The Ithaca Journal from Ithaca, New York on June 26, 1991 · 7
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The Ithaca Journal from Ithaca, New York · 7

Ithaca, New York
Issue Date:
Wednesday, June 26, 1991
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The Ithaca Journal Wednesday, June 26, 1991 7& it EXTRA tV ir 2 from Ithaca College still play for pay ? Outfielder Roman and pitcher Cangemi keep the Bomber tradition alive in Class A 0 By TOM FLEISCHMAN Journal Staff The Ithaca College connection to professional baseball has dwindled to two small threads. Outfielder Vince Roman and relief pitcher Jamie Cangemi are the only ex-Bombers still earning a living on the diamond. Two recent IC stars, catcher Fritz Hamburg (Philadelphia) and outfielder Steve Graham (St. Louis), have been released by their respective clubs. . Roman, a 40th-round draft choice last year by the Auburn Astros, is in Asheville, N.C., with the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League. He was a regular in the Tourists' lineup until a recent game in Fayetteville, N.C. In Cangemi Roman "He went up against the wall to catch a fly ball," said Fred Nelson, Houston's director of minor league operations. "He apparently braced himself with his right (throwing) hand and caught it on a nail." It took 13 stitches to close the wound. The injury has affected not only his throwing, but his ability to hold a bat. Asheville is on the road this week, and Roman was unavailable for comment. Cangemi, a seventh-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1986, is with the Single-A Stockton Ports of the California League. Major elbow surgery in '88 hasn't slowed the hard-throwing righthander, who's in his second season at Stockton. According to Ports public relations director Dave Brady, Cangemi is 3-3 with a 4.27 earned-run average in 34 appearances (second-highest in the league). The Syracuse native has one start and six saves to his credit. In 46'3 innings pitched, he has allowed 46 his, 27 runs (22 earned) and just one home run. Cangemi has struck out 36 and walked 26. ! ; "He can either be really good or realy bad," Brady said. "He's been able to get himself out of some tough situations that he's put himself into." Graham, a 33rd-round draft choice of the Cardinals in '88, started out in Hamilton, Ont., of the New York-Penn League. Last year, he was moved to St. Petersburg of the Florida State League. ' He was cut after spring training this year. Hamburg was picked up as a free agent by the Phillies during the winter of '90. He played last year in Spartanburg, S.C., of the South Atlantic League before being released. 4 tot Astros hit the road, find a few more wins ' f .$ s 4. J .... . ': . . IK. V " ... . j I ' ife atMcDonough Field, home of the Geneva Cubs, before the club's season opener last week. The opponent was the rival Auburn Astros. 1 mmm mm I, i mm mm t I t PGPSI. THG CHOICE A NSW 66NGI (PEPSI GENEVA CLUB I '-'T y' T-T ,1 Tin ,4 lii,!,, M ike a play. Geneva r r.w. -iiwi iiu J iiinjiJ in .ih.uiiimiii.i.iiw mil in .mull . i n in.jpi m mi AAA team in Iowa, a step he skipped over during his 1990 whirlwind tour, . and awaits another call to Wrigley. Geneva hopes to welcome this year's first-round draft choice again this year, but Doug Glanville, from 'the University of Pennsylvania, has .yet to sign with the Cubs. If he does, he will1 join many others looking to move up the ladder through the Cubs' minor league system. The journey begins in Huntington, a Rookie League team in West 'Virginia. The Cubs have three Class "A' teams, two long season clubs Peoria and Winston-Salem and one .short season Geneva. From there, the best go on to the 'AA' Charlotte Knights and 'AAA' Iowa. But for many it all starts at city-'Owned McDonough Park. Geneva's New York-Penn League 'history extends back to the 1958 when i the Red Legs occupied then named 'Shuron Park. As a farm team for the Cincinnati Reds, Gevena marked the professional BETWEEN INNSNGS: Ten-year-old Geneva Cub batboy Scott Dcvaney relaxes and takes a break. debut of many soon-to-be Reds, including Pete Rose and Tony Perez. The Reds left in 1962 and the Senators took over. Baseball left from 1974-76 before the Cubs came in in . 1977. Owners Paul Velte and Ed Smaldone bought the club in 1988 and the team has done well since. The Cubs have had a winning record three of the past four years, and won two division titles. Attendance has also increased . during the span with the Cubs drawing 35,032 fans last season, the club's short-season record. The attendance is high enough to bring small profits to the owners and keep baseball in Geneva, but hardly enough to get rich on. "Since the team has had private owners, we haven't lost any money," Oster said. "It's still a business and I'd love to help make them a ton of money. But that's not the major reason they own the team. That's just a side benefit." The city of Geneva has also helped out with improvements and additions, paying the lion's share of a $250,000 building project which included a new clubhouse. Though the fans may not see direct benefit from a new clubhouse, it's the kind of addition which will keep a team on steady ground. "The reason for the clubhouse is to keep the Cubs here," Oster said, adding that the Cubs recently signed a new four-year agreement with Geneva. "It's a real draw to have a team, and a lot of people would love to have a ballclub. So we have to keep Chicago happy, so they won't need to look anywhere else." Oster also wants to make sure fans don't look anywhere else, either. The Cubs have added a radar machine, where fans can buy three throws for a dollar and check out how fast they can rcaly throw. And the Cubs have spruced up a picnic area to try to draw more groups and businesses. "Every year we spend some more money on upkeep," Oster said. "And the field itself is in the best condition since I've been here." Fans are often more concerned with the conditions in the stands than on the field. Oster works on both. "We want to offer the fans fun and entertainment," said Oster. "Besides the game itself, that's what we're selling. We try to good offer promotions and contests between innings. That's what people get when they come to the park, a ballgame