Flashback Friday: Fans flock to see Foxes (1987)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | October 15, 2010 8:43 AM ET

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Ever wonder about attendance at old Goodland Field?  How about some of the old directors of Appleton Baseball?  How were the 1987 Foxes doing in their first year as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals?  This Foxes Notes column by Gary Shriver from the July 19, 1987 edition of the Appleton Post-Crescent will fill you in.

Fans flock to see Foxes by Gary Shriver

*-With several promotional dates still ahead and the promise of continued good weather, the Appleton Foxes may have one of the better seasons for attendance at Goodland Field in the team's history.

The Foxes have drawn 45,583 fans to 46 home dates this season - including a season-high crowd of 5,692 last Wednesday - compared to approximately 33,500 fans at the same time last season.

At this pace, the Foxes have a good chance of drawing over 70,000 for the sixth time in the history of the franchise.  The last time the team drew that many fans was two years ago when 76,860 fans attended Foxes' games.  Other 70,000-plus seasons for the Foxes include 72,588 in 1982, 70,404 in 1980, 72,011 in 1979 and 72,851 in 1972.  In 1952, the old Appleton Papermakers drew 71,999.

Appleton professional baseball teams have also had attendances in excess of 80,000 on three occasions.  The Foxes drew 83,818 in 1970 and 83,881 in 1971 and the Papermakers played before 80,381 in 1950.

The best seasons for attendance at Goodland Field were 1949, when the Foxes drew 92,938 and 1978, when 91,401 saw the Foxes play.

Increased attendance is not the only bright spot for the Foxes' management this season.  The ballclub that the Kansas City Royals have put on the field has played considerably better than last season's edition, when the team was affiliated with the Chicago White Sox.

*-After 95 games, the Foxes - now a farm team of the Kansas City Royals - were 50-45 and in first place in the Midwest League's Northern Division, compared to a 39-56 record and a third-place standing in the division, 19-1/2 games out of first for last year's team, which was affiliated with the Chicago White Sox.

The main reason for the good showing of this year's team has been the ability to adjust to roster changes.  Early in the season, the Foxes were winning behind their pitching, paced by starters Greg Hibbard and Mike Butcher and reliever Chuck Mount.  After all three were promoted in June, the team has started to win with their offensive attack.

Last season at this time, the Foxes' team batting average was around .230; only one regular, second baseman Billy Eveline, was over .300.  The Foxes currently have three regulars above or near .300, second baseman Frankie Laureano, catcher-first baseman Pat Bailey and left fielder Harvey Pulliam.  The team has also demonstrated good power, pounding out 54 home runs, despite playing half of their games at spacious Goodland Field.

"We are really pleased the way this young club has battled all season," said Kansas City Royals' Director of Player Development John Boles.  "Any team that loses their top three top pitchers, whatever the reason, should have trouble.  But this club has adjusted.  This has to be tribute to the skills of (Manager) Ken Berry.  We're also very impressed by the fact that Appleton has never whined, not once.  They accept the fact that the purpose of the minors is player development, and when the time comes for a player to move up, he moves.  I thank that adding our second A club in Appleton is the best thing we have ever done."

*-The mid-season report on the Royals' farm system as a whole is mixed.  Appleton, Sarasota (rookie club) and Eugene (short-season Class A) are all in the thick of the fight for league or division pennants and the Class AA Memphis Chicks finished the first half of the Southern League season in second place, five games out of first.  However, the Royals other Class A team, Fort Myers of the Florida State League, and Class AAA affiliate Omaha have struggled most of the season.

*-The Royals have announced that they will shift their Florida State League operation from Ft. Myers to Haines City, Fla., next season.  Haines City, which has built a "Baseball and Boardwalk" theme park will also be the home for the Royals spring training complex and its extended spring training and instructional league operations.

*-The Foxes suffered a loss recently with the deaths of Bob Kamps and Jerry Zapp.

Kamps, who passed away on July 10 was one of the original members of the Foxes' board of directors.  Zapp, who died July 8, served as the Foxes vice president as well as being a member of the board.  Zapp also designed the Foxes' and Midwest League logos.

"We lost two good men," said Foxes' President Gerry Patterson.  "Bob Kamps was from the old school going back to the days of Bob Willis (the Foxes' first general manager) and Eddie Holtz, when directors really did the directing.  Jerry was more contemporary and took an active role as a director and did a fine job.  Personally, I'll miss both, not only as directors, but also as good friends.

*-Al Kubski, a scout for the Kansas City Royals, is in Appleton for the 10-game homestand.  Kubski, who double checks minor league players for the Royals, travels all over the United States during the season.

Also on hand for the start of the homestand were Cobby Saatzer, Midwest scout for the Minnesota Twins, and Rick Schroeder, a part time scout for the San Francisco Giants.  Saatzer was responsible for scouting and signing former UW-Oshkosh star Terry Jorgenson, now playing for Kenosha of the Midwest League.  Schroeder played three seasons with UW-Oshkosh before signing with the Giants in 1970.

*-Among the season-high crowd of 5,692 at Wednesday's game against Beloit were a number of foreign teenage visitors here on exchange programs.  They include Brigitte Foll and Francois Combes, both from France, Tina Aalto from Finland and Elizabeth Henry from Belfast, Northern Ireland.


The 1987 season ended with an attendance of 81,208. 

In the article, there was a table that put the top attendances in Goodland Field history (to that point) in order.  Here are the top 10:

1949            92,938
1978            91,401
1971            83,881
1970            83,818
1950            80,381
1985            76,860
1972            72,851
1982            72,588
1971            72,011
1979            71,999

The Foxes finished the 1987 season with a 71-69 record. They finished 11 games behind Kenosha in the Northern Division.  Appleton barely missed out on the Wild Card.  Clinton went 72-67 to edge Appleton, Waterloo (72-68), and Peoria (71-69) for the final playoff spot in the league.

Ah, Boardwalk and Baseball. Remember the old ESPN show?

I remember when I heard Boardwalk and Baseball closed. I would feel the same way when I heard Santa's Village in East Dundee, Illinois closed.

Based on my research, I knew that Jerry Zapp had designed the AF logo of the Foxes. But, I did not know that he also designed the Midwest League logo. I need to go looking for that information for a future Flashback Friday.

Past Flashback Friday columns:

October 8: In fair territory (1994)

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

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