Lively Tales About Dead Teams

April 17, 1971 – St. Louis Stars vs. New York Cosmos

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St. Louis Stars vs. New York Cosmos
April 17, 1971
Busch Stadium
Attendance: 3,701

North American Soccer League Programs
8 pages


This was a remarkable find earlier this month – a creased, somewhat frail paper program from the first match in the history of the famed New York Cosmos.  I inadvertently picked this up from a Missouri man cleaning out his closet of old St. Louis Stars (1967-1977) programs for $5 a piece.  A few hours after it arrived in my post office box earlier this week, a Cosmos collector from New Jersey plucked it away for $100.

The now historic contest was played at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium in peaceful anonymity in April 1971.  The Stars, owned by the stalwart Robert Hermann (for whom the NCAA’s Hermann Trophy is named), were one of the North American Soccer League’s more stable operations.  Nevertheless, fewer than 4,000 fans showed up to watch the Stars’ 5th season home debut.

The Cosmos earned a 2-1 road victory on this day.  Cosmos legend Randy Horton scored the first goal in team history while the game winner came from Ghanaian forward Wilberforce Mfum, a player who wasn’t even listed on the New York roster in the match program.  Inaccurate as it may have been, below is the Cosmos roster for the franchise’s first game, at least according to the Stars’ PR department.  You can grab the entire program in .PDF format in the Downloads section below.

No. Player Position
1 Conrad Kornek GK
2 Barry Mahay FB
3 Charles McCully HB
4 John Young CHB
5 Theodore Hasekidas CHB
6 Horst Meyer HB
7 Jaime Delgado OR
8 Ceyhan Yazar OR
9 Andy Mate CF
11 Jorge Siega OL
12 Radi Mitrovic CF
15 Siggy Stritzl HB
16 Randy Horton CF
19 Kilrakos Fitilas HB
20 Jan Steadman FB
21 Emanuel Kofie GK
24 Rudolph Pearce FB
Coach Gordon Bradley

One footnote for New York fans – that’s Dragan “Don” Popovic, player and assistant coach of the St. Louis Stars pictured on the cover and profiled inside.  Popovic later became a terrific indoor coach and led the New York Arrows to the first four championships of the Major Indoor Soccer League.




April 17, 1971 St. Louis Stars vs. New York Cosmos Match Program


Written by andycrossley

April 20th, 2014 at 4:33 pm

1939-1940 Dayton Wings

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Middle Atlantic League (1939-1940)

Born: 1939 – Re-branded from Dayton Ducks.
Died: 1941 – Switched back to Dayton Ducks.


Team Colors:



The Dayton Wings were a Class C farm club of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The Dayton franchise played in the Middle Atlantic League from 1933-1942 and was known as the “Dayton Ducks” for all of that time except for this two-year interlude in 1939-1940.  The Ducks took their name from the team’s owner and field manager, a cantankerous former catcher named Howard “Ducky” Holmes who played one week in the Majors for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1906 and later became a Major League umpire.  T

The Dayton club seems to have parted ways with Holmes in 1939 and felt the need to re-brand the team at the same time.  In 1941, Holmes regained control of the ball club and changed the name back to the Ducks.

The most prominent player to come out of Dayton during the Wings era was Wally Westlake, who appeared in 30 games for the club as a 19-year old outfielder in 1940.  Westlake eventually made the Majors in 1947 and stayed for ten seasons, appearing in nearly 1,000 games and hitting 127 home runs for six teams.



Mid-Atlantic League Programs


Written by andycrossley

April 20th, 2014 at 1:07 am

1997-1999 Corpus Christi Sharks

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Southwest Basketball League (1997-1999)

Born: October 16, 1997 - SWBL founding franchise.
Died: 1999 – The Sharks relocate to Sugarland, Texas.


Team Colors:

Owner: Charles E. Johnson


The Corpus Christi Sharks were part of an obscure, fly-by-night operation called the Southwest Basketball League which operated in Texas and Louisiana for parts of four seasons between 1997 and 2001.  The SWBL was introduced to the press and the public just three weeks before tip off of the first game in November 1997, leaving no time for the six founding clubs to make any sort of impact in their communities.

The Sharks were owned by league founder and Commissioner Charles Johnson, a former NBA agent. The league intended to play a 40-game schedule in 1997-98, but Johnson shut it down after just 14 games amidst a flurry of bounced paychecks in late December 1997.  The Sharks were the best team in the league at the time with an 11-3 record, but few would have noticed.  The team averaged just over 1,000 fans at Memorial Coliseum, which was the best figure in the league.

