Flashback Friday: Chicken & a Ballgame

The Famous Chicken and an unidentified Appleton Fox rock out at Goodland Field on July 1, 1985. (Ralph Acker/Appleton Post-Crescent)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | November 29, 2012 6:55 AM ET

New Page 1

Several members of the Timber Rattlers front office are heading to Nashville, Tennessee next week for the Winter Meetings.  Those who will attend will take part in seminars and panel discussions, go through a huge trade show with the latest promotional items, and meet with front office personnel from around the rest of minor league baseball.

The Rattlers will also be there to pick up
their Larry MacPhail Award.  The award symbolizes the best promotional effort in all minor league baseball.

The team is completely aware that ideas like Salute to Cows, Bang for Your Buck Night, and having Reggy! in to entertain baseball fans of Northeastern Wisconsin didn't start at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium in 2012.  The Papermakers and the Foxes had similar ideas over at Goodland Field.

Why do I bring all this up this week?

In honor of the Rattlers winning the MacPhail Award, this week's Flashback goes to July 1, 1985.  That was the date of the first ever appearance by The Famous Chicken at Goodland Field.  Gary Shriver has the story from the July 2, 1985 edition of The Post-Crescent.

Chicken's in top form, but Foxes aren't, 12-8

A total of 4,463 fans at Goodland Field Monday night were entertained by the famous San Diego Chicken and the booming bats of the Appleton Foxes and Burlington Rangers.

The Chicken went through his extensive repertoire: including a rock-and-roll dance with several members of the Foxes, an attempt to divert the Rangers' pitcher by flashing pictures of a well-endowed young lady and mock fights with umpires.

The antics seemed to bring out the best in the hitters on both teams - a total of 28 base hits, including 11 doubles and 2 home runs.  Unfortunately for the Foxes, Burlington collected 6 of the doubles and both home runs to wipe out an early 5-1 deficit on the way to a 12-8 victory.

The Chicken left in the seventh inning, tossed out by plate umpire Brian Owen.  This action established a precedent - because before the inning was completed, Base Umpire Dave Wilk had also chased Foxes' Manager Sal Rende, Pitching Coach Mitch Lukevics (for the second time in two games) and Catcher Jim Markert.

The seventh inning also saw the Rangers break a 7-7 tie with 4 runs.  With 1 out, Jeff Anderson (the third of 5 Foxes' pitchers) walked Larry Klein, gave up a single to Dave Darretta and then wild pitched both runners up a base.  Klein was driven in by Jim St. Laurent's sacrifice fly and Darretta by George Threadgill's single.

Threadgill attempted to steal second base and was called safe by Wilk, setting off the action that led to the ejection of the three Foxes.  After the dust had settled, Brad Hill singled Threadgill home - Hill taking second on the throw to the plate.  Hill was singled in by Mike Stanley.

The Rangers added an insurance run in the eighth when Klein homered off Don Carr.

Burlington took a 1-0 lead in the first on doubles by Hill and Kevin Reimer.  The Foxes rallied in their half of the first for 5 runs off Ranger starter Steve Wilson.

Mike Taylor singled, Jim Byrd walked and Jerry Bertolani reached first on Wilson's error to load the bases.  Jim Winters followed with a double to clear the bases.  After Markert singled Winters to third, Buck Autry drove both in with a long double to the base of the left-center field wall.

The Rangers cut the lead to 5-3 in the second when St. Laurent (who had 5 RBI) slammed a home run with Darretta on base.

Autry walked with 2 out in the second and Greg Tarnow followed with a single.  When the ball got by right-fielder Threadgill for an error, Autry came all the way around to score.

Burlington reduced the Foxes lead to 6-3 with 2 runs in the fourth.  St. Laurent doubled 1 in and Threadgill brought the other home with a sacrifice fly.  The Foxes bounced back to make it 7-5 in their half of the fourth on singles by Byrd and Bertolani and a sacrifice fly by Winters.

The Rangers tied the game in the fifth.  Klein singled in Dave Rolland, who had doubled, stole second and scored on Laurent's single. 

The Foxes scored their other run in the eighth when Pete Venturini and Mike Taylor poked back-to-back doubles with 2 out.

The Foxes will host the Rangers in a doubleheader tonight, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Ted Giannoulas - the San Diego Chicken - makes about 250 appearances in a year, more than 90% of them at sporting events.  In addition to performing at about 17 major league parks and about 75% of the National Basketball Association arenas, Giannoulas also does many of the minor league baseball parks, nearly 50% of the Continental Basketball Association cities and occasionally minor league hockey.

While Monday was Giannoulas' first appearance in Appleton, last year he performed in Oshkosh for a Flyers' game.

The Flyers were the
Wisconsin Flyers of the Continental Basketball Association.  They played in Oshkosh from 1982-1987.

I am compelled to include this clip whenever I write about The Chicken.

Here is the Wikipedia page for The Chicken. 

The attendance for this game was 4,463.  The game on Sunday, June 30 against Quad City drew 312.  The attendance for the doubleheader against the Burlington Rangers on July 2, 1985 was 453.

But, the Chicken wasn't the biggest draw of 1985 for the Foxes.  On July 15 of that season, Aid Association for Lutherans Night drew 5,629 to a game against Clinton.  The Foxes won that night 7-3 in 14 innings on a walkoff grand slam by Jerry Bertolani.

The article above refers to Sal Rende's ejection.  But, Gary Shriver did not get into the specifics of the spectacle.   In two weeks, Flashback Friday will revisit this ejection with a Point-Counterpoints presentation.  The Point is an Editorial from the July 7, 1985 Opinion page of The Post-Crescent titled Temper tantrums by adults who play games.  The Counterpoints are a Letter to the Editor by Foxes General Manager Bill Smith that appeared on the July 13, 1985 and a Letter to the Editor from Foxes Superfan Patti McFarland that ran on July 19, 1985.


Money (1987)

Subsidy Saga Part II (1987)

Subsidy Saga Part III (1987)

Subsidy Saga Part IV (1987)

Our Rivals in Beloit (1996)

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

View More