Three plus months ago, 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 #5 team on my list:
"#5 Stockton Ports, 1980"
The Ports won the 1980 California League title, sweeping Visalia 3-0 in the championship round. Stockton (90-51) played at Billy Hebert Field and was led by Tony Muser, in his first year of managing.
The pitching staff performed well, leading the league in ERA (3.18), strikeouts (837), and WHIP (1.379). They allowed the third-fewest homers in the loop with 58.
The hitters placed in the middle of the league in most categories, but did place second in stolen bases with 217.
Several players ranked among league leaders. Jaime Cocanower placed second in wins with 17 while Jerry Jenkins tied for third with 15. Mike Madden won the ERA crown with 1.95 and Cocanower was fourth in strikeouts with 132.
Bill Schroeder—the Fox Sports color analyst who always downplays his playing ability—was second in RBIs with 97. Edward Irvine finished with 77 steals to place second in that category, while Bob Skube tied for fifth with 19 home runs.
Only 25 players suited up for Stockton, but eight of them made it to the major leagues.
Schroeder also hit 18 HRs and stole ten bases for the Ports. ‘Rock’ played eight years in the bigs, with his 1987 season standing out. In just 250 ABs, he hit 14 homers, knocked in 42, and slashed 332/379/548.
Reliever Bob Gibson appeared 33 times for Stockton, going 6-3 with a 3.90 ERA. His highlight in five big league seasons was his 11-save year in 1985.
Jaime Cocanower had a great year in Stockton with his 17 wins, 132 whiffs, 2.18 ERA and ten complete games in 27 starts. In four major league seasons, he won 16 games and compiled a 3.99 ERA in 79 games (47 starts).
Mike Madden won the ERA title with his 1.95 mark. He won 12 games, completing five and even earning a pair of saves. In four big league seasons with Houston, he went 12-10 with a 3.94 ERA in 71 games (26 starts).
HR: Bob Skube (19)
RBI: Bill Schroeder (97)
BA: Stanley Davis (.313)
SB: Edward Irvine (77)
W: Jaime Cocanower (17)
ERA: Mike Madden (1.95)
SV: Roberto Diaz (5)
K: Jaime Cocanower (132)
WHIP: Mike Madden (1.127)
C: Bill Schroeder
1B: Stanley Davis
2B: Ronald Koenigsfeld
3B: Melvin Manning
SS: Willie Lozado
OF: Jon Hansen
OF: Edward Irvine
OF: Bob Skube
SP: Jaime Cocanower
SP: Timothy Cook
SP: Jerry Jenkins
SP: Robert Schroeck
SP: Andy Beene/Mike Madden
CL: Roberto Diaz
SPEED KILLS, BUT NOT ALWAYS: Edward Irvine
Edward Irvine was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 7th round of the 1979 June Amateur Draft and was assigned to Burlington in Class A Midwest League, where he stole 22 bases in 71 games but only batted .248.
The following year, he advanced to Class A Stockton and had the best season of his six-year minor league career, stealing 77 bases and slashing 293/339/350.
At Class AA El Paso the next season, he pilfered 48 bags and slashed 288/327/366 and earned a promotion to AAA the following year.
In 1982 at Class AAA Vancouver, Irvine dropped off a little, but still stole 27 bases in a 275/323/362 season.
The next year he disappeared, playing in Juarez in the Mexican League for unknown reasons.
In 1984, he returned to Class A Beloit and stole 31 bases in 111 games before moving back to Class AA El Paso, where he played in just eight games.
He then dropped off the baseball map.
Irvine now is the owner of a business in the telecommunications industry.
He was once a speedster in a game that values the stolen base. What happened?
As the old commercial about Tootsie Roll Pops once stated:
The World may never know.