I mentioned in Saturday night’s game story that at 10-27 (.270) the Nuts were on pace to have the worst half-season in the history of Modesto minor league baseball.
The current all-time low came in 2001, when the Modesto A’s went 23-47 (.323) in the first half en route to a 55-85 record. That team actually had six regular players who went on to the majors, including catcher Gerald Laird, currently with Atlanta in his 12th major league season. Future AL Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby played briefly for that team before being injured.
The hitting coach on that team was Brian McArn, who is in town this weekend in the same position for the Stockton Ports. When asked to recall that 2001 team, he first grimaced, then admitted it was a learning experience for all involved.
“As a hitting coach sometimes you’re blessed with hitters that perform to go with the ones who struggle,” McArn said. “That year we all struggled. But what I learned that year is that the work never changes. You keep working, you keep trying to get everybody better. You keep plugging away.
“When you’re struggling you just keep working and try to stay as positive as you can. I know it’s hard in this game of failure, but you have to keep a good attitude and go to work every day.
“It was a good learning experience for me, because at that early point of my coaching career I was worried about wins and losses and having a good team batting average. I realize it’s about so much more than that now.”
No one expects the Nuts to struggle like this for the entire season, but their current pace would net 38 wins this season, the lowest in the California League since the 1992 Salinas Spurs, an independent team, went 36-99. That was the final year of minor league baseball in Salinas.
The last affiliated Cal League team to lose 100 games was the 1986 Bakersfield Dodgers, who went 40-102.
In addition to McArn, who was the Modesto hitting coach from 1998-2003, the Stockton field staff includes pitching coach John Wasdin, who pitched for the Modesto A’s in 1993-94.
Ports manager Ryan Christenson played in Modesto as a member of the Visalia Oaks at a time when both Modesto and Visalia were Oakland affiliates.