January 23, 2021

Newest LA Dodgers’ 16 Years Pay Off

September 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It was raining in Quebec and the first Can-Am League playoff series was being delayed by 24 hours, but New Jersey Jackals Manager Joe Calfapietra did not seem at all distressed.  In fact, his mood was clearly that of a happy man.

Joe’s year already was a success, and only in part because the veteran field boss had seen his struggling team that had been beset with season-ending injuries and player sales win three of four from their first-round postseason hosts to squeeze into the playoffs.

Calfapietra had a right to be proud on another front because three of his former players, who played their home games at Yogi Berra Stadium in the village of Little Falls, are now in the major leagues.  The Jackals, who Calfapietra has guided for the last eight years, are the only team in the Independent ranks with that many major leaguers today.

Craig Breslow has been an effective part of Oakland’s bullpen all season, and the lefty off the ’04 Jackals, who were members of the Northeast League at the time, has been in the majors fulltime the last three seasons.  Another southpaw, Raul Valdez, rejoined the New York Mets’ bullpen this week.  He pitched in New Jersey in 2006.

The big celebration came this week when 16-year minor leaguer John Lindsey, New Jersey’s first baseman for much of ’05 and again in ’06, got his first promotion to the “bigs”, joining the Los Angeles Dodgers for the final four weeks of the National League season.

Lindsey got his name in the record book Wednesday night in San Diego when he was called on to pinch hit for Scott Podsednik in the eighth inning, but when former Independent lefty specialist Joe Thatcher (River City, Frontier League) came out in favor of Luke Gregerson, Dodgers Manager Joe Torre countered with Andre Ethier for Lindsey.  “I just gave him (Lindsey) the lineup card,” Torre told CBSSports.com later.  “I told him he didn’t get an at-bat, but he was in the game.”

“First, he (Lindsey) is a great person”, Calfapietra said, minutes before leaving the hotel to get his team out and into a mall to pass some rainy-day time.  “We still have constant communication.  He wants you to feel a part of everything.”

“He was as good a player as I’ve seen at this level”, Calfapietra recalls of the ’05 season when Lindsey drove in 62 runs in 56 games and appeared well on his way to smashing various Can-Am records when the Florida Marlins stepped in and purchased his contract.

“I’m just proud to be involved in some way,” said Calfapietra, who hopes to see the Pacific Coast League batting champion (.353 with 25 homers, 97 RBI) in LA before the National League season ends.

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www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com ADDED TO www.IndyBaseballChatter.com

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Five More Indy Players in Majors, Prior Signed

The promotions of John Lindsey and Raul Valdez were part of a very impressive week for the Independent leagues since three other players also landed in the major leagues.  Right-handed pitcher Brandon Kintzler came up to Milwaukee and another righty, Robert Coello, to Boston, both in the majors for the first time, and veteran catcher Mike Rivera joined Florida. Twenty-eight players with Indy experience have been in the majors this season, with six of them for the first time.

Former National League All-Star Mark Prior used a month with Orange County (Fullerton, CA) to get his once highly-touted career back on target.  Prior, 42-29 in the majors, struck out half the 44 Golden League hitters he faced in nine relief appearances (11 innings, five hits, five walks, one unearned run) before Texas purchased his contract.  Prior, who turned 30 this week, pitched one scoreless inning for Oklahoma City (two hits, two strikeouts), which now is in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

“He came here to face competitive baseball and see if his arm would hold up, and he passed that initial test,” said Flyers Manager Paul Abbott.

Lincoln Owner Gets It Right That ‘Fun’ Is Necessary

Perhaps it is more a generational thing, but I was touched by a recent column by The Lincoln (NE) Journal Star’s Steve Sipple explaining how the hometown Saltdogs’ owner, Jim Abel, “often holds a radio to his ear” as he sits by the family cabin, trying to listen to the American Association team’s games as the evening signal fades.  The column also focused on Abel’s insistence that baseball “absolutely needs to be fun”.

I know it would not have been overwhelming fun sitting beside the diversified Lincoln businessman as the defending champions tumbled out of the first round of the playoffs recently because of his competitive nature, but he gets the big picture, the fun part, which is exactly why the Saltdogs have had a successful first decade in the National Pastime.

(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blogs, www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com and www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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