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100 DAYS UNTIL OPENING DAY 2011

It’s January 3rd (Happy New Year) and another milestone has taken place during the off-season that everyone looks forward to. Just 100 days until Opening Day 2011 at Alliance Bank Stadium when the Syracuse Chiefs and new skipper Randy Knorr take the field against the Pawtucket Red Sox at 2:00 PM.

Next big date – February 22nd when spring training will be one week old and the countdown hits 50 days!

Here’s a picture of how the field looks today:

Field with snow

 

CHIEFS MOURN BILL LAJOIE

Former Syracuse Chiefs outfielder and long time major league baseball executive Bill Lajoie passed away on Wednesday at the age of 76 in Osprey, FL.

Lajoie played for the Chiefs for one month in Syracuse in 1962.  Acquired from the Kansas City Athletics organization in August off the Toronto Maple Leafs roster, Lajoie went on to hit .327 with 1 HR and 16 RBI in 32 games for the Chiefs that season.  He also had a base hit in his first 12 games.  He was returned to the Athletics at the conclusion of the 1962 season and assigned to Portland of the PCL.

He played 10 seasons of professional baseball all at the minor league level and six in AAA.  He also played in Montreal, Toronto and Miami in the International League.

LaJoie would also manage in 1968 (Reds) and 1969 with the Tigers organization at Bristol (rookie league).  He would go on to spend the next 23 years in the Detroit organization in player development, taking over as General Manager in 1983. His 1984 Tigers won the World Series.

The Michigan native spent the past two seasons with the Pirates as the Senior Advisor to GM Neil Huntington.

FORMER CHIEF LAMAR “JAKE” JACOBS

The Syracuse Chiefs have learned that former outfielder Lamar “Jake” Jacobs passed away last week at the age of 73 in Palmetto, Florida.

The former Ohio University standout was a “bonus baby” with the Washington Senators in 1959 and spent part of the 1961 season in Syracuse.  With the Chiefs he appeared in 70 games and batted .291 with 16 RBI.  He was traded in July that season to Indianapolis with infielder Chet Boak for outfielder Sandy Valdespino.

Jacobs spent the 1962 season with Vancouver in the PCL and batted .251 and hit .253 in 1963 at Charlotte in the South Atlantic League before retiring.  He appeared in eight major league games with the Senators in 1960 and the Minnesota Twins in 1962.

After retirement he spent the next 25 years as an insurance salesmen for Ohio National Life, where he attained numerous awards and was a repeated member of the Million Dollar Round Table.

Jacobs frequently drove around in his classic 1960 Thunderbird passing out his “T-Bird Testimonies” which spoke of his career as a professional baseball player and more importantly, his faith.  Over the years he passed out over 6,000 copies and can be found online at www.TailFinsandChrome.com.

While in Syracuse, Jacobs recorded a song titled “Hey Little Ducky” that was played on WNDR, WHEN and WFBL.

 

Chiefs Mourn Pitcher Ron Klimkowski

The Syracuse Chiefs were saddened to hear of the passing of righthanded pitcher Ron Klimkowski.  The Jersey City native was 64 years old.

The “Klemmer” was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1964 and spent parts of four seasons in the Boston minor league system before being traded to the New York Yankees along with lefthanded pitcher Pete Magrini, who also would pitch for the Chiefs, in August of 1967.  The player he was traded for - Elston Howard.

Ron joined the Chiefs in August of the 1967 season and was 0-3 with a 6.30 ERA in just 3-starts for a Chiefs team that finished last.  He would return to Syracuse to start the 1968 season and was 2-1 with a 5.14 ERA in 17 games pitching out of the bullpen.  He would be assigned back to AA-Binghamton in July where he would spend the remainder of that year.

The 1969 season started with Klimkowski again making the Chiefs roster out of spring training but again buried in the bullpen.  It wasn’t until injuries to Gary Jones and Mickey Scott and the poor performance of veteran Rich Beck that manager Frank Verdi inserted Klimkowski into the starting rotation on April 27th.

He would go on to make 24 starts for the Chiefs that season and put up numbers that made him the International League’s Most Valubale Pitcher and a member of the 1969 IL All Star team.

In 24 starts he completed 13 games, 10 in a row (July 11-August 25), He was 15-7 with a league best 2.18 ERA and allowed only eight home runs in 173 innings pitched.  During the Chiefs run for the playoffs he notched nine consecutive wins from June 26-August 5th.

That season earned him a promotion to New York and he appeared in 3 games for the Yankees that season .

In 1970 he would spend the entire season with the Bronx Bombers going 6-7 with a respectable 2.66 ERA in 45 games that season, used mainly out of the bullpen.

With the hopes of moving into the Yankees starting rotation in 1971, the Yankees traded him along with lefty Rob Gardner to Oakland for outfielder Felipe Alou before the start of the season.

