New Page 1
Championship November continues
on Flashback Friday with a look back at the best team in Appleton
Professional Baseball history, the 1978 Appleton Foxes.
The Foxes went 97-40 during the regular season for a .708 winning percentage.
They went 51-17 in the first half and 46-23 in the second half.
By going 4-1 in the playoffs, the Foxes won 101 games that year.
Plus, eleven of the players on the 1978 Foxes went on to play in the major
leagues. Most notable of those
eleven players was LaMarr
Hoyt, who went 18-4 with a 2.90ERA in 28 games (27 starts).
The Foxes won the Midwest League Championship Series with a victory over the
Burlington Bee, the Brewers affiliate, in Game Three of a best-of-three on
September 6 with an 11-10 win at Community Field.
The article below is from the September 7, 1978 Appleton Post-Crescent.
There is a column from long time PC sports editor John L. Paustian
after the article.
Foxes Win First Title
Outlast Bees in 11-10 Slugfest
Burlington, Iowa - The
Appleton Foxes outlasted Burlington 11-10 Wednesday to capture their fifth
Midwest League championship. The
last title was in 1969.
This one-run victory was
nothing new for the Foxes who won 33 of 42 one-run decisions this season.
The victory was the team's 101st of the season against a
mere 41 defeats.
An unlikely hitting star,
catcher Jeff Vuksan, and a very likely pitching star, reliever Dewey Robinson,
turned out to be the key performers for the Foxes.
Vuksan's two-run homer in the ninth provided the eventual winning
margin, while Robinson again figured in the decision with a save.
Appleton built substantial
leads early in the game but had to hold on at the end as Burlington - a
Milwaukee Brewers' farm team and the defending champions - scored three
times in the ninth and had the loop's top home run hitter, Bill Foley at bat.
With three runs home in the ninth and Foley, who earlier in the game ripped his
38th homer of the season, batting, Robinson completely fooled the
Bees' hitter with a 3-and-2 curve to end the game.
It was a fitting conclusion to
the season as Robinson, the team's most valuable player, had been involved in
about one-third of the decisions. The
save preserved Dewey Hoyt's 20th win (against four losses) of the
Manager Gordy Lund made a shrewd defensive move in the ninth.
Lorenzo Gray started at first base and contributed a three-run homer.
In the ninth, Lund substituted defensive specialist Ed Bahns.
Kevin Bass hit a hot grounder over the base, Bahns fielded the ball and
turned it into a double play to clear the bases with Foley coming to the plate.
Lund employed the "Big Three" of his staff by starting Hoyt, relieving with
southpaw Jackie Smith and finally going with his stopper, Robinson.
With that threesome on the mound, a slugfest wouldn't seem likely, especially
when the Foxes jumped to leads of 6-0 and 9-3.
Burlington starter Jeff Harryman walked the bases full to open the game but then
retired the next three batters. In
the second, Appleton put four runs on the board as Rod Allen homered to right to
leadoff the inning. After Phil Bauer
and Vuksan walked, the Bees brought Rick Nicholson in to pitch.
Nicholson got two out, but Gray then belted his fourth home run of the
Appleton made it 6-0 in the top of the third as Curt Etchandy was hit by a
pitch, Dave Daniels singled and Allen tripled the runners home with a liner to
Burlington erupted for three runs in the its half of the third as Doug Lowman
doubled to right, All Manning and Bobby Smith singled and Bass had a two run
The Foxes scored a run in the fourth, to lead 7-3, on a two out error and
Etchandy's double to left.
Appleton regained its six-run lead with a pair of runs in the sixth.
Sutherland singled to left, Chappas hit a ground rule double and John
Hanley singled Chappas home after a wild pitch had scored Sutherland.
The Bees chipped a run off the lead in the bottom of the sixth on Foley's
opposite field homer and made it a 9-7 contest with three in the bottom of the
eighth. A double play after Smith
singled prevented an even bigger rally. Bass
walked, Foley beat out an infield hit and Duke Duncan lined his seventh homer of
the season to left. After Chris
Carstenson singles, Lund called Smith in to retire pinch-hitter Terry Bevington
on a fly to left.
Vuksan gave his team some breathing room and provided the eventual winning run
with his two out, two run homer to center in the ninth.
Smith didn't retire a hitter in the ninth as Ivan Rodriguez doubled to left.
Manning cracked his seventh home run of the season and Bobby Smith
tripled to center. John Skorochocki
greeted Robinson with a single to left to score Smith, but then Bahns and
Robinson went to work to preserve the victory.
The Foxes previously won Midwest League titles in 1964, '66, '67, and '69.
The team won a Three-I League title in 1960 and lost playoffs in '72,
'73, and '74.
