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Chillicothe Paints

First season: 1993

Years in league: 1993-present

Ballpark: V.A. Memorial Stadium

When a crowd of 2,154 saw the Paints win their home opener against the Portsmouth Explorers in June of 1993, it marked the beginning of a tradition of exciting Frontier League baseball in south-central Ohio. The Paints were a charter member of the league, and are the only remaining original team.

The Paints led the league in attendance in the inaugural 1993 season, and the next year won both halves of the season, the first of seven playoff appearances for the team. The Paints won both halves of the season in 1996 and again in 1998, losing in the playoff finals to the Springfield Capitals both years.

The late 1990s were the Golden Age of the Chillicothe Paints, as Scott Pinoni, Mitch House and Gator McBride put together some phenomenal seasons for the fans in Chillicothe. McBride hit over .400 in 1998 but lost the batting title to Morgan Burkhart of Richmond. Pinoni had back-to-back 20-homer season, culminating in an MVP award in 1999. House was a three-time all-star.

The Paints organization was made proud when, on June 20, 2000, 1994 Paint Brian Tollberg made his major league debut for the San Diego Padres, becoming the first former Frontier League player to appear in a major league game.

The Paints have a strong managerial tradition. Roger Hanners led the team for eight seasons. Jamie Keefe took over in 2001 and picked up where Hanners left off, winning the East Division title before falling in the finals. Rick Blanc was named Most Valuable Pitcher with a spectacular 13-1 record. The 2003 Paints finished first again, their second division title in Jamie Keefe's three years as manager. When Keefe left for Florence in 2005, ex-major leaguer Glenn Wilson took over and led the Paints to the finals in his first season at the helm.

Although he's never been officially the manager, coach Marty Dunn is as much a fixture in Chillicothe as the nearby Hopewell Indian earthworks. Dunn has been with the team since the very beginning, the only on-field employee of any team to be able to make that claim.

The 2003 Paints won the East Division title but lost to Evansville in the playoffs. The Paints' attack was led by 1B Darin Kinsolving (.336-15-76). Rusty Swackhamer adder twelve homers. Infielders Adrian Gascon and Doug Dreher hit .301 and .280, respectively. Catcher Tony Cosentino added a .287 mark. Outfielders Joe Colameco (14 SB) and Matt McCay (.295) added to the mix, McCay setting a new club record for career hits.

The top starter was Josh Rahrer (8-3, 4.30). No other starter had more than five wins, although Mark Skrukrud (2.94) and Jeff Hunter (3.15) had excellent ERAs. The strength of the pitching staff was relievers Ramon Royce (5-1, 0.65, 6 saves) and Andrew See (2-1, 4.26, 8 saves).

The 2004 season saw a well-balanced team, as the Paints finished second in pitching and third in hitting, but could only muster a .500 record. Doug Dreher (.324-2-51), Dustin Brisson (.330-15-65) and Adrian Gascon (.309-2-66) finished 1-2-3 in hits. Brisson finished fourth in batting average, Dreher sixth. Dreher also led the league in doubles while teammate Michael Spry finished second in triples. Beau Blacken hit only .271 but led the team with 17 home runs. Catcher Tony Cosentino returned to hit .294, while Chris Tuttle hit .270 after joining the team from Richmond.

Michael Kesten was the top starter. He went 7-8, 3.02, and led the league with 141 strikeouts. His six complete games were second to teammate Mark Hamilton. Kesten was acquired by the Houston Astros near the end of the season. Joining him in the rotation were Rahrer (7-4, 4.62) and Perry Cunningham (7-4, 3.98). Royce returned to the role of bullpen ace, amassing 17 saves.

Mark Hamilton was a rare two-way player. He was 4-5, 2.25 as a pitcher, good for second in the league in ERA. He completed seven games, tops in that category. When not pitching, he played the outfield and hit .323, and his 11 stolen bases tied Tuttle for the team lead. Hamilton's contract was purchased by the Milwaukee Brewers in late July. He was not alone in his versatility. Doug Dreher played every position on the season's last day, a feat he would duplicate in 2005.

