Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Midseason Meltdowns’ tag

1997-1999 Raleigh Cougars

leave a comment

1997 Raleigh Cougars Pocket ScheduleUnited States Basketball League (1997-1999)

Born: 1997
Folded: June 7, 1999

Arena: Dorton Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Clyde Austin

USBL Championships: None

 

The Raleigh Cougars low-level minor league basketball outfit founded by former N.C. State star and Harlem Globetrotter Clyde “The Glide” Austin. The team’s name recalled the old Carolina Cougars club that played in the American Basketball Association in the early 1970’s. The original ABA Cougars played in various arenas around North Carolina, including Raleigh’s Dorton Arena, where Austin’s team set up shop a quarter century later.

The Cougars’ biggest name was Lorenzo Charles, who famously slammed home a buzzer-beating dunk to life N.C. State to the 1983 NCAA championship over the University of Houston.

As the Cougars prepared for their third season in the United States Basketball League in 1999, it was clear that something wasn’t right. The team held no training camp. Clyde Austin no-showed a league owner’s meeting and bounced his payroll. The Raleigh Cougars managed to play 13 games, posting a 5-8 record, before USBL Commissioner Daniel Meisenheimer euthanized the club on June 7th, 1999 with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

It later emerged the Clyde Austin was running a multi-state pyramid scheme during the time he was involved in the USBL. Serving as a pastor in churches from North Carolina to Nevada, Austin swindled parishioners out of an estimated $16 million between 1996 and 2000. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison in 2004.

Links

##

Written by Drew Crossley

May 29th, 2017 at 7:36 pm

1961-1962 Kansas City Steers

leave a comment

1961-62 Kansas City Steers Media GuideAmerican Basketball League (1961-1963)

Born: 1961 – ABL founding franchise
Folded: December 31, 1962

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owner: Kenneth A. Krueger

ABL Championships: 1963* (*Sort of…)

 

The Kansas City Steers were one of the best entries in Abe Saperstein’s short-lived American Basketball League. The Harlem Globetrotters impresario aimed to compete with the NBA in major markets around the country and succeeded in luring top talent to the circuit.

The Steers’ starting five of Bill Bridges (F), Maury King (G), Nick Mantis (G), Larry Staverman (F) and Bumper Tormohlen (C) all played in the NBA. Bridges, a rookie of the University of Kansas in 1961, finished fourth in the ABL in scoring with 21.4 points per game in 1961-62. He was leading the league with 29.2 per contest when the league folded midway through its sophomore campaign.

The Steers posted the best record in the ABL in each of the league’s two seasons.  In 1961-62, the Steers went 28-12. They met the Cleveland Pipers in the ABL championship series in April 1962. The Steers blew out the Pipers by 25 points and 36 points respectively in the first two games in Kansas City. But they could not close the deal on the road in Ohio. The series  was due to return to Kansas City for decisive Game 5 on April 8th, 1962. That’s when things when haywire.

The Steers primary home, Municipal Auditorium, booked the Ice Capades for April 8th. The Steers booked the 1,500-seat Mason-Halpin Fieldhouse on the campus of tiny Rockhurst College for the title contest. Pipers owner George Steinbrenner (yes, that one) was outraged, believing Saperstein promised the series finale to Cleveland. As the teams bickered with each other and the ABL office, the Pipers no-showed for Game 5 at Rockhurst College. Rather than forfeit the game to the Steers, Saperstein decreed the game would now be played the following night, April 9th, 1962, at Rockhurst. This time the Pipers showed and dealt the Steers a crushing 106-102 defeat.

The Steers came back for the ABL’s second season in the fall of 1962. By now the league was on shaky ground. Only three of the league’s eight founding clubs remained in their original cities of a year earlier. Steinbrenner folded the league champion Pipers after a failed attempt to run off and join the NBA.

The Steers were once again the class of the league, racing out to a 22-9 record in the fall and early winter of 1962. But the ABL’s woes proved insurmountable, and the Steers closed their doors along with the rest of the league on New Year’s Eve 1962. The ABL declared the Steers to be league champions for 1963 by virtue of having the league’s best record at the time of closing.

 

In Memoriam

Forward Larry Staverman died on July 12, 2007 at the age of 70. After playing for the Steers, Staverman went on to become the first head coach of the Indiana Pacers in 1967.

Steers forward Bill Bridges passed away on September 15, 2015 from cancer at age 76. Kansas City Star obituary

 

Links

American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs

##

1948-1954 Marion Marauders

leave a comment

Marion MaraudersWestern Carolina League (1948-1952)
Tar Heel League (1953-1954)

Born: 1948
Folded: June 21, 1954

Stadium:

Major League Affiliation:

Owners:

Western Carolina League Championships: None
Tar Heel League Championships:

 

The Marion Marauders were a Class D minor league baseball club in the small North Carolina of Marion. The mill town on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains had a U.S. Census population of fewer than 3,000 residents in 1950. The town is best known as the site of a deadly 1929 textile mill strike that saw six striking mill workers gunned down by law enforcement. The Marauders’ seven-year run from 1948 to 1954 marked the only time pro baseball was played in Marion.

