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HEARTS ON THE DIAMOND
Steve Wulf
August 11, 1986
Folks in Appleton have a major thing going with the minor league Foxes
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August 11, 1986

Hearts On The Diamond

Folks in Appleton have a major thing going with the minor league Foxes

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On Friday evening, July 25, the Foxes face a twi-nighter with the first-place Muskies. It is also the night Haller will make his singing debut. Before the game, he says, "The key is in the 'O.' Once I get that good rich 'O' I'll be all right."

He steps to the mike. "O, say..." Uh oh. The O isn't as deep as he wanted. But wait, he's righted himself. "...what so proudly we hailed..." He does have a nice voice. "...at the twilight's last gleaming.... The rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air...." Haller stops, realizing he's pulled a Robert Goulet and forgotten the words. Embarrassed, he throws up his hands and walks away. The crowd feels a little bad for him, and so do his teammates, although soon enough they're kidding him about it. Haller vows to get back on the horse soon.

The first game is an 8-1 rout by the Muskies, whose star is Ozzie Canseco, twin brother of A's sensation Jose. He swipes at a pitch and sends it over the fence in right center for a grand slam. The second game is much more exciting. The Foxes take a 1-0 lead on a home run by Luis Salazar, the White Sox third baseman who is rehabilitating his knee in Appleton. The Muskies tie it up in the fourth. In the fifth, McFarland shows up, out of breath. She just got off her shift in the lingerie department at the Prange-Way discount store. No wonder Drier says, "The Foxes are in business not because of me, and not because of the White Sox. We play because of Patti McFarland and people like her."

A few fans are chanting "Smoke those fish! Smoke those fish!"—a reference to the Muskies. In the bottom of the seventh—which is the last inning in a minor league doubleheader—Appleton loads the bases with no outs. Davis singles through the drawn-in infield, and the Foxes win 2-1. By a quirk of fate, both games have been won by brothers of Oakland A's outfielders.

As the players converge to congratulate one another and the fans cheer, you look at their smiling faces, wondering which ones will make it to the majors. You smile back, not only because you're happy they won, but also because you're happy they have a place like Appleton.

By the way, two days later Tim Haller tried the national anthem again, in front of his parents yet. He made it.

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