The big story of the 2005 season was pitcher John Martinez, who dominated all summer. He shattered the league wins record by going 16-4, 3.11. Cunningham returned with a strong 10-6, 3.98 season that would have made him the ace on most staffs around the league. Lucas Palmer added eight wins. The bullpen was solid if not dominant. Ryan Rafferty had nine saves to lead the team, but had capable setup men in Nick Cavanaugh, Jeremy Durkee and Marshall Plouffe.

Jose Rodriguez won the batting title with a .380 mark and set a record for hits in a season while splitting time between second base and shortstop. Outfielder John Ramistella put up big numbers with a .317-20-73 season with 32 steals, joining Pete Pirman and Kirk Taylor as the only 20-homer, 20-steal men in league history. Veteran Josh Ury went .299-10-58.

The Paints shuffled some players around but didn't miss a beat. Mike Spry hit .290 and Beau Blacken .342 before being shipped to Evansville in two separate trades. The players the Paints received in return performed even better, Steve Martin hitting .376 and Juan Downing .315.

The 2005 season was an exciting one as the Paints overcame tough competition to make the playoffs and then upset a powerful Washington team to reach the finals for the fifth time. The Paints took a must-win game four at Kalamazoo but lost game five at home. The season had to be considered an unqualified success, even if the ending was a little disappointing.

The Paints made news in the off-season of 2005-06 as FieldTurf was installed at V.A. Memorial Stadium. Field Turf is made of recycled materials over a bed of sand and drains rapidly, and is used in many major league sports facilities.

The team made another splash with a blockbuster trade, sending Martinez to Windy City for infielder Travis Garcia. Garcia, a post-season all star in 2005, would repeat the feat in 2006. Moving from third base to shortstop, Garcia hit .289-11-66. Ramistella returned to Chillicothe and hit .283-13-60 with 41 steals, teaming with Garcia to form a formidable 1-2 punch. OF Matt Cooksey hit .282 with 28 steals, making the all-star team before a trade to Florence. 2B Paul Rutgers hit .285 and stole 14 bases despite a stint on Injured Reserve. Utility man Ryan Kane added 10 steals in only 37 games. OF Taylor Johnson hit .269 after joining the team from Gateway.

Pitching as the strong suit of the 2006 Paints as the team posted the league's best ERA at 2.84 and shut out opponents a dozen times. Kurt Hartfelder captured Rookie Of the Year Honors at 10-5, 1.67 and Perry Cunningham added a 9-6, 2.30 season. Lavelle Morgan went 3-3, 3.05 before retiring in mid-August. Martinez returned after bring released by Windy City and went 5-0, 2.09 down the stretch. Andrew Coffey went 3-2, 3.00 before being dealt to the ThunderBolts. The Paints pulled another coup at the trade deadline by acquiring Florence ace Curt Moenter.

Coming along with Moenter was swing man Drew Jackson, who went 2-1, 1.93, including a rain-shortened no-hitter against River City. Also working both in the rotation and the bullpen was Lucas Palmer (4-3, 3.04).

Eric Teall (4-3, 1.96) led the team with 14 saves. Nick Cavanagh went 2-1, 2.24 with eight saves. Cavanagh whiffed 88 batters in 64 innings before joining the Houston Astros organization. Returning veteran Marshall Plouffe went 5-2, 2.54.

Tragedy struck the Paints family on July 7 when outfielder Steve Martin was killed in an auto accident. V.A. Memorial Stadium was packed for the memorial service, and a moment of silence was observed in Martin's honor throughout the league.

The Paints suffered four straight rainouts on a road trip to River City and Gateway as strong storms knocked out power throughout the Midwest. This led to a stretch of multiple doubleheaders in mid-August. Coming near the trade deadline, the Paints were able to add arms, acquiring Moenter, Jackson, and Ted Juske.

The new FieldTurf was kind to the Paints as they posted a 37-13 home record. Chillicothe fought a hard fight with Traverse City and a resurgent Washington for the East Division title. A rare three game sweep at home by Washington late in the season gave the Wild Things the division as the Paints finished a half game out.

They got a measure of revenge a couple of weeks later as they beat Washington three games to one in the first round of the playoffs, including a shutout by Hartfelder in game four. The Paints advanced to their sixth championship series against Evansville. The finals were an anticlimax in Chillicothe as the Otters swept the Paints in three games.

