June 22, 2010, History is made in Jersey City as Kenneth "The Punisher" Payne belts Home Run #700 in an 8-4 Phoenix Fire win!
— Official ULB (@ULB_Commish) November 24, 2014
The Phoenix Fire reportedly had a deal on the table that would have sent future Hall of Famer and ULB Career Home Runs leader Ken Payne to the Playoff hopeful Charlotte Eagles.
“There was an offer made that was denied, and the Fire came back with another offer about a half hour before the deadline” says an unnamed source in the Fire’s Front Offices.
“Then he hung up on us. McNeal didn’t know what he had said to make it happen. Then he didn’t return our calls. We were baffled.”
According to an insider in Charlotte, GM Kevin Parlett’s phone died while he was commuting to dinner. He sent a text later saying ‘Sorry, Phone Died. Wish I woulda…”
The Trade Deadline approaches in the ULB, and several big names are potentially on the move.
Portland continues to shop SP Roy Halladay, and have had discussions with at least one team has proposed a deal that Portland is considering.
Phoenix has not had any bites on either 1B/SH Kenneth Payne who has recently returned from the Disabled List, or for CL Brad Lidge who has 17 Saves and a 1.66 ERA.
The St. Paul Saints have been very active in Ace Cooan’s early days as General Manager. They are shopping SS Abraham Nunez and have reportedly proposed a swap of home town prospect C Joe Busch Jr for a home town star in New Mexico’s C Joe Mauer.
When asked about it, Busch was non committal, saying “”I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The Saints also reportedly covet Buffalo prospect SS Tim Beckham and have made inquires about his availability.
New Orleans’ C Tom Brady also remains on the block, but teams are concerned about his lack of production this season, despite his making the FL All Star Team.
Teams have until Midnight EST on Sunday, August 9th, 2009 to make non waiver trades. (Wendesday September 17th, 7:30PM EST)
The 2008 ULB All Star Game Voting Period has ended, and here are the winners for the 14th edition of the ULB Classic.
C Alfonso Delgado PHO
1B Alex Crooks OKC
2B Gerard King LV
3B John McCurdy SJJ
SS Stephen Drew CHA
OF Josh Hamilton MIL
OF Mark Folsom CHA
OF Ichiro Suzuki LV
DH Kenneth Payne PHO
C Andy Burress WAS
1B Eron Morrow POR
2B C.J. Henry NO
3B Mark Schramek JC
SS Mike Peeples SJS
OF Jason Kubel LAS
OF Jason Harrison SL
OF Albert Pujols HOU
DH Jody Gerut JC
With our second selection of the Union League Baseball First Ten, we had another touch choice, between two future ULB Hall of Famers. In the end, we selected a ULB original over a MLB import, by a somewhat narrow margin.
First Base: Kenneth Payne (Hollywood Stars 1995-2000, Phoenix Fire 2001-2004)
From 1995-2004, Kenneth Payne led the league in hits (1,851), home runs (468), runs batted in (1,206), runs scored (998), extra base hits (768) and total bases (3,505). He hit home runs roughly every 13 trips to the plate, which ranks 5th among all players, but Payne played in more games all of them by a wide margin. (582*, to be precise, actually.)
In fact, Payne sat for just 12 games over the period from 1995-2004. His ability to stay healthy may be a large part of why he’s led the league is so many categories in the first ten years of the ULB’s existence.
Payne was overlooked for a good portion of his career. if not for teammate Orestes Kindelan, it’s likely that Payne would have been the Federal League MVP in 1995. Instead, he had to wait until 2002 to be named the Players League MVP with the Phoenix Fire. Payne also appeared in 8 All Star Games, he wasn’t selected in 1999 or 2001. 1999’s snub is a mystery, as Payne played well, but in 2001, he had a tough time adjusting to the Players League’s (at the time) tougher pitching. By 2002 however, he had them figured out, and led the league with a then record 62 home runs.
Phoenix GM Rich McNeal accounts much of the team’s success to brining Payne to Phoenix.
“We were putting together a contender, but he still needed that one big bat to solidify our batting order. Payne happened to be the biggest free agent at the time. Originally we weren’t going after him. The Yankees had made a big offer to him, and we didn’t want to get into a bidding war with them. But a few weeks into free agency, I decided it was time to go for broke. We ended up giving him 87 million over 6 years, and after that we’ve never looked back.”
One of the hardest things to fathom is why Payne ever hit free agency. Stars GM Ken Mastny has never discussed it publicly, but our feeling is that Payne was tired of not winning championships. Former GM Marlon Trigg Sr. who died in 1999, is likely to blame. Mastny took over a horridly inept team of aging vets, and had trouble building around Payne due to budget constraints and a lackluster fan base.
It should be noted that Payne beat out 1B Jim Thome, who lost out due to not playing as much due to not joining the league until 1997 as well as being injured a few times. Thome also playing a few seasons as a third baseman. All things being equal, Payne would likely still have won, but if we had an 11th man for the First Ten, it would almost definitely go to Thome.
*Wayne Edwards, if you were wondering.
Ken Payne hit Home Run #500 today against San Jose’s Brad Busbin in a 4-0 win over the Jedi at Skywalker Stadium. Payne accounted for all 4 runs. Payne went yard with number 499 off Nelson Gil Santovenia in the 7th inning to put the fire up 1-0. He came up later in the ninth with 2 runners on base. The Phoenix Star was greeted with a mixture of cheers and boos as he came to the plate with Ntema Ndungidi on 2nd and Jody Gerut on first after an intentional walk. Busbin missed wide outside on his first pitch, but the second one was right in Payne’s wheelhouse. And as he had done 499 times before, Payne crushed it, sending the ball 447 feet into the outfield for a 3 run home run. Payne’s teammates mobbed him at the plate as he made his 500th round tripper of his ULB Career. The San Jose fans, despite the crushing blow Payne had dealt their club, joined the large contingent of Phoenix fans who had made the trip to try to see history.
