Huskies show off high entertainment opener

John Gilbert

 

If you catch a Huskies game or two, you will find it easy to locate a favorite player or six. When I attended the home opener last Sunday at Wade Stadium, I decided that a fan favorite is going to be General McArthur IV. A slim speedster from Chicago, McArthur has an effervescent personality and Byron Buxton-type speed on the bases. He circled the bases during the Huskies spectacular last-of-the-ninth inning rally that pulled out an 8-7 victory over Eau Claire in the opener.

Then he dedicated his body to the cause Monday, when the Huskies beat the St. Cloud Rox 10-6. As homestands go, the Duluth Huskies season-opening home schedule was no big deal, with only two games at Wade Stadium. But if you attended the games, you were well entertained as the Huskies “swept” their home openers and hit the road.

They will, of course, return. You can count on General McArthur for that bit of wisdom.  No, not the World War II heroic military general, we’re talking about General McArthur IV, who plays third base for the Huskies. Or is it left field. Or second base. Or maybe pitching. How about “all of the above,” because the slim speedster will play anywhere in his effort to earn a permanent spot on the Huskies this summer.

“People think he was named after the military general,” said his dad, watching Sunday’s game against St. Cloud. “But we beat him to the name. I’m General McArthur III, so there were two before me, and that goes back before the military guy. We’re a generaton ahead of General Douglas MacArthur.” When the Huskies opened, McArthur played wherever he could, although his dad said he’s basically an infielder who is agreeable to playing anywhere. “Out in Bismarck, they ran out of arms so he volunteered to pitch, and went in there,” his dad said.

The Northwoods League accumulates players from all around the country, college kids from Divisions 1, 2 and even 3. Some players are set for the full season, others are temporary. McArthur is a temporary, so he’s trying to make the best impression possible to earn a permanent tag. By chance, when he was assigned a place to live, McArthur ended up with pitcher Andy Stout as a roommate. The two played kid baseball together on an under-18 team, and have played against each other for years.

While McArthur looks like a sprinter, his dad said he never ran track or played football, focusing always on baseball. After community college, he enrolled at Missouri Baptist where he’s been playing shortstop. “He also started working on quick-twitch muscles,” said his dad, noting that he has gained tremendously in his speed, and he grew about 6 inches, to 6-foot-1. “He’s donated his body today,” his dad laughed. “He got his twice by pitches.” As we watched, General McArthur III, who is a community college baseball coach and assistant athletic director at Moraine Valley Community College, said he had to go back to Chicago right after McArthur IV’s next at-bat.

Who needs instant replay? General McArthur IV was hit on the shoulder by a St. Cloud pitch for the third time in the 10-6 Huskies victory Monday afternoon, but the umpire ruled it was a foul ball(!). Photo credit: John Gilbert
Who needs instant replay? General McArthur IV was hit on the shoulder by a St. Cloud pitch for the third time in the 10-6 Huskies victory Monday afternoon, but the umpire ruled it was a foul ball(!). Photo credit: John Gilbert

The St. Cloud pitcher threw one up and in, and while the right-handed hitting McArthur lunged backward and spun to avoid it, the ball plunked him high on the left shoulder.  Incredibly, as he started toward first base, the ump called him back, and declared he was calling it a foul ball. It’s another case where a timely photo is worth a thousand words, or at least a bad call. The accompanying photo show him not only trying to duck the pitch, but as it strikes him, he has released his left hand on the bat and actually thrusts the bat up in the air with his right hand.

Sometimes, if a ball hits a batter on the hand and he’s holding the bat with that hand, it can be hard to tell whether he or the bat was struck. But when the bat is two feet away from the point of contact, there can be no question. After none of the three umpires apparently was paying close enough attention to tell the difference, he got back in the batter’s box and was retired on a foul pop up. Preventing him from getting on base, and giving us a chance to see him sprint around the bases, should be at least a misdemeanor.

Afterward, he just smiled. “That was the third one, and they were all on my shoulder,” McArthur IV said after the Huskies finished off a 10-6 victory, after leading 7-0 after one and 10-0 after five innings.” If he is any kind of sparplug, he used it Sunday, in the home opener. With a runner on, McArthur delivered a sharp single, and Cade Edwards followed with a sharply hit single that loaded the bases.

Trailing 7-5 with two out in last of ninth in the Huskies home opener, General McArthur IV scores the tying run then turns to signal Cade Edwards to slide home with the winning run. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Trailing 7-5 with two out in last of ninth in the Huskies home opener, General McArthur IV scores the tying run then turns to signal Cade Edwards to slide home with the winning run. Photo credit: John Gilbert
McArthur enjoyed his part in the base-clearing triple by Augie Isaacson, as the Huskies won an 8-7 walk-off victory over St. Cloud. Photo credit: John Gilbert
McArthur enjoyed his part in the base-clearing triple by Augie Isaacson, as the Huskies won an 8-7 walk-off victory over St. Cloud. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Let the celebration begin! McArthur, left, and Edwards realize the main celebration was out at third base. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Let the celebration begin! McArthur, left, and Edwards realize the main celebration was out at third base. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Duluth Huskies mobbed Augie Isaacson (28) for his 2-out, base-clearing triple that defeated Eau Claire 8-7. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Duluth Huskies mobbed Augie Isaacson (28) for his 2-out, base-clearing triple that defeated Eau Claire 8-7. Photo credit: John Gilbert

It was the last of the ninth, and the Huskies trailed Eau Claire 7-5. Up came Augie Isaacson, a veteran with the Huskies, and after two strikes, he pulled a line drive down the right-field line. The ball eluded the right fielder, and after McArthur scored, he turned to guide Edwards in behind him.

When Edwards was safe on the base-clearing hit, McArthur nearly jumped out of his uniform, then he and Edwards raced down to third base to join the mob embracing Isaacson. It was a wild enough celebration that if the Huskies win the Northwoods title, their clinching victory won’t elicit a more genuine celebration than this one, after the 8-7 home opener. Oh, and by the way, Isaacson duplicated his base-clearing triple on Monday, too, driving in two runs with another vital triple to clear the bases. And Kevin Folman, a pitcher at North Dakota State from Hermantown, got in to throw the last couple of innings for the Huskies.

There seems to be a lot to like, and General McArthur III said he’ll be coming back up for the next homestand. As for the comparison to Buxton and General McArthur, it only regards their speed. Otherwise it’s unfair, because at this point. McArthur hits better.