Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Western Carolinas League’ Category

1964-1966 Rock Hill Cardinals

leave a comment

Rock Hill Cardinals ProgramWestern Carolinas League (1964-1966)

Born: 1964
Affiliation Change: 1967 (Rock Hill Indians)

Stadium: Municipal Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner:

Western Carolinas League Champions: 1965

 

The Rock Hill Cardinals were a South Carolina-based Class A farm club of the St. Louis Cardinals for three seasons in the mid-1960’s.

During the summer of ’64 Rock Hill boasted twin pitching aces who dominated the Western Carolinas League. 21-year old Jim Cosman (12-1, 1.19 ERA) hurled complete games in 10 of his 17 starts and struck out 143 batters in 121 innings. 19-year old southpaw Steve Carlton was equally good (10-1, 1.03).  Both would be in the Majors by 1966. Carlton was elected to Cooperstown in 1994.

Another future Hall-of-Famer arrived in 1965 in 31-year old field manager Sparky Anderson. Carlton and Cosman moved up the ladder and Rock Hill fell back to last place in the eight-team loop during the season’s first half. But a 2nd half run earned the Cardinals a berth in the best-of-3 WCL championship series against the Salisbury Astros in August 1965. Rock Hill swept Salisbury two games to none to earn an unlikely crown.

Future Major League stars Willie Montanez and Mike Torrez played for Rock Hill in 1966. After the 1966 season, the Cleveland Indians replaced the Cardinals as Rock Hill’s parent club.

 

 

==In Memoriam==

Pitcher Jim Cosman (Rock Hill ’64) passed away on January 7, 2013 at age 69.

 

==Links==

Western Carolina League Programs

 

###

 

 

Written by AC

December 27th, 2015 at 1:41 pm

1963-1994 Spartanburg Phillies, Traders, Spinners & Suns

3 comments

Spartanburg PhilliesWestern Carolinas League (1963-1979)
South Atlantic League (1980-1994)

Born: 1963 – Western Carolinas League expansion franchise.
Died:
1995 – The Phillies relocate to Kannapolis, NC.

Stadium: Duncan Park

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

For more than three decades, Spartanburg, South Carolina was one of the first destinatons for young prospects in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.  The city’s glory days as a Phillies farm club came in the mid-1960’s.  The Spartanburg Phillies won back-to-back Western Carolinas League titles in 1966 and 1967.  The 1966 Spartanburg club, featuring a middle infield combo of Larry Bowa and Denny Doyle, had a 91-35 record and was ranked #78 in the Top 100 minor league teams of all-time as chosen by the National Association in 2001.

Off the field, the Spartanburg teams of the mid-60’s were packaged and promoted by Pat Williams, a young protégé of maverick promoter Bill Veeck and also of the Carpenter family that owned the Philadelphia Phillies.  Williams ran constant promotions and local fans responded.  In 1966, Spartanburg re-wrote the single season Class A attendance record.  Williams – a young man in his mid-20’s during his time in Spartanburg – would go on to become one of the mostly highly respected chief executives in the NBA, as General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s.

Spartanburg PhilliesThe Phils enjoyed another run of league dominance in the early 1970’s, winning Western Carolinas League crowns in 1972, 1973 and 1975.  But by the 1970’s, both Williams and the crowds were long gone.  Attendance at Duncan Park during the 1970’s was frequently under 500 fans per night, reflecting the broader existential crisis in minor league baseball around the country during that era.

As the 1980’s dawned, the Western Carolinas League re-branded itself as the South Atlantic League.  Spartanburg continued its long-time relationship with the Philadelphia Phillies, but starting in 1981 the team adopted a series of new names.  The ball club was known first as the Spartanburg Traders (1981-1982), then the Spartanburg Spinners (1983) and finally the Spartanburg Suns (1984-1985).  Meanwhile, in 1984, the Most Valuable Players of both the American League (Willie Hernandez) and the National League (Ryne Sandberg) were former members of the Spartanburg Phillies.

In 1986 the team took back the traditional Spartanburg Phillies name.  Two seasons later, the Spartanburg Phillies won the 1988 South Atlantic League crown, which would prove to be the city’s final minor league championship.

By the early 1990’s, Duncan Park was badly outdated and no longer met the minimum Class A standards set by the National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. Spartanburg’s attendance consistenly ranked last in the South Atlantic League by this point.   While numerous small mid-Atlantic cities were willing to help finance new ballparks to lure minor league baseball, Spartanburg didn’t show the political will to upgrade Duncan Park.  Late era owner Brad Shover entertained numerous offers for the team in the 1990’s before finally closing a deal with NASCAR team owner Larry Hedrick in late 1993.  Hedrick operated the Phillies for one lame duck season in Spartanburg in 1994 before moving the team to a new ballpark in Kannapolis, North Carolina in 199

At the time of the move in 1995, the Philadelphia Phillies and the city of Spartanburg had the 5th longest relationship between a Major League ballclub and a minor league community.  The former Spartanburg franchise plays on today as the Kannapolis Intimidators.

