Amarillo rolls 9-6 past San Antonio in a sloppy TCL opener

The Amarillo Sod Squad undoubtedly considered themselves fortunate on opening-night in the Texas Collegiate Baseball League.

Playing at home, their pitching walked 11 and their defense committed four errors in the field. And yet, in the end, they came out on top of the equally rusty Flying Chanclas de San Antonio, 9-6.

Twin brothers Julio and David Marcano did most of the damage for the Sod Squad, combining for four hits and three RBI.

Trailing 5-0 early and 7-4 in the middle frames, the Chanclas showed some fight in their TCL debut, scoring four runs in the fourth and two in the sixth to pull within one run of the home team.

But in the bottom of the seventh, 6-foot-5 Amarillo slugger Lyle Miller-Green stepped to the plate and hit the two-run homer off Chanclas lefty Jaime Ramirez Jr. to seal it.

Kyte McDonald, from Antonian High School, led the Chanclas with three hits and two RBI. Former Reagan High School standout Porter Brown had two hits, a run scored and an RBI. Lee Thomas, from the University of the Incarnate Word, stroked a two-run single in the four-run fourth.

The Chanclas failed to take advantage of their many opportunities, leaving 13 on base. In the first and second innings, they loaded the bases with no out each time, and failed to score.

The visitors also failed to hit make contact when it counted, striking out 14 times. In the field, they committed four errors, all in the nightmarish second when the Sod Squad sent 10 men to the plate and scored five runs.

Coming up

Chanclas at Amarillo on Wednesday and Thursday, returning home to open a three-game series Friday against the Acadiana Cane Cutters.

Notable

The Flying Chanclas de San Antonio are a creation of the San Antonio Missions professional baseball club. They’ll play home games this summer at Wolff Stadium, the long-time home of the Missions. The Missions, a Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, aren’t fielding a team this season.

All of minor league baseball’s teams have been shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Officials in the minors have known for months that their season wasn’t likely to take place.

It became official on Tuesday afternoo0n, when MiLB president Pat O’Conner announced it in a statement out of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Minor-league baseball season canceled on ‘a very sad day’

Feeling the effects of a national health crisis, minor league baseball announced Tuesday afternoon that the season has been canceled, effectively stripping San Antonio of one its most enduring traditions.

Flying Chanclas de San Antonio outfield work at Thursday's practice at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

The Flying Chanclas de San Antonio, an entry in the Texas Collegiate League, will open play tonight in Amarillo. – Photo by Joe Alexander

It is the first time in 53 years that baseball fans in the Alamo City will not have their own professional team to cheer.

“This is news we expected, but it’s still a very sad day to know we won’t have professional baseball in San Antonio this summer,” Missions president Burl Yarbrough said. “We look forward to things getting better and know that Opening Day 2021 will be really special.”

In anticipation of the cancellation, the Missions in May moved forward with plans to host a team in the Texas Collegiate League. The team, known as the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio, will open a 30-game season Tuesday night.

San Antonio’s last summer without pro ball came in 1967 in the third year of a three-year stretch following the sale of the team to a group in Amarillo.

Pro ball returned to the Alamo City in 1968, with home games held at V.J. Keefe Field on the campus of St. Mary’s University.

It’s been played every summer since then, getting a boost in 1994 when the Missions moved to city-owned Wolff Stadium.

“We’ve been around since 1888 with only a few occasions without baseball,” Yarbrough said. “We’ll come back strong. Baseball fans in San Antonio have always supported us.”

Baseball has been in a holding pattern since March when the coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of activity in spring training.

Last week, Major League Baseball announced a plan to return to play in a 60-game schedule that will start July 23.

But because of projected financial losses, MLB owners elected to scrap plans for a traditional minor league season.

MLB informed the minor league office that it would not provide minor league affiliates with players, meaning the end of any hopes for even a shortened season.

“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball played,” said MiLB president Pat O’Conner.

“While this is a sad day for many,” O’Conner added, “this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”

Chanclas shrug off adversity, prepare for season opener

The coronavirus knocked one player out of action even before the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio opened practice last week. Two more players, Chanclas manager John McLaren said Sunday, have tested positive in the past few days.