The Marauders started out as a founding franchise in the Western Carolina League in 1948. Marion’s player-manager that first summer was Major League vet Wes Ferrell.  Ferrell pitched for parts of 15 seasons in the Majors from 1927 to 1941 but primarily played in the outfield for the Marauders. Ferrell departed following the 1940 season.

In 1953 the Western Carolina League merged with the North Carolina State League to form the Tar Heel League. The Marauders were the class of the circuit that summer, thanks largely to a 29-year old journeyman pitcher named Kelly Jack Swift. Swift posted a 30-7 record. Some six decades later, Swift remains the last minor league pitcher to win 30 games in a season.

The Tar Heel League began the 1953 season with 10 clubs. By opening day of 1954, the loop was down to just four ball clubs and the end was near. The league gave up the ghost on June 21, 1954 with the Marauders sitting in 2nd place with a 26-26 record.

 

Links

The Invisible Fastball“, Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated, October 17, 2011 (The story of Kelly Jack Swift)

##

Written by Drew Crossley

March 25th, 2017 at 8:44 pm

1961 Washington Tapers

leave a comment

Washington TapersAmerican Basketball League (1961)

Born: 1961 – ABL founding franchise
Moved: December 31, 1961 (New York Tapers)

Arena: Washington Coliseum

Team Colors:

Owner: Paul Cohen

ABL Championships: None

 

Doomed entry in Abe Saperstein’s short-lived American Basketball League of the early 1960’s. The Tapers were owned by Paul Cohen, owner of the Technical Tape Company of New Rochelle, New York. Cohen was a millionaire business owner, basketball fan and sufferer from muscular dystrophy. It was Cohen who recruited Jerry Lewis to the cause of muscular dystrophy and helped inspire the comedian’s famous Labor Day telethons in support of the MDA. Cohen previously backed the New York Tuck Tapers (1959-1961) in the amateur National Industrial Basketball League. The Washington Tapers marked Cohen’s first foray into full professionalism in the basketball arena.

The biggest name on the Tapers was Gene Conley, a two-sport star who previously played Major League Baseball for the Milwaukee Braves and pro basketball for the Boston Celtics. Dan Swartz, a holdover from the NIBL, was the Tapers’ top scorer at 24.8 points per game in 1961-62.

The team was a bust in the nation’s capital. After just two months of play, the Tapers announced a midseason move to Long Island’s Commack Arena on New Year’s Eve, 1961, where they would become known as the New York Tapers. Following the 1961-62 season, Cohen moved the team again, this time to Philadelphia. The ABL folded on December 31st, 1962 midway through its second season, taking the Washington/New York/Philadelphia Tapers down with it.

 

Links

American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs

##

1981-82 Cape Cod Buccaneers

leave a comment

1981-82 Cape Cod Buccaneers ProgramAtlantic Coast Hockey League (1981-1982)

Born: 1981 – ACHL founding franchise
Folded: February 1, 1982

Arena: Cape Cod Coliseum (4,946)

Team Colors:

Owner: Vince McMahon

ACHL Championships: None

 

The Cape Cod Buccaneers were the first team sports venture for World Wrestling Entertainment impresario Vince McMahon back in the winter of 1981-82. McMahon held the lease on the Cape Cod Coliseum at the time, where he staged a number of wrestling promotions. He formed the Bucs in the summer of 1981 and entered the team in the newly formed Atlantic Coast Hockey League (ACHL). Three previous Cape pro hockey ventures – the Cubs, Codders and Freedoms – failed at the Coliseum during the previous decade.

In early 1982, the legendary Philadelphia Flyers enforcer Dave Schultz published a memoir, Hammer: Confessions of a Hockey Enforcer with Stan Fischler. Schultz held the NHL records for most penalty minutes in a season (1974-75) and in a career. Schultz’s book and the accompanying media campaign repudiated violence in hockey. In an effort to hype the book, Schultz struck a deal to suit up for the Cape Cod Buccaneers for a February 6th, 1982 ACHL contest against the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds at the Cape Cod Coliseum.

The Schultz appearance on the Cape never came to pass. ACHL franchises were dropping like flies. In late January 1982, the league put forward a plan to cancel the remained of the regular season and move directly to a hastily organized playoff tournament. The Buccaneers’ record stood at 17-21-1. Vince McMahon objected to the plan and folded the team on February 1st, 1982.

Pro hockey never returned to Cape Cod. The Coliseum closed its doors in 1984 and was converted to a warehouse.

 

Links

Streaker Sports has sells a retro Cape Cod Buccaneers t-shirt on their website here

##

Written by Drew Crossley

January 4th, 2017 at 2:50 am

Follow

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

Join other followers: