Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
timberrattlers.com | The Official Site of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Appleton Baseball History

Appleton, WI has been home to professional baseball since 1891. A lot has changed since then, however, more than 100 years later one thing has remained the same. Appleton still offers lifetime memories and affordable fun through America's pastime...baseball. In 1994, management and the board of the directors for the then Appleton Foxes determined that a new stadium had to be built or they would risk losing professional baseball in the Fox Valley. Goodland field, built in 1940, needed a million dollars in repairs and updates to bring it up to the standards of Minor League Baseball nationally. Even then, there was no guarantee that sagging attendance figures would rebound. A new, modern facility was the only answer. A prime location just off the major artery through Northeast Wisconsin (Hwy. 41) was secured along with the $5 million in funding necessary for construction.

The 5,500-seat Fox Cities Stadium became a reality with updated amenities for both players and fans. Fox Cities Stadium is owned by the Fox Cities Sports Authority, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing athletics in the Fox Cities area.

At the same time, a local marketing firm was enlisted to help develop a new identity for the team. Several names were considered, and a survey was done of area school kids to determine popularity. The result, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, had a broader appeal and an updated image. The new logo shot to #1 overnight, and Rattlers caps are still among the most popular nationally.

The Timber Rattlers are a non-stock, community-owned team similar in structure to the Green Bay Packers organization. Timber Rattlers' membership shares are available by contacting the front office. Shareholders, while not owners per se, enjoy the right to participate and vote at the team's annual meeting. The gamble paid off, and the combination of a new logo, a new stadium, and better location resulted in nearly tripling attendance. The Foxes drew just over 76,000 in 1994. The Timber Rattlers drew over 209,000 to Fox Cities Stadium in 1995.

1891:

Four local businessmen post a $200 bond to enter Appleton in the six-team Wisconsin State League. They played the first game on May 23, before a crowd of nearly 500. The league folded at season end; Appleton boasts a 48-41 record.

1909:

Local investors purchase the Wausau franchise in the Wisconsin-Illinois League. They name the team the Papermakers. Other teams in the league include the La Crosse Pinks, Green Bay Tigers, Wausau Lumberjacks, Fond du Lac Cubs, and the Freeport (IL) Pretzels.

1910:

The Papermakers win the Wisconsin-Illinois League with a 74-45 record. Ike McAuley hits .344 to lead the league and Mike Murphy goes 32-6 on the mound.

1912:

The Oshkosh Indians win the league championship as Appleton's Harry Sylvester tops the circuit with a .355 average.

1914:

In the last season of the Wisconsin-Illinois League, Oshkosh won their third straight title. Appleton finished the season with a 64-58 mark, good for third place. Harry Smith went 17-3 for the Papermakers.

1940:

Baseball returns to Appleton with the formation of the Wisconsin State League. The team - still called the Papermakers - is an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. They played in Appleton's brand-new Spencer Street Athletic Field (soon to be renamed Goodland Field).

1941:

The Papermakers make the playoffs with a 65-44 record, good for third place. They are swept in the playoffs by the Green Bay Blue Sox. Pat Seerey's 31 HR and 117 RBI led the league.

1942:

Another playoff appearance is cut short by Green Bay, now nicknamed the Bluejays.

1946:

After suspension during World War II, the Wisconsin State League starts up again. A revived Papermakers team again takes the field, through 1953. The team is affiliated successively with the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Browns, and the Boston/Milwaukee Braves.

1947:

After suspension during World War II, the Wisconsin State League starts up again. A revived Papermakers team again takes the field, through 1953. The team is affiliated successively with the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Browns, and the Boston/Milwaukee Braves.

1950:

80,381 fans come to see the Papermakers, tops in the Wisconsin State League. The team finishes a disappointing 58-66, 7th place in the 8 team league.

1952:

The Papermakers again lead the league in attendance by drawing 71,999 fans.

1953:

Appleton goes 43-77 in the final year of the Wisconsin State League.

