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Old 03-22-2019, 11:24 PM   #1
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Return to the Heartland Baseball League




The Heartland Baseball League is a fictional, semi-stats only, online league that I created about seven years ago. I ran the league without running a team for over three years real time before I had to give it up to one of the league members. Almost three years later I am back to run the league again.

Since I do not run a team the history is what keeps me invested. I'll be using this thread to write about some of the HBL's defining moments and greatest players.

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Old 03-22-2019, 11:25 PM   #2
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These players have appeared in 10 HBL All Star games:








**27 players in HBL history have appeared in 10+ HBL All Star games**
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:29 PM   #3
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:31 PM   #4
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:32 PM   #5
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:34 PM   #6
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:35 PM   #7
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:36 PM   #8
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Old 03-24-2019, 05:04 PM   #9
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Defining moments of the HBL: The First Triple Crown



If you were to ask the casual HBL fan today who the best hitters in the history of the league were Mitchell Hilton's name would not come up. Sure he's a Hall of Famer but his peak was shorter than most of the great hitters and for his entire career he wasn't even considered the best hitter on any of his Bay City Lake Monsters teams...except for 1990!




Hilton was an unknown coming out of high school in 1981 having just one plate appearance on his resume. Scouts from other teams scoffed when Bay City selected him with the 10th pick of the second round, 22nd overall. Most scouts didn't even have him on their draft list at all. On a mission to prove to everyone, especially the Bay City brass, that he could indeed play he got off to a slow start in the minors.

He went straight to AA in 1982 and struggled to a tune of a .160 batting average in 64 games. The Lake Monsters', realizing their mistake, sent him down to A ball for all of 1983 & 1984. It was there that he showed signs of life hitting 36 homers in 168 games over the two seasons but his average was not where the team hoped it would be. Frustrated over being sent back to AA to start 1985 something clicked with Hilton and everything came to together. Over 273 AA plate appearances Hilton hit .335 with 18 homers. A promotion to AAA to finish 1985 saw his progress continue finishing with a .347 batting average and 12 extra base hits in just 94 plate appearances.

Blocked by three time All-Star first baseman Arthur Wells, Hilton was again relegated to the minors for the start of the 1986 season. Although frustrated Hilton didn't act out but instead took it out on AAA pitching with one of the finest minor league seasons ever posting a .359 batting average with 41 homers and 130 RBI in 120 games walking away with the AAA Hitter of the Year Award.

Bay City knew they could no longer hold Hilton back and they handed him the first base job in spring training relegating the veteran Wells,who had just won the North Hitter of the Year Award, to a back up roll. The 24 year old Hilton didn't look back immediately establishing himself as a hitter to be feared in a potent lineup. The rookie would finish in the North top five in BA(.330), HR(41), and RBI(128) walking away with the North Rookie of the Year an narrowly missing out on the North Hitter of the Year.

1988 was another big year for Hilton again finishing second in homers but first in RBI while taking home the Best Fielder Award and coming in second to future Hall of Fame teammate Bret Hawkins (who had just put up the HBL's first .400 season) for the North Hitter of the Year. The Lake Monsters were also on the move finishing five games behind Oshkosh for the North title. Hawkins won another North Hitter of the Year Award in 1989 while Hilton took a step back in his production with his first sub-.300 batting average and just 31 homers while Bay City again finished second in the North, this time to a surprising Duluth squad.

Then 1990 happened. Up to this point the HBL was still young and there were many very good players battling to be the face of the league. Bay City teammate Bret Hawkins was considered by many to be the best hitter in the entire league coming off two consecutive batting titles and North Hitter of the Year Awards.

The HBL had never seen a Triple Crown and due to Hawkins' hitting prowess and his lack of league leading power the experts didn't expect to see one any time soon. Hilton changed all of that. After one month he was leading all of the HBL in average(.405), homers(11), and RBI(27). He would continue to pace both leagues in homers and RBI to the point where he had wrapped up those titles early and was now looking at breaking the single season records set by Poplar Bluff's Kelvin Green in 1984.

With two of the three categories wrapped up Hilton focused on the batting title while trying not to sacrifice his power. It was an uphill battle as Hawkins had a 12 point lead heading into August with history on his side.

To the dismay of all watching Hawkins would struggle down the stretch hitting just .318 in August while Hilton batted .358 and headed into the final 11 games of the season trailing by just three points. Hilton took it to another level in September hitting .415 while Hawkins continued to struggle. Not only did Hilton hit for average over the final 11 games but he slammed five homers and knocked in 12 to finish the season with the first ever Triple Crown in HBL history along with the single season records for homers and RBI.


HBL Triple crown: .363, 52 HR, 151 RBI

Mitchell Hilton would go on to hit .346 with a league leading 36 homers helping Hawkins and company lead the Lake Monsters to the 1991 HBL Championship but injuries would soon limit him. After 1993 he would never again hit over .300 or slug more than 31 homers.

Although his overall numbers are somewhat modest compared to his HOF peers Hilton will always hold his place in history as not just the first triple crown in HBL history but, as of 2018, the only one accomplished by a hitter.



Mitchell Hilton went on to retire following the 2002 season and was elected to the HBL HOF in 2004 on his second year on the ballot. He ended his career with one North Rookie of the Year Award(1986), one North Hitter of the Year Award(1990), one HBL Triple Crown(1990), eight HBL All-Star appearances, four North Best Fielder Awards and one Heartland Series Championship.


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Old 03-25-2019, 04:58 AM   #10
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Enjoying this very much, and I really like your BB Cards - can you tell me which ones they are and if the templates are available anywhere? Thanks.
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Old 03-25-2019, 05:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyke View Post
Enjoying this very much, and I really like your BB Cards - can you tell me which ones they are and if the templates are available anywhere? Thanks.
Thank you...I got the baseball cards from the mod forums. It was a file that had all of the BB Card templates in one.
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Old 03-25-2019, 07:33 PM   #12
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HBL Hall of Fame: Making a case for Ron Hodge



originally posted by Scott Fite:

Ron Hodge made his retirement official, ending the career of one of the league's greatest players of all time.

After being drafted 4th overall out of Michigan State, Hodge played 17 years in Bay City, spending his entire career with the organization. And what a career it was! Hodge hangs up his spikes with a lifetime slash of .328/.472/.562. He was a 10-time All-Star, 9-time Player of the Month, and won the North Hitter of the Year twice, while finishing in the top three of the voting an amazing 8 times.

Hodge was part of three Heartland Series championships for Bay City, winning it all in 2004, 2006 and 2007. He was named the MVP of the 2006 series.

Hodge won 7 Silver Slugger awards at first base, fitting since getting to first base was his specialty. Hodge led the HBL in On Base Percentage four straight years, setting a record with a .540 OBP in 2003, a record that still stands today. That season he also set a league record with 10.4 WAR, a mark that has since been topped by just one man, David Howard. Hodge has 1,875 walks, ranking behind just Howard and Greg O'Finegan.

Among the career leader boards, Hodge is 7th in WAR (103.3) and 3rd in OPS (1.034). Among retired players he is first in OBP and 12th in batting average. While Hodge was an amazing pure hitter, he could hit for power as well. Nine times he was among the top 10 home run hitters in the North, finishing with 397 bombs (16th among all HBL players) and Hodge has the 12th highest slugging percentage among all retired players.

Hodge was an amazing blend of professional contact hitter, a keen eye, and raking power. He even won a Best Fielder award in 2009, to complete his reputation as one of the most well-rounded ball players the HBL has ever seen.

Thanks for the amazing career, Mr. Hodge. Looking forward to seeing your plaque in the Hall of Fame!

CAREER STATS


CAREER POSTSEASON STATS
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Old 03-26-2019, 09:07 AM   #13
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Can you tell me which set your BB card templates are from, please?
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Old 03-26-2019, 08:16 PM   #14
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Can you tell me which set your BB card templates are from, please?


I got them from this thread...the file has all of the baseball cards in it.

I do not remember which ones I actually used above as I just went through them until I found one I liked for the situation.
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Old 04-07-2019, 07:05 PM   #15
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HBL Hall of Fame: Class of 2019

SS Ken Mills(Veterans Committee)



"Thank you, I appreciate the call." Ken Mills said calmly as tears streamed down his face yesterday. The 66 year old had given up on making the HBL Hall of Fame years ago but with the newly formed veterans committee Mills and other long forgotten Heroes of the Heartland Baseball League's early days now have a renewed hope for enshrinement. Mills will be the first "Pioneer" enshrined but certainly not the last.

"I knew I was good but I also knew my career was short," explained the former Cedar Rapids and Springfield shortstop. "Injuries were starting to take a toll on me and I decided my quality of life in my later years was more important than a few more years on the diamond or a few more dollars in the bank." While most will sacrifice everything for one more at bat or one more pitch Mills hung'em up at the ripe old age of 33 following two subpar and injury filled seasons.

"There will be controversy" HBL Commissioner Herb DeSpain said upon making the announcement. "His career was short compared to everyone else in the Hall but the Veterans Committee is here to acknowledge those who helped to get the HBL started and Ken Mills certainly fills that role." "If you saw him play then you would know he deserves to this," said Pasta Davis who was one of three members of the first HBL HOF class back in 1993 and a member of the veterans committee. "He was one of the best and when he retired it was not only a huge shock to us all but a huge loss to our game."


Mills was 25 years old when the HBL started but he was already mature as a baseball player. His first five seasons he used raw talent but it wasn't until he turned 30 that he really started to study the game and that is when he developed into an elite hitter winning consecutive South Batting Titles in '83 & '84 before the injuries robbed him of his abilities. "The best fielding SS I have ever seen," said another member of the veterans committee Colin Reese. "And I've seen them all!" Mills earned six consecutive Best Fielder Awards from the start of the HBL in 1978 until 1983. He also made seven consecutive HBL All-Star teams from 1978 through 1984. He led the league in runs once, hits once, and doubles once during his career. He was the leader on a Cedar Rapids team that won 79 games and claimed the very first Heartland Series Championship in 1978 where he hit .321 during the seven game series.

Davis added "Five more seasons on either side of his career and there is absolutely no controversy. The committee will not get them all right, but we got this one right."


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Old 04-20-2019, 10:48 AM   #16
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The Gift That Just Keeps Giving: David Howard



David Howard is in a familiar place. Two months into the 2019 HBL season and the 39 year old is hitting .401 and leading the entire HBL in batting average in search of his tenth North League batting title. Howard had battered Bay City pitching on June the fourth to the tune of three hits and two bases on balls leaving him with 2,999 career hits, just one shy of the magical 3,000 mark heading into the second game of the series on June 5.

All 12,000 Bullfrog faithful we on their feet as Howard approached the plate in the bottom of the first and all were disappointed when he popped up to shallow center field. The same thing happened with the crowd in the bottom of the fourth as Howard again popped up to the Lake Monsters centerfielder. "As I approached the plate in the bottom of the sixth I said to myself 'don't make them(the fans) wait any longer, let's just get this over with," Howard would explain after the game. "I've never tried to hit a ball as hard as I tried to hit that pitch but I only nipped the top of it." The ball would spin past a lunging Ryan Ross and die in the grass between the mound and the second baseman Craig Bingman. Howard, not watching the ball sprinted down the line as he has in every at bat for 20 years made it to the first base bag without a play but hitting the bag awkwardly. He fell to the ground and the crowd went wild. "I wasn't sure if they were cheering for the hit," Howard said with a smile "or they were cheering cause I got hurt."

Howard now has at least two weeks to reflect on his career accomplishments as that is the minimum amount of time he will be out of the Davenport lineup to recover from the sprained ankle he suffered on the milestone hit. "I always dreamed of being carried off the field...but not like that."