Chillicothe is the Frontier League's smallest market, with a population of 22,000, yet the Paints consistently draw over 60,000 fans a season. In 2005 the franchise set a record by drawing over 85,000 fans. If the same ratio was applied to Evansville, the Otters would draw over 350,000 fans! That trend should continue, as it has been reported that there are plans for improvements to V.A. Memorial Stadium in the works, and even the possibility of a brand-new ballpark in downtown Chillicothe.

V.A. Memorial Stadium, home of the Chillicothe Paints, was built in 1954.

Field Turf, used in many NFL facilities, was installed at V.A. Memorial Stadium prior to the 2006 season.

 

Year   Won   Lost   GB   Finish   Attendance   Manager   Playoffs First Round   Playoffs Second Round
                                 
1993   14   15   4   2W   20,253   Mark Jones/Roger Hanners        
    11   12   5   2W                
1994   17   16   --   1S   32,808   Roger Hanners   Lost to Lancaster 2-1    
    16   18   --   1S                
1995   21   48   25   8   31,128   Roger Hanners        
1996   23   14   --   1E   51,419   Roger Hanners   Beat Johnstown 2-1   Lost to Springfield 2-0
    25   12   --   1E                
1997   20   20   5   2E(T)   56,070   Roger Hanners        
    21   18   3.5   3E                
1998   23   17   --   1E   71,782   Roger Hanners   Beat Canton 2-1   Lost to Springfield 2-1
    25   14   --   1E                
1999   45   38   8.5   2E   61,249   Roger Hanners   Beat Evansville 2-1   Lost to London 2-0
2000   42   40   5   3E   61,413   Roger Hanners        
2001   51   33   --   1E   60,163   Jamie Keefe   Beat Canton 2-1   Lost to Richmond 2-0
2002   35   49   21   5E   67,452   Jamie Keefe        
2003   54   31   --   1E   58,755   Jamie Keefe   Lost to Evansville 2-1    
2004   48   48   14   4E   82,183   Jamie Keefe        
2005   53   42   10   2E(T)   85.667   Glenn Wilson   Beat Washington 3-2   Lost to Kalamazoo 3-2
2006   58   37   .5   2E   86,682   Glenn Wilson   Beat Washington 3-1   Lost to Evansville 3-0

Major Award Winners:

1993 Roger Hanners, Manager Of the Year

1999 Scott Pinoni, Most Valuable Player

2001 Rick Blanc, Most Valuable Pitcher

2005 John Martinez, Most Valuable Pitcher

2006 Kurt Hartfelder, Rookie Of the Year

Paints Post-Season All-Stars:

1993 C Jason Moore

1996 3B Mitch House; SS Matt Reimer; OF Jackie Jempson; DH Scott Pinoni

1997 3B Mitch House; OF Jackie Jempson

1998 3B Mitch House; OF Gator McBride; DH Scott Pinoni

1999 1B Scott Pinoni; 3B Chance Melvin

2001 C Adam Patterson; 2B Kevin Connacher; P Rick Blanc

2003 1B Darin Kinsolving; SS Adrian Gascon

2004 SS Adrian Gascon, C Tony Cosentino

2005 SS Jose Rodriguez, P John Martinez

2006 2B Paul Rutgers, SS Travis Garcia

Players on FL Tenth Anniversary All-Star Team:

1B Scott Pinoni (1996, 98-99)

3B Mitch House (1996-98)

SS Mike Cervenak (1999-2000)

OF Gator McBride (1998-99)

P Rick Blanc (1999-2001)

P Bob Spears (1997-99)

P Brian Tollberg (1994)

P Bobby Chandler (1998)

Franchise Player: 1B Scott Pinoni (1996, 98-99) was an all-star each of his three seasons in Chillicothe. Scott is the only player to win two Frontier League batting titles. He was league MVP in 1999. Pinoni ranks third all-time on the Frontier League home run list and sixth in RBI. He was one of eight Paints named to the Frontier League Tenth Anniversary All-Star Team. Read Scott's memories of his Frontier League career.

Paints in the majors: P Brian Tollberg (1994) pitched for the San Diego Padres from 2000-2003.