Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘One-Year Wonders’ tag

1979-80 Utica Olympics

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Utica OlympicsContinental Basketball Association (1979-1980)

Born: 1979 – CBA expansion franchise.
Moved: Postseason 1980 (Atlantic City Hi Rollers)

Arena: Utica Memorial Auditorium

Team Colors:



The Utica Olympics were a short-lived minor league basketball team in upstate New York.  The club existed for just a single season in the winter of 1979-80, competing in the Continental Basketball Association.

The Olympics finished in last place in the CBA’s Southern Division with a 15-31 record.

Professional basketball has never returned to Utica since the Olympics’ demise in 1980.



Continental Basketball Association Media Guides

Continental Basketball Association Programs


Written by andycrossley

July 1st, 2015 at 11:20 pm

1983 Nashua Angels

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1983 Nashua Angels ProgramEastern League (1983)

Born: December 1982 – The Holyoke Millers relocate to Nashua, NH.
Re-Branded: Postseason 1983 (Nashua Pirates)

Stadium: Holman Stadium (6,000)

Team Colors:

Owners: Jerome Mileur, Ben Surner & George Como


The Nashua Angels were a farm club of the California Angels that competed for just one season in the Class AA Eastern League during the summer of 1983.  The franchise moved from Holyoke, Massachusetts one week before Christmas in 1982.

The team finished in sixth place in the eight-team Eastern League with a 60-80 record in 1983.  Prominent future Major Leaguers on the club included pitcher Kirk McCaskill and outfielder Devon White.

Following the 1983 season, the Angels departed and were replaced by the Pittsburgh Pirates as Nashua’s Major League parent club.  The Nashua Pirates played three more seasons in the Eastern League (1984-1986) before moving the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in late 1986.



Eastern League Media Guides

Eastern League Programs




Written by andycrossley

June 1st, 2015 at 7:34 pm

2010 Orlando Titans

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Orlando TitansNational Lacrosse League (2010)

Born: August 11, 2009 – The New York Titans relocate to Orlando.
Folded: August 2010.

Arena: Amway Arena (13,680)

Team Colors: Navy & Orange

Owner: Gary Rosenbach


The Orlando Titans were brief visitors to the Central Florida pro sports scene, managing only a single season at Amway Arena in the winter of 2010.  The franchise was founded by hedge fund manager Gary Rosenbach as the New York Titans in 2006 and spent three seasons in New York and New Jersey before shifting to Orlando in August 2009.

The Titans were a successful club on the carpet.  The club made it to the National Lacrosse League championship game in 2009 during its final season in New York.  In Orlando, the Titans won the East Division with an 11-5 record and advanced to the Champions Cup semi-finals, where they lost to the Toronto Rock. Casey Powell was named the NLL’s 2010 Most Valuable Player and Matt Vinc earned 2010 Goaltender-of-the-Year honors.

Off the field, the franchise bled red ink in both New York and Orlando.  Rosenbach bought the expansion rights for $3M in 2006 at the peak of the National Lacrosse Leauge’s franchise valuation bubble.  Shortly before the Titans shifted from New York to Orlando in the summer of 2009, Rosenbach resigned from Galleon Group, the $7B hedge fund that he co-founded in 1997.  In October of that year, Galleon exploded in spectacular fashion when Rosenbach’s former partner and co-founder Raj Rajaratnam was arrested and charged with insider trading violations, along with several other Galleon traders. Rajaratnam was eventually sentenced to 11 years in prison in one of the rare Wall Street criminal prosecutions of the Great Recession era.  Rosenbach was never charged.

Shortly after the 2010 season ended, Rosenbach either withdrew or substantially reduced his support for the Titans, throwing the team’s future into question.  In August 2010, the NLL confirmed that the Titans would sit out the 2011 season in an attempt to re-organize financially.  Rosenbach formally put the team up for sale for $1.4M a week later, which was less than half what he paid for the expansion rights four years earlier. There were no takers and the Titans were effectively out of business at that point.



National Lacrosse League Media Guides

National Lacrosse League Programs


Written by andycrossley

May 31st, 2015 at 5:46 pm

1991-92 Birmingham Bandits

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Birmingham BanditsContinental Basketball Association (1991-1992)

Born: May 1, 1991 – The Pensacola Tornados relocate to Birmingham, AL.
Died: May 28, 1992 – The Bandits relocate to Rochester, MN.

Arena: Bill Harris State Fair Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Tom McMillan


The Birmingham Bandits reside in our One-Year Wonder file of doomed minor league basketball teams.

Alabama businessman Tom McMillan and his wife Jane acquired the Pensacola Tornados franchise in the Continental Basketball Association in June 1989.  The Tornados routinely dwelled near the bottom of the CBA box office rankings, so McMillan and wife moved the team to Birmingham in the spring of 1991.  The team fared even worse in Alabama, finishing dead last in attendance in the 17-team league during the 1991-92 winter season.

On the court, the Bandits were reasonably competitive.  The team finished the regular season 25-31, which was good enough to sneak into the 1992 CBA playoffs. The Bandits were eliminated by the Quad City Thunder in the quarterfinal round in March 1992.  By this time, McMillan was actively seeking to unload the team to anyone who might take it.

McMillan announced a deal to sell the team to Rochester, Minnesota interests in May 1992.  As originally announced, McMillan would hold onto a token stake in the team, which would henceforth be known as the Rochester Renegade. However, his new investors quickly backed away, leaving the Alabaman in control of the money losing club yet again.  McMillan finally managed to get out of the CBA in 1994, selling the former Tornados/Bandits/Renegade franchise to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania man who promptly capsized it within the space of nine months.



Continental Basketball Association Media Guides

Continental Basketball Association Programs




1973 Wilson Pennants

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Wilson PennantsCarolina League (1973)

Born: 1973
Postseason 1973

Stadium: Fleming Stadium

Owner: Marshall Fox


The small city of Wilson, North Carolina fielded numerous minor league baseball teams between 1908 and 1973.  Wilson’s local nine were typically known as the “Tobs” (short for “Tobacconists”) through various iterations and leagues, but when long-time minor league operator Marshall Fox arrived in town in early 1973, he chose the rather generic “Wilson Pennants” for his new Carolina League entry.  Fox would stay only one season and the summer of 1973 would prove to be the last one for pro baseball in Wilson.

The Pennants were a co-op club, meaning they had no formal affiliation with a Major League franchise.  Co-op arrangements are largely unheard of today (they’ve been supplanted by fully “independent” baseball leagues), but they were relatively common in the 1970’s.  Forced to scramble for the spare parts and left overs of other teams, co-op clubs typically sucked. And the Pennants were no exception, cycling through three field managers (including a one-game stint by team owner Marshall Fox) and finishing dead last in the six-team Carolina League at 52-88.

There were a few highlights.  A 22-year old named Steve Hardin hurled a perfect game for the Pennants against the Winston-Salem Red Sox on April 18th, 1973. Hardin struck out 12 and only allowed one ball out of the infield. Hardin finished the 1973 season with a 4-10 record and never played another inning of pro baseball.

The Pennant who enjoyed the greatest success was pitcher Tom Johnson, who went on to appear in 129 games for the Minnesota Twins between 1974 and 1978. In 1977, Johnson won a remarkable 16 games out of the bullpen for Minnesota.

The Pennants quietly folded up shop after the 1973 season and pro ball never returned to Wilson.  The collegiate Wilson Tobs of the amateur Coastal Plains League continue to play out of Fleming Stadium to this day.



1973 Wilson Pennants vs. Salem Pirates Roster Sheet



Carolina League Media Guides

Carolina League Programs



Written by andycrossley

April 28th, 2015 at 1:17 am