The year was 1979. Oil City’s last Classic Cup came 6 and a half years ago in ’72. The Oilers had just come off their worst season in franchise history, a .560 win % which still stands as their worse ever. Pittsburgh had just won their 3rd Classic Cup and was quickly establishing themselves as western PA’s finest organization. GM Joe Peters decided that now was the time to strike or risk falling out of the postseason completely. The 1979 was missing picks 2, 3, and 4 as the Oilers were all-in and traded them for players that could help win now. OC did however, trade some prospects for the right to the number 10 selection, but didn’t have another pick until the 5th round.
1.10 SS Jim McFadden – McFadden was on Joe Peters’ radar from the start. He had identified McFadden as the best player in the draft, one that would be an integral part of the team’s future at SS. McFadden had it all. Speed, fielding ability, personality, hit tools. Peters fully expected him to be taken early. After a fantastic season at U20, the OC GM shocked the organization by trading his prized prospect for a couple of prospects and a 2nd round pick. One of which was top pitching prospect Andy Rieser, who played a big part in the deal that OC made with Portland at the time for the #1 pick in the ’81 draft, RJ Villano.
McFadden eventually found himself traded two more time to end up with his hometown team Pittsburgh. Jim was ecstatic when he hear the news. He was only a 10 year old boy when the Grinders won the inaugural TBC Classic Cup. McFadden is the heart of that team and remains there today. He’s won 3 best fielder awards at SS and has even won a championship of his own.
5.13 IF/OF Mike Sinclair – The next Oiler selection didn’t come until the 5th round where the Oilers were eager to select Mike Sinclair at #13. Sinclair had moderate success at Stanford, but the Oilers drafted him for his running and defensive diversity. Sinclair plays every position and he plays it well. He even won two best fielder awards at RF in ’83 and ’86. Sinclair played parts of 7 seasons in OC before signing with Arizona of the ABA following the ’88 season.
Sinclair likely could have been a star for OC if not for his frequent strikeouts. But his defense gave OC an excellent player off the bench and one that they could comfortably start if needed. Mike’s best season came in ’87 where he posted a 2.7 WAR, 9 HR, and a 131 OPS+. Sinclair is currently on the 60-day DL after tearing his back muscle in ABA spring training.
Of the 16 players drafted by OC in 1979, none remain with the organization and only Sinclair made it to Oil City.