More Minor League Stories and Legends

by Chuck

A few days ago, I posted an article touching on some of the Minor League’s more notable or legendary players.

Today I’ll run a few of the more interesting individual or team achievements, starting with the consensus vote of the best and worst minor league teams in history.

In MiLB’s survey of the greatest team in history, this team was the overwhelming winner: The 1934 Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. The Angels posted a 137-40 won/lost record, six of their eight starters finished the season with a better than .300 average, led by league batting champ Frank Demaree (.383). Not to be outdone by the offense, the Angels had three 20 game winners with only one pitcher finishing with a losing record, and he was 0-2.

Arguably the worst team in history was the Granite Falls Graniteers of the Western Carolinas League. In 1951, the posted a won/lost of 14-96 (.127) and finished 26 games behind…the team in front of them. They lost their last 33 games of the season, and 59 of the past 60.
Modesto Swipes Cal League Record 15 bases:

On May 26, 1977 the last place Modesto A’s set a California League record by stealing 15 bases, led by a league record tying seven by 18 year old outfielder Rickey Henderson. Henderson’s record total tied the record set just two years earlier by Met’s farmhand Lee Mazzilli.

Cub’s Farmhand pitches one-hitter, hits three homers.

Pitching a one-hitter isn’t all that uncommon, chipping in with a 5-6 day at the plate with three homers is. Pitching for the Cubs’ Quincy franchise in the Midwest League on May 9, 1965, pitcher Jim Ellis did just that. Ellis hit three homers, including a grand slam, and drove in seven runs in a 25-0 victory. 

Sanner wins offensive triple crown, almost wins pitching triple same season.

Roy Sanner was a quiet Kansas farmboy who spend two decades beating the bushes of the low minor leagues and in 1948 turned in one of the top two way seasons of all time. Playing for Houma (La) in the Class D Evangeline League, Sanner the outfielder won the league’s Triple Crown, hitting .386/34/126 and setting a league record with a 31 game hitting streak. Not to be outdone, Sanner the pitcher went 21-2 with a 2.58 ERA and 251 strikeouts. Sanner missed out on the pitching Triple Crown by one win, eight strikeouts and 0.21 in ERA.
Rye hits three one inning.

On August 6, 1930, five foot six Gene Rye accomplished something that hasn’t been done in any level of professional baseball, before or since. Playing for Waco in the Texas League against Beaumont, Rye hit three homers in one inning. Rye also set records for extra bases in an inning, extra base hits and RBI, all still standing Texas League records. 

Nine starters, nine homers

On August 19th, 1958 the Douglas Copper Kings defeated the Chihuahua Dorados 22-8 in a Class C Arizona-Mexico League game. Included in the Douglas 23 hit barrage was nine homers; one each by all nine starters.
Four homers, seven hits

Len Cross was a journeyman minor league player for ten seasons before hanging up his glove for a manager’s chair. A respectable hitter who put up 173 homers, Cross outdid himself on September 3, 1948. Playing for Spartanburg of the Class B Tri-State League against Asheville, Cross homered in four consecutive innings, ending the game seven for seven, scoring six runs and driving in 12.

Lodi turns two triple plays in same game

Playing against their rival Fresno Giants on July 25, 1978, the Lodi Dodgers pulled off a
a triple play in the first inning, and again in the fifth. It remains as just one of two times in minor league history a team has turned two triple plays in the same game, the first took place in 1905.
Pawtucket and Rochester play 33 innings.

In a game that lasted parts of three days and over eight hours in actual playing time, the International League’s Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings played the longest game in organizanized baseball history in 1981. The first 32 innings were played uninterrupted for 32 innings, Pawtucket scored the winning run in the first inning following the resumption. Among the players who participated in the game who would go on to have notable major league careers were; Bob Ojeda, Bruce Hurst, Rich Gedman, Marty Barrett, Mike Smithson, Jim Umbarger, Floyd Rayford, and two HOFers, Cal Ripken Jr and Wade Boggs.
Joe DiMaggio’s 61 game hitting streak.

Yes, Joe DiMaggio’s major league record 56 game hitting streak is not his longest. Playing as an 18 year old outfielder for the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco Seals in 1933, DiMaggio hit in 61 straight games, which is 8 short of the minor league record set by Joe Wilhoit in 1919.

Ron Neccai strikes out 27 in nine inning game and throws no-hitter

Pitching for Bristol in the Appalachian League, 19 year old righthander Ron Neccai no-hit Welch on May 13, 1952, striking out 27 batters in the process. He failed to strike out one hitter who grounded out, the extra strikeout came when the catcher mishandled a third strike. Neccai in his next three starts rang up strikeout totals of 24, 20 and 19 before being called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Neccai posted a career 1-6 major league record before injuring his arm during spring training in 1953 and retiring.
Babe Ruth throws shutout in professional debut.

Signed out of St.Mary’s Industrial School on February 14th, 19 year old lefthanded pitcher Babe Ruth made his professional debut for the Baltimore Orioles on April 22nd and pitched a complete game six hit shutout against Buffalo. Attendance? 200.

To read more stories or to check out the Minor League History Timeline, go to and check out the “History” link, and make sure you see Minor League historian Kevin Czerwinski’s “Cracked Bats” archives, where some of this information was provided.

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3 Responses to “More Minor League Stories and Legends”

  1. Brautigan Says:

    Thanks Chuck (again). I remember a story about Gene Rye, but I don’t remember which book it was in (was it “Strange but True” by Furman Fisher?), I read it as a kid. (Strange but True Baseball Stories, while written for kids, is still a wonderful read…..).

    And wasn’t Jimmy Reese on the ‘34 Angels team? I used to talk old PCL stuff with Jimmy back in the early 90’s and he had so many great stories about the old days. I miss hearing stuff like that……

  2. Hartvig Says:

    Love this stuff!!!

  3. Patrick Says:

    Chuck, great stuff. I read the link you provided about Sanner on your last minor league article. I guess he got in a fist fight with Durocher in spring training, and seeing as how the Dodgers owned him for most of his career, he spent it in the minors. He wasn’t a company man so for that alone, he’s my new hero.

    Also, in that spectacular year he had in 1948, I believe that he missed a few weeks because he got pissed off at something and left the team. Back then, they would say he walked to the beat of a different drummer. Today they probably say he’s bipolar.

    Again, very enjoyable read and I hope you can keep coming up with this stuff. 3 HR’s in 1 inning? What???? I thought that was only possible in whiffle ball.

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