Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Westminster's New Football Uniforms

Summer isn't officially a week old yet, but it's not too early to start thinking about football season.  According to Twitter, Westminster received some new uniforms this afternoon.

The new blue jerseys have an updated font that makes Westminster look a lot like the NFL Titans.  The set of home uniforms was displayed on Twitter along with the old white set, which means there is either a shipment of white jerseys still on its way, or Westminster will have mismatched uniform styles in 2014.  

It's usually a little goofy to have mismatched jersey styles and numbers, but it's not that bad in this case.  If Westminster continues to use the old jerseys, it works as a classic, traditional look on the road.  They can also break out the old blue uniforms for a throwback game at home.

One thing that stands out in a good way is the matte blue helmet.  Instead of the traditional white helmet with blue W, the new headgear has the opposite color scheme.  The W is also accompanied by the Titan figure, a solid addition in the modernization of the helmet.  If it looks as good on the field as it does on social media, it will probably become one of my favorites in the conference, along with Bethany's green matte helmet.  

Westminster will have a chance to wear blue right away.  The Titans kick off the season on September 6 with a home game against Hiram.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Titans Waive Wright

Former Westminster tight end David Wright was waived by the Tennessee Titans on Thursday.  It was the final day of a three-day minicamp, which concluded offseason activities for the club.  The Titans signed former University of Pittsburgh tight end Dorin Dickerson to fill the roster spot.  

Wright originally signed with Tennessee as an undrafted free agent following last month's NFL Draft and spent about a month with the team.  Expected to be a highly competitive position, the Titans returned veterans Delanie Walker, Taylor Thompson, and Craig Stevens at tight end.

We'll keep an eye out for where Wright lands next.  NFL training camps begin at the end of July.

Jeffreys Debuts with Chukars

Former Geneva hurler Mike Jeffreys made his debut with the Advanced Rookie level Idaho Falls Chukars on Thursday night.  After entering in the fourth inning against the Orem Owlz, he went 4 2/3 innings, surrendering three earned runs while fanning five.  The Chukars never led and lost, 10-7, to even their record at 2-2 on the season.

Idaho Falls plays in the short-season Pioneer League as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.  The Royals organization signed Jeffreys last summer while he played in the Alaska Baseball League, following his junior season at Geneva.  By signing with a professional team, he opted to forgo his final year of eligibility in Beaver Falls and instead reported to the Burlington (NC) Royals in the Appalachian League.  In 10 1/3 innings with Burlington, Jeffreys allowed seven hits, one earned run, and struck out 14.  The Royals hope he can continue that success in the Mountain Time Zone.

Last season, the Chukars won the Pioneer League championship.  After a washout on Monday, their 2014 campaign officially started Tuesday, with Jeffreys making his debut Thursday.  

Current major league talent that once played for the Chukars includes Salvador Perez, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, and last year's American League Rookie of the Year, Wil Myers.

If you are curious, a Chukar is a game bird, similar to a pheasant.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MLB Draftees - Part III

This post continues the look at players from current PAC schools that have been selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.  For Part I, click here.  For Part II, click here.

Washington & Jefferson Presidents
Researching schools in this conference is difficult sometimes because there are other schools with the same or similar names.  There is a an NAIA school named Bethany College out in Kansas.  There are Westminster Colleges all over the planet.  Also, apparently, there can be some confusion between schools with Washington in the name.  Unfortunately, the list of players that Baseball-Reference and other archive websites that claim as W&J draft picks is not accurate.  After a little research, I learned that each of the players listed actually attended different schools with Washington as part of the school name.  A dead end here.  

Waynesburg Yellow Jackets

Another dead end.  According to Baseball-Reference, no Waynesburg baseball player has been drafted.  To be honest, I was a little surprised of the results of the last two schools, knowing the athletic history of both.  Again, we're only talking about players from these programs that have been selected in the first-year player draft.  

Westminster Titans
Richard Holliday, 1966, 12th Round (Cleveland Indians)
Holliday was a pitcher for Westminster and a good one, as he finished his career with a 1.37 ERA.  The Titans' baseball record book has his college career listed from 1966-67, so while being selected in the 1966 draft, Holliday elected to continue playing in New Wilmington over signing with the Indians.  He actually began his brief professional baseball career a few years later, in 1969, with the Detroit Tigers organization.  In two seasons between Rookie and Single-A, Holliday logged 96 innings and posting a 4-9 record, with a respectable 3.09 ERA.  

