October 14, 2008 October 12, 2008Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
Former Atlantic Leaguer Foster Passes Away: Some sad news to pass along, as former Newark Bears and Somerset Patriots P Kevin Foster has passed away at the age of 39 after a battle with renal cell carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer.
Foster appeared in 12 games in 2002 between the two clubs, going 4-1 with a 3.28 ERA and one save.
A former Major Leaguer, he played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers over seven big league seasons.
I was fortunate enough to see Foster pitch with the Trenton Thunder in 2000. I remember he pitched pretty well for them…and on another occasion, I can vividly remember him jokingly encouraging a teammate to sign a autograph for a young fan.
Stanchak’s Take: Kevin Foster was one player I grew close with during his short time in Somerset and we remained in touch after his playing days there. He had a say-what’s-on-his-mind attitude, but was always pleasant and treated you with respect. I can vividly remember sitting on the Patriots’ bench talking about playing on the same team as Ryne Sandberg and pitching in Philadelphia.
The last time I talked with Kevin was about two years after he left Somerset and was playing in St. Paul. He spoke to me as if I was a friend who he hadn’t spoken with in years. We caught up during that half-hour chat. He will be missed. – SS
One For The Thumb: When the Somerset Patriots kick off their 2009 season, you’re likely to see some sort of marketing campaign alluding to “One For The Thumb.”
It’s a popular phrase used in sports when a team is looking for their fifth championship, and the Patriots are hoping to do just that after winning four in their first 11 years of existence.
But for manager Sparky Lyle, it’s a little different.
With five rings as a player — three for winning the World Series, and two for winning the American League Championship Series — the only skipper Somerset’s ever had will be looking to complete his collection of rings by winning one for the thumb on his other hand.
Now, he just needs to get those rings back from his sons.
“I put those rings on my desk I don’t know how many years ago, and told my three sons to take the one that they want, so they did,” Lyle said.
“That was a beautiful thing, and that’s why I don’t wear any anymore. I try to do that every Christmas with my kids, to let them take something important to them so they don’t have to fight over it later.”
But rings or no rings, the former Cy Young Award winner still has four Atlantic League championships and three World Series titles to his credit. So what is it about Lyle and championships that seem to go together?
“I wish I knew,” said the Yankee great with his trademark laugh.
“I don’t think it’s anything specific. I think it’s just a good mix in the clubhouse, which you saw this year. This was a tremendous clubhouse. It’s just a matter of getting them to believe in themselves, that they can play a little better and they can change some things that they haven’t been able to do in the past however many years.”
Lyle could already have his “one for the thumb” had things turned out a little differently last season in Newark, where his team lost in the championship series in four games.
Many players in the clubhouse said it was a motivating factor for this year’s team, and Lyle didn’t seem to disagree.
“For the guys that were here last year, I think it was on their minds,” he said.
“It was something we didn’t talk about a whole lot here, but it sure stuck in my craw all winter. I’m not saying anything bad about Newark, they deserved to win that last year and they beat the hell out of us. But it was just that one game last year where we could have evened it up, if (All-Star reliever) Jason Richardson could have pitched that day, I liked my chances with a nine-run lead.”
But the Patriots couldn’t hold onto their lead and would lose the series, making this year’s come-from-behind win all the more sweet.
“This probably made that a little nicer this year and a little bit more important, because we did come back and we did get back in the championship series, and this year we won,” Lyle said.
“And that was a feather in not only the Patriots organization’s cap, but the guys who were there last year.”
At 63 years old and with 11 long seasons as Somerset’s manager already in the books, some have openly wondered how many more chances he’ll get to win that tenth ring. So for his detractors, who are counting down the days until someone else takes over the reins of the club, it appears they’ll need to keep waiting.
“I’m going to go as long as I can be good at it,” said Lyle, who was signed to a lifetime contract by team owner Steve Kalafer.
“And I’ll be the first one to know that. Right now, I don’t have any reason to step down.”
Booth To The Brewers: Jeremy Booth, who caught for a few teams in this league before going to the Can-Am League in 2006, spent last season as a scout for the Minnesota Twins.
After “learning a lot” in his first season of scouting, Booth will now be joining the Milwaukee Brewers organization, where he’ll be in charge of the Texas and Louisiana regions.
“I had a great time working for the Twins, but I’m really excited about being a Brewer,” said Booth in a telephone interview.
Booth also told me how excited he was to be scouting in the area that he’s in, saying how many big leaguers come out of the area.
Stay Tuned For More Patriots Championship Interviews: Stay tuned in the coming weeks for features with Patrick McVerry, Casey Cahill and Travis Anderson. – Mike Ashmore
Gratitude Recap: Read last week’s “Thank You” post for my personal thanks for this past season. Also, as always, any donation is appreciated to help us keep going: hosting, travel, servers, etc. Use the PayPal link on the right side of the page. You can keep clicking on the banner above, as well. – SS