Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1970 Sumter Indians

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Western Carolinas League (1970)

Born: December 1, 1969 – The Monroe (NC) Indians relocate to Sumter, SC.
Died: 1971 - Affiliate change to Sumter Astros.

Stadium: Riley Park

Team Colors:

Owner: Joe Buzas

 

The Sumter Indians were a South Carolina minor league baseball team that played for only one season in the summer of 1970.  Sumter was a new addition to the six-team Western Carolinas League, replacing a faltering Indians farm club that split the 1969 season between the small North Carolina cities of Statesville and Monroe.  The Indians were the first pro baseball team to call Sumter home since the Sumter Chicks of 1949-1950.

Notable players included 18-year old third baseman Buddy Bell and 21-year old pitcher Jim Kern.  Both became Major League All-Stars for the Cleveland Indians and later for the Texas Rangers.

Attendance was miserable with fewer than 300 spectators per game for the first two months of the 1970 season according to The Sumter Daily Item.  Following the 1970 season the Indians withdrew from Sumter and were replaced by the Houston Astros for the 1971 season.  The Astros also lasted just one season and Sumter went without pro baseball again from 1972 until 1985.

 

==Links==

Western Carolinas League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

April 7th, 2014 at 3:03 am

1966 Oneonta Red Sox

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New York-Penn League (1966)

Born: 1966 – The Wellsville Red Sox relocate to Oneonta, NY.
Died:1967 – Affiliation change to Oneonta Yankees

Stadium: Damaschke Field

Team Colors:

Owner: Joe Buzas

 

The Oneonta Red Sox were a Class A farm club in the New York-Penn League for one season in the summer of 1966.  A previous incarnation of the Oneonta Red Sox played in the Class C Can-Am League from 1946 to 1951.

The team featured a pair of teenage Red Sox prospects who would go on to long Major League careers in pitcher Ken Brett (brother of George) and outfielder Amos Otis.  The 1966 O-Sox finished 65-59-1 (yes, they had a tie), good for fourth place in the six team NY-Penn League.

The 1966 Oneonta club was one of dozens owned by legendary minor league operator Joe Buzas between 1958 and his death in 2003.  Buzas had close ties with the Boston Red Sox – he also operated their Class AA farm team in Pittsfield, Massachusetts at the time.

After his first season in Oneonta, Buzas sold the team to a local consortium led by Oneonta Mayor and longtime baseball booster Sam Nader.  During the same winter offseason, the Red Sox pulled their affiliation and the New York Yankees replaced them for the 1967 season.

 

==Links==

New York-Penn League Media Guides

New York-Penn League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

April 7th, 2014 at 2:31 am

1964-1965 Raleigh Cardinals

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Carolina League (1964-1965)

Born: 1964 – Affiliation change from Raleigh Mets.
Died: 1966 – Affiliation change to Raleigh Pirates.

Stadium: Devereux Meadow

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

Raleigh, North Carolina hosted a franchise in the Carolina League from the formation of that loop in 1945 until.  During the city’s last decade in the league from 1962 to 1971, the ball club changed identities six times as Major League organizations kicked the affiliate back and forth every couple of years.

The St. Louis Cardinals came in for two summers in 1964 and 1965. George Kissell managed the Cards in 1964 and Ray Hathaway helmed the team in 1965.

The best player to come out of Raleigh during the Cards era was pitcher Mike Torrez, who went 4-8 for the team as an 18-year old in 1965.  Torrez went on to win 185 games in an 18-year Major League between 1967 and 1984.

The Pittsburgh Pirates took over the affiliation in 1966 and the team was re-named the Raleigh Pirates. Devereux Meadow ballpark was demolished in 1979.

 

==Links==

Carolina League Media Guides

Carolina League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

April 6th, 2014 at 7:44 pm

1966-1974 Modesto Reds

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California League (1966-1974)

Born: 1966
Died:
1975 – Affiliation change to Modesto A’s.

