This ‘N That

Chone Figgins had 66 triples in the minors, but only 35 were with the Angels.

Just to reassure you that I’m still among the living …

With what little spare time I’ve had this week, I’ve entered records into the Database. I want to enter the first five seasons of batting stats to use for developing various queries and reports.

One big problem is that the Sixties were a different era for minor league baseball. An "affiliate" wasn’t like today’s affiliate, which gets all its players from a major league organization. In that era, many teams were independent. They had a loose affiliation with a parent club, but they could sign their own players, and sometimes they had players from many different teams. For a few years, the Angels also had a working agreement with Reynosa in the Double-A Mexican League. How many were playing under an Angels contract? I’ve no idea. So about all I can do is enter the stats and hope I can figure it out later.

This project has already attracted interest from a few folk who’ve e-mailed. One identified himself as Darrell Darrow, an infielder in the Angels system in the 1970s. He said he hit 48 triples during his Angels minor league career and wanted to know if that’s a record.

That’s why I’m building the database, to answer that question!

I’m nowhere close to having a definitive answer, but for the time being I went off memory and looked up a few players I thought might have a lot of triples. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Norm Hutchins 48
  • Gary Pettis 44
  • Mickey Rivers 44
  • Devon White 37
  • Chone Figgins 35

Figgins has 66 triples in his minor league career, but only 35 of those were with the Angels. The rest were with Colorado before he was acquired.

As mentioned on Sunday, I spoke recently with **** Simpson, former Angels outfielder and mega-prospect early in his career. At age 19 in 1962, he had a season for the ages with the San Jose Bees in the California League (the same league as our Rancho Cucamonga Quakes). Simpson hit 42 homers, collected 113 RBI, hit .315 and had a .626 slugging percentage. 1963 found Simpson with Triple-A Hawaii, which may have been too much too soon — a .232 average and a .360 slugging percentage. I think he may have been injured that year; we’ll find out when I record the interview with him.

Simpson’s first season in 1961 was with the Class D Statesville Owls, which if you’ve read this column you know is a growing interest of mine. I may have found two more Owls. Glade Cookus was an infielder the Angels signed out of Torrance (south of L.A.) and sent to Statesville. I can’t find any evidence he played for the Angels after 1961, but his name was unique enough that I was able to do some searching and found a Glade Cookus in Visalia, California. I’ve sent him a letter to find out if he’s the same guy. I also may have found Vito Porta, the Owls’ third baseman. Porta was an independent player, not an Angels employee, but he posted an AVG/OBP/SLG in 1961 of .289/.377/.468, which ain’t bad. I’m going to write him too; even though he wasn’t Angels property, he spent at least a couple seasons in the Western Carolina League so it would be interesting to get a perspective from someone who wasn’t working for the Angels.

The more I think about it, the more I want to do a book about those first-year Angels minor leaguers. It’s a fascinating tale. I still want to write a book about the history of the Angels’ minor leagues, but this would be a more modest project and would give me a track record for the big project.

If you’re in Southern California, a reminder that the Quakes’ annual youth baseball clinic is this Saturday from 9 AM until noon at The Epicenter. Not only can children ages 6 to 13 get instruction from Angels prospects and coaches, but it’s also a good way to get back into the baseball groove for the season about to dawn. I plan to be out there shooting photos and video.


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