Flashback Friday: Foxes 1967 Championship

The 1967 Midwest League Champions Appleton Foxes. (Appleton Professional Baseball)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | November 11, 2011 10:50 AM ET

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Flashback Friday is going to maintain the Champions theme over the next few weeks.  This week, the 1967 Appleton Foxes defend their Midwest League championship by winning Game Three of a best-of-three series with the Wisconsin Rapids Twins.

The game occurred on September 2, 1967 at Goodland Field.  The two stories below appeared in the September 3 edition of the Post Crescent.

Foxes Edge Twins for ML Championship
Rally for 3-2 Victory and Second Straight Pennant

by Ron Witt

"He grew up out there tonight," a slightly disheveled and champagne-soaked Deacon Jones was heard to say in Appleton's steamy locker room.

The Foxes veteran player-coach, still beaming over his teammates' come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Wisconsin Rapids, was referring directly to fire-balling reliefer Durant Cooper.  But if overcoming adversity is a big part of growing up, the Appleton Foxes may have finished the 1967 baseball season a team of grown men.

Appleton garnered its second consecutive Midwest League crown Saturday night by overcoming an early 2-0 deficit to win, 3-2, scoring what proved to be the winning run in the seventh inning on an error by Twins' shortstop Emil Grove.

Climaxes Series

The victory climaxed the 3-game Midwest League playoff series, which saw the second-half champion Foxes fight back for the title after losing the opening game to the first-half champion Twins.

Appleton's winning of the crown for the second successive year was the first time any ML team had accomplished the feat since Waterloo won three straight times in 1958, '59, and '60.  It also marked the second year in a row Appleton came back to win after dropping the first game.

It was fitting that the youngest Fox on the squad, shortstop Stu Singleton (18-years-old) had the distinction of scoring the winning marker.  And it was fitting, too, that Cooper, the youngest of the Foxes' pitchers got credit for the triumph in relief.

Singleton had walked off reliever Jim Fuchs, who came in after Jose Ortiz laid down a perfect bunt between the mound and first to start the seventh.  A fielder's choice and a ground out moved runners to second and third, and Singleton romped home when Gove couldn't handle Roy Radmaker's hot grounder.  Radmaker had earlier collected two of Appleton's five hits.

Cooper, meantime, took the mound for manager Alex Cosmidis in the seventh inning and faced only 10 batters in the final three innings. He allowed one hit to Ezell Carter and fanned four.

Gains 2-0 Lead

Rapids gained a 2-0 lead in the second on Charley Manuel's single, a walk to Al Nordberg, and Steve Free's slice single to right.  The hit scored Manuel but Free was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.  Glen smith brought Norberg in with a sacrifice fly.

The Foxes got one of the runs back in the third, when right-fielder Karl Simon poked Bob Rommes' first pitch over the 400-foot sign in center field.  The tying tally came in on Chuck Brinckman's clutch single with two outs in the sixth that plated George Hunter.

Some spectacular fielding by the Foxes prevented Rapids from scoring throughout the contest.  Speedster Jose Ortiz, who patrols center field, crashed into the wall in right center in the sixth to haul down Manuel's long drive.  Jones also made a one-handed stab of a sinking liner, also off Manuel's bat, to start the fourth.  Both drives could have gone for extra bases.

'2 Years, It's Skill,' Quips Hooker
'It Was a Real Team Effort,' Says Cosmidis
By Tim Petermann

"I don't know what to say," a happy but not overexuberant Alex Cosmidis said amidst the joyous shouts of his Appleton Foxes in the locker room following their 3-2 comeback conquest of Wisconsin Rapids for their League pennant.

"It was a real team effort," the congenial skipper finally managed to say.  "Cooper was great in relief.  He was really blowing them." After a slight pause he quipped, "I got to go with those Carolina boys."  (Both Cooper and Cosmidis are from North Carolina).  He also noted, "Radmaker hit the ball hard."

Cooper admitted to it being his best game ever saying that he felt real good.  He added that he was nervous once and that was when Wisconsin Rapids cleanup hitter and ML batting champion Chuck Manuel came up.

Uses New Bat

Roy Radmaker, who came up with hits his last two times up Friday night and had two straight hits Saturday night, noted that he broke out a new bat just Friday.  He and Cosmidis both felt that his last hard shot at Twins' shortstop Emil Gove, which was ruled an error, should have been a hit, giving him five in a row.

Player-Coach "Deacon" Jones was flowing with praise for Jose Ortiz.  "I couldn't say enough about Jose," said the 13-year veteran who has now played on 12 championship teams.  "He was directing traffic out there in the outfield, telling me where to play.  And that catch (Jose's grab of Manuel's smash at the fence with a man on second in the sixth) was fantastic.  I'm so happy they won, the kids won," the beaming veteran stated.  "They beat a good club.  It was the crowning touch...my second and maybe final year in Appleton."

Karl Simon, who was brushing his teeth when this writer finally cornered him in the locker room mumbled that the 400-foot-plus home run he hit was a fast ball a little outside.

Wily Willie Hooker, one of four veteran (Hooker, Jones, George Hunter, and Al Fitzmorris) that have been on both Foxes playoff championship teams, was the man of the hour when he shouted aloud during the champagne showers, "One year, it's luck, two years, it's skill."

The Charley/Chuck Manuel in the story is currently the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Grover "Deacon" Jones is a member of the Appleton Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.  In 1967, he was a 33-year-old player-coach.

The official attendance at Goodland Field for Game Three was 1,346

Game One of the Championship Series was at Witter Field in Wisconsin Rapids.  The Twins won the game 3-1.  Game Two was at Goodland Field and the Foxes forced Game Three with an 8-5 win.

Judging by the final standings in the Midwest League for 1967, these were two even teams.  The Foxes had the best record in the league at 71-46.  The Twins had the second best at 70-46.  Wisconsin Rapids won the first half with a 37-17 record.  Appleton won the second half with a 37-26 record.

Three Foxes from Game Three played in the Major Leagues:  Jones, Chuck Brinkman, and Jose Ortiz.  One Twins player in Game Three made the bigs: Manuel.

Appleton and Wisconsin Rapids met twice more in the post season.  The Foxes won both meetings.  Appleton won a first round series against the Twins in 1972 and again in 1974.

Wisconsin Rapids would win the Midwest League in 1973.

In the story we see proof that players and managers disagreeing with calls by official scorers is not a recent development.

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

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