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