The curse of Noochie Varner? Well, maybe not
By Marc Katz
Friday, September 07, 2007
Some fans are calling it the Curse of Noochie Varner, and who can blame them?
Varner was the Ryan Freel-type on the 2002 Dragons who could do a little of everything.
He hit .309 with the Dragons, although 111 were singles, many not reaching the outfield grass. His 10 homers indicated some power, but not enough.
Varner had some speed — his hustle made him look even faster — but not enough to cover an inadequate arm.
He was — and is — a real good minor-league player.
With a name like Noochie, I thought there might be a good story attached. After all, his given name was Gary Lee.
"They called my dad Noochie," Varner said. "I was Noochie Jr."
How did your dad get the name?
"I don't know," Varner said.
His dad didn't know how he picked up the name, either. So much for a good story.
How does all this relate to a curse?
On July 23, 2002, the Reds acquired pitcher Brian Moehler, third baseman Matt Boone and cash for former No. 1 pick David Espinosa and two players to be named. One of those players to be named turned out to be Varner. The Tigers elected to take him on Aug. 30, 2002, just before the Midwest League playoffs were about to begin, assigning him to West Michigan.
The Whitecaps won both playoff games from the Dragons, with Varner going 3-for-8 with three runs and an RBI.
The Dragons didn't make the playoffs again until this season, thus the curse.
Varner has played in the Diamondbacks and Brewers organizations since, bounced back to the Reds and had a successful 100-game run at Class AAA Tucson in 2004, hitting .321. He played with the Astros' Corpus Christi team in Class AA this season, hitting .287.
I don't think that's enough to trigger a curse, but there you go.
Although they haven't been with the Dragons long, Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier and Brandon Waring have made impacts with the team from this year's draft.
In going over a list of former players here with Reds minor-league coordinator Tim Naehring — the former farm director — only Adam Rosales in 2005 stands out as a guy who joined the team after the season began and made a similar impact.
Rosales, a shortstop taken in the 12th round that season, hit .328 with Dayton, including nine homers and 21 RBIs in 32 games. Rosales hit a combined .286 with 18 homers and 79 RBIs at Sarasota and Chattanooga this season.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2157 or mkatz@DaytonDailyNews.com