The Fuzzy Memorial League - A Look Back Over 36 Years
The Fuzzy Memorial League began in April 1984, after Steve Marovich read about the original Rotisserie Baseball league in the Chicago Tribune and convinced several friends to start a similar league. Six of the seven charter owners were employees of the now-defunct Turbot restaurant on North State Street in Chicago, Ill. The six Turbot staff members were Marovich, Chip Marbach, Ben Mulé, Richard Munda, Robert Alexander and Georgina Herr. Pete Anderson, a friend of Mule's, was the seventh charter member.
Richard "Fuzzy" Jastrzebski should have been a charter owner. Fuzzy was present at the first scheduled auction at Marbach's home in Glenview, Ill., awaiting the arrival of Mulé and Munda from a Chicago Black Hawks hockey game, but those two never showed up that night. Fuzzy returned home to Lansing, Mich., and the league, by way of apology, named itself after him.
Marbach won the league's first championship, winning by six and one-half points over Marovich. Marbach's "Magpies" had a lethal combination of pitching and power, with five starting pitchers winning 12 or more games and nine position players with 11 or more home runs.
Marovich's team, the Karp's High Ratios, is named after a high-gluten cake flour distributed by Karp's, a restaurant-supply business. Mule's squad was known as the Debauchery Generals, Alexander's as the Alexander Doilies and Herr's as the Herr-a-Kings and subsequently Herr's Hot Grounders. The other charter teams were unnamed at the time.
Two franchises changed hands after the 1984 season. Fuzzy finally got his team by purchasing Anderson's franchise. Munda, leaving behind a trail of unpaid bills, had his franchise taken away by the league and awarded to Norman Alexandroff. Alexandroff’s team, Patton's High Velocity, was named by Marovich after seeing an Osco advertisement for a window fan.
Chas Handley, a friend of Marovich's from Fenton, Mich., joined the FML in 1985 as an expansion team. The Fenton Moles bought their way into the league by purchasing seven players at a pre-determined price.
Fuzzy, in his first season in 1985, won his first and only championship to date. The Buffalo Choppers, led by starting pitcher Mike Witt (15-9, 3.56 ERA), the late Donnie Moore as a closer (31 saves), Rickey Henderson (.314-24-72-80) and George Brett (.335-30-112-9) beat out the Karp's High Ratios by four points.
Bill Levy's Blues City Bruisers and Nancy Clarke's Junk Food Junkies joined the league in 1986, bringing to the league to its current 10-team status. Both teams went through an expansion draft to stock their initial rosters.
Marovich won the first of his five titles in 1986, with a then-staggering 71 points, 15 points ahead of the Atomic Reds, Chas' renamed team, at 56 points. Marovich won five categories (home runs, RBI, ERA, wins and ratio), while finishing second in batting average. The key was his acquisition of Roger Clemens from Marbach in exchange for Dwight Evans. Clemens, who had undergone shoulder surgery in 1985, won the first of his four Cy Young Awards in 1986 with a 24-4 record and a 2.48 ERA. The Karp's also got 17 wins from Bert Blyleven and 16 from Dennis Boyd, en route to a league-record 109 wins (matched by Patton's High Velocity in 1988). Tom Henke was the closer with 27 saves. Nine Karp's players hit 14 or more home runs, with Jesse Barfield hitting .289 with 40 home runs and 108 RBI and eight stolen bases.
There were no franchise moves in 1987, and Handley's Atomic Reds won the title in a last-weekend thriller. Three teams went into the final two days with a legitimate chance to win, but the Atomic Reds, with 65 points, nipped Patton's High Velocity (63.5) and the Karp's High Ratios (63). The Atomic Reds had six pitchers in double-figure wins, with Jack Morris going 18-11 with a 3.38 ERA in 266.0 innings pitched. Jeff Reardon anchored the bullpen with 31 saves. The Reds set a league record that year for stolen bases (223), with Willie Wilson (59), Paul Molitor (44) and Lloyd Moseby (39) leading the charge. Ten Reds players hit double-figure home runs, with American League MVP George Bell hitting .308 with 47 home runs and 134 RBI.
