Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘International League’ Category

1952-1954 Ottawa Athletics

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1954 Ottawa Athletics ProgramInternational League (1952-1954)

Born: 1952 – Affiliation change from Ottawa Giatnts
Moved: January 1955 (Columbus Jets)

Stadium: Lansdowne Park

Major League Affiliation: Philadelphia Athletics

Owner:

Governors Cup Championships: None

 

The Ottawa Athletics were the Class AAA farm club of the Philadelphia Athletics for three summers in the early 1950’s. The A’s played three losing seasons at Lansdowne Park before departing for Columbus, Ohio.

Following the A’s departure in January 1955, Ottawa went without pro baseball for 39 years until the formation of the Ottawa Lynx in 1993.

 

In Memoriam

Hal Bevan (Athletics ’54) died of a kidney infection at the age of 37 on October 5th, 1968.

Luke Easter (Athletics ’54) was shot and killed in armed robbery on March 29, 1979. Easter was 63.

 

Links

International League Media Guides

International League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

March 11th, 2017 at 4:24 am

1972-1973 Peninsula Whips

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Peninsula Whips ProgramInternational League (1972-1973)

Born: November 23, 1971 – The Winnipeg Whips relocate to Hampton, VA.
Died:  September 1973

Stadium: War Memorial Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Peninsula Whips were a minor league baseball team out of Hampton, Virginia that served as the top farm club of the Montreal Expos in 1972 and 1973.  Hampton hosted minor league baseball nearly every season from 1963 through 1992, but typically in the Class A Carolina League.  The two-year run of the Whips in the early 70’s marked the only time that Hampton had a Class AAA ball club, just one step below the Major Leagues.

Top Whips players included pitcher Steve Rogers (’72 & ’73) and catcher Gary Carter (’73).  Rogers went on to 5 All-Star selections with Expos.  Carter, who played just 8 games for the Whips in 1973, was an 11-time National League All-Star who earned induction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

During the 1973 season, the Peninsula Whips drew just 48,680 fans for 70-odd home dates.  In September of that year the Expos pulled out of Virginia and shifted their Class AAA operation to Memphis, Tennessee, where that city’s Class AA club drew 113,425 in 1973 .

Hampton/Newport News wound up back to the Carolina League in 1974 with a lowly Class A co-op team known as the Peninsula Pennants.

 

==Links==

International League Media Guides

International League Programs

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Written by AC

May 23rd, 2015 at 9:55 pm

1961 San Juan Marlins / Charleston Marlins

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Charleston MarlinsInternational League (1961)

Born: November 28, 1960 – The Miami Marlins relocate to San Juan, PR.
Moved: October 8, 1961 (Atlanta Crackers)

Stadiums:

Team Colors:

Owner: Bill MacDonald

 

So how, exactly, did the capital of West Virginia end up with a minor league baseball team named for a tropical saltwater sport fish for a few short months in the summer of 1961?

At the dawn of the 1960’s, a colorful, corpulent South Florida multi-millionaire named Bill MacDonald bought the forlorn Miami Marlins of the Class AAA International League.  The Marlins were the top farm club of the Baltimore Orioles at the time.  MacDonald was a sportsman – he owned a stud farm, a share of the Tropical Park race track and he would later promote the first Sonny Liston-Cassius Clay fight in Miami.  The Marlins were rather unloved in Miami.  A particular sore point for MacDonald was the team’s lack of a profitable local radio deal.

After one summer at the helm in Miami, Bill MacDonald announce a scheme to move the Marlins to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where a lucrative radio contract beckoned.  The International League approved the shift in late November 1960.  It was a decision that MacDonald’s fellow I.L. owners would soon come to regret.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles transferred their Class AAA farm club to Rochester, New York and the Marlins became an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cardinals stocked San Juan with several top prospects, including 19-year old catcher Tim McCarver, slick fielding shortstop Dal Maxvill and pitching ace Ray Washburn (16-9, 2.34).  All three would go on to spend most of the next decade in St. Louis.

The San Juan Marlins opened on April 17, 1961 against the Toronto Maple Leafs before 6,627 fans at Sixto Escobar Stadium.  Mark Tomasik at the St. Louis Cardinals blog Retrosimba notes that it was also opening night of the Bay of Pigs Invasion.  Not the most auspicious start to the I.L.’s latest Caribbean adventure.

Rival I.L. clubs immediately began complaining about high travel costs to San Juan.  Barely two weeks into the season, the league reversed course and demanded that Bill MacDonald return his team to the mainland.  The promoter balked at first, though Marlins attendance in San Juan plummeted following the promising opening night gate.  After 15 home dates, Marlins attendance in San Juan totaled only 25,759 fans.  MacDonald finally capitulated on May 17, 1961 after just one month in Puerto Rico.  But rather than try to make peace with Miami, MacDonald took his ball club all the way to Charleston, West Virginia.

Charleston’s long-running Class AAA team, the Charleston Senators, went under five months earlier.  The city was eager to get pro baseball back and offered MacDonald a $1.00 lease on Watt Powell Park.  The Charleston Marlins debuted in West Virginia on May 18, 1961, beating the Jersey City Jerseys (yes, their real name) in front of 3,608 locals.

The Marlins were strong ball club under field manager Joe Schultz, finishing 88-66.  But Charleston was still one of the smallest AAA cities in the country.  MacDonald wasted little time leaving town following the season.  On October 8, 1961, MacDonald moved his team to Atlanta, where the franchise became the Atlanta Crackers (1962-1965).

The International League has never returned to the Caribbean.