Howard is considered the most decorated position player in the history of the Heartland Baseball League. Along with his nine batting titles he has seven Best Hitter Awards, seven Best Fielder Awards, 16 Silver Slugger Awards, and has made 15 HBL All-Star teams. He is at the top of several hitting leaderboards including number one OB%(.489) and WAR(167.9). He is second in career batting average by just one point at .364 as well as second in OPS(1.055) and bases on balls(1974). He is the seventh member of the 3000 hit club along with Lee Welch(3607), Clark West(3343), Ken Meyer(3128), Greg O'Finegan(3119), Artie Wall(3031), and former Davenport teammate Toby Stell(3019). Howard has displayed an amazing knowledge of the strike zone over his career striking out just 719 times in over 10,000 plate appearances. In 2006 he struck out an amazing nine times while drawing 114 bases on balls in 579 plate appearances.

One thing Howard has not been able to add to his resume is an HBL Championship. Howard's rookie season was the first season ever in the history of the Davenport Bullfrogs. During his 20 year career the Bullfrogs have never won the North title and they made it to the playoffs just three times losing to Oshkosh in the LCS each time. He struggled at the plate in 2003 and 2011 but in 2010 he was named the LCS MVP despite his team losing the series in four games. For that series Howard hit .571 with three homers, nine RBI, six runs, five walks, and zero strikeouts in 19 trips to the plate.


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Old 04-20-2019, 06:03 PM   #17
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Good post on Howard. Very nicely put together.
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:08 AM   #18
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2019 HBL All-Stars

North All-Star Game Selections announced:


SP Dillon Anderson (KEN) - 14-7, 2.60 ERA, 180.1 IP, 1.05 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 5.5 WAR, 7th All-Star team


SP Brandon Chandler (CR) - 7-5, 2.81 ERA, 131.1 IP, 1.19 WHIP, 5.5 K/9, 4.1 WAR, 1st All Star team


SP Larry Collins (ROC) - 12-5, 2.95 ERA, 174.0 IP, 1.06 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 3.6 WAR, 4th All Star team



SP Phil Gordon (DUL) - 3-3, 2.45 ERA, 58.2 IP, 1.06 WHIP, 5.1 K/9, 0.4 WAR, ROOKIE



SP Nick Robinson (DAV) - 16-8, 3.42 ERA, 216.0 IP, 1.19 WHIP, 4.9 K/9, 3.5 WAR, 2nd All Star team



SP Eric Schultz (ROC) - 8-8, 2.96 ERA, 161.1 IP, 1.12 WHIP, 4.5 K/9, 4.2 WAR, 7th All Star team



RP Alistair Aytoun (KEN) - 4-3, 27 SV, 0.74 ERA, 48.2 IP, 0.76 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 1.9 WAR, 2nd All Star team



RP David Young (SB) - 5-1, 1.99 ERA, 40.2 IP, 1.11 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 1.0 WAR, 1st All Star team



CL Bob Clark (CR) - 4-1, 26 SV, 2.12 ERA, 59.1 IP, 0.99 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 1.7 WAR, 2nd All Star team



C Quentin Childs (OSH) - .361/.413/.637, 355 AB, 23 HR, 2 SB, 177 wRC+, 5.4 WAR, 2nd All Star team



C David Howard (DAV) - .383/.496/.588, 277 AB, 8 HR, 197 wRC+, 5.7 WAR, 17th All Star team



1B Brad Franklin (DAV) - .358/.407/.597, 444 AB, 23 HR, 173 wRC+, 5.7 WAR, 1st All Star team



1B Roger Picot (ROC) - .308/.353/.609, 419 AB, 33 HR, 1 SB, 153 wRC+, 4.0 WAR, 7th All Star team



1B Millard Taylor (OSH) - .345/.398/.580, 426 AB, 22 HR, 164 wRC+, 3.6 WAR, 1st All Star team



2B Craig Bingman (BC) - .273/.353/.398, 392 AB, 8 HR, 3 SB, 103 wRC+, 1.5 WAR, 2nd All Star team



2B Tom Lee (SB) - .288/.327/.422, 372 AB, 7 HR, 43 SB, 99 wRC+, 2.4 WAR, ROOKIE



3B Allen Phillips (OSH) - .303/.383/.545, 380 AB, 18 HR, 152 wRC+, 4.3 WAR, 1st All Star team



3B Dave Watson (DUL) - .343/.390/.523, 428 AB, 17 HR, 1 SB, 152 wRC+, 4.5 WAR, 4th All Star team



