Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Carolina League’ Category

1976-1987 Lynchburg Mets

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Lynchburg Mets ProgramCarolina League (1976-1987)

Born: 1976 – Affiliation change from Lynchburg Rangers
Affiliation Change: 1988 (Lynchburg Red Sox)

Stadium: City Stadium

Team Colors:

Owners: Lynchburg Baseball Corporation (Calvin Falwell, et al.)

Carolina League Champions: 1978, 1983 & 1984

 

Text coming soon…

 

Lynchburg Mets Memorabilia

 

==Links==

Simply Amazin’: The Rise of the Lynchburg Mets“, Andy Bitter, The Lynchburg News & Advance, April 11, 2008

Carolina League Media Guides

Carolina League Programs

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Written by AC

December 27th, 2015 at 4:21 am

1962-1969 Lynchburg White Sox

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Lynchburg White Sox ProgramSouth Atlantic League (1962-1963)
Southern League (1964-1965)
Carolina League (1966-1969)

Born: August 26, 1962 – The Savannah White Sox relocate to Lynchburg, VA
Affiliation Change: Postseason 1969 (Lynchburg Twins)

Stadium: City Stadium

Owners:

Southern League Champions: 1964

 

In 1962, a Charleston, South Carolina attorney named Bill Ackerman moved his Charleston White Sox minor league baseball team 110 miles south to Grayson Stadium in Savannah, Georgia.  The ballpark, opened in 1925, featured a shaded grandstand behind home plate that offered relief from the broiling Georgia sun and the occasional rain delay.  Down the left field line there was a stand of battered, uncovered bleachers exposed to the elements.  This was the colored seating section in Jim Crow Savannah.

Early in the 1962 season, the local chapter of the NAACP organized a picket of Grayson Stadium over the segregated facilities for fans, ballplayers and player wives.  The leader of the boycott was W.W. Law, a local mail carrier and state President of the NAACP in Georgia. White Sox officials fanned the flames by asking the local postmaster to fire Law from his job.

The civil rights battle spilled over into the team’s clubhouse and front office. 1962 Savannah White Sox had two African-American players: second baseman Don Buford and first baseman Grover “Deacon” Jones. During a South Atlantic League game in June 1962, Jones looked up from the field and saw his wife Virginia and Buford’s wife Alicia sitting in the whites-only section behind home plate. Savannah GM Tom Fleming implored the wives to move, but the women refused to leave.

Racial segregation in Savannah was hardly the exception in the South Atlantic League. The other league franchises in 1962 were in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  But the tumult in Savannah was such that team owner Bill Ackerman was actively looking to move the team by early July.  Ackerman floated the possibility of returning to Charleston. But ultimately Ackerman left Savannah and departed for Lynchburg, Virginia with just eight games remaining in the 1962 regular season.

The ball club that alighted so unexpectedly in Lynchburg in August 1962 was far and away the best team in the Sally League.  28-year old Deacon Jones, the White Sox’ oldest regular player, tore up the circuit, hitting .319 with 26 homers and 101 RBIs.  The team’s best pitcher was 21-year old Dave DeBusschere (10-1, 2.49 ERA).  DeBusschere would spend parts of two seasons with the Chicago White Sox in 1962 and 1963. But he founder greater fame in the NBA, as an 8-time All-Star during as 12-year career with the Pistons and Knicks from 1962-1974. He was elected to the Pro Basketball Hall-of-Fame in 1983.

With a 92-47 record, the 1962 Savannah/Lynchburg White Sox won the Sally League regular season with ease. But they were upset by the 3rd place Macon Peaches in the playoffs.

Lynchburg hardball fans would get their championship two summers later. By 1964, the White Sox were firmly entrenched in Lynchburg. The South Atlantic League had re-branded itself as the Southern League at the start of the Freedom Summer.  The LynSox trailed the Birmingham Barons, fielding that city’s first racially integrated team in 1964, for virtually the entire summer. But a seven-game Lynchburg win streak at the end of the season brought the clubs nearly even.

A season-ending three-game series between the two clubs would decide the pennant.  Lynchburg was a hard slugging team. Dick Kenworthy (29 HRs,  97 RBI, .312 avg.) and Danny Murphy (24, 91, .286) provided the bulk of the power.  At 30 years old, Deacon Jones was knocking around in the minors, batting .299 with 11 homers and 62 RBI.  Even Lynchburg’s pitching ace, a converted outfielder named Manly “Shot” Johnston, could mash.  Johnston led the Southern League in wins (20-7, 2.46 ERA) and added 7 homers and a .292 average to boot.

Manly Johnston took the rubber for the first game of the series, an 8-1 Lynchburg rout. The victory teed up the LynSox to clinch the Southern League pennant with a win on September 8, 1964. A crowd of 2,941 turned out at City Stadium. It was over early. Lynchburg scored 9 runs and sent 13 batters to the plate during the 2nd inning. Deacon Jones homered twice in the 2nd inning alone as Lynchburg won 10-3 to clinch the pennant.

Following the 1965 season, owner Bill Ackerman moved his Class AA Southern League franchise to Evansville, Indiana.  The Class A Carolina League quickly filled the void, putting a franchise into City Stadium in 1966. The new club would be community-owned by the Lynchburg Baseball Corporation, headed by Calvin Falwell. The White Sox remained as parent club, meaning the Lynchburg White Sox name endured for four more summers through 1969.  The team became the Lynchburg Twins in 1970 following a change in Major League parent clubs.

