Last year I started work on the FutureAngels.com Database, which when completed will be the authoritative reference for Angels minor league statistics since the organization began play in 1961.
The project was sidelined for most of this year as I prepared to move to Florida. Now that we’ve settled in, I’ve resumed work on entering records. I’m entering records using reference books such as old Official Baseball Guide books published by The Sporting News.
The genesis of this idea came in 2005 when Brandon Wood hit 43 home runs for Rancho Cucamonga. As Woody hit dinger after dinger, I wondered what was the Angels’ minor league record for most homers in a single season. Unlike the big leagues, where numbers are easily available, minor league statistics until recently have been scattershot at best.
Looking through the books on my shelf, I figured out that Dick Simpson hit 42 for San Jose in 1962, so that appears to have been the record until Wood hit 43. Dallas McPherson hit 40 in 2004 between Rancho and Arkansas, but no one gave a thought to whether Dallas was chasing a record simply because the statistics werent available.
When done, you’ll be able to look up all sorts of records through easy drop-down list options. Want to know which pitcher has the most career minor-league strikeouts? Who stole the most bases? You’ll be able to find out.
The first objective is to enter stats for the first five seasons, 1961-1965. I’m entering batting statistics first, and I’m up to 1964. Then I’ll do pitching and fielding. Once that’s all in the database, I’ll start working on reports you can query. That will put the basic structure in place and I’ll resume entering records.
Minor league baseball was very different in the early 1960s from what it is now. Minor league teams could have an affiliation with one team, more teams, or nobody at all. They could sign, sell and trade their own players. Parent clubs and minor league teams often loaned players to other organizations.
In 1961, the Angels’ first year, they had only two minor league affiliates (Dallas-Ft. Worth and Statesville) so they sent a number of prospects to other organizations, whereever they could find an open roster spot. The Angels also had a working agreement in the mid-1960s with Reynosa in the Double-A Mexican League, so some players under Angels contract toiled alongside native Mexicans and former Negro Leaguers who were independent.
My rule has been that only players under contract to the Angels should be in the database, but even that gets foggy. Ed Thomas, for example, was an independent player with Statesville in 1961. After the season, the Angels signed him and he played three years at Triple-A for us. Under the rule, Ed’s 1961 season shouldn’t count but 1962-1964 should count. There were other independent guys with Dallas-Ft. Worth who appeared to be Angels property at one time or another, but they would be shipped out to other organizations and returned. But the Rangers also had an affiliation with the Phillies, and got some players from the Twins, White Sox and A’s. One D-FW player told me that some guys didn’t even know who owned their contract.
So I don’t expect the database to be exact, but it’s the closest we’re going to get.