Lively Tales About Dead Teams

1978-1997 Memphis Chicks

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Memphis Chicks YearbookSouthern League (1978-1997)

Born: 1977
Died: 1997 – The Chicks relocate to Jackson, TN.

Stadium: Tim McCarver Stadium

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The re-hatched Memphis Chicks (1978-1997) were a popular Class AA minor league baseball entry in southwestern Tennessee for two decades.  The city’s previous ball club, Memphis Blues, left town amidst financial problems in late 1976, leaving Memphis as the largest American city without pro baseball in 1977.

Memphis real estate developer Avron Fogelman remedied that the following year with his acquisition of a franchise in the Class AA Southern League.  Fogelman was a serial sports investor who also held a piece of the Memphis Tams of the American Basketball Association and owned the Memphis Rogues of the North American Soccer League.  In 1983, he would become co-owner of the Kansas City Royals and the following summer would see the Royals become the new Major League parent club of the Chicks.

Fogelman was also a passionate collector and sports historian.  Upon launching the team in late 1977, he presided over a name change for the city’s baseball stadium from Blues Stadium to Tim McCarver Stadium.  The tribute was unusual in that Memphis native McCarver was not only still alive but, at just 35 years old, was still playing Major League Baseball.  Born one year apart, Fogelman and McCarver were reportedly Little League teammates in Memphis decades earlier.

The team also adopted the name of Memphis old Southern Association ball club, the Memphis Chicks (1912-1960).  McCarver had actually played for the Chicks during their final season in 1960.  The original “Chicks” were short for “Chickasaws”, a Native American tribe native to the region.  But the new Chicks of 1978 did not seem to claim the expanded Native American identity.

In their early years, the Chicks were a farm club of the Montreal Expos from 1978 to 1983.  The Expos had exceptional minor league talent and future All-Stars such as Tim Raines and Tim Wallach came through town in the late 1970’s.  These were also the peak years of Chicks attendance, with over 300,000 fans coming through the turnstiles each summer.  The club’s 1980 mark of 322,000 fans was the most for a Memphis team since 1948.

Memphis Chicks ProgramThe Chicks’ moment in the national spotlight arrived in 1986 when Fogelman signed Auburn’s Heisman Trophy winning running back to a baseball contract with the Kansas City Royals.  Jackson started his baseball career with the Chicks and landed the team on the cover of Sports Illustrated in July 1986.  Jackson hit .277 with 7 homers and 25 RBIs for the Chicks in 1986 and was in Kansas City by the end of the summer.

Fogelman sold the team in 1988 and the team changed hands several times in rapid succession over the next few seasons.  The Chicks won their only Southern League championship in 1990.  David Hersh, the team’s final owner, purchased the club in 1992.  Hersh made an aggressive push for a new ballpark to replace Tim McCarver Stadium, but failed to win over city leaders.  Blocked in Memphis, he moved the franchise to Jackson, Tennesee in 1998 where it became the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx.

The Chicks were immediately replaced with a Class AAA expansion team in the Pacific Coast League, the Memphis Redbirds, who began play in 1998.  Redbirds owner Dean Jernigan, who operated the club under an unusual not-for-profit model, was able to get the new ballpark built that Hersh could not.  $80.5 million AutoZone Park opened in 2000.

 

==Slideshow==

  • Felipe Alou Memphis Chicks
  • 81chicks-pennant
  • 80francona
  • 1981 Memphis Chicks Program
  • Memphis Chicks Program
  • Memphis Chicks Program
  • 83shootybabbitt
  • Memphis Chicks Program
  • Bo Jackson Memphis Chicks
  • 1987 Memphis Chicks
  • 1988 Memphis Chicks Program. Playoff edition
  • Memphis Chicks Program
  • Memphis Chicks Yearbook
  • 1991 Memphis Chicks Pocket Schedule

 

==Key Players==

  • Bo Jackson
  • Tim Raines

 

==Links==

Southern League Media Guides

Southern League Programs

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1973 New York Golden Blades

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New York Golden BladesWorld Hockey Association (1973)

Born: May 30, 1973- Re-branded from New York Raiders
Died: November 20, 1973 – The Golden Blades relocate to Cherry Hill, NJ.