Stadium: Del Webb Field

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Modesto Reds were a Class A minor league baseball team in the California League from 1966 to 1974.  Contrary to what you might expect, the Reds were not a farm club of the Cincinnati Reds.  Rather “Reds” was a traditional name for Modesto ball clubs, dating back to the original Reds of the California State League (1914-1915) and a prior Postwar incarnation of the Reds that operated from 1946-1961.

In 1966 Modesto was a Kansas City Athletics affiliate and from 1967 through 1974 the Reds were part of the St. Louis Cardinals’ system.  Both Major League parents had terrific farm systems and a parade of future Major Leaguer stars spent time in Modesto during the latter-day Reds era:

Serving the Athletics in 1966, Modesto had an incredible roster that included three future Hall-of-Famers in Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson and Tony LaRussa along with future Oakland A’s All-Stars Dave Duncan and Joe Rudi.

In 1968, the Reds featured three future National League All-Stars in outfielders Jose Cruz and Willie Montanez and catcher Ted Simmons.  Pitcher Pedro Borbon, who would win two World Series titles with the Cincinnati Reds in the mid-1970′s, was also on this unusually deep (for Class A) ball club.

Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky pitched for Modesto as a 19-year old first round draft pick in the summer of ’69.  He went 8-2 in Modesto and was in the Majors a year later, where the colorful closer would stay for 13 seasons.

A weak-hitting third baseman named Bob Forsch spent parts of two summers in Modesto in 1969 and 1970.  In 1970 Forsch hit a meager .149 with 21 strikeouts in 47 at-bats.  The following year the Cardinals converted Forsch to pitcher.  During a 16-year career in the Majors, Forsch would win 168 games, pitch two no-hitters, and win a World Series with the Cards in 1982.

One of Forsch’s teammates on the 1970 Modesto team was 21-year old outfielder Bake McBride.  McBride won the 1974 National League Rookie-of-the-Year award in St. Louis and played in the Bigs for 10 seasons.

19-year old pitcher John Denny went 7-5 for Modesto in 1972.  A decade later Denny won the National League Cy Young Award for the Philadelphia Phillies, helping lead that club to a World Series visit.

In 1975 Modesto shifted back to the Athletics minor league system after eight seasons with St. Louis.  With the change in parents the club was renamed the Modesto A’s that spring.  The California League franchise continues to play in Modesto today and has been known as the Modesto Nuts since its most recent (2005) re-branding.

 

==Links==

California League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

March 14th, 2014 at 12:11 am

2000 Jackson DiamondKats

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Texas-Louisiana League (2000)

Born: 2000 – Texas-Louisiana League expansion team.
Died: Postseason 2000 – The DiamondKats cease operations.

Stadium: Smith-Wills Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

For a quarter century, Jackson, Mississippi was the Eastern outpost of the Class AA Texas League.  From 1975 to 1999 the city hosted farm clubs for New York Mets and Houston Astros and saw future superstars such as Darryl Strawberry, Kevin Mitchell, Bobby Abreu, Billy Wagner, Carlos Guillen and Lance Berkman come through Smith-Wills Stadium on the way to the Majors.

But after the 1999 season the Astros and the Texas League pulled out of Jackson in favor of a brand new $25 million palace on offer in the Austin, Texas suburb of Round Rock.  The independent Texas-Louisiana League quickly filled to void, placing the Jackson DiamondKats franchise at Smith-Wills in time for the 2000 season.

The DiamondKats lone player of note – and the only one on the roster ever to play in the Bigs - was 10-year Major League veteran outfielder Mark Carreon.  Carreon was originally a draft pick of the New York Mets and actually spent the 1984 and 1985 seasons playing for the old Jackson Mets in the Texas League.  36 years old by this time, Carreon hit .340 for the DiamondKats, which placed him 9th in the Tex-La league in hitting, and then retired after the season.

Jackson fans weren’t impressed with the caliber of independent baseball after 25 years in the Texas League.  The DiamondKats averaged well under 1,000 fans per night and folded at the end of their first and only season in 2000.

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Written by andycrossley

March 6th, 2014 at 1:38 am