Four 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 #3 team on my list:
#3 Stockton Ports, 1990
This is the third time that Stockton has placed on this list of Top 20 teams and you might see them again (actually you will) before we get to the end of it. The 1990 version won the California League championship in outstanding fashion as they defeated Bakersfield three games to two after falling in the first game of the series to the Dodgers 5-4 in…22 innings.
That’s right, 22 frames and six hours and twenty minutes of baseball, played over two days. The game was halted early in the morning of September 6 after 21 innings. The game was resumed later that day and the Dodgers won in the 22nd inning.
But the Ports got the last laugh after getting swept by Bakersfield the year before in the championship series.
Manager Chris Bando was in his first year as a manager and would go on to complete ten years in the minors, retiring with a record of 646-600. The team played at Billy Hebert Field and drew 85,000 fans during the season.
Stockton finished in the bottom half of most batting categories, including sixth (of ten teams) with runs scored (691), seventh in homers (67), and ninth in batting average (.247). They did well with stolen bases, finishing fourth with 182.
The pitchers fared better, ranking third in the league in ERA (3.88), fewest homers allowed (68), and WHIP (1.380). Their 1,013 strikeouts placed fourth. In the field, they showed proficiency while ranking in a tie for second with a .968 fielding average.
Third baseman Frank Bolick began the year with the Ports but was traded to the Seattle organization in early June and moved to the San Bernardino team in the Cal League and would end up winning the league MVP award by hitting 18 home runs, driving in a league-leading 102, and hitting .324 to finish fourth the the league batting race.
Pat Listach stole 78 bases, finishing second to San Bernardino’s Ellerton Maynard’s 80 thefts.
Forty-five players suited up for the Ports and 15 of them would spend at least a day in the big leagues.
Righty reliever Jim Czajkowski was acquired by the Brewers in a trade from the Pirates in mid-July and was assigned to Class A Beloit (Midwest), where he earned a promotion based on his 21 appearance, 11 save performance. He pitched just two games at Stockton, notching one save.
His major league career consisted of five appearances and 8 2/3 innings for Colorado in 1994. He would bounce around in the minors for three more years before retiring in 1997.
Outfielder Troy O’Leary began the season with Beloit and earned a promotion after his solid season which included a .298 batting average. In two games for the Ports, he went 3-for-6 with a double in his brief stay. He would get called up to the Brewers in 1993, spending parts of two years there before getting selected off waivers in April 1995 by Boston.
It was there that he flourished, becoming a starter in the Red Sox outfield for five years. He hit over .300 twice for Boston and had a career best 28 HR, 103 RBI season in 1999. He ended his career after playing partial seasons with Montreal and the Chicago Cubs.
His career stat line shows 1,100 hits and 127 HRs in eleven big league seasons.
C: Dave Nilsson/Bob Kappesser
1B: Bo Dodson
2B: Pat Listach
3B: Frank Bolick
SS: Remigio Diaz/Mike Guerrero
OF: James Sass
OF: Timothy Raley
OF: John Finn/Kenny Jackson
SP: David Fitzgerald
SP: Chris Johnson
SP: Steve Sparks
SP: Memo Sandoval
SP: Mark Kiefer
CL: Angel Miranda
BO KNEW BASEBALL: Bo Dodson
Bryan Morgan Dodson was drafted in the third round by the Brewers in the 1989 June Amateur Draft out of Sacramento Christian Brothers High School. Teammate Andy Fox was chosen one round earlier by the Yankees and played for nine years in the bigs.
Bo Dodson would not play a single inning in the major leagues.
1989: Dodson began his pro career at Rookie League Helena and did quite well, slashing 310/447/463 in 216 ABs and showed a good eye, drawing 52 walks.
1990: Played a full season at High A Stockton, hitting 273/398/388 in 363 ABs. His 73 walks were a career high, as were his 103 whiffs.
1991: Dodson played in only 88 games (injury?) and although he hit a middling .262, his 66 walks gave him an OBP of .400, which would be just a smidge under his minor league career mark of .403.
1992: Bo moved up to Class AA El Paso, where his average dropped again (.248) but his superior eye earned him a .380 OBP.
1993: Dodson’s second year in El Paso was better, as he slashed 312/397/500 and hit a career-high 27 two-baggers.
1994: He split time between El Paso and Class AAA New Orleans, faring better at the higher level (261/368/335).
1995: Once again splitting time between AA and AAA, Dodson had a combined slash line of 322/425/516 and looked like he was ready to advance to the bigs, finally reaching his power potential with a career best of 16 HR and 77 RBI.
1996: After seven seasons with the Brewers organization, Dodson became a free agent and signed with the Red Sox. He had an outstanding year with AAA Pawtucket, slashing 344/410/536 in 276 ABs, including 11 home runs.
1997: A shoulder injury limited Dodson to 29 games and 97 at-bats, but he still slashed 340/398/485 while battling his bum shoulder.
1998: Before the season, Dodson was traded to Baltimore and played at AAA Rochester, where he played his final full season, slashing 276/382/416 in 387 ABs.
After that season, Dodson retired and moved back to West Sacramento.
Bo Dodson’s career numbers make me wonder why he never got a shot in the bigs. He had a great eye and got on base over 40% of the time and had some gap power, but that apparently wasn’t good enough.
Too bad ‘our’ Bo never got to know baseball in the big leagues.