Flying Chanclas de San Antonio manager John McLaren. - photo by Joe Alexander

Flying Chanclas manager John McLaren. – Photo by Joe Alexander

On top of that, one of his key pitchers has had to leave town because of a personal matter in his family, leaving a significant gap in the starting rotation.

But even with the adversity, McLaren has developed a good feeling about the potential of his team, which is set to open open play in the Texas Collegiate League this week.

His spirits were lifted by performances that he witnessed in a scrimmage on Friday and in an intra-squad game on Saturday at Wolff Stadium.

Supplying an update in a phone interview on Sunday night, McLaren, a former manager of the Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals, said some of his players have a chance to excel in professional baseball.

He also likes their overall attitude and willingness to be coached.

“We talked about the (intra-squad) game yesterday, and we shared some ideas with them,” he said. “You know, the kids, they’re all ears. They want to learn the game. And we love teaching it. We’re having a lot of fun with this. I think they are, (too).

“For myself, it’ll be nice to follow these kids (in the future), seeing how they’re doing in their career. A couple of them, I’m really, really high on. They can take this to the next level, and maybe higher.”

McLaren is set to board the bus with his players Monday morning.

They’ll leave at 7:15 a.m., en route to Amarillo, where they’ll open their first season in the Texas Collegiate League on Tuesday night.

After three games in three nights against the Amarillo Sod Squad, the plan calls for the Chanclas to motor eight hours back to the Alamo City, where they’ll open at Wolff on Friday night against the Acadiana (La.) Cane Cutters.

It’s the start of a 30-game schedule that will run through the end of July.

Talking about Saturday’s practice game, McLaren cited the play of his outfield, namely Porter Brown of TCU, Kyte McDonald of Mississippi State and Jordan Thompson, who will play for Texas A&M next season.

“These kids are scrappy, and they hustle,” he said. “They’re multi-talented. They run the bases aggressively. They have nice (hitting) strokes. I think our strong suit is our outfield.

“I’m hoping our pitching is our strong suit, too, but that’s yet to be seen. We’ll have to see how all the pieces fall together.”

McLaren said Marcelo Perez, Austin Krob and Riggs Threadgill have entered the picture as pitchers slotted into the starting rotation.

Stopping short of naming an opening-day starter, the manager said it likely would be Perez or Krob, both from TCU.

Catching is rounding into form with Tyler LaRue, the son of former major league catcher Jason LaRue, and Nick Wolff.

On the corners in the infield, Conner Shepherd is at third, with Ryan Flores and Lee Thomas at first.

McLaren mentioned Leyton Barry and Grant Smith as two with versatility to share the middle infield positions.

It’s been a hectic first week on the job for McLaren, an Arizona resident, in putting together his team.

Not only has he tried to get things organized with only six days of practice, he’s also had to do it against the backdrop of the worst health crisis in the United States in more than 100 years.

Since the coronavirus hit the United States in March, it has sickened more than 2.5 million people and killed more than 125,000.

To complicate matters more for McLaren, Texas is now considered a hot spot for the disease.

Bexar County, which includes San Antonio and surrounding areas, has reported more than 10,000 cases since March, with more than 7,300 coming since June 1.

McLaren said he has been on the phone with other managers to see how it is affecting the 10-team league.

“Like I said, we’ve got our challenges,” he said. “We talk every day, about social distancing and doing the right thing. You know, I think with the bars and night clubs closed down, it’ll help, because these kids won’t have any place to go hang out.

“I mean, I don’t care how many times you tell ’em, they’re kids. They go out. They like to go have a good time, and there’s consequences during these tough times.

“We put it right in their lap — it’s up to you. If you be as careful as you can, we can maybe get this season in. If not, we might have a problem. So, that’s where we are.”

Chanclas’ smallest player earns a major-college ticket to Texas A&M

In 2019, Jordan Thompson hit .310 in 25 games as a freshman at the University of the Incarnate Word. Notably, he belted a three-run homer to lead UIW’s 6-5 victory at Texas A&M – Photo, courtesy of UIW athletics.

Competing to win a starting job in the outfield for the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio, Jordan Thompson paused Friday night to discuss what the fans might expect when a 30-game Texas Collegiate League season starts next week.

