Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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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:

Owners:

 

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.

 

==Downloads==

1986 Kenosha Twins Ticket & Advertising Brochure

 

==Links==

Midwest League Media Guides

Midwest League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

November 7th, 2014 at 1:21 am

1999-2009 Oneonta Tigers

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Oneonta Tigers ProgramNew York-Penn League (1999-2009)

Born: October 7, 1998 – Affiliation change from Oneonta Yankees.
Died: January 27, 2010 – The Tigers relocate to Norwich, CT.

Stadium: Damaschke Field

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Oneonta Tigers were the short-season Class A farm club of the Detroit Tigers for a decade between 1999 and 2009.

Tiny Oneonta (pop. 13,000), located just 30 minutes from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, was a mainstay in the New York-Penn League for more than 40 years, beginning with the arrival of the Oneonta Red Sox in 1966.  For virtually that entire run, the ball club was owned and championed by former Oneonta Mayor Sam Nader, who controlled the team from 1967 until 2008.  Under the management of Nader’s Oneonta Athletic Corp., Damaschke Field was a dry building and, by the early 21st century, the only team in organized baseball that didn’t sell alcoholic beverages.

Oneonta Tigers ProgramThe stadium construction boom of the 1990’s and 2000’s brought the previously sleepy New York-Penn League into sparking facilities in larger cities like Brooklyn, Lowell (Mass.) and Staten Island.  Small New York cities and towns like Geneva, Little Falls and Watertown with aging, no-frills ballparks became an endangered species in the league.  That Oneonta hung in as long as it did is largely a tribute to Nader, who reportedly turned down multiple offers for the franchise over the years.   By 2008, however, Nader was nearly 89 years old and Tigers attendance consistently ranked at the bottom of the league at around 1,000 patrons per game.   That July, Nader sold the club to veteran minor league investor Miles Prentice, who already owned the Huntsville (AL) Stars of the Southern League and the Midland (TX) Rockhounds of the Texas League.

The sale terms included a provision that Prentice would keep the team in Oneonta through the 2010 season.  However, after playing one final season in the Oneonta in 2009, Prentice moved the team to Norwich, Connecticut in January 2010.  The franchise plays on today as the Connecticut Tigers.   The Tigers were replaced at Damaschke Field by the amateur Oneonta Outlaws of the New York Collegiate Baseball League.

 

==Links==

New York-Penn League Media Guides

New York-Penn League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

November 2nd, 2014 at 8:48 pm

1993-1995 Portsmouth Explorers

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Portsmouth Explorers ProgramFrontier League (1993-1995)

Born: 1993 – Frontier League founding franchise.
Died: Postseason 1995

Stadium: Branch Rickey Park

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Portsmouth Explorers were an independent professional baseball team in the small (pop. 20,000) Southern Ohio city of Portsmouth during the mid-1990’s.  The Explorers were one of eight original members of the Frontier League (1993-present), which is the oldest independent baseball league in the country at the time of this writing.

The Explorers finished in 7th place with a losing for three consecutive seasons from 1993 until 1995.  None of the men who played for the Explorers ever played in the Major Leagues.

The ball club ultimately could not sustain itself.  The Explorers averaged fewer than 1,000 fans per game in all three seasons they played.  Pro baseball has never returned to Portsmouth, Ohio since the Explorers disbanded in 1995.

 

==Downloads==

1993 Portsmouth Explorers Scorecard

 

==Links==

Frontier League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

November 1st, 2014 at 8:33 pm

1988-1993 South Bend White Sox

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South Bend White Sox ProgramMidwest League (1988-1993)

Born: 1986 – Midwest League expansion franchise.
Died:
1994 – Re-branded as the South Bend Silver Hawks.

Stadium: Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The South Bend White Sox were the Midwest League Class A farm club of the Chicago White Sox for six seasons from 1988 until 1993.  Located 90 miles southeast of Chicago’s Comiskey Park, the White Sox were South Bend’s first professional baseball team since 1954, when the South Bend Blue Sox of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League went of business.  The franchise was announced in the mid-1980’s and was years in development before its April 1988 debut. Construction of Coveleski Stadium to host the team took the better part of two years and original owner Bob Staley actually sold the ball club before the team finally took the field.

The White Sox went on to win Midwest League championships in 1989 and 1993.

Future Hall-of-Famer Carlton Fisk, 44 years old at the time, played one game for South Bend in 1992 on a rehab assignment from Chicago.  He hit a home run in his first minor league game since 1971.  Former Major Leaguer Terry Francona managed the 1992 South Bend squad.  He would later win two World Series championships (2003 & 2007) as skipper of the Boston Red Sox.

Following the 1993 season, the White Sox were re-branded as the South Bend Silver Hawks, in tribute to the Studebaker Silver Hawk automobiles that rolled off South Bend assembly lines from 1957 to 1959.  Despite the name change, the team remained a White Sox farm club for several more summers until 1997.  The South Bend franchise remains active in the Midwest League today and is currently known ast the South Bend Cubs.

 

==Links==

Midwest League Media Guides

Midwest League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

November 1st, 2014 at 6:55 pm

1978-1981 Springfield Redbirds

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Springfield Redbirds ProgramAmerican Association (1978-1981)

Born: 1978 – The New Orleans Pelicans relocate to Springfield, IL.
Died: November 11, 1981 – The Redbirds relocate to Louisville, KY.

Stadium: Lanphier Park

Team Colors:

Owner: A. Ray Smith

 

The Springfield Redbirds were a Class AAA farm club of the St. Louis Cardinals that played for four summers at Springfield, Illinois’ Lanphier Park.

Key future Major Leaguers who came through Springfield during this era included Leon Durham (1979-1980), Tom Herr (1978-1980), Terry Kennedy (1978-1979), Donnie Moore (1980-1981) and Ken Oberkfell (1978) among others.

The Redbirds won the 1980 championship of the American Association, with Hal Lanier as field manager.

Prior to the Redbirds final season in Springfield in 1981, team owner A. Ray Smith signed a six-year contract with the city of Springfield to lease Lanphier Park for $50,000 per season through 1986.  But at the end of that summer, smelling a sweeter deal in Louisville, Kentucky, Smith broke the lease and uprooted his club for the second time in five years.  The American Association owners voted 7-1 to allow the move in November 1981.  The city of Springfield responded with a lawsuit against Smith and the league in December.

Ultimately, Smith paid a six-figure settlement to the city of Springfield and was allowed to run off to Kentucky.  In Louisville, the Redbirds became one of the top minor league attractions of the 1980’s and the first minor league team to attract one million fans in a single season in 1983.  Springfield, meanwhile, received a Class A Midwest League farm club – the Springfield Cardinals – in 1982 to replace the departing Redbirds.  The Cardinals played from 1982 until 1993.

 

==Links==

American Association Media Guides

American Association Programs

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Written by andycrossley

October 12th, 2014 at 2:04 pm