Genevan John Oughterson and I were both talked about and quoted in the book “Tony Perez: From Cuba to Cooperstown.” We spent two evenings with author John Erardi at McDonough Park discussing Geneva’s NY-Penn League baseball teams. A year or so later Mr. Erardi came back to Geneva and gave us each a copy of the book.
Johnny O and I share another hobby related to baseball — we have each compiled lists of ballplayers who played in Geneva and went on to the Major Leagues. This does not sound like much of a challenge today; a couple of keystrokes on the computer and you have any player’s life story. When we started on our mission in the 1960s (yes, we were young teens), you had to research old rosters, baseball cards, and newspapers. I went to Cooperstown twice and still have my enormous copy of Baseball Reference. My baseball cards featuring “our guys” have been shared with the Geneva History Museum. It is almost too easy now.
Everybody knows about Perez and Pete Rose. Do you remember that Dave Bristol, Mike Hargrove and Karl Kuehl all managed Major League teams? Among the very good players who also spent a season in Geneva were Jamie Moyer, Mel Hall, Kent Tekulve, Doug Glanville, Mike Cubbage, Scott Fletcher, Chico Ruiz and Cesar Tovar.
Many, many ballplayers who spent a season in Geneva went on to productive big-league careers. Some others we watched those decades ago include Steve Trachsel, Dwight Smith, Bill Madlock, Billy Hatcher and current Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez.
The abridged and somewhat strange 2020 baseball season did entertain me and helped ease the pain. I became a Dodger fan. The Rays often had a guy named Timmons on first base. I knew Ozzie Timmons, but he played outfield for the Geneva Cubs in 1991. Couldn’t be him. But it was — I confused being on first with being the first base coach.
Ozzie Timmons must love the game. He played in Chicago, Seattle, and Tampa Bay for several years, then continued in Mexico, Japan, and the minors until 2006. Tampa is home for him, and he is revered there. He was a local high school star, and graduated two-time All-American from the University of Tampa in 1991.
At 50 years old, he may well be the most popular first base coach in baseball. At a game in Cooperstown I told him Geneva could use him — I’d give him a ride back. He laughed and somehow refused my generous offer.