Poughkeepsie Journal from Poughkeepsie, New York on May 15, 1988 · Page 9D
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Poughkeepsie Journal from Poughkeepsie, New York · Page 9D

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Poughkeepsie, New York
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Sunday, May 15, 1988
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Page 9D
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tjy is: : - i'4. - '2UPW'.tt n i J . i if mi m Tin r . - - - - ' s m s " "n" i ' u mi igyjwwi ymmmmiimi . . ,3.i.nflMMiliiWij - Jr - 1.' . , && .U JtV fc&? - - ' Vr"" - H. r - .; &&:: B2 & , . 4 , fr . i, Sunday. May 15. 1988 Poughkeepsie Journal 9D V.U, 'V; ' "T mf ; V,l 1 B , "tt 5? Tr f 3ffifKHlt r 4 rMhirsr rarM vhi : ? Road to the Major Leagues Dixon hopes for a speedy rise ' " a.i - fe $ di" Spckil to tt loumotJohn 9rmon Dee Dixon of the Shreveport. La., Captsins is anxious to make a big move toward the major leagues. By Paul Hurley Jovrnil tUfl Dee Diion is a man in a hurry. He's so eager to score, be steals bases to get closer to home. He's so driven to make the major leagues, he sets this year as his make - or - break season. He's in such a hurry, he shortened his name, from "Andy" to "Dee." "It's short and easy," says Dee Dixon, formerly Andy Dixon of Poughkeepsie. "That's my name down here now. It's on my baseball card, on the roster, on everything It's my baseball name." Dixon is in his second full minor league season in the San Francisco Giants organization, his third professional season, and be is pinning big hopes on it. "This is what they call my free agent year," Dixon says. "After this year, they offer me a major league contract or they have to trade me. It will be their loss or somebody else's gain." Dixon has never been known to lack confidence. It's not surprising that his baseball hopes this season aren't exactly modest. "I figure I steal 90 bases this year. 'sfyiffii K'12P '!iiiXSS'k?!iw ''tWiiiyi AGE: 24 RESIDENCE: Virginia Beach, Va. HIGH SCHOOL: Poughkeepsie COLLEGE: Norfolk State University DRAFTED: San Francisco Giants, 17 selection June draft MINOR LEAGUES: Everett, Wash., Giants; Clinton, Iowa, Giants; Shreveport, La . Giants. POSITION: Outfield BATS: Left, Throws: Left CURRENT STATISTICS: .305 BA; 31 G; 118 AB; 19 R; 36 H; 2 3B; 2 HR; 14 RBI; 18 SB; Slg. pet. .390; OB pet. .364. I can't go unnoticed," he says. "Last year I stole 73 and led the organization. But you have to go out all over again and earn respect." Dixon is in his second season with the Shreveport Captains. The 24 - year - old graduate of Poughkeepsie High School and Norfolk State University has had a meteoric rise in the Giants organization. Last season he moved up to Double A Shreveport midway in the season. His solid hit ting, but especially his speed on the bases, accentuated his offensive abilities. Twice he was invited to the Arizona Instructional League after the season and it seemed the Giants had tapped him for big things. Giants general manager Al Rosen told Dixon be might be called up to Triple A. But Dixon learned in spring training that what you do yesterday doesn't always count today "I was demoted to the Gass A club for a week in spring training to bust my butt off," Dixon says. "They said I was getting laid back and I thought I was guaranteed a job in Double A 1 think they wanted to teach me a les son. It sure opened up these eyes a lot "Finally the president said, okay, that's enough discipline for now," Dixon says. "I know it scared me all right" Dixon rejoined Shreveport for the opening of the Texas League season He is the Captains' regular right fielder and bats leadoff from the left side. Dixon is a spray hitter with raw speed who takes any opportunity to get on base, as a good leadoff man should. He is even developing some new tricks "A lot of times they play me on the corners, so about the sixth inning, I'll lay down a bunt, just to keep them off balance," Dixon said. The start of the season was rough, however. Dixon hit a slump. In the first week of the season, he was batting just .260 (unheard of for a player who batted over .400 through college and his first minor - league season). He has recovered from the first shaky weeks, however, to lift his average to .305 with two home runs and 1 4 RBI. He is also tied for the Texas League lead in stolen bases with 18 as of Friday His speed on the bases is Dixon's trademark, but he has to get on the bases to speed "I'm starting to feel comfortable now," Dixon says , "I'm happy right now. We play in a nice big ballpark. The organization's great, and I enjoy the traveling," says Dixon. "Hey. we're flying None of that bus stuff " The man in a hurry is now in a rush to produce, so he can fly on to another level. "I know what I have to do put up the numbers," Dixon says. "This is my make - it - or - break - it year for me. All I have to do is put up some good numbers." Kesselmark is a man on the move By Paul Hurley Joirn.l tuff Joe Kesselmark moved so often it got so he wasn't sure which town he was in. He's happy where he is now, though, and where he's headed. a Kesselmark wound up a successful spring training with a rush up to Double A baseball on the minor league European plan if this is Tuesday, he must be in Wichita. The 22 - year - old Kesselmark had spent most of spring training with the San Antonio Missions in the Los Angeles Dodgersffganization, a move up to Double A baseball. H$ failed to make the final cut in