History

 



THE HISTORY OF SALTDOGS BASEBALL

As we enter the 2016 season of Saltdogs Baseball, here's a year-by-year look back at the club's first decade-plus on the diamond:
 
May 27 01 Eason.jpg2001
RECORD: 52-38  MANAGERS: Kash Beauchamp, Les Lancaster
POSTSEASON: Wild-card, def. Sioux Falls 3 games to 1, lost to Winnipeg 3 games to 1

The inaugural season of Saltdogs baseball was more successful than anyone could have imagined.  Clay Eason (pictured) led the pitching staff, going 10-3 with a 1.70 ERA and earning the Northern League's "Star of Stars" award.  Catcher Kevin Sullivan won Rookie of the Year honors, and third baseman Josh Brinkley joined Eason and Sullivan on the midseason All-Star team.  After 42 games, pitcher Les Lancaster moved to the bench and managed Lincoln to a 28-17 second-half mark, earning a wild-card bid to the playoffs.  In the first round, the 'Dogs shocked Sioux Falls, who had the league's best record, beating the Canaries three games to one and moving on to the Northern League Central finals.  The season would end there, but the tone had been set: the Lincoln Saltdogs were a force to be reckoned with, year in and year out.


 

May 25 01 Warner.jpg2002
RECORD: 55-36  MANAGER: Les Lancaster
POSTSEASON: Wild-card, lost to Winnipeg 3 games to 2

Season Two continued the Saltdogs' remarkable run of success, as manager Les Lancaster led Lincoln to three more wins than the previous year.  Bryan Warner (pictured) had a monster campaign, hitting .331 with 15 home runs and 78 RBI to capture the Northern League Central Player of the Year award.  On the mound, Troy Silva went 7-1 with a 2.62 ERA.  Outfielder Dustin Delucchi, infielder Darren Doskocil and closer Chris Weidert joined Warner on the All-Star team, and the 'Dogs went 30-16 in the season's second half to claim a second straight wild-card playoff berth.  They met Winnipeg, the team that had knocked Lincoln out in 2001, and the Saltdogs took the series the distance before falling in the decisive Game Five.  Warner ended the year firmly established as a fan favorite in Lincoln, and would remain a fixture in the lineup for many years to come.


 

May 30 04 Patton.jpg2003
RECORD: 41-49  MANAGER: Tim Johnson
POSTSEASON: None

Every team has a down year from time to time, and the third season of Saltdogs Baseball saw Lincoln post its only losing record to date.  The season was not without its bright spots, however.  Josh Patton (pictured) began his long, successful tenure in Lincoln, hitting .301 with five homers and 57 RBI.  On the mound, Tom Ford went 10-4 with a 3.78 ERA.  Lincoln hosted the Northern League All-Star Game in 2003, and in addition to Patton, pitchers Doug Johnston, Alan Ochsner and Mick Pageler, catcher Ryan Smith, infielder Paul Powell and outfielder Bryan Warner took part in the contest.  Lincoln manager Tim Johnson also managed the West All-Stars in his first season at Haymarket Park, and although the Saltdogs missed the playoffs for the first time, the former big-league skipper began laying the groundwork for his team's return to postseason play in the Northern League.


 

TJ.jpg2004
RECORD: 49-47  MANAGER: Tim Johnson
POSTSEASON: None

The Saltdogs got back on the winning side of the ledger in their fourth season, as manager Tim Johnson (pictured) set his sights on getting Lincoln back into the Northern League playoffs.  Led by All-Stars Bryan Warner and Josh Patton, the 'Dogs played ten games above .500 in the season's first half, just barely missing out on a division title.  Warner and Patton were joined on the All-Star team that year by pitchers Byron Embry, Adam Springston and Chris Weidert, infielder Darren Doskocil and outfielder JuJu Foreman.  The second half wasn't as kind to the Saltdogs, however, as they sank to fourth place in the division, finishing out of the playoffs for the second year in a row.  Again, though, Lincoln found bright spots in an up-and-down season; in addition to the heroics of Patton and Warner, Saltdogs fans got their first look at shortstop Albenis Machado, who hit a solid .288 and stole ten bases in his first season at Haymarket Park.


