Franchise History

by Chris Klein
around 7/98

1994- I didn't really take much of an interest in this league, and it shows by how much I remember about it. The Champaign Jam was far from being a great team, but with as little time I spent with my team, they were somewhat competitive. Looking back, I must have been near the tops in the league in team batting average, and team doubles. John Olerud was my first pick, and I am sure he contributed highly to both categories. Also, having Mike Piazza as my regular catcher didn't hurt my stats there either. I honestly don't recall any specific games or moments from that season. I was there when Ken tore his shirt, but I don't remember for certain that it was that year. Oh yeah, Ron Gant was league MVP.

1995- A) The San Quentin Tarantinos began with a lot of hope, yet fizzled in the end. After a slow start, they picked up David Justice to lead off and play DH. The team's obvious problem was on base percentage, due to the poor drafting, including Joe Carter , Felix Jose, Junior Felix and Felix the Cat. Justice literally turned the team around, and they were bolstered further by the trade to acquire Barry Bonds. While he didn't quite lead them to the promised land, he certainly gave them hope for the future. Also, Matt Williams won league MVP.

'95 B) With the carry-over core of Bonds, Griffey, Mondesi, and a couple of pitchers, the season looked tasty for the Rocky Mountain Dews. Unfortunately, things don't always pan out. A big lead was reduced to a one game deficit with one game to go. Playing against arch-rival/divisional leading enemy Keith in the season finale, we were forced to pull out all the stops. A tie game in the bottom of the eighth, with two outs the Dews hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers to force a divisional playoff game. We lost that game, but the previous game is what we choose to remember.

'95 C) I proved my forte was drafting on the run, as I drafted arguably the best team ever. Two of the league's premier players, O'Neill, and Bagwell, the premier stealer, Lofton, and 5 of the top 6 relievers highlighted this great draft by the Calumet City Killers. They began this doomed season with a lot of success, and at the time of the crash were playing at about a .700 clip. Memorable from this season was the 40 games that the Killers played in one day.

1996- Obviously this was the highlight of the franchise's history. The Evanston Vedders won the Spit Cup by getting hot at the right time. They were probably only the 3rd or 4th best team in the league, but rode to the victory on the back of their bullpen. They collectively gave up only 2 earned runs in 33 IP in the playoffs and series combined, thus earning a group Series MVP award. Mike Piazza earned his first SL batting title, and Albert Belle led the world in doubles, but mostly it was just a well balanced team effort. Trading for Jeff Bagwell and Travis Fryman was huge for the team, as Bagwell had a lot of key hits down the stretch, and Fryman shored up the defense. But winning the last two games of the series, on the road, was what made this season special, and it was all a team effort.

1997- The St. Petersburg Apostles started the season with the hopes of a 2-peat, and ended the season with barely a whimper. They did meet expectations by making the playoffs, but were then easily overmatched. They carried a lead in the division early on, but once again could not hold the lead. Juan Gonzales was the team leader in everything for the first half, but then faltered. Gary Sheffield was All-World, putting up the second best set of numbers the SL has ever seen. He finished at, or near the top of most offensive categories, and finished second in the MVP voting. But his personal efforts were little consolation for the poor team effort in the playoffs, and the disappointment that followed the successes of '96.