The Northwest League of Professional Baseball today announced the circuits 50th Anniversary Team as voted on by members of a special league committee. The team is part of the pageantry surrounding the Northwest League All-Star Game being held at Avista Stadium in Spokane, Wash. tonight.
The team is comprised of players from all six decades of league play and features one current Hall of Fame player as well as four future Hall of Fame inductees. The team includes players from nine different league cities.
In order to be selected, a player was to have had a solid NWL career and had success at the major league level. The following is a list of the Northwest League's 50th Anniversary Team followed by a detailed look at each of their careers:
C Mike Piazza was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 First Year Player Draft and has become the greatest hitting catcher in major league history. As a member of the Salem Dodgers in 1989, Piazza put together an All-Star season by hitting .268 while smacking eight home runs and driving in 25 runs.
1B Ken Harvey posted the highest league batting average in two decades when he hit .397 for the Northwest League champion Spokane Indians in 1999. Harvey also hit eight home runs and drove in 41 for the Indians. A '99 5th round draft pick out of Nebraska, Harvey has lead the American League in batting average for much of 2004 as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
2B Juan Samuel began his professional baseball career in Bend with the Central Oregon Phillies. Samuel slugged 17 home runs while hitting .282 and driving in 44 runs. Samuel was named to the NWL All-Star team for his performance. He would go on to play for seven different major league organizations and post a career .259 batting average with 161 home runs in 16 major league seasons.
3B Hillis Layne was a player/manager for the Lewiston Broncs from 1955-1958 and won the league batting title in 1955 (.391) and finished second in both ‘56 (.354) and ‘57 (.340). In four NWL seasons, Layne's batting average was .362 and his on base percentage was .468. He struck out only 78 times in four years and led league 3B in fielding in 1955-56-57. Layne spent most of his lengthy career in the minors, spending parts of the 1941, 1944 and 1945 seasons with the Washington Senators. In 107 MLB games he hit .264.
SS Ozzie Smith began his remarkable rise to the Hall of Fame with the Walla Walla Padres in 1977. After only one season in minor league baseball, Smith debuted with the San Diego Padres in 1978. With Walla Walla, Smith was named to the NWL All-Star team after hitting .303-1-35 in 68 games. The 15 time MLB All-Star won 13 straight Gold Gloves as a member of the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals. Smith was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.
OF Eric Davis spent two seasons as a member of the Eugene Emeralds after being an 8th round selection in the 1980 First Year Player Draft. The first, in 1980, was not a memorable one. Davis played shortstop for the Ems and hit only .219-1-11. After making the move to the outfield in 1981, his career flourished. Davis hit .322 with 11 homers and 39 RBI while swiping 40 bases and was named to the NWL All-Star team. Davis would play 1,552 major league games over 16 years. Davis hit .271-278-912 during his MLB career.
OF Ken Griffey, Jr. was one of only two #1 overall draft selections to ever play in the Northwest League. In 1987 with the Bellingham Mariners, Griffey swatted 14 home runs to go along with a .313 batting average and 40 runs batted in. The Northwest League All-Star made his MLB debut with Seattle in 1989 and has slugged more than 500 home runs during his lengthy big league career. A current outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds, Griffey hit .294-481-1,384 coming into the 2004 season.
OF Tony Gwynn won the Northwest League batting title with the Walla Walla Padres in 1981. In addition to his .331 batting average, Gwynn tallied 12 homers and 37 RBI in 42 games with Walla Walla. The 3rd round draft pick out of San Diego State hit .338-135-1,138 in 20 major league seasons, all with San Diego. Gwynn won a record eight National League batting crowns and played in15 All-Star Games.
OF Rickey Henderson is Major League Baseball's career leader in stolen bases (1,406), runs scored (2,295) and bases on balls (2,190). Henderson was drafted in the 4th round of the 1976 First Year Player Draft by the Oakland Athletics and was sent to Boise to begin his professional career. As a member of the Boise Athletics, Henderson hit .336 with three home runs, 23 RBI and 29 stolen bases in 1976.