Arena: Madison Square Garden

Team Colors:

Owner: Ralf Brent, Lee Matison & Lawrence Stern

 

The New York Golden Blades lasted for just 24 games and marked the grim conclusion to the World Hockey Association’s hopes to plant its flag in New York.  The WHA, a 1970’s rival to the NHL, originally hoped to place its New York Raiders franchise in the brand new Nassau Coliseum on Long Island in 1972.  But the senior circuit blocked the WHA from Nassau by hastily awarding the New York Islanders expansion club to Long Island.  The Raiders wound up in Manhattan, getting pushed around by the New York Rangers at the Madison Square Garden.  The team’s original investors bailed and the league had to take over the Raiders two months into the WHA’s 1972-73 maiden season.

The league found a new buyer in the spring of 1973 with a consortium led by Ralf Brent.  Brent’s group took over the club and immediately changed the name from Raiders to “Golden Blades”.  The team, in fact, would wear white skates with gold colored blades.  The Golden Blades scored an early coup in the summer of 1973, signing the league’s reigning scoring champion Andre Lacroix away from the similarly troubled Philadelphia Blazers club.  Then things went south in a hurry.

The new owners were still saddled with the Raiders’ old lousy dates and expensive lease at the Garden.  And they turned out not to have any real money.  Brent & Co. missed their very first payroll in October 1973.  (At least the Raiders’ owners made two payrolls before evaporating the previous winter).  The WHA took over player payroll, but Brent and his partners were still responsible for funding the remaining operations of the Blades.  By November 1973 they were on the verge of eviction from Madison Square Garden.  The league stepped in on November 20th and seized the franchise.  The Golden Blades were swiftly shipped off to tiny 5,000 Cherry Hill Arena on the outskirts of Philadelphia and finished out the 1973-74 season as the “Jersey Knights”.

The WHA never returned to New York.  The league folded in 1979 following a merger that saw four of its teams join the NHL.

 

==Links==

World Hockey Association Media Guides

World Hockey Association Programs

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Written by andycrossley

March 25th, 2015 at 2:25 am

1986-1990 San Diego Nomads

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San Diego Nomads Media GuideWestern Soccer Alliance (1986-1988)
Western Soccer League (1989)
American Professional Soccer League (1990)

Born: 1986 – Western Soccer Alliance expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1990 – The Nomads drop to amateur/youth club status.

Stadiums:

Team Colors: White, Blue & Red

Owners:

 

The San Diego Nomads were a low-budget semi-pro/pro soccer club that competed during the late 1980’s, a period viewed as the Dark Ages for outdoor professional soccer in the United States.  After the demise of the North American Soccer League in 1984 there was no nationwide pro league in the country for the remainder of the decade.  The best players toiled indoors in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL), which was dominated by foreign players.

The city of San Diego happened to host the finest indoor team of the era.  The Sockers (1978-1996) were a former outdoor side turned indoor dynasty and they employed the highest paid soccer player in the United States at the end of the 1980’s – the Yugoslav striker Branko Segota, who earned $102,000 during the 1989-90 MISL season.

The Nomads entered the Western Soccer Alliance (1985-1988) quietly in the spring of 1986.  For the next four summers, the Nomads would compete as a semi-pro side.  U.S. National Team players like Marcelo Balboa and Paul Caligiuri played alongside high school players and moonlighting Sockers players such as Paul Dougherty and Paul Wright.

San Diego NomadsIn 1989, the Nomads won the Western Soccer League title with a semi-pro roster.  The victory earned them a meeting with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the East Coast-based American Soccer League to crown the so-called National Pro Soccer Champion.  The Strikers were a fully professional side, featuring many veterans of the old NASL.  The Nomads had three 17-year old high school players on the team and were missing five regular players for the title match due to NCAA commitments.  The Nomads took an early 1-0 lead, but ultimately were no match for the veteran Strikers and lost 3-1.  The match drew an impressive (for the era) 8,600 fans in the neutral site of San Jose’s Spartan Stadium on September 9th, 1989.

