Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1963-1994 Spartanburg Phillies, Traders, Spinners & Suns

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Spartanburg PhilliesWestern Carolinas League (1963-1979)
South Atlantic League (1980-1994)

Born: 1963 – Western Carolinas League expansion franchise.
1995 – The Phillies relocate to Kannapolis, NC.

Stadium: Duncan Park

Team Colors:



For more than three decades, Spartanburg, South Carolina was one of the first destinatons for young prospects in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.  The city’s glory days as a Phillies farm club came in the mid-1960’s.  The Spartanburg Phillies won back-to-back Western Carolinas League titles in 1966 and 1967.  The 1966 Spartanburg club, featuring a middle infield combo of Larry Bowa and Denny Doyle, had a 91-35 record and was ranked #78 in the Top 100 minor league teams of all-time as chosen by the National Association in 2001.

Off the field, the Spartanburg teams of the mid-60’s were packaged and sold by Pat Williams, a young protégé of maverick promoter Bill Veeck and also of the Carpenter family that owned the Philadelphia Phillies.  Williams ran constant promotions and local fans responded.  In 1966, Spartanburg re-wrote the single season Class A attendance record.  Williams – a young man in his mid-20’s during his time in Spartanburg – would go on to become one of the mostly highly respected chief executives in the NBA, as General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s.

Spartanburg PhilliesThe Phils enjoyed another run of league dominance in the early 1970’s, winning Western Carolinas League crowns in 1972, 1973 and 1975.  But by the 1970’s, both Williams and the crowds were long gone.  Attendance at Duncan Park during the 1970’s was frequently under 500 fans per night, reflecting the broader existential crisis in minor league baseball around the country during that era.

As the 1980’s dawned, the Western Carolinas League re-branded itself as the South Atlantic League.  Spartanburg continued its long-time relationship with the Philadelphia Phillies, but starting in 1981 the team adopted a series of new names.  The ball club was known first as the Spartanburg Traders (1981-1982), then the Spartanburg Spinners (1983) and finally the Spartanburg Suns (1984-1985).  Meanwhile, in 1984, the Most Valuable Players of both the American League (Willie Hernandez) and the National League (Ryne Sandberg) were former members of the Spartanburg Phillies.

In 1986 the team took back the traditional Spartanburg Phillies name.  Two seasons later, the Spartanburg Phillies won the 1988 South Atlantic League crown, which would prove to be the city’s final minor league championship.

By the early 1990’s, Duncan Park was badly outdated and no longer met the minimum Class A standards set by the National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. Spartanburg’s attendance consistenly ranked last in the South Atlantic League by this point.   While numerous small mid-Atlantic cities were willing to help finance new ballparks to lure minor league baseball, Spartanburg didn’t show the political will to upgrade Duncan Park.  Late era owner Brad Shover entertained numerous offers for the team in the 1990’s before finally closing a deal with NASCAR team owner Larry Hedrick in late 1993.  Hedrick operated the Phillies for one lame duck season in Spartanburg in 1994 before moving the team to a new ballpark in Kannapolis, North Carolina in 199

At the time of the move in 1995, the Philadelphia Phillies and the city of Spartanburg had the 5th longest relationship between a Major League ballclub and a minor league community.  The former Spartanburg franchise plays on today as the Kannapolis Intimidators.



Western Carolina League Programs

South Atlantic League Media Guides

South Atlantic League Programs


1999-2010 Schaumburg Flyers

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Schaumburg Flyers ProgramNorthern League (1999-2010)

Born: 1999 – The Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks relocate to Schaumburg, IL.
Died: March 2011 – The Flyers cease operations.

Stadium: Alexian Field

Team Colors:

Owners: Richard Ehrenreich, et al.


The Schaumburg Flyers were a minor league baseball team that played in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois from 1999 until 2010.  The Flyers competed in the Northern League, an “independent” circuit whose members had no affiliation with Major League Baseball parent clubs.

7,600-seat Alexian Field was constructed at a cost of approximately $20 million to lure the club from Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1999.  Popular former White Sox slugger Ron Kittle was the Flyers’ field manager for the first three seasons of the team’s existence from 1999 through 2001.

Team owner Rich Ehrenreich began to fall behind on lease payments for Alexian Field in 2007.  By the end of the 2010 Northern League season, the team’s accumulated debt and penalties exceeded $900,000.  Efforts to sell the team to poorly vetted buyers fell through in 2010 and led to litigation.  Meanwhile, the Northern League folded after the 2010 season, but the Flyers announced plans to play on in a dubious sounding enterprise known as the North American League.  Before the Flyers could join the new league, they were evicted from Alexian Field in March 2011 over their unpaid bills and went out of business.

After a summer without baseball in 2011, the Flyers were replaced by the Schaumburg Boomers of the independent Frontier League in 2012.



Northern League Media Guides

Northern League Programs


Written by andycrossley

November 21st, 2014 at 8:57 pm

1968-1974 Amarillo Giants

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Amarillo Giants ProgramTexas League (1968-1970 & 1972-1974)
Dixie Association (1971)

Born: 1968: Affiliation change from Amarillo Sonics.
Died: October 1974: The Giants relocate to Lafayette, LA.

Stadium: Potter County Memorial Stadium

Team Colors:


  • 1968-1973: San Francisco Giants
  • 1974: Steve Daly


The Amarillo Giants were a Class AA farm club of the San Francisco Giants in the Texas League from 1968 through 1974.