Marbach and Mulé left the league after the 1987 season. Marbach's team, the re-named Reductions, Inc., were sold to Doctors James Hole and Ron Shaheen from Flushing, Mich. Mule sold his franchise to Henry Schmeltzer and David Neisser, who re-named the team the Addison Lights. As an historical sidelight, there was a third bidder for a team that year, and the final selection process for the two new owners was done by a computer-generated, random-selection process on the Marovich's Tandy Model 100 computer. So there.
Patton's High Velocity, after just missing the 1987 title, won the 1988 championship in convincing fashion, 73-65, over the Karp's High Ratios. Alexandroff won five categories (batting average, RBI, ERA, wins and ratio) and tied the Karp's 1986 record with 109 victories. Frank Viola won the Cy Young Award with a 24-7 mark and a 2.64 ERA, while Greg Swindell went 18-14 with a 3.20 ERA. Doug Jones (yes, that Doug Jones) saved 37 games. Mike Greenwell paced the offense with a .325 average, 22 home runs, 119 RBI and 16 stolen bases. The Karp's Jose Canseco won the American League MVP with what may be the greatest Rotisserie season of all time for a position player. Canseco hit .307 with 42 home runs, 124 RBI and 40 stolen bases.
The 1989 season saw the departure of charter-member Herr, who sold her team to Albert Ettinger. Ettinger re-named the squad, the Prairie Pigeons. The 1989 season also marked the beginning of the FML's only dynasty to date. The Karp's High Ratios launched a "fourpeat" in 1989 that ran through the 1992 season. The first of the four was the closest, and the closest-ever in FML history, with the Karp's winning by a mere one-half point over the team that would chase them for the next few years, Bill Levy's Blues City Bruisers. Roger Clemens again paced the Karp's starting pitching with a 17-11 record and a 3.13 ERA, and Mike Schooler saved 33 games. Ruben Sierra hit .306 with 29 home runs, 119 RBI and eight stolen bases.
Following the 1989 season, Nancy Clarke, who had renamed her team from the Junk Food Junkies to Clarke's Cactus Climbers following a temporary move to Arizona, sold out to Karl Keller and Neil Tesser, who spent the next three years complaining about the structure and the rules of the FML.
The Karp's won the second part of their "fourpeat" by five points, 69-64, over the Blues City Bruisers. Roger Clemens went 21-6 with a 1.93 ERA and did not win the Cy Young Award. Mike Schooler saved 30 games, and Jose Canseco hit .274 with 37 home runs, 101 RBI and 19 stolen bases.
The third piece of the Karp's dynasty was a four and one-half point win over the Prairie Pigeons, 64-59.5, in 1991. Roger Clemens went 18-10 with a 2.62 Era, and Jim Abbott compiled an 18-11 mark with a 2.89 ERA. Closer Dennis Eckersley had an unbelievable season with 43 saves, a 2.96 ERA and a 0.908 ratio with only nine walks in 76.0 innings pitched. Jose Canseco hit .266 with 44 home runs, 122 RBI and 26 stolen bases, while Ruben Sierra hit .307 with 25 home runs, 116 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
The 1992 season brought a tragedy to the league, as Addison Lights partner David Neisser was struck by a drunk driver in Boston and suffered a serious closed-head injury. Charter-member Robert Alexander sold his team to Bob Haden. Haden, who the Commissioner's Office found from an advertisement in the Chicago Tribune "Friday" section, re-named the team, the Gopher Brokers. Geoff Randall served as a very-silent partner to Haden for the next few years.
On the field in 1992, the Karp's won their fourth-straight title by a 66.5-65-point margin over the Blues City Bruisers. Roger Clemens went 18-11 with a 2.41 ERA, while Dave Fleming went 17-10 with a 3.39 ERA. Dennis Eckersley surpassed his 1991 season by saving 51 games, with a 1.91 ERA and a 0.912 ratio with 11 walks in 80.0 innings. Mike Devereaux hit .276 with 24 home runs, 107 RBI and 10 stolen bases, while Chad Curtis hit .259 with 10 home runs, 46 RBI and 43 stolen bases.
