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01/08/2010 11:32 AM ET
Flashback Friday: Ready for 1960
An advertisement for the 1960 home opener of the Fox Cities Foxes. (April 29, 1960 Appleton Post-Crescent)

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The fiftieth anniversary of the 1960 Three-I League Championship of the Fox Cities Foxes is this year.  There is a lot on the back burner for now about that season, but after a couple of days of research at the Appleton Public Library, Flashback Friday thought the first edition of 2010 would be a good time to share a little bit of our treasure trove.

The following article is from the Appleton Post-Crescent and it was written by Sports Editor John L. Paustian.  It originally appeared in the April 29, 1960 copy of the PC.  This was part of a big section in the paper that had details about each of the players on the Foxes' roster and it was published the day before the home opener at Goodland Field.  The story starts out as a preview of the 1960 season but turns into a review of the 1959 season.

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Foxes Accent Bonus Talent In Bid for a Good Season

'59 Showings of Oriole-Provided Players Offer Encouragement

The Fox Cities Foxes are putting the accent on wealthy youth in an effort to make the biggest splash in their 3-year history in the Class B Three-I league.

Approximately one-third of a million dollars of "bonus" talent - provided by new major league affiliate Baltimore - will be on display at Goodland field this spring and summer.  In becoming associated with the Orioles - after two seasons with Washington - the Foxes have become part of one of baseball's most vigorous building programs.

Baltimore has the youngest roster in the majors and is fourth high among the 16 clubs in the payment of bonus money.

New Approach

The Orioles, without a Class B affiliate last season, were so anxious to hook up with Fox Cities that their assistant farm director (Harry Dalton) spent five days here last fall completing the negotiations.

Foxes fans hope the new, 1960 approach will produce a contending ball club - such as Green Bay , Des Moines , and Topeka were in the 1959 Three-I League race.  In each of those cases, the teams - which finished 1-2-3 last year - were stocked with bonus talent, much as the '60 Foxes are.

Past performances of the 1960 Fox Cities personnel offer encouragement for a good season.  Most of the members on the Foxes roster played last year at Aberdeen (S. Dak.), Stockton (Calif.) and Bluefield (W. Va.).

Aberdeen finished second in the Class C Northern League.  Stockton finished a close third in the Class C California League.  And Bluefield , which was fourth in the Class D Appalachian circuit, set the pace most of the way until hit by injuries.

Third in Winter League

Additionally, seven of the current Foxes played on the Baltimore club which took third place (one game out of second and seven out of first) in the 8-team Florida Winter league.

Earl Weaver, the Foxes' third manager in as many seasons, has never known a sub-first division finish as a skipper.

After a long famine, Fox Cities baseball patrons had a taste of heads-up winning baseball in the final six or eight weeks of the 1959 season.  The Foxes won 20 of their last 29 games at home to finish fourth in the second-round race and fourth (by one game) in the season-long standings.

The spurt, however, came too late to attract the kind of gate attention it should have.  Fans began staying away in droves after an unsettled lineup played lackluster ball for the first month and a half.  The Foxes wound up seventh in the first-half standings with a 26-39 record.

Total attendance for the season dropped to around 52,000.  But, the Foxes' management was encouraged and Baltimore was impressed because the team finished in the black, financially, for the second straight year despite another below-.500 ball club.

Bright Spots

Foxes' fans were treated to a number of bright spots last year in addition to the club's strong finish.  Hernan Vila gave the Foxes their second straight batting champion ("Potato" Pascual had won it in 1958).*

In Fred Bruckbauer, the Foxes had the league's "rookie of the year."  The Foxes also had two of the four earned-run leaders in the circuit - Bruckbauer, No. 2; and Hector Maestri, No. 4.

And for the second straight season, the Foxes led the league in opening-game attendance.  They'll shoot for No. 3 Saturday night.

As fans watch the same eight teams perform at Goodland field as in 1959, they'll be a part of a pro baseball venture which (along with Green Bay ) is second only to that of the Milwaukee Braves in all of Wisconsin .

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NOTES AND REACTIONS:

1.) Earl Weaver was 29 years old when the 1960 season started.  Repeating: Earl Weaver was 29 years old when the 1960 season started.

2.) This fact about the hall of fame manager comes from the issue of the paper with the story about the "Welcome Home Banquet" from earlier in the 1960 season.  Earl Weaver was a loan officer during the off season.  Repeating: Earl Weaver was a loan officer during the off season.  Can you imagine going into the bank to ask Earl Weaver for a loan?

3.) The Harry Dalton mentioned above is THE Harry Dalton, the one that became the General Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1978.

4.) The Orioles are still in Bluefield.

5.) The Orioles left Appleton and the Midwest League after the 1965 season.  They returned for one season (1989) as a co-op with the Padres and Athletics in Waterloo, one season (1990) in Wausau and two seasons (1991-1992) in Kane County before leaving for Albany, Georgia in 1993.  Baltimore 's current affiliate at the level of the Timber Rattlers is Delmarva of the South Atlantic League.

6.) If you click on that link for 1990, you will be taken to the team stats of the Wausau Timbers for that season.  That was the last year of pro baseball in Wausau .  It appears that the last player from that Wausau team still active in the big leagues is...Greg Zaun, the new Brewers free agent signee.

7.) The Three-I League (The I's stood for Iowa-Illinois-Indiana) had no teams in Illinois or Indiana for the 1960 season, but there were two teams in Wisconsin, a team in Kansas, a team in Nebraska, and four teams in Iowa.

8.) 'Goodland field' is written just like that in every article we have seen from the 1960 season.  It does seem a little weird not to have the 'f' in field capitalized.  But, we are trying to stay true to the style of the articles as they were written.

9.) The ad used as the picture for this week's Flashback had to be cropped.  To see a full size version of it, head over to Rattler Radio.

10.) Regarding the ad: We couldn't decide if our favorite part was the cartoon fox or the cartoon oriole perched on the bat.

11.) Hernan Vila is listed as Hernan ( Vila ) Valdes at his Baseball-Reference.com page.  Also, "Potato" Pascual is probably better known as Carlos Pascual.

12.) The 'long famine' referred to dates back to probably 1914.  The Appleton entry in the Wisconsin-Illinois League won the title in 1910 season and finished above .500 three of the next four seasons before folding after the 1914 season.  The Papermakers of 1940-1942 and 1946-1953 made the playoffs twice, finished above .500 one time, and won no championships.  The 1958 and 1959 versions of the Foxes each finished with a losing record.

 13.) The NOTES AND REACTIONS section is now longer than the actual article.

Previous Flashback Fridays:

10/16: Organist at Goodland Field

10/23: Coming Home

10/30: The Next Unit

11/6: Rattler Rally

11/13: The Beginning of the End

11/20: Frankie

11/27: Stewart Cooper

12/4: Craig Kuzmic x 9

12/11: Family

12/18: Foxes in SI