Earl Stowers makes the most of his chances

It was season 8 when 23 yr old rookie Earl Stowers made his major league debut with the Boston Minute Men. After starting 28 games, Stowers was demoted the next season, where he became an All-Star at the AA level. But Stowers' brief stint at the majors seemed like a once in a lifetime chance that came and went as Stowers simmered in the minors for 4 seasons. Iowa City signed him as an unsigned minor league free agent before trading him away. Earl was then waived 5 times, including 3 times by the Seattle Lightning and being limited to 6 games and 3 at bats in the majors. And 5 yrs after making his Major League debut, Seattle's latest waive coincided with a team's desperate need for a defensive catcher who could play regularly.

Never complaining about his limited opportunities in Seattle, the now 28 yr old grizzled catcher jumped at the opportunity to start for the Salem Whips. In 35 games, Stowers has taken advantage of every opportunity to show that he belongs in the Major league team. By anchoring the pitching staff, Stowers has helped his new team turnaround what seemed like an atrocious start to the season. Surprisingly, he has also handled the bat quite well - at the rhythm of a .292 batting AVG.

Earl Stowers is not an All-Star, he is not the best catcher in the league or even in his division, but this blue collar, hard-nosed, no-nonsense old-school catcher has taken advantage of every opportunity and he is not looking back.

Who will be the first to 3,000 hits?

3000 hits. Considered to be the ultimate career achievement - a measure of longevity, skills and gamesmanship - to be able to reach 3,000 hits is within reach for a handful of players in the Mathewson league's 13 yr history.

Brad Green, Colorado Colorado Crush - 33 yr, 12 time All-Star, 2696 career hits. Barring a major injury, Green is likely to reach the 3000 hit milestone by the end of next season. At 33, with excellent health, and playing in Colorado's thing air, there is no doubt that this future Hall of Famer and career .361 hitter with 530 + career homeruns, Green may be the best offensive player in Mathewson history.

Leo Billingsley, Colorado Colorado Crush - 35 yr, 9 time All-Star, 2625 career hits. Billingsley is roughly 400 hits away from the 3000 hit landmark. At 35, he would need to play until he is 37 yr old and still averaging @160-180 hits per year to reach 3000. Billingsley does not have the durability on the field that he used to have, and he is on the last year of his contract with the Crush. A move to a different city will likely hurt his chances at 3K. Although he has never spent a day in the DL in his entire ML history, his 35 yr old body is not the same as the all-star shortstop that he once was. Billingsley should reach 3000 hits, but it won't be easy.

John Russ, Louisville Wild Turkeys - 36 yr old, 9 time All-Star, 2477 career hits. Russ is a stretch to reach the 3000 hit landmark, although he still has enough ability to play for several years. Russ is 523 hits away from 3000, which translates to having to average 200+ hits over the next 2 1/2 years to reach the milestone before age 40.

Vladimir Valentin, Chicago Billy Goats - 37 yr old, 8 time All-Star, 2336 career hits. Despite being one of the best historical hitters in the league, Valentin is unlikely to reach 3000, but had an outside chance at doing so. Valentin is in excellent health, has never been on the DL and has more durability on the field than many players half his age. He would have to maintain a pace of @190 hits per season and would reach 3000 by age 41.

Tony Lunar, Oakland Elephants - 34 yr old, 2 time All-Star, 2307 career hits. Lunar, a career .292 hitter with excellent health and durability, is likely to reach 3000 if he plays into his late 30's (38) at his current hitting pace.

Parker McIntyre, Buffalo Blizzard - 30 yr old, 9 time All-Star, 2065 career hits - Will likely reach the 3000 milestone by age 36. Big Mac will likely be the Mathewson historical leader in homers by the time he's done playing,