Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘California League’ Category

1962-1963 Santa Barbara Rancheros

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1963 Santa Barbara Rancheros ProgramCalifornia League (1962-1963)

Born: 1962
Re-Branded: 1964 (Santa Barbara Dodgers)

Stadium: Laguna Park

Major League Affiliations:

  • 1962: New York Mets
  • 1963: Los Angeles Dodgers

Team Colors:

Owner:

California League Championships: None

 

The Santa Barbara Rancheros formed in 1962 as part of an expansion of the Class C California League from six to eight clubs.

During the summer of 1962 the Rancheros were affiliated with Major League Baseball’s New York Mets expansion franchise. Only one player from the 1962 Rancheros – 18-year old outfielder Paul Blair – went on to play in the Majors.

Minor League Baseball revised its classification system in 1963. The “Class C” level was done away with and the California League took on the Class A designation it still holds today. The Los Angeles Dodgers replaced the Mets as the Rancheros’ parent club in 1963. The Dodgers’ top prospect in Santa Barbara was outfielder Wes Parker, who went onto to a 9-year Major League career with L.A. from 1964 until 1972.

The Dodgers re-branded their Santa Barbara farm club as the Santa Barbara Dodgers for the 1964 season. Some California newspaper continued referring to the team as the “Rancheros” in press accounts that summer. The Santa Barbara Dodgers played until 1967. The team moved to Bakersfield in 1968. Pro baseball has not returned to Santa Barbara since the Dodgers’ departure.

 

Links

California League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

January 23rd, 2017 at 10:03 pm

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.
Affiliation Change:
1982 (San Jose Expos)

Stadium: San Jose Municipal Stadium

Team Colors:

  • 1977: Green & Gold

Owners:

 

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 state capital 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 franchise 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.

 

Links

Pacific Coast League Media Guides

Pacific Coast League Programs

California League Programs

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1964-1967 Santa Barbara Dodgers

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Santa Barbara DodgersCalifornia League (1964-1967)

Born: 1964 – Re-branded from Santa Barbara Rancheros.
Moved: October 18, 1967  (Bakersfield Dodgers)

Stadium: Laguna Park

Team Colors:

Owner: Los Angeles Dodgers

 

The Class A Santa Barbara Dodgers (1964-1967) were the last pro baseball team to make their home in the coastal California city.  The franchise entered the California League in 1964 as a replacement for the short-lived Santa Barbara Rancheros (1962-1963), a former New York Mets farm club.

During the four summers that Santa Barbara fed the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system in the mid-60’s, a handful of notables played at the city’s Laguna Park on their way to the Majors.  Jack Billingham, who pitched for Santa Barbara in 1964 as a 21-year old, went on to win 145 games in the Majors between 1968 and 1980.  Don Sutton (Santa Barbara ’65) won 324 games in the Majors. The Baseball Hall of Fame enshrined Sutton in 1998.  Charlie Hough won 14 games for Santa Barbara in 1967.  Hough went to pitch an incredible 25 seasons in The Show between 1970 and 1994. The knuckleballer retired at age 46 with 215 career victories.

Mike Kekich was another Santa Barbara Dodgers alum.  Kekich, who spent parts of three seasons in Santa Barbara, was a pitcher of more modest accomplishment (39 career wins versus 51 losses) than Billingham, Sutton or Hough.  He is remembered largely for swapping wives and children with New York Yankees teammate Fritz Peterson in 1973 in one of the most scandalous trades in Major League history.  (Also one of the most lopsided …. Peterson is still married to the former Mrs. Kekich some forty years later.  Kekich and Marilyn Peterson broke up  soon after the swap.)

Low attendance plagued the Dodgers in Santa Barbara.  At the end of the 1967 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who owned and operated the ball club directly, moved their California League franchise to Bakersfield, California.   Pro baseball has never returned to Santa Barbara. The city demolished Laguna Park, the home of the Dodgers, in 1970.

 

Links

California League Programs

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Written by AC

June 29th, 2014 at 2:30 am

1962 Visalia White Sox

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Visalia White SoxCalifornia League (1962)

Born: 1962 – Affiliation change from Visalia A’s.
Died:
1963

Stadium: Recreation Park

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Visalia White Sox were a Class C farm club of the Chicago White Sox for one season in the summer of 1962.

Three players from the 1962 Visalia club eventually made it up to the Major Leagues: outfielder Ken Berry, pitcher Cisco Carlos and second baseman Dick Kenworthy.  Berry had the most distinguished career, playing parts of 14 seasons in the Majors from 1962 to 1975, mostly with the White Sox.

Visalia dropped out of the California League after the 1962 season, consigning the White Sox to One-Year Wonder status.  Visalia then went without pro baseball from 1963 through 1967, which is the longest stretch the city has been without a ball club since World War II.  Baseball returned in 1968 with the arrival of the Visalia Mets and Visalia has been a fixture on the California League summer schedule ever since.

 

==Links==

California League Programs

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Written by AC

April 24th, 2014 at 1:11 pm

1966-1974 Modesto Reds

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Modesto RedsCalifornia League (1966-1974)

Born: 1966
Died:
1975 – Affiliation change to Modesto A’s.

Stadium: Del Webb Field

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Modesto Reds were a Class A minor league baseball team in the California League from 1966 to 1974.  Contrary to what you might expect, the Reds were not a farm club of the Cincinnati Reds.  Rather “Reds” was a traditional name for Modesto ball clubs, dating back to the original Reds of the California State League (1914-1915) and a prior Postwar incarnation of the Reds that operated from 1946-1961.

In 1966 Modesto was a Kansas City Athletics affiliate and from 1967 through 1974 the Reds were part of the St. Louis Cardinals’ system.  Both Major League parents had terrific farm systems and a parade of future Major Leaguer stars spent time in Modesto during the latter-day Reds era:

Serving the Athletics in 1966, Modesto had an incredible roster that included three future Hall-of-Famers in Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson and Tony LaRussa along with future Oakland A’s All-Stars Dave Duncan and Joe Rudi.

In 1968, the Modesto Reds featured three future National League All-Stars in outfielders Jose Cruz and Willie Montanez and catcher Ted Simmons.  Pitcher Pedro Borbon, who would win two World Series titles with the Cincinnati Reds in the mid-1970’s, was also on this unusually deep (for Class A) ball club.

Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky pitched for Modesto as a 19-year old first round draft pick in the summer of ’69.  He went 8-2 in Modesto and was in the Majors a year later, where the colorful closer would stay for 13 seasons.

Modesto RedsA weak-hitting third baseman named Bob Forsch spent parts of two summers in Modesto in 1969 and 1970.  In 1970 Forsch hit a meager .149 with 21 strikeouts in 47 at-bats.  The following year the Cardinals converted Forsch to pitcher.  During a 16-year career in the Majors, Forsch would win 168 games, pitch two no-hitters, and win a World Series with the Cards in 1982.

One of Forsch’s teammates on the 1970 Modesto team was 21-year old outfielder Bake McBride.  McBride won the 1974 National League Rookie-of-the-Year award in St. Louis and played in the Bigs for 10 seasons.

19-year old pitcher John Denny went 7-5 for Modesto in 1972.  A decade later Denny won the National League Cy Young Award for the Philadelphia Phillies, helping lead that club to a World Series visit.

In 1975 Modesto shifted back to the Athletics minor league system after eight seasons with St. Louis.  With the change in parents the club was renamed the Modesto A’s that spring.  The California League franchise continues to play in Modesto today and has been known as the Modesto Nuts since its most recent (2005) re-branding.

 

==Links==

California League Programs

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Written by AC

March 14th, 2014 at 12:11 am

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