“I think we’re going to be really good,” Thompson said. “I know it’s only been a couple of days, but after what I’ve seen from the pitchers and the hitters (this week), our team looks really, really good. I know that our pitchers are going to be throwing a lot of strikes … and I know that our hitters are going to be more than ready.”

From all indications, Thompson could play a major role despite his physical stature (5-feet-9, 165 pounds) as the smallest player on the squad. He is coming off a spring in which he hit .435 for Grayson College, earning an offer to play next season at Texas A&M.

“I think this summer’s really going to help me develop as a player, because of our coaching staff,” Thompson said. “They’ve had so much experience at the professional level. It just gives me an opportunity to pick their brains and learn what I have to do to better myself, to (reach) the next level.

“And our team, it just has a lot of talent on it. (I want to) just pick their brains, too. Because there’s obviously a reason where they are. You can always learn a lot of things from a lot of people, different perspectives. It’ll just be really good getting that from everyone else.”

In 2018, as a senior at Boerne Champion, Thompson hit .548 and earned first-team, all-state honors in Class 5A.

Judged as too small by some major college recruiters, he accepted an offer to play as a freshman at the University of the Incarnate Word, where he made headlines early in the spring with a three-run home run to beat A&M at College Station.

But just as Thompson started to make substantial progress with the Cardinals, hitting at a .310 clip over the first 25 games, he suffered a painful back injury that knocked him out for the season.

Later that year, in the summer, Thompson was confronted with another bit of adversity when Pat Hallmark resigned as UIW’s coach to take a job at UTSA.

The ball player decided he, too, would leave.

Thompson turned up for the 2020 season at Grayson, a powerful junior college program located in Denison, about 70 miles north of the Dallas-Fort Worth MetroPlex.

Intent on proving himself, he jump all over the baseball, pounding out 27 hits in 62 at bats in 19 games.

Of those hits, six went for doubles, two for triples and five for home runs. He also drove in 21 runs in the coronavirus-shortened season, prompting the Aggies to come calling.

Thompson, who will enroll at A&M in the fall, said “it feels great” to get the scholarship to a Southeastern Conference program.

“My journey to get there was a little unconventional, but it’s my journey, and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” he said. “Going from UIW, a coaching staff change, leaving to go to Grayson, then going on to Texas A&M, I love my story. I’m just really excited to be where I want to be. It’s every kid’s dream to go to a Power 5 conference, Texas A&M especially.”

Even though he humbled the Aggies with his mighty swing for UIW two seasons ago and ripped five more over the fence at Grayson, Thompson’s game revolves more around hitting for average and then running the bases aggressively.

“I think that’s real big (in my game),” he said. “The presence of speed on the bases … will speed up the pitcher’s head. They always have to worry about you on first base, second base. There’s a lot of problems you can create with speed.”

To illustrate his point, Thompson, who hits from the right side, said he singled into left field once earlier this spring against Ranger Junior College. He said he took advantage when he noticed that the fielder was playing the ball with a “lackadaisical” effort.

“I just decided to go for a double,” he said. “It caused a little problem. They were all frantic. And, just got into their heads.”

It’s a style that should mesh with Chanclas manager John McLaren’s philosophy of pushing the pace in a game. Thompson said he thinks he will enjoy playing that style, under McLaren, a former manager with the Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals.

“I like to put pressure on people, because some people can’t take the pressure,” he said. “Some people will just fold underneath it. I love the pressure and I embrace it. I use it to help drive me through games and practice. Being aggressive, that’s just how I am.”

Chanclas manager to the fans: ‘We need to pick each other up’

Flying Chanclas de San Antonio manager John McLaren. - photo by Joe Alexander

Flying Chanclas de San Antonio manager John McLaren. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The coronavirus has hit San Antonio hard since it reared its ugly head in March.

Not only has it sickened thousands, it has slammed the local economy and has placed many, many people in painful situations where they must wait for hours in their cars at food bank distribution centers, just to get groceries.

In athletics, the virus has completely upended one of the city’s most enduring summer traditions — minor league baseball. For the first time in 53 years, there is no pro ball to watch in the Alamo City.

As a result, the San Antonio Missions have secured a team in the Texas Collegiate League to help fill the void, and they have hired John McLaren, a 50-year baseball veteran, to lead the new squad into a regular season set to start next week.

