(by Todd Cornelius)
Congratulations to Scott Gatzke and Matt Germar, the co-MVP’s for the 2003 Minneapolis Millers Roy Hobbs team that finished in 2nd place in the AA Division. While Gatzke did manage to mix in one double with his 17 hits, Germar fanned a staggering 39 batters in the 23 innings he pitched. Germar also keyed a comeback rally with a ninth inning double at Hammond Stadium.
There are many other players, though, that would’ve been a good choice for MVP. Catcher John Tatley, as usual, was a rock and without him, we would have sunk like one. John benched himself once so he could rest for the playoffs. He didn’t whiff the entire tourney and was the catcher in all four playoff games, played in the final two days. Incredible! A gassed Tatley enjoyed being mothered by Orlando’s girlfriend, Erin, on Sunday. She fixed him macaroni and cheese.
Tatley’s roommate and longtime Florida battery mate Kevin Burns had another solid tournament. Burnsy pitched 28 innings, struck out 29, won three games, and turned down at bats to “let the other guys hit.” When hitters reached base on him, Burnsy often picked them off with a mystery move that he must’ve been secretly working on. Where the hell, Burnsy, was that move last summer? Now, if he can just develop a circle change and shitcan that knuckleball… Also, Burnsy’s wife, Susan, fit in as if she were one of the guys. Well, maybe not, if you ask the gals down at Fantasy’s.
Our two Hispanic friends, Eddy and O, made tremendous contributions. Eddie could’ve easily won the MVP. He got a lot of hits, stole a ton of bases and his nearly continuous smile was contagious. He probably didn’t win the MVP only because we expect him to get a lot of hits and steal a ton of bases, all while smiling. Because we expect so much from him, the bar is set much higher for the Crazy Dominican and he’ll probably have to hit .700 to get an MVP. We’ll give you the MVC as in Most Valuable Cook, Eddie, but don’t ever ask me to smell your finger again.
O, it was so nice to have you back where you belong, playing first base with your Minnesota buddies. O led the team in runs knocked in and had several swell hits, including a dinger in the first playoff game and a late inning two-run single that tied the score in the championship game.
Mike Eicher, last years MVP, had no chance of winning again after he beat up the coach on the beach. Eicher did manage to play a steady third base and made sure the coach knew he was errorless after the first three or four games. After patting himself on the back, Eicher flubbed up. The most notable flub came in the semifinal game against the Minnesota Bandits. Bruce Doney, affectionately known as Shamu, hit an easy roller to Eicher, who picked up the ball and threw a Potsy Webber to first that sailed toward Sanibel Island. On the positive side, Eicher had a key homer in the first playoff game and showed again that he’s a terrific hit and run hitter. Why doesn’t he hit like that all the time? Why do all them birds hang out on the telephone wires?
Two players who didn’t have impressive stats but made significant contributions were Larry Gessler and Tim Lueder. They both had long stints on the mound and were left there to rot like tuna salad in the fridge so that we could save our only other two pitchers. We never would’ve played nine games and gotten to the finals without their unselfishness and willingness to take one in the gut. Kiddo was also valuable in settling down the ever-emotional Germar and diffusing the time bomb that Corny was sitting on. And Lueder, surprise of all surprises, didn’t piss anyone off.
And let’s not forget Scott Wilgenbusch, who is easy to forget because he’s so quiet. Wilgy, a terrific leadoff hitter who doubled as the condo kitchen cleanup man, quietly stole several bases and seemed to be on base all the time. He knows his trivia, too, from baseball and football to swimming, boxing and tennis. And then there’s Mike Staller, another Plain-Jane who quietly goes about his business, except when he pulls all those fastballs way foul and toward parking lots. Staller’s bat was hot early in the tournament. Maybe the heat, the damn heat, cooled him off. Cheer up Mike, it’ll be thirty below soon and you can keep your windows open.
Jay Wright played in Florida for the first time this year and we all enjoyed his world famous tacos. We were all waiting for the Big Donkey, who was the best hitter the Saints had last summer, to come up big for us when disaster struck in the semifinal game. Donkey was on third with one out, tie game and the infield in. Coach Corny informed the Donk that the infield was in, but a second later, when Dave Packed hit a two hopper right at the shortstop, Jay went for home. The catcher, Tim Dobo, had the ball and blocked the plate right as Donkey slid, feet first, into him. There was a big crash and Donkey’s foot fell off his ankle. A player from the adjoining field briskly came over and said he was a doctor. What Jay really needed was Moonlight Graham. His foot/ankle was later deemed broken.
Packard and his family came down to Florida in the middle of the week and Dave played in the last five games. Corny made a stupid mistake in one game when he forgot to list Pack as a substitute player. Tournament rules note that all players must be listed on the lineup card turned in before the game to be able to play at all. Pack, who was going to start the game, was late and Corny scribbled out his name as a starter but forgot to list him as a sub. Sorry, Dave, I owe you one.
So What Files
I think we had the best looking uni’s in the tournament, and the t-shirts, compliments of Eicher, were awesome, too…one player from Ohio commented that we probably don’t play much baseball in Minnesota because it’s cold all the time. I told him that we play a lot of whiffle ball in the gym…Corny, Gatzke, Kiddo and Pack stayed and played some or all of the 40’s tournament. Former big leaguers Bret Saberhagen, Pete Falcone and Daunte Bichette played on other teams that week. The Millers played against a couple of nondescript former big leaguers…