While we wait for the ALCS to start …
The Arizona Fall League is underway in Phoenix. The Angels players are assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox. They are pitchers Marco Albano, Jeremy Haynes, Tim Kiely, and Tommy Mendoza; catcher Hank Conger; and infielders Ryan Mount and P.J. Phillips (although P.J. could see outfield time).
The AFL was conceived by Roland Hemond, and if that name sounds familiar it’s because he was not only the general manager of the White Sox and Orioles but he was also the Angels’ original farm and scouting director back in 1961.
Click Here to watch a 2008 news segment on the AFL broadcast by Phoenix PBS station KAET. It runs about 14 minutes and includes an interview with Roland.
Roland was part of the 1961 Statesville Owls reunion we held in Tempe two weeks ago. Click Here to read the blog entry on the reunion, which includes photos of Roland along with his former players. Roland turns 80 on October 26, but he still has a sharp mind and excellent recall. For all his accomplishments, Roland is the most humble man you’ll ever meet.
As an aside, I just sent Roland a new book called Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball from Itself by Michael Shapiro. The book is in some ways a prequel to the Angels’ history, because the core story is about how a group of investors tried to force Major League Baseball to expand and grant them franchises. The investors proposed the creation of a third major league, the Continental League, and were prepared to move ahead on their own but preferred Commissioner Ford Frick’s blessing. Mark Scott, the host of Home Run Derby, represented a group trying to convince the Continental League to include Los Angeles.
(I didn’t know that Scott died in 1960 of a heart attack at age 45 after filming the lone season of the show.)
The Scott group failed, but it did get Los Angeles on the radar when expansion came in December 1960.
The book also talks about how Continental League founder Branch Rickey revived the Western Carolina League to be a farm system for his new league. After the Continental League folded, the WCL was left to fend for itself. In 1961, WCL teams signed affiliations with major league clubs. One was Statesville with Roland Hemond and the Angels … bringing us full circle.
Other than the major league post-season, not much else is happening in Angels World that’s above the radar. I’m waiting to see which minor leaguers get released. Baseball America listed RHP Shane Loux as being given his free agency.
This is also the time of year when contracts are renewed — or not — for minor league managers and coaches. So if you have dreams of a job, this is the time to submit your résumé!
I’ve heard from multiple sources that there’s been a purge in the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes’ front office. Longtime owner Hank Stickney sold the team last March to Brett Sports and Entertainment. It was expected that the new owners would make changes once the season ended, but a clean sweep seems a bit radical. Names I’ve heard were let go still appear on the team’s web site, which hasn’t been updated since the season ended.