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Midwest League 1996

Peoria Chiefs

Joel's Lugnut Summer


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This page profiles the 1996 Peoria Chiefs, a Single-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals and a member of the Midwest League.


This essay previewed the last 1996 series between the Chiefs and the Lansing Lugnuts. It was intended to highlight the team's strengths, and was written from the perspective of a Lugnuts fan.



Four games to end the regular season at Peoria's Pete Vonachen Stadium. In a scheduling oddity, these teams are playing each other six times in the last two weeks of the season.


The Chiefs are affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals and are locally owned, principally by Pete Vonachen. Most of the key positions on the staff are held by Vonachen family members.

The Chiefs maintain an official page; it's got an interesting layout and is well-done [edit 3/13/07: it's now very different, of course]. The National Association's page for the Chiefs is the only other Chiefs page I can locate. There [was] a picture of Vonachen Stadium in Kevin Marsh's collection of ballpark photos.


The Chiefs are managed by Roy Silver (#34); his pitching coach is Ray Searage.


MWL Fan's Guide

The Ballpark

Pete Vonachen Stadium, named after the Chief's owner (and savior of baseball in Peoria, by all accounts), is a concrete structure which seats about 6,200 fans very near the playing field. Bradley University also plays in the facility. My usual sources tell me surprisingly little about the ballpark; some day I'll go there and get a better sense of the place. It draws fairly good crowds, and STATs Minor League Handbook tells me it slightly favors hitters, especially doubles hitters.

Directions: Exit I-74 at University Street North (exit 91B) to Nebraska Avenue; turn left to the stadium.


The Team

Mid-Season All-Stars: Kerry Robinson (OF), Juan Munoz (OF), Andy Hall (2B), Cliff Politte (P), Britt Reames (P), Travis Welch (P).

Post-Season All-Stars: Andy Hall (2B), Kerry Robinson (OF), Britt Reames (RHP), Armando Almanza (LH Reliever). Reames is the MWL's prospect of the year and manager Silver is the league's Manager of the Year.


Statistics quoted are thru Wednesday, August 28.

The Chiefs finished the first half at second in the Central Division with a 37-29 (.561). They're now in first, leading Rockford in that division by a game and a half at 40-25 (.615). This just might be the best team in the league.

The Cardinals have always invested heavily in their farms. Here's last year's low-minors lineup: The Chiefs were 62-72 (.463), eleventh in our league; the Savannah Cards of the Sally League finished at 56-83 (.403; 12th of 14); the New Jersey Cards of the short-season New York-Penn league had a 35-41 (.461) record, good for 8th of 14; and their Rookie team at Johnson City in the Appalachian League was 35-33 (515) (4th of 10). The current Chiefs team was pieced from this motley crew, with apparently some success. The team has very good hitting and excellent pitching.

This team has two excellent hitters. Second baseman Andy Hall is among the league's leaders in BA (.303) and has good numbers in most categories. Hall's got enough power to hurt and enough speed to watch. Outfielder Kerry Robinson (.357-2-45; 47 steals) has an excellent top-of-the-order stat line; besides leading the league in BA, he gets on base and runs very well. Others who merit attention include third baseman Chris Haas and outfielder Shawn McNally; both knock in lots of runs. Outfielder Ossie Garcia and shortstop Jason Woolf are threats to steal; Woolf's a fine defensive player, too.

This team's pitching can kill a good offense. Starters Britt Reames (15 wins, 1.80 ERA, 161 Ks) and Cliff Politte (13/2.64/144) are exceptional, while Jose Jimenez (12/2.88/124) is merely very good. Reliever Travis Welch is erratic but has 16 saves, while Keith Glauber has 14 saves and has been more consistent. All-Star Armando Almanza has been doing excellent setup work for the closers; he gets lots of strikeouts. Most of the other pitchers would look pretty good on any other MWL staff.

This is a very good team. Our guys have beat them three times in four meetings, so far. There's always hope in baseball.



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The Midwest League plays Single-A, professional baseball in America's agricultural and industrial heartland. 16 teams play a 140 game schedule which begins in early April and ends Labor Day weekend.

Disclaimers:
This website is a private project and has no official relation with or sanction from the Midwest League or Minor League Baseball.
The opinions expressed on this page are mine, and are worth about that.


Copyright © 1996-2010 Joel Dinda
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