Surprisingly, the Sharks and the league regrouped for a second season in early 1999.  The Sharks downgraded from the city-owned Memorial Coliseum to a local high school gymnasium.  One of Charles Johnson’s former clients, the former Houston Rockets guard Robert Reid, coached the Sharks during their second and final season.  Reid would suit up for the team’s final home game at age 43 and score 4 points.  Crowds dwindled to little more than friends and family at Ray High School and the Sharks quietly moved to Sugarland, Texas prior to the Southwest Basketball League’s third season in the winter of 1999-00.

The SWBL teetered along in obscurity until 2001 and then disappeared.



1997-98 Corpus Christi Sharks Program


1994 Toronto Rockets

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American Professional Soccer League (1994)

Born: 1994 – The former North York Rockets join the APSL.
Died: 1995 – The Rockets cease operations.

Stadium: Etobicoke Centennial Stadium (6,000)

Team Colors: Blue & White

Owner: Antonio Fontana


The Toronto Rockets were a One-Year Wonder in the American Professional Soccer League (APSL), active for the summer of 1994 only.  The franchise originally formed in 1987 as the North York Rockets of the Canadian Soccer League,  a pro league that operated from 1987 to 1992.  After the CSL folded, the North York Rockets played a semi-pro schedule in the Canadian National Soccer League in 1993.

The Rockets moved to Toronto for the 1994 season and returned to professional status as a member of the eight-team APSL.  The APSL was the highest level of pro soccer in the United States or Canada at the time, but the league was in terrible shape.  For the past three years the league had struggled to round up enough viable clubs to stage a season.  1994 was no different.  The expansion Houston Force franchise was kicked out of the league after just one game, reducing the membership to seven clubs.

The Rockets were the weakest entry in the group, finishing in last place with a 5-15 record.  The Rockets also had the worst attendance in the APSL, attracting fewer than 1,500 fans per match to Etobicoke Centennial Stadium.  The club announced plans to return for the 1995 season, but pulled out of the league and disbanded shortly before the season got underway.



==1994 Toronto Rockets Results==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
7/1/1994 @ Montreal Impact ??
7/8/1994 vs. Seattle Sounders L 2-1
7/15/1994 vs. Montreal Impact W 1-0
7/20/1994 @ Fort Lauderdale Strikers ??
7/27/1994 vs. Montreal Impact W 1-0
7/29/1994 @ Montreal Impact ??
7/31/1994 vs. Montreal Impact L 3-0
8/5/1994 vs. Los Angeles Salsa L 2-1
8/12/1994 vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers W 1-0
8/17/1994 vs. Vancouver 86ers L 1-0
8/20/1994 @ Fort Lauderdale Strikers W 2-1
8/26/1994 @ Seattle Sounders
8/31/1994 vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers W 3-1
9/2/1994 @ Vancouver 86ers L 1-0
9/4/1994 @ Los Angeles Salsa
9/9/1994 vs. Colorado Foxes L 3-1
9/14/1994 vs. Croatian Stars (Exh.) W 1-0
9/17/1994 @ Seattle Sounders
9/20/1994 @ Fort Lauderdale Strikers
9/23/1994 vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers L 2-1
9/25/1994 @ Montreal Impact



APSL Media Guides

APSL Programs


Written by andycrossley

April 18th, 2014 at 12:26 am

1990-1994 Louisville IceHawks

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East Coast Hockey League (1990-1994)

Born: April 1990 – ECHL expansion franchise.
Died: 1994 – The IceHawks suspend operations and later move to Jacksonville, FL.

Arena: Broadbent Arena (6,410)

Team Colors: White, Black, Sunflower Yellow & Burnt Orange



The Louisville IceHawks were a minor league hockey outfit that played during the early years of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).  The club served as a second-tier farm club of the Chicago Blackhawks and Hartford Whalers during its inaugural season of 1990-91 and later supported the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning (1992-1993) and Pittsburgh Penguins (1993-1994).

Serial hockey investor Horn Chen acquired the club from founder Leo Hunstiger in the early 1990′s and operated the IceHawks during their final seasons at Broadbent Arena.  Chen shuttered the team following the 1993-94 season and the franchise went into inactive status for a year.  In 1995, Chen reanimated the team as the Jacksonville Lizard Kings (1995-2000).

In 1995 the ECHL returned to Broadbent Arena after a year’s absence with the formation of the Louisville River Frogs, who lasted three seasons from 1995 through 1998.



East Coast Hockey League Media Guides

East Coast Hockey League Programs



Written by andycrossley

April 15th, 2014 at 11:03 am