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Published: Sunday, 5/12/2013

MUD HENS NOTEBOOK

Former shortstop Dancy returns to Toledo

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

It’s been a few years since Bill Dancy was in Toledo.

“It’s like night and day from the last time I was in town,” he said.

Of course, the last time Dancy was in town the Mud Hens played games at Skeldon Stadium. In fact, it has been so long since Dancy was in Toledo, the Mud Hens have been the Triple-A affiliate of three different organizations (Cleveland, Minnesota, and Detroit) since Dancy played shortstop here in 1975.

Dancy was at Fifth Third Field last week after joining the Tigers this last offseason as the organization’s field coordinator.

Despite that team’s 62-78 record and seventh-place finish in the eight-team International League in 1975, Dancy said he enjoyed playing in Toledo because of his teammates.

“My roommate was Jerry Martin,” Dancy said. “Alan Bannister was the Phillies’ No. 1 [draft] pick that year and played center, and Martin was in right. Freddie Andrews was at second base, Larry Fritz was at first base. Dick Wissel, Bill Nahorodny, Wayne Simpson [were here]. It was a very close club, and everybody got along.”

Dancy, who hit .250 with no homers and 17 RBIs in 77 games as a 23-year-old for the Hens, never made it to the majors. He has spent the last 40 years in baseball, including 34 years with the Phillies.

“I signed with the Phillies in 1973. My first year as a manager was in the Phillies organization,” Dancy said. “I was fortunate to stay in the organization as long as I did, and I met a lot of good people. I still have a lot of good friends with the Phillies. People ask me if I miss the Phillies, and of course I miss them. But I’m fortunate to stay in the game, and I’m happy to be with the Tigers now.”

Dancy spent the last three years with the Chicago Cubs, two as a minor-league manager and last season as the infield coordinator. In his new role with the Tigers, he helps Detroit’s director of player development, Dave Owen, in setting up spring training for the team’s minor-league players, then coordinates the work of minor-league managers, coaches, and instructors during the regular season.

Dancy watched the Mud Hens during their recently completed homestand and felt improvement is possible.

“I think the most important thing is for Toledo to get healthy,” he said. “With the injuries they’ve had — [Avisail] Garcia, [Quintin] Berry, and [Danny] Worth all have had injures — the lineup you were looking for at the start of the season hasn’t been together much.

“The pitching has been good, and the defense has been solid at times. It’s up to the bats to come through. And as the weather warms up, I believe the bats will warm up.”

NFL CONNECTION: Former Lions and Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch will throw out the first pitch before Tuesday’s home game.

Batch played collegiately at Eastern Michigan before Detroit took him in the second round of the 1998 draft. He spent four seasons with the Lions, then was with Pittsburgh from 2002-12.

Batch is one of 23 current and former NFL players taking part in the first-ever NFL Sports Journalism and Communications Boot Camp. That four-day program will be held at Bowling Green State University starting Monday and will include an exercise at a Mud Hens game.

ROSTER MOVE: RHP Luke Putkonen, who was optioned to Toledo by Detroit following the Tigers’ game Friday, is expected to join the Mud Hens Monday in Indianapolis. RHP Robbie Weinhardt has been sent to Double-A Erie.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.



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