Key prospects to come through Amarillo during the Giants era included:

  • Dave Kingman (Team best 15 home runs in 1970)
  • Chris Speier (66 RBIs in 1970)
  • Steve Stone (9 wins in 1970).
  • Gary Matthews (15 HR and 86 RBI for Amarillo in 1971)
  • Future National League Rookie-of-the-Year John Montefusco (8 wins in 1974)

The San Francisco Giants owned and operated the ball club directly from 1968 through 1973.  In 1974 the Giants sold the club to veteran minor league exec Steve Daly, who operated the team for its final season in Amarillo.  Immediately after the 1974 season concluded, Daly sold the team to a new owner who moved it to Lafayette, Louisiana where the team was known as the Lafayette Drillers (1975-1976).

After a one-year hiatus without baseball, the Texas League returned to Amarillo and Memorial Stadium with the formation of the Amarillo Gold Sox (1976-1982) in 1976.



Texas League Media Guides

Texas League Programs


1988 Maine Phillies

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Maine Phillies ProgramInternational League (1988)

Born: January 1988 – Re-branding of the Maine Guides.
Died: 1989 – The Phillies relocate to Scranton-Wilkes Barre, PA.

Stadium: The Ball Park at Old Orchard Beach

Team Colors:

Owner: John McGee, et al.


The Maine Phillies were the top farm club of the Philadelphia Phillies in the summer of 1988.

The franchise, based in the vacation hamlet of Old Orchard Beach, was formerly known as the Maine Guides from 1984 through 1987.  The team re-branded as the Maine Phillies in early 1988 following a contentious two-year legal battle between Guides founder Jordan Kobritz and a Scranton, Pennsylvania group called Northeastern Baseball, headed by John McGee.

Kobritz agreed to sell the Guides from and their membership in the Class AAA International League to McGee in 1986 for $2 million.  The contract also called for the transfer of the Class AA Waterbury (CT) Indians of the Eastern League from Northeastern Baseball to Kobritz – at least in Kobritz’s opinion.  The original concept in 1986 was that McGee would take the Guides to Pennsylvania, where it would become the top minor league affiliate of the Phillies and become known as the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Red Barons in 1989, when a new $22 million triple-A stadium opened in 1989.  Kobritz, meanwhile, would continue playing minor league ball at The Ball Park in Old Orchard Beach in the Eastern League with the former Waterbury franchise.

The deal started to go sideways in September 1986 when McGee’s group turned over the struggling Waterbury franchise to the Eastern League itself, as compensation for rights to the Scranton market.  That meant that Kobritz could bid on the former Waterbury club, but wouldn’t have the exclusive option on the team he expected.  (The former Waterbury franchise would eventually land in Williamsport, PA).  Kobritz refused to move forward with the sale and filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in October 1986. Two sides battled in court for control of the franchise for the next year.  Kobritz won the early rounds of litigation and held onto to control of the Guides for the 1987 season.  But the tide turned on the Guides founder in a series of rulings in late 1987 and early 1988 that stripped his control of the franchise and the minor league territorial rights for Maine and awarded them to McGee.  Kobritz took his appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but lost his final battle in February 1988.

Finally in control of the ball club in January 1988, McGee dropped the Guides nickname and announced plans for the club to play on final lame duck season in Old Orchard Beach as the Maine Phillies.  In 1989, the new stadium in Scranton would be finally be ready after construction delays and the team would finally move to Pennsylvania.

During their only season, the Maine Phillies finished in last place in the International League’s East Division with a 62-80 record.

Pro baseball never returned to Old Orchard Beach after the departure of the Phillies in 1988.  The Ball Park fell into extreme disrepair in the 2000’s, but a community effort to renovate the 25-year old structure in 2009 led to the return of amateur/summer collegiate ball in the summer of 2011.



International League Media Guides

International League Programs


Written by andycrossley

November 9th, 2014 at 3:09 pm

1984-1992 Kenosha Twins

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Kenosha Twins ProgramMidwest League (1984-1992)

Born: 1984 – The Wisconsin Rapids Twins relocate to Kenosha.
Died: 1992 – The Twins relocate to Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Stadium: Simmons Field (3,000)

Team Colors:



The Kenosha (WI) Twins were the Class A farm club of the Minnesota Twins from 1984 until 1992.  The team played at historic Simmons Field (erected in 1920), which received a $350,000 face lift when the former Wisconsin Rapids Twins relocated to Kenosha in 1984.  The owner of the team was Bob Lee, Sr., a local plumbing contractor who had played minor league baseball as a young man.

The Twins won Midwest League championships in 1985 and 1987.  Future Major League All-Stars Chuck Knoblauch, Denny Neagle and Brad Radke headlined the prospects who came up through Kenosha in this era.

By the early 1990’s, attendance in Kenosha ranked near the bottom of the Midwest League.  Simmons Field no longer met the minimum facility standards established by the 1990 Professional Baseball Agreement, which delineated the relationship between Major League Baseball teams and their farm clubs.  At the end of the 1991 season, Bob Lee sold the team to Eric Margenau, a prolific minor league investor from New York City.  Margenau kept the ball club for one last lame duck season in 1992.  Margenau moved the team to Fort Wayne, Indiana for the 1993 Midwest League season where it became known as the Fort Wayne Wizards.



1986 Kenosha Twins Ticket & Advertising Brochure



Midwest League Media Guides

Midwest League Programs


Written by andycrossley

November 7th, 2014 at 1:21 am