Missions, Brundage win again in 2003, claim back-to-back titles

Third in a series on championships won by the San Antonio Missions during the Wolff Stadium era:

2003

Big picture: Lightning struck twice for Dave Brundage. He became the first manager in the history of minor league baseball in San Antonio to win back-to-back championships. Also for the second straight year, the Missions defeated a Texas Rangers affiliate (the Frisco RoughRiders) in the TL title series. Third baseman Justin Leone claimed Player of the Year honors. Travis Blackley was Pitcher of the Year.

Regular-season record: 88-51

First half: 47-22. Second half: 41-29.

Playoff record: 4-1. The Missions won both halves and drew a bye through the first round of the playoffs before they beat the RoughRiders in five games in a best-of-7 series for the title.

Parent club: Seattle Mariners

Manager: Dave Brundage, third season in San Antonio

Top players: P Travis Blackley (17-3, 2.61 ERA), P Bobby Madritsch (13-7, 3.63), P Clint Nageotte (11-7, 3.10), 1B Justin Leone (.288, 21 HR, 92 RBI), 2B Jose Lopez (13 HR, 69 RBI), OF Mike Curry (.276, 58 stolen bases), DH A.J. Zapp. (26 HR, 92 RBI).

Players who reached MLB: Pitchers – Cha Seung-Baek, Travis Blackley, Tim Hamulack, Craig House, Bobby Madritsch, Clint Nageotte, George Sherrill, Matt Thornton, Randy Williams. Position players – Jaime Bubela, Greg Dobbs, Justin Leone, John Lindsey, Jose Lopez, Chris Snelling, Luis Ugueto, Dan Wilson.

Key team stats: Third in batting average (.276), fourth in HR (90) and second in runs scored (701). First in ERA (3.03), first in WHIP (1.261), first in strikeouts (1,131). Third in fielding percentage (.972) and third in fewest errors (147).

Notable: Blessed with a talented roster, Brundage made the most of it. In April, his team won 18 games in a row. Blackley, a 6-foot-3 lefty from Australia, led the league in victories. In the playoffs, Madritsch won two games, and the 19-year-old Lopez hit .391 and hammered two home runs. Leone hit .375 and had four RBI.

Quotable: “The Mariners took a chance to come in (to San Antonio, in 2001), and it was a great fit from both sides. I think the Mariners were extremely pleased to be able to land in San Antonio. I was tickled to death to be back in managing, in Double-A, and to be involved in something like that. I don’t think the (Missions) had won many championships, and to win back to back, there’s something so special in that. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often in the game of baseball.” – Dave Brundage.

Postscript: Brundage led the Sacramento River Cats (San Francisco Giants) to the 2019 Pacific Coast League title.

Sources: samissions.com, expressnews.com, baseball-reference.com.

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