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.