After four years of frustration, Bill Levy's 1993 team finally broke through with the league's biggest win, 73.5 points over the second-place Atomic Reds, 23.5 points behind at 50 points. The Bruisers dominated the offensive categories, winning an unprecedented and to-date unmatched four offensive categories, along with ERA and ratio. No other team has ever won six categories. Jimmy Key went 18-6 with a 3.00 ERA, Cal Eldred went 16-16 with a 4.01 ERA, and closer Rick Aguilera saved 34 games. The Bruisers set another league mark with three players hitting 40 or more home runs: Juan Gonzalez (46), Ken Griffey Jr. (45) and Frank Thomas (41). American League MVP Thomas drove in 128 runs, Gonzalez 118 and Griffey drove in 109 runs. Roberto Alomar hit .326 with 17 home runs, 93 RBI and 55 stolen bases.
Prior to the 1993 season, to nobody's real regret, Karl Keller and Neil Tesser called it quits and sold their team to Wayne Deering from Kalamazoo, Mich.
The 1994 season saw the Doctors' Orders, formerly the Manipulators, P.C., sold by James Hole and Ron Shaheen to Rob Long and Paul Larson, now the L.L. Beans. Albert Ettinger won the 1994 title, the only team ever to win an FML title with less than 60 points, 58-56, over the Beans. Jimmy Key went 17-4 with a 3.27 ERA for the Pigeons, whose "closers" were Mike Henneman (8 saves) and Bob Wickman (6 saves). Kirby Puckett hit .317 with 20 home runs, 112 RBI and six stolen bases.
Patton's High Velocity returned to the winner's circle in 1995, their first win since the 1988 season. Patton's won by seven points, 72-65, over both the Blues City Bruisers and the L.L. Beans, who tied for second. Patton's High Velocity were led by starting pitcher Mike Mussina (19-9, 3.29 ERA) and relievers Bobby Ayala (19 saves) and Mike Henneman (18). Offensively, Norman had 12 players with double-figure home runs. Mo Vaughn hit .300 with 38 home runs, 126 RBI and 11 stolen bases and won the American League MVP award. Manny Ramirez hit .308 with 31 home runs, 107 RBI and six stolen bases, while American League "Rookie of the Year" Marty Cordova hit .277 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI and 20 stolen bases.
The L.L. Beans won the 1996 championship with a league-record 75 points, 15 points ahead of the second-place Karp's High Ratios with 60 points. Andy Pettitte went 21-8 with a 3.87 ERA, Alex Fernandez compiled a 16-10 mark with a 3.45 ERA, and closer Roberto Hernandez saved 38 games. Ten players hit double-figure home runs, with Ken Griffey Jr. hitting .302 with 48 home runs, 137 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Three other players drove in 100 or more runs: Paul Molitor (113), Joe Carter (107) and Cal Ripken Jr. (102). As an historical aside, the 1996 auction witnessed the league's first-ever stand-in for an owner, as Chicago's Kevin Greene drafted on behalf of Chas Handley.
The 1997 season ended in an unfortunate controversy over application of the league's 1,200-inning rule. The Karp's High Ratios finished the regular season with 66.5 points to 65 points for the L.L. Beans. However, when the standings were adjusted to reflect the Skreemin' Kave Geckos' and the Blues City Bruisers' lack of the required minimum innings-pitched, the result was the L.L. Beans winning, 67-66.5 over the Karp's. Following a bitter, league-wide debate, the FML split, 5-5, on how to apply the rule. With the deep division, the FML Executive Committee approved a compromise that declared the L.L. Beans and the Karp's co-champions. The 1,200-innng rule was eliminated prior to the 1998 season.
The 1998 season marked the 15th year for the Fuzzy Memorial League, certainly one of the longest-running Rotisserie Baseball leagues. This season saw another franchise change, with Bob Haden selling to Bosko Djurickovic, Tim Bernero and Frank Belmont, who dubbed the team, the Three Stooges.
The L.L. Beans won the 1998 title with 70 points, 14.5 points ahead of the second-place Karp's High Ratios, and good for the league's third-highest winning margin. The Beans hit a then-league-record 300 home runs, with Ken Griffey Jr. leading the way with 56, along with 146 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Jose Canseco hit 46 homers and drove in 107 runs. Edgar Martinez hit .321 with 29 home runs and 102 RBI, and Tino Martinez hit .280 with 28 homers and 123 RBI.
