to No-no November. The
Friday Flashbacks over the next few weeks will take a look back at
(Pre-Timber Rattlers) no-hitters in Appleton Professional Baseball history.
The first in no-hitter in Foxes history happened in 1966, their first
year as an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
Mickey Abarbanel, a third round pick of the Sox in the 1965 draft, was in
his first season of professional baseball.
He was off to a great start with the Foxes.
It got better on May 28, 1966 at Goodland Field against the Wisconsin
Steve Wilson of the Appleton Post-Crescent has the story from the May 29, 1966 edition.
Abarbanel Pitches No Hitter Against Twins
Southpaw Ace Stifles Wisconsin Rapids, 9 to 1, For His Fifth Victory
Mickey Abarbanel, the Fox Cities Foxes' version of Sandy Koufax, masterfully
mixed his fast ball with a hard snapping curve and twirled a no-hitter at the
Wisconsin Rapids Twins Saturday night at Goodland Field.
The score was 9-1.
Not allowing a man to reach until one man was out in the sixth inning, Abarbanel exhibited pinpoint control, averaging eight pitches per inning in each of the first four innings. He finished with 12 strike outs and three bases on balls. The Jersey City native lowered his diminutive earned run average to 1.79.
As could be expected, the Foxes' fielding was superb. Abarbanel committed the team's only miscue in the eighth inning on a wild throw to second base.
The team's slugging was only slightly less spectacular. Exploding for four runs in the first and five in the second, the hitters enjoyed two of their finest innings of the season. Everyone but Abarbanel hit safely in one of the opening two frames.
Cleanup hitter Bill Melton supplied the power punch, slamming a 3-run, 375-foot home run over the left field fence in the first innings and cracking a 2-run bases-loaded double in the second.
Today, the Foxes entertain the Twins at 2 p.m. at Goodland Field. Righthander Steve Kokor (3-1) will be on the mound.
After Al Kristowski grounded out to open the game, Jim Maness ripped a hit off starting and losing hurler Ron Lea. "Deacon" Jones smashed a single into right, and Melton teed off on a Lea delivery, blasting the ball high over the left field [wall] to make the score 3-0 before you could say "Abarbanel".
Al Fitzmorris followed with a 2-bagger down the right field line. Fitzmorris reached third on a passed ball, and after Ron Lolich fanned, scored on Tom Cottrell's shot to center.
While the 332 chilled but contented fans thought the four runs might be all for the night - with the poised Abarbanel looking untouchable - the Foxes sluggers were of a different mind.
Kristowski opened the second with a perfect bunt single, and Maness drew a free pass. The Deacon followed the same route to first to load the bases with none out. Melton rapped his double just out of the centerfielder's reach, and the score was 6-0.
Fitzmorris struck out, but Lolich lined a single to left scoring Jones. Cottrell walked, and von Eps blooped a double to left bringing home Melton and Lolich with the eighth and ninth runs.
That's it. No quotes. No elaboration on Abarbenel's performance. No details on how the Twins scored that one run in the eighth inning?
For the boxscore on this game and for a picture of Abarbanel from a 1968 White Sox baseball card, head over to this post at Rattler Radio.
By late May, the PC was probably sick of writing about Abarbanel's performances. I found a story from early in the 1966 season in which he struck out 20 opposing batters. You can bet that game story will be appearing later on this off season.
Abarbanel went 13-4 in 1966. He led the Midwest League in strikeouts with 206. But, he never made the major leagues. His Bullpen entry at Baseball Reference guesses that it was injuries that held him back after he left the Foxes.
Abarbanel did return to Appleton for three starts in 1969. But, he was out of organized ball by the end of the 1969 season. There is a mention that he helped found the Tampa Mustangs, a fast pitch softball organization in Florida, in the 80's.
Look at the boxscore below, the Nettles who went 0-for-4 as a second baseman for the Twins is Graig Nettles. There is a picture of him arguing with an umpire after a call that accompanied the article. It did not turn out well on the microfilm printer.
Other future major leaguers on the Twins boxscore for that chilly May night at Goodland Field include...well, no one. If you look at the 1966 Twins page, Nettles was the only player on that team to make the majors.
The Foxes went on to win the Midwest League pennant. They went 77-47 to edge out Burlington (77-48) by a half game. The Cedar Rapids Cardinals had the best record at 81-40. Then, the Foxes beat the Cardinals 2-1 in a best-of-three championship series.
In case you haven't had a chance, head over to the Timber Rattlers YouTube channel and check out the video of the Jake Odorizzi/Adrian Rosario No-hitter. There is also video of the appearance by the duo at Miller Park after the event.
October 8: In fair territory (1994)
October 15: Fans flock to see Foxes (1987)
October 22: New Park (1995)