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Flashback Friday: Playoff Game (1969)
10/25/2013 11:20 AM ET
The Appleton Foxes celebrate Ken Hottman's game winning home run in the 1969 tie-breaker game.
The Appleton Foxes celebrate Ken Hottman's game winning home run in the 1969 tie-breaker game. (Post-Crescent Photo)

Last week's Flashback went back to the final game of the first half of the 1969 season. The Appleton Foxes entered that day in a three-way tie with Quad Cities and Quincy for the best first half record in the Midwest League. The Foxes and Quad Cities won while Quincy was rained out. The Midwest League tiebreaker for teams with the same first half record at the time was a one game playoff the first time the two teams met in the second half.

The one game playoff between the Foxes and Quad Cities happened on July 16. It was a classic and it was written up by Post-Crescent sportswriter Ron Witt.

Foxes Edge Angels On Hottman's Homer
Two-Out Blast in 16th Brings 4-3 Victory in Playoff for 1st Half Title

"What can you say? These kids have the will to win. They came from behind when they had to. I'm so proud of them I could bust."

Foxes' manager Tom Saffell, his uniform soaked by perspiration and champagne, stood in the middle of his team's deliriously happy locker room trying to collect his thoughts. And that wasn't easy, considering the marathon championship game he had just witnessed.

It took 16 innings and four hours to complete. But, when Appleton centerfielder Ken Hottman cracked his second home run of the night with two outs in the bottom of the 16th for a 4-3 victory, all the time and anxiety and frustration that came before the decisive blow suddenly seemed blissfully worthwhile.

Quad Cities' pilot Fred Koenig was philosophical about the defeat, which gave the Foxes the first half Midwest League pennant. "I've got no complaints," he said tersely. "We played, they played, and they won. We did what we had to do."

2,296 Watch Tilt

A crowd of 2,296 watched the contest in muggy weather. Most were still there at the finish, despite the length of the game and ferocity of the mosquitoes.

The game was held up for six minutes in the 14th inning when the Appleton City Department "fogger" sprayed mosquito repellant around the ball park. The clouds blanketed the diamond and the umpires were forced to call time.

Appleton displayed the qualities of a championship club Wednesday night - superb pitching, hustling, sharp defense play and good hitting. The triumph was truly a "team effort".

Credit For Win

But to say much of the credit for the win did not hinge on the slugging of Hottman would be a bold-face lie. The 21-year-old right-handed hitting outfielder smashed four hits in seven official trips, including two solo home runs and a double.

After the Angels grabbed a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning, Hottman got the Foxes back within a run with his first circuit smash in the fifth frame. Then, in the sixth, he doubled home Joe Bowen with the marker that tied the game at 3-3.

Hottman, who joined the Foxes in late June, had some doubts about his last shot making it over the fence. "It was too high," he recalled. The ball actually hit the top of the left field wall, bounced hit, and then fell behind the barrier.

Strand 13 Runners

The first six innings ranked as probably the most frustrating of any of the year for the Foxes, as they stranded 13 baserunners, including three in each of the fourth and fifth stanzas.

For the game, Appleton left 18 runners on base compared to only seven for the Angles. The Foxes out-hit their foe, 16-8. Quad Cities was guilty of committing two errors, while the Foxes were flawless in the field.

The pitching victory went to left-hander Don Eddy, who won his 10th game of the season against two losses. Eddy hurled oly the last three innings, giving up one hit, as he followed starter Bart Johnson and Rich Moloney to the mound.

Johnson, after a shaky start, proved tremendous for the nine innings he pitched. The 6-foot, 5-inch righthander allowed two runs in the third and another in the fourth before settling down.

Retires 15 in Row

From the fifth on, he set down 15 consecutive batters. Johnson said later he pitched better after taking off a long-sleeve shirt to start the fifth frame.

Moloney hurled from the 10th through the 13th inning. He added five more batters to the list of retiring Angels before John Jackson looped a single to left with one out in the 11th. But there was no further trouble.

In the 12th, Angels catcher Mike Nunn singled with one out but was erased on a sparkling Jim Redmon-to-George Hunter double play. And in the 13th, the Angels threatened with two on and one out, but Moloney got Jackson to line to center and Junior Riggins, former Kansas University football star, on a strike out.

Eddy came on with none out and a runner on first in the 14th and persuaded power-hitter Bill Parker to hit into Appleton's second double play. The lone hit off Eddy came in the 16th, a leadoff single by Jerry Feldman.

Deserved Better Fate

The losing pitcher was lefty Jerry Lanning, who really deserved a better fate. Lanning relieved at the start of the seventh and wound up pitching 9-2/3 innings of great baseball, allowing just three hits along the way until Hottman's big blow.

Angels' starter Brian Nelson lasted until the fifth, when he was relieved by Thor Skogan. Nelson was charged with two runs and Skogan the other.

Appleton scored first in the game, taking a 1-0 lead in the first went Joe Bowen singled home Jim Redmon from second. The Foxes might have had a 2-0 edge, but the Angels' Dave Biber threw out Rodger Reid trying to score from third on a fly ball to right field.

Biber figured in the 2-run Angel rally in the third as he walked, moved up on a sacrifice and wild pitch, and finally scored on Jackson's single. Riggins' double then plated Jackson.

Thrown Out at Plate

The visitors made it 3-1 in the fourth on a hit batter and Jim Cesario's hit. The Angels might have had another run, too, but Hottman threw out Nunn trying to score on Nelson's single.

Hottman homered with one gone in the fifth to make it 3-2, and the Foxes later loaded the bases with two outs. Kogan came to Nelson's rescue and got Jim Redmon on a hit back to the mound to end the threat.

Bowen singled with one out in the sixth, Appleton had base-runners in the eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 13th, and 14th innings but couldn't cash in.

NOTES:

The Foxes would go on to win the second half title with a record of 49-22, 6-1/2 games better than second place Clinton.

By winning both halves, the Foxes claimed the 1969 Midwest League pennant with an overall record of 84-41.

Junior Riggins, the Quad Cities player referred to in the story, is the brother of NFL Hall of Fame running back John Riggins.

Don Eddy, the winning pitcher in this game, won 18 games for the Foxes in 1969. This game was his only relief appearance out of 24 games pitched that season. He also struck out 140, walked 41, allowed 134 hits, and gave up just 33 earned runs in 164 innings pitched during the 1969 season. Eddy made the majors in 1970 with the Chicago White Sox and spent most of 1971 up in the big leagues. Chicago traded Eddy to the Padres in 1972. Eddy's career ended after three games for the Texas League affiliate of the Padres in 1973.

Ken Hottman hit 14 home runs for the Foxes in 1969. He returned to Appleton for 1970 and hit 14 more homers. Hottman would make the major leagues with the White Sox in 1971. Hottman appeared in six games and went 2-for-16 with Chicago. He went back down to the minor leagues and played there through 1974 in the US. Hottman added a season in Mexico during 1975.

There are a few photos - poor quality due to being taken off the screen of a microfilm viewer - that are also from that edition of The Post-Crescent over at Rattler Radio. They are fun to see.

We'll wrap up the trilogy of stories from that season with the look at the game against the Clinton Pilots that clinched the MWL Pennant for the 1969 Appleton Foxes.

Past Flashbacks:

Second Half Preview (1966)

How the Foxes Got Their Name (1958)

McKeon named Foxes Manager (1958)

Down to the Wire (1969)

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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