Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Independent Baseball’ tag

1977-1981 Salem Senators


Salem Senators ProgramNorthwest League (1977-1981)

Born: 1977 – Northwest League expansion franchise
Affiliation Change: 1982 (Salem Angels)




The Salem Senators were an independent franchise (i.e. no Major League parent club) in the short-season Class A Northwest League.  The Senators were a brand revival of Salem’s earlier Senators team, which played in the city from 1940 until 1960. Stockton, California businessman Carl Thompson founded the team in 1977.  Thompson and his wife Noreen owned several low-level minor league clubs in California and the Pacific Northwest during the 1970’s, typically running the clubs as independents, which allowed Thompson to appoint himself field manager.

The Thompsons’ operation was a ramshackle effort to put it mildly.  The Sens’ shared a Little League field during their first season. Carl Thompson threatened to cancel a 1977 game over a dispute with the local Parrish Little League over who would pay $75 for liability insurance at Holland Youth Park. The game only proceeded after Northwest League Commissioner Bob Richmond forked over the seventy-five bucks himself.  The Sens’ rarely drew more than a couple hundred fans a night.

Carl Thompson ran out of money midway through the Sens’ second season in the summer of 1978.  He released a number of players, including the Northwest League batting leader, and made noises about folding the team mid-summer. He was soon forced to sell by the Northwest League. A local group led by mobile home dealer Ben Yates stepped up and backstopped the Sens through the end of the season.

The Sens muddled along as an independent operation for five seasons through the summer of 1981. In 1982 the California Angels became Salem’s parent club and re-branded the ball club as the Salem Angels.

Only two Senators players ever advanced to the Major Leagues.  Catcher Darryl Cias (Sens ’78) had a cup of coffee with the Oakland A’s in 1983. Infielder Sap Randall (Sens ’81) got into four games for the White Sox in 1988.

Improbably, the franchise that Carl Thompson entered into the Northwest League in 1977 remains in Salem to this day.  After numerous subsequent affiliation changes and re-brands, the team is known today as the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.



Northwest League Programs


Written by andycrossley

August 23rd, 2015 at 3:20 am

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.



Northern League Media Guides

Northern League Programs


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.
Folded: Postseason 1995

Stadium: Branch Rickey Park

Team Colors:



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.



1993 Portsmouth Explorers Scorecard



Frontier League Programs


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:



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.



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:



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.



Northeast League Media Guides

Northeast League Programs



Written by andycrossley

June 2nd, 2014 at 1:30 am