05/11/2019 2:40 PM -
By Dan Vaughan
Once again our “Voice of the T-Bones” Dan Vaughan brings you the top 10 moments from the booth from last season as we countdown the days until the opener. Some of these are obvious but one or two you just might have forgotten in the run to the trophy. Enjoy!
“In my 20 plus years, I have never seen anything like this,” said T-Bones Manager Joe Calfapietra to me on May 18, 2018. Those words will forever sum up how crazy the season would be for the T-Bones transaction sheet on the way to winning it all last season.
On a beautiful warm late spring day, I exited the team hotel walked 20 yards across the black top to the team bus. As I got to the side door of the coach, a tall fella came off the bus, bag in hand, headed back to the hotel. Being game one of the season, it is not uncommon to mix up names and faces. It usually takes a week or so on the bus to be able to tell a Hunter Adkins from a Tommy Collier, for example. For this young man carrying the bag, I had the random thought that maybe this guy is sick? Or maybe he has another ride? Then as I climbed the steps, I asked myself: is he pitching tonight or is that tomorrow? It was one of those passing moments that happen in life when suddenly you refocus and get back to your own business, forgetting about what you just saw.
I was three steps up and into the bus, making that left turn to the aisle to get to my seat. (My target is the second seat to the left, right behind Manger Joe Calfapietra.) I looked down to see a seated Joe in row one. He spoke to me the memorable quote I mentioned above: “In my 20 plus years, I have never seen anything like this.” I was caught off guard, not even sure what he was talking about until he explained to me what had just transpired--the opening night starter had just had his contract purchased.
The T-Bones have forged a recent history of sending players to affiliated baseball. Last season alone the team sent eight players to Major League organizations and another to Mexico. It is what the club strives to do on the field. The T-Bones have sent 16 players to MLB systems since 2017. It is our culture and the reason why independent baseball was founded by Miles Wolfe in the first place. Players can get their contracts purchased any time during the year. Usually a player has a great half of the season and gets the call. Nick Torres, for example, comes to mind from last season. He was one of the league leaders when his contract was purchased by Texas in July.
In what was a first for Joe and for me and for surely just about anyone else on the bus that day. The opening night starter was purchased and had to get off the bus and pack his bags. That tall gentleman that passed me getting off the bus was none other than the 6’3’’ frame of right hander and former Big Leaguer Cody Martin.
Martin spent parts of three seasons in the Major Leagues, the most recent being the 2017 season where he appeared in one game for the Seattle Mariners and another 20 games at AAA Tacoma in the Pacific Coast League. We never saw what he might do as a T-Bone in the regular season, and he became the 31st
T-Bone to have his contract purchased. Fellow right-hander Luis Paula was pressed into a starting spot in what turned out to be a crazy weekend.
The T-Bones would drop the opening night tilt 8-2 and the next night 5-2 before a Sunday win to avoid a sweep by Wichita, the series ending score of 3-1. There were a pair of foot notes to that series after having our opening night starter purchased right off the bus. Following the Sunday win over Wichita, Adam Brett Walker--who was your opening weekend left fielder-- was also purchased by the Washington Nationals. Then Sunday’s starter, lefty Cody Dickson, would leave his start owing to an injury. He would not pitch again for the season. In three days, we had lost two players to the MiLB and another to the disabled list. The team dropped the series two games to one. Talk about a rough take off to the season!
Yet, the overall theme that hung over the club in 2018 was one of players being signed and then replaced, thanks to the hard work Manager Joe Calfapietra started from the very first bus ride. Little did we know that that first ride would turn out to be the perfect start to a championship ride.