Flashback Friday: Our rivals in Beloit (1996)

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Beloit Snappers gather to discuss a play in a game on April 24, 1996. (Appleton Post-Crescent)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | November 15, 2012 6:18 PM ET

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Flashback Friday covered political battles for the Appleton Foxes from 1987 over the last few weeks.  How about something light-hearted in our final week before a Thanksgiving break - like, oh, I don't know - actual on field battles with a Midwest League opponent from 1996?

Chuck Carlson buries the lead - but not our interest - in the final paragraph of The Post-Crescent story about the game on April 24, 1996.

Rattlers can't be beat
Despite continual problems with the pitching staff, Wisconsin finds a way to outlast Beloit

With a little skill, a lot of power, and even more luck, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers continue to win despite a pitching staff that's far too generous for its own good.

Rattlers pitchers have walked 117 batters in 19 games, an average of six per game, and far and away the most in the Midwest League.

And it continued Wednesday night when six Rattlers pitchers handed out 10 walks to the grateful Beloit Snappers.

But somehow, some way, the Rattlers have found a way to persevere.

In Wednesday's wild 9-8 win over Beloit before a crowd of 2,373 at Fox Cities Stadium, Wisconsin pounded out 16 hits, five alone by third baseman Jose Amado, and two home runs as it held on for its eighth win in 10 games.

"We've been lucky," said manager Mike Goff.  "We'd been doing a good job lately with walks until tonight.  But I still think they'll come around.  They're just too good and their stuff is just too good."

Pitching coach Pat Rice admits he's puzzled by a pitching staff that can work into massive jams from one inning to the next and somehow find a way to escape.

"I don't know how much longer we can keep it up," he said.  "We've had relievers come in time and again and bail us out.  I am concerned but I'm not ready to panic.  If it's the middle of summer and it's still happening, then I'll panic."

The strange part is that the Rattlers pitching is next to last in the league with a team earned  run average approaching five, yet still has the best record in the league.

A powerful offense that averages five runs and more than a home run a game helps.  But so has the pitching staff's ability to bend but not break.

It was evident again in Wednesday's win as Beloit stranded 11 runners, including nine in the final four innings.  "We've just had relievers come in and make big pitches when we've needed them," Rice said.

The biggest for Wisconsin came in the ninth when the Snappers put runners on first and second with none out against Kevin Gryboski.  A confounded Goff saw enough and brought in Aarton Scheffer, who promptly moved the runners up a bag by heaving a wild pitch.

Then, Scheffer settled down, striking out Troy O'Neal, forcing pinch-hitter Domingo Carrasquel to pop out and then getting Jamie Lopiccolo to look at strike three to end the game,

It was a game that started with a flourish when Wisconsin's Chad Sheffer and Beloit starter Jason Dawsey got in a shoving match at home plate in the first inning that escalated into a full-fledged dugout-clearing brawl.


Wait. What?  Let me repeat, bold, and italicize that last part.

It was a game that started with a flourish when Wisconsin's Chad Sheffer and Beloit starter Jason Dawsey got in a shoving match at home plate in the first inning that escalated into a full-fledged dugout-clearing brawl.

That's it?

No further mention of the bench-clearing incident is made in that issue of The PC.  The picture and the final paragraph are all a person who was not there would have to go on as to why this would have occurred.

The thread is not picked up again until a Rattlers Notes column by Chuck Carlson in the May 26, 1996 edition.

Rattlers unafraid to bite back
Wisconsin's games against Beloit this year have turned nasty on occasion

It might not rank with the Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers or the Christians against the lions, but the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Beloit Snappers have built themselves a tidy little rivalry this season.

In just six games, there have already been a bench-clearing brawl, several brushback pitches, a boatload of suspensions, thousands of dollars in fines and more than a few heated words.

"Most definitely there's a rivalry," said Rattlers reliever Dan Kurtz, who was suspended three games last week after intentionally throwing at a Snappers hitter in a game last Saturday.  "It's baseball and stuff happens, but those guys are a bunch of wise guys who are always mouthing off, they act like they're still in college.  We're not going to start anything but we will finish it."

The rivalry reached its peak at Fox Cities Stadium on April 24 when Rattlers shortstop Chad Sheffer and Beloit pitcher Jason Dawsey got into a pushing match at the plate that erupted into a bench-clearing scuffle.

It reared up again last weekend when the Rattlers took offense to close pitches being thrown to Randy Vickers.  That led to manager Mike Goff ordering Kurtz to throw at a Snappers batter.  Goff was ejected from the game.

The following day, though, there was no hint of a problem as Wisconsin came from an 8-1 deficit to beat the Snappers 11-9.

For his part, Goff is trying to downplay any bad blood.

"It's just a good division rivalry," said Goff, who hinted that the fireworks may be over for the season.  "Both teams realize that someone's going to get hurt if it continues.  Besides, neither team needs any more fines.  Not with how much these guys make."

The teams are meeting in a two-game series that started Saturday and both teams behaved themselves.

The funniest thing from that RATTLERS NOTES column is that Mike Goff is being presented as The Voice of Reason.  Just kidding, Goffie!

I will leave it to you to decide which member of the 1996 Beloit Snappers were in the "bunch of wise guys".

1996 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were blameless in the matter due to the simple fact that they were Timber Rattlers. ;)

Money (1987)

Subsidy Saga Part II (1987)

Subsidy Saga Part III (1987)

Subsidy Saga Part IV (1987)

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

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