McLaren, who has been in town since Sunday and has hosted only a few practices, said he is well aware that local fans could use a lift mentally.

“I have thought about it,” McLaren said Thursday night. “This is a baseball city. This is an old-school baseball city. They support their team. They’ve been deprived of (professional) baseball, and they’ve had a tough go, and, you know, we need to pick each other up.

“That’s one of the real beauties of baseball. It can bring people together. We’re hoping to do that this summer.”

The 2020 Flying Chanclas de San Antonio go through practice and meet with the local media on Thursday, June 25, 2020, at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

The 2020 Flying Chanclas de San Antonio go through practice and meet with the local media. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Liftoff at The Wolff

In a sense, it was liftoff on Thursday morning for the Chanclas, who held their first public workout in front of the media at Wolff Stadium. Their season-opener is set for Tuesday night (June 30) in Amarillo, in the first of a three-game series. They’ll return to the Wolff for the home opener on Friday (July 3) against Acadiana.

Jaime Ramirez Jr. The 2020 Flying Chanclas de San Antonio go through practice and meet with the local media on Thursday, June 25, 2020, at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

Chanclas pitcher Jaime Ramirez Jr., from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and San Antonio’s Holy Cross High School, addresses the media. – Photo by Joe Alexander

One player sidelined

The Chanclas announced a 30-man roster, but one player hasn’t practiced after testing positive for the virus. “I really felt bad for him,” McLaren said. “It’s a bad break. I just called him and told him, ‘Your main priority right now is to get well. Just keep in touch with us. We still consider you a part of the team.’ ”

McLaren said “we all” have been administered tests over the past few days.

“We should hear back by Saturday how everybody tested,” he said. “This is a process and a step. I think the whole league is doing this. So we all took our tests (Wednesday) night and this morning. We got our fingers crossed that we’re a go for everybody.”

Another Chanclas player, a pitcher, is weighing an option on whether to sign a professional contract.

A third player, TCU third baseman Conner Shepherd, has not reported yet but is expected to be in camp within a few days, McLaren said. “He was in a transition of moving from California … so we should have everybody here by tomorrow or Saturday.”

Optimistic outlook

“I like what I’ve seen,” McLaren said. “We have a combination of good hitters. We don’t have an abundance of power. But we do have some power. And we’ve got a nice off-set of left-right hitters. I think we’re going to be good in the catching department. I like the arms (on the pitching staff) and I think we’re going to have an exceptional outfield.”

Outfield could be a strength, with three of the four players on the roster scheduled to play major-college baseball next spring. In addition, Kyte McDonald of Mississippi State, Porter Brown (TCU) and Jordan Thompson (Texas A&M) all played in high school locally.

McDonald came out of Antonian High School. Brown led Reagan to state tournaments in 2017 and 2018. Thompson emerged as a standout at Boerne Champion. A fourth outfielder, Peyton McDowell, is from Clemens. He is now at Connors State (Okla.).

Missions baseball: on hold

The Chanclas are playing under the administration of the Triple-A Missions, whose own Pacific Coast League season has been shut down because of the pandemic.

Wolff Stadium, the home of the San Antonio Missions. — Photo by Jerry Briggs

Affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Missions were set to open their second season in Triple-A at home on April 9. But, so far, no games have been played anywhere in the minor leagues, and aren’t expected to be played at all this season.

Major League Baseball, on Monday, announced plans to resume play play on July 23. But it has yet to announce formally what it will do with its minor-league affiliates. Minor League Baseball, in all classifications, drew more than 41 million fans last year.

San Antonio Missions join lawsuit against insurance firms

The San Antonio Missions are one of 15 teams in minor league baseball suing for alleged breach of contract after being denied business-interruption insurance claims for financial losses tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wolff Stadium, the home of the San Antonio Missions. — Photo by Jerry Briggs

Filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the suit names Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co., Acadia Insurance Co., National Casualty Co., Scottsdale Indemnity Co., and Scottsdale Insurance Co. as defendants, according to the Associated Press.

