The Anaheim Angels line up before a 1999 exhibition game at Lake Elsinore.
I received a press release in the mail Thursday afternoon from the Quakes. It announced that a press conference is scheduled for Monday afternoon featuring Quakes ownership and management, Angels’ GM Tony Reagins and farm director Abe Flores, and various Rancho Cucamonga city officials. The conference is scheduled for Rancho Cucamonga City Hall.
That’s a lot of horsepower for a routine press conference.
If I had to guess, they’re going to announce extending the affiliation between the Angels and Quakes, although past announcements were much more low key.
So I’m wondering if there’s more afoot.
Although unlikely, one thought that crossed my mind is that maybe Quakes owner Hank Stickney is selling the team to the Angels. I kinda doubt it, but you never know.
A more plausible possibility is the resumption of the traditional exhibition game that was played in Lake Elsinore at the end of spring training in the 1990s. Lake Elsinore was the Angels’ California League affiliate from 1994 through 2000. For several years in the late 1990s, the Angels returned a day early from spring training and played a Thursday night exhibition game at Lake Elsinore before returning to Anaheim for the Freeway Series with the Dodgers.
When Bill Stoneman took over as General Manager in November 1999, the Angels put an end to minor league exhibition games. Soon after, the Basic Agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball was amended to stipulate that minor league teams could not demand exhibition games as a condition for agreement to an affiliation. The Angels had to play an exhibition game mid-season in 1999 at their Double-A affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves, stopping off on the way from New York to Seattle. I remember the Mariners had to play an affiliation mid-season with their Low-A affiliate in Appleton, Wisconsin.
So far as I know, there’s nothing to prohibit a parent club from playing an exhibition game with an affiliate if they’re agreeable. Now that former farm director Tony Reagins is the general manager, perhaps he has a different perspective on the issue.
If you’ve been reading this blog in recent months, you know I’ve been researching the history of the Angels minor leagues, starting with the inaugural 1961 season. During their historic first spring training, the Angels were based in Palm Springs but played exhibition games all over the Inland Empire. The 1961 Angels Media Guide shows games scheduled for San Bernardino and Indio as well as Palm Springs. I know from interviews that the Triple-A squad was based in Riverside.
So maybe the Angels have decided to resurrect their old history of playing spring training exhibition games in the Inland Empire.
Nine years have passed since the last exhibition in Lake Elsinore, and the Inland Empire’s population has exploded since then. So if that’s what they’re going to announce, expect The Epicenter to quickly sell out for that event.
Whatever it is, I plan to attend the press conference and will videotape the event. Look for the video on-line by Monday evening.