Dan Warren - Meadowlands was renamed the Newark Eagles, still under the guiding hand of Jim Lafargue, while Frank Tedeschi returned at the helm of the Bethesda Bambinos. The Village Bluenotes replaced the Midlothian Mariners.
Division champions were Norfolk, Long Island, Morgantown, and Bradenton, but once again it was a wildcard team, the beacon Braves, who captured the league championship.
Beacon’s Kirby Puckett hit .331 to lead the league, while Andre Dawson of Long island led with 44 homers and 144 RBI.
Mark Langston (23), Rick Reuschel (23), Sid Fernandez (21), David Cone (21), Rick Mahler (21), Bob Walk (20), and Orel Hershiser (20) shared pitching honors.
Anthony Orlando graciously gives Jim Lafargue $150,000 for Kal Daniels.
Beacon: Back in the High Life Again
It had been twelve years since Hudson Valley fans had rooted for their team in the playoffs. The 1976 Hyde Park Vita-men had won the AL championship over the Mt. Greenwood Foresters, but what followed was twelve long years of mostly losing. After redrafting prior to the 1985 season, Beacon embarked upon a five year rebuilding plan that was supposed to get the franchise into the playoffs. The trades, drafts and decisions that led Beacon to the 1989 championship are now a matter of record, but the glow of that final series victory against Metro rival Long Island can still be seen in the hills surrounding Beacon.
The championship series was supposed to be one of exciting close-action baseball, with strategic moves and difficult decisions abounding. Instead it more closely resembled a heavyweight bout, with both contestants pounding each other unmercifully. The first three games were decided by margins of 5, 10, and 8 runs and featured 20 extra base hits. Beacon and Long Island split the first two games by scores of 11-6 and 12-2. A big 9-1 victory in game three gave Beacon the 2-1 lead.
Game Four featured Bryn Smith (13-8) against Teddy Higuera (16-5). A George Brett home run in the first was answered by an Andy Van Slyke homer in the second, as the see-saw action continued unabated. A double by Puckett and a single by Ready off Todd Worrell gave Beacon another victory, and put them one game away from the championship.
Spectators needed ringside seats for the flurry of action in Game 5. Long Island pounded David Cone for 3 first inning runs, but the resilient Braves responded with 4 runs off Tim Belcher to take an early 4-3 lead. The first inning alone had featured 4 singles, a double, 4 walks, a hit batsman, and a sacrifice fly! A homer by Brett in the second put Beacon up 6-3, and they stretched the lead to 7-3 after 8 innings. Then came the Islanders, given a huge lift on Jack Clark’s pinch-hit, two-out, game-tying 3-run home run in the top of the ninth. The Islanders went on to win the game 9-8, leaving the series at 3-2 Beacon.
After the devastating loss in Game 5, I had the desperate feeling that Long Island was about to pull a miraculous comeback win. I had started my ace and blown a 4-run lead. My starting pitching was in disarray - the man I didn’t want to start, Dave LaPoint, was the only one rested. He had been pounded by Long Island in appearances earlier in the season, and I had no confidence in him at all. Facing LaPoint would be Rick Reuschel, who had held the Braves to one earned run in Game 2.
Although LaPoint only lasted 2.2 innings, the outcome of the game was never really in doubt. Using four consecutive singles in the first inning and three singles and two home runs in the third, Beacon jumped out to an 8-1 lead and never looked back. In all, Beacon pounded FIVE home runs in Game 6 and raced away with an 11-3 win and the second American League Championship for the franchise.
For the series, Beacon bashed 13 home runs, including 5 each by Brett (6 rbi, 12 runs) and Strawberry (11 rbi and 9 runs), compared to just four for Long Island. For the Islanders, Van Slyke had 8 rbi, Larkin batted .400 (6 rbi, 5 runs), and Tony Pena batted .571 to lead all batters.
In the end, despite all the adept maneuvering, despite all the quick pitching hooks, despite the random vagaries of the computer, it came down to something essentially baseball; it came down to who could hit the ball over the wall. In 1989 it was the Beacon Braves.
How about that? - Bob Braun
Frank Tedeschi - After one other aborted attempt to find time to rejoin the league, I received a call from Mr. Fiehl again. He told me about how the game was computerized and doing the statistical part of the league was no longer required. I had a computer at home, and two young boys as well. With two youngsters at home, that meant I was home as well. Time at home, computerized stats, it was time to get back in the TCBA! “Here, Frank, take this truly horrible team -- build this if you can.” I named the team the Bambinos in dedication to my kids, who’s existence was the major contributor to my return to the league.
I finished out the string of a truly pathetic season. Luckily another franchise went down also; not a great team, but one with some cash and a few good ballplayers. We redrafted and our three year building plan hoped to put us in the caliber of playoff-type teams.
“Come to Lancaster, it’s what the league is all about.” Let me get this straight. I should drive to Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the middle of winter and spend 3 or 4 days drafting and trading and generally talking baseball with a bunch of guys I had not met? This is what the league is all about? I thought it was about trying to outscore the other team. To say I was skeptical about the first trip to Lancaster is an understatement. I was pretty much badgered into attending. It’s now one of the highlights of the year for me, a baseball weekend orgy. No thoughts of work, or life’s responsibilities, a great release to become a middle-aged kid and enjoy the simple passion of baseball with nineteen other nut cases. My hats off to whoever came up with the idea. It has kept the league together these twenty years, no doubt.
Random Comments - The August newsletter announced the resignation of Chuck Steinmetz due to business pressure.
The Mets deal Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell to the Phillies for Juan Samuel. This puts Marty Fiehl and Bill Kirwin on opposite sides of the joy spectrum. Marty calls it a “totally worthless deal” for the Mets.