1958:

Professional baseball returns to Appleton for the 5th and final time. The team - now called the Foxes - is affiliated with the Washington Senators and is a member of the Three I League. The team draws over 58,000 fans in its first year. Carlos Pascual leads the lead with a .372 average.

1959:

Jack McKeon manages the Foxes to a 59-67 record as Hernan Vila hits .330 to take the batting title.

 

1960:

After two seasons with the Senators, the Foxes become a Baltimore Orioles affiliate. Earl Weaver led the Foxes to an 82-59 record and the Three I League Championship. Boog Powell (.312, 100 RBI) and Pete Ward (.345, League MVP) power the offense.

1962:

With the collapse of the Three I League, the Foxes join the Midwest League. Cal Ripken Sr. earns Manager of the Year.

1964:

The Fox Cities Foxes claim their first Midwest League Championship, going 81-43 and defeating the Clinton C-Sox in a one-game playoff. Dave May hits .368, tops in the Midwest League.

1966:

The Foxes change their affiliation to the Chicago White Sox, where it remains until the end of the 1986 season. The Foxes are the league champions, with a 77-47 record. Deacon Jones finishes with the top batting average (.353) and RBI total (80) in the Midwest League. Fred Rath wins 17 games and Mickey Abarbanel strikes out 206, both league tops. Ed Holtz wins the Midwest League Executive of the Year Award.

1967:

The Fox Cities Foxes become the Appleton Foxes, but the results are the same on the field, as they again capture the Midwest League Championship. The Foxes went 71-46 in the regular season and then sweep the Wisconsin Rapids Twins in the playoffs. Alex Cosmidis is awarded the Midwest League Manager of the Year and Holtz repeats as Executive of the Year.
1958-67 All Decade Team Position Players
1958-67 All Decade Team Pitchers
Back to Top

1969:

Appleton wins both halves of the Midwest League season, earning the Championship without having to play the playoffs. Their composite record is 84-41, 11 games better than the second place Clinton Pilots. Don Eddy leads the league in wins (18), and ERA (1.81), while teammate Bart Johnson tops the circuit strikeouts with 200. Tom Saffell is selected as Midwest League Manager of the Year and Ed Holtz is chosen as Executive of the Year.

1971:

After finishing the regular season with the league's best record at 79-44, the Foxes are defeated by the Quad Cities Angels in the Midwest League Championship Series. Lamar Johnson's 97 RBI lead the league. Rich "Goose" Gossage had a dominating season, going 18-2, throwing 15 complete games (7 of them shutouts) with a 1.83 ERA. Joe Sparks wins Midwest League Manager of the Year. Ed Holtz wins his third consecutive, and fifth overall, Midwest League Executive of the Year Award and also is the Class A Executive of the Year.

1972:

The Foxes again have the best record in the league (76-51), but once again fall short in the playoffs. After defeating Wisconsin Rapids in the first round, they fall to the Danville Warriors in the Championship. Lamar Johnson tops the league in both RBI (89) and HR (20).
1968-77 All-Decade Team Position Players
1968-77 All-Decade Team Pitchers
Back to Top

1978:

The Foxes draw an all-time record 94,730 fans while compiling a 97-40 record and again winning the league championship. Curtis Etchandy hit 17 homers and Harry Chappas hit .302 to lead the offense. LaMarr Hoyt, Michael Sivik, Jackie Smith, and Dewey Robinson all won at least ten games. The team is ranked by MiLB.com as one of the top 100 teams in Minor League History. Gordy Lund wins Midwest League Co-Manager of the Year and Dave Hirsh is selected as the Executive of the Year for both the Midwest League and all of Class A baseball.

 

1979:

Kevin Hickey pitched four complete games, struck out 100 batters, and compiled a 3.57 ERA, but only went 5-10 for a Foxes team that finished the season 63-72.