The start of the 1999 season saw Richard "Fuzzy" Jastrzebski take a sabbatical. Chris Dose, Melissa Carey and Chris Nelson headed up a team of investors to operate the franchise for the 1999 season. The L.L. Beans won their second-straight outright title with 64 points, two and one-half points ahead of the second-place Brew Jays.
Richard "Fuzzy" Jastrzebski returned to the fold in 2000 and shared management duties with Melissa Carey. The big news in the FML in 2000, however, was off the field. Commissioner-for-life Steve Marovich made an honest woman and a dishonest owner, some would say, of Melissa Carey by marrying her in Kenosha, Wis., on July 29 with most of the league in attendance. Albert Ettinger summed things up perfectly when he said, "If he keeps finishing seventh and her eighth, they can go right on colluding."
Back on the field, the L.L. Beans' run came to an end with a convincing win by the Three Stooges, who trounced the second-place Blues City Bruisers by nine points, 67-58. The 2000 title was the first-ever for the Stooges.
The L.L. Beans won their first of three-consecutive titles in 2001 by one point over Patton's High Velocity, 61-60, with the defending-champion Three Stooges in fifth place. In 2002, the Beans won in a more convincing fashion, 70-59, over the Blues City Bruisers, moving into first place in mid-April and never looking back. The 2003 edition beat the Three Stooges, 71.5-62.5
The 2004 Brew Jays snapped the three-year Beans streak with the first-ever Jays title, a narrow one-point victory, 62-61, over the Prairie Pigeons.
In 2005, the Three Stooges underwent a very successful management change, as Bosko Djurickovic and Dave Roehl retired as a tri-owners and were replaced by Robb Cibrario. The new management team of Cibrario and Tim Bernero won the franchise’s second championship of the decade and their second in six years by a mere half-point, 60-59.5 over the L.L. Beans. The 1992 and 2015 Karp’s High Ratios also won league titles by a half-point.
The 2006 L.L. Beans returned to the winner’s circle after a four-year absence, winning by six points, 67-61, over the Brew Jays. The 2007 Brew Jays won their second-ever championship and their second in four years with a three-point decision over the Addison Lights, 69-66.
In 2008, the L.L. Beans returned to winner’s circle with a four-point win over Karp’s High Ratios, 64-60. The Three Stooges won back-to-back title in 2009 and 2010, the first team to repeat since the 2002 and 2003 L.L. Beans.
The 2011 Karp's High Ratios ended a 14-year title drought with a four and one-half point win, 58.5 to 54.0, over the Blues City Bruisers. The Brew Jays won their third league title in 2012 with a five-point decision, 60 to 55, over the Addison Lights.
The L.L. Beans won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014, with the Blues City Bruisers taking second place both years. The 2013 finish was a mere two points behind, 58 to 56, but the 2014 gap was an astounding 14 points, 67 to 54.
Karp's High Ratios won their eighth league title in 2015 by a half-point, 64.5 to 64.0, over the L.L. Beans. The Beans returned to the winner's circle by taking both the 2016 and 2017 titles for league-leading total of 14 championships. The Addison Lights finished second to the Beans in both 2016 and 2017 and remained the only league franchise without a title before winning the 2018 championship by five points over the Beans. The L.L. Beans returned to the winner’s circle by winning their 15th league title in 2019.
The most-recent ownership change came at the end of the 2018 season when Albert and Franklin Ettinger gave up on the Prairie Pigeons, who had been around since 1989 and won the 1994 title. Taking over the franchise was Phil Dlatt, a poker partner of Bill Levy, along with Phil’s son, Eddie. The Dlatts re-named the franchise, The Shoeless Sandmen, when they took over in 2019.
In 2016, Tim Bernero and Robb Cibrario left the Three Stooges. Bosko, Steve and Pete Djurickovic took over the franchise. Bosko had been part of the Stooges management team from 1998 to 2004.
One team has gone through a league-leading five name changes. Chas Handley, who entered the league with expansion-squad Fenton Moles in 1985, operated his team as the Atomic Reds from 1986-2000, the Atomic Beta Carves from 2001-04, the Fischer Flyers from 2005-17 and the Nordica Knucklers in 2018.
Last updated in October 2019