Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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July 11, 1975 – Philadelphia Atoms vs. San Antonio Thunder


Pele New York CosmosPhiladelphia Atoms vs. San Antonio Thunder
July 11, 1975
Veterans Stadium
Attendance: 4,012

North American Soccer League Programs
54 Pages


1975 was the year that Pele came to New York, signing the ground-breaking 3-year, $7 million deal with the New York Cosmos that changed the trajectory of soccer in America. 1975 was also the year that the eight-year old North American Soccer League introduced KICK Magazine, the stylish national magazine format that virtually all NASL clubs would use as their matchday programs until the league’s demise in 1984.

No player graced the cover of KICK more often than the King of Football over the years.  This July 1975 edition (above right) marked Pele’s first KICK cover appearance, syndicated in cities across the league after his landmark signing on June 3rd, 1975. In this case a lightly attended contest at Philly’s Veterans Stadium between the Philadelphia Atoms and an expansion side from San Antonio.

The Atoms arguably enjoyed a brief, low-key run as the NASL’s model club after coming into the league as an expansion franchise in 1973.  The Atoms won the NASL championship that first year, led the league in attendance, and seemed to have developed an American-born star in goalkeeper Bob Rigby.  Rigby and the Atoms appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in September 1973. It was the first time the NASL had earned the cover of the nation’s top sports weekly.

Whatever claim to flagship franchise status the Atoms may have held came to a definitive end when the Cosmos signed Pele two months into the 1975 season. The Atoms on-field fortunes were in decline and box office at The Vet was down around 40% from 1974.  As luck would have it, the Atoms were due to host the Cosmos on June 10, 1975, just a few days after Pele signed.  As Philly soccer historian Steve Holroyd noted, the Atoms drew a season high 20,124 to The Vet “for the privilege of seeing Pele in street clothes!

It was a last hurrah.  Founding owner Tom McCloskey bailed on the Atoms a few months later and the team fell into the hands of Mexican club owners from Guadalajara who presided over a final grim campaign in 1976.  By 1977 the Atoms were out of business. The Cosmos, meanwhile, opened Giants Stadium that summer and would win Soccer Bowl ’77 in Pele’s final pro campaign, playing to crowds of over 70,000 by season’s end.



==Pele & Kick Magazine==



San Antonio Thunder Home Page


Written by andycrossley

August 24th, 2015 at 2:12 am

1999-2002 Mississippi Fire Dogs

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Mississippi Fire DogsIndoor Professional Football League (1999-2000)
National Indoor Football League (2001-2002)

Born: 1999
Died: Postseason 2002 – The Fire Dogs cease operations

Arena: Mississippi Coast Coliseum

Team Colors:



The Mississippi Fire Dogs were an obscure indoor football outfit that played four seasons in the Gulf Coast city of Biloxi from 1999 through 2002.  Starting in the late 1990’s, a rash of low-budget knockoffs of the pioneering Arena Football League sprang up around the country.  These leagues – often derisively referred to as “ankle biters” by diehard AFL fans – typically set up shop in small Midwestern and Southern cities with underutilized civic centers.  And they typically didn’t last very long.

In this sense, the Fire Dogs were a pretty typical ankle-biter entry.  The franchise started out in 1999 in the Indoor Professional Football League (1999-2001), which featured teams in the Deep South and Pacific Northwest.  After two seasons, the Fire Dogs ditched the struggling IPFL for the equally anonymous National Indoor Football League (2001-2007).

There were a couple of intriguing names associated with the Fire Dogs. During the team’s first two seasons in the IPFL, the General Manager, Head Coach and starting quarterback was former NFL quarterback John Fourcade.

The other “celebrity” associated with the Fire Dogs was Irving Favre, father of Green Bay Packers All-Pro quarterback Brett Favre.  The elder Favre was a minority owner in the club.  He also succeeded Fourcade as Head Coach when the franchise jumped to the National Indoor Football League in 2001.

The Fire Dogs won two league titles during their short life-span, conquering the IPFL (under Fourcade) in 2000 and the NIFL (under Favre) in 2001.  The team went out of business following the 2002 season.


Written by andycrossley

August 10th, 2014 at 2:43 am

1997-1999 Corpus Christi Sharks

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Southwest Basketball League (1997-1999)

Born: October 16, 1997 – SWBL founding franchise.
Died: 1999 – The Sharks relocate to Sugarland, Texas.


Team Colors:

Owner: Charles E. Johnson


The Corpus Christi Sharks were part of an obscure, fly-by-night operation called the Southwest Basketball League which operated in Texas and Louisiana for parts of four seasons between 1997 and 2001.  The SWBL was introduced to the press and the public just three weeks before tip off of the first game in November 1997, leaving no time for the six founding clubs to make any sort of impact in their communities.

