Flashback Friday: Foxes 1964 Championship

Team photo of the 1964 Fox Cities Foxes. (Appleton Professional Baseball)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | November 18, 2011 6:09 AM ET

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Championship November continues with a look back to the 1964 Fox Cities Foxes and their victory in the playoff game (or grand championship) over the Clinton C-Sox in Clinton, Iowa.  The game happened on September 1.  The article below is taken from The Post-Crescent of September 2.  There is no byline and there are no quotes.

Foxes Annex ML Title by Beating Clinton in Playoff
Sommer Hurls 8-5 Win With Help from King; 16-Hit Attack Decisive

CLINTON, Iowa - The Fox Cities Foxes stormed to the Midwest League's grand championship by unleashing a 16-hit attack to topple Clinton 8-5 in the post-season playoff game here Tuesday night.

Tim Sommer, with ninth-inning relief help from Henry King, pitched the Foxes to their first ML pennant in three seasons and their second in the club's 7-year history.  The 1960 Foxes won the 3-I League title.

The second-round champion Foxes' potent attack overcame the effects of their porous (5-error) fielding.  Sommer, in checking the C-Sox, who won the first half title and were the defending ML Champions, gains his 14th victory - a new club record.

Sommer pitched flawlessly through eight innings, allowing just three hits and three unearned runs.  Five Foxes' errors however, enabled the C-Sox to net the three scores.

Though somewhat amiss afield, the Foxes retaliated with reckless abandon at the plate to the tune of 13 singles, two doubles and a triple off four Clinton hurlers.

John Matias wasted no time n collecting his first of four hits.  Matias singled to right with one out in the first.  Dave May beat out an infield single and Fred Rico slammed a 2-run double to the left field wall.  Steve Huntz fanned but Stan Walters lined a single to left to plate Rico for a 3-0 lead.

The Billy DeMars-managed contingent threatened in the second but John Burrows was thrown out at the plate after a Burrows' single, a walk to Sommer and a bunt single by John Matias.

Clinton scored a pair of runs in the second inning, both unearned.  Duane Josephson doubled to left and stole third.  Burrows' throw went into left-field, allowing Josephson to score.  Rich Severson walked and Al Lopez, Jr. bunted to the mound after Severson had stolen second.

Sommer fielded the bunt but slipped to the ground and his throw to first was wild, allowing Severson to cross the plate.

After a lead-off single in the third by Pat Rigby (who was picked off first), Sommer retired 11 men in a row before an error on Matias halted the string.

The Foxes, meanwhile, scored once in the fifth.  Bob Lewandowski blooped a single to left and took third on a 2-base throwing error by Don Welsh.  A wild pitch allowed Lewandowski to score.  Clinton mound ace Willie Hooker yielded singles to Dave May and Fred Rico to put runners on first and third before settling down to retire the side.

Walters singled in the Foxes' eighth and scored on a triple to the wall in right-center by Ray Woitkowski.  Two errors in the eighth allowed Clinton to score a run for a 5-3 margin.

The Foxes scored three in the ninth and they proved to be the winning margin.  John Matias rapped a double to center with one out. May singled in the infield and Matiaas scored from third on Rico's sacrifice fly.  Huntz singled to right to put runners on first and third.  May and Huntz worked a double steal with May scoring.  Stan Walters singled in Huntz for an 8-3 lead.

Rico's three RBIs hiked his club-leading total to 91 for the season.

Clinton chased Sommer in the ninth.  Sommer got the lead-off man Josephson on a ground out.  Three straight hits, however, loaded the bases for Angel Bravo after pinch-hitter Gary Prestesater fanned.  Sommer walked Bravo to force in a run and DeMars called for ace fireman Henry King.

King walked Rigby to make the count 8-5 before John Sepich snared a line drive off the bat of Welsh to clinch the championship for the Foxes.

The Foxes finished the regular season with an 81-43 record.  Clinton was 77-48.  The C-Sox won the first half at 42-20.  Fox Cities won the second half at 42-21.

Attendance for that Playoff Game at Riverview Stadium was 1,888.

This was the second of three pennants Fox Cities would win as an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

Three players in each boxscore would make it to the major leagues.  Fox Cities: Dave May, Steve Huntz, and Fred Rico.  Clinton: Angel Bravo, Duane Josephson, and Rich Severson.

Three players on the Clinton side for this game would play for the Appleton Foxes during the 1968 Midwest League Championship season: Severson, Willie Hooker, and Rafael Lopez.

Tim Sommer, the winning pitcher in this one game playoff, wrote a book in 2008.  It is called Beating About the Bushes Minor League Baseball in the '60's.  One of his anecdotes from the 1964 season is a story about being injured in Waterloo, riding the bus home to Appleton without treatment and needing to be hospitalized after returning home.  The hospital was full.  The only room available was in the psychiatric wing.

You may find a brief summary of the book and an interview with the author right here.

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

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