The AP reported that teams named in the suit are the Chattanooga Lookouts, Augusta GreenJackets, Boise Hawks, Columbia Fireflies, Eugene Emeralds, Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Frederick Keys, Greenville Drive, Idaho Falls Chukars, Inland Empire 66ers, Amarillo Sod Poodles, the Missions, the Stockton Ports and the Delmarva Shorebirds.

The legal action was first reported Tuesday morning by ESPN.

Minor league franchises said in the suit that even though they pay premiums to providers for business-interruption insurance, they have been denied coverage after Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred indefinitely suspended their seasons in March.

Nationwide said in a statement obtained by the AP that “we are committed to doing all we can within the coverage our members have purchased” to help businesses navigate the pandemic.

“We have implemented a process to address and assess coronavirus-related claims and we will evaluate any reported claim based on the relevant facts and individual merits of the claim,” the statement said. “Business interruption coverage due to a virus outbreak has been excluded from standard policies issued to business owners across the insurance industry for quite some time.

“The risk for such an event is so vast, including it in standard coverage would make such coverage unaffordable or even unavailable.”

Because of the pandemic, the city of San Antonio likely will be without professional minor league baseball for the first time in 53 years.

Language in the suit, reported on Tuesday morning by ESPN, admits as much, saying, “It is now clear that (major league) teams will not provide players to (minor league) teams for the entire 2020 season.”

The Missions are hosting a team in the Texas Collegiate League. The team is set to open a 30-game season on June 30 in Amarillo. Known as the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio, they are scheduled to open at home on July 3.

Most recently, they announced a roster that includes several college players with ties to the local area.

Brown embraces homecoming opportunity with the Chanclas

TCU outfielder Porter Brown hopes to show off his versatility this summer with the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio. — Photo by Gregg Ellman, TCU athletics

Porter Brown attends Texas Christian University as an undergraduate student in neuroscience. He is a young man with high hopes of one day becoming a doctor, possibly an orthopedic surgeon.

In addition, Brown also plays baseball, a sport in which he may already have earned enough credits to enter the school of hard luck.

It’s true. After sparking San Antonio Reagan to two straight UIL state tournaments, Brown’s career on the diamond has been stalled the past few years by misfortune.

In 2019, he emerged in his first season as a collegian to snag a spot in the starting lineup at TCU, one of the top programs in the nation.

But after hitting .278 and stealing seven bases in eight attempts, the speedster went down with a shoulder injury that knocked him out for the year.

Just as Brown got healthy, adversity emerged again, like a bad hop on a bumpy infield.

The Horned Frogs were off to a fast start in March when the coronavirus pandemic hit, shutting down operations at TCU’s Lupton Stadium, along with just about every aspect of sports and life in America.

Trying his best to shrug it all off, Brown stayed calm, focusing in the ensuing months on what he could control.

Now he’s set to resume his career this summer with the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio in the Texas Collegiate League.

“Growing up in San Antonio, I’ve always watched the Missions and the Flying Chanclas,” Brown said. “When my coach (at TCU) called and told me I had an opportunity to play in my city, in my hometown, I was grateful and excited. I’m excited for baseball to start up in the summer league.”

Brown is scheduled to report to the Chanclas, based at Wolff Stadium, on Tuesday.

The season opener is set for June 30 in Amarillo, and then he and his teammates will open in front of the home fans on July 3 against Acadiana, a ball club based in Lafayette, La.

Even though Brown brings only modest credentials from his star-crossed TCU career to the TCL, he may immediately emerge as a player to watch, especially when fans witness his speed.

For fans who have never seen him accelerate from first to second base on a steal attempt, they can ask Reagan coach Chans Chapman for verification of his ability.

“I think the thing that jumps out at you is the way he runs,” Chapman said. “I mean, he’s one of the fastest guys, as far as baseball speed, that I’ve ever been around. Like I said, he’s a very dynamic player. I mean, he can hit. He runs the bases well. He’s good defensively.

“You know, he can change the game. He can affect the game in so many ways.”

Ever since he donned a uniform and suited up at McAllister Park Little League as a 10-year-old, Brown has played with joy and enthusiasm.

He’s played for his teammates. But this summer, the season is also about opportunity.

A year from now, he’ll be eligible for the Major League Baseball draft. And because he’s only played a combined 29 games at TCU during the past two springs, Brown knows he needs to turn it on.

