Lively Tales About Dead Teams

1983-2000 Las Vegas Stars

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Las Vegas Stars ProgramPacific Coast League (1983-2000)

Born: September 1982 – The Spokane Indians relocate to Las Vegas.
Re-Branded: December 2000 (Las Vegas Area 51s)

Stadium: Cashman Field

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Las Vegas Stars were the long-time Class AAA farm club of the San Diego Padres, serving as that team’s top minor league affiliate from 1983 until 2000.  The franchise – still active today – traces its history all the way back to 1919 when it entered the Pacific Coast League as the Portland Beavers.  After an interlude in Spokane, Washington in the 1970’s, the ball club relocated to Las Vegas in September 1982.  The move marked the return of pro baseball to Las Vegas for the first time since the demise of the California League’s Las Vegas Wranglers in 1958.

The Stars’ glory years came during the 1980’s when the Padres’ farm system was stocked with future Major League All-Stars.  The first Stars squad in 1983 posted an 83-60 record, which would turn out to be the best in the club’s 18 seasons as a Padres farm club. Kevin McReynolds had a monster season, winning the 1983 Pacific Coast League MVP award with a .377 average, 32 homers and 116 RBIs.

In 1986 the Stars won their first Pacific Coast League title, defeating the Vancouver Canadians 3 games to 2 in the championship series. First baseman Tim Pyznarski won PCL MVP honors.  Larry Bowa managed the club.

In 1988 the Stars won their second and final PCL crown, once again besting Vancouver in the championship.  Catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. won the first of his back-to-back PCL Most Valuable Player awards that summer. Future Hall-of-Famer Roberto Alomar, Sandy’s younger brother, also played briefly for the Stars in the summer of 1988.

In 1992 original team owner Larry Koentopp and his partners, who moved with the club from Spokane, sold the Stars to Hank and Ken Stickney for an estimated $7.0 million. The Los Angeles Times called it the richest sum ever paid for a minor league baseball team at the time.  The Stickneys also owned the city’s pro hockey team, the Las Vegas Thunder, from 1993 to 1999.

The 1990’s were a fallow period for the Stars as the team was unable to repeat its on field successes of the previous decade.  Tragedy hit in May 1996 when veteran infielder Mike Sharperson died in a one-car accident while driving home from Cashman Field.  The 34-year old learned that he had earned a call-up to the Padres just hours earlier.

In December 2000, team operator Mandalay Entertainment re-branded the ball club as the “Las Vegas Area 51s”, in a cheeky nod to the U.S. government’s top secret Nevada facility that reputedly is packed to the rafters with dead and captured extra-terrestrials.  The 18-year relationship with the Padres came to an end at the same time and the Area 51s began play in the PCL as a Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate in April 2001.

 

==Slideshow==

 

==Links==

Pacific Coast League Media Guides

Pacific Coast League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

July 3rd, 2015 at 2:05 pm

1979-80 Utica Olympics

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Utica OlympicsContinental Basketball Association (1979-1980)

Born: 1979 – CBA expansion franchise.
Moved: Postseason 1980 (Atlantic City Hi Rollers)

Arena: Utica Memorial Auditorium

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Utica Olympics were a short-lived minor league basketball team in upstate New York.  The club existed for just a single season in the winter of 1979-80, competing in the Continental Basketball Association.

The Olympics finished in last place in the CBA’s Southern Division with a 15-31 record.

Professional basketball has never returned to Utica since the Olympics’ demise in 1980.

 

==Links==

Continental Basketball Association Media Guides

Continental Basketball Association Programs

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Written by andycrossley

July 1st, 2015 at 11:20 pm

1988-1996 Chicago Power

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Chicago Power ProgramAmerican Indoor Soccer Association (1988-1990)
National Professional Soccer League (1990-1996)

Born: 1988 – AISA expansion franchise.
Moved: August 23, 1996 (Edmonton Drillers)

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

 

The Chicago Power were an indoor soccer club formed in 1988.  The Power were basically a lower-budget successor to the Chicago Sting (1975-1988), the city’s popular and long-running pro side that went out of business in July of 1988.  Several weeks after the Sting closed their doors, a former Sting investor named Lou Weisbach purchased an expansion franchise in the American Indoor Soccer Association (AISA) and arranged a lease with the Sting’s former home, the Rosement Horizon, for the winter of 1988-89.

Karl-Heinz Granitza, the German striker who had been the Sting’s greatest star from 1979-1987, signed on as player-coach and part-owner.  Other former Sting regulars such as Batata, Bret Hall, Manny Rojas, and Teddy Krafft soon signed with the Power as well.

The team had a promising expansion campaign, advancing to the AISA championship series before losing to the Canton Invaders.  The Power’s sophomore season was less fortunate. Granitza, the club’s top scorer, broke his ankle in December 1989.  Two months later, he was fired as coach by Power owner Lou Weisbach during a lengthy losing streak and relinquished his 25% ownership stake in the team.

Weisbach fired the staff in the summer of 1990nd was on the verge of closing the team when white knight businessman Ron Bergstrom stepped in to rescue the Power on the eve of the 1990-91 season.  Bergstrom tried to lure back Granitza, but the German had had enough.  Instead, the new owner turned to Pato Margetic, another popular ex-Sting star of the early 80’s, for the player-coach role.

Margetic led the Power to their first and only championship season in the newly renamed National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) in the spring of 1991.  The Power swept the Dayton Dynamo in three straight games in the finals.

