Lively Tales About Dead Teams

1977-1993 Geneva Cubs

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Geneva CubsNew York-Penn League (1977-1993)

Born: 1977
Moved: 1993 (Williamsport Cubs)

Stadium: McDonough Park

Major League Affiliation: Chicago Cubs

Owners:

New York-Penn League Champions: 1978, 1987 & 1992

 

The Geneva Cubs were the short-season Class A farm club of the Chicago Cubs for nearly two decades. The small city of approximately 13,000 is part of the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Despite Geneva’s long run with the Cubs, remarkably few impact Major League players ever came through McDonough Park. The Cubs’ top prospects of the era, Mark Grace and Rafael Palmeiro, both bypassed Geneva. The best known Major Leaguers to come out of Geneva during the Cubs years were Billy Hatcher (Geneva ’81), Jamie Moyer (Geneva ’84) and Brendan Donnelly (Geneva ’93).

Local owner Paul Velte moved the team to Williamsport, Pennsylvania after the 1993 season.

 

Geneva Cubs Memorabilia

 

Links

Our Towns; A 4-30 Managed Learns to Play Utility Infielder“, Michael Winerip, The New York Times, July 22, 1988

New York-Penn League Media Guides

New York-Penn League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

June 24th, 2017 at 3:15 pm

1969-1997 Tucson Toros

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Tucson TorosPacific Coast League (1969-1997)

Born: 1969
Re-Branded: 1998 (Tucson Sidewinders)

Stadium: Hi Corbett Field

Major League Affiliations:

  • 1969-1972: Chicago White Sox
  • 1973-1976: Oakland A’s
  • 1977-1979: Texas Rangers
  • 1980-1996: Houston Astros
  • 1997: Milwaukee Brewers

Owners:

PCL Champions: 1991 & 1993

 

Text coming soon…

 

Tucson Toros Memorabilia

 

Links

Pacific Coast League Media Guides

Pacific Coast League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

June 13th, 2017 at 2:45 am

1955-1963 Boise Braves

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Boise BravesPioneer League (1955-1963)

Born: 1955 – Affiliation change from Boise Pilots
Folded: 1963

Stadium:

Major League Affiliation: Milwaukee Braves

Owners: Capital City Baseball Inc. (Sib Kleffner, et al.)

Pioneer League Champions: 1956, 1958 & 1960

 

The Boise Braves were a Class C farm club of the Milwaukee Braves from 1955 until 1963. (The Idahoans were Class A for their final season following the 1963 re-organization of Minor League Baseball).

Notable players who came through Boise during this era included Sandy Alomar Sr. (Boise ’62), Clay Carroll (Boise ’62), Tony Cloninger (Boise ’59), Lee Maye (Boise ’55) and Bob Uecker (Boise ’56 & ’58).

In 1960, a 24-year old infielder named Bill Lucas hit .311 for Boise in 123 games. Lucas never made the Majors as a player. But in 1976 he became the first African-American general manager in Major League Baseball with the Atlanta Braves. Technically, Lucas’ title was Director of Player Personnel, as Braves owner Ted Turner retained the General Manager title, if not the duties, for himself. Tragically his time with the Braves was short. Lucas died of a massive heart attack on May 4th, 1979 at the young age of 43.

The team encountered financial problems by the early 1960’s. In August 1963 local shareholders known as Capital City Baseball Inc. notified the Pioneer League that the franchise planned to disband at the end of the 1963 season.  A few months after the Braves final campaign ended, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game purchased the Braves’ former ballpark and demolished it. Boise went without professional baseball for more than a decade until the formation of the Pioneer League’s Boise A’s in 1975.

 

In Memoriam

Bill Lucas (Boise ’60) died of cardiac arrest and cerebral hemorrhage on May 4, 1979 at age 43. New York Times obituary.

Al Unser, who managed Boise in 1962, passed on July 7, 1995 at the age of 82.

Lee Maye (Boise ’57) passed away of pancreatic cancer at age 67 on July 17, 2002.

 

Links

Pioneer League Media Guides

Pioneer League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

June 4th, 2017 at 2:28 pm

1991-92 Music City Jammers

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Music City JammersGlobal Basketball Association (1991-1992)

Born: 1991 – GBA founding franchise
Moved: 1992 (Jackson Jammers)

Arena: Nashville Municipal Auditorium

Team Colors:

Owner: Larry Schmittou, et al.

GBA Champions: 1992

 

The Music City Jammers were a Nashville-based minor league basketball outfit that lasted for just one season in the early 1990’s. The club was part of the Global Basketball Association, an all-but-forgotten loop with teams in the Southeast and Midwest. The managing partner of the Jammers was Larry Schmittou, long-time owner of Nashville’s popular Nashville Sounds minor league baseball club.

Schmittou wasn’t able to translate his magic touch from the baseball diamond to Nashville’s leaky Municipal Auditorium. A January 1992 profile of the Jammers in The Tennessean reported that the Jammers averaged fewer than 400 paid tickets per game through the team’s first 11 home dates.

On the court, the Jammers were mediocre. The team finished the regular season in 4th place in their division and barely earned the GBA’s eighth and final playoff spot. In fact, Music City’s record of 24-40 was second worst in the league. But the Jammers got hot at the right time. They eliminated the Huntsville Lasers in the first round and dispatched the Mid-Michigan Great Lakers in the semis. To cap it off, the Jammers knocked off the Greensboro City Gaters in the finals to claim the Global Basketball Association’s first (and only) championship.

Low attendance in Nashville forced Larry Schmittou to move the Jammers to Jackson, Tennessee.  The re-named Jackson Jammers returned to defend their title in November of 1992. But the Global Basketball Association came apart one month into its second season and folded on December 19, 1992.

Links

Global Basketball Association Pocket Schedules

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Written by Drew Crossley

May 29th, 2017 at 11:02 pm

1997-1999 Raleigh Cougars

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1997 Raleigh Cougars Pocket ScheduleUnited States Basketball League (1997-1999)

Born: 1997
Folded: June 7, 1999

Arena: Dorton Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Clyde Austin

USBL Championships: None

 

The Raleigh Cougars low-level minor league basketball outfit founded by former N.C. State star and Harlem Globetrotter Clyde “The Glide” Austin. The team’s name recalled the old Carolina Cougars club that played in the American Basketball Association in the early 1970’s. The original ABA Cougars played in various arenas around North Carolina, including Raleigh’s Dorton Arena, where Austin’s team set up shop a quarter century later.

The Cougars’ biggest name was Lorenzo Charles, who famously slammed home a buzzer-beating dunk to life N.C. State to the 1983 NCAA championship over the University of Houston.

As the Cougars prepared for their third season in the United States Basketball League in 1999, it was clear that something wasn’t right. The team held no training camp. Clyde Austin no-showed a league owner’s meeting and bounced his payroll. The Raleigh Cougars managed to play 13 games, posting a 5-8 record, before USBL Commissioner Daniel Meisenheimer euthanized the club on June 7th, 1999 with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

It later emerged the Clyde Austin was running a multi-state pyramid scheme during the time he was involved in the USBL. Serving as a pastor in churches from North Carolina to Nevada, Austin swindled parishioners out of an estimated $16 million between 1996 and 2000. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison in 2004.

Links

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Written by Drew Crossley

May 29th, 2017 at 7:36 pm

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