SS Billy Nicholson (DAV) - .288/.345/.446, 399 AB, 12 HR, 36 SB, 115 wRC+, 3.6 WAR, 1st All Star team



SS Bergen Sandel (KEN) - .301/.352/.430, 442 AB, 9 HR, 33 SB, 112 wRC+, 3.5 WAR, 1st All Star team



LF Jesse Richmond (DUL) - .291/.362/.604, 402 AB, 36 HR, 156 wRC+, 4.1 WAR, 4th All Star team



CF Bill Burks (CR) - .407/.469/.824, 408 AB, 45 HR, 16 SB, 247 wRC+, 9.1 WAR, ROOKIE



RF Judd Jones (BC) - .288/.375/.548, 392 AB, 23 HR, 1 SB, 150 wRC+, 2.7 WAR, 3rd All Star team



RF Brian Lawrence (SB) - .281/.337/.600, 395 AB, 34 HR, 15 SB, 144 wRC+, 3.3 WAR, 4th All Star team



RF Lyle Solon (BC) - .386/.463/.537, 417 AB, 1 HR, 33 SB, 173 wRC+, 3.4 WAR, ROOKIE


South All-Star Game Selections announced:



SP Randall Gibbs (CAN) - 10-6, 2.81 ERA, 157.0 IP, 1.13 WHIP, 3.4 K/9, 3.2 WAR



SP Mark Gunther (SPR) - 13-7, 3.17 ERA, 193.0 IP, 1.12 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 5.1 WAR, 3rd All Star team



SP David Kirby (LAF) - 10-8, 3.01 ERA, 179.1 IP, 1.07 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 2.2 WAR, 3rd All Star team



SP Mike Landers (LAF) - 14-5, 2.30 ERA, 180.0 IP, 0.94 WHIP, 5.5 K/9, 4.2 WAR, 4th All Star team



SP Kevin LeBlanc (PB) - 13-5, 2.54 ERA, 170.0 IP, 0.96 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 4.2 WAR, 2nd All Star team



SP Morris Nelson (EVA) - 11-4, 2.55 ERA, 148.1 IP, 0.96 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 4.1 WAR, 1st All Star team



SP Norman Skinner (SPR) - 10-2, 2.27 ERA, 99.1 IP, 1.16 WHIP, 5.0 K/9, 2.2 WAR, 1st All Star team



RP Stewart Jenkins (COL) - 2-0, 17 SV, 1.13 ERA, 40.0 IP, 0.82 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 1.0 WAR, 2nd All Star team



RP Scot Turner (CAN) - 6-4, 18 SV, 1.33 ERA, 54.0 IP, 0.96 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 2.3 WAR, 5th All Star team



RP David Wright (JEC) - 8-1, 1.93 ERA, 37.1 IP, 0.91 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 0.9 WAR, 1st All Star team



C Steve Hughes (CAN) - .275/.372/.486, 313 AB, 18 HR, 136 wRC+, 3.6 WAR, 2nd All Star team



C Ryan Sirrell (PB) - .304/.398/.434, 316 AB, 8 HR, 3 SB, 126 wRC+, 3.4 WAR, 7th All Star team



1B Joel Spurling (DAY) - .322/.400/.571, 317 AB, 20 HR, 29 SB, 162 wRC+, 3.7 WAR, 6th All Star team



1B Mark Wells (PB) - .316/.369/.513, 415 AB, 18 HR, 141 wRC+, 3.6 WAR, 1st All Star team



2B Patrick Crane (JEC) - .293/.354/.480, 444 AB, 17 HR, 45 SB, 125 wRC+, 3.5 WAR, 5th All Star team



2B Ken Simpson (SPR) - .302/.383/.457, 414 AB, 10 HR, 26 SB, 134 wRC+, 4.2 WAR, 1st All Star team



3B Tom Foster (EVA) - .295/.343/.515, 427 AB, 24 HR, 4 SB, 135 wRC+, 3.7 WAR, 2nd All Star team



