The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 1st Edition

Edited by Lloyd Johnson & Miles Wolff

Durham: Baseball America Inc., 1993

In the movie Bull Durham, Annie informs Crash Davis that he is close to breaking the minor league career home run record, which is 246. Toward the end, Crash goes to Asheville and gets his record-breaking dinger, in anonymity. Didnt you always wonder who the real Crash Davis was? This title was bestowed on Rick Lancellotti for awhile, but he was only the active career leader.

When we received a copy of The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball you can bet this was the first thing I looked up. The movie grossly underestimated what the record would be; there are many minor leaguers who topped 246 HR. And the winner is... Hector Espino with 484 home runs in the Mexican League (which is rated AAA by Organized Baseball). Hector seems to have been a contemporary of Hank Aarons, but we dont know much more about him. Unfortunately, there are no individual player records in this book -- if you think the major league encyclopedia is heavy, imagine a book with a quarter of a million players!

What you do get are yearly standings and league leaders of every minor league since 1902. So the next thing I looked up was... Was there ever a team in my home town? Yes, thanks to a good cross-reference system, I found that Waltham had a team in the Class A Northeastern League for two months in 1934. The team moved to Worcester on May 27, and eventually finished first. Then the whole league dropped out of sight, to be succeeded by the Class B New England League, which Nashuas Don Newcombe led with 19 wins in 1947.

Don Zimmer led the Class D PONY League in HR in 1950, and hes still in baseball. But Edgar Hartness won the triple crown in the Class D Georgia State League in 1950 -- what ever happened to him? There is a collection of anecdotes for each year: games called off because of snakes, or because 2 outfielders banged heads and there was no one to replace them, or because angry fans rioted. Dick Staurt hit 66 home runs one year. Steve Dalkowski struck out 24 batters in a game and walked 18. John Elway played in the NY-Penn League in 1982. You can look it up. -- DN

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