1980:

Greg Walker (.280, 21 HR, league-leading 98 RBI), Tim Hulett (.259, 13 HR, 47 RBI), and Ron Kittle (.316, 12 HR, 56 RBI) led the Foxes to a 76-63 record, but they failed to make the playoffs under manager Gordy Lund, making his third stop with the Foxes.

1981:

The Foxes struggled to a 54-80 record, finishing last in the Midwest League Northern Division.

1982:

After finishing the regular season with the Northern Division's second-best record (81-59), the Foxes made the playoffs as a Wild Card and defeated the Springfield Cardinals and Madison Muskies to win the Midwest League Championship. Daryl Boston, the White Sox first-round pick in the 1981 draft, hit .279 with 15 homers and 77 RBI. On the mound, Mike Tanzi went 14-6 with an ERA of 2.22 and 12 complete games. 81,970 fans came out to Goodland Field to see the Foxes play.
Back to Top

1983:

Manager John Boles led the Foxes to the best record in the league (87-50), as well as their second straight Midwest League Championship. Ron Karkovice hit 13 homers, Kenny Williams slugged 12, and John Cangelosi hit .287 and stole 87 bases. Mike Trujillo won 15 games, Rich DiVincenzo won a Midwest league-best 18, and Al Jones saved 22 games while going 11-1 with a 0.97 ERA.

1984:

The Foxes win the league championship for the third consecutive season after compiling an 87-49 record in the regular season but draw only 54,281 fans. Russ Morman was the offensive leader, hitting .262 with 17 doubles, 7 triples, 7 homers, and 80 RBI. Former Foxes star Britt Burns returns to Appleton and pitches 5 innings on a rehabilitation outing.
Back to Top

1985:

For the third consecutive season, the Foxes finish with the best record in the Midwest League, but they failed to win their fourth straight Championship, losing the Kenosha Twins in the first round of the playoffs. OF Jim Winters leads the league with 91 RBI.
Back to Top

1986:

The Foxes run among the league elite ends with a 56-83 season. Randy Velarde leads the team with 31 doubles and 50 RBI.
Back to Top

1987:

After 21 seasons with the White Sox, the Foxes begin their Major League affiliation with the Kansas City Royals by going 71-69. Outfielder Kenny Jackson hits 19 home runs and drives in 67 runs. Mike Butcher goes 10-4 with a 2.67 ERA.
1978-87 All-Decade Team Position Players
1978-87 All-Decade Team Pitchers
Back to Top

1988:

Built with a lot of speed (5 players with 20+ stolen bases), but little pop (40 total home runs), the Foxes struggled to a 58-82 record. Terry Shumpert led the team in doubles (37), homers (7), and stolen bases (37). Tom Gordon was dominant on the mound, striking out 172 batters in 118 innings to go with a 2.06 ERA. He was named the Midwest League Prospect of the Year.

1989:

Goodland Field draws 76,223 fans to see the Foxes go 67-68. Mike Parnell saves 28 games with a 2.01 ERA and Greg Harvey wins 13 games.

1990:

Post Season All-Star 1B Rich Tunison hits .300 with 21 doubles, 6 triples, 8 homers, 86 RBI and steals 32 bases while OF Kerwin Moore steals 57 bases and leads the league with 93 runs scored, but the Foxes finish in the middle of the pack, going 62-71.

1991:

After an okay first half of the season (33-36), the wheels fell off in the second half, finishing a league-worst 25-45.

1992:

For the first time since 1985, the Foxes make the playoffs, winning the first half title by 5 games, going 41-23. Kettle Moraine, WI native Joe Randa spends 72 games with the Foxes, hitting .301 and earning a promotion to Baseball City. Tom Poquette is selected Midwest League Manager of the Year and SS Shane Halter (.265, 22 2B, 21 SB) makes the Post Season All-Star Team.

1993:

The Foxes begin their Major League affiliation with the Seattle Mariners. The team fails to make the playoffs, finishing with a 62-73 record. Tim Davis goes 10-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 77.2 innings, striking out 89 batters and earned a spot on the Post Season All-Star Team.