He is a strong student academically at TCU, one who might one day wield a surgeon’s knife. But Brown also wants to find out whether he is good enough to swing a bat in the pros.

Asked about his big-picture dream in baseball, Brown paused and answered carefully.

“Right now, my dreams are smaller,” he said. “One pitch at a time. One game at a time. One summer league at a time, is really what matters. Once I get to the future, I’ll worry about that then.”

Brown was a dynamo at Reagan, batting .360 and .385 in his last two seasons, respectively. Over those two years, he smacked 18 doubles and stole 55 bases, including 29 steals in 31 attempts as a senior.

In the past few weeks, Chapman has watched Brown take batting practice at Reagan. As Brown battered balls to the fence and beyond, the coach marveled at the way his former player has changed physically since 2018.

“You could tell that getting bigger and stronger has helped him, just the way the ball comes off the bat now,” the coach said. “That’s not to say it didn’t … when he was in high school, but (after) two years in a college weightlifting program, it does come off different.”

At TCU, fans have yet to see Brown’s full potential. He played only 16 games in 2019 when he hurt his shoulder.

This year, he was batting .189 in 13 of TCU’s 15 games when it all came to a stop, with the COVID-19 threat eventually ending the season.

Regardless, Brown remains as a prospect. He was scheduled to play in the highly-regarded Cape Cod summer league before it, too, was canceled.

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said it’s evident that his outfielder’s progress has been slowed by the circumstances.

“Porter is an outstanding young man with an incredible amount of potential both on the field and off,” Schlossnagle said. “When he is at his best and healthy, he is a dynamic offensive player and a very capable defender in the outfield.

“He has had to overcome some injury and, like the rest of our players, the COVID pandemic has stunted his development. (But) he is a supreme worker, incredibly intelligent and very self aware.”

Brown also is grateful, happy to have the chance to play at home this summer.

“I am happy to be back,” he said.

Flying Chanclas roster

Pitchers

Jaime Ramirez Jr., RH, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Johnny Panatex, RH, St. Mary’s
Connor Schmidt, RH, St. Mary’s
Marcelo Perez, RH, TCU
Austin Krob, LH, Mississippi State
Kobe Jaramillo, RH, UTSA

The Flying Chanclas of the Texas Collegiate League are scheduled to play their home opener on July 3. All home games are set for Wolff Stadium. — Photo by Jerry Briggs

Catchers

Tyler LaRue, Rice, Grayson College
Nick Wolff, UTSA.

Outfielders

Kyte McDonald, Mississippi State
Jordan Thompson, Grayson College, committed to Texas A&M
Porter Brown, TCU

Infielders

Johnny Hernandez, St. Mary’s
Grant Smith, Incarnate Word
Ryan Flores, Incarnate Word
Lee Thomas, Incarnate Word
Conner Shepherd, TCU
Leyton Barry, UTSA
Garrett Poston, UTSA

From San Antonio-area high schools

OF Porter Brown, Reagan; OF Kyte McDonald, Antonian; OF Jordan Thompson, Boerne Champion; P Jaime Ramirez, Jr., Holy Cross; C Tyler LaRue, Blanco; P Connor Schmidt, Devine.

Flying Chanclas manager ‘ecstatic’ about opportunity during ‘crazy’ times

John McLaren has been in baseball for 50 years. He’s played in the minor leagues. He’s managed in the majors and has coached in the playoffs.

John McLaren – Photo courtesy, San Antonio Missions

Now the 67-year-old Arizona resident and Texas native is happy to continue with his passion as manager of the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio. The Chanclas will play in the Texas Collegiate League this summer, with the season starting June 30 in Amarillo.

The team will open at home at Wolff Stadium on July 3.

With the minor league season on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, Missions president Burl Yarbrough elected to host a team in the TCL.

One of the key hires was McLaren, who has managed the Seattle Mariners and, briefly, the Washington Nationals.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, McLaren said he’s “ecstatic” about the opportunity to work during a “crazy” time in baseball.

“I’m excited about it,” McLaren said. “The last time I coached in the major leagues was in 2017 in Philadelphia and then I did the China national team (as manager, at the 2017 World Baseball Classic). I have a lot of international experience.

