Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘New York-Penn League’ Category

1989-1993 Niagara Falls Rapids

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Niagara Falls RapidsNew York-Penn League (1989-1993)

Born: January 1989 – NYPL expansion franchise
Moved: October 15, 1993 (Jamestown Jammers)

Stadium: Sal Maglie Stadium

Major League Affiliation: Detroit Tigers

Owner: Bob Rich Jr.

New York-Penn League Champions: 1993

 

The Niagara Falls Rapids were the last Major League-affiliated pro baseball team to call Niagara Falls, New York home. The Detroit Tigers short-season Class A farm club play five seasons in the New York-Penn League from 1989 to 1993. The Rapids won the league title in the final summer of play in 1993.

Rapids founder Bob Rich was an experienced and respected minor league operator who also owned the popular Class AAA Buffalo Bisons and the Class AA Wichita Wranglers. In 1991, an audit of Sal Maglie Stadium recommended $1.8 million in upgrades to bring the aging stadium into compliance with rising minor league facility standards dictated by Major League Baseball. This, combined with the Rapids’ persistent financial losses, ultimately doomed the club in the Cataract City.

Rich moved the ball club to Jamestown, New York after his 5-year lease of Sal Maglie Stadium expired in late 1993. The team moved again in 2015 to Morgantown, West Virginia where it is known today as the West Virginia Black Bears. Rich still owns the franchise as of this writing in 2017, nearly 30 years after founding the club in Niagara Falls.

 

Niagara Falls Rapids Memorabilia

 

Links

New York-Penn League Media Guides

New York-Penn League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

February 18th, 2017 at 1:23 pm

1980 Auburn Americans

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1980 Auburn Americans ProgramNew York-Penn League (1980)

Born: 1980 – Re-branded from Auburn Red Stars
Moved: 1981 (Erie Cardinals)

Stadium: Falcon Park

Team Colors:

Owners: Auburn Community Baseball

New York-Penn League Championships: None

 

The Auburn Americans were a co-op minor league baseball team that played for just one season in the New York-Penn League in the summer of 1980. Co-op teams don’t have a player development contract with one Major League club. Instead they cobble together a roster from several Major League organizations. The arrangement is largely a relic of the past now, but was relatively common in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, particularly in small communities with sub-standard ballparks. Co-op teams were rarely competitive as the roster was cobbled together from other teams’ left overs.

In the case of the Auburn Americans, they received players from both the Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Only one Americans player, journeyman catcher Jack Fimple, would ever go on to play in the Major Leagues.

The Americans moved to Erie, Pennsylvania following the 1980 season, leaving the New York community of Auburn without pro baseball in 1981 for the first time since 1957. After a one-year absence, minor league baseball returned to Falcon Park with the formation of the Auburn Astros in 1982.

 

Links

New York-Penn League Media Guides

New York-Penn League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

May 28th, 2016 at 4:09 pm

1982-1995 Auburn Astros

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1984 Auburn Astros ProgramNew York-Penn League (1982-1995)

Founded: 1982
Re-Branded: 1996 (Auburn Doubledays)

Stadium: Falcon Park

Team Colors:

Owners: Auburn Community Baseball

New York-Penn League Championships: None

 

Auburn, New York (pop. ~28,000) is one of the smallest cities in the country to host affiliated minor league baseball today. Dating back to 1958, New York-Penn League clubs at Auburn’s Falcon Park have been community-owned by a group known as Auburn Community Baseball.  The community ownership model has allowed Auburn to buck the NY-Penn League trend of the 1990’s and 2000’s which saw many small blue-collar communities in upstate New York lose their franchises to larger cities willing to construct gleaming new taxpayer-financed ballparks.

Auburn has played host to numerous New York-Penn League clubs since 1958, but the city’s longest relationship was with the National League’s Houston Astros.  After a summer without baseball in 1981, the Auburn Astros formed in 1982. Key players that came through Auburn during the Astros era included Luis Gonzalez (Auburn ’88) and Kenny Lofton, (’88-’89).

