A Step Back In Time: Jason Hanson’s home run ends Green Bay All-Car’s drive

Written by Bob on February 4th, 2017

All-Car teammates huddle around pitcher Michael White after he tumbled to the ground in the bottom of the seventh inning with an injured leg. White was unable to return and All-Car went on to lose to the Tampa Bay Smokers, 4-2, in the 1996 ISC World Tournament championship game. Photo By BOB OTTO

Tampa Bay claims title with dramatic 4-2 victory in 1996 ISC World Tournament

By Sharon Raboin / Green Bay Press-Gazette
Monday, August 19, 1996

KIMBERLY, Wisc. – Michael White of All-Car of Green Bay crumbled to the ground after pitching to Jason Hanson.

White groaned and grabbed his left leg while his teammates rushed to his side.

The crowd of about 5,000 became silent at Sunset Park.

It was the bottom of the seventh inning Sunday afternoon in the championship of the International Softball Congress World Tournament. All-Car and the Tampa Bay Smokers were tied 2-2

After a couple of minutes, White was helped to his feet. He desperately wanted to continue. He tested his injured leg.

“I just couldn’t,” White said. “There was pain shooting up my leg. I couldn’t put any weight on it at all. There was no way I could push it.”

So All-Car manager John Becker signaled Michael Gaiger to come in. Gaiger began with an 0-2 count against Hanson, who hit his second home run of the tournament in the third inning.

Gaiger threw three straight balls to make it a full count. Hanson deposited the next pitch over the centerfield wall to give the Smokers a 4-2 win and their first ISC title.

“I guess right away it was a little bit of a shock,” Becker said.

The home run put a halt to the remarkable comeback of All-Car, which lost its second game of the tournament but won its next nine – including six straight shutouts – to put itself into the championship.

JASON HANSON of the Tampa Bay Smokers blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to give the Smokers a 4-2 win over All-Car of Green Bay and claim the 1996 ISC World Tournament championship. Photo By BOB OTTO

“Not bad for a nine batter, huh?” Hanson said. “This is as sweet as it gets. He came right down the middle. On a full count, I was looking for something down the middle.”

When asked what pitch he threw, Gaiger said: “Something that didn’t move.”

All-Car owner Les Cigel thought his team would win the championship after it fought so hard to get through the loser’s bracket.

“The crowd and the momentum were with us,” Cigel said. “We were getting the key nits. I really thought we’d win it. It’s disappointing, but we dug our hole when we lost early in the tournament.”

The game was 2-2 in the fifth inning when Becker replaced starting pitcher Mike Piechnik with White. Earlier in the day, White tossed a two-hitter and All-Car collected 10 hits off Darren Zack to eliminate the defending champion Toronto Gators 4-1 and move to the finals.

Piechnik gave up two runs and five hits in four innings.

“(The Smokers) seemed to be moving the ball pretty well,” Becker said. “I think they had a pretty good read on what he was throwing.”

White lasted two innings before getting hurt. He believed he pulled a calf muscle when he planted his leg. Who would replace White?

Becker chose Gaiger over Piechnik, who was selected to the ISC All-World team with White. Under ISC rules, Piechnik was eligible to come back. All-Car needed to beat the undefeated Smokers twice to claim its second ISC world championship in three years. Becker said he figured Piechnik would work the next game.

Cigel disagreed.

“You don’t go into a situation like that with a third pitcher with no world experience,” Cigel said. “I would’ve gone back with (Piechnik).”

The ending might have been different if All-Car could have capitalized earlier in the game.

TODD MARTIN was selected the Most Outstanding Pitcher after leading the Tampa Bay Smokers to the 1996 ISC World Tournament championship. Photo By BOB OTTO

Because it needed to win two games, All-Car wanted to get an early lead against the Smokers and pitcher Todd Martin, a notorious slow starter.

That is what happened. Colin Abbott hit a two-run home run in the first inning to give All-Car a 2-0 lead. Abbott was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament after setting ISC records with five homers and 14 RBI.

But All-Car squandered chances to build its lead. It stranded a baserunner in the first inning and another eight throughout the game.

Martin, named the outstanding pitcher of the tournament, scattered five hits and struck out seven.

In the fifth and seventh innings with two outs and a runner at second, Martin intentionally walked Abbott to a chorus of boos from the crowd.

Mark Sorenson followed Abbott and flew out both times to end the innings.

“That’s part of the game,” Abbott said. “anytime they walk me to get to Sorenson, I’ve got a feeling he’ll come through. It didn’t happen. But the next time, I’d bet a lot of money he’d get a base hit in that situation.”

The TAMPA BAY SMOKERS celebrate their 1996 ISC World Tournament championship at Sunset Park in Kimberly, Wisc., Aug. 19, 1996. The team included Mgr. Peter Porcelli Jr.,Matthew Snow (gen. mgr.) Barry Kahler, Boomer Brush, Todd Martin, Todd King, Jason Hanson, Walter Wilkins, Michael Mink, Marty Grant, Pete Sandman, David Boys, Todd Garcia, Taifau Matai, Paul Walford, Mark Morawski, Tim Wahl and Steven Schott. Photo By BOB OTTO

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. jason vogl says:

    i was the batboy for the smokers when they won the isc’s in 1996 and 1998. that was my first world tourney. im now 35 and still follow the game. lot of the players may know me by my nickname vogs. wow that was many years ago.

  2. jason vogl says:

    that’s me in the yellow smokers shirt

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