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How about this major league team?

by Bob Wirz
September 11, 2003 - Northern League (NL)

As this typist dreams along about the season, I’ve come up with a 25-man team to consider putting on the field for a major league game. I would even think about working a different pitcher every inning because the staff would be loaded with quality relievers. Here’s the team:

Pitchers: Joe Borowski, Chicago Cubs; Kirk Bullinger, Houston; D.J. Carrasco and Nate Field, Kansas City; Brendan Donnelly and Ben Weber, Anaheim; Joey Eischen and Scott Stewart, Montreal; Kerry Ligtenberg, Baltimore; Eddie Oropesa, Arizona; Carlos Pulido, Minnesota; Jason Simontacchi, St. Louis; Brian Schmack, Detroit; Brian Sweeney, Seattle
Catcher: Shawn Wooten, Anaheim
First base: Kevin Millar, Boston
Second base: Howie Clark, Toronto
Shortstop: Julius Matos, Kansas City
Third base: Carlos Baerga, Arizona
Outfield: Rickey Henderson, Los Angeles; J.D. Drew, St. Louis; Ruben Sierra, New York Yankees
Bench: Catcher Mitch Meluskey, Houston; infielder Jarrod Patterson, Kansas City; outfielder Felix Jose, Arizona

By now, you’ve no doubt guessed this team is what could be fielded from players who went to Independent leagues when they were unwanted elsewhere and have worked all the way back to current major league rosters.

The Independent League team also has its own list of players on the disabled list, including pitchers Jose Lima of Kansas City and Jeff Zimmerman of Texas and shortstop Rey Ordonez of Tampa Bay.

Three of Northern League’s Original Six Managers May Claim ’03 Titles

Don’t blame Dan Shwam if he wears a constant grin until Christmas!

Shwam, who teaches at-risk students in Salt Lake City eight months a year, is one of three Independent managers who has been on the job all 11 seasons since Miles Wolff led the rebirth of the non-affiliated leagues. He’s been at the helm of clubs in the Northern, Northeast, Frontier and Central Leagues. He’s also had some very good teams and some very close calls at winning post-season championships, including last year when he led his first Jackson, MS team to Game 5 in the Central League’s best-of-five playoff finale before Steve Maddock’s San Angelo (TX) Colts won the prize.

When Keto Anderson’s line drive settled into rightfield September 4 to cap Jackson’s comeback from a 3-2, 10th inning deficit over Amarillo, the Senators — and especially Shwam — could celebrate a three-game sweep for the 2003 title.

The other two managers with 11 consecutive seasons have fared just as well during the postseason. Singin’ Ed Nottle's Brockton (MA) Rox finished off a three-game sweep of the North Shore (Lynn, MA) Spirit in the best-of-five Northeast League championship series, and Doug Simunic has his Fargo (ND) RedHawks up by a two games to none margin over Winnipeg for the Northern League title entering Thursday's play.

Wouldn’t it be something if all three won championships since they formed half of the managerial corps when the Northern League started up in 1993?

Eastern League Playoffs Have a Distinct Independent Flavor

The impact of people who have cut their teeth in Independent Baseball is very evident in the Double-A Eastern League championships.

Akron, OH Manager Brad Komminsk, the Double-A circuit’s Manager of the Year one year ago when the Aeros finished 45 games over .500 in the regular season and won more games than any other minor league team (93-48), was a player-coach (.278-16-66) for Winnipeg in ’96. He has the Cleveland farm club within one victory of this year’s EL championship.

On the other side of the field, New Haven, CT (Toronto) hitting and first base coach Ken Joyce and pitching coach Dane Johnson both have a Northeast League background. Joyce was pitching coach at Catskill, NY in 2000 and managed Adirondack (Glens Falls, NY) part of 2001 and Johnson was a pitcher-pitching coach for Albany, NY in ’99.

(This excerpt is from the weekly column on Independent Baseball by Bob Wirz, who has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience and runs his owns sports PR/marketing company, Wirz & Associates, in Orange, CT. The column is not for reproduction without authorization. Details are available at under Projects or at 203 877-5800.)

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central.

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Northern League Stories from September 11, 2003

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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