Cal Koonce

Several players in 1968 had to juggle their major league action with service in various military reserve units.  One of the best was Stan Bahnsen, the Council Bluffs native pitching for Des Moines in the IBC.  In real life, Stan would be the rookie of the year, and he’s making a strong case for the honor in this league.  The ERA is a pedestrian 3.01, but it’s tough to argue against a guy who is already 16-9 with 224 IP.  By the way, that inning count is pretty amazing, because Bahnsen (like the other reservists) was pulled away from baseball for a solid month that summer, only able to be with the team on weekends.

Des Moines’ rotation also has Mel Stottlemyre (15-10, 3.38, 235), Fergie Jenkins (14-12, 2.63, 229 IP), Bill Hands (9-5, 2.98, 142 IP), Fritz Peterson (7-10, 2.94, 156) giving them a Big 5 that is currently 61-36.  Given this club’s record of 67-73, this means the bullpen and spot starters have gone 6-37!  To some extent, this is a luck-driven fluke, but clearly if this team wasn’t 16-27 in one-run games they would be in the thick of the race.  On his personal day of infamy, my old friend Jerry Norton burned his Lee Smith card after a string of poor outings; perhaps Ralph Houk should try a similar strategy, and light a fire under this sad-sack group.


Even more prone to lose the close ones is last-place Dubuque.  This isn’t a tragedy — Eckersley and Rivera together wouldn’t be enough to swing this team into contention — but an 18-36 record in 1-run games really stinks!  Looking at that bullpen, two things stand out.  First, the team’s closer, Cal Koonce, is just 1-6 with a 4.60 ERA.  Second, Koonce was actually a Met and I somehow screwed up and put him with this team.  This makes me sick to my stomach, because the roster error sort of invalidates this entire endeavor, but it’s hard to see how Koonce (even with his fine 2.42 ERA in 1968) would have really helped the West Metro club much.  And I also doubt that Dubuque could be much worse than they already are.  Perhaps the lesson in all this is that it’s easier to be Bahnsen, serving both his country and the Scarlets, then it is to be Koonce, forced to pitch for the Golden Eagles due to  being dragged onto the wrong roster when the new league was being setup!

Here is a link to the Strat-O-Matic league file after 21 weeks of play, and the current standings.  Our leader, the Falcons, got swept by the Knights over the weekend, which means the standings have tightened again!  Davenport is now just 1/2 game out of first, and Iowa City 2 and 1/2 games out (both went 7-3 over the last ten).  Running a bit cold, at 4-6 lately, are Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and Dubuque.  With about a month of games remaining, there are still four teams in the hunt! 


9/01/68 Iowa Baseball Confederacy        Won   Lost    Pct     GB
Council Bluffs Falcons (A’s-Giants)      81     58    .583     —
Davenport Knights (Tigers-Cards)         81     59    .579     .5 
Iowa City Regals (Red Sox-Phillies)      78     60    .565    2.5 
Ames Little Cyclones (Orioles-Pirates)   77     61    .558    3.5
Sioux City Crusaders (Indians-Reds)      73     69    .514    9.5 
Cedar Rapids Saints (Twins-Dodgers)      71     68    .511   10.0

Des Moines Scarlets (Yankees-Cubs)       67     73    .479   14.5
West Metro Maroons (Angels-Mets)         61     78    .439   20.0
Waterloo Sailors (White Sox-Braves)      58     83    .411   24.0
Dubuque Golden Eagles (Senators-Astros)  50     88    .362   30.5

That’s all for this week. 

© John Kisner 2019