The Power’s fortunes faded after Ron Bergstrom withdrew financial support of the team following the 1993-94 season.  New owners failed to materialize but the NPSL was loath to lose the Chicago market, so the team tottered along as a league-operated doormat for two final seasons in 1994-95 and 1995-96.  The team also lost its long-time home at the suburban Rosemont Horizon after the popular Chicago Wolves minor league hockey team launched in 1994.

The Power were finally euthanized in August 1996 when Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington purchased the carcass of the club from the NPSL and moved it north of the border to Edmonton.

 

==Chicago Power Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1988-89

1988-89 11/11/1988 @ Canton Invaders ?? Program
1988-89 12/30/1988 @ Canton Invaders ?? Program
1988-89 2/26/1989 @ Canton Invaders L 19-4 Program

1989-90

1989-90 2/19/1990 @ Milwaukee Wave W 11-9 (OT) Program

1990-91

1990-91 11/25/1990 vs. Illinois Thunder ?? Program Game Notes

 

==Links==

National Professional Soccer League Media Guides

National Professional Soccer League Programs

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1974-1978 Golden Gaters

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Frew McMillan Golden GatersWorld Team Tennis (1974-1978)

Born: 1973 – WTT founding franchise
Folded: March 1979

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Golden Gaters tennis team was the Bay Area franchise in the kooky co-ed World Team Tennis league of the mid-1970’s.  Of the league’s original 16 franchises that debuted in 1974, the Golden Gaters were one of just two that remained standing in their original city when the league played its final season in 1978. (The Los Angeles Strings were the other).

Though the league considered the Golden Gaters to be its “San Francisco” franchise, the team played nearly all of its matches in blue-collar Oakland.  The exception came in 1975, when the Gaters played a handful of playoff dates at the Cow Palace in Daly City.

World Team Tennis packaged tennis as a co-ed team sport played in major hockey arenas across the United States.  Each contest consisted of five matches – a single set of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.  Each game won equated to a point and cumulative team points determined the winner.  The league also dispensed with the stuffy decorum expected on the pro tour.  Loud cheering, rock music and cornball promotions were welcomed in World Team Tennis, often to the shock and befuddlement of the European tour pros who filled the league’s rosters.

The importance of the doubles game to WTT’s scoring system meant that the league attracted a lot of doubles specialists.  South African star Frew McMillan, a doubles champion at Wimbledon, the French Open and the U.S. Open, served as the Golden Gaters player-coach for all five seasons of play.  McMillan would earn WTT Coach-of-the-Year honors in 1975 and was named the league’s Male Most Valuable Player in 1977 and 1978.

Dutch stars Tom Okker and Betty Stove joined the Gaters in 1975 and helped the team to the first of two straight appearances in the WTT Championship Series.  The Golden Gaters would lose in the finals to the Pittsburgh Triangles in 1975 and to the New York Sets in 1976.

Following the 1978 season, the league fell victim to a crisis of confidence among its investors. Eight of the ten franchises folded in October and November of 1978.  The Golden Gaters hoped to continue, along with the Phoenix Racquets franchise.  But with just two active clubs remaining, World Team Tennis bowed to reality and shut its doors in March 1979.

World Team Tennis re-booted on a much smaller scale in 1981 and returned to Oakland.  But neither the Oakland Breakers (1981-1982) nor the Oakland Aces (1985-1986) managed to rekindle any enthusiasm for the Team Tennis concept and both clubs evaporated after just a handful of dates at the Coliseum Arena.

 

==Slideshow==

 

==Links==

World Team Tennis Media Guides

World Team Tennis Programs

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1985-1986 Springfield Fame

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Springfield Fame Pocket ScheduleUnited States Basketball League (1985-1986)

Born: 1985 – USBL founding franchise.
Folded: Postseason 1986

Arena: Springfield Civic Center

Team Colors:

Owner: Harry Gilligan

 

The Springfield Fame was a minor league basketball outfit that played two summer seasons in Western Massachusetts in the mid-1980’s.  Springfield is the host city of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which inspired the team’s name.

Though they lasted just two seasons, the Fame were noteworthy for two players that spent time on the roster. Michael Adams, an under-sized three-point specialist, played for the Fame in 1985 and 1986. (That’s him pictured on the team’s 1986 pocket schedule, above right). Adams kicked around the minor leagues in the USBL and the CBA for two years after graduating Boston College in 1985. He latched on for good in the NBA in the fall of 1986 and later became an All-Star for the Denver Nuggets. Adams retired in 1996 as one of the NBA’s all-time 3-point shooting threats.

In 1986, the Fame made national headlines by signing 27 year old women’s basketball legend Nancy Lieberman. Lieberman thus became the first female basketball player to play regular season minutes in a men’s pro league. Her contract reportedly paid the USBL’s league maximum salary in 1986 – $10,000 for the summer. Lieberman would play limited minutes throughout the first half of the USBL schedule before a thumb injury led to a premature ending to her historic season. Lieberman earned election to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996.

The Fame won the USBL’s inaugural championship in 1985 by virtue of having the league’s best regular season record at 19-6. Playoffs were planned, but ultimately scrapped as the new league worked out the bugs. Guard Tracy Jackson was named co-Player of the Year for 1985 and head coach Gerald Oliver earned the USBL’s Coach-of-the-Year honor.

Springfield was outstanding again in 1986 with a 23-10 record under new coach Henry Bibby. Despite their winning ways, the Fame folded quietly following the 1986 season.

Springfield Fame

 

==Links==

Lieberman Closes On a Dream“, Peter Alfano, The New York Times, June 10, 1986

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