In 1996, Auburn dropped “Astros” from its name and re-branded as the Auburn Doubledays. The partnership with the Houston Astros lasted through the 2000 season. The Doubledays continue to play to this day, currently as a farm club of the Washington Nationals.

 

==Links==

New York-Penn League Media Guides

New York-Penn League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

May 28th, 2016 at 2:55 pm

1994-2005 Vermont Expos

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Vermont Expos ProgramNew York-Penn League (1994-2005)

Born: 1993 – The Jamestown Expos relocate to Burlington, VT.
Re-Branded: 2005 (Vermont Lake Monsters)

Stadium: Centennial Field

Team Colors:

Owner: Ray Pecor

 

The Vermont Expos were the short-season Class A farm club of the Montreal Expos during the final decade of that Major League club’s existence.  The Expos won their lone New York-Penn League crown during their third season of play in 1996.

Based in Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, the Expos played in the oldest minor league ballpark in America, Centennial Field.  Depending on who’s doing the counting, the 4,400 seat park was built in 1906 or 1922 (when much of the park was re-built after an earlier fire). Either way, Centennial indisputably became the oldest ballpark in minor league baseball after Pittsfield, Massachusetts lost its own New York-Penn League franchise in 2001.

The Montreal Expos moved to Washington, D.C. after the 2004 season and became the Washington Nationals.  Thanks to a delay in re-branding the ball club, Vermont played one final season with the Expos nickname in 2005.  During the 2005 season, a fan contest to re-name the team drew more than 30,000 entries.  “Vermont Lake Monsters” beat out “Green Mountain Boys” and the franchise plays on today at Centennial Field as an Oakland A’s affiliate.

 

==Links==

The Last Team With the Expos Nickname Will Play Its Final Game“, David Leonhardt, The New York Times, September 8, 2005

New York-Penn League Media Guides

New York-Penn League Programs

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Written by AC

July 5th, 2015 at 3:00 am

1999-2009 Oneonta Tigers

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Oneonta Tigers ProgramNew York-Penn League (1999-2009)

Born: October 7, 1998 – Affiliation change from Oneonta Yankees.
Died: January 27, 2010 – The Tigers relocate to Norwich, CT.

Stadium: Damaschke Field

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Oneonta Tigers were the short-season Class A farm club of the Detroit Tigers for a decade between 1999 and 2009.

Tiny Oneonta (pop. 13,000), located just 30 minutes from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, was a mainstay in the New York-Penn League for more than 40 years, beginning with the arrival of the Oneonta Red Sox in 1966.  For virtually that entire run, the ball club was owned and championed by former Oneonta Mayor Sam Nader, who controlled the team from 1967 until 2008.  Under the management of Nader’s Oneonta Athletic Corp., Damaschke Field was a dry building and, by the early 21st century, the only team in organized baseball that didn’t sell alcoholic beverages.

Oneonta Tigers ProgramThe stadium construction boom of the 1990’s and 2000’s brought the previously sleepy New York-Penn League into sparking facilities in larger cities like Brooklyn, Lowell (Mass.) and Staten Island.  Small New York cities and towns like Geneva, Little Falls and Watertown with aging, no-frills ballparks became an endangered species in the league.  That Oneonta hung in as long as it did is largely a tribute to Nader, who reportedly turned down multiple offers for the franchise over the years.   By 2008, however, Nader was nearly 89 years old and Tigers attendance consistently ranked at the bottom of the league at around 1,000 patrons per game.   That July, Nader sold the club to veteran minor league investor Miles Prentice, who already owned the Huntsville (AL) Stars of the Southern League and the Midland (TX) Rockhounds of the Texas League.

The sale terms included a provision that Prentice would keep the team in Oneonta through the 2010 season.  However, after playing one final season in the Oneonta in 2009, Prentice moved the team to Norwich, Connecticut in January 2010.  The franchise plays on today as the Connecticut Tigers.   The Tigers were replaced at Damaschke Field by the amateur Oneonta Outlaws of the New York Collegiate Baseball League.

 

==Links==

New York-Penn League Media Guides

New York-Penn League Programs

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Written by AC

November 2nd, 2014 at 8:48 pm