Dan Warren - Harbor Beach downed wildcard Greylock, and the Shiloh Spurs topped South Starrucca to set up the American League championship series. The Spurs breezed in five, eventually losing to Mike Bravard’s Boulder Bobcats in the TCBA World Series.
Shiloh’s Joe Morgan (.348) topped the batters, while Bergen’s Graig Nettles collected 44 homers and 110 RBI to lead in both categories. Nettles just edged South Starrucca’s Mike Schmidt (109) for the RBI title.
There were a batch of 20 game winners, led by Randy Jones (25): Mike Torrez, John Montefusco, Vida Blue, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Jim Lonborg, John Candelaria, Doc Ellis, and South Starrucca’s three amigos; John Matlack, Bert Blyleven, and Frank Tanana.
Stu McCorkindale and his Bergen Barflies, in a reversal of the politically correct trends to be later seen during the 90’s, replaced Teri Hackbart, the only woman manager in TCBA history. Jim McEneaney assumed control of the Toronto Nationals during the season, renaming the franchise the Long Islanders. Jim Lafargue also moved over from the National League, forming the Meadowlands Spartans at the end of the season as an expansion team. Jim Pertierra takes over an NL franchise.
Mark “The Bird” Fidrych cost Mt. Greenwood $111,000 in the rookie draft, while Pat Zachary brought $101,000 (Mt. Pleasant).
Jim Lafargue in 11-7-77 TCBA Report - “The American League expansion team will be managed by me, on a permanent basis. Because of my change in location and interest as president in getting to know the AL managers better, I have decided to make the switch.”
Marty Fiehl discussed Max the Hamster in one of the season’s newsletters.
Jim Lafargue discussed trading etiquette in the 6-9-77 TCBA Report.
No-hitters continued to be plentiful in 1977. Shiloh’s Randy Jones had three, two on the road, including at Pilot Stadium against Norfolk. He missed a perfect game against Connecticut when he walked Jim Essian in the ninth with no out. Rockford’s Jim Palmer against Connecticut, San Francisco’s John Denny against the Numen, Shiloh’s JR Richard, Toronto’s Fergy Jenkins, Mt. Greenwood’s Mark Fidrych, and Shiloh’s Bill Travers all pitched no-hitters during the season. Bob Wood’s Nolan Ryan pitched a no-hitter against Rockford in a face-to-face series with Al Zarse. Ryan only allowed 2 base runners.
A 21-inning affair between Rolling Meadows and Harbor Beach set a new league record for the longest game.
A Fiehl Fact - Highest rookie bid in ‘78 was Bergen’s $112,000 on Dave Rozema. Turned out Stu bid $111,000 more than he had to, as Rozema was unbid upon by the rest of us sane managers.
This year also marked entry in the league of Andre Dawson for a cool $100K bid by Mr. McEneaney. Andre would go on to a ripe old age setting a majority of all-time TCBA hitting records.
Diamond Dust - Toronto’s Luis Tiant lost a one-hitter (1-0) on a first inning home run by Rockford’s Willie Montanez.
Greylock’s Ted Simmons hit for the cycle against the Spurs at Shiloh. The chances of his repeating the feat were estimated by Jerry III at 8 in 10 million.
A Fiehl Fact - The Shiloh Spurs stole 37 bases against a team in a 7 game series! We must have had some wild stolen base rules back then.
Jim Lafargue in 5-18-77 TCBA Report - “While the lateness fines have not yet needed to be imposed, the $20,000 illegal trading fine has already been used twice. Marty Fiehl was fined for attempting to trade before cutting his roster. (ed. note: McEneaney wasn’t in the league yet.) Selden was fined for making firm offers to two teams including the same player. (ed. note: McEneaney still wasn’t in the league yet.)
Marty Fiehl - trades Jim Rice, Pete Falcone and Buddy Bell to Connecticut for Mike Schmidt, C. Moore, and Hughes (?).
Bob Braun - The Vita-Men started on a rebuilding program after reaching the World Series in 1976. They had hoped for an even .500 season, but the pitching staff did not hold up. Newly acquired Rhoden and Alexander showed poorly, and the bullpen did not have sufficient depth to fill the gap. Despite the gloom, some of the young V-M performed well. John Stearns took over for the departed Jerry Grote, and Mike Flanagan pitched well in limited action. He had become the most sought after Hyde Park player. Highlight of the season was the routine thumping of Fiehl’s South Starrucca squad.
TCBA Report of 7-22-77 - “On behalf of the entire TCBA, the editor sends along best wishes to President Jim Lafargue, who will be married on August 21st.”
Jim Lafargue in a letter of 12/13/77 to Jerry Siciliano and Doug Meyer - “Any fines should be reduced if excused by lateness of other managers of which the statistician is aware. Delay by a manager in picking up his mail is not a valid excuse, however.”
TCBA At Willow Valley 1996
From left to right: (Standing) Jim McEneaney, Craig Shifflett, Pat Lowrey, Marty Fiehl, Ed Hebscher, Gary Sibley, and Bill Kirwin; (Seated) Frank Tedeschi, Frank Howard, Larry Smith, John Carter, and Mike Mancini; (In front) Dan Warren, Bob BRaun, Jim Lafargue, Casey Lyman, Al Keefer, Don Mahley