In 1990 the Western Soccer League merged with the American Soccer League to former the American Professional Soccer League (APSL).  Although teams continued to play a regional schedule, it was a baby step to the restoration of a fully professional league with a nationwide footprint.  The Nomads committed to field a pro side for the first time in 1990.  At the same time, the club shifted its home games from Balboa Stadium in San Diego to the campus of Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

The move to Chula Vista was a bust at the box office and the Nomads withdrew from professional play after the 1990 APSL season.  Like many lower-division American clubs of the 1990’s and 2000’s, the Nomads came to realize their real business was running academy programs at the youth level.  The Nomads still exist today as an academy program (www.nomadssoccer.org) and still use the same logo from their adult semi-pro/pro sides of a quarter century ago.

 

==San Diego Nomads Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1988

1988 6/19/1988 vs. F.C. Seattle Storm ?? Program

1989

1989 4/23/1989 vs. L.A. Heat L 2-1 (PKs) Program
1989 7/23/1989 vs. Portland Timbers W 1-0 (PKs) Program
1989 9/9/1989 Fort Lauderdale Strikers L 3-1 Program

1990

1990 4/7/1990 @ San Francisco Bay Blackhawks ?? Program
1990 8/4/1990 vs. California Emperors ?? Program

 

==Links==

American Professional Soccer League Media Guides

American Professional Soccer League Programs

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1962-1965 Jacksonville Robins

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Jacksonville Robins ProgramFlorida Football League (1962)
Southern Football League (1963-1965)

Born: 1962
Died: 1966 – Re-branded as the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Stadium: The Gator Bowl

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Jacksonville Robins were a minor league football club that played at the Gator Bowl for several seasons in the early-to-mid 1960’s.

The club’s chief organizer was Head Coach and General Manager Al Bassett and the Robins’ rosters featured a number of former Florida State Seminoles, including quarterback Ed Trancygier, running backs Happy Fick and Fred Pickard and tight end/kicker Possum Lee.

The Robins won the championship of the eight-team Southern Football League in 1963.  Pickard dominated the circuit, leading the league in rushing, receiving, touchdowns and total scoring.  In the Championship Game against the Daytona Beach Thunderbirds on November 29th, 1963, Pickard also picked off two passes on defense to help seal the Robins’ 13-7 victory.  Only 2,000 fans showed up on a 40-degree night at the Gator Bowl for the title game.

The Southern Football League collapsed after the 1965 season and Jacksonville joined the North American Football League for the 1966 campaign.  As part of the league shift, the team changed its name to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The NAFL and all of its teams went out of business after the 1966 season.

 

==Jacksonville Robins Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1964

1964 9/26/1974 vs. Chattanooga Cherokees ?? Program

 

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Written by andycrossley

March 20th, 2015 at 10:22 pm

1973-1977 Winston-Salem Polar Twins

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Winston-Salem Polar Twins ProgramSouthern Hockey League (1973-1977)

Born: 1973 – SHL founding franchise.
Died: January 7, 1977 – The Polar Twins shutdown in midseason.

Arena: Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum (6,037)

Team Colors: Gold, Red & Blue

Owners:

 

The Winston-Salem Polar Twins were a rough-and-tumble mid-70’s minor league hockey outfit from deep in the heart of North Carolina tobacco country.  They had one of the great (or, at least, original) ice hockey names of all time and if you have a theory on the origin of this deeply weird name, please leave your explanation in the comments.

Originally owned by a group of 15 investors, the group suffered through a couple of tough seasons and by December 1975, the Polar Twins’ financial backers apparently dwindled to one guy named Ed Timmerman who couldn’t keep the club afloat.  Famed wrestling promoted Jim Crockett Jr. stepped in to take over the team and kept it going until January 1977.  The league’s championship trophy, the Crockett Cup, was named for Jim Jr.’s father, a long-time backer of the Charlotte Checkers minor league hockey team.

By January 1977, the Southern Hockey League was in dire straits, with several clubs dropping out midseason. Crockett declined to keep the Polar Twins going in light of the other SHL clubs dropping out of the league in early 1977 and folded the team on January 7, 1977.  Reduced to just three solvent teams, the rest of the Southern Hockey League closed its doors a few weeks later.

 

==Winston-Salem Polar Twins Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1974-75

1974-75 2/25/1975 vs. Roanoke Valley Rebels ?? Program

1975-76

1975-76 10/11/1975 @ Greensboro Generals  W 3-2 Program

 

==Links==

Southern Hockey League Programs

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