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Published: Monday, 9/3/2001

So long, Skeldon: A broadcaster's favorite Mud Hens (1975-2001)

Over the years Jim Weber has seen more Mud Hens games than any other person - 3,262 after today's game.

He has seen the team play day after day, home and away, since becoming the radio voice of the Hens in 1975. Weber traveled with the team, allowing him to learn about the people wearing a Hens uniform.

So we asked Weber to name his 10 favorite players. Not the 10 best, mind you, but his 10 favorites.

And it still wasn't easy for Weber to choose. "I have a list of about 70 names, and I probably could have put in another 30," he said. "And you want 10. That's tough."

It was so tough, in fact, that Weber's 10-player list includes 11 names. Here, in no particular order, are Jim Weber's 10 Favorite Mud Hens:

  • JOSE LIMA (1994-96): "He was a lot of fun. On the road, for example, he and I might hang together once in a while. He might call me in my room at 10 o'clock and want me to come to the hotel bar to play pool or something. We did a lot of things together, and he's a great guy. And he threw that no-hitter, which was the best game I've seen pitched in 27 years."

  • MICHAEL "TACK" WILSON (1983-84): "What's great about Tack? He holds our stolen-base record, but he got caught 37 times. I asked (manager) Cal Erme, `What's the deal?' and Cal said, `I let him go whenever he wants because he always makes something happen. It's not always good, but he always makes something happen.' He stole home in Pawtucket one time; he takes off and he crossed the plate before the pitch reached the catcher. He was a fan favorite and a great guy."

  • ERIC BROERSMA and ANDRE DAVID (1983-86 and 1982-86): "They are together because you never saw one without the other. It's another pair that I socialized with, especially on the road. We'd go out together and it was always a ball. We played some pranks on each other, and there were some beauties."

  • RICO BROGNA (1991-93): "He was just a great guy. He had some good years here, but he wasn't going anywhere with Detroit because Cecil Fielder was at first base. What a nice guy - never complained about anything, did everything he was asked to do. And he's had a good major league career."

  • JEFF TACKETT (1995-96): "Primarily because he was such a big jokester. He used to fire the ball up here (off the pressbox window) and scare (Frank) Gilhooley and I half to death because we weren't looking. You'd be looking down, writing your lineups in, and BAM! Once we had a bus on the road and the air conditioning broke down. He opened the roof hatch and had his head sticking out. I'm surprised one of those overpasses didn't take his head off."

  • GREG "BOOMER" WELLS (1982): "At the time Toronto had given up on him, and we had him. He led the team in everything and he was another good guy. I referred to him as the `Gentle Giant'; if we got in a fight, Boomer would pick guys up by the back of their shirts and calm them down. And he pulled everybody apart like they were toothpicks."

  • BOB HAMELIN (1997 and 1999): "What impressed me about `The Hammer' was when you come through this game, you wonder about guys like him who come here after having a big year in Kansas City. When he came here, I thought he would be one of those guys suffering from `big-leagueitis,' but he was the nicest guy. You would have thought he was playing his first Triple-A game; he was happy to be here. And that impressed me."

  • PHIL HIATT (1996): "He hit 42 homers in his year with us, and I don't think anyone will spend enough time in a season to break that (record). When he came to us, he had been with Kansas City, and he had struggled as they kept bringing him up and sending him down. He asked Detroit to keep him at one level (for the whole season), so he stayed with us. He enjoyed being a Mud Hen, which was great, and he was a great guy."

  • JOE LIS (1976-77): "Another one of those guys who was a character. Joe was fun because in those days he seemed to be a man among boys. I've got one of his bats at home, and it's a 40-ounce bat. He always pulled the ball, and many a home run went over the tower in left field. And if he knew he had an audience, he put on quite an act. He could have been a politician."

  • TOREY LOVULLO (1988-90): "I put him on the air last year, and he could not say one bad thing about Toledo - this ballpark, his friends. He said Toledo was close to his heart because it was his first Triple-A team, and he said he'd never forget it. And his dad, Sam, was a big director at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, so when we went down there, his dad took us on a tour of the Grand Ole Opry. Sam set it up to have Roy Clark on the air with me for one inning; he stayed for the whole game and we had a great time."

    - JOHN WAGNER



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