The Sharks were owned by league founder and Commissioner Charles Johnson, a former NBA agent. The league intended to play a 40-game schedule in 1997-98, but Johnson shut it down after just 14 games amidst a flurry of bounced paychecks in late December 1997.  The Sharks were the best team in the league at the time with an 11-3 record, but few would have noticed.  The team averaged just over 1,000 fans at Memorial Coliseum, which was the best figure in the league.

Surprisingly, the Sharks and the league regrouped for a second season in early 1999.  The Sharks downgraded from the city-owned Memorial Coliseum to a local high school gymnasium.  One of Charles Johnson’s former clients, the former Houston Rockets guard Robert Reid, coached the Sharks during their second and final season.  Reid would suit up for the team’s final home game at age 43 and score 4 points.  Crowds dwindled to little more than friends and family at Ray High School and the Sharks quietly moved to Sugarland, Texas prior to the Southwest Basketball League’s third season in the winter of 1999-00.

The SWBL teetered along in obscurity until 2001 and then disappeared.



1997-98 Corpus Christi Sharks Program


1996-2010 Philadelphia Kixx

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Philadelphia KixxNational Professional Soccer League (1996-2001)
Major Indoor Soccer League (2001-2008)
National Indoor Soccer League (2008-2009)
Major Indoor Soccer League (2009-2010)

Born: 1995 – NPSL expansion franchise.
Died: 2010 – The Kixx cease operations.


Team Colors: Teal, Red & Black



The Philadelphia Kixx were a long-running indoor soccer team that enjoyed strong popularity in the City of Brotherly Love for a few years during the late 1990’s.   The club was originally founded as a National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) expansion franchise in 1996 by local businessman Ed Tepper.

Tepper was one of the pioneers of the sport of indoor soccer.  He more or less stumbled across the sport during a brief stint as owner of the old Philadelphia Wings box lacrosse team that played at the Spectrum in 1974 and 1975.  Captivated by the potential of the indoor game, Tepper quickly sold off the Wings to focus on soccer.  He was a co-founder of the first pro indoor league, the Major Indoor Soccer League, in 1978.  But Tepper had been away from the sport for more than a decade when came back to form the Kixx in 1995.  Tepper kept the team until 2002, when he turned over primary ownership to local attorney Jeffrey Rotwitt.  Rotwitt would support the club until its demise in 2010.

The Kixx were the top box office draw in the NPSL for three straight years from 1998 to 2000, averaging over 8,000 fans per game.  But the team’s fortunes dipped in the 2000’s as Major League Soccer and the rapid growth of the outdoor game relegated a succession of indoor soccer leagues to irrelevance and disarray.  The Kixx were further marginalized in 2009 when the Spectrum, their home of 13 years, closed it doors and the team was exiled to the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University.  The club went on a hiatus at the end of the 2009-10 season, which turned out to be just a euphemism for going out of business.

The Kixx won two league championships during their fourteen-year run, capturing Major Indoor Soccer League titles in 2002 and 2007.




The Kixx host the Baltimore Blast at the Spectrum, March 24, 2007.

The Kixx claim their second and final MISL championship against the Detroit Ignition, April 2007.




National Professional Soccer League Media Guides

National Professional Soccer League Programs

2001-Present Indoor Soccer Media Guides

2001-Present Indoor Soccer Programs


1978-1981 New England Pilgrims

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New England PilgrimsAmerican Professional Slo-Pitch League (1978-1980)
United Professional Softball League (1981)

Born: 1978 – APSPL expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1981 – The Pilgrims cease operations.

Stadium: Blake Field

Team Colors:

Owner: Carl Grande


Obscure men’s professional Slo-Pitch franchise that operated for four seasons out of New Haven, Connecticut.  The New England Pilgrims softball team spent their first three seasons in the American Professional Slo-Pitch League (APSPL).  In 1979, the Pilgrims earned a few wire service mentions around the country for signing 39-year old former Detroit Tigers All-Star infielder Dick McAuliffe.

In 1981 the Pilgrims joined the United Professional Softball League, a successor league to the by-then defunct APSPL.  Despite having one of the worst records (23-35) in the eight-team UPSL, the Pilgrims advanced through the playoffs to the league championship series, where they lost to the Kentucky Bourbons.

The Pilgrims went out of business after the 1981 season and the UPSL followed suit a year later.  There has been no men’s professional softball in the United States since 1982.



1979 American Professional Slo-Pitch League Franchise Sales Brochure



Men’s Professional Softball Media Guides

Men’s Professional Softball Programs


Written by andycrossley

March 5th, 2014 at 12:38 am