Utility Mel Krause is an Oregon sports legend. In addition to his time in the Northwest League, Krause played and coached at Oregon and also played basketball for the Ducks, graduating from UO in 1951. Krause played two seasons for the Salem Senators and four for the Eugene Emeralds and holds the NWL record for service in both seasons played (7) and games played (750). For his Northwest League career, Krause hit .284-17-284 and was named to the All-Star teams following the 1955, 1957 and 1959 seasons all as a utility player.
SP Bobby Bolin spent the 1959 season playing for the Eugene Emeralds. With the Ems, Bolin recorded 271 strikeouts including 22 against the Salem Senators on July 7, 1959, both league records. For the season, Bolin tallied 20 wins against eight defeats and had a 2.84 ERA in 225 innings pitched. Bolin still holds the league record for most shutouts in a season with nine and threw Eugene's first no-hitter on August 23, 1959 versus the Lewiston Broncs. Bolin went on to pitch for the San Francisco Giants from 1961-69.
SP Mark Bauer had one of the most remarkable seasons a pitcher could have in 1983. With the Medford Athletics, Bauer compiled a perfect 12-0 record, a league standard, to go along with a NWL short-season record four shutouts. Bauer also fashioned a 1.96 ERA with six complete games in 105 2/3 innings over 15 appearances. Following the season, Bauer was named to the NWL All-Star Team.
SP Jesse Foppert had a fine season in 2001 pitching for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Foppert had a record of 8-1, led the league with a 1.93 ERA in 70 innings pitched. Opponents hit just .150 against him, the best mark for a starter in the league that season. In addition, Foppert pitched the opening game of the 2001 NWL Championship Series in Boise and blanked the Hawks on three hits over six innings, striking out 12. In his last five starts of 2001, including the playoff appearance, Foppert allowed nine hits and no runs in 28 innings, striking out 53 and walking just eight. Foppert is a current member of the San Francisco Giants.
SP Paul Moskau won the pitchers Triple Crown in 1975 as a member of the Eugene Emeralds. Moskau, a 1975 Northwest League All-Star, was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 3rd round of the 1975 First Year Player Draft. Moskau would lead the Northwest League in wins (10), strikeouts (92) and ERA (1.50) for the league champion Ems. In the major leagues, Moskau compiled a career 32-27 record with a 4.22 ERA in seven seasons with Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs.
RP Troy Percival helped the Boise Hawks win the Northwest League championship in 1991. Percival recorded a league high 12 saves along with a dominating 1.41 ERA. He also struck out 63 against just 18 walks in only 38 1/3 innings pitched. In addition to his NWL crown, Percival was a member of the Anaheim Angels 2002 World Series championship team. Through the 2003 season, the three time American League All-Star has a career 3.00 ERA with 283 saves in 537 innings pitched.
RP John Pricher put up great numbers as part of the Boise Hawks in 1992. Pricher posted a 2-1 record with a miniscule 1.05 ERA in 43 innings pitched. His 23 saves that season is still a Northwest League record. Pricher also recorded 65 strikeouts with only eight walks while allowing just five earned runs. Pricher was named a to the Northwest League All-Star Team following the season.
Manager Tom Kotchman holds league records for games managed (835), games won (501) and playoff games won (11) to go along with four league championships he earned as manager of the Boise Hawks for 11 seasons from 1990-2000. Garrett Anderson, Todd Greene, Troy Percival, Eduardo Perez, Mark Sweeney, John Lackey, Francisco Rodriguez and Jarrod Washburn are just a few of the current major league players that played for Kotchman in Boise. Kotchman also played in the Northwest League with the Eugene Emeralds in 1977. Kotchman was able to earn post-season All-Star honors as a third baseman after he hit .296-2-29 in 60 games for the Ems.