Flashback Friday: Foxes host 1966 MWL All-Star Game

Von Eps is MVP in 1-0 victory

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | February 21, 2013 11:33 AM ET

If we keep getting old clippings from fans, we'll keep using them on Flashback Friday.

A FED EX package arrived last week from Blake Sykora of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Blake worked on a paper about Appleton baseball and had a bunch of old news clippings about the Foxes from 1964-1969.

I'll pick an article from each of those seasons to wrap up this offseason of Flashback Friday.

This week, the 1966 All-Star game was held at Goodland Field on July 18.  Unfortunately, the entire article did by Terry Galvin was not included in the package of clippings, but there is enough there to give you the general idea of the game.  Plus, there is a Notes & News piece with some quotes from Foxes manager Stan Wasiak and some of the players.  Keep in mind that the alternating normal text/bold text in that section is part of the original PC format.

This article appeared in the July 19, 1966 edition of The Post-Crescent.

Defense, Good Hurling Net Foxes 1-0 Win Over 'Stars'
Rath, Schaefer, Hooker Hurl 4-hit Shutout; Von Eps Bats in Only Run of ML Thriller

It took 25 years foa a league all-star game to return to Goodland Field, but only one hour and 40 minutes was required by the Fox Cities Foxes Tuesday night en route to a 1-0 conquest of the best individual talent the Midwest League has to offer.

Exceptionally strong defense and near flawless pitching by Fred Rath, Gary Schaefer and Willie Hooker, plus an unearned run in the fifth, extended one of the longest (25-year) winning streaks in baseball.

The last Goodland Field host for gala all-star attraction, the old Appleton Papermakers, defeated the Wisconsin State League All-Stars in 1941.  Now, 25 years hence, the Foxes extended the success string to two.

Each Hurl Three Innings

Rath, Schaefer, and Hooker each hurled three innings of shutout ball, giving just four hits to the best stickers in the Midwest League.  Five All-Star hurlers were reached for just three safeties by the Foxes, including a pair of singles by shortstop Jim Maness, but in the end it was the defense that decided the outcome.

The only run of the brisk one hour and 40-minute contest came in the fifth inning, thanks to a couple of All-Star miscues afield.

Maness opened the inning with a ground single to center and advanced to second when Cedar Rapids' Ted Friel attempted to pick him off first and the ball eluded first sacker Bill Johns, of Quincy.  After one out, Tom Cottrell grounded to Doug Griffin at second base, but Quad Cities' representative couldn't quite read the label on the ball and the runners were on first and third, thanks to the error.

Foxes catcher Bob Von Eps, who was named the game's most valuable player by news media representatives in attendance, then grounded to short, forcing Cottrell, but Griffin's throw to first was in the dirt and Von Eps was safe on the fielder's choice as Maness crossed the plate.

Potent Lineup

The extremely potent All-Star lineup never seriously threatened to hit the run column.  The closest shot at home that the Stars were to get came with two out in the third when Al Fitzmorris committed a 3-base error on Quincy's Ted Simon's fly ball to right field.  Simon was the only 'Star' baserunner to reach third and only one other got as far as second.

With two out in the first inning, Burlington's Jim Clark slapped a broken bat double down the first base line to the right field corner, but Rath promptly blazed a third strike past Wisconsin Rapids' Neil McPhee to retire the side.

Rath and Schaefer each allowed just one hit and struck out three.  Hooker gave up two singles and fanned a pair.  Rath issued the only walk by the Foxes' threesome in the second inning, but nabbed a line drive off the bat of the next hitter (Griffin) and turned it into a…

Sadly, that is where the article ends.  I am guessing that the next two words would be 'double play'.  Now to second part of the PC's 1966 MWL All-Star Game coverage:

'Gives 100 Per Cent,' Foxes Manager Says
Von Eps Gets MVP Award in 'Star' Tilt

Who would think that a .190 hitter could possibly be named the game's most valuable player?

Of the 2,095 witnesses at Tuesday night's Midwest League All-Star game on Goodland Field, only a handful probably predicted the game's MVP…Fox Cities catcher Bob Von Eps.

Von Eps, faced with the task of calling each and every pitch of Fred Rath, Gary Schaefer, amd Willie (Old Man River) Hooker, turned in an outstandingt performance behind the plate and drove in the game's only run.

"That guy (Von Eps) has got 60 percent and gives you 100 percent all the time.  He does everything.  I never have to second guess him because he is almost always correct with his calls.  When he's on the field, it's his game and he sure does one helluva job," commented Foxes' pilot Stan Wasiak.

3 Official Trips

Though failing to hit in three official trips last night, Von Eps drove in the only run of the ball game on the fielder's choice in the fifth inning and, had it not been for a bad throw from All-Star second sacker Doug Griffin, Von Eps could well have hit into an inning-ending double play.

Nevertheless, the Foxes' durable receiver was recognized as the game's MVP, largely on his heady calling of pitches throughout the game and a great defensive play in the sixth inning.

The modest Long Beach, California native, after expressing his thanks to the voters and his teammates, heaped praise on his pitchers.

"We (the pitchers and Von Eps) just wanted to keep the ball up and in close," Bob offered.  "Those pitchers, Rath, Schaefer and Hooker were really on target.  I couldn't have asked for better pitching."

"I really don't know why I won the MVP award, but I certainly appreciate it.  Actually, Freddie, Willie, or Gary was probably more deserving," Von Eps concluded.

Von Eps' defensive gem came in the sixth inning when Clinton's Zelman Jack popped softly down the first base line and the Foxes' hustling receiver nabbed the ball just inches off the ground.

* * *

Wasiak had praise for all of the Foxes' participants in last night's game.  "They all played great ball.  It seemed like that little extra effort each one put forth paid off."

Player-coach "Deacon" Jones, a spry 32-year old "rookie", came storming into the Foxes' dressing room shouting, "We won it.  We won it.  We won it.  And wasn't that a great ball game.  I can't really believe that we played such great ball.

* * *

Hooker, at 28, just keeps rolling along.  The Foxes' veteran relief artist was asked about his three blazing strikes to Doug Griffin in the top of the eighth and the Foxes' No. 1 funnyman promptly offered, "That guy makes me mad.  He thinks I don't have a fast one, but I guess I showed him."

* * *

FOXES TALES - Rightfielder Bil Melton was conspicuous by his absence from the Foxes' lineup again last night.  Melton, who had been sidelined from June 24 to July 15 with a hand injury, suffered a pulled hamstring muscle in his first full game since the hand injury Saturday night in the ninth inning.

Manager Stan Wasiak was the losing pilot in the old 3-I League All-Star game in 1959, while serving as the field boss at Green Bay.  Last night's triumph was his first in two tries of all-star competition.

To see the boxscore of the 1966 MWL All-Star Game head over to this page on MWLGuide.com.

Yes.  It's Zelman Jack  not Jack Zelman.

The original article notes that the final score of the 1941 Wisconsin State League All-Star Game was 410.  I am almost positive that this is a typo.  Not sure if the final was 4-1 or 4-0.  It could have been 4-10, but that is the absolute WRONG way to write the score….even in 1966.

This may come as a shock to you, but occasionally I will stretch to make a statistical point in a broadcast or my game notes.  But, I never….EVER… stretched as badly as Mr. Petermann did to make the 25-year winning streak point.

Well, there was that one time I looked to see what Brock Kjeldgaard was hitting against opposing pitchers who had Justin as their first name….but that was IT!  I swear!

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Game One 1942 Playoffs

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Games Three & Four 1942 Playoffs

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Internet Broadcasts of 1998

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Walkoff Homer, 1941 Style

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

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