I received a telephone call this week from Hank Utley (he really is Robert Utley but loved Hank Greenberg so much he now uses the name Hank), an 87-year-young former third baseman at North Carolina State and two-time author.
Knowing about my Independent Baseball Insidercolumn, Utley was reaching out my way because of two interesting sounding books he has co-authored. These are books about early-day Independent leagues and are entitled "The Independent Carolina Baseball League, 1936-38" and "Outlaw Ballplayers".
The Society for American Baseball Research(SABR) liked the first of these two McFarland Press publications so much that Hank Utley tells me the organization voted it one of the top baseball books of 1999.
Both books delve into the good, bad and ugly of the Indy world of those years, but it could not have all been bad news for the players since Crash Davis of "Bull Durham" fame emerged to reach the major leagues as did 10-year big-league pitcher Buck Ross and infielders Dick Culler and Grey (Noisy) Clarke.
I could not recall how much time Crash Davis actually got in the majors until I opened the Baseball Encyclopedia and researched his three seasons ('40-42) when the Philadelphia Athletics finished dead last in the American League. Lawrence (Crash) Davis launched his only two home runs for the '42 A's, who finished 55-99, and he got enough playing time to drive in 43 runs while hitting .230.
Historians--and anyone else intrigued by those times--should pay a visit to Utley's www.baseballoutlaws.com, where it also is possible to purchase the books.
MORE NEW CONTRACTS, MORE FREE AGENTS
Southpaw Scott Rice, who started this season in the Atlantic League, and catcher Eddy Rodriguez are among the latest onetime Independent players to get both new affiliated contracts and promotions to Triple-A. The Dodgers elevated Rice to Albuquerque, NM, where the former York, PA, Long Island, NY and Newark, NJ hurler is only one step from the major leagues. Rodriguez is now on the Tucson, AZ roster for San Diego. He played in the American Association for Sioux Falls, SD and El Paso, TX as well as Bridgeport, CT of the Atlantic League.
Mike Parisi, purchased from Long Island this year, already was on the Albuquerque roster before inking his new contract. He is a right-handed pitcher. Catcher Cody Clark, who was at San Diego during early Golden League days, will continue his tenure as a contributor in the Kansas City farm system.
Meanwhile, another trio of former Indy players who have logged major league time have opted for free agency, presumably in an effort to find better deals. Pitchers Josh Kinney (River City, Frontier League) and Mark DiFelice (Somerset, NJ and Camden, NJ, Atlantic League) quit the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee, respectively. Catcher Rene Rivera (Camden) left the Minnesota Twins, with whom he spent a good chunk of this summer.
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