In the ninth season of their existence,
the Topeka Sizzlers finally reached the promised land of a United States Retro
League (“USRL”) Championship. After
compiling a USRL worst 45-117 record during the 1972 season, Topeka steadily
improved, and after rewarding the Sizzler faithful with the team’s first ever
post season berth in 1975, the Sizzlers took it a step further by advancing to
the World Series in 1976. Unfortunately,
they could not deliver a title, losing to the Jersey Rattlers in six
games. This season, the Sizzlers made
amends and went the distance. After
winning 109 games during the regular season, and storming to the Eastern
Division title by twelve games, Topeka beat the Unadilla Cyclone in five games
to advance to the World Series. In the
Series, Topeka met up with the red hot Minneapolis Millers, and although
Minneapolis proved to be a tough foe, Topeka again managed a five game series
victory to celebrate their first title.
All season long Topeka had been led by their pitching staff, which
included Cy Young Award winner Phil Niekro, fellow 24 game winner
Frank Tanana, and bullpen ace Rollie Fingers.
But, in the World Series, the Sizzlers used a different approach as
their offense stepped up to lead them to the crown. As a team, the Sizzlers hit an impressive
.322 in the series, and World Series MVP Dave Winfield hit an incredible .611,
with 1 HR, 5 RBIs, and 3 SBs.
After celebrating the championship, the
Sizzlers are already gearing up for 1978, and hope to add another playoff
appearance to their growing list of accomplishments. Another championship also remains a
possibility as the Sizzlers are led by a number of rising young stars,
including Dave Winfield, Darrell Porter, Gene Garber, Gorman Tomas, Jose Cruz and
Terry Puhl. Plus, the Sizzlers retain
the rights to veterans Rollie Fingers, Ron Cey, Frank Tanana, Phil Niekro, and
Steve Garvey. Next season promises to be
an exciting one for the Sizzlers, so check back often to see if the Sizzlers
have what it takes to win another league title.