Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Independent Baseball’ tag

1999-2010 Schaumburg Flyers

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Schaumburg Flyers ProgramNorthern League (1999-2010)

Born: 1999 – The Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks relocate to Schaumburg, IL.
Died: March 2011 – The Flyers cease operations.

Stadium: Alexian Field

Team Colors:

Owners: Richard Ehrenreich, et al.

 

The Schaumburg Flyers were a minor league baseball team that played in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois from 1999 until 2010.  The Flyers competed in the Northern League, an “independent” circuit whose members had no affiliation with Major League Baseball parent clubs.

7,600-seat Alexian Field was constructed at a cost of approximately $20 million to lure the club from Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1999.  Popular former White Sox slugger Ron Kittle was the Flyers’ field manager for the first three seasons of the team’s existence from 1999 through 2001.

Team owner Rich Ehrenreich began to fall behind on lease payments for Alexian Field in 2007.  By the end of the 2010 Northern League season, the team’s accumulated debt and penalties exceeded $900,000.  Efforts to sell the team to poorly vetted buyers fell through in 2010 and led to litigation.  Meanwhile, the Northern League folded after the 2010 season, but the Flyers announced plans to play on in a dubious sounding enterprise known as the North American League.  Before the Flyers could join the new league, they were evicted from Alexian Field in March 2011 over their unpaid bills and went out of business.

After a summer without baseball in 2011, the Flyers were replaced by the Schaumburg Boomers of the independent Frontier League in 2012.

 

==Links==

Northern League Media Guides

Northern League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

November 21st, 2014 at 8:57 pm

1993-1995 Portsmouth Explorers

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Portsmouth Explorers ProgramFrontier League (1993-1995)

Born: 1993 – Frontier League founding franchise.
Died: Postseason 1995

Stadium: Branch Rickey Park

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Portsmouth Explorers were an independent professional baseball team in the small (pop. 20,000) Southern Ohio city of Portsmouth during the mid-1990’s.  The Explorers were one of eight original members of the Frontier League (1993-present), which is the oldest independent baseball league in the country at the time of this writing.

The Explorers finished in 7th place with a losing for three consecutive seasons from 1993 until 1995.  None of the men who played for the Explorers ever played in the Major Leagues.

The ball club ultimately could not sustain itself.  The Explorers averaged fewer than 1,000 fans per game in all three seasons they played.  Pro baseball has never returned to Portsmouth, Ohio since the Explorers disbanded in 1995.

 

==Downloads==

1993 Portsmouth Explorers Scorecard

 

==Links==

Frontier League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

November 1st, 2014 at 8:33 pm

2001 Baton Rouge Blue Marlins

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Baton Rouge Blue MarlinsAll-American Association (2001)

Born: 2001 – All-American Association founding franchise.
Died: Postseason 2001 – The Blue Marlins cease operations.

Stadium: Pete Goldsby Park

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Baton Rouge Blue Marlins were a deeply obscure independent pro baseball team that played in the doomed All-American Association during the summer of 2001.  Both the ball club and the league itself  folded at the end of one season.

The All-American Association was a six-team loop with teams in Albany (GA), Montgomery (AL), Winchester (TN) and Fort Worth and Tyler (TX) besides the Baton Rouge club.  The Blue Marlins did manage to win the first and only championship of the league in 2001, defeating the Albany Alligators.

The Blue Marlins were a flop at the box office, drawing just 16,616 fans for 36 home dates at Pete Goldsby Park.

Following the 2001 season, the All-American Association split apart, with two teams folding and the Texas clubs joining the independent Central League.  Baton Rouge and Montgomery joined the new Southeastern League, with Baton Rouge changing its name to the River Bats prior to the 2002 season.

30-year old pitcher Rick Greene, who made one appearance for the Cincinnati Reds in 1999, was the only Blue Marlins player to ever appear in the Major Leagues.

 

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Written by andycrossley

September 10th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

1995-1996 Newburgh Nighthawks

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Newburgh NighthawksNortheast League (1995-1996)

Born: 1995 – Northeast League founding franchise.
Died: 1996

Stadium: Delano-Hitch Stadium

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Newburgh Nighthawks were a low-budget independent pro baseball team that played in the Hudson Valley region of New York for two summers during the mid-1990’s. The Nighthawks were overshadowed in the area by the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New York-Penn League, who played at the brand new $8 million Dutchess Stadium in nearby Fishkill, which opened just a year before the Nighthawks formed in 1995.

