Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1995-1997 Minot Mallards

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Minot MallardsPrairie League (1995-1997)

Born: 1995
Died: 1997

Stadium: Corbett Field

Team Colors:

Owners: Don Ziegler & Sharon Ziegler


The Minot Mallards were a low-level pro baseball team that played three summers at tiny Corbett Field in Minot, North Dakota during the mid-1990’s.  The Mallards name was a tribute to the old Minot Mallards of the Class C Northern League who played from 1958 to 1962.

The new Mallards were part of the independent (no Major League affiliation) Prairie League, which featured teams in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

During the 1996 season, the Mallards featured a pair of former Major League journeymen on the roster.  40-year old outfielder Darrell Brown last played in the Bigs twelve years earlier for the Minnesota Twins.  36-year old infielder Brian Giles had a journeyman career with the Mets and a few other teams in the early-mid 80’s.

Former Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres first basemen Rob Nelson played for Minot in 1995.  Aside from Brown, Giles and Nelson, no other Mallards players ever played a Major League game.

The Minot Mallards and the Prairie League both folded after the 1997 season.


Written by andycrossley

August 12th, 2014 at 12:17 am

1962-1978 Quad City Angels

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Quad City AngelsMidwest League (1962-1978)

Born: 1962 – Affiliation change from Quad City Braves.
1979 – Affiliation change to Quad City Cubs.

Stadium: John O’Donnell Stadium (8,500)

Team Colors:



The Quad City Angels were a long-time Class A farm club of the California Angels based in Davenport, Iowa.  This original version of the Angels played 17 seasons from 1962 until 1978.  In 1979, the ball club shifted Major League affiliations to the Chicago Cubs and was known as the Quad City Cubs from 1979 through 1984.  California then returned for a second tour as parent club from 1985 to 1991 and the Quad City Angels identity was revived for those years.  That second Quad City Angels team will be covered in a separate FWIL entry.

Key players to spend time in Quad City during the first Angels era included Dave LaRoche (1967-1968), Frank Tanana (1972), Jerry Remy (1973), Willie Aikens (1975), Carney Lansford (1976), Dickie Thon (1976) and Alan Wiggins (1978).  Future Tampa Bay Rays managed Joe Maddon played for the club as a 22-year old in 1976.

The Angels won Midwest League titles in 1968 and 1971.


==Quad City Angels Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
1976 7/2/1976 vs. Burlington Bees W 5-4 Program


==In Memoriam==

Alan Wiggins (Quad City ’78) died of AIDS on January 6, 1991.  Wiggins was the first Major League player reported to have died of the disease.



Midwest League Media Guides

Midwest League Programs


1977-1981 San Jose Missions

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San Jose MIssionsPacific Coast League (1977-1978)
California League (1979-1981)

Born: October 1976 – The Sacramento Solons relocate to San Jose, CA.
1982 -Affiliation change to San Jose Expos.

Stadium: San Jose Municipal Stadium

Team Colors:

  • 1977: Green & Gold



The San Jose Missions baseball teams of 1977 to 1981 were actual two separate franchises, but we’ve consolidated them into one FWiL entry for simplicity’s sake.  The original Missions of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League arrived in the fall of 1976.  The club was the former Sacramento Solons (1974-1976) of the PCL, who had a nice following in the capital city but didn’t have a regulation baseball stadium.  The Solons played at Hughes Stadium,  a 22,000-seat football stadium with a left field wall only 250 feet away from home plate.  (In 1974 the Solons had two right-handed hitters belt over 50 home runs).  Solons owner Bob Piccinini made arrangements to lease his club to Joe Gagliardi, a part-owner of the Class A San Jose Bees (1962-1976) of the California League who dreamed of bringing triple-A baseball to the Bay Area.   Once the deal was struck in October 1976 the Bees cleared out to make room for the Pacific Coast League club, now re-named the San Jose Missions.

San Jose MissionsThe Missions were an Oakland A’s farm club in 1977 and a Seattle Mariners affiliate in 1978.  Despite the organizational shift, Rene Lachemann managed the team for both seasons, both of which saw the Missions finish in last place.

At the end of the 1978 season Piccinini unloaded the Missions for a reported $175,000 to a truck driver from Utah named Dennis Job.  The Pacific Coast League team moved to Ogden, Utah for the 1979 season and became an Oakland farm club once again, nicknamed the Ogden A’s.

The single-A California League, which had a long relationship with San Jose dating back to the 1940’s, quickly stepped into the breach and put a new team into San Jose’s Municipal Stadium for the 1979 season.   The new ballclub retained the “Missions” name and a parent club relationship with the Seattle Mariners.  Key players that played for the Missions during the California League/Mariners era included Bud Black (1979 & 1980), Dave Henderson (1979) and the #1 overall pick in the 1979 amateur draft, Al Chambers (1980), who turned out to be a colossal bust.

