The Fox Cities Foxes were in a good place back in 1965. They had won a couple of pennants as an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. Several Foxes players from the early part of the affiliation were already in the major leagues and Baltimore was on the verge of their dominant run in the American League. While they did finish 53-66 in 1965, the Foxes were starting to get ready for the 1966 season as an Orioles farm team. But, the Orioles threw a spanner into the works in October.
This week's Flashback is in two parts. The first entry is from the October 20, 1965 edition of The Post-Crescent, the day after Baltimore announced the end of the partnership.
Baltimore Cancels Pact With Foxes
Fox Cities Club Seeks New Tie-Up
The Baltimore Orioles have ended their working agreement with the Fox Cities Foxes after six years.
The Orioles, through Farm Director Harry Dalton, informed the Foxes that they are moving their Class A player development contract to Miami in the Florida State League for 1966.
Foxes President Bob Rahn informed the club directors of the action at a meeting Tuesday night.
Rahn said the Foxes are making contacts with several American and National League Clubs in an effort to arrange a new working agreement for the '66 season.
If the Foxes are unable to affiliate with some other major league club, it will mean the end of organized baseball in the Fox Cities.
Win 2 Pennants
In their 6-year affiliation with Baltimore, the Foxes won two pennants - the3-I League flag in 1960 and the Midwest League title in 1964. Prior to that, the Foxes were affiliated for two years with the old Washington Senators.
Dalton's letter stated, in part: "After six years of very happy association with the Foxes…this has been one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make as farm director. There are some very obvious and unique advantages which we will realize in having a working agreement with Miami. As you know, our major league club trains there. This will enable us to have a year-round contact there and possibly employ a man who can work for the Miami club and also handle all out spring training matters…Our association in Appleton has been extremely pleasant, and you and your directors have done absolutely nothing to cause us to want to leave…In the meantime, I will be happy to speak to other farm directors, explaining to them just how much we enjoyed our association."
Yikes! That "end of organized baseball in the Fox Cities" passage sounds ominous. Fortunately, part two of this week's Flashback is a brief from John L. Paustian's Notes and Notions column of October 24, 1965 that lets the people know there is no need for panic.
Baltimore's termination of its working agreement with the Fox Cities Foxes was unexpected but doesn't necessarily constitute a serious threat to the continuation of professional baseball here. There are 10 major league clubs not currently represented in the 10 team Midwest League, and chances seem pretty good that one of them can be interested in a franchise here. Foxes officials are exploring a number of possibilities for new working agreements and they can be counted on to use every available means to continue pro ball at Goodland Field. In fact, Club President Bob Rahn is highly optimistic about the chances of obtaining a new affiliation. He intimates that there could be an announcement in the next week or two. The Fox Cities affiliation matter will undoubtedly come up for discussion today when a ML meeting is held in Wisconsin Rapids. The league's next session after that will take place Nov. 28 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Rahn, who emphasizes that the Foxes have had good relations with Baltimore for the entire six years of their agreement, bears no ill will against the Orioles for their decision to move. He says that either party can end such an affiliation. (In fact, the Foxes did halt their agreement with Washington - now the Minnesota Twins - after the '59 season to hook up with Baltimore). Rahn says he can see good business reasons for Baltimore's wishing to consolidate part of its farm system at Miami, where the parent club trains.
Sometimes mutual benefits accrue from affiliation changes. The Foxes, of course, reaped immediate benefits from the '60 change when the first Oriole-stocked team won a pennant here. Burlington's Bees switched from the Cubs to the Pirates to the A's before they finally hit the jackpot in '65. Cedar Rapids also benefited this year when they switched from the Reds to the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Foxes fans will always recall with pleasure the chance they had of seeing Dean Chance, Boog Powell, Pete Ward, Bob Savarine, Sam Bowens, Buster Narum, Dave McNally, and other Oriole farmhands start their climb toward the majors.
A letter? Baltimore let the Foxes know about their decision through a letter? No phone call.
Harry Dalton is better known around the state of Wisconsin as the General Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers from 1978-1991. Dalton went from Orioles Farm Director at the time of the letter to General Manager of the Orioles in 1966.
You already know that the affiliation problem was solved when the Foxes paired up with the Chicago White Sox. But, Flashback will take next Friday off for Thanksgiving. So, you'll have to wait to see how the affiliation was resolved. A couple of hints: It didn't take that long and there is a local tie-in to the story.