Friday, October 20, 2006


I had two special reasons for wanting to blog today.

It is an opportunity--even though it has little to do with our ongoing topic of Independent Baseball--to offer the very best of Golden Wedding Anniversary wishes to longtime Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and his wife, Luisa. I worked for Bowie for the last 10 years of his commissionership (1974-84), which included extraordinary growth for our great game. I feel honored to have known these wonderful people, who love the game at all levels, since 1969.

Secondly, with the World Series opponents now established it seems only appropriate to send special congratulations all of the people who have toiled in the Independent game. There are many more than St. Louis reliever Josh Kinney (River City, Frontier League), who I have been writing about a lot in this space and in my Independent Baseball Insider column recently.

Two people who I can identify will be in Detroit uniforms. They are infield coach Rafael Belliard, who played for Albany, NY when it was in the Northeast League, and bullpen catcher Scott Pickens, whose affiliation was with Florence, KY of the Frontier League.

Detroit has two minor league managers out of Independent ranks, who surely are thrilled to have the Tigers in the World Series. Duffy Dyer, who managed at Bridgeport, CT of the Atlantic League, handled Class AA Erie, PA this summer and had Pete Incaviglia as a coach. Incaviglia finished his impressive playing career in the Atlantic League with Nashua, NH, plus New Jersey stops at Newark and Atlantic City. The other manager is Andres Thomas, who handled Detroit's Dominican League team. Thomas was at Victoria, when the Canadian League was active.

Remember Leon Durham, one of the first established major league players to test the Independent waters at St. Paul, MN in the Northern League's inaugural season of 1993? He was a coach for the Tigers' Triple-A players at Toledo, OH this summer.

St. Louis is not quite as deep with former Independent people, as best I can tell, although Double-A affiliate Springfield, MO, always a Cardinals hotbed, had Blaise Ilsley as its pitching coach this summer. He knows some of those strong, young bullpen arms. Ilsley has Northern League time. Onetime Gateway Grizzlies (Sauget, IL) employee Brady Bruhn has advanced from the Frontier League to being a group sales account executive for St. Louis. He should get ready for an extremely busy offseason, as eager Cardinals fans plan for 2007.

Let the games begin.

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