and entertainment." General admission tickets for Geneva Cubs games are $2.75, $2 for student and senior citizens. Box seats are $3.75. McDonough Park is located on the northeast side of Geneva. From Ithaca, take route 96 north to Ovid then 96A north to routes 5-20. Follow 5-20 west into Geneva. Turn right at Copeland and follow to Washington. After turning right take a quick left onto Nursery and follow to the end of the street. Photos by David GreweJournal Staff By TOM FLEISCHMAN Journal Staff AUBURN What follows are some slices of life from the world of Single-A professional baseball: What did the Auburn Astros do for spring break in 1991? They went camping. But it wasn't your typical commune with nature, tents, bonfires and scary stories at night. It was "mini-camp." No, that doesn't mean pup tents, matches and scary poems, either. For six days in early June, "Cayuga County's ONLY Professional Sports Team" met in Kissimee, Fla., for some intense instruction and drills. The squad arrived on June 10 and worked out that night, had two-a-day workouts until the 14th, worked out the morning of the 15th then went to Auburn. The "mini-camp" also meant players had a chance to meet each other, memorize their names and kindle some new friendships. The togetherness of the camp was as much a factor in the team's fast start five wins to open the season and a first-place standing in the New York-Penn League's West Division as overall talent on the field. "Last year, the guys worked out together for four or five days and then played a game, so they didn't get a chance to know each other," Steve Dillard, the team's first-year manager, said last Thursday. "But down in Florida," he added, "we were on the field almost all day, so the guys got to know each other a little bit. When we got back, Don Alexander (pitching coach) and I were probably the only guys who didn't know everybody's names." Fred Nelson, Houston's director of minor league operations, also praised the idea of a "mini-camp." "They had an opportunity to be around each other, to get to know each other," said Nelson, who was in Auburn last week to observe and provide insight as the NY-P season got under way. "When they came to Auburn in an unfamiliar environment, they had each other to lean on a little bit," Nelson said, "as opposed to coming into an unfamiliar environment, plus not knowing each other." A family atmosphere pervades this clubhouse, and it's only fitting. A community-owned franchise, the Astros and Auburn have developed a family-type bond that has seen the club through some tough times. "I've got a lot of people helping me out," said John Graham, in his second season as the team's general manager. "They're all volunteering," he said. "So, it's not like they're in it for any personal gain. It's just they want to keep baseball here. That's the best part of it." The next few years could prove to be another test of Auburnians' loyalty. Last year, the player-development contracts between the major league teams and their minor league affiliates were all cancelled. One stipulation of the renewed pact calls for all minor league facilities to make necessary renovations to bring them up to a certain standard. At the same time, the Houston Astros were told they no longer can grant "special considerations" i.e., additional financial assistance to small franchises like Auburn. Now, all teams get equal financial help, regardless of their size. It all put Auburn in a bind and meant the club had to raise prices. The cost of everything from tickets to hot dogs to souvenirs was raised an average of 25. Still, adults can see an Astros game for $4. "Up front, we're going to lose $20,000 from what we usually get from Houston," Graham said. "That puts a real strain on us 'The people are behind us. There's tremendous support here in the community, they really make you feel like part of the family. It's almost like playing in your hometown.' Steve Dillard, Auburn manager and that's why we had to go up in prices. But our prices are still in line' with everybody else in the league, and probably still lower. "And judging by opening night (record crowd of 4,037), they know it's not us and they just want to J keep baseball here," Graham j added. Auburn has already begun I improvements on Falcon Park, thej second oldest minor-league field in the country (built in 1926). Three years ago, the city raised $60,000 to build a new press box t and upgrade the field's draining J system. I The new player-development contract means Auburn has three years to make necessary ,y, improvements. They include: ; building new clubhouses; j improvements on field; " building new rest rooms. In all, the team is looking at ; $500,000 worth of renovations by 1994. ; "A lot of franchises were given J an ultimatum, I guess, they have three years to bring their facilities up to a certain grade," Dillard said. "And they've got to do some upgrading here, they know that, and you can see some a improvements already." , Look in an Auburn Astros program at the manager's profile,, and you won't find Dillard. J He's what's known as an L.A. -"late-arriving" skipper. Until June 5, it was assumed Ricky Peters would be back to ) manage the club. But the Astros '-organization had some needs in their Single-A affiliate in ,t Burlington, Iowa. Peters' abilitiejs; fit those needs perfectly. After considering several options, Nelson went with the "lesser of all evils." He moved ; ; Dillard for the last two seasons the Astros' roving infield instructor into Auburn. "We felt Steve was perfect for'' the job," Nelson said. , ii It's around 1:30 last Thursday afternoon, and Graham's phone f rings. -4 It's team president Chuck j Savage, and he's got a special ' request. ,! It's "Desert Storm Night" at ', Falcon Park, and to celebrate the, occasion, the Astros are going to , honor a brigadier general from Auburn who served in the gulf. To do that, Savage wants Graham to call a local trophy shop and have a plaque made up for presentation.' before the game. n "Thanks for your efforts in a protecting the American way of l life" or something like that. Graham kind of rolls his eyes, ' shiugs his shoulders, and gets rignt on it. 1

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