Lynchburg has enjoyed pro baseball for 53 consecutive summers and counting since the Savannah White Sox moved to town in 1962.

 

==Links==

The summer the White Sox came to Lynchburg“, Ben Cates, The Lynchburg News and Advance, September 13, 2014

Carolina League Programs

Southern League Programs

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1973 Wilson Pennants

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Wilson PennantsCarolina League (1973)

Born: 1973
Died:
Postseason 1973

Stadium: Fleming Stadium

Owner: Marshall Fox

 

The small city of Wilson, North Carolina fielded numerous minor league baseball teams between 1908 and 1973.  Wilson’s local nine were typically known as the “Tobs” (short for “Tobacconists”) through various iterations and leagues, but when long-time minor league operator Marshall Fox arrived in town in early 1973, he chose the rather generic “Wilson Pennants” for his new Carolina League entry.  Fox would stay only one season and the summer of 1973 would prove to be the last one for pro baseball in Wilson.

The Pennants were a co-op club, meaning they had no formal affiliation with a Major League franchise.  Co-op arrangements are largely unheard of today (they’ve been supplanted by fully “independent” baseball leagues), but they were relatively common in the 1970’s.  Forced to scramble for the spare parts and left overs of other teams, co-op clubs typically sucked. And the Pennants were no exception, cycling through three field managers (including a one-game stint by team owner Marshall Fox) and finishing dead last in the six-team Carolina League at 52-88.

There were a few highlights.  A 22-year old named Steve Hardin hurled a perfect game for the Pennants against the Winston-Salem Red Sox on April 18th, 1973. Hardin struck out 12 and only allowed one ball out of the infield. Hardin finished the 1973 season with a 4-10 record and never played another inning of pro baseball.

The Pennant who enjoyed the greatest success was pitcher Tom Johnson, who went on to appear in 129 games for the Minnesota Twins between 1974 and 1978. In 1977, Johnson won a remarkable 16 games out of the bullpen for Minnesota.

The Pennants quietly folded up shop after the 1973 season and pro ball never returned to Wilson.  The collegiate Wilson Tobs of the amateur Coastal Plains League continue to play out of Fleming Stadium to this day.

 

==Downloads==

1973 Wilson Pennants vs. Salem Pirates Roster Sheet

 

==Links==

Carolina League Media Guides

Carolina League Programs

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Written by AC

April 28th, 2015 at 1:17 am

1984-1994 Winston-Salem Spirits

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Winston-Salem SpiritsCarolina League (1984-1994)

Born: 1984 – Re-branded from Winston-Salem Red Sox
Died:
1995 – Re-branded as Winston-Salem Warthogs.

Stadium: Ernie Shore Field

Team Colors: Purple & Green

Owner:

 

The Winston-Salem Spirits were a Class-A minor baseball team in the North Carolina city of Winston-Salem between 1984 and 1994.  The Spirits served as a farm team to the Boston Red Sox (1984), Chicago Cubs (1985-1992) and the Cincinnati Reds (1993-1994) during their 11-season run.  The Spirit won the Carolina League crown in 1986.

Key players that played at Winston-Salem during the Spirits era include: Mike Greenwell (1984), Jamie Moyer (1985) and Joe Girardi (1987).

The purple-and-green clad Spirits appear as one of the Carolina League opponents in the 1988 Kevin Costner classic Bull Durham.

 

==Links==

Carolina League Media Guides

Carolina League Programs

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Written by AC

June 14th, 2014 at 8:25 pm

1984-1986 Prince William Pirates

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Prince William PiratesCarolina League (1984-1986)

Born: July 11, 1983 – The Alexandria Dukes announce relocation plans to Woodbridge, VA.
Affiliation Change: 1987 (Prince William Yankees)

Stadium: Davis Ford Park Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Prince William Pirates were the Class A farm club of the Pittsburgh in the Carolina League from 1984 through 1986.  The ball club originated in 1978 as an expansion team in nearby Alexandia, Virginia known as the Alexandria Dukes.  They played in a truly crummy little stadium called Four Mile Run Park.  Midway through the 1983 season, Dukes President Eugene Thomas announced that his team would relocate to Prince William County, Virginia for the 1984 season, where local officials approved funding for a modern 6,000-seat ballpark.

Key players to come through Prince William during the Pirates era included Barry Bonds, who appeared in 71 games in 1985 in his first year of pro ball as a 1st round draft pick out of Arizona State University.  Future Major League All-Stars Bobby Bonilla (3B) and John Smiley (P) also played for the 1985 Prince William squad.  (Smiley would also return in 1986).

Heading the other direction, Joe Charbonneau wound down his injury-plagued career with Prince William in 1984.  Charbonneau was the 1980 American League Rookie-of-the-Year with the Cleveland Indians, but never played a full season in the Majors again.  At age 29, Charbonneau was the oldest player in the Carolina League in 1984.  He hit. 289 and earned a promotion to the Pirates Class AAA club in Hawaii, but retired at the end of the season.

Prince William’s working agreement with Pittsburgh expired after the 1986 season.  The team struck a new deal with the New York Yankees and returned in 1987 as the Prince William Yankees.   The franchise still exists today in Prince William County, but it is now known as the Potomac Nationals after several further name changes.

 

==Links==

Carolina League Media Guides

Carolina League Programs

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