Notes & Notions by
John L. Paustian
Hail to the champions
Let's hear it for the
Appleton Foxes. They've just
completed the greatest season in their 21-year history.
They've smashed club records for victories and attendance.
They rule the Midwest League and will probably be the only team in minor
league ball to win 100 games this season - and, it's possible they'll be
baseball's only team to do it. Boston
and Los Angeles appear to be the only big-league clubs with a chance to hit the
century mark - and they've got 162 games to do it.
The Foxes won 101 out of 142 games, a feat that's indeed hard to match.
This unparalleled success -
which should be a source of pride for the Fox Cities - was not due to any one
person. It was a cooperative effort
- by Manager Gordy Lund and his players...by General Manager Dave Hersh, Club
President Jim Choudoir and the directors...by area businesses and advertisers,
who supported the club consistently...and, by fans who responded in record
numbers. The historic achievements
of the '78 Foxes were witnessed by more people than have ever watched an
Appleton team perform. With their
total of 94,730, the Foxes broke the all-time Appleton Papermaker record of
93,000 in 1949.
Five months ago, Lund had a
pretty good idea that his club would be heard from.
He called it "the best team I've come away from training camp
with." But, he was reluctant to
compare it with the 1974 Foxes, whom he managed to a great second half winning
pace (.723). But, this team eclipsed
that record for a half-season (with a sensational 51-17 first half) and set a
new full-season standard for future teams to shoot at.
Strangely enough, this
record-breaking team may not send as many "graduates" to the big leagues as
some previous Foxes units. But, this
team had the winning chemistry about it. The
'78 Foxes weren't overpowering (many of the ML's teams had more home
runs), but they scratched and fought for every win.
Almost one-third of their wins came by one run.
The Foxes simply did what they had to do to win a particular game -
whether it was stealing a base, getting a clutch hit in the ninth, or striking
out the opponents' best hitter to end a threat.
title-clinching win at Burlington was typical of this ability to do what was
necessary to win. And, relief ace
Dewey Robinson fanned the league's home run king on a 3-2 pitch, with the
tying run on base, in the bottom of the ninth.
A great way to end the game, and a great way to end a memorable season.
The New York Yankees were the only team to win 100 games in the 1978
regular season. If you include
the Dodgers five playoff wins (three in the NLCS and two in the World Series),
they also won 100 games.
Of course, the Yankees needed
163 games and a home run
from a certain former Appleton Fox to win that 100th game.
The Foxes weren't the only
team in the Midwest League to win at least 90 games in the regular season.
Waterloo, a Cleveland affiliate, went 91-46 in the regular season.
Waterloo went 50-20 in the second half.
Both the Foxes and the Indians were in the North Division.
were eight teams in the Midwest League in 1978.
The Foxes hit 69 homers during the regular season and were fifth in the
league. The Wisconsin Rapids Twins
hit 127 homers to lead the league.
Burlington, a team in the South
division, had the third best record. They
As the story mentions, the Bees
were an affiliate of the Brewers in 1978.
Kevin Bass is the best known name. A
player from the Burlington roster who did not get into this game was Dave
He was a Brewers farmhand before he started managing in the system.
Bevington started his managerial career in Burlington in 1981.
Then, he was the first ever manager of the Beloit Brewers (1982).
He became the Brewers third base coach in 1989 and would eventually
manage the Chicago White Sox from early in 1995 through the end of 1997.
Note that the Post-Crescent story and the column add the postseason stats
to the regular season stats. Hoyt won two playoff games. That is why
they note him as a 20 game winner, but his baseball-refernce page has him at 18
Here is the road to the championship for the 1978 Foxes:
Game one: Foxes 7, Waterloo 1 at
Goodland Field; Attendance: 875
Game two: Foxes 6, Waterloo 2 at Waterloo, Iowa; Attendance: 1,298
Game one: Foxes 6, Burlington 5 at Goodland Field; Attendance: 1,078
Game two: Burlington 10, Foxes 8 at Burlington, Iowa; Attendance: 957
Game three: Foxes 11, Burlington 10 at Burlington, Iowa; Attendance 1,323
The team that won 97 games in the regular season did not have home field
advantage in either round of the playoffs. I
can understand the Championship Series working out that way - if home field
was on a rotation the way that it is now. But,
did the Foxes decide to play game one of the series against Waterloo at home and
give the Indians home field? I mean,
it worked out, but...
Fort Wayne TinCaps matched the Foxes 101 wins in 2009.
Fort Wayne got to their 101 wins in 149 games - 94 in the 140 game
regular season and seven in nine playoff games.
The Foxes reached 101 in 142.
For your historical echo, the
1978 Foxes and the 2009 TinCaps both ended their championship seasons with
victories over the Bees in Burlington.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.