Dan Warren - Gary Sibley took over the Harbor Beach franchise during the previous season, renaming it the Birdsnest Bombers, while also overseeing the Heidelberg club in the National League - quite a trans-Atlantic feat- and managing the Combers through three tight series.
Division champions included Long Island, Bethesda, Village, and Evanston. The Metro Division sported four 100-game winning teams, a league first. Scranton repeated as league champion, winning game 7 of the final series against Hoboken on a 9th inning steal of home by Ricky Henderson.
Newark’s Eddie Murray batted .368, while Cecil Fielder of Bethesda had 57 home runs. Andre Dawson of Long island collected 163 RBI.
Scranton’s Dave Stieb posted and amazing 25-1 record to top Roger Clemens (24), Bob Welch (24), Dave Stewart (23), Zane Smith (23), Mike Boddicker (20), Doug Drabek (20), and Dennis Martinez (20) in the win department.
In the rookie draft, big dollars were spent for Sandy Alomar (Binghamton, $222,000 - the all-time high); Ben McDonald (Bethesda, $162,000); Frank Thomas (Beacon , $155,000); Alex Fernandez (Bradenton, $130,000); Dave Justice (Silver Spring, $135,000); Mike Harkey (Evanston, $115,000); and Delino DeShields (Mimosa, $100,000).
A proposal for changing the Rookie selection process from sealed bids to a live rookie auction format was sent to a joint committee for finalizing. A presentation done at Lancaster in February received near unanimous support.
Micro-ball was a hot topic in the summer of ‘91, leading to the resignation of Joe Shabot.
Newark wins 102 games and fails to make the playoffs.
From the League Newsletter of 12/3/91 –
BEES WIN! BEES WIN!! BEES WIN!!!
KEEFER GETS FIRST DIVISION TITLE!
“It had to happen eventually! After 17 seasons in TCBA, Evanston manager Al Keefer finally hoisted the Central Division pennant flag over top of Keefer’s Pharmacy in downtown Evanston. Holding off late charges from Mimosa and Morgantown, the Bees finished with 86 victories and a 3-game lead over the Raiders. Fans celebrated well into the afternoon.”
Bob Braun - With the departure of Joe Shabot, the league decided to offer redraft opportunities to interested teams. Much to everyone’s surprise Long Island, Newark, and Scranton (all 100+ game winners in 1991) chose to join Annandale, Binghamton, and New York in the redraft. The unselfishness of Marty, Jim Mac, and Jim Lafargue was a proud moment for TCBA.
Stu McCorkindale - I got a vicarious thrill from an away game report from Frank Lentine during the 1991 season. In the midst of a lackluster year (career?) Todd Stottlemyre went on the road against Binghamton and pitched the TCBA’s only perfect game (ed. note: until Chuck Finley did it in the 1994 playoffs). I don’t think Frank realized it until the game was over, because he was seeing his ace, Jose Rijo, getting blasted in a 17-0 rout. I barely noticed it myself, but something made me re-read Frank’s note and catch his sort of blasé` mention of the game.
Frank Tedeschi - It was my second trip to Lancaster that a relatively minor trade vaulted the Bambinos into playoff contention. There was this overweight first baseman I had never seen play by the name of Cecil Fielder who was harpooned and being returned to the major leagues via Japan. He was going to Detroit to play, had some power -- and I was without a starting major league firstbaseman. Dan Warren and I put together a small deal in which he got an outfield prospect (Darrin Jackson, who would go on to some productive years), and I got Fielder. I got to enjoy baseball’s surprise of the year day by day, home run by home run. There were 51 in all, flying out of ballparks almost daily it seemed. His double “1”, double “5” card almost single-handedly put us in the playoffs for the first time. Although we lost in the first series, Lancaster, I learned, is even more enjoyable when your team is in the playoffs.
Jim McEneaney - In the fall of '91, the team underwent a major restructuring, as it entered the historic TCBA/AL redraft. But after a year of rebuilding (and stockpiling cash in anticipation of the 2nd auction draft), the Isles drafted Mike Mussina and charged back into the playoffs where the Horseshoe Bay Polos have knocked them silly two years running.
Stu McCorkindale - (November 24, 1991) The reason I was out of the office last week was that Casey finally decided to come out of the dugout and take a few swings. He was born at 10:25 p.m. on 11/18 (3rd quarter of the Bills-Dolphins game) and was 8 lb. 10 oz, spread out over 23 inches of length. Sue went into labor on Sunday, but realizing the Giants were playing the Cowboys, hung on until Monday morning before going to the hospital. She never dilated more than 5 cm, so the doctors went with a C-section during half-time of the Monday Night game. Sue was running a temperature during the labor, so Casey has been banished to ICU on a technicality and can’t come home until 11/27. Sue came home yesterday and is looking forward to today’s Giants-Buccaneers game!
Al Keefer on Fernando’s Farewell - (Islanders vs. Bees) Game 6: Bob Welch pitched his second strong game of the series and shutout the Bees 7-0 on 3 hits. It was a shame; this was Fan Appreciation Day as Fernando Valenzuela made his only home start of the year in a farewell performance. Fernando came to Evanston in 1982 as a rookie, starting in 297 games, winning 146 and losing only 92. Fernando won 20 or more games 3 times in his great Bee career. He was last heard begging management for one more chance to take on Bob Wood and the Bradenton Buckeyes.
Bob Braun - One of the nicest stories to develop out of spring training in 1991 involved long time Beacon favorite Mike Flanagan. Released by Toronto in 1990, Mike had called around to all the other teams, looking for a job that never came. The Cubs had expressed some interest in Flanagan, but a tender shoulder scared them away. In the spring of ‘91, with a long rest, Mike found his way back to Baltimore, scene of his greatest baseball triumphs. The Orioles gave him a tryout, and Mike responded better than even he expected.
From a purely human view, this is a great story of redemption. A supposedly over the hill pitcher makes his way back to the high life through pure perseverance, given one more crack at fame and fortune. I purchased Flanagan as a rookie in January of 1977. He stayed with me from that time until I released him in January of 1992. We even held a Mike Flanagan Day during series #12 in Scranton, thinking like everyone else that Mike’s career was over. But like fellow New Englander Carlton Fisk, Flanagan fooled us all.
Well, almost all of us. I had been aware of his progress during the spring, aware that I should probably claim him off the waiver wire for old time’s sake. I had until midnight of March 21 to claim him without worry by virtue of Beacon’s poor 1990 record. I hesitated, not knowing who to cut in order to make room for Flanagan. On March 24 I visited with Jim McEneaney, who gave me the news that Flanagan had been claimed by Hoboken. Nice for Mike, I guess, and for Anthony, too. Still, after 402 appearances over 14 years, it just didn’t seem right that Flanagan played for someone else. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to that.