Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Midwest League’ Category

1989-1993 Waterloo Diamonds

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1991 Waterloo Diamonds ProgramMidwest League (1989-1993)

Born: 1989 – Re-branded from Waterloo Indians
Moved: 1994 (Springfield Sultans)

Stadium: Municipal Stadium (5,400)

Team Colors:

Owners: 

Midwest League Championships: None

 

The Waterloo Diamonds were the last professional baseball team to make a home in the Eastern Iowa city of 68,000. The departure of the Diamonds in 1994 brought to an end a largely uninterrupted 90-year minor league tradition stretching back to the formation of the Waterloo Microbes in 1904.

The Diamonds formed in 1989 after the Waterloo Indians Midwest League franchise lost its Major League affiliation with the Cleveland Indians. The team operated in 1989 as a co-op operation, receiving players from both the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres organizations. Co-op teams are typically awful and the 1989 Waterloo Diamonds were no exception. The club finished 47-89.

On July 6, 1989, the Diamonds hosted the Clinton Giants at Municipal Stadium in Waterloo. The team’s battled to a 3-3 tie through 19 innings before the game was suspended due to curfew shortly before 1:00 AM. The game resumed in August 1989 and the clubs played another six innings before Mike King won it for Waterloo with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 25th inning. It was the longest game in Midwest League history.

The Diamonds struck a parent club deal with the San Diego Padres in 1990. The team’s on-field fortunes improved only marginally. The team’s only winning campaign was the 1991 season (75-63). The 1991 club had a strong pitching staff that included future Major League regulars Bryce Florie, Lance Painter and Tim Worrell. The team returned to its losing ways in 1992 and 1993.

The Diamonds’ economic situation was even grimmer than the on-field product. Waterloo itself was in severe decline in the late 1980’s. The city’s Rath Packing Company, a major meatpacking employer, closed its doors in 1985. Manufacturing jobs were in decline. The U.S. Census showed a 12.5% decline in Waterloo’s population between 1980 and 1990.

In 1990, Major League Baseball and minor league baseball operators negotiated a contentious update to the Professional Baseball Agreement that governed relations between big league teams and their farm clubs. The new PBA shifted a greater burden for operating expenses to minor league owners and, most important, imposed stringent new minimum standards for ballparks that phased in during the early 90’s. The Agreement spurred the ballpark construction boom of the 1990’s and the resulting economic renaissance of the minor leagues. But it also marked the death knell of pro baseball for many small cities that lacked the political will or economic resources to build new stadiums. Waterloo’s dilapidated Municipal Stadium was a far cry from complying with the new standards.

During the 1992 season, a freelance writer named Richard Panek embedded himself with the Diamonds for the entire season. Panek’s resulting book, Waterloo Diamonds, focused on the changing economics of Rust Belt cities like Waterloo and of Minor League Baseball. Though Panek’s account concludes prior to the final departure of the Diamonds from Waterloo, the book depicts the conditions that led to the end of pro ball in the city.

Chicago advertising executive Tom Dickson and his wife Sherrie Myers purchased the Diamonds in late 1993 with the aim of moving the team to a new ballpark in Lake County, Indiana. That idea was blocked by Major League Baseball’s territorial rules (the Cubs and White Sox objected). New ownership only exacerbated the Diamonds’ often contentious relationship with Waterloo’s political leadership. When city officials moved to increase the team’s symbolic $1.00 annual lease payment to $500,000 on the eve of the 1994 season, Dickson and Myers scrambled to move the team to Springfield, Illinois just weeks before opening day.

The Waterloo Bucks amateur collegiate team formed in 1995 to replace the Diamonds at Municipal Stadium. The Bucks enter their 23rd season of operation in 2017.

 

Waterloo Diamonds Memorabilia

 

Links

Waterloo Diamonds by Richard Panek (St. Martin’s Press, 1995) on Amazon.com

Midwest League Media Guides

Midwest League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

January 21st, 2017 at 4:41 pm

1982-1994 Beloit Brewers

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Beloit Brewers Midwest League (1982-1994)

Born: 1982
Died:
1995 – Re-branded as the Beloit Snappers.

Stadium: Harry C. Pohlman Field (3,100)

Team Colors:

Owner: Beloit Professional Baseball Association

 

The Beloit (WI) Brewers were the Class A Midwest League farm club of the Milwaukee Brewers from 1982 through 1994.  The franchise still operates today in Beloit, but has been known as the Beloit Snappers since a 1995 re-branding.

Since its founding in 1982, the Beloit ball club has been operated as a community-owned non-profit organization, known as the Beloit Professional Baseball Association.

Key ballplayers to come up through Beloit during the Brewers years included future Major League All-Stars B.J. Surhoff (Beloit ’85) and Greg Vaughn (Beloit ’87), 1992 American League Rookie-of-the-Year Pat Listach (’88).