Darryl Jones, 1972, 5th Round (New York Yankees)
Jones, the brother of Thiel alum, Lynn Jones, was drafted as a shortstop but eventually shifted to the outfield.  He spent seven seasons climbing through the minor leagues, hitting .299.  Once promoted to AAA, Jones batted at a .312 clip over two and a half seasons, prompting his recall by the Yankees in 1979.  In 47 at-bats spanning 18 major league games, Jones hit .255 with 5 doubles and a triple, to go along with 6 RBI.  The Yankees had several established outfielders on their roster during the 1979 season, including Reggie Jackson, Lou Pinella, and Mickey Rivers, with Oscar Gamble and Bobby Murcer re-arriving in the Bronx via trades midway through the year to begin their second stints with the team.  For his achievements on the diamond, Jones was inducted into the Westminster Hall of Fame in 1994.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

MLB Draftees - Part II

This post continues the look at players from current PAC schools that have been selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.  For Part I, click here.  

Saint Vincent Bearcats

According to Baseball-Reference, no Saint Vincent baseball player has been taken in the MLB draft.   

Thiel Tomcats

Kevin Meistickle, 1973, 34th Round (New York Mets)
Meistickle had a memorable pitching career as a Tomcat, finishing as the school's all-time leader in wins and saves, a unique combination.  His wins record has since been overtaken, but his achievements led to his induction into the Thiel Hall of Fame in 1991.  Following his college days, Meistickle was picked in the 34th round by the New York Mets during the 1973 draft, starting a seven-year career in the minor leagues.  His best statistical year came in 1976 as a member of the Atlanta Braves organization.  Out of the bullpen for the Single-A Greenwood Braves, he amassed a 6-4 record with a 2.92 ERA.  He struck out 75 in 108 innings.  He continued to progress, ultimately reaching Triple-A in the short-lived Inter-American League and Mexican League in 1979.

Following his playing days, Meistickle took to coaching.  In 1983, he created the Atlanta Crackers, a summer collegiate team now playing in the Sunbelt League.  Recently, the Crackers won their 900th game in organization history, with Meistickle still at the helm.  According to his biography on the league site, he has coached over 180 professional baseball players.  

Lynn Jones, 1974, 10th Round (Cincinnati Reds)

A year after Meistickle was selected, Thiel was again represented at the draft, as outfielder Lynn Jones was selected by the Reds.  With a Triple-A average of .328 in 1978, it appeared his call to the majors was approaching.  However, he was not yet on the Reds' 40-man roster,  which meant he was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.  The Tigers selected him during the December draft and Jones began his eight-year stint in the Major Leagues.  

After five seasons in Detroit, Jones became a free agent and signed with Kansas City, winning a World Series with the Royals in 1985.  Overall, Jones hit .252 in 527 games, spanning eight major league seasons.  Following his playing career, he continued to be involved with baseball, managing in the minor leagues for ten years, with stops at Elmira, Kane County, Portland (AA), Calgary (AAA), Macon, and Lowell.  In 2004, he won his second World Series ring, as first base coach of the Boston Red Sox.  

Nearly forty years after leaving the Greenville campus as a player, Jones returned to Thiel in 2013 as an assistant baseball coach.  He continued to serve in that capacity this past season.

Thomas More Saints

David Justice, 1985, 4th Round (Atlanta Braves)
Justice initially attended Thomas More (then an NAIA school) on a basketball scholarship, but his career focus shifted to baseball.  At the age of 19, he was drafted by the Braves organization and left Thomas More prior to graduating.  Just five years later, he became a mainstay in the Atlanta outfield.  If you watched playoff baseball over the subsequent decade, chances are you saw Justice play.  From his National League Rookie of the Year campaign in 1990 until retirement following the 2002 season, his teams made the postseason every year, not counting the strike-shortened season of 1994.  

As a result of this success, he was also involved with some of the most iconic and gut-wrenching moments in recent baseball history.  

In the 1992 NLCS, he scored the game-tying run in Game 7 just moments before Sid Bream's series-deciding slide in Atlanta's 3-2 victory over the Pirates.

In the 1995 World Series, his Game 6 homer was only run scored in the series clincher, a 1-0 Braves victory over the Indians.

Despite these heroics, he was also on the heartbreaking end of things.  In both 1997 (as a member of the Indians) and 2001 (as a member of the Yankees) he watched his teams blow ninth-inning leads in Game 7 of the World Series.

In his final year, 2002, he signed with the Oakland A's.  Left for dead in the middle of August, the squad ran off a league-record twenty consecutive wins to win the AL West.  Despite hitting a paltry .266, Justice led the team in on-base percentage at .376 - one of the key components that led to the success of the Moneyball concept.

A three-time All-Star, two-time World Series winner (1995 Braves and 2000 Yankees), and 2000 ALCS MVP, Justice currently ranks third on the all-time postseason list with 63 RBI, trailing only former teammates Bernie Williams and Manny Ramirez.