Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Philadelphia Charge Programs

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2001 Philadelphia Charge Media GuideFounded: April 10, 2000 – WUSA founding franchise
Folded: September 15, 2003

Stadium: Villanova Stadium

Team Colors:

Investor-Operator: Comcast

Founders Cup Championships: None


The Philadelphia Charge were a three-year entry in the Women’s United Soccer Association (2001-2003), the first pros soccer league for women in the United States.

The big impact players on the Charge were the team’s foreign stars – striker Marinette Pichon of France and midfielder/forward Kelly Smith of England. Pichon won the WUSA’s Most Valuable Player award in 2002. Smith, though limited by injuries during her Charge days, is widely considered one of the greatest offensive forces in the history of the women’s game.

But the big drawing cards of the WUSA were the American stars.  The league was formed by a consortium of cable companies and executives who were intoxicated by the attendance and TV ratings of the 1999 Women’s World Cup, won by the USA women.  Comcast backed the Charge franchise. Each of the eight WUSA franchises was “allocated” three of the U.S. National Team members in late 2000. The allocations were conducted via a matching process that took into account both team and player desires. The big name American stars (Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, et al.) expressed no willingness to play in Philly. As a result, the Charge received the least impressive allocation of U.S. National Team players among the WUSA’s eight clubs: Mandy Clemens, Lorrie Fair and Saskia Webber.

Heather Mitts Philadelphia Charge

Heather Mitts Bobblehead Night. June 8, 2002

The breakout American star turned out to be a college draft pick: defender Heather Mitts from the University of Florida. Mitts was a stalwart for the Charge during the three-year run of the WUSA, appearing in 51 of the team’s 63 matches and earning all-league honors as a defender in 2003. Off the field, Mitts appeared on the cover of Philadelphia Magazine as one of the city’s sexiest singles and dated Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell and later Eagles quarterback A.J. Feeley (whom she married in 2010). Mitts went on to play 137 games with the U.S. National Team, earning an Olympic gold medal with the team in 2008.

During the WUSA’s final season, the Charge drafted goalkeeper Hope Solo out of the University of Washington. Solo would eventually become the greatest American goalkeeper of all-time and a World Cup and Olympic champion. But as a rookie with the Charge in 2003, she spent most of the season on the bench backing up Melissa Moore.

Solo would never get a chance to establish herself as one of the rising young stars of the league. Late in the 2003 season, rumors emerged that Comcast was through backing the Charge, throwing the team’s future in Philly into question. In fact, Comcast’s desire to get out was a symptom of a broader loss of investor confidence in the WUSA.  On September 15th, 2003 the league folded after three seasons of play, taking the Charge down along with it.


Philadelphia Charge Programs 2001-2003

Written by Drew Crossley

May 24th, 2016 at 2:05 am

Columbus Crew Programs

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Columbus Crew Programs

Major League Soccer (1996-Present)

Founded: 1994 – Major League Soccer founding franchise


Team Colors:


MLS Cup Champions: 2008
U.S. Open Cup Champions: 2002


The Columbus Crew began play in 1996 as one of the ten founding franchises of Major League Soccer.  The Crew were backed by Lamar Hunt, the iconic American sports entrepreneur and long-time patron of professional soccer in the United States.  After three seasons at Ohio State University’s massive 102,000-seat American football coliseum, the club moved into Crew Stadium in 1999. Crew Stadium was the first professional soccer-specific stadium opened in the United States and signaled the start of a stadium construction boom in the early 2000’s that vastly elevated the status of pro soccer in America.

At the end of the 2014 season, the Crew underwent a modest re-branding, changing their formal identity to Columbus Crew SC.


Columbus Crew Programs 1996-1999


Columbus Crew Programs 2000-2009


Collector Notes

Throughout the 1990’s, all of Major League Soccer’s clubs sold a match day program known as FreekickFreekick was a pretty crummy production. The magazine-style covers were nice enough, but the inside was printed on cheap black-and-white newsprint.

Along with the rest of MLS, the Crew shifted to a smaller Playbill-style format during the 2000’s, also known as Freekick.  These were typically produced only about four times per season, with each edition covering four to five matches.  On the upside, the interiors were now on decent paper with full color photography.

In recent seasons, the Crew have abandoned the centralized Freekick format of MLS’ early years and produced their own programs (now known as Match Day) in unconventional brochure-style formats. For example, each 2013 edition of Match Day folds out roadmap-style into a large player poster.

The Crew also printed attractive annual media guides from 1996 until at least 2008.  The club seems to have shifted to digital (.pdf) media guides only in the late 2000’s, following the trend of most MLS clubs.