Ron pitched in 26 games for the A’s that year going 2-2 with a 3.40 ERA before being sent out to Iowa later that season.

In 1972 he falied to make the A’s club out of spring training and began the campaign back in Iowa before the Yankees re-acquired him and assigned him to the Chiefs.  He would make 13 starts for the Chiefs going 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA.  That led to another call -up to New York and he finished the ’72 season with the Yankees going 0-3 with a 4.06 ERA.

His career ended in 1973 with arm trouble and an in-effective 12 appearances for the Chiefs, he would be sent to AA-West Haven later that season.

Ron Klimkowski was a major part of the Syracuse Chiefs 1969 Governors Cup Championship team.  He was also the starting pitcher the day Frank Baker hit that memorable home run over the scoreboard at MacArthur Stadium when the Chiefs defeated Louisville 4-3 in 10 innings.

 

ANOTHER GREAT HOT STOVE

The Syracuse Chiefs 49th Annual Hot Stove took place on this past Friday night at the Holiday Inn Liverpool as over 300 fans gathered to talk baseball on a balmy January night.

Special thanks to the Washington Nationals who were represented by GM Mike Rizzo, Manager Jim Riggleman, Director of Player Development Doug Harris, Chiefs manager Trent Jewett, players Pete Orr and Seth Bynum and former major league all stars Bill Monboquette and 2009 Chiefs hitting coach Darnell Coles who received the Jake Meyers Great Guy Award.

Also in attendance were LeMoyne College Coach Steve Owens and his new pitching coach who also played for the Chiefs and in the major leagues with Toronto, Boston and San Diego, Scott Cassidy, Auburn Doubledays GM Carl Gutellius and others.

A full re-cap with photos will appear on Monday on http://www.syracusechiefs.com.

Special thanks to Chiefs Assistant GM Mike Voutsinas and Director of Merchandising Wendy Shoen for all their work on making the 49th one of the best ever.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SCOTT MCGREGOR

Thirty six years ago in 1974 the New York Yankees sent 20 year old lefthanded pitcher Scott McGregor to Syracuse to begin the season in the Chiefs rotation under second year manager Bobby Cox.

The Yankees number one pick in the 1972 June Draft received a reported $80,000 signing bonus and had juast come off a pretty good season the year before in West Haven when he led the Eastern League with 12 wins, 197 innings and a 3.29 ERA.

The 1974 season saw the California native join a veteran staff that included Lowell Palmer, Mike Pazik, Larry Gowell and Rick Sawyer.  But is was McGregor who would put up big numbers for manager Bobby Cox that season leading the Chiefs to the finals of the International League Governors Cup only to lose to Rochester in a thrilling seven game series.

McGregor was named I.L. Rookie of the Year, represented the Chiefs in the 1974 I.L. All Star Game and went 13-10 with a 3.44 ERA.  What was even more impressive from this 20 year old was that he completed 12 of his 27 starts, struck out 124 batters and tossed 3 shutouts – 2 back to back vs Tidewater and 3 in 4 starts.

Scotty went on to go 2-0 in the I.L. playoffs defeating Rochester 8-1 in game five that put the Chiefs up 3 games to 2.  His 9-inning masterpiece was his final appearance that season that totaled over 220 innings.

He pitched for the Chiefs again in 1975 making 21 starts and going 6-9 with a 3.99 ERA before being placed on the disabled list for the remainder of the 1975 season.  Without their ace, the Chiefs would lose to Tidewater in the Finals of the Governors Cup Chanpionship for a second consecutive season.

Still only 22 years old and back for his third season with the Chiefs, McGregor now the ace of the staff had help from Rick Sawyer, Ken Clay, and big time prospects Jim Beattie and Doug Heinold before the trade that would change history in the I.L.

On June 12th the New York Yankees in an effort to capture their first Pennant in over a decade traded prize prospects Dave Pagan, Tippy Martinez and Scott McGregor to the Baltimore Orioles for lefthanded veteran pitcher Ken Holtzman.

The Chiefs were in second place 3 1/2 games off the pace ahead of the Rochester Red Wings were McGregor would be sent.  With the Chiefs he was only 4-5 with a 3.84 ERA in his first 10 starts, six of which were complete games – his trademark.

But after the deal, McGregor fashioned a remarkable 8-1 record with a 2.38 ERA in 13 starts in the flower city.  He also completed eight more games, five of which were shutouts.  He 4-hit the Chiefs in Syracuse on July 5th and allowed only 3 hits in a 7-inning shutout a month later on August 25th.

The Red Wings played over .700 baseball the rest of the way (63-26) and despite the Chiefs winning 53 of their next 86 without McGregor, the Red Wings won the Pennant in 1976.  The Chiefs finished second and took on the Memphis Blues in round one of the I.L. Playoffs.

