Casey Kotchman was a member of the Cedar Rapids Kernels squad that opened New Veterans Memorial Stadium in 2002. Kotchman hit .281 with 5 HR, 30 doubles and 50 RBI in 81 games as the Kernels finished 81-58 under manager Todd Clauss defeating Quad Cities in the opening round and then losing to Peoria in the semi finals of the Midwest League playoffs.
Casey Kotchman has hit .262 with 71 HR and 387 RBI during his nine year MLB career playing for the Angels, Braves, Red Sox, Mariners, Rays and Indians. Kotchman hit .229 with 12 HR and 55 RBI for the Indians in 2012.
There were eight Cedar Rapids Kernels alumni who made their MLB debut in 2012. Barret Browning, David Carpenter, Patrick Corbin, Miguel Gonzalez, Jean Segura, Tyler Skaggs, Will Smith and Andrew Taylor were among the 35 Kernels alumni who played in a MLB game in 2012. The number is down slightly from the 39 former alumni who played in a MLB game in 2011.
2012 was the fifth time there has been three Cedar Rapids professional baseball alumni players selected to the same All-Star game (2012, 2007, 1991, 1984 and 1966). Mike Napoli (2001-02), Mike trout (2009-10) and Mark Trumbo (2006-07) each made their first all-star teams. We have never had more than three appear in the same season.Here is the link to our full all-star selection list.
Here is the complete list of our alumni appearing in a MLB game with the teams they played for and the year designating the season they were in Cedar Rapids.
Erick Aybar (2003) Angels
Peter Bourjos (2007) Angels
Barret Browning (2007) Cardinals
Alberto Callaspo (2003) Angels
David Carpenter (2010) Angels
Bobby Cassevah (2007) Angels
Alexi Casilla (2004-05) Twins
Tyler Chatwood (2009) Rockies
Hank Conger (2007) Angels
Patrick Corbin (2010) Diamondbacks
David Herndon (2007) Phillies
Kevin Jepsen (2003) Angels
Howard Kendrick (2004) Angels
Casey Kotchman (2002) Indians
Jeff Mathis (2002) Blue Jays
Mike Napoli (2001-02) Rangers
Darren O’Day (2006) Orioles
Joel Peralta (2001-02) Rays
Garrett Richards (2010) Angels
Fernando Rodriguez (2005) Astros
Sean Rodriguez (2004-05) Rays
Andrew Romine (2008) Angels
Ervin Santana (2002) Angels
Jean Segura (2010) Angels & Brewers
Tyler Skaggs (2010) Diamondbacks
Will Smith (2009) Royals
Andrew Taylor (2009) Angels
Rich Thompson (2003) Angels & Athletics
Mike Trout (2009-10) Angels
Mark Trumbo (2006-07) Angels
Jordan Walden (2008) Angels
Bobby Wilson (2004) Angels
Major League Baseball handed out an eight game suspension to former Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher and current Tampa Bay Rays reliever Joel Peralta (2001-02) today. Peralta was caught with pine tar on his glove during the June 19, 2012 game against his former team the Washington Nationals. There has been a bit of controversy with the ordeal as you can read here. Peralta has appealed the suspension. It reminded me of some interesting tidbits I have come across during my research of Cedar Rapids Professional Baseball Alumni. This wasn’t the first alumni to dabble in the dark arts of the pitching profession.
Russ Ford (Cedar Rapids Bunnies – 1905-06) was the original inventor of what would come to be known as the emery ball or the scuff ball. Ford burst into the spotlight as a rookie for the New York Highlanders utilizing a pitch Ford was disguising as a spitball, which was legal at the time. Ford would rough up the side of the ball using an emery board hidden in his glove which would cause the ball to break strangely. His invention or variations of it would later be utilized by Eddie Cicotte, Whitey Ford and Don Sutton among others. Check out this more detailed Russ Ford Bio page written by T. Kent Morgan and David Jones.
“In a 1935 interview with The Sporting News, Ford explained that he first discovered the secret behind the emery pitch in 1908, when he was still with Atlanta. On a rainy spring morning Ford was warming up under the stands with catcher Ed Sweeney when he became wild. One pitch struck a wooden upright; another sailed sideways about five feet. When Sweeney returned the ball, Ford examined it and saw that it was rough where it had hit the upright. He wondered if the roughened surface was responsible for the ball’s odd movement, so he gripped the sphere on the side opposite its roughened surface and when he pitched it, the ball shot through the air with a sailing dip. “It never occurred to me that I had uncovered what was to become one of the most baffling pitches that a Cobb, Lajoie, Speaker or Delahanty [sic] would be called upon to bat against in the big leagues,” Ford told The Sporting News.” – T. Kent Morgan and David Jones
Russ Ford posted a 26-6 record with a 1.65 E.R.A. in 1910 striking out 209 batters in 299 1/3 innings of work for the Highlanders. Ford became just the third player to win 20 games and strike out 200 batters as a rookie (Christy Mathewson & Grover Cleveland Alexander).
Ford went 22-11 during his sophomore campaign with a 2.27 E.R.A. in 1911. He pitched two more seasons with New York before signing to play for the Buffalo Buffeds in the newly former Federal League in 1914. He went 21-6 with a 1.82 E.R.A. The emery ball was banned by the Federal League the following year and Ford posted a 5-9 record without his favored pitch before he was released. Ford was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.
Russ Ford spent two seasons in Cedar Rapids playing for Beldin Hill and the Bunnies. In 1905, Ford compiled a 16-13 record. He returned in 1906 and went 22-9 for the Three-I League Champions who finished with a 79-43 record.