Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Dixie Association’ Category

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.
Moved: October 1974 (Lafayette Drillers)

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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1968-1976 Memphis Blues

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Memphis Blues ProgramTexas League (1968-1970)
Dixie Association (1971)
Texas League (1972-1973)
International League (1974-1976)

Born: 1968
Died:  November 8, 1976 – The Blues franchise is revoked and later moved to Charleston, WV

Stadium: Blues Stadium

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Memphis Blues were the local minor league baseball club for the Bluff City from 1968 until 1976.  The Blues started out as the Class AA farm club of the New York Mets in the Texas League from 1968 until 1973.  (This included a one-year run in the Dixie Association in 1971, which was a temporary partnership of the Texas League and the Southern League, who played an interlocking schedule that summer.)

The Mets’ years didn’t produce an especially noteworthy roster of future Major League stars.  Jim Bibby, John Milner, Ken Singleton and Craig Swan were among the more successful Blues graduates of the era.  But the team was strong by Class AA standards, winning Texas League crowns in 1969 and 1973.

1975 TCMA Gary Carter Trading CardIn 1974 the Blues switched Major League affiliations to the Montreal Expos and made the leap from Class AA to Class AAA by jumping to the International League.   Future Hall-of-Famer Gary Carter was a standout for the 1974 Blues, belting 23 home runs and knocking in 83.  Warren Cromartie and Ellis Valentine came through town in 1975, headlining a bumper crop of prospects headed to Montreal.

In September 1975, team owner Dr. Bernard Kraus hired 31-year old former American League Cy Young Award winner Denny McLain as the Blues’ new General Manager.  McLain was (and still is, as of 2014) the last man to win 30 games in a single season (1968).  But he was an odd choice to run the business operations of the club.   McLain’s career was derailed in the early 1970’s partially by arm problems, but also by a well-publicized gambling addiction, get rich quick schemes, bankruptcy and numerous suspensions from Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.  Two months later, in November 1975, Kraus sold off the deep-in-debt Blues to Jerry Bilton of Kansas City, a high school friend of McLain’s.

Along with the management shake-up, the Montreal Expos also pulled out of town after two seasons.  The Houston Astros became the Blues’ parent club for the 1976 season.  Top players included Art Howe, Terry Puhl and Joe Sambito.  Floyd Bannister, the #1 overall pick in the 1976 amateur draft, also made one start for Memphis during his quick ascent to the Majors.

By the end of the 1976 season, the Blues franchise was in serious financial straits.  McLain departed and former owner Bernard Kraus briefly regained control of the team in September 1976, but was unable to secure new investors to recapitalize the insolvent ball club.  In November 1976, the directors of the International League revoked the franchise for failing to pay league debts.  The same month, the Blues were effectively moved to Charleston, West Virginia where they became the “new” Charleston Charlies, replacing another International League club of the same name that shifted to Columbus, Ohio earlier in the year.

Local businessman Avron Fogelman immediately began efforts to bring pro baseball back to Memphis.  Fogelman secured a franchise in the Class AA Southern League.  After a summer without baseball in 1977, Fogelman’s Memphis Chicks began play in 1978 and played until 1997.  Triple-A baseball returned in 1998 with the Chicks’ departure to Jackson, Tennessee and the arrival of the Memphis Redbirds expansion team in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League.

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Blues owner Dr. Bernard Kraus died of heart disease on November 9, 1978 at age 59.

1976 Blues field manager Jim Beauchamp died of leukemia on Christmas Day 2007 at age 68.

1974 Blues catcher and future Hall-of-Famer Gary Carter died of brain cancer on February 16, 2012.  Carter was 57.

 

==Downloads==

September 9, 1975 Memphis Chicks Hire Denny McLain Press Release

 

==Links==

Texas League Media Guides

Texas League Programs

International League Media Guides

International League Programs

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1971-1983 Savannah Braves

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Dixie Association (1971)
Southern League (1972-1983)

Born: 1971
Moved: August 1983 (announced postseason move to Greenville Braves)

Stadium: Grayson Stadium

Team Colors:

Ownership: Atlanta Braves

 

The Savannah Braves were the Class AA farm club of the Atlanta Braves for 13 seasons from 1971 to 1983.

Several notable Braves prospects made stops in Savannah on their way to the Majors, highlighted by future National League Most Valuable Player Dale Murphy (Savannah 1976) and future N.L. Cy Young Award Winner Steve Bedrosian, who pitched for Savannah in 1979 and 1980.

39-year old Ball Four author Jim Bouton won 11 games for Savannah in 1978 en route to his improbably comeback to the Majors with Atlanta later that summer.

On the front office side, Miles Wolff landed his first baseball job as a General Manager for the SavBraves in the early 1970’s.  Wolff later purchased the Durham (NC) Bulls of the Carolina League and owned the club when the Kevin Costner-Susan Sarandon classic Bull Durham was released in 1988.  In 2004, ESPN’s Page 2 named Wolff one of the Top 10 pro sports owners of the past quarter century.

During the summer of 1983, the city of Greenville, South Carolina promised the Atlanta Braves a brand new ballpark and a commitment of 2,000 season tickets if they would move their Class AA farm club for the 1984 season.  Atlanta owner Ted Turner, who grew up in Savannah, agreed to the deal and the club left town for South Carolina in late 1983.

The SavBraves were immediately replaced at Grayson Park by the Savannah Cardinals (1984-1995) of the Class A South Atlantic League.

 

==Links==

Southern League Media Guides

Southern League Programs

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Written by AC

February 24th, 2014 at 5:04 am