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March 08, 1989 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-08

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 8, 1989 - Page 11

O'Connor named to
A11-CCHA first team

FORMER 'M' STUDENT GRADUATES TO NEW BASEBALL POST
Simmons is catching on to new career

BY MIKE GILL
Michigan's Myles O'Connor
has been named to the first team
All-Central Collegiate Hockey
Association team, while Todd
Brost received second team honors.
"I set a goal to be one of the
top defensmen in the league and
it's nice the coaches recognized
me," O'Connor said last night.
"I'd trade it in for a victory on our
team but it takes a little sting out
of our loss. Just a little though."
In addition, O'Connor received
a first-place vote and finished
seventh in CCHA Player-of-the-
Year voting.
First-year left wing Denny
Felsner was named to the Cooper
CCHA All-Rookie team. Felsner
finished third in the Rookie-of-the
Year voting, as determined by the
league coaches. Rod Brind-Amour
of Michigan State finished first.
Brind-Amour scored 24 goals
and 24 assists for a total of 48

points. Feisner tallied 30 goals
and 19 assists for 49 points but
saw action in four more games.
Miami forward Craig Fisher, who
finished second in the voting, had
22 goals and 20 assists.
"In a way I'm disappointed,"
Felsner said. "I thought they
might decide it by the way we
finished (in scoring). Maybe they
go by something else, I don't
know....I'd rather get an NCAA
bid anyways."
Michigancoach Red Berenson
received a first-place vote and
finished third in Coach-of-the-Year
balloting behind MSU's Ron
Mason and UIC's Val Belmonte.
Bruce Hoffort, Lake Superior
State's hot-handed goaltender, is
the league's Player-of-the-Year,
edging out the Spartans Kip
Miller. O'Connor is the only
defensman to receive votes.
Michigan's goaltender Warren
Sharples earned honorable mention
on the CCHA All-Academic team.

BY GIL RENBERG
For the first time since 1970, Ted Simmons is not in spring training to
prepare for another rigorous season behind the plate. Instead, Simmons, a
former Michigan student, is participating in spring training in his new role
as Director of Player Development for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Simmons, 39, retired this winter after appearing in 2,456 games,
catching in 1,772, the eighth highest total in baseball history.
"It's a little bit like Disneyland," Simmons said of being a major league
ballplayer. "I've been lucky enough to do that for 19 years."
Simmons, a five-time all-star, does not expect to have hanging over him
the "dark gray cloud" of gloom which hovers over most players immediately
after their retirement.
"I've been preparing myself for retirement for... the last three years... I've
basically weaned myself away from a regular everyday role," he said.
Simmons appeared in an average of 76 games between 1986 and 1988.
"I HAD REALLY come to the point where I was
looking for a new phase in my life and in my career,"
he said. Despite an offer from the Atlanta Braves to
play this year, Simmons decided to retire and accept a
front office post with his first team.~
As Director of Player Development, Simmons is in
charge of making the Cardinals' farm system
productive. Among other things, he must evaluate
minor leaguers and assign them to teams within the
farm system.
If Simmons feels that being a ballplayer is like a
visit to Disneyland it is no surprise, since his career
seems like a fantasy.
Born in Highland Park, and raised in Southfield,
Michigan, Simmons excelled in high school athletics. S i m n
In 1967, he was drafted by the Cardinals as thelOth ... moves1
pick overall of the amateur draft.
SIMMONS ATTENDED Michigan for two years, spending his
summers in the minor leagues. His success in the minors made him realize
that he would soon be a major-leaguer so he decided not to enroll for another
term at Michigan.
Because he had signed a professional contract, Simmons was not eligible
to play baseball with the Wolverines. Although he regrets this, he recalled
his greatest disappointment as, "not having been in a position where I could
have continued on as a student."
"I had two (years at Michigan), I am very proud of them. No one can take
those away from me," he added.
After the 1969 season the Cardinals traded their starting catcher, Tim
McCarver, in order to make room for the 20 year-old phenom. Simmons
appeared in 82 games in 1970 and hit .243. He blossomed in 1971, the first
of seven seasons in which the cleanup hitter would hit better than .300.
YEAR AFTER year, Simmons proved himself to be a genuine star as he
accumulated impressive career totals. He finished his career with a .285
batting average, 1,389 RBI, 2,472 hits, 248 home runs and 483 doubles.
RESERVE OFFICERS' TRAINING CORPS

141

His offensive statistics were excellent for a player from any position, but
for a catcher to be so productive is rare. Simmons knocked in 90 or more
runs eight times, while hitting 20 or more home runs six times.
Simmons was extremely successful as a switch-hitter. His 248 career
round-trippers are the third highest total for a switch-hitter, behind Mickey
Mantle and Eddie Murray, and only four other switch-hitters have ever
totaled more hits than his 2,472. He holds the National League record for
home runs by a switch-hitter with 180.
Along with his place in the catching pantheon as one of the best catchers
ever, Simmons was undoubtedly the greatest catcher in the St. Louis
Cardinals' 112 year history.
After 13 years with the Cardinals, Simmons was traded to the Milwaukee
Brewers after the 1980 season. Simmons struggled in his first season with
the Brewers, but came back the next year to help lead the team to the World
Series by banging out 23 home runs and 97 RBI.
IRONICALLY, the Brewers' opponents in the
1982 Fall Classic were the Cardinals, Simmons's
former team. "The biggest thrill was without a doubt
1982, playing in the World Series. Seventh game,
ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning and,
thought I was going to be world champion, Simmons
:.. ~Nsaid.
Although the Cardinals came back to win the
seventh game, Simmons called appearing in a World
Series his "most cherished experience" in baseball.
Simmons was traded to the Atlanta Braves in 1986
and finished out his career with them, serving
primarily as a pinch hitter and backup first baseman.
Ken Griffey, who served on opposing teams until
he and Simmons became teammates in Atlanta in
n 0 n S 1986, said Simmons "tried to get the edge to win at all
to a new post times, and he tried to instill that in everybody he
played with.
"He was very intense and he wanted to win every time out there," he said.
"He's very knowledgable about the game. He's a student.of the game."
Simmons said that his specialty as a catcher was teaching inexperienced
pitchers about the art of pitching. "I think one of the best skills I had was
the ability to literally walk an unsophisticated pitcher through a ballgame...
and help him succeed," he said.
"I think the biggest accomplishment that I had was to have played 19
years as a catcher and not gotten seriously, career-threateningly injured,"
Simmons said. Simmons' amazing durability enabled him to catch at least
100 games in a season 11 times.
Now, Simmons hopes to be equally successful and durable working in
the front office of the team with which he spent the majority of his career.
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