Columbus Crew Programs 2010-Present


Written by Drew Crossley

May 21st, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Phoenix Giants Programs

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1984 Phoenix Giants ProgramPacific Coast League (1966-1985)

Born: 1966 – The Tacoma Giants relocate to Phoenix
Re-Branded: 1986 (Phoenix Firebirds)

Stadium: Phoenix Municipal Stadium

Team Colors:


  • 1966-1973: San Francisco Giants
  • 1973-1977: John Ashby, Dan Walker, Ethan Blackaby, et al.
  • ????-1985: Martin Stone, et al.

PCL Champions: 1977


The Phoenix Giants were the long-time top farm club of the National League’s San Francisco Giants. (This edition of the Giants followed an earlier Phoenix Giants entry in the Pacific Coast League in 1958-1959).

Giants prospects roasted in the Phoenix heat during the summer months. In a 2014 retrospective on the team, catcher Bob Brenly (Phoenix ’80-’81) told Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic that he routinely lost eight to ten pounds in water weight at each home game.

The Giants won their lone Pacific Coast League crown during the 1977 season.

Following the 1985 season, the franchise was re-branded as the Phoenix Firebirds. The Firebirds remained an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants for another twelve seasons through 1997 until minor league baseball was displaced by the Arizona Diamondbacks Major League expansion team. The former Phoenix Giants/Firebirds franchise moved to Tucson in 1998.


Phoenix Giants Programs 1966-1985



Before Chase Field, Phoenix heat didn’t stop baseball“, Scott Bordow, azcentral sports, July 12, 2014

Pacific Coast League Media Guides

Pacific Coast League Programs


Written by Drew Crossley

May 2nd, 2016 at 1:18 am

1975-1977 Albuquerque Chaparrals

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1975-76 Albuquerque Chaparrals ProgramSouthwest Hockey League (1975-1977)

Born: 1975 – SWHL founding franchise
Folded: January 25, 1977

Arena: Tingley Coliseum

Team Colors:



The Albuquerque Chaparrals were a senior amateur hockey team that skated for one-and-a-half chaotic seasons during the mid-1970’s.  The Chaparrals were founded by the controversial Las Vegas construction baron, casino owner and Nazi party enthusiast Ralph Englestad and his brother Richard in 1975.

The Engelstads launched the Southwest Hockey League from their headquarters in Las Vegas, where Ralph owned the Flamingo Capri Motel and Casino. The concept of the SWHL was that players would attend college or vocational school while competing in the league’s 72-game winter schedule. Since the players were amateur, they did not draw salaries.  Team owners were expected to provide room and board, pay for players’ tuition and books, and a small weekly expense stipend. SWHL franchises formed in Arizona, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota and Texas.

The Chaparrals finished in 2nd place in the SWHL with a 39-32-1 during their debut run in 1975-76. Following the season, the Engelstads sold the Chaparrals to E.W. McIntrye for a reported $100,000.

Financial troubles doomed the SWHL during its second season. Six teams started the season, but clubs in Bismarck and Minot swiftly went under.

Albuquerque had problems too. In December 1976, the team organized a promotion with a man named George Hartnett (identified by The Albuquerque Journal as “a hot air balloon promoter”). Hartnett would attempt to sell five thousand $1.00 tickets to a Chaps home date at the Tingley Coliseum on December 10, 1976. Gate receipts would pay for travel home for the Christmas holidays for the Chaps players, many of whom hailed from the Western provinces of Canada. The promotion flopped and General Manager Leo Zani declined to give any of the money raised to the players. Chaparrals coach Bob Gernander and 12 of his players resigned from the team in protest.

The team re-organized and soldiered on under new head coach Cal Swenson. But by the end of January 1977 the SWHL’s remaining four clubs decided to call it quits, cancelling the final 30 or so games of the 1976-77 season.


1987-1995 New Jersey Stars

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1987 New Jersey Stars ProgramWorld TeamTennis (1987-1995)

Born: 1987
Died: 1995


Team Colors: Blue & Gold

Owner: Larry Rosenthal

WTT Champions: 1994 and 1995


Long-running franchise in the co-ed summer World TeamTennis league.  The New Jersey Stars won the league championship during their final two seasons of play.

Martina Navratilova was the team’s top attraction during the 1994 championship campaign. The Czech superstar moonlighted in TeamTennis habitually throughout her career, starting soon after her defection to the United States in 1975.



World TeamTennis Media Guides

World TeamTennis Programs


Written by Drew Crossley

April 28th, 2016 at 7:27 pm