 

warner.jpg2005
RECORD: 52-44  MANAGER: Tim Johnson
POSTSEASON: Wild-card, lost to Fargo-Moorhead 3 games to 1

Season Five of Saltdogs Baseball was a wild roller-coaster ride in Lincoln's final trip through the Northern League.  Four Southern Division teams, including the Saltdogs, finished within a game and a half of first place in the first half.  Behind the red-hot bats of Bryan Warner (.352, 21 HR, 104 RBI) and Cory Harris (.341, 21 HR, 62 RBI), Lincoln stayed in the race throughout the second half, eventually claiming a wild-card berth on the next-to-last day of the season.  Warner (pictured) won the league's MVP award for the second time in his career, while he and Harris were joined on the All-Star team by pitchers Jared Hoerman and Brian Rodaway, and infielder Pichi Balet.  The 'Dogs opponent in the playoffs, Fargo-Moorhead, went an incredible 40-7 in the second half, but Lincoln refused to back down, taking Game One to extra innings and winning Game Three, before the RedHawks closed out the series in Game Four.


 

May 13 06 Gulin.jpg2006
RECORD: 65-31  MANAGER: Tim Johnson
POSTSEASON: 1st- and 2nd-half North Division champs, lost to St. Paul 3 games to 1

The sixth season of Saltdogs Baseball saw the dawning of the American Association, and Lincoln set out to dominate the new league.  They captured their first-ever division title in the season's first half, led by the dominating pitchng of Lindsay Gulin (pictured), who went 13-2 with a 2.10 ERA and was named the new league's "Star of Stars."  Pitchers Jeff Blitstein and Jerrod Fuell, and catcher Kevin Sullivan joined Gulin on the All-Star team.  Pichi Balet was not a midseason All-Star, but he hit .378 and was named the league's Player of the Year.  Jason Howerton was the Rookie Pitcher of the Year, Tim Johnson took Manager of the Year honors and Lincoln was named Organization of the Year.  The Saltdogs rolled to the 2nd-half division title as well, posting one of the best regular seasons in the history of independent baseball.  Sadly, that momentum did not carry over into the playoffs; after winning Game One against St. Paul, the 'Dogs dropped the next three contests.


 

August 3 06 Balet.jpg2007
RECORD: 57-36  MANAGER: Tim Johnson
POSTSEASON: 1st-half North Division champs, lost to St. Paul 3 games to 0

Lincoln started out as a team on a mission in 2007.  After opening the year 6-4, they rattled off 14 straight wins, the longest streak in team history.  The 'Dogs rode that momentum to another 1st-half division title.  Pichi Balet (pictured) led a host of Saltdogs All-Stars, which also included pitchers Jarrett Gardner, Josh Kauten, Mark Roberts and Matt Varner, infielders Brett Cooley, Tony Garcia and Josh Patton, and outfielder Seth Pietsch.  Both Gardner and Kyle Ruwe won ten games for Lincoln, which captured American Association Organization of the Year honors for the second consecutive season.  One year after leading the team to its best record ever, manager Tim Johnson took pride in guiding the Saltdogs to their second-best record ever.  The 'Dogs were only a .500 team in the season's second half, but still had high hopes heading into the playoffs.  St. Paul was waiting there once again, though, and Lincoln suffered a disappointing sweep.


