Interim pitching coach Bill Castro (left), shown here in 2013, was a star closer for the 1972 Danville Warriors. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Last week, I began a weekly series looking back at some of the top farm squads in the history of Brewers baseball, dating back to 1970 when the Seattle Pilots headed northeast from spring training in Arizona and became the Milwaukee Brewers. I have not included short-season Class A or Rookie ball teams, as their seasons are generally too short to compare to full-season squads in A, AA, and AAA levels.
With this week’s edition of Beating the Bushes, I present the #19 team on my list:
"#19 Danville Warriors, 1972"
Danville, Illinois is located 35 miles east of Champaign, hard by the Illinois/Indiana border. Not many people are unaware of this, but Milwaukee legend Robin Yount was born in Danville, living there for a few years before the family moved to Southern California.
The city hosted the Brewers Class A Midwest League team for four years in the early 70s (1971-74). As a young lad living in central Wisconsin, I got a chance to see most of the ML teams–including Danville–play in Wisconsin Rapids, home of the Twins.
The Warriors played at Danville Stadium, a 4,000 seat venue that was built in 1946. Selected scenes from the 1992 movie The Babe were filmed there.
Twenty-seven players suited up during the ’72 season, and of that group, eight would go on to play in the majors.
Eighteen-year-old outfielder Sixto Lezcano was in his second year of professional ball and was a top player even as a teenager. He would play for 12 years in the big leagues, including seven for Milwaukee. He had a cannon for an arm, notching more than ten outfield assists in seven different seasons.
Charlie Moore was a 19-year-old catcher for the Warriors. He would play fifteen seasons in the bigs, all but one for the Brewers. He would become a solid outfielder in the majors and was not afraid to show off his strong arm.
Right-handed closer Bill Castro had 17 saves for the Warriors. He would pitch for ten years in the majors, including seven in Milwaukee.
Tom Hausman made eights starts for Danville, and would go on to a successful seven-year career as a spot starter/middle reliever, mostly for the Mets.
Eduardo Rodriguez was a long reliever for the Warriors, averaging over two innings per appearance in 40 games. He pitched for seven years in the show (six for Milwaukee).
The Warriors had a very successful year, winning both halves of the split season in the Southern Division, and then would go on to defeat Appleton 2-0 for the Midwest League crown.
Manager Joe Nossek led the Warriors to an overall record of 73-52 during the season.
HR: Gary Martz, Charlie Moore (12)
RBI: Gary Martz (69)
BA: Duane Espy (.340)
SB: Duane Espy (48)
W: Carl Austerman (16)
ERA: Thomas King (1.94)
SV: Bill Castro (17)
K: Carl Austerman (166)
WHIP: Thomas King (1.092)
C: Charlie Moore
1B: Gary Martz
2B: Duane Espy
3B: Rick Oliver
SS: Juan Lopez
OF: Sixto Lezcano
OF: Price Thomas
OF: Alejandro Rodriguez
SP: Darryl Steen
SP: Carl Austerman
SP: Jerry O’Neill
SP: Larry Anderson
SP: Kenneth Collins
CL: Bill Castro
(The thing that I find odd about teams at the lower level is that some of the top players never make the majors–Espy, Austerman, et al. Makes you wonder why that is.)
The Warriors captured a championship in at least one of the halves each year while under Brewers control, but the 1972 team was the only one to run the table. Castro, Lezcano, and Moore were solid players for Danville and would contribute in Milwaukee for many years as well.