When I saw that Baltimore called up Howie Clark over the weekend, it reminded me of how often players are in the major leagues well after their Independent leagues have disappeared.
The Western League played its last games in 2002, yet three of its alums are on major league rosters today. Clark, who made his 2006 debut with a pinch single Sunday, and disabled Kansas City lefty Bobby Madritsch both played for Chico, CA, which is in the Golden League today. Both were with Chico for brief times in 2001.
Ken Ray, who continues to be one of the few bright spots for the Atlanta Braves, played for Yuba-Sutter, CA in 2002.
Other examples of players from leagues no longer around include San Diego reliever Brian Sweeney with Lafayette, IN of the Heartland League, disabled Indians reliever Matt Miller of Greenville, MS of the Big South League and Philadelphia catcher Chris Coste, who was with Brandon, Manitoba, of the Prairie League. All three of those leagues have been gone at least eight years.
Coste, who finally got three starts within seven days, picked up his first two elusive major league hits and his first RBI Friday.
I did not include the major leaguers who played in the Texas-Louisiana, Central or Northeast Leagues since many teams in each of those circuits merely moved to a new league such as the American Association, United or Can-Am.
Monday, June 19, 2006
LEAGUES GONE, BUT PLAYERS STILL ACTIVE
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.