02/11/2005 7:39 AM - KANSAS CITY The heart of the Kansas City T-Bones lineup struck fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers in 2004, as first baseman Ray Brown was almost always followed by designated hitter Eddie Pearson. Northern League hurlers wont have an easier time in 2005, either, as both members of Thunder and Lightning are back for another campaign, the team announced Thursday.
After being obtained from the St. Paul Saints in a June 2003 trade, Eddie Pearson heated up, and really hasnt cooled off. He followed his 2003 MVP campaign with a 2004 season in which he paced the Northern League with thirty home runs while hitting .330 (7th in league) and driving in 94 (2nd in league). Pearson also set a league record for intentional walks with seventeen, an indication of the level of respect he commands, while being named a Northern League all-star at the midpoint and end of the season.
In addition, Pearson was named as the leagues Player of the Week for the week ending June 28, driving in fourteen runs in just five games. The honors didnt end there for the 31-year-old out of Mobile, Ala., either; Pearson was named the Northern Leagues Star of Stars for overall statistical excellence for the second straight season as well as the first-team designated hitter on the All-Independent League team.
Ray Brown was injured for much of the 2003 campaign and batted .279 in 67 games as a T-Bone. 2004 was a different story, however. Brown did not bat below .300 in any month of the season and ended the campaign hitting .362, second in the Northern League. His nineteen home runs were fifth in the circuit and his 85 runs batted in were third best in the league. Brown saved his best for last in 2004, hitting .402 with six home runs and 31 RBI in the final 31 games of the season as he was named the Northern League Player of the Month for August and September. In addition, Brown was selected as the second-team designated hitter on the All-Independent League team.
The T-Bones also announced the signings of pitcher Caleb Balbuena and outfielder Josh Ury. After Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the entire 2003 campaign, Balbuena made the T-Bones roster out of open tryouts in May 2004. However, his 2004 season was cut short by arm trouble and he made just six appearances for the T-Bones, compiling a 1-1 record with a 4.67 ERA. Ury was acquired from the River City Rascals of the Frontier League in a trade for outfielder Mike Hass. In 2004, Ury hit .282 with fifteen homers and 54 RBI in 90 games for the Rascals.
With Eddie Pearson and Ray Brown back, I cant wait for the season to start, said T-Bones Manager Dirty Al Gallagher. Those two are big pieces of the puzzle, and Ury and Balbuena are also a couple of components that will get us closer to a championship.