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Flashback Friday: Foxes 1966 Championship
11/04/2011 11:47 AM ET
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Time to go back into the past.  Every Friday for the rest of this off season is now a Flashback Friday.  During the month of November, We'll take a look back at some of the pennants won by Appleton baseball teams.  This week, travel with us to 1966.  It was the first season of the affiliation between the Fox Cities Foxes and the Chicago White Sox.  That season ended in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a win in game three of the Midwest League Championship series.

The story by Terry Galvin is from the Appleton Post-Crescent published on September 1, 1966.

Foxes Defeat Cardinals, 4-2, to Win Second ML Title in 3 Years
Rubilotta Doesn't Allow Hit Until Sixth Inning; Hooker Preserved victory

CEDAR RAPIDS - Chicago White Sox president Arthur Allyn's prophetic statement at the mid-winter "Red Smith Awards" banquet was realized on the Veterans Memorial Park diamond here Wednesday.

The Fox Cities Foxes, rebounding from a 7-3 loss in the Midwest League's championship playoff, followed Tuesday's 8-1 conquest of Cedar Rapids with a 4-2 triumph last night to capture the ML flag for the second time in three years.

Allyn bluntly assured the packed house of 500 at the mid-winter fete that the Fox Cities baseball club, in its first year of affiliation with the Chisox would have a championship team - and that it did.

Southpaw Andy Rubilotta, who hurled no-hit ball for the first five and one-third innings, and righthander Willie Hooler, making his third appearance in the best-of-three series, combined to check the Cardinals on just three hits en route to last night's decisive 4-2 victory.

Collect 10 Hits

The Foxes, in addition to fine support afield, chipped in with 10 hits to support the masterful pitching of Rubilotta and "The Hook".

Rubilotta, who managed just two singles in 50 trips during the regular season for a microscopic .040 batting average, delivered a runs-scoring double to put the Foxes on the scoreboard.

Each of the Foxes, however, had his moment last night.  It was, as the well-worn saying goes, strictly a TEAM effort.  Non of the 11 Foxes that broke into last night's lineup hustled harder all season.  This was "it" as far as they were concerned and they methodically went about the business of riding home a winner.

Second sacker Al Kristowski, who had a great playoff series, launched last night's proceedings with a single up the middle, but three straight fielder's choices sent "Ruby" to the mound for the bottom of the first.

The Brooklyn native promptly fanned two of the first three hitters and was never in trouble the rest of the way, though he did tire in the seventh and eighth frames.

The Foxes' ace reliever, Bob Von Eps, opened the third inning with a bloop double down the right field line and scored when Rubilotta lined his first extra-base hit of the season (a double_) off the wall in right-center field.

Scores Rubilotta

Kristowski followed with the a soft single to short right field to score Rubilotta and the Foxes enjoyed a 2-0 lead.  The way Rubilotta was firing that ball, it looked like the 2-0 margin would stand.

Rubilotta lost his bid for a no-hitter in the sixth when weak-hitting George Runk managed a fluke single just over George Hunter's head at first base.  Losing pitcher Jerry Pruett flied to right field and Bob Cox forced Runk at second to end the inning.

The Foxes boosted their magin to 4-0 in the top of the eighth after player-coach "Deacon" Jones survived on an error.  Jones lofted a high fly ball to short left field and Runk, left-fielder Mike Davis and shortstop John Sipin converged on the ball simultaneously, with Sipin blowing the putout and Jones taking second.

Burly Bill Melton, the "Ozark Ike" of the Foxes all season, promptly lined a single to right field which Biff Bracy played in an error, though Jones would have scored on the hit.  Melton took second on the miscue and Hunter sacrificed him to third, from where Von Eps' sacrifice fly to right field pushed him in after Al Fitzmorris and Berke Reichenbach were intentionally passed.

Had it not been for Melton's soundness on the fundamentals of the game, that fourth marker may not have been attained.  Bracy's throw to the plate was perfect, but the Foxes' right-fielder, using a hook slide to the best of his ability, evaded the tag by catcher Bob Lanning.

Rubilotta took the mound with a 4-0 pad in the bottom of the eighth and he was promptly greeted by Sipin's hard grounder to the hole between short and third, on which Reichenbach made a great backhanded stop, but was unable to nail Sipin at first.

Rubilotta, who had given everything he had, was then replaced by Manager Stan Wasiak with "Willie the Hook," who was the losing pitcher when the Foxes won the 1964 Midwest League crown over Clinton, 8-5.

Hits Third Homer

Hooker served up an inside curve ball to Lanning, a .140 hitter during the regular season and the second-string catcher for Rapids.  Lanning was waiting and poled the offering well over the 335-foot mark in left field for only his third homer of the year, slicing the Cardinal deficit to 4-2.

Appearing somewhat irked with himself, Hooker really began to bore down thereafter.  The Nicaragua native fanned George Runk on three pitches, retired pinch-hitter Rog Robinson on a grounder to Hunter, who really had to leg it to  nail Robinson, and ended the inning by blazing a third strike past Bob Cox.

The nine was mere child's play for Willie.  He rifled third strikes past Joe Arcia and Joe Hauge.  Tom Cottrellwrapped the championship with an easy catch of Bracy's fly to centerfield to end the ball game.

Notes:
Bob Cox is not Bobby Cox.

Cedar Rapids had the best record in the Midwest League in 1966.  They were 81-40.  The Foxes had the second best record in the league at 81-40.

I'm not sure if the story is clear on this point, but the Foxes lost Game One of the series at Goodland Field by a score of 7-3.  They evened the series with an 8-1 win at Cedar Rapids in Game Two.

Players from the 1966 Foxes team to make the major leagues: Doug Adams, Al Fitzmorris, Ken Frailing, Deacon Jones, Ron Lolich, Jim Magnuson, Bill Melton, Jerry Nyman, and Fred Rath.

The 1964 game that was referred to in the story was a one-game playoff in Clinton.  That game will come up later this month.

Next week: The Foxes go back-to-back with a win in Game Three of the 1967 Championship Series against Wisconsin Rapids.



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