Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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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


2013 Baltimore Bombers


North American Lacrosse League (2013)

Born: August 2012 – NALL expansion franchise.
Died: March 8, 2013 – The Bombers cease operations in midseason.

Arena: Du Burns Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Hunter Francis


The Baltimore Bombers were a doomed entry in the low-rent North American Lacrosse League (2012-2013), which briefly existed as a destination of last resort for box lacrosse players looking for winter-time employment outside of the big-budget National Lacrosse League.  Its unlikely that many Baltimore residents were aware of the Bombers, who existed for only two months at tiny Du Burns Arena, a 650-seat venue that also hosted a women’s roller derby team and meetings of a local Christian Church.

The Bombers lasted only seven games in the NALL, a four-team league which also featured teams in Kentucky, Rhode Island and suburban Boston.  The league fell apart pretty quickly and the Bombers shut down after playing only seven games, folding with a 4-3 record on March 8, 2013.  The NALL itself folded later that spring.



Bombers vs. Rhode Island Kingfish at Du Burns Arena, winter 2013.





Written by andycrossley

January 21st, 2014 at 3:22 am

1985-87 New York Slapshots & Troy Slapshots

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Atlantic Coast Hockey League (1985-1986)

Born: 1985 – ACHL expansion franchise.
Died: November 18, 1986 – The Slapshots franchise is terminated in midseason.


Team Colors:

Owner: Rudy Slucker


The New York Slapshots were a threadbare minor league hockey effort in the low-budget Atlantic Coast Hockey League (1981-1987).  The club debuted in the winter of 1985 with the intent of playing at the Phil Esposito Sports Center, a newly constructed 5,000-seat on Staten Island.  Slapshots owner Rudy Slucker hired former Philadelphia Flyers star Dave Schultz as the Slapshots’ first Head Coach and General Manager in September 1985.

The Slapshots immediately ran into problems when construction was delayed on the Esposito Center, leaving the team with no place to play.  They became a road team, playing all of their games on the road, before eventually finding a temporary “home ice” in Virginia, where they finished out the 1985-86 season with a last place record of 21-38..

For the 1986-87 season, Slucker moved the team to Troy, New York and the Houston Field House and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  Badly under-funded and with little fan or corporate support, the re-named Troy Slapshots lasted only six games into the 1986-87 season before the ACHL expelled the near-bankrupt team from the league on November 18, 1986 and merged the player roster with the league’s Mohawk Valley Comets franchise.

Albany writer Chuck Miller has an entertaining write-up of the Slapshots brief and bumpy 1986 ride in Troy here.



Written by andycrossley

December 30th, 2013 at 3:04 pm

1995-1996 Daytona Beach Breakers

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Southern Hockey League (1995-1996)

Born: June 1995 – The Daytona Beach Sun Devils rebrand as the Breakers.
Died: July 16, 1996 – The Southern Hockey League ceases operations.

Arena: Ocean Center (6,500)

Team Colors: Purple, Black & Jade

Owner: William Collins III


From the Fun While It Lasted One-Year Wonder files, here are the Daytona Beach Breakers and the 1995-96 Southern Hockey League.  Both organizations lasted just one season before folding.

The origins of the Breakers were in a downtrodden minor hockey club known as the Daytona Beach Sun Devils (1992-1995) which played in the low-level Sunshine Hockey League.  1990’s serial sports investor William Collins, III purchased the Sun Devils in January 1995 as the Sunshine league was limping through its final season.  At the time Collins also owned the Tampa Bay Terror indoor soccer team, minor league baseball teams in Michigan and North Carolina, and was working on a quixotic effort to bring Major League Baseball to Northern Virginia.

Collins re-branded the Sun Devils as the Daytona Beach Breakers in June 1995 and entered the team into the new Southern Hockey League, which featured six clubs in total, including several other Sunshine League refugees.  SHL franchises were located in Alabama, Florida and North Carolina.

The Breakers hired for NHL winger Walt Poddubny to coach the Breakers in August 1995.  Poddubny had finished up a player-coach stint a few weeks earlier for the Orlando Rollergators of Roller Hockey International in nearby Orlando a few weeks earlier.  Under Poddubny, the Breakers finished the 1995-96 regular season in 2nd place with a 33-20-7 record before losing to the Winston-Salem Mammoths in the first round of the playoffs.

The Breakers struggled at the box office, drawing just over 1,400 fans per game at the Ocean Center.  The Breakers also struggled to get prime dates in the venue due to Bike Week and Speed Week events that occupied the building for large portions of January, February and March.  Attendance was weak across the league, as five of the six Southern Hockey League clubs drew fewer than 1,500 patrons per game.

The Breakers initially announced plans to return for a second season, but the SHL imploded during the summer of 1996 and the Breakers folded along with it.



Daytona Beach Breakers Season Ticket Brochure for cancelled 1996-97 season



1995-96 Daytona Beach Breakers statistics on