By contrast, the Nighthawks played at Delano-Hitch Stadium, a small no-fills ballpark that was 70 years old.

During the Northeast League’s first season in 1995, former Major League pitcher Floyd Youmans pitched six games for Newburgh.  Ex-Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox outfielder Ron LeFlore was the team’s field manager in 1995.

In 1996, Newburgh featured 35-year old Ken Dixon, who won 11 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 1986.  The 1996 Nighthawks also sent one player to the Majors – 26-year old pitcher Joel Bennett, who later had a cup of coffee with the Orioles (1998) and the Philadelphia Phillies (1999).  The ’96 Nighthawks team went 55-25 under new field manager Dan Shwam.  Newburgh lost to the Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs in the Northeast League championship series.

Team owner Jeff Kunion shut down the Nighthawks after the 1996 season citing the inadequacy of Delano-Hitch Stadium and the city’s unwillingness to make improvements to it.  Two summers later, Newburgh briefly hosted a team in the independent Atlantic League – the Newburgh Black Diamonds – but they departed for Pennsylvania after only one season.  Pro baseball has never returned since.

 

==Links==

Northeast League Media Guides

Northeast League Programs

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1996-1997 Bangor Blue Ox

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Northeast League (1996-1997)

Born: December 8, 1995 – Northeast League expansion team.
Died: 1998 – The Blue Ox relocate to Quebec City, Quebec.

Stadium: Larry Mahaney Diamond

Team Colors:

Owner: Vincent Burns, Dean Gyorgy & Margot Gyorgy

 

The Bangor Blue Ox were a short-lived professional baseball team that played for two seasons in the independent Northeast League.  At the time, Bangor (pop. 33,000) had not hosted pro baseball since prior to World War I.

The team’s unique nickname derived from the legend of Paul Bunyan and his companion Babe, the Blue Ox.  Bangor is one of several communities that claims to be the birthplace of the folkloric hero and the city bosts a 31-foot tall, 3,700-pount statue of Bunyan.

The first player signed by the Blue Ox in March 1996 was 36-year old former Boston Red Sox hurler Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd.  This would be one of Boyd’s many comeback attempts in the independent leagues and he played extremely well, posting a 10-0 record and 3.22 ERA for Bangor in 1996.  The Blue Ox had one other former Major League, pitcher Mike Smith, who appeared in 33 games in the Bigs between 1984 and 1989.

Boyd and Smith did not return for Bangor’s second season in 1997.  The team added former Boston Red Sox 1st round pick Bob Zupcic and ex-California Angels pitcher Joe Grahe, who was rehabbing from injury.  Grahe would return briefly to the Majors in 1999 with the Philadelphia Phillies.  He was the only Blue Ox player to go on to play in the Majors after leaving Bangor.

During the Blue Ox’s two-year run the team played at Mahaney Diamond on the campus of the University of Maine at Orono.  The club averaged just under 1,000 fans per game in both summers.  Team and league officials hoped that Bangor would build a new ballpark for the team.  But an October 1997 Bangor city council vote to float a $2 million bond to construct a ballpark for the 1999 season failed by a single vote and signaled the death knell for the Blue Ox in Bangor.

Team owner Vincent Burns, along with his son-in-law Dean Gyorgy and daughter Margot turned their efforts towards New Bedford, Massachusetts where there was some political support to build a new ballpark.  With the Blue Ox franchise gone dark for the 1998 season, the family worked on the New Bedford angle, but ran out of time before the Northeast League’s April 1998 deadline to secure commitment for a stadium in the southeastern Massachusetts port city.

With New Bedford going nowhere, the family sold controlling interest in the Blue Ox franchise to Dean Gyorgy’s former mentor at Baseball America, Miles Wolff in mid-1998.  Wolff, the former owner of the Durham Bulls and a long-time independent baseball enthusiast, moved the team to Quebec City where it began play as the Quebec Capitales in the summer of 1999.

Independent baseball returned to Bangor in 2003 with the Bangor Lumberjacks, who were once again members of the Northeast League.  But like the Blue Ox, the Lumberjacks only lasted two seasons before folding.

 

==Links==

Northeast League Media Guides

Northeast League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

March 5th, 2014 at 4:27 pm