Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Big State League’ Category

1957-1961 Victoria Rosebuds

one comment

Victoria RosebudsBig State League (1957)
Texas League (1958-1961)

Born: 1957 – Re-branded from Victoria Eagles
Moved: May 26, 1961 (Ardmore Rosebuds)

Stadium: Riverside Stadium

Major League Affiliations: 

  • 1957: Brooklyn Dodgers
  • 1958-1959: Los Angeles Dodgers
  • 1960: Detroit Tigers
  • 1961: Baltimore Orioles

Owner: Tom O’Connor

Big State League Champions: 1957
Texas League Championships: None

 

The Victoria Rosebuds of the late 1950’s/early 60’s were a minor league outfit in southeastern Texas. The Rosebuds moniker was used though much of the first half of the 20th century to refer to the segregated city’s white amateur baseball teams. In 1957 Victoria’s Brooklyn Dodgers farm club in the Class B Big State League adopted the Rosebuds name. But the Big State League was on its last legs that summer. The circuit started the season with just six clubs and finished with only four. Victoria won the league’s final championship and then helped to seal the loop’s doom by defecting to the Class AA Texas League after the season.

Owner Tom O’Connor purchased the Shreveport Sports of the Texas League during the winter of 1957-58.  As part of the ramp up to the higher level Texas League, Victoria’s tiny Riverside Stadium got a makeover and expansion from 2,000 to 5,000 seats.  The Rosebuds also got much better prospects from their now-Los Angeles Dodgers parent club. Future Major League stars Tommy David and Frank Howard worked their way the minor league ladder in Victoria. Howard bashed 27 homers for Victoria in 1959. A lesser known future Major Leaguer, outfielder Carl Warwick, hit .331 with 35 home runs and 129 runs scored for Victoria and earned Texas League MVP honors that summer.

The Dodgers with drew their partnership after the 1959 season. The Detroit Tigers stocked Victoria’s roster in 1960 and installed Johnny Pesky as field manager. The Baltimore Orioles replaced the Tigers in 1961, but the Rosebuds spent less than two months in Victoria that summer.  On May 26, 1961 the team shifted in midseason to Ardmore, Oklahoma and finished out the season there as the Ardmore Rosebuds.  Weirdly, the Texas League’s Rio Grande Valley Giants promptly moved to Victoria and played out the rest of the 1961 campaign at Riverside Stadium as the Victoria Giants.

After a 13 year absence, the Texas League came back to Victoria for one summer in 1974 with the Victoria Toros club. A pair of independent teams – the Victoria Cowboys (1976) and a new version of the Victoria Rosebuds (1977) – made brief cameos at Riverside Stadium in the mid-70’s. The demise of the 1977-edition Rosebuds marked the end of the pro baseball era in Victoria, Texas.

 

Links

Big State League Programs

Texas League Media Guides

Texas League Programs

###

 

 

Written by Drew Crossley

August 15th, 2017 at 7:40 pm

1947-1955 Austin Pioneers

leave a comment

Big State League (1947-1955)

Born: February 1947 – Big State League founding franchise.
Died: 1955

Stadium: Disch Field

Major League Affiliation:

Owner: Ed Knebel

Big State League Championships: None

 

The Austin Pioneers were a minor league baseball team in postwar Austin, Texas that lasted for nine seasons between 1947 and 1955.  The Pioneers were a founding member of the Class B Big State League (1947-1957).

Club owner Edmund P. Knebel was a local bottler of 7-Up and Nu-Grape.  He was also a baseball lover who financed construction of Austin’s Disch Field, which was rapidly erected in the winter of 1947 to allow for the Pioneers to begin play that April.  Prior to forming the Pioneers in 1947, Knebel sponsored semi-pro 7-Up baseball teams in Austin and was part of a previous effort to bring the Texas League to Austin, only to see those plans foiled by the outbreak of World War II.

The Big State League started out with eight teams in the spring of 1947.  The Western Division consisted of four newly formed teams: Austin, Gainesville, Waco and Wichita Falls.  By contrast, all four teams in the Eastern Division were veteran defectors from the East Texas League.  Not surprisingly, the Eastern clubs dominated the league in 1947.  Austin finished 7th overall, besting only the Waco Dons.

During their nine seasons of existence, the Pioneers rarely competed for the league crown.  Their best season was in 1952 – a 4th place finish at 81-66 under player/manager Tom Jordan.  Austin was one of the largest cities in the Big State League though, and they often ranked near the top of league box office figures, according to Alan C. Atchison, a history professor at Southwest Texas State University, who wrote a great retrospective on the Pioneers forSouthwestern Historical Quarterly in October 1999.  Atchison states that the Pioneers set the Big State League season attendance record of 188,1983 fans in 1949.

After the Pioneers’ 9th season in 1955, owner Ed Knebel sold the Austin territorial rights to Allen Russell, owner of the Beaumont Exporters in the higher level (Class AA) Texas League.  Russell brought his Texas League franchise to Austin for the 1956 and re-named his club the Austin Senators (1956-1964).

 

Links

When Every Town Big Enough to Have a Bank Also Had a Professional Baseball Team: The Game Returns To Austin After WWII“, Alan C. Atchison,Southwestern Historical Quarterly, October 1999

Big State League Programs

###

 

 

 

Written by AC

February 2nd, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: