Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1919-1930 Pittsfield Hillies

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Pittsfield Hillies ProgramEastern League (1919-1930)

Born: 1919
Died: 1930

Stadium: Wahconah Park

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Pittsfield Hillies were a Depression-era minor league baseball team in the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts.  They played in the Class A Eastern League and won league titles in 1919 and 1921.

 

==Downloads==

On July 3, 2004 former Major League pitcher and Ball Four author helped promote a vintage baseball game at Wahconah Park (still in use today as one of the oldest ballparks in America).  At the time, Bouton was part of a group trying to acquire an independent pro baseball team for Pittsfield, an effort that ultimately fell through.  The vintage game featured teams playing as the Hillies and their old Eastern League rivals, the Hartford Senators.  The exhibition attracted around 5,000 fans and was broadcast live on ESPN Classic with Bill “Spaceman” Lee as the color man.

Re-matches were played in Hartford later that July and back again at Wahconah in September.  You can still download a copy of the Wahconah Park Times game programs for these exhibitions at Bouton’s website here:

July 3, 2004 – Pittsfield Hillies vs. Hartford Senators vintage baseball game program

September 4, 2004 – Pittsfield Hillies vs. Hartford Senators vintage baseball game program

 

==Links==

Eastern League Media Guides

Eastern League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

January 2nd, 2015 at 4:23 pm

1982-1994 Beloit Brewers

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Beloit Brewers Midwest League (1982-1994)

Born: 1982
Died:
1995 – Re-branded as the Beloit Snappers.

Stadium: Harry C. Pohlman Field (3,100)

Team Colors:

Owner: Beloit Professional Baseball Association

 

The Beloit (WI) Brewers were the Class A Midwest League farm club of the Milwaukee Brewers from 1982 through 1994.  The franchise still operates today in Beloit, but has been known as the Beloit Snappers since a 1995 re-branding.

Since its founding in 1982, the Beloit ball club has been operated as a community-owned non-profit organization, known as the Beloit Professional Baseball Association.

Key ballplayers to come up through Beloit during the Brewers years included future Major League All-Stars B.J. Surhoff (Beloit ’85) and Greg Vaughn (Beloit ’87), 1992 American League Rookie-of-the-Year Pat Listach (’88).

 

==Links==

Midwest League Media Guides

Midwest League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

December 20th, 2014 at 7:17 pm

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.
Died:
1995 – The Phillies relocate to Kannapolis, NC.

Stadium: Duncan Park

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

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.

 

==Links==

Western Carolina League Programs

South Atlantic League Media Guides

South Atlantic League Programs

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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.

 

==Links==

Northern League Media Guides

Northern League Programs

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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:

Owners:

  • 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.

 

==Links==

Texas League Media Guides

Texas League Programs

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