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1991-92 Music City Jammers

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Music City JammersGlobal Basketball Association (1991-1992)

Born: 1991 – GBA founding franchise
Moved: 1992 (Jackson Jammers)

Arena: Nashville Municipal Auditorium

Team Colors:

Owner: Larry Schmittou, et al.

GBA Champions: 1992

 

The Music City Jammers were a Nashville-based minor league basketball outfit that lasted for just one season in the early 1990’s. The club was part of the Global Basketball Association, an all-but-forgotten loop with teams in the Southeast and Midwest. The managing partner of the Jammers was Larry Schmittou, long-time owner of Nashville’s popular Nashville Sounds minor league baseball club.

Schmittou wasn’t able to translate his magic touch from the baseball diamond to Nashville’s leaky Municipal Auditorium. A January 1992 profile of the Jammers in The Tennessean reported that the Jammers averaged fewer than 400 paid tickets per game through the team’s first 11 home dates.

On the court, the Jammers were mediocre. The team finished the regular season in 4th place in their division and barely earned the GBA’s eighth and final playoff spot. In fact, Music City’s record of 24-40 was second worst in the league. But the Jammers got hot at the right time. They eliminated the Huntsville Lasers in the first round and dispatched the Mid-Michigan Great Lakers in the semis. To cap it off, the Jammers knocked off the Greensboro City Gaters in the finals to claim the Global Basketball Association’s first (and only) championship.

Low attendance in Nashville forced Larry Schmittou to move the Jammers to Jackson, Tennessee.  The re-named Jackson Jammers returned to defend their title in November of 1992. But the Global Basketball Association came apart one month into its second season and folded on December 19, 1992.

Links

Global Basketball Association Pocket Schedules

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Written by Drew Crossley

May 29th, 2017 at 11:02 pm

1985-2014 Huntsville Stars

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1992 Huntsville Stars ProgramSouthern League (1985-2014)

Born: August 1984 – The Nashville Sounds relocate to Huntsville, AL.
Move Announced: January 10, 2014 (Biloxi Shuckers)
Final Home Game: September 1, 2014

Stadium: Joe W. Davis Stadium (10,488)

Team Colors:

Owners:

Southern League Champions: 1985, 1994, 2001

 

In the summer of 1984 Larry Schmittou, owner of the Class AA Nashville Sounds of the Southern League, purchased the Class AAA Evansville Triplets franchise and shifted it to Tennessee. The move effectively promoted Schmittou’s Nashville club to triple-A status, but left his original Southern League franchise homeless. The problem was solved when the city of Huntsville, Alabama agreed to construct 11,000-seat Joe W. Davis Stadium in time for the 1985 season.

Jose Canseco Huntsville StarsSchmittou’s re-christened Huntsville Stars club inked a player development contract with the Oakland Athletics in September 1984. Huntsville became a way station for the outstanding prospects that would later power Oakland’s World Series squads of the late 1980’s. Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Terry Steinbach all spent time in Huntsville on their way to Oakland. Canseco hit a grand slam in Huntsville’s first home game at Joe W. Davis Stadium on April 19, 1985. Canseco would go to win Southern League MVP honors in 1985 and Steinbach would win in 1986.

Huntsville won two Southern League crowns during the A’s era. Oakland also brought their Major League team to Alabama for exhibitions seven times during the 14-year relationship. The affiliation came to an end in 1998 and the Milwaukee Brewers became the Stars’ parent club the following season. The Brewers partnership would endure for the rest of the Stars’ stay in Huntsville.

The Stars won their third and final Southern League championship during the 2001 season. The Stars were about to open a playoff championship series against the Jacksonville Suns when the September 11th terrorist attacks occurred. The playoffs were cancelled and the Stars and Suns declared co-champions.

The Stars sold for the second time in October 2001. A group headed by New York attorney Miles Prentice paid a reported $6 million for the franchise, with a commitment to keep the team in Huntsville. But by the mid-2000’s Joe W. Davis Stadium was badly outdated. The facility lacked modern skyboxes and concessions areas were located outside view of the field. Prentice’s  group sold out to veteran minor league operator Ken Young in January 2014.. After a final lame duck season in Huntsville in 2014, the former Stars franchise moved to a new ballpark in Biloxi, Mississippi in 2015. The team is now known as the Biloxi Shuckers.

 

==Slideshow==

 

==Downloads==

2011 Huntsville Stars Media Guide

2012 Huntsville Stars Media Guide

 

==Links==

Southern League Media Guides

Southern League Programs

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1993-1994 Nashville Xpress

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Nashville Xpress ProgramSouthern League (1993-1994)

Born: January 30, 1993 – The Charlotte Knights relocate to Nashville, TN.
Moved: Postseason 1994 (Port City Roosters)

Stadium: Herschel Greer Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

A complicated game of franchise musical chairs sparked by Major League Baseball’s 1993 expansion sparked the formation of the Nashville Xpress and the odd arrangement that saw long-time Nashville baseball impresario Larry Schmittou operating two separate franchises at Herschel Greer Stadium in 1993 and 1994.

With the addition of the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins to MLB in 1993, room was created for two additional Class AAA franchises in the minor league baseball ecosystem.  George Shinn, owner of the NBA’s Hornets and the Class AA Charlotte Knights of the Southern League, received one of the expansion berths.  His Knights would move up to the AAA International League in 1993.  Shinn negotiated a sale of his Southern League franchise to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, who planned to move the ball club to the Big Easy.  But John Dikeou, the owner of the triple-A Denver Zephyrs club that was about to be displaced by the Major League Rockies in Colorado, also had his sights set on New Orleans. The Zephyrs won the right to move to Louisiana by virtue of playing at a higher classification and Shinn’s sale to Benson fell apart.