“San Antonio was always one of my favorite spots when I was scouting, and there are a lot of reasons for that.

“It’s the atmosphere. Burl and his staff treated all the scouts great. Probably one of the most influential people in my baseball career, (the late) Al LaMacchia was from San Antonio. I’m from Houston. So I grew up with the Alamo and the history and everything.

“I just always enjoyed going to San Antonio. It’s one of my favorite spots that I ever (visited). When Burl called (with the job opportunity), I was ecstatic.

“I (told him) I really wasn’t doing anything. Baseball’s kind of crazy these days, as we know. This is something good. I get to work with kids. I enjoy coaching. I hope I can share some experiences with them to make them better players. It’s always fun putting teams together.

‘I’ve had great support from (scouts) Jimmy Gonzales and Brandon Larson, Johnny Almaraz. I’m a Texan. I live in Arizona. But I’m a Texan. I can’t say anything more than that. With my heritage, I like being around Texans.

“They’re good people, and they’re caring. So, it’s a great fit for me.”

After a full career in baseball, including coaching appearances in the major league playoffs with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Mariners, not to mention multiple trips to the World Baseball Classic, McLaren jumped at the opportunity to work in the collegiate league in spite of concerns about people 65-and-over being susceptible to serious illness as a result of COVID-19.

“I’m a baseball guy,” he said. “My life — my DNA — is baseball. I understand the risks. My wife is concerned. Not only about me, but she has an optical shop, and she has to work with people and be around people.

“I try to be extremely careful. I wash my hands a lot. I wear the mask when I’m around people. I keep my distance. I’m going to be careful with my life, and baseball is my life. You take that away from me, and I don’t know what I have.

“It’s my 50th year in baseball. I want to celebrate it by being in baseball.”

McLaren was born in Galveston and grew up in Houston, where he attended Westbury High School. Drafted in 1970 by the Astros, he played seven years in the minors before shifting his focus to the coaching profession.

In the major leagues, he worked for 14 years on staffs with manager Lou Piniella, including a 2001 team in Seattle that tied a baseball record with 116 regular-season victories before losing in the American League Championship Series to the New York Yankees.

He managed the Mariners from mid-season in 2007 through the mid-season in 2008. McLaren also worked briefly in 2011 as interim manager of the Nationals. He described his style as aggressive.

“I’m always on the offense,” McLaren said. “I’m always aggressive, trying to make things happen. I like the game in motion. I think we got to find out, No. 1, what kind of team we have … what kind of personnel we have.”

Without knowing much about Flying Chanclas personnel at this point, McLaren kept it simple when asked about his goals for the season.

“We want to be competitive and we want to make all the players better,” he said. “I want ’em to have fun. I want to have baseball in San Antonio — for the fans. Just want everybody to have a good time.”

Roster announcements

TCU

OF Porter Brown
RHP Marcelo Perez
LHP Austin Krob
INF Conner Shepherd

UTSA

INF Leyton Barry
INF Garrett Poston
RHP Kobe Jaramillo
C Nick Wolff

Missions to host high school baseball ‘Seniors Celebration’

The Missions have extended a helping hand to the San Antonio high school baseball community with a doubleheader featuring top local prep talent at Wolff Stadium.

The Missions on July 2 will host a pair of San Antonio high school baseball games at Wolff Stadium. — Photo by Jerry Briggs

Partnering with McCombs Ford West and the San Antonio Area Baseball Coaches Association, the Missions will host the two games back to back on July 2.

A “High School Baseball Seniors Celebration” will get underway with a 4 p.m. game involving players from San Antonio area sub-Class 6A and private schools.

The nightcap at 7 p.m. will feature players from area 6A schools. Following the doubleheader, fans will be treated to a fireworks spectacular.

The games will be played a day before the home debut of the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio, a team of college players set to play a 30-game schedule.

The Chanclas will be a part of the 10-team Texas Collegiate League.

Developments in the local high school and college game promotions at the Wolff have emerged against the backdrop of professional baseball around the nation in disarray because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Major league baseball, plagued by growing tensions between the owners and players, is trying to come up with a plan for a shortened season that would start in July.

Meanwhile, the idea that MLB would send players to their respective minor league affiliates seems to be fading by the day.

