Joel’s Lansing Lugnut Notes: an introduction

Although blogs hadn’t yet been invented, seventeen years ago I kept a Lansing Lugnuts weblog, which I called Joel’s Lansing Lugnut Notes. The 1996 Luggies were a new team. I began keeping the online journal because I’d been watching Midwest League (MWL) play for several summers and figured I had something to contribute to the Lansing discussion. As things worked out I did a writeup after each series, and composed a few other pages as inspiration struck. I plan to repost all of the weblog entries, and most of the other pages, to this journal over the next few months. Most will be posted 17 years to the day after they were originally written.

My MWL website, A Fan’s Guide to the Midwest League, was a spinoff from my Luggie journal. I’ve discussed this transition elsewhere on this blog, and will doubtless do so again.

Our Main Characters

Lansing’s team was (and remains) owned by the Chicago-based husband-and-wife team of Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers. They’d purchased the Waterloo, Iowa, team after the 1993 season and moved it to Springfield, Illinois, when lease negotiations with the Waterloo city fathers broke down. This occurred shortly before play began in ’94. Early in 1995 they committed to move the team to Lansing, and we’d all been impatiently waiting for the team’s arrival.

In 1996 the Lugnuts’ general manager was Jim Weigel. The team’s on-field host was Jason Colthorp Michael Baird [see Jason’s comment, below], and Mike VanderWood (note the spelling change) was the Luggies’ radio voice

The original Lugnut team was a Kansas City Royals affiliate. The Royals assigned Brian Poldberg, a minor league lifer, to manage the team. Poldberg was assisted by hitting coach Curtis Wilkerson and pitching coach Mike Moore, both of whom were former major league players. Jeff Stevenson was the trainer.

Forty young players appeared on the field during Lansing’s team’s inaugural season. Seven of those players–Carlos Beltran, Carlos Febles, Kevin Hodges, Mark Quinn, Jose Santiago, Matt Treanor, and Jeff Wallace–eventually appeared in the majors. Beltran, of course, is nearing the end of what may be a Hall of Fame career, but played only briefly in Lansing. Treanor was still catching in 2012, though his prospects for playing this summer appear slim. But my story’s as much about the other guys, all of whom will be able to tell their grandkids they played professional ball.

I will, of course, also mention (and sometimes discuss) other 1996 Midwest League players as their (remembered) teams pass through Olds Park. In retrospect the big names were David Ortiz (Big Papi was going by Arias, not Ortiz, in 1996) and A.J. Pierzynski. In 1996, of course, it was by no means clear who would become major league stars. Frankly, I didn’t care. I still don’t, for that matter.

My Plan

Since I’m already a few entries behind, I plan to catch up to today-seventeen-years-back over the next few days. Thereafter I plan to post entries in time-delayed real time. I expect to post most of those exactly as I originally wrote them, even when I said something obviously stupid (I’ll likely add some hyperlinks–and either delete or fix some broken links). It’s also likely that I’ll add some commentary in each entry’s first comment.

How I plan to publicize postings:

  • I’ll list new entries in the first comment on this page. You could bookmark it, and check from time to time.
  • You could bookmark this Lugnuts Notes directory page, and occasionally check there for new listings. The difference between this option and the “comment” option is the descriptions.
  • I’ll create link-back pages on this blog pointing to the new (back-dated) entry every time I post something. The link-back pages will be temporary, as I plan to delete each as the next link-back is posted.
  • I’ll mention the new entries on Facebook, which of course will only notify my FB friends. I’ll do the same on my Google+ page, which is a bit more public.
  • I’ll mention the new entries on my Twitter feed.

I expect this to be fun, and I’m looking forward to the feedback. Thanks for reading.

3 comments on “Joel’s Lansing Lugnut Notes: an introduction

  1. joelNo Gravatar says:

    This comment is an index to the being-rebuilt 1996 Lansing Lugnuts Notes website. The dates are hyperlinks….

