All-but-forgotten minor league basketball outfit that played just a single season in the Eastern Basketball Association in the winter of 1976-77. The Hartford Downtowners were the second Hartford-based entry in the Eastern League, replacing the more successful Hartford Capitols (1966-1974).
The club played its home games at Bulkeley High School and finished the 1976-77 season with a 5-19 record before quietly disbanding.
The Oakland Buccaneers (also known as the Golden Bay Buccaneers) were an obscure U.S. pro soccer club that played one season in the summer of 1976. The team was a typical lower-division disaster of the era, beset by bounced paychecks, non-existent promotion and vanishing owners. The penniless club operated the final months of the 1976 season without so much as a working phone line, a subject of frequent mockery by The Oakland Tribune and the Fremont-based Argus, both of which somewhat inexplicably gave the team coverage.
The Buccs were founded in early 1976 as part of a nationwide expansion of the 43-year old American Soccer League. The ASL was traditionally a Northeastern semi-pro collection of ethnic clubs. But the league became fully professional in the 1970’s and became the de facto 2nd Division of American soccer. Clubs in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and Salt Lake City were added in 1976 to give the ASL a true national footprint for the first time. All but the Los Angeles Skyhawks franchise turned out to be poorly-organized basket cases.
The founder and principal owner of the Buccs was a tequila exporter from Guadalajara named Jaime Ruiz Llaguno. Llaguno signed former C.D. Guadalajara manager Javier De La Torre to coach the team and talked of playing at the Oakland Coliseum. That grandiose plan fell through and the Buccs wound up at Edwards Stadium, the track and field venue at California-Berkeley. Midway through the season, Llaguno abandoned the club. Without any sort of announcement, the team left Berkeley and shifted its games to Tak Fudenna Stadium, a high school football field in Fremont. The players and a couple of staff members soldiered on without pay and somehow managed to complete 18 of 21 scheduled games. The Oakland Buccaneers finished their only season with a record of 6-10-2.
The American Soccer League went out of business in 1984.
==Oakland Buccaneers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==
The Boston Brawlers were an misbegotten minor league football effort that managed two stage just two games at Harvard Stadium in the fall of 2014 before evaporating. The Brawlers were part of a start-up called the Fall Experimental Football League which suddenly popped up in three cities (Boston, Brooklyn, Omaha) in the summer of 2014 with virtually no advance publicity, sales effort or investors . (A fourth team, the “Florida” Blacktips had no home base and rounded out schedule as a travel-only squad).
The Brawlers’ biggest name was quarterback Tahj Boyd. Boyd, the 2012 ACC Player-of-the-Year at Clemson, was the 6th round draft pick of the New York Jets earlier in 2014. After getting cut in training camp, Boyd latched on with the Brawlers for a couple of games.
The Brawlers played in the league’s debut game on October 8th, 2014, losing 41-18 to the Omaha Mammoths at TD Ameritrade Park in Nebraska. Meanwhile, back in Boston, the Brawlers neglected to do any local promotion, short of an agreement to air a few game broadcasts on NESN, the Red Sox-owned cable network. Boston Globe sportswriter Stan Grossfeld, who covered the team’s second and final appearance at a near-empty Harvard Stadium in November 2014, noted that the team’s pugilistic logo “looks more like V.I. Lenin than John L. Sullivan”.
On November 7, 2014 30 days after the FXFL debuted, league founder Brian Woods announced the cancellation of the league’s final regular season contest and championship game. After the season, many FXFL players complained on social media of unpaid salaries.
Surprisingly, the FXFL returned to play in 2015 with a new business model. Brooklyn returned, but gone were the major/mid-major markets of Boston and Omaha. In their place, the FXFL formed partnerships with minor league baseball operators to handle promotion and operations. The Brawlers were re-purposed as the Mahoning Valley Brawlers, to be operated by the Mahoning Valley Scrappers baseball team in Niles, Ohio.
The Anaheim Oranges were an expansion franchise during the final season of World Team Tennis in 1978. Anaheim received a full-fledged franchise of its own after the Anaheim Convention Center hosted 10 league contests as a neutral site in 1977.
The Oranges were owned by Dr. Jerry Buss and his business partner Frank Mariani, who also backed the league’s other Southern California franchises, the Los Angeles Strings and San Diego Friars. Tennis superstar and league co-founder Billie Jean King reportedly owned 29 percent of the franchise, though she played for the rival New York Apples team in 1978.
World Team Tennis was a co-ed league and featured top touring pros from all over the world who played in the league during breaks between Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and other summer tournaments. Key players for the ’78 Oranges included Rosie Casals, Cliff Drysdale and 15-year old Tracy Austin, who appeared in three matches for Anaheim as an unpaid amateur.
The franchise folded along with the rest of the World Team Tennis organization in late 1978. Billie Jean King revived a lower-budget version of the league in 1981 and a re-boot of the Oranges (the “California Oranges”) returned to the Anaheim Convention Center that summer. The new Oranges lasted from 1981 to 1983 before fading into history.
==Anaheim Oranges Programs on Fun While It Lasted==
This fly-by-night professional roller hockey outfit played for two months in downtown Columbus, Ohio during the summer of 1998. The Hawks were one of several minor sports franchises that tried to make a go of it at Battelle Hall in the Columbus Convention Center during the mid-1990’s, along with the Columbus Invaders indoor soccer team and the Columbus Quest women’s basketball team. Only the Quest attracted even a modest core of regular fans while the men’s teams played to virtually empty stands. None of these clubs made it through more than two seasons.
The Hawks were owned by a Mansfield, Ohio businessman named Fred Drew who worked in the trucking industry. The team’s coach and GM position was a summer job for Derek Clancey, a minor league hockey journeyman who had played four winters for the city’s popular East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) team, the Columbus Chill. Most of the Hawks players were moonlighting ECHL ice hockey players, including a number of other Chill veterans.
Crowds numbered in the low hundreds and the Hawks faded quietly from view at the end of the summer along with the rest of Major League Roller Hockey. The league was relaunched as a semi-pro enterprise in the early 2000’s but the Hawks never returned.