 

==Links==

Western Carolina League Programs

South Atlantic League Media Guides

South Atlantic League Programs

###

1973-1974 Gastonia Rangers

leave a comment

Gastonia RangersWestern Carolinas League (1973-1974)

Born: Affiliation change from Gastonia Pirates.
Moved:
1975 (Anderson Rangers)

Stadium: Sims Legion Park

Team Colors:

Owners:

Western Carolinas League Champions: 1974

 

The Gastonia (NC) Rangers were a Class A farm club of the Texas Rangers during the summers of 1973 and 1974. The team replaced the Gastonia Pirates entry (1963-1972) in the Western Carolinas League.

Gastonia won the 1974 Western Carolinas League championship by virtue of finishing in first place in both halves of the season, thus eliminating the need for postseason playoffs under the rules of the league.  Key future Major Leaguers to play in Gastonia during the Rangers early 70’s tenure included Mike Hargrove (1973) and Len Barker (1974).

Following the 1974 season, owner Fred Nichols moved the team to Anderson, South Carolina where it became the Anderson Rangers.  One factor in the move was the dim lighting at Gastonia’s Sims Legion Park, which failed to meet the minimum “foot candles” requirements (i.e. brightness) for Class A ballparks.

Following the Rangers’ departure in 1974, there was no pro baseball in Gastonia until the arrival of the Gastonia Cardinals in 1977.  In 1980, the Western Carolinas League changed its name to the South Atlantic League.  Gastonia hosted a series of South Atlantic League clubs throughout the 80’s and early 1990’s, including a later version of the Gastonia Rangers from 1987 until 1992.

 

==Links==

Western Carolina League Programs

###

Written by AC

December 14th, 2014 at 1:34 pm

1970 Sumter Indians

leave a comment

Western Carolinas League (1970)

Born: December 1, 1969 – The Monroe Indians relocate to Sumter, SC.
Affiliation Change: 1971 (Sumter Astros)

Stadium: Riley Park

Team Colors:

Owner: Joe Buzas

 

The Sumter Indians were a South Carolina minor league baseball team that played for only one season in the summer of 1970.  Sumter was a new addition to the six-team Western Carolinas League, replacing a faltering Indians farm club that split the 1969 season between the small North Carolina cities of Statesville and Monroe.  The Indians were the first pro baseball team to call Sumter home since the Sumter Chicks of 1949-1950.

Notable players included 18-year old third baseman Buddy Bell and 21-year old pitcher Jim Kern.  Both became Major League All-Stars for the Cleveland Indians and later for the Texas Rangers.

Attendance was miserable with fewer than 300 spectators per game for the first two months of the 1970 season according to The Sumter Daily Item.  Following the 1970 season the Indians withdrew from Sumter and were replaced by the Houston Astros for the 1971 season.  The Astros also lasted just one season and Sumter went without pro baseball again from 1972 until 1985.

 

==Links==

Western Carolinas League Programs

###

Written by AC

April 7th, 2014 at 3:03 am

1968-1979 Greenwood Braves

leave a comment

Western Carolinas League (1968-1979)

Born: 1968
Moved: October 1979 (Anderson Braves)

Stadium: Legion Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Greenwood (SC) Braves were a Class A farm club of the Atlanta Braves from 1968 to 1979 in the Western Carolinas League.  The Braves won the league championship six times in twelve season (1968, 1969, 1971, 1976, 1978 & 1979), although part of this success is due to the fact that the struggling Western Carolinas League occasionally played with as few as four active teams during the 1970’s.

A number of prominent future Major Leaguers came up through Anderson during the Braves era, starting with Dusty Baker, who arrived as a lightly regarded 19-year old and 26th round draft choice during the Braves’ first season in 1968.  Other notables included future National League MVP Dale Murphy (1975), future N.L. All-Stars Bruce Benedict and Glenn Hubbard (both 1976), pitcher Rick Mahler (1976), future Cy Young Award winner Steve Bedrosian (1978) and Brett Butler (1979).

One of the most intriguing Greenwood Braves stars was converted pitcher Big Earl Williams who tore up the Western Carolinas League as a 20-year old in 1969.  Williams hit .340 with 33 homers and 107 RBIs.  Two years later Williams was National League Rookie-of-the-Year with Atlanta, despite an odd attempt by the Braves to convert him to a catcher, a position that the former pitcher had barely ever played before.  In his first two seasons in the Majors, Williams bashed 61 home runs – only Johnny Bench was a more feared offensive threat among National League catchers.  But a 1973 trade to Baltimore marked the start of a downward spiral for Williams, who clashed publicly with Orioles manager Earl Weaver and quickly fell into disfavor with teammates and fans.  Although he never hit fewer than 10 home runs in seven Major League seasons, his bad reputation ran him out of the Majors by age 29.  On June 12, 1978, Williams took the highly unusual step of placing a classified ad in The New York Times seeking Major League employment, but there we no takers and him finished his career in anonymity in Mexico in 1979.

In March 1971, the Atlanta Braves came into Greenwood at the end of spring training for an exhibition game that attracted 4,527 fans to Legion Stadium.  But by the late 1970’s crowds dwindled to only 300 or so fans per game.  In October 1979, the Braves pulled out of Greenwood and moved the club to Anderson, South Carolina for the 1980 season.

 

==Slideshow==

 

==Links==

Western Carolina League Programs

###

 

 

 

Written by AC

November 28th, 2013 at 1:34 am

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: