Foxes while appearing in 121 games. A solid season at Double A Knoxville (.292) in 1972 and a great start to the 1973 season with Iowa (.347, 9 HR in 84 games) earned him a trip to the big leagues. He made his Major League debut on July 26, 1973, going 1 for 4 against the Kansas City Royals.
Hairston spent parts of the 1974, 75, 76, and 77 seasons with the White Sox, primarily as an outfielder and pinch hitter, before being sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates. After the 1977 season, the Pirates sold Hairston to Durango of the Mexican League, where he would play until the White Sox purchased his contract in 1981. He reprised his role of spare outfielder and pinch hitter for Chicago on and off through 1989, when he retired at at 37. He was a career .258 hitter in a Major League career spanning 859 games. Hairston comes from a baseball family. His father and a brother both played in the Majors, and he has two sons currently playing.
Third Baseman - Kevin Bell (1974-75)
Kevin Bell was the 7th overall pick in the 1974 draft by the Chicago White Sox out of Mount San Antonio College. After signing, Bell reported to Appleton to begin his professional career. He showed some pop at the plate, slugging 15 homers in 77 games while hitting .276. He showed the success wasn't a fluke when he returned to the Foxes to begin the 1975 season and he hit 28 extra base hits in 67 games while batting .285. He hit 27 more extra base hits that season for Knoxville following his mid-season promotion to Double A. After a few months with Triple A Iowa, Bell got the call to the Majors. On June 16, 1976, Kevin was the starting third baseman for the White Sox in a game against the Baltimore Orioles. He collected his first Major League hit in his second at bat, a triple off four time All Star Mike Cuellar.
Bell split time between Iowa and the White Sox for three more seasons. He received around 200 at bats in both 1979 and '80, but hit just .245 and .178, respectively. The White Sox released him following the 1980 season and he was picked up by the Padres. After only two months with San Diego, they dealt him to the A's along with minor league infielder Tony Phillips (who would go on to play over 2,100 games in the Majors). Bell spent two seasons with Oakland's Triple A farm club in Tacoma and only appeared in four games for the Athletics before his career ended.
Shortstop - Bucky Dent (1970-71)
Russell "Bucky" Dent was the Chicago White Sox first round pick in the 1970 draft, 6th overall, out of Miami-Dade College. He started out with a brief 22 game stay in the Gulf Coast League before being moved up to Appleton. He hit .258 with the Foxes to finish out the 1970 season, but struggled in a return trip to the Fox Valley for the 1971 season, hitting just .231. But that was just a blip on his Minor League career, as Dent went on to hit .296 for Double A Knoxville in in 1972 and .295 for Triple A Iowa in 1973. He made his Major League debut on June 1, 1973 as defensive replacement against the Milwaukee Brewers. The following season, the 22 year old was the opening day shortstop for the White Sox.
Dent had a fine rookie season for Chicago, hitting .274 and finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting, finishing behind the Rangers' Mike Hargrove and just ahead of the Royals' George Brett. The next season, Bucky became an All Star for the first time. Prior to the 1977 season, the White Sox sent Dent to the Yankees in a deal that netted Chicago future Appleton Foxes pitcher LaMarr Hoyt. He was twice selected as the starting shortstop for the American League All Star team as a member of the Yankees and also won two World Series rings. He was the MVP of the 1978 World Series, hitting .417 in helping the Yankees defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. He finished up his career in 1984 after short stays with Texas and Kansas City. He was a career .247 hitter, playing in 1,392 games. He only hit 40 home runs in his career, but his 1978 shot over the Green Monster at Boston's Fenway Park to help the Yankees win a one game playoff is one of the most memorable of all time.
Outfielder - Brian Downing (1971)
Brian Downing was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1969 as an undrafted free agent. He struggled in his first taste of professional ball, hitting .219 with the White Sox rookie team in the Gulf Coast League. Downing spent the 1971 season in Appleton, batting .246 in 99 games for the Foxes. He showed a glimpse of his power the following year, popping 15 homers with Knoxville of the Southern League. He made his Major League debut in 1973, coming in as a defensive replacement for former Fox Cities Fox Bill Melton at 3B.
Downing spent the following four seasons with the White Sox, seeing time behind the plate, in the outfield, and as a designated hitter. He was traded to the California Angels in December of 1977 in a deal that sent Bobby Bonds to the south side of Chicago. He had a breakout season in his second year with the Angels, hitting .326 with 27 doubles, 12 homers, and 75 RBI, leading to an All Star appearance. After injury plagued 1980 and '81 seasons, Downing became a power hitter, socking 28 homers in 1982. He hit at least 14 homers in each of the next nine seasons after never hitting more than 12 in his career. He ended up a career .267 hitter with 275 home runs and 1073 RBI in 2344 games.
Outfielder - Sam Ewing (1971)
Sam Ewing was the 4th overall pick in the 1971 draft by the Chicago White Sox. He had been the 5th overall pick the year before by the Expos, but decided to go back to the University of Tennessee. He debuted with Appleton, hitting .363 for the Foxes and made it to the Majors just two years after being drafted, but had a rough debut. He was the White Sox starting first baseman on September 11,1973 against the California Angels and went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts against Nolan Ryan.
After limited chances with the White Sox, Ewing got a break when he was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1977 expansion draft. He played in 97 games for the Blue Jays, hitting .287 with 34 RBI. His downfall in the Majors was his lack of power however, as the 1B/OF/DH hit only four home runs, far below what is expected from those positions. In 1979, Ewing went to Japan to play for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He had a successful year, hitting .286 with 15 homers, but did not return to Japan in 1980. Instead, he joined the Triple A Iowa Oaks as a player, but became the manager midway through the season. He became the manager of the Appleton Foxes the next year, leading them to a 54-80 season.
Outfielder - Harold Baines (1977)
Harold Baines was the 1st overall selection in the 1977 draft by the Chicago White Sox out of St. Michaels High School in Maryland. He signed quickly and reported to Appleton to begin his baseball career. The 18 year old hit .261 with 11 doubles, 5 homers, and 29 RBI over 69 games in the Midwest League. After productive seasons at Knoxville in 1978 and Iowa in 1979, Baines earned the starting spot in right field for the White Sox in 1980. He went 0 for 4 in his Major League debut against the Orioles' Jim Palmer on opening day.
Baines had a solid rookie season, hitting .255, driving in 49 runs, and knocking 13 homers. He would hit double digit home runs every year from 1980 through 1997. He only hit 9 homers in 1998 as a 39 year old, but followed that up by hitting 25 in 1999. After spending 10 seasons with the White Sox, Baines was traded to the Rangers in 1989 (for Sammy Sosa). He bounced around quite a bit after that, playing for Oakland, Baltimore (three times), Cleveland, and the White Sox two more times. But he hit everywhere he went, finishing with 2,866 hits, a .289 batting average, 384 homers, and 1,628 RBI in 2,830 games played. He was a six time All Star, won a Silver Slugger Award in 1989, and was so popular in Chicago, the White Sox retired his number while he was still active in the Major Leagues. Everyone who has more hits and RBI than Baines is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Previous All Decade Teams:
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.