Seattle withdrew its affiliation after the 1980 season, forcing the Missions to play their final season in 1981 without the benefit of prospects from a Major League organization.  Following the 1981 season the Montreal Expos took over San Jose’s California League affiliation and the ball club was re-branded as the San Jose Expos for the 1982 campaign.

As of 2014, billionaire Save Mart grocery baron and former Missions owner Bob Piccinini is part of the ownership group of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.



Pacific Coast League Media Guides

Pacific Coast League Programs

California League Programs


1983-1988 Watertown Pirates

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Waterbury PiratesNew York-Penn League (1983-1988)

Born: 1983
Died: 1989 – Affiliation change to Watertown Indians.

Stadium: Duffy Fairgrounds

Team Colors:



The Watertown Pirates were the short season Class A farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the New York-Penn League for six seasons from 1983 through 1988.

Tim Wakefield WatertownSeveral future Major League stars spent a summer in upstate New York city during the Pirates era, including Jay Buhner (1984), Moises Alou (1986 & 1987) and Tim Wakefield (1988).  Wakefield was in his first summer of pro ball after the Pirates selected him in the 8th round of the 1988 amateur draft.  He would later spend 20 years in the Majors as a knuckleball pitcher, retiring in 2011.  But Wakefield played first base for Watertown and never pitched an inning.

The Pirates played in a glum little econo-park called the Alex Duffy Fairgrounds.  At the end of the 1988 season, the Pirates moved their NY-Penn affiliate across the border to Welland, Canada and the Cleveland Indians moved into Duffy Fairgrounds.  The re-branded Watertown Indians played from 1989 through 1998 before departing for a shiny new ballpark in Staten Island.  Given the severely outdated nature of Duffy Fairgrounds, it’s unlikely that pro baseball will ever return to Watertown without a new facility.  The Fairgrounds are currently used for collegiate amateur baseball in the summer.

The Watertown Pirates are of minor note among minor league industry types as the first pro sports investment for sports psychologist Dr. Eric Margenau.  Margenau bought the team in 1986 with his partner in United Sports Ventures, Jay Acton (who was a prolific minor league operator in his own right).  Margenau would go on to own upwards of 20 different minor league baseball, hockey and Arena Football teams from the 1980’s through the 2000’s.

That’s longtime Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Ed Ott plastered all over the cover of Watertown’s 1986 yearbook (above right).  Ott, who was part of Pittsburgh’s 1979 World Series championship team, managed Watertown in 1986.



New York-Penn League Media Guides

New York-Penn League Programs




Written by andycrossley

July 15th, 2014 at 12:58 am

1968-1969 Savannah Senators

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Savannah SenatorsSouthern League (1968-1969)

Born: November 1967 – The Washington Senators shift their Class AA farm club to Savannah.
Died: 1969

Stadium: Grayson Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Joe Buzas


Pro baseball returned to Savannah, Georgia in the spring of 1968 after a six-year absence. The new club was the Savannah Senators, Class AA affiliate of the American League’s Washington Senators.

The Savannah club formed out of the complicated annual re-shuffling and horse trading of Major League farm clubs.  Washington pulled their Class AA franchise out of York, Pennsylvania in the Eastern League in November 1967 and agreed to shift it to the Southern League and Savannah’s Grayson Stadium under the management of long-time minor league operator Joe Buzas.

The Savannah Senators didn’t fare well in either of their seasons in the Southern League.  In 1968 the Sens finished 57-79, avoiding last place in the six-team circuit thanks only to the ineptitude of the Evansville White Sox.  The 1969 squad, under field manager Hub Kittle, finished in the cellar at 59-76.

Kittle provided one of the Sens better moments in 1969.  The 52-year old manager, who made his own minor league debut as a 20-year old pitcher back in 1937, activated himself for a single game, becoming the oldest player in Southern League history.  Eleven years later, Kittle would do it again, activating himself as a 63-year old pitcher for the Class AAA Springfield (IL) Cardinals for a single game.  Kittle, who passed away in 2004, remains the only ballplayer to pitch professionally in six different decades.

Following the 1969 season, Savannah’s Major League affiliation passed from Washington to Cleveland and the ball club was re-branded as the Savannah Indians for the 1970 campaign.

Prominent Major Leaguers who spent time with the Savannah Senators included Larry Biitner, Toby Harrah and Fred Stanley.



Southern League Media Guides

Southern League Programs


Written by andycrossley

July 14th, 2014 at 1:34 am