 

June 3 07 Gardner.jpg2008
RECORD: 50-45  MANAGER: Tim Johnson
POSTSEASON: None

The 2008 campaign was a story of transition and perseverance.  Bryan Warner had retired after seven years with the Saltdogs, and manager Tim Johnson missed some time on a medical leave of absence.  Still, Lincoln fought through some early-season woes to become a contender.  Jarrett Gardner (pictured) was the anchor of the rotation, going 11-6 with a 3.25 ERA--including a sensational month of July, when Gardy went 6-0 with an 0.96 ERA.  Brian Campbell posted a 10-win season for the 'Dogs, and the offense was led by All-Star first baseman Dustin Yount, the son of MLB Hall of Famer Robin Yount.  Fan favorite Albenis Machado returned to the team in July, and Johnson came back to the dugout in time to lead Lincoln on a thrilling pennant chase down the stretch.  The Saltdogs contended until the next-to-last day of the season, when a tough one-run loss ended Lincoln's pursuit of the 2nd-half division title.


 

Champs Trophy3.jpg2009
RECORD: 49-47  MANAGER: Marty Scott
POSTSEASON: 2nd-half North Division champs, def. Wichita 3-2, def. Pensacola 3-2
***2009 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION CHAMPIONS***

The 2009 season launched a new era of Saltdogs Baseball, as Marty Scott took over as manager.  The 'Dogs got off to a slow start, but an infusion of new talent in June kick-started a championship run.  Jarrett Gardner threw the franchise's first no-hitter on June 25, while pitcher Chris Thompson, catcher Shawn McGill, first baseman Phil Hawke and center fielder Josh Burrus all made the All-Star team.  July additions Rafael Alvarez and Gavin Dickey helped spark Lincoln to a 2nd-half division title and a playoff showdown against Wichita.  Lincoln fell behind 2 games to 1, but rallied to win the final two on the road and earn a trip to the championship series.  Pensacola took the 'Dogs to a decisive fifth game, but the pitching of Jim Paduch, along with the hot bats of Alvarez and Brandon Jones, led the Saltdogs to their first championship. 


 

Nunez_HistoryPic.jpg2010
RECORD: 51-45  MANAGER: Marty Scott
POSTSEASON: Wild-card, lost to Sioux Falls 3 games to 0

Season Ten of Saltdogs baseball featured the most powerful lineup ever to take the field at Haymarket Park.  Manager Marty Scott brought back 13 players from the 2009 championship lineup, and Lincoln tried to defend the crown by hammering its opponents into submission.  Argelis Nunez (pictured) set the franchise record with 22 home runs, team Player of the Year Gavin Dickey added 17 more, and rookie catcher Pat Trettel bashed 11 bombs in just 38 games.  In all, the 'Dogs hit 128 home runs, destroying the previous season record for both the team and the American Association.  Staff ace Jim Paduch led the team with nine wins and 118 strikeouts, while closer Chris Thompson picked up 21 saves.  In the postseason, the Saltdogs faced Sioux Falls, who won the North Division in both halves.  Even though Lincoln was swept, the 'Dogs played the Pheasants as close as any team had all year.  Every game was decided by one run, with two of the three going extra innings.


 

Hawke3-resized.jpg2011
RECORD: 51-48  MANAGER: Marty Scott                                                                                                              

POSTSEASON: None
Despite being hampered by injuries for much of the season, the Saltdogs were able to grind out enough wins to stay in contention right down to the summer's ultimate series, and provide fans with some true thrills along the way.  Blake Gailen set the league ablaze over the first few months, notching a new American Association record with a .406 batting average before being signed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Tommy Palica (Phillies), Vince Bongiovanni (Blue Jays), Jeff Howell (Red Sox) and Vance Albitz (Cardinals) were all picked up by MLB organizations as well (also a league record).  Twice during the campaign, the 'Dogs hit back-to-back home runs in extra innings at to even the score.  Both came with two outs, and for one they were down to their final strike!  Phil Hawke provided the most consistent bat for Lincoln, hitting .300 with 21 home runs and 77 RBI while setting a new franchise mark for walks with 88.


 

provy.jpg2012
RECORD: 41-59  MANAGER: Chris Miyake

POSTSEASON: None
The 12th season of Saltdogs baseball was a trying campaign for the franchise, but there were many bright spots throughout the summer.  P.J. "The Fireman" Zocchi set a new team record for saves; catcher Chris McMurray was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks and helped lead their Triple-A squad to a championship; and gorgeous Haymarket Park was once again recognized as "Field of the Year" - for the 12th consecutive year.  It was a bit of a transitional year for the Saltdogs, with a new manager in Chris Miyake and just three returning players.  After a whirlwind of injuries and player transactions heading in to August, the 'Dogs pitchers began to settle into a groove and the offense began to find its stroke as Lincoln posted its best record since the opening month.  First-year Saltdog Mike Provencher proved to be an outstanding addition, providing pop with his bat, speed on the bases, and an excellent arm and glove in the field to earn Player of the Year honors.

 

 

Raben batting ROD ADAMS PHOTOGRAPHY.jpg2013
RECORD: 49-51  MANAGER: Ken Oberkfell
POSTSEASON: None

The Saltdogs introduced a brand new -- MLB-seasoned -- coaching staff for 2013, led by 16-year big league veteran and former Minor League Manager of the Year Ken Oberkfell.  The front office also pieced together one of the most talented rosters Lincoln has ever had, as evidenced by a league-record tying five players purchased by MLB organizations: Dennis Raben (Royals), Joe Bisenius (Braves), Eddie McKiernan (Diamondbacks), Daniel Carroll (Braves), and Jose Gil (Yankees).  Lincoln also lost one of the league's top sluggers for more than a third of the season in Ian Gac.  Despite playing without some premier pieces for much of 2014, the 'Dogs battled to remain in playoff contention at 48-42 before dropping nine of their final 10 games.  Closer R.J. Rodriguez set a franchise record with 27 saves. 

 

 

schuler.jpg2014
RECORD: 54-46  MANAGER: Ken Oberkfell
POSTSEASON: Central Division Champs, def. Winnipeg 3-2, lost to Wichita 3-0 in championship

Ken Oberkfell's second season as the skipper bore fruit for the franchise, as the Saltdogs won their first division title since 2009, and advanced to the American Association championship series.  Joe Bisenius turned in a pitching masterpiece, striking out 11 to lead Lincoln over Winnipeg in the decisive game of the division series.  In addition to the solid team chemistry, the Saltdogs received some historic individual performances throughout the 2014 season.  First baseman Ian Gac smashed a club-record 27 home runs in 83 games, surpassing Argelis Nunez's previous record of 22.  Closer Marshall Schuler's (pictured) mid-nineties fastball and workhorse mentality helped him set a league record with 34 saves, and appear in a franchise-record 50 games.  Gac and Schuler were joined on the A.A. All-Star team by fellow 'Dog Marquis Fleming, who became the ninth Lincoln pitcher to win 10 or more games.
 

 

 

schuler.jpg2015
RECORD: 34-66  MANAGER: Ken Oberkfell
POSTSEASON: None

After getting off to a hot start, leading the Central in the season’s second week, a pair of seven-game skids by mid-June dealt a heavy blow to Lincoln’s post-season chances. The ‘Dogs showed some fight, rallying for a five-game and six-game winning streak before sputtering in late July. In Ken Oberkfell’s third season, the reasons weren’t what they were aiming for but the club never quit battling: 11 of the losses over the final two-and-and-half weeks were by two runs or less. Curt Smith had a stout all-around season in his third year as a Saltog, hitting .294 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles with an .851 OPS. Curt’s fellow countryman and childhood pal, and former big leaguer Shairon Martis was a marvelous June addition to the front end of the rotation for the ‘Dogs, going 6-3 with a 3.74 ERA. Everyday staple Matt Forgatch (pictured) turned in another solid campaign, becoming the franchise's all-time triples and stolen base king.
 

 

About the Saltdogs

Lincoln Saltdogs

The Lincoln Saltdogs are a member of the Central Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.  The Saltdogs play their home games at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, NE.

Find Us

403 Line Dr Cir,
Lincoln, NE 68508
info@saltdogs.com
402.474.2255

siteground and bluehost