The Chiefs swept the Blues 3-0 defeating Floyd Bannister and Mark Lemongello, two future major league pitchers, while the Pennant winning Red Wings were defeated by Richmond 3-1.

The Chiefs would go on to win the 1976 I.L. Governors Cup that season (the last time they won) without McGregor. Ironically, his replacement, left hander John Sielicki went 10-2 including winning the deciding game against the Braves in September.

McGregor would go on to pitch 14 years in the Major Leagues with Baltimore, appearing in two World Series (1979, 1983) and winning 20 games in 1980.

Happy 56th Birthday Scott McGregor.

 

 

NO DESIGNATED HITTER FOR TWO WEEKS

The Syracuse Chiefs begin a two week period of playing National League teams with the designated hitter waived in favor of the pitcher for each team batting.

Todays starting pitcher CRAIG STAMMEN makes history as he comes to the plate in a Chiefs uniform.  Not since September 4th, 1972 has a Chiefs starting pitcher been in the lineup and batted in a game.

Chiefs Wall of Fame inductee ALAN CLOSTER went hitless in three at bats in that game against the Rochester Red Wings.

The Chiefs return home on Friday, April 17th vs Buffalo and pitchers will bat during that entire series.

WINTER MEETINGS AND STUFF

The Syracuse Chiefs held there first Stockholders Informational Meeting at Alliance Bank Stadium on Saturday as over 30 stockholders attended.  Chairman of the Board Charlie Rich explained the current status of the talks with the county and the club introduced new President Ron Gersbacher who outlined his plans for the 2007 season.  The two-hour informative session was a great way to let fans express their opinions and make suggestions on how to improve baseball in Syracuse.  The ballclub plans on a pre-season stockholders meeting in March and another in June during the 2007 season.

Baseball’s Winter Meetings will begin on Monday, December 4th in Orlando, Florida and CHIEFS BLOGS will be there for you.  We will blog on trade rumors, minor league free agent signings and much more.  Make sure to check our  web site for constant up-dates all week long.

THIS AND THAT

Just 21 more weeks until OPENING DAY 2007 at Alliance Bank Stadium……How about those Blue Jays signing FRANK THOMAS for thier designated hitter spot.  That all but assures that super prospect ADAM LIND will start the season in Syracuse for 2007.  A potential Chiefs lineup that includes Jeff Duncan CF, Adam Lind LF, Chad Mottola RF, John-Ford Griffin-DH, Kevin Barker-1B, Rob Cosby-3B, Curtis Thigpen-c, Russ Adams-2B, and Ryan Roberts/or Sergio Santos SS wouldn’t look so bad…..Former Chiefs in the news – catcher Ken Huckaby signed with the Dodgers and will likely spend the season in Las Vegas (PCL), Former Chiefs infielder Nelson Liriano was named hitting coach for the KC Royals single A team in Wilmington….Former Chiefs outfiedler Rick Leach was the Michigan quarterback for four seasons under Bo Schembechler, who passed away on Friday.  Rick was heard earlier today on ESPN Radio’s Dan Patrick show talking about his former coach…Prediction time:  Uconn 31 Orange 27 and Michigan 16 Ohio State 14…..Dont forget to listen to “INSIDE PITCH” on Saturday November 18th on ESPN RADIO 1260 AM at 9:00 AM when Chiefs General Manager John Simone and Bob McElligott talk to Chiefs players Chad Mottola and Kevin Barker……It was reported today that Doug Davis, who managed New Hampshire (Eastern League) last season will be named the Chiefs next manager.  Mike Basso, who managed the team last season would become the organizations roving catching instructor.  Look for an announcement from the team on Monday…..Chiefs Annual Stockholders Meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 21st at Alliance Bank Stadium.  The ballclub will report its financial statement for the year ending 2006 and give an overview on the upcomming 2007 season….Have a great weekend.

ONE OF THE BEST IS GONE

John “Buddy” Kerr, a former all-star shortstop for the New York Giants and a longtime New York Mets scout died this past week after a short illness.  He was 84.  Kerr was best known for compiling a streak of 68 games without an error, a record at the time for shortstops, during the 1946-47 seasons.  It 1948 he was a National League All-Star with the Giants.  After his playing career he scouted for the New York/San Francisco Giants from 1953-1974 and the New York Mets from 1975-1996.  During that time the Astoria, NY native spent many nights at Old MacArthur Stadium and then as a part-time scout in Alliance Bank Stadium.  He often called Syracuse, NY he second home and was a good friend of Dutch Dotterer, Chiefs great Hank Sauer and Chiefs Executive Vice President and COO Tex Simone.  Buddy will be missed but not forgotten.

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