    Pre-Season

    • 10/16/1995: My very first webpage was an analysis of the 1996 Lansing Lugnut ticket packages.
    • 1/26/1996: The Fan’s Guide Essay (on the MWLguide website, not reposted here.)
    • 2/1/1996: Lansing’s Oldsmobile Park. This was part of the website’s then-new front page, most of which isn’t worth recovering.
    • 2/3/1996: I still think Richard Panek’s Waterloo Diamonds is the best book ever written about the Midwest League.
    • 2/5/1996: 1996 Prospects. Spring Training guesses about who’d play in Lansing.
    • 3/17/1996: 1996 Schedule (& Results).

    April

    • 4/6/1996: Opening Day Roster (The Original Lugnuts).
    • 4/8/1996: Rockford @ Lansing.
    • 4/12/1996: Lansing @ Burlington.
    • 4/15/1996: Up-to-date Statistics First and last time I did this.
    • 4/16/1996: Lansing vs. West Michigan. Carlos Beltran and Mark Quinn collide in the outfield.
    • 4/20/1996: Lansing @ Cedar Rapids. About the Luggie catchers; then more about Pat Hallmark in the comments.
    • 4/25/1996: Lansing vs. [Battle Creek] Michigan. The Luggies take three of four, and Cepeda continues to hit.
    • 4/29/1996: Lansing at [Appleton] Wisconsin. But no game notes–instead, a note about league scheduling practices. And an update.

    May

    • 5/4/1996: Clinton at Lansing.
    • 5/4/1996: 1996 Lugnuts Position Players.
    • 5/7/1996: Lansing at Clinton. And a rundown on the web presence of Midwest League teams, circa 1996.
    • 5/9/1996: Fort Wayne at Lansing. And some notes about Jose Cepeda and Luis Matos.
    • 5/13/1996: Quad City at Lansing. The teams split the series, and I commented on Carlos Febles. And there’s lots of information about Midwest League umpires.
    • 5/15/1966: Fort Wayne at Lansing. I was frustrated.
    • 5/19/1996: Lansing vs. West Michigan. I try to describe the team’s defense, and give it a failing grade.
    • 5/24/1996: Lansing vs. South Bend. And short notes about Rick Pitts and Doug Blosser.
    • 5/26/1996: Lansing vs. West Michigan. With some discussion of minor league baseball attendance, and a bunch of notes about minor league news coverage on the web in 1996.
    • 5/31/1996: Lansing vs. [Battle Creek] Michigan. And one last attempt on my part to rehabilitate Gary Coffee’s image.

    June

    • 6/5/1996: Lansing vs. South Bend.
    • 6/5/1996: 1996 Lugnuts Pitchers.
    • 6/6/1996: Peoria @ Lansing. And some notes (and some more notes) about the 1996 Kansas City Royals draft.
    • 6/10/1996: Beloit @ Lansing. And quite a bit of discussion about player development strategies, and their impact on Midwest League play.
    • 6/14/1996: Lansing @ Fort Wayne.
    • 6/16/1996: Lansing @ Michigan.
    • 6/19/1996: All-Star Game, and a Lugnuts scouting report.
    • 6/20/1996: Scouting Report on the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
    • 6/23/1996: Wisconsin at Lansing. I’ve added some commentary on the Grieve brothers.
    • 6/25/1996: Scouting Report on the Quad City River Bandits.
    • 6/28/1996: Lansing @ Quad Cities.
    • 6/29/1996: Scouting Report on the Burlington Bees.

    July

    • 7/2/1996: Burlington @ Lansing. And some meditations on player assignments in the low minors.
    • 7/4/1996: Lansing @ South Bend. And some information on the 1996 Spokane Indians roster. Plus a review of Kit Pellow’s career, even though he’d arrive in 1997.
    • 7/6/1996: Scouting report on the Beloit Snappers.
  2. Jason ColthorpNo Gravatar says:

    Hate to throw a monkey wrench into this, but I wasn’t the on-field host in 1996. Michael Baird was MC for 96-97… I didn’t come on the scene until 1998, lasting until June of 2000.

    Carry on!

  3. joelNo Gravatar says:

    Hey, Jason, that’s OK. Corrections are always welcome.

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