FutureAngels.com Database Update

The FutureAngels.com Database is a project to build a complete database of Angels minor league statistics going back to the inaugural 1961 season. Not only would you be able to look up a player’s minor league stats, but more importantly we would be able to identify Angels minor league records that up to now no one knows about.

It’s very much a part-time project, but lately I’ve had enough free time to resume work.

Last week I finished entering offense data for the first five seasons, 1961-1965. That sample data will be used to build a few reports you can use to search for information.

The first report is online, the Top 10 Angels Minor League Career Records report. It reflects only data from 1961-1965, so these are not the “real” records, but as I enter data from more seasons this will automatically update.

One immediately apparent trend is that “career” record holders are not going to be top prospects, for the most part. To hold a career record, you have to be in the minors for a while. Because most top prospects move up quickly, they’re not in the minors long enough to, say, hold the career triples record.

You’ll see Darrell Darrow in several categories. He’s the lone player not from 1961-1965. He contacted me a couple years ago because he’d been told he held the Angels minor league career triples record. I went through each year’s statistics for his career and found he had 48 triples. I looked up a few players I thought might challenge him for that record but couldn’t find anyone. No one in the 1961-1965 timeframe came close.

Darrell is a good example, though, of the longevity factor. He shows up in many categories. That’s because he was in the system for most of the 1970s.

Top prospects might be more likely to show up in the four percentage categories — batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS (OBP + SLG). But I drew a line there, arbitrarily choosing a minimum of 1,000 career minor-league at-bats. There’s nothing magic about 1,000 other than it’s about two full minor-league seasons. We still see many names from other categories, e.g. Richard Simpson, Jack Hiatt and Carlos Bernier.

Bernier is one example of a major problem with these early stats. It’s not clear to me if he was under an Angels contract.

The minor leagues operated quite differently from today. Minor league teams could affiliate with one, more than one, or no parent club at all. They could sign and sell their own players. It wasn’t unusual to see local favorites stick around for years regardless of who was the parent club.

Bernier seems to fall into that category. He was a star in the old Pacific Coast League for most of the 1950s. Much of his career was spent with the Hollywood Stars, a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate. When the Dodgers came to town in 1958, the franchise moved to Salt Lake City and Bernier went with them.

It appears that the Pirates may have traded him to Philadelphia in 1960, and he moved on to two other organizations before landing in Hawaii for 1961. The Islanders at the time were a Kansas City Athletics affiliate.

In 1962, the Islanders affiliated with the Angels, but Bernier remained. He was there for three seasons, 1962-1964.

Was he an Angels employee?

No one seems to recall.

Bernier doesn’t appear in any of the Angels Media Guides of the period, although those listed only major league spring training camp players, including a few non-roster invitees. Minor league players and stats weren’t included.

A few factors, though, might argue in favor of him being an Angels employee.

Rosey Gilhousen, the Angels’ lead scout in the early 1960s, had been a scout with the Pirates in the 1950s and associated with the Hollywood Stars. The Angels were fond of stockpiling old PCL players that fans might recognize as gate attractions, so it’s possible that Bernier was signed for that reason, although he was never called up.

He saw no major league team after 1953. The main reason appears to have been his volatile temper. He struck an umpire while with Hollywood in 1954 and was suspended for the rest of the season. So the Angels may have been reluctant to call him up.

Another reason is that he spent his final season in the Mexican League with the Reynosa Broncos in 1965.

My two primary resources for this project are the annual Official Baseball Guides published by The Sporting News, and Baseball-Reference.com. The latter doesn’t show Bernier at Reynosa in 1965, but the Official Baseball Guide and a Hardball Times article show he played 87 games for the Broncos.

Several Angels minor leaguers played for Reynosa in the mid-1960s. Roland Hemond, who was the Angels’ farm director during that period, told me he had an “informal working agreement” with Reynosa. He could “borrow” their players for evaluation with an Angels affiliate in the United States. They’d play for an Angels team, they’d wear Angels jerseys, but their contracts were held by Reynosa. It appears to have been a two-way arrangement, with American players spending some time in Reynosa.

It seems plausible that Hemond or Gilhousen might have found a place for Bernier with Reynosa. The Angels moved their Triple-A affiliation from Hawaii to Seattle for 1965; in fact, the Angels bought the Seattle franchise. But if he was an Angels property, why didn’t he go to Seattle? His age may have been the answer. He was 38 in 1965, and no doubt the Angels wanted to move up younger prospects.

That doesn’t prove Bernier was under Angels contract, but given the informality of the time it seems at least a possibility that they arranged a job for him in Reynosa.

Bernier is just one puzzle of many during those years. Where I think there’s at least a possibility the player was under an Angels contract, I include them in the database, and I’ll figure this out sooner or later.

My next objective is to enter pitching and fielding statistics for 1961-1965, so I can set up similar reports. Once that’s done, then it’s just data entry through present day. That’s when the real fun begins.

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