| Seasons | 1996 | Teams | Michigan Battle Cats |
1996 East: | Fort Wayne | Lansing | Michigan | South Bend | West Michigan |

Midwest League 1996

Michigan Battle Cats

Joel's Lugnut Summer

Major Change

Cedar Rapids
Fort Wayne
Kane County
Quad City
South Bend
West Michigan

This page profiles the 1996 Michigan Battle Cats, a Single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox and a member of the Midwest League.

This essay previewed the last 1996 series between the Battle Cats and the Lansing Lugnuts. It was intended to highlight the team's strengths, and was written from the perspective of a Lugnuts fan.

Two games, one at C.O. Brown Stadium and one at Olds Park. Tuesday's (at 6:30!) will be the last meeting between these teams in Battle Creek this summer, while Wednesday's will be the Lugnuts' last scheduled home game this season. Wednesday's game will be Fan Appreciation night. The game will be televised, there will be fireworks after the game, and the Player of the Year will be recognized.

The Battle Cats are affiliated with the Boston Red Sox and are owned by William Collins, III, of Great Falls, Virginia, and several partners. (Mr. Collins is the gentleman trying to lure a major league team to the vicinity of Washington, DC.) These folks also own the Greensboro Bats in the Sally League.

Joe Hulsebus' Battle Cats WebPage [now gone] is fine. The National Association's Battle Cats Page [gone!] is like their other pages. There [was] a picture of C.O. Brown in Kevin Marsh's collection of ballpark photos.

The Cat's manager is Tommy Barrett (#17). The pitching coach is Bill Moloney (#8).

MWL Fan's Guide

The Ballpark

The Battle Cats play in C. O. Brown Stadium, which was built in the late 1980s but looks like it dates from the forties or fifties. It has a roofed grandstand and seats about 6,000 fans in a variety of seating types, including real box seats in the main grandstand. Outfield dimensions are 325-401-330; the contour is said to resemble (but not duplicate) Fenway. STATS Minor League Handbook tells me the ballpark increases run totals slightly. Last summer the city build an open-air tavern near the left field foul pole, it's called "The Grandstand" and is really quite nice.

The ballpark can be really loud when the fans get involved in the game. The sound system is also loud--the music and announcing (both courtesy of John Green) are generally excellent; the sound effects (also Green's) can be obtrusive. There's a minimal scoreboard in left field; don't depend on it. Those of you who hate advertising billboards in the outfield will not like this park.

Battle Creek hosts the Stan Musial national championship for City and Industrial League teams each summer and the park was originally built to accommodate that series. C.O. Brown is one of many diamonds in Bailey Park on the north edge of town.

Directions: Lansing travelers should ignore the official directions. Instead: Exit I-69 at the Bellevue exit (exit 48) and turn right to take M-78 into Bellevue. Turn left with M-78 at the downtown Bellevue light and follow the road until it ends at M-66. Turn left on 66 and follow the road about five miles to the ballpark. It's on the left, just past the Kentucky Fried Chicken. There's lots of free parking, but on Fridays and Sundays you're sharing it with the city leagues and you should plan accordingly. Return by reversing the route. (If you live near M-43, it may be easier just to take M-43 to M-66, and back. That's what I do from Mulliken.)

The Team

All-Stars: Virgil Chevalier (C), Kevin Clark (IF), Roy Padilla (OF), Scott Jones (P), Juan Pena (P), and Curt Romboli (P).

Statistics quoted are thru Sunday, August 25.

We've seen these guys a lot this season. There aren't going to be any surprises. The Battle Cats are a good-hitting team whose best hitter, Damian Sapp, joined the team in June; their pitching is below average for the league but does not have any seriously weak links.

The Red Sox best low-minors farm last year, by far, was the Battle Cats; the others tended to finish low in their leagues. This years' Cats were likely to play for Utica last year, but the GCL Sox, the Battle Cats, and even the Sarasota Sox (one step up) are represented by several players.

The Cats finished 31-38 (.449) in the first half, fourth place, 7.5 games behind West Michigan. In the second half they're in fourth place at 27-36 (.429), 8.5 games out of first.

All of the regular starters are hitting threats. DH Damian Sapp is hitting .317 with 14 homers. First baseman Kevin Clark is hitting .282, second baseman John Raifstanger is hitting .296, and third baseman Cole Liniak is at .263 with 63 runs scored and 58 walks. Outfielder Roy Padilla (being converted from pitcher, and recovered from a midseason slump) is hitting .280 with 6 triples and 21 steals, and outfielder Keith Goodwin has 18 doubles and 11 steals to complement his fine outfield skills. Everybody scores runs and everybody drives runs in. The power threats are first baseman Clark, outfielder Joe Hamilton (a crowd favorite in BC), designated hitter Damian Sapp, and catcher Virgil Chevalier.

Since I've piqued your interest: Hamilton's now at .266 with 53 runs, 20 doubles, 13 homers, 56 RBIs, and 110 Ks. A solid season.

The pitching staff is fairly solid. Juan Pena (12 wins, 2.89) is having a great year, as would Paxton Crawford be with better support (6 wins, 3.58--and 11 hard losses). Southpaw reliever Kevan Cannon has six losses, but a very good stat line otherwise. Scott Jones has 18 saves as the team's closer. Larry Wimberly, a late callup. was effective against the Nuts in June and has been doing very well since. All-Star Curt Romboli looks excellent on the mound and strikes hitters out; his ERA's 4.11 and he hasn't been particularly effective since mid-season.

The stats look better than the record; they aren't playing up to their potential.

Battle Creek

Red Sox


The Midwest League plays Single-A, professional baseball in America's agricultural and industrial heartland. 16 teams play a 140 game schedule which begins in early April and ends Labor Day weekend.

This website is a private project and has no official relation with or sanction from the Midwest League or Minor League Baseball.
The opinions expressed on this page are mine, and are worth about that.

Copyright © 1996-2010 Joel Dinda
Some Rights Reserved.