3B Paul Hill (DAY) - .289/.345/.495, 370 AB, 18 HR, 1 SB, 125 wRC+, 1.9 WAR, 4th All Star team



SS Matt Gamble (CAN) - .333/.390/.566, 318 AB, 19 HR, 31 SB, 161 wRC+, 4.0 WAR, 7th All Star team



SS Mike Lewis (LAF) - .286/.342/.451, 412 AB, 12 HR, 43 SB, 114 wRC+, 4.3 WAR, 2nd All Star team



LF Chris Moore (CAN) - .310/.364/.547, 406 AB, 25 HR, 147 wRC+, 2.6 WAR, 1st All Star team



LF Dax Palmer (PB) - .344/.385/.679, 389 AB, 34 HR, 9 SB, 185 wRC+, 5.1 WAR, ROOKIE



LF Tommy Short (EVA) - .332/.383/.592, 377 AB, 22 HR, 165 wRC+, 4.0 WAR, 2nd All Star team



RF Thierry Garcia (LAF) - .307/.344/.509, 411 AB, 18 HR, 12 SB, 132 wRC+, 3.3 WAR, 1st All Star team



RF Matt Patton (SPR) - .319/.358/.522, 383 AB, 16 HR, 6 SB, 137 wRC+, 2.8 WAR, ROOKIE

Last edited by HerbD; 05-02-2019 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:51 AM   #19
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A few reactions:
1) Boy that David Howard kid is quite the beefy catcher. Wait, am I reading this right? He's 39 years old. Such a baby face. But I can't imagine him squatting behind a plate for the last 20 years or more at his size. (And 7 Gold Gloves I see from the earlier post here about Howard. Impressive.) Of course, if I was a runner I wouldn't be in a hurry to crash the plate.
2) Speaking of guys I wouldn't want to run into, that Roger Picot looks like a guy I'd try to avoid meeting in a dark alley.
3) On the other hand, Mr. Sirrell looks like someone you could enjoy having a beer with.
4) And what's with Stewart Jenkins? Is he angry about something (or perplexed)? Or just dealing with an unresolved case of constipation?


I love Facegen especially in a fictional context as I have no preconceptions about the players but totally start to create stories in my head about them based upon how they look. Which can be a problem too. Sometimes you have that prospect who just looks like your idea of what a big league baseball superstar looks like and you might over-estimate him a bit just based upon the look. (Dax Palmer- that guy has the superstar look to my eye. And probably Mark Wells, too.) And others might just not look the part but have all the talent.
Still, just makes the immersion all that much deeper and richer in my estimation.

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Old 05-02-2019, 11:44 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BirdWatcher View Post
A few reactions:
1) Boy that David Howard kid is quite the beefy catcher. Wait, am I reading this right? He's 39 years old. Such a baby face. But I can't imagine him squatting behind a plate for the last 20 years or more at his size. (And 7 Gold Gloves I see from the earlier post here about Howard. Impressive.) Of course, if I was a runner I wouldn't be in a hurry to crash the plate.
2) Speaking of guys I wouldn't want to run into, that Roger Picot looks like a guy I'd try to avoid meeting in a dark alley.
3) On the other hand, Mr. Sirrell looks like someone you could enjoy having a beer with.
4) And what's with Stewart Jenkins? Is he angry about something (or perplexed)? Or just dealing with an unresolved case of constipation?


I love Facegen especially in a fictional context as I have no preconceptions about the players but totally start to create stories in my head about them based upon how they look. Which can be a problem too. Sometimes you have that prospect who just looks like your idea of what a big league baseball superstar looks like and you might over-estimate him a bit just based upon the look. (Dax Palmer- that guy has the superstar look to my eye. And probably Mark Wells, too.) And others might just not look the part but have all the talent.
Still, just makes the immersion all that much deeper and richer in my estimation.
I'm surprised myself that Howard has not been moved to 1B but he's still doing well behind the plate despite his size. And he can still hit, .383 so far in 2019. I agree with your thoughts on facegen...I love it, especially for fictional. It ranges from realistic to downright funny, just like real life ballplayers.
HerbD is offline   Reply With Quote
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BirdWatcher (05-02-2019)
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