 

==Links==

The Many Faces of Mr. Mac“, Gilbert Rogin, Sports Illustrated, February 17, 1964

International League Media Guides

International League Programs

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1988 Maine Phillies

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Maine Phillies ProgramInternational League (1988)

Born: January 1988 – Re-branding of the Maine Guides.
Moved: 1989(Scranton-Wilkes Barre Barons)

Stadium: The Ball Park at Old Orchard Beach

Team Colors:

Owner: John McGee, et al.

 

The Maine Phillies were the top farm club of the Philadelphia Phillies in the summer of 1988.

The franchise, based in the vacation hamlet of Old Orchard Beach, was formerly known as the Maine Guides from 1984 through 1987.  The team re-branded as the Maine Phillies in early 1988 following a contentious two-year legal battle between Guides founder Jordan Kobritz and a Scranton, Pennsylvania group called Northeastern Baseball, headed by John McGee.

Kobritz agreed to sell the Guides from and their membership in the Class AAA International League to McGee in 1986 for $2 million.  The contract also called for the transfer of the Class AA Waterbury (CT) Indians of the Eastern League from Northeastern Baseball to Kobritz – at least in Kobritz’s opinion.  The original concept in 1986 was that McGee would take the Guides to Pennsylvania, where it would become the top minor league affiliate of the Phillies and become known as the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Red Barons in 1989, when a new $22 million triple-A stadium opened in 1989.  Kobritz, meanwhile, would continue playing minor league ball at The Ball Park in Old Orchard Beach in the Eastern League with the former Waterbury franchise.

The deal started to go sideways in September 1986 when McGee’s group turned over the struggling Waterbury franchise to the Eastern League itself, as compensation for rights to the Scranton market.  That meant that Kobritz could bid on the former Waterbury club, but wouldn’t have the exclusive option on the team he expected.  (The former Waterbury franchise would eventually land in Williamsport, PA).  Kobritz refused to move forward with the sale and filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in October 1986. Two sides battled in court for control of the franchise for the next year.  Kobritz won the early rounds of litigation and held onto to control of the Guides for the 1987 season.  But the tide turned on the Guides founder in a series of rulings in late 1987 and early 1988 that stripped his control of the franchise and the minor league territorial rights for Maine and awarded them to McGee.  Kobritz took his appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but lost his final battle in February 1988.

Finally in control of the ball club in January 1988, McGee dropped the Guides nickname and announced plans for the club to play on final lame duck season in Old Orchard Beach as the Maine Phillies.  In 1989, the new stadium in Scranton would be finally be ready after construction delays and the team would finally move to Pennsylvania.

During their only season, the Maine Phillies finished in last place in the International League’s East Division with a 62-80 record.

Pro baseball never returned to Old Orchard Beach after the departure of the Phillies in 1988.  The Ball Park fell into extreme disrepair in the 2000’s, but a community effort to renovate the 25-year old structure in 2009 led to the return of amateur/summer collegiate ball in the summer of 2011.

 

==Links==

International League Media Guides

International League Programs

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Written by AC

November 9th, 2014 at 3:09 pm

1971-1983 Charleston Charlies

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Charleston Charlies ProgramInternational League (1971-1983)

Born: 1971 – The Columbus Jets relocate to Charleston, WV.
Died: 1983 – The Charlies relocate to Old Orchard Beach, ME.

Stadium: Watt Powell Park

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Charleston Charlies were a colorful (at times, blindingly so) Class AAA ballclub that made their home in West Virginia from 1971 through 1983.  From 1971 through 1976, the Charlies were the top farm club for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were a National League power at the time.  Many of the great stars of Pittsburgh’s 1970’s World Series teams came through Charleston, including Bruce KisonOmar Morena, Dave Parker, Rennie Stennett, Kent Tekulve and Richie Zisk.  Other top Charlies during the Pirates era included Tony Armas, Gene Garber, Art Howe and Willie Randolph.

Although the Pirates farm system was laden with future stars, the Charlies never won an International League title until the Houston Astros took over the parent club affiliation in 1977.  The Charlies won the Governor’s Cup for the first and only time that summer, sweeping the Pawtucket Red Sox in a best-of-seven championship series.

Mike Mendoza Charleston CharliesWith the arrival of the Astros came fantastic (or grotesque, depending on your worldview) rainbow jerseys, modeled on Houston’s garish horizontal stripes of the late 1970’s/early 1980’s.  (See pitcher Mike Mendoza, left, circa 1979.)  The jerseys also featured a chest patch of the Charlies’ logo of a cigar-chomping baseball sporting a bowler hat.

Houston pulled out of town after the 1979 season and the early 1980’s were a time of turmoil and decline for the Charlies franchise.  By this time, Charleston (pop. 50,000) was the smallest Class AAA city in the country.  The Texas Rangers took over the affiliation in 1980 but stayed for just one season.  Then the Cleveland Indians were the parent club from 1981 to 1983.  Neither Texas nor Cleveland boasted particularly strong farm systems and their reigns in Charleston produced neither future Major League stars nor winning minor league ball clubs.

Behind the scenes, the Charlies long-time owner Bob Levine decided to sell the club after the 1981 season.  Levine, a junkyard owner, originally brought the team to town from Columbus, Ohio in 1971 and named it in honor of his father Charlie.  A stock drive to convert the Charlies to a community-owned club fell short, but the team’s long-time General Manager Carl Steinfeldt cobbled together enough backing to keep the team going in Charleston for the 1982 season.  But the team continued to lose money and Steinfeldt sold the Charlies to Maine attorney Jordan Kobritz at the 1982 Baseball Winter Meetings.

The Charlies played what amount to a lame duck season in Charleston in 1983 and then Kobritz moved the club to Maine in 1984 where it became known as the Maine Guides (1984-1987).  After several subsequent moves and re-brandings, the franchise once known as the Charleston Charlies plays on today as the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders.

 

==Slideshow==

 

==Links==

International League Media Guides

International League Programs

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