18 Apr

remember the time

There was no joy in Jackson when the New York Mets moved their Double-A team to the Eastern League after the 1990 season, ending the team’s 16-year stay. But jubilation was back at Smith-Wills Stadium on April 17, 1991, when the Generals – the Houston Astros’ Double-A team – made their home debut. Before an announced crowd of 3,571, the Gens beat Shreveport 3-2 on Rusty Harris’ pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth inning. Hard to believe it’s been 30 years. … Managed by Rick Sweet, the ex-big league catcher, the ’91 Generals were a talented club. Three members of the original starting rotation made the big leagues: Shane Reynolds, Jeff Juden and Chris Gardner. Todd Jones, a later addition to the rotation, developed into a top-drawer closer in the majors. Minor league veteran Joe Mikulik was the team’s best hitter, batting .293 with 15 homers and 94 RBIs. He never made the big leagues but gained some measure of fame as a minor league manager. (Look him up.) Catcher Tony Eusebio (.261) was the first General to get the call to The Show, and he enjoyed a nice career. Second baseman Trent (Trenidad) Hubbard, shortstop Orlando Miller and pitcher Brian Williams are other 1991 alums who made it to MLB. The roster also included Lance “Bam-Bam” Madsen, Scott Makarewicz, Bert Hunter, Willie Ansley, Howard Prager and Richie Simon. The team finished with a winning record overall (70-66) but did not make the playoffs. Two years later, the Gens won a Texas League championship. Three years after that, they claimed another. Three years after that, they played their final game at Smith-Wills before the TL franchise, having been sold (to a group that included Nolan Ryan), moved to Texas.