Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Middle Atlantic League’ Category

1946 Youngstown Gremlins

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Youngstown Gremlins ProgramMiddle Atlantic League (1946)

Born: 1946
Re-Branded: 1947 (Youngstown Colts)

Stadium: Idora Park

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The Rust Belt city of Youngstown, Ohio was a fixture in the Class C Middle Atlantic League between 1939 and 1951.  The team identity changed every couple of years (Browns, Gremlins, Colts, A’s) and there was no baseball in the Steel Valley at all from 1942 to 1945, as the Mid-Atlantic went dark during the meanest years of World War II.  The local nine were known as the Youngstown Gremlins (the best name of the bunch, IMO) for only one season, when the Mid-Atlantic League came back to life in the post-war summer of 1946.

The Gremlins played at Idora Park, site of Youngstown’s historic amusement park.  The Jack Rabbit roller coaster loomed over right field.  The amusement park closed in 1984 following a devastating fire.

There’s no clear record online of whether the Gremlins had a Major League affiliation in 1946.  Between the unusual name and the fact that only one player from the club ever advanced to the Major Leagues, I’d hazard a guess that the team was independent.  Ace pitcher Johnny Kucab (12-1, 1.86 ERA) was the brightest light at the not-quite-young age of 26.  He would later pitch three seasons in the Majors for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1950-1952.

Another compelling figure was the team’s manager, Paul Birch.  Birch played some sporadic minor league baseball, but his better sport was basketball.  He starred at Duquesne University in nearby Pittsburgh and was playing for the Youngstown Bears in the National Basketball League (a forerunner to the modern NBA) in 1947 when he signed on to manage to Gremlins during the summer months.

Birch would later become Head Coach of the NBA’s Fort Wayne Pistons from 1951 through 1954.  Birch would resign his Pistons job under pressure in the fall out from the Jack Molinas point shaving scandal in 1954 and never worked in the NBA again.  Birch passed away in 1982.

 

==Links==

Youngstown Baseball Has a History Dating Back to 19th Century“, Vince Guerrieri, DidTheTribeWinLastNight.com

Middle Atlantic League Programs

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Written by AC

January 15th, 2015 at 2:17 am

1939-1940 Dayton Wings

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Middle Atlantic League (1939-1940)

Born: 1939 – Re-branded from Dayton Ducks.
Died: 1941 – Switched back to Dayton Ducks.

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The Dayton Wings were a Class C farm club of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The Dayton franchise played in the Middle Atlantic League from 1933-1942 and was known as the “Dayton Ducks” for all of that time except for this two-year interlude in 1939-1940.  The Ducks took their name from the team’s owner and field manager, a cantankerous former catcher named Howard “Ducky” Holmes who played one week in the Majors for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1906 and later became a Major League umpire.

The Dayton club seems to have parted ways with Holmes in 1939 and felt the need to re-brand the team at the same time.  In 1941, Holmes regained control of the ball club and changed the name back to the Ducks.

The most prominent player to come out of Dayton during the Wings era was Wally Westlake, who appeared in 30 games for the club as a 19-year old outfielder in 1940.  Westlake eventually made the Majors in 1947 and stayed for ten seasons, appearing in nearly 1,000 games and hitting 127 home runs for six teams.

 

==Links==

Mid-Atlantic League Programs

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Written by AC

April 20th, 2014 at 1:07 am