“It’s Unbelievable. I never thought I would be standing here, talking about this. I started out playing Independent minor league baseball, and now… Wow. Surreal. Just totally surreal.”
Busbin, now forever in the record books as giving up the Historical dinger, was nonchalant about his place in history.
“They’ll remember the homer, but hopefully, they don’t remember who threw the pitch.”
ULB Commissioner Steve Greenberg presented Payne with a plaque commemorating the event after the game and praised Payne for being a mainstay in the ULB. Payne’s Uniform and Bat were taken to be sent to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
“Hopefully, he hits many more here in the ULB. He’s a class act, and now, he joins the greats. But not only that, he becomes the first in a new line of greats who will in time emerge as we move forward here in the ULB.”
Ken ‘The Punisher’ Payne is now 3 home runs away from becoming the first player to hit 500 home runs in the ULB. While some players have become members of the 500 HR club while playing in both the ULB and the MLB, none have as of yet made it this far while playing solely for Union League Baseball. Payne, in fact, leads all players currently playing in the ULB in HR. He hit 261 of his dingers as a member of the Hollywood Stars from 1995-2000 before joining the Phoenix Fire in 2001, where he has hit 232 out of the park.
Frank Thomas is close to becoming a member of the MLB/ULB 500 HR club, sitting at 495. He recently hit number 248 in the ULB, surpassing his 247 home runs in the MLB. The next closest members are Ken Griffey Jr, who is playing in the first season in the ULB. He has 458, though just a mere 17 in the ULB. Jim Thome is next on the list with 415 home runs to his name. All but 57 came as a member of a Union League Baseball ball club. His 358 home runs ranks 2nd in the history of Union League Baseball. Wayne Edwards (341), Manno Wickey (317) and Ryan Keith (316) round out the top five. Salt Lake City’s Bobby Abreu should soon join the members of the 300 HR club, as he sits at 296 for his career.
The list shows that getting to 500 home runs in the ULB isn’t as easy as it sounds. Wayne Edwards entered the league in 1997, while Thome, Wickey, Keith and Abreu have all been members since 1996. Payne was here from the beginning in 1995. His level of consistency has been astounding, in 7 of his 11 seasons thus far, he played in every game.
The Punisher’s 11 year assault on pitchers could very well end, as he has a option allowin him to test the free agent market after this season, should he choose not to settle for a mere 14.5 million next season. One can only hope that if he does choose to leave Phoenix for greener pastures, that he continues to play in the ULB.
The Phoenix Fire and San Juan Storm are heading back to the Union Cup. The stage is set for a rematch between these two clubs who had a truely epic Union Cup showdown last season. The Phoenix Fire came out on top last year, but the Storm will be looking for a different result in 2004.
The Storm knocked off the Portland Pioneers in the Federal League Championship Cup, including two victories against the most likely FL Nolan Ryan Award winner Roy Halladay, who they beat twice. While San Juan didn’t hit well in the series (no small surprise considering Portland’s Halladay pitched twice in the Series) they did manage to outscore the Pioneers 17-6 in their 4 victories. The Pioneer’ 10-5 victory in Game 2 evens things up a bit, but San Juan’s success in the Union Cup will come down to their pitching staff. Derek Baker did his best to provide needed offense for the Storm, hitting .417 with 3 HR, 5 RBI and 6 RS.
The Fire knocked off the Oklahoma City RedHawks, 4 games to 2 in the Players League Championship Cup, despite falling down to 0-2 in the series. They would go on to win the next four games. While Potential MVP Kenneth Payne showed no signs of slowing down, hitting .524 with HR and 12 RBI, a lot of credit must go to Pedro Luiz Lazo, who pitched in 3 games in the series, though he was credited with only 1 win.
So, are you ready for Fire/Storm II: Fire Stormer?
Here are your starters for the 2004 Union League Baseball All Star Game, which will be held in Sunny San Jose, home of the Jedi. Skywalker Stadium will host the All Star Game for the 2nd time. Last time the ASG was in San Jose, the Crickets Hall of Famer Michael Jordan won that game for the Players League with a Walk off Home Run. Who will provide the fireworks in 2004?
LIGHT SIDE (Players League)
- C Brian Horner, BRO
- 1B Stefan Bailie, COL
- 2b Jose Vidro, OKC
- 3b Gary Sapp, BOS
- SS Brett King, BRO
- OF Shannon Carter, STP
- OF Kevin Forbes, BOS
- OF Ichiro Suzuki, LV
- OF Juan Morales, OKC (Won FL Vote)
- DH Kenneth Payne, PHO
- SP Andy Yount, PHO
- RP Scott Williamson, BOS
DARK SIDE (Federal League)
- C Eric Christopherson, SJS
- 1B Derek Baker, SJS
- 2B Jason Moore, LAS
- 3B Brian Sutter, HOU
- SS Alex Rodriguez, JC
- OF Daylan Holt, BUF
- OF Anduw Jones, WAS
- OF Albert Pujols, HOU
- DH Adam Dunn, HOU
- SP Roy Halladay, POR
- RP Rhett Parrott, SLC
Reserves will be announced later today once the Jedi Council decides who will oppose the forces of Darth Timms and the Federal League. May the Force be with you and don’t forget to go see Star Wars, Episode II Attack of the Clones back in theaters nationwide for a limited time.