With the former Charlotte Knights franchise homeless, the Southern League faced an unwieldy line-up of nine clubs with just over two months to go before the start of the 1993 season.  The unbalanced schedule would leave one club idle each night. Every Southern League owner faced an economically devastating loss of 16 home dates. One of those imperiled owners was Huntsville Stars boss Larry Schmittou.  Schmittou also owned the popular Nashville Sounds triple-A franchise in the American Association.  Schmittou offered to operate the former Knights franchise in Nashville, squeezing in 70 Southern League home games while his AAA Sounds club was on the road.  League owners accepted the proposal on January 30th, 1993. The franchise would now be known as the Nashville Xpress and continue to serve as a farm club of the Minnesota Twins as it had in Charlotte.

The 1993 Xpress were a pretty strong club.  The team won the first half in Southern League’s Western Division with a 40-31 record.  They would finish the season 72-70 and lose to the Birmingham Barons in the first round of the playoffs.  Key players included pitchers Brad Radke, who would go on to win 20 games for the Minnesota Twins in 1997, and outfielder Marty Cordova who would named American League Rookie-of-the-Year two summers later in Minnesota.  Oscar Gomez (11-4, 3.08 ERA) earned Southern League Pitcher-of-the-Year honors, but would pitch just 10 games in the Majors.

In 1994, the Xpress were competitive once again. The club finished 74-66 under field manager Phil Roof.  Brad Radke returned and won 12 games to lead the pitching staff.  NBA superstar Michael Jordan visited Herschel Greer Stadium several times during the summer of 1994 as a member of the Birmingham Barons during his failed bid to establish a pro baseball career.  Off the field, the Xpress drew 135,048 fans which was the lowest figure in the Southern League in 1994. It was clear that the team’s co-tenancy with the Sounds at Herschel Greer was coming to an end.

In October 1993, Shinn sold the Xpress to baseball lifer Dennis Bastien.  Bastien was one of the last remaining “mom-and-pop” operators in minor league baseball – a man whose primary source of income was operating clubs. It was clear that the novel two-team arrangement in Nashville was coming to an end.  Bastien’s expressed goal was to move the franchise to Lexington, Kentucky in 1995.  When Lexington’s ballpark project dragged, Bastien set his sights on San Juan, Puerto Rico. Then it was Springfield, Missouri.

Ultimately, the Puerto Rico scheme fell through and Bastien moved the franchise to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1995 where it became the Port City Roosters.  Wilmington was yet another temporary solution.  The city did not have a suitable Class AA facility and the move was intended to be temporary until Springfield, Missouri’s ballpark was ready.  The Springfield deal later collapsed and the former Knights/Xpress/Roosters franchise move to Mobile, Alabama in 1997 where it plays on today as the Mobile BayBears.

 

==Links==

Southern League Media Guides

Southern League Programs

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Written by AC

August 22nd, 2015 at 1:05 pm

1980-1986 Salem Redbirds

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Salem RedbirdsCarolina League (1980-1986)

Born: 1980 – Re-branded from Salem Pirates.
Rebranded:
1987 (Salem Buccaneers)

Stadium: Municipal Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Larry Schmittou, Conway Twitty, et al.

 

The city of Salem, Virginia (pop. 25,000) has hosted minor league baseball each summer since 1957.  Salem was originally in the Appalachian League but has competed in the Class A Carolina League since 1968.  The name of the local nine has changed many times over the years, starting with the once ubiquitous “Rebels” nickname used by so many Southern clubs in the mid-20th century.

Salem RedbirdsPrior to the 1980 season ownership of the ball club, then known as the Salem Pirates, changed hands.  The new owner was Larry Schmittou, the former head baseball coach at Vanderbilt University turned minor league impresario.  Schmittou made his first minor league investment in 1978, assembling an investor group of southern musicians to bring pro baseball back to Nashville, Tennessee after a long absence.  Schmittou’s Nashville Sounds became tremendously popular and he soon began to add other southern ball clubs to his portfolio, starting with Salem and the Greensboro Hornets.  That’s country music star Conway Twitty, one of Schmittou’s famous partners, pictured on the cover of the Salem Redbirds’ first year game program from 1980 (above right).

Redbirds is a common minor league baseball name, but typically only for clubs that are part of the St. Louis Cardinals farm system.  The Salem Redbirds were an exception.  They were a San Diego Padres affiliate for their first four seasons (1980-1983).  The Padres era was pretty barren in Salem, bottoming out in 1982 when the Redbirds went 39-101, which still stands as the worst record in the city’s long history of pro baseball.

Better players arrived when the Redbirds switched affiliations to the Texas Rangers in in 1984.  Future Major League All-Star pitchers Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams (1985) and Kenny Rogers (1986) came spent time in Salem during the Rangers years.

Prior to the 1987 season the Rangers left town and Salem went back to being a Pittsburgh Pirates farm team, as they had been for most of the 1970’s.  The team was re-branded as the Salem Buccaneers at this point and the Redbirds era came to an end.

 

==Links==

Carolina League Media Guides

Carolina League Programs

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Written by AC

May 4th, 2014 at 6:21 pm

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