Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘One-Year Wonders’ tag

1978-79 Tucson Gunners

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Tucson GunnersWestern Basketball Association (1978-79)

Born: 1978 – WBA expansion franchise
Folded: 1979

Arena: Tucson Community Center

Team Colors:

Owners: Davis Burk, et al.

WBA Champions: 1979

 

The Tucson Gunners were a One-Year Wonder in the minor-league Western Basketball Association. The Gunners, like the rest of the league, operated for just one season during the winter of 1978-79. The WBA stretched from Tucson in the south up through California, Utah and Nevada to Montana and Washington in the north. The league attracted a number of out-of-work pros who lost jobs with the closure of the American Basketball Association in 1976, along with training camp cuts from the NBA.

The Gunners shared winter dates at the Tucson Community Center with the Tucson Rustlers hockey team. Like the Gunners, the Rustlers would also fold after just one season.

The Gunners were managed by former Detroit Pistons head coach Herb Brown. Brown assembled the best squad in the league. The Gunners topped the standings with a 32-16 regular season record. Top players included former ABA regular Al Smith and rookie guard Gerald Henderson. Henderson was a 3rd round draft pick of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs in 1978 who failed to stick in training camp.

The Gunners met the Reno Bighorns in the WBA championship series in late March 1979. The series came down to a deciding game 7 in Tucson on April 2, 1979. Smith and Henderson combined for 45 points as Tucson vanquished Reno 104-90.

It proved to be the team’s final contest. The Gunners folded a few months later, along with the other six WBA clubs. Gerald Henderson used his showcase in Tucson to make the Boston Celtics in 1979. He would go on to win 3 NBA titles over the course of a 13-year NBA career before retiring in 1992.

 

Links

Taking a Gamble on the Future“, Curry Kirkpatrick, Sports Illustrated, February 12, 1979

Western Basketball Association Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

March 22nd, 2017 at 2:01 am

1961 Washington Tapers

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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

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1981-82 Cape Cod Buccaneers

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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

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Written by Drew Crossley

January 4th, 2017 at 2:50 am

1982-83 Virginia Raiders

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1982-83 Virginia Raiders ProgramAtlantic Coast Hockey League (1982-1983)

Born: 1982 – Re-branded from Salem Raiders
Folded: August 1983

Arena: Salem-Roanoke County Civic Center

Team Colors:

Owner: Henry Brabham

ACHL Championships: None

 

The Virginia Raiders were a lower-tier minor league hockey club out of Salem, Virginia. The franchise was formerly known as the Salem Raiders (1980-1982). They played just one season under the Virginia Raiders name before folding.

The Raiders finished 4th in the 6-team Atlantic Coast Hockey League with a 20-36-9 record during the winter of 1982-83. The eventual champion Carolina Thunderbirds swept the Raiders out of the playoffs in the first round.

Minor league journeyman Dave MacQueen led the Raiders in scoring with 42 goals and 36 assists during the 1982-83 campaign.

Henry Brabham, an oilman who owned several mid-Atlantic minor league hockey franchises during the 1980’s and 1990’s, operated the Raiders during their final season in Salem. He folded the Raiders in August 1983, citing $100,000 in losses during the 1982-83 season. Several months later, however, he purchased the ACHL’s struggling Nashville South Stars club and moved the franchise in mid-season back to the Salem Civic Center, renaming them the Virginia Lancers.

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Written by Drew Crossley

October 9th, 2016 at 8:54 pm

1968 Boston Beacons

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Boston BeaconsNorth American Soccer League (1968)

Born: 1967 – NPSL expansion franchise
Folded: October 1968

Stadium: Fenway Park (33,700)

Team Colors: Navy Blue & Gold

Owners: Richard O’Connell, Arnold “Red” Auerbach, Stephen Mugar, Sabestino Volpe

NASL Championships: None

 

The Boston Beacons were a One-Year Wonder that played at Fenway Park during the summer of 1968. The club was owned by a group of prominent Bostonians, including philanthropist Stephen Mugar, Celtics general manager Red Auerbach and Boston Red Sox executive vice president Dick O’Connell.

The Beacons originally formed in 1967 as a franchise in the start-up National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). But the Beacons delayed their entry into the NPSL until 1968. In the meantime, the club hosted a few 1967 NPSL regular season matches at Fenway in 1967 to generate buzz for the new league.

Another pro soccer start-up, the United Soccer Association (USA), also launched in 1967. The USA also had a Boston franchise, the Boston Shamrock Rovers, who played at the Manning Bowl in Lynn, Massachusetts. Boston Bruins owner Weston Adams and his family back the Rovers financially. Unlike the Beacons, the Rovers fielded a team and played a full season in 1967.

In December 1967, the USA and NPSL merged to form the North American Soccer League (NASL). The new league now had two Boston franchises. The Rovers fell by the wayside and the Beacons became Boston’s sole pro soccer franchise when the NASL kicked off in April 1968.

The Beacons lone season in Boston was a flop. The team failed to qualify for the NASL playoffs with a 9-17-6 record. The team was a bust at the box office as well. The Beacons drew just 64,064 for 16 dates at Fenway, for a meager 4,004 average. Beacons ownership announced the club would not return in late October 1968.

 

Boston Beacons Memorabilia

 

Links

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

October 9th, 2016 at 4:17 pm