 

==Links==

Midwest League Media Guides

Midwest League Programs

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Written by AC

December 20th, 2014 at 7:17 pm

1984-1992 Kenosha Twins

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Kenosha Twins ProgramMidwest League (1984-1992)

Born: 1984 – The Wisconsin Rapids Twins relocate to Kenosha.
Moved: 1992 (Fort Wayne Wizards)

Stadium: Simmons Field (3,000)

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Kenosha (WI) Twins were the Class A farm club of the Minnesota Twins from 1984 until 1992.  The team played at historic Simmons Field (erected in 1920), which received a $350,000 face lift when the former Wisconsin Rapids Twins relocated to Kenosha in 1984.  The owner of the team was Bob Lee, Sr., a local plumbing contractor who had played minor league baseball as a young man.

The Twins won Midwest League championships in 1985 and 1987.  Future Major League All-Stars Chuck Knoblauch, Denny Neagle and Brad Radke headlined the prospects who came up through Kenosha in this era.

By the early 1990’s, attendance in Kenosha ranked near the bottom of the Midwest League.  Simmons Field no longer met the minimum facility standards established by the 1990 Professional Baseball Agreement, which delineated the relationship between Major League Baseball teams and their farm clubs.  At the end of the 1991 season, Bob Lee sold the team to Eric Margenau, a prolific minor league investor from New York City.  Margenau kept the ball club for one last lame duck season in 1992.  Margenau moved the team to Fort Wayne, Indiana for the 1993 Midwest League season where it became known as the Fort Wayne Wizards.

 

==Downloads==

1986 Kenosha Twins Ticket & Advertising Brochure

 

==Links==

Midwest League Media Guides

Midwest League Programs

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Written by AC

November 7th, 2014 at 1:21 am

1988-1993 South Bend White Sox

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South Bend White Sox ProgramMidwest League (1988-1993)

Born: 1986 – Midwest League expansion franchise.
Re-Branded:
1994 (South Bend Silver Hawks)

Stadium: Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The South Bend White Sox were the Midwest League Class A farm club of the Chicago White Sox for six seasons from 1988 until 1993.  Located 90 miles southeast of Chicago’s Comiskey Park, the White Sox were South Bend’s first professional baseball team since 1954, when the South Bend Blue Sox of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League went of business.  The franchise was announced in the mid-1980’s and was years in development before its April 1988 debut. Construction of Coveleski Stadium to host the team took the better part of two years and original owner Bob Staley actually sold the ball club before the team finally took the field.

The White Sox went on to win Midwest League championships in 1989 and 1993.

Future Hall-of-Famer Carlton Fisk, 44 years old at the time, played one game for South Bend in 1992 on a rehab assignment from Chicago.  He hit a home run in his first minor league game since 1971.  Former Major Leaguer Terry Francona managed the 1992 South Bend squad.  He would later win two World Series championships (2003 & 2007) as skipper of the Boston Red Sox.

Following the 1993 season, the White Sox were re-branded as the South Bend Silver Hawks, in tribute to the Studebaker Silver Hawk automobiles that rolled off South Bend assembly lines from 1957 to 1959.  Despite the name change, the team remained a White Sox farm club for several more summers until 1997.  The South Bend franchise remains active in the Midwest League today and is currently known ast the South Bend Cubs.

 

South Bend White Sox Memorabilia

 

Links

Midwest League Media Guides

Midwest League Programs

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Written by AC

November 1st, 2014 at 6:55 pm

1962-1978 Quad City Angels

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Quad City AngelsMidwest League (1962-1978)

Born: 1962 – Affiliation change from Quad City Braves.
Affiliation Change:
1979 (Quad City Cubs)

Stadium: John O’Donnell Stadium (8,500)

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Quad City Angels were a long-time Class A farm club of the California Angels based in Davenport, Iowa.  This original version of the Angels played 17 seasons from 1962 until 1978.  In 1979, the ball club shifted Major League affiliations to the Chicago Cubs and was known as the Quad City Cubs from 1979 through 1984.  California then returned for a second tour as parent club from 1985 to 1991 and the Quad City Angels identity was revived for those years.  That second Quad City Angels team will be covered in a separate FWIL entry.

Key players to spend time in Quad City during the first Angels era included Dave LaRoche (1967-1968), Frank Tanana (1972), Jerry Remy (1973), Willie Aikens (1975), Carney Lansford (1976), Dickie Thon (1976) and Alan Wiggins (1978).  Future Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon played for the club as a 22-year old in 1976.

The Angels won Midwest League titles in 1968 and 1971.

 

==Quad City Angels Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other

1976

1976 7/2/1976 vs. Burlington Bees W 5-4 Program

 

==In Memoriam==

Alan Wiggins (Quad City ’78) died of AIDS on January 6, 1991.  Wiggins was the first Major League player reported to have died of the disease.

 

==Links==

Midwest League Media Guides

Midwest League Programs

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