spring training, however, because the Dodgers had so many outfielders. So Kesselmark was dropped from the Double A roster down to Gass A Vero Beach, where he played last year. Four days into the minor league season, an injury to San Antonio's starting centerfielder opened a spot for Kesselmark. He rushed to join the Missions on the road. Over the 'next week, he went from Vero Beach to Miami to El Paso to Dallas to Midland, Texas, finally lighting in San Antonio. "I just got in last night," Kesselmark said by phone from San Antonio. "It's been an interesting couple of weeks." Kesselmark made sure his employers became interested in him right away! He had just flown in Bruno's a happy reliever By Paul Hurley Joaratl iull Joe Bruno is glad where he's ended up, even though he didn't expect it Perched as he is with the Chattanooga Lookouts, he can almost see Cincinnati. Bruno, 24, likes having a solid position in Gass A A baseball with the Cincinnati Reds organization. In his fourth minor league season, he can see himself getting over the hump toward the majors. And he is comfortable with his adopted position of relief pitcher. Bruno, a Roosevelt High School graduate, figures it's his best chance to make the majors. "I think in this organization, being a reliever is better than being a starter," Bruno says. "I like the position I'm in. In this organization right now I've got a good chance to move up. I relieved all last year and it's something I'd like to be. It's my future1 in baseball." Bruno knew his future lay in making a Double A club this year after three years In Class A. Over the winter he worked hard on conditioning and practice to be read for spring training. Although he had a Double A contract pothjng is guaranteed in baSeball. Bruno had a delayed start in spring, however, because he was rating a bad ankle. The Reds weren't concerned. Although Bruno had pitched just nine Innings in spring, they took him along with the major league club on their final exhibition tour before the seaspn. Suddenly he was with manager Pete Rose and the Reds' stars - Eric Davis, Kal Daniels, Tom Browning... "I didnt get a chance to pitch at all. but it was exciting," Bruno says. "You get a taste of the major leagues and it makes you want to work all the harder. That's the only place to play the game." '.J&runtf returned fired up from hi? stint with the big leaguers. On the Chattanooga Lookouts he burst out of thfi. gate He didn't give - up a run in IELMARK AGE: 22 RESIDENCE: Poughkeepsie HIGH SCHOOL: Our Lady of Lourdes '83 COLLEGE: Pace University DRAFTED: Los Angeles Dodgers, free agent eighth round MINOR LEAGUES: Great Falls. Mont . Dodgers; Vero Beach, Fla., Dodgers; San Antonio, Texas, Mission! POSITION: Outfield BATS: Left. Throws: Left CURRENT STATISTICS: .339 BA. 28 G; 124 AB; 14 R; 42 H; 5 2B; 3 3B; 2 HR, 18 RBI; 2 SB; .444 Slg. pet.; .354 OB pet. to Wichita from Miami, arrived about a half hour before game time and missed batting practice He went 3 - for - 3 in his first game with three RBI "The guys were saying maybe I should skip batting practice more often," he said. Kesselmark kept hitting, however Over the first month, he is hitting .339 with two home runs and 18 RBI."I feel comfortable and I'm just happy to keep it going," he says. The boost to Double A San Antonio boosted Kcs selmark's confidence, too, especially after he had played all spring with the Missions. "I was disappointed the way it ended up in spring training, because I played well then and it was just a numbers game," he said. "The coach told me I could expect to come up, because there are small rosters in this league. I didn't expect it in four days, though. I'm just glad it happened soon.''' Kesselmark is batting leadoff and playing cen terfield. He plays in a league that is ideal for hitters. The dry air of the Western Division of the Texas League makes it a notorious hitter's par adise. "It's crazy. No lead is safe here. We win games 13 - 10," he said. "There are some great hitters in this league. Everybody hits I'm getting a lot of at bats and that's great. "The fans are great. The people in Texas love their baseball," he says. "It's a nice ballpark and I've already seen a lot of new places. And we do a lot of flying in this league. It's different not taking all the bus rides." Things may be going great for Kesselmark but his is still a tenuous position. When San Antonio's original centerfielder mends his broken foot, Kesselmark could be headed back to Vero Beach. "I don't think about that" he said. "I don't know how much better I can do than I am now, but I just have to keep playing and not worry about it It's for the organization to decide if they want to keep me. I just have to make it tough for them to make the decision." After all, enough is enough. The only other pan of the country Kesselmark would like to see now is Los Angeles, SpMtol to tfc JovraolPfcifcp mrr Joe Kesselmark is now playing in San Antonio. Texas, in Class AA of the Los Angeles Dodger organization IHP" "Tfff; '"", tint 'lBB Umpire Tompkins set to begin lengthy trek in minor leagues Spciol to tho Jowmol Joe Bruno, now playing in Chattanooga, Tenn . has settled into his roll as a relief pitcher In the Cincinnati Reds' organization JOEBRUftC &'M: . :,i , iki'i&kx.:: - AGE: 24 RESIDENCE: Salt Point HIGH SCHOOL: Roosevelt. Hyde Park COLLEGE: Columbia University '85, BA economics and business DRAFTED: 1985 June draft Cincinnati Reds MINOR LEAGUES: Billings, Mont., Reds; Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Reds; Chattanooga, Tenn., Lookouts. POSITION: Pitcher Throws right bats right CURRENT STATISTICS: 1 - 0, 22 IP, 11 G, 10 II, 3 ER, 25.SO, 123 ERA. "his first six games Aspf Friday, in 11 appearances Bruno was .1 - 0 over 22 innings and had given up three earned runs for a 1.23 ERA "I really like it. I pitch every other day. .This is harder mentally, getting prepared, staying prepared to pitch any time. But I'd probably dread going back to starting," he says. "."Chattanooga suits Bruno fine. The Lookouts are celebrating 100 years of baseball in Chattanooga, so a carnival atmosphere pervades the season. Engle Stadium is" a large ballpark and the Lookouts play before crowds, that are regularly over 10,000. In the Southern League, Bruno will see Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Georgia on road trips "This is great so far," he says We've had some long road trips and I've been seeing a lot of the South It's all different I've seen the Midwest now and the Northwest. Now the South." Bruno expects he has found his niche in baseball, however relief pitching. Although the Lookouts are strong in starting pitchers, as is the entire Reds organization, good relievers are at a premium. "In middle relief we're hurting," Bruno says. "In Triple A we have seven starting pitchers, but not many relievers. If I do well. I'll move up The way I look at it, that's the way I'm going to make it to (he major leagues" . ' , i Paul Hurley Journal Mll Dave Tompkins isn't sure what to expect from the minor leagues, except it's the only route to the major leagues In his case, making the bigs might be tougher than for a player Tompkins is an umpire Like everybody else connected with base - bali, he must serve his apprenticeship in the minor leagues. On June 16, Tompkins hits the circuit Uf the New York - Penn League for his first 72 games of umpiring professional baseball. He will visit places such as Elmira, Little Falls, Utica and Wa - tertown. He will stay in motels and move on every two or three days. He will umpire at least one game every day for two and a half months. He will earn $600 a month, plus mileage, from which he must pay expenses. He will, get to see pro baseball at its grass roots "I'm not sure what to expect yet. Tompkins says..J'1've still got to get into the game from that side of the plate. It's a pretty big step I don't know, I've just got to try it and see what it's like." Like every minor leaguer on every rookie league team, Tompkins hopes to escape the minors and some day umpire in a major league ballpark It is a very narrow route, perhaps harder than for players. It takes the average ballplayer about four to six years to make the major leagues. For umpires, it takes eight to 12 years. There are only a couple of openings a year in the major leagues, with 200 minor league umpires competing for them. "It will be tough," Tompkins says "It's a long road, and you have to love the game." Tompkins, 24, has already survived a stringent selection process by landing a job as a professional umpire. A former player at iRopse - velt High School, Tompjdns realized he didn't have theabilitylor pro bal - Iplaying, but wanted to stay close to the game. Two years ago he started to work as an umpire in rookie leagues in the area and for high school games JownolJodirt, A Wtnr Daver Tompkins will begin his minor league umpiring career this summer in the New York - Penn League This past winter, Tompkins took his shot at becoming a minor league umpire when he enrolled in Joe Brinkmap's Umpiring School After five weeks of field and classroom training, Tompkins was among It candidates out of 140 students who made it to the next cut From there he survived another cut to land a minor league job Training for umpires is mostly learning the rules, and developing a crisp style. Every day at umpire school, the students were drilled in rules for three hours "I learned a lot about the game I never knew before," Tompkins says "Little things. A lot of situations you're nof aware of They tell you in the classroom and then practice it on the field" The students also ran a lot Fitness has become important for the mod - i. DAVE TOMPKirjSfl AGE: 23 RESIDENCE: Staats - burg HIGH SCHOOL: Roosevelt COLLEGE: State University of New York at Oneonta '85, BA business. Career: umpire FLAYING EXPERIENCE: Infielder at Roosevelt and Oneonta. AMATEUR UMPIRING EXPERIENCE: Rookie and twilight leagues, Dutchess County Association of Umpires, high school leagues. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Graduated Joe Brinkman's Umpire School, Florida, spring 1988. ASSIGNED: New York - Penn Rookie League, June 16 (first year). ern umpire "The big, beefy umpire i a history," Tompkins says. "There were n few rather large guys who didn't make it I'mpires definitely don't need to be fat " The new rules, on balks and the; new strike zone, received careful at - ; tention in umpiring school. But overall, concentration, as in most sports,; is the key to umpiring effectively, he learned. "You have to stay in the game, know the situations, and be prepared for what will happen," Tompkins says. Tompkins has been a substitute, teacher since being graduated from, college. He will. give this career his best shot in the hopes it will lead tut the big leagues. But he's still not sure: where it will lead V "It will be interesting being the! man in blyc," he say's. v al' - - - BP - 'AJByWi'vMBBl

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