As a result, speculation is growing that San Antonio fans will not see a professional baseball team of their own for the first time in 53 years.

MLB teams reportedly are preparing for “taxi squads” of between 20 and 25 players to be located within 100 miles of their home stadiums.

The Triple-A Missions of the Pacific Coast League are in their second and final year of a two-year agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers.

But if the MLB season gets underway and the ‘taxi squad’ system is employed, it seems that the top Brewers’ prospects might be headed to Appleton, Wis. Appleton is the home of Milwaukee’s Class A affiliate in the Midwest League.

San Antonio hasn’t been through a spring and summer without professional baseball since 1967.

Chanclas staff named

The Flying Chanclas de San Antonio on Monday announced their manager and coaching staff for the upcoming Texas Collegiate League season.

Manager: John McLaren

McLaren, a Texas native, has played and coached in baseball for 50 years. He served as a major league manager for the Seattle Mariners from June 2007 to June 2008. He also worked as interim manager for the Washington Nationals in 2011.

Pitching coach: Calvin Schiraldi

An Austin native and eight-year major league player, Schiraldi was the MVP of the 1983 College World Series, where he led the Longhorns to the national title on a team that included Roger Clemens.

Hitting coach: Bryan Aughney

Augney has been head baseball coach at Our Lady of the Lake University. He’s also worked at Harlingen High School and the University of Texas at Brownsville, now UT Rio Grande Valley.

Notable: The Chanclas, a team made up of college players, open the season on June 30 and open at home on July 3. Home games will be played at Wolff Stadium.

.

Missions set to host a team in the Texas Collegiate League

Making alternate plans in the wake of a national health crisis, the San Antonio Missions professional baseball club announced Thursday that it would host a team this summer in the Texas Collegiate League.

The Missions will host a team at Wolff Stadium this summer in the Texas Collegiate League. Reports indicate that a traditional minor league season isn’t likely. — Photo by Jerry Briggs

The Missions, a Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, have yet to play this season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But officials said in a news release that local administrators will host a collegiate team that will be known as the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio.

The Chanclas are set to play a 30-game season, including 15 at home at Wolff Stadium. They’ll open June 30 at Amarillo, with the home opener set for July 3 against Acadiana of Lafayette, La.

While the Missions are holding out hope that they could still put together an abbreviated, late-summer schedule with the Brewers’ organization players, such a scenario isn’t viewed as likely, and they’re moving forward with a plan to host an entry made up of collegians in the 10-team, wood-bat TCL.

“We are extremely excited to be hosting live baseball at Wolff Stadium this summer for the San Antonio community,” Flying Chanclas president Burl Yarbrough said.

According to the news release, the Flying Chanclas would play from June 30 through Aug. 2, followed by a postseason.

Fans will be allowed to attend in the wake of new state guidelines allowing for stadiums to operate at 50 percent capacity.

Social distancing protocols will be in effect during all games at the Wolff, according to the Missions.

The Missions, a franchise that has played pro baseball in San Antonio for most years since 1888, are in the second and final year of a two-year Player Development Contract as the Triple-A affiliate of the Brewers.

The ball club’s schedule in the Pacific Coast League, originally set for April through August, has been suspended because of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

COVID-19 has affected sports around the world. In the United States, most sports have been shut down since March.

Officials in baseball are working on a plan to resume the major league season in July. A deal is contingent on an agreement between the MLB owners and players. In the meantime, what will happen with the minor league season remains to be seen.

Published reports say a traditional minor league season isn’t expected to be played, raising the distinct possibility that city of San Antonio will be without professional baseball for the first time in 53 years.

After the 1964 season, ownership of the parent-club Houston Colt .45s sold its Double-A franchise in the Texas League — then playing at Mission Stadium as the San Antonio Bullets — to a group from Amarillo.

As a result, there was a pro baseball void in the city for three years, from 1965-67.

A new club emerged in 1968 at V.J. Keefe Field, on the campus of St. Mary’s University. The Missions have played since 1994 at Wolff Stadium, on the far west side, at Interstate 90 and Callaghan Road.

In 2019, they linked with the Brewers’ organization and moved up a level to Triple-A, all in hopes of marshaling support for a new stadium.