Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘One-Year Wonders’ tag

1972-73 Philadelphia Blazers

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Derek Sanderson Philadelphia BlazersWorld Hockey Association (1972-1973)

Born: May 1972 – The WHA’s planned Miami franchise shifts to Philadelphia.
Died: 
May 1973 – The Blazers relocate to Vancouver, BC.

Arena: Philadelphia Civic Center

Team Colors:

Owners: Bernard Brown & James Cooper

 

 

 

==Slideshow==

  • Philadelphia Blazers Media Guide
  • 1972 Philadelphia Blazers Inaugural Game Puck (Front)
  • 1972 Philadelphia Blazers Inaugural Game Puck (Back)
  • Bobby Hull Winnipeg Jets
  • Andre Lacroix Philadelphia Blazers
  • Bernie Parent Philadelphia Blazers

 

==Philadelphia Blazers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1972-73

1972-73 12/15/1972  vs. Winnipeg Jets W 6-4 Program
1972-73 3/8/1973 vs. Minnesota Fighting Saints W 2-1 Program

 

==Links==

World Hockey Association Media Guides

World Hockey Association Programs

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Written by andycrossley

January 29th, 2015 at 3:33 pm

1946 Youngstown Gremlins

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Youngstown Gremlins ProgramMiddle Atlantic League (1946)

Born: 1946
Died: 1947 – Re-branded as the Youngstown Colts.

Stadium: Idora Park

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Rust Belt city of Youngstown, Ohio was a fixture in the Class C Middle Atlantic League between 1939 and 1951.  The team identity changed every couple of years (Browns, Gremlins, Colts, A’s) and there was no baseball in the Steel Valley at all from 1942 to 1945, as the Mid-Atlantic went dark during the meanest years of World War II.  The local nine were known as the Youngstown Gremlins (the best name of the bunch, IMO) for only one season, when the Mid-Atlantic League came back to life in the post-war summer of 1946.

The Gremlins played at Idora Park, site of Youngstown’s historic amusement park.  The Jack Rabbit roller coaster loomed over right field.  The amusement park closed in 1984 following a devastating fire.

There’s no clear record online of whether the Gremlins had a Major League affiliation in 1946.  Between the unusual name and the fact that only one player from the club ever advanced to the Major Leagues, I’d hazard a guess that the team was independent.  Ace pitcher Johnny Kucab (12-1, 1.86 ERA) was the brightest light at the not-quite-young age of 26.  He would later pitch three seasons in the Majors for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1950-1952.

Another compelling figure was the team’s manager, Paul Birch.  Birch played some sporadic minor league baseball, but his better sport was basketball.  He starred at Duquesne University in nearby Pittsburgh and was playing for the Youngstown Bears in the National Basketball League (a forerunner to the modern NBA) in 1947 when he signed on to manage to Gremlins during the summer months.

Birch would later become Head Coach of the NBA’s Fort Wayne Pistons from 1951 through 1954.  Birch would resign his Pistons job under pressure in the fall out from the Jack Molinas point shaving scandal in 1954 and never worked in the NBA again.  Birch passed away in 1982.

 

==Links==

Youngstown Baseball Has a History Dating Back to 19th Century“, Vince Guerrieri, DidTheTribeWinLastNight.com

Middle Atlantic League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

January 15th, 2015 at 2:17 am

1976 Chicago Ravens

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Chicago Ravens ProgramInternational Women’s Professional Softball Association (1976)

Born: January 1976 – IWPSA founding franchise.
Died: Postseason 1976 – The Ravens cease operations.

Stadium: Windy City Softball Complex (4,000)

Team Colors:

Owner: Fred Huebner

 

This cool-looking (if somewhat weathered) fast-pitch softball program comes from deep inside our One-Year Wonders file …

The Chicago Ravens were founding members in the International Women’s Professional Softball Association (WPS, for short) in the bicentennial summer of 1976.  WPS was yet another concoction of Dennis Murphy, the prolific promoter who helped launch countless pro leagues from the 1960’s through the 1990’s, including the American Basketball AssociationWorld Hockey Association and World Team Tennis.  The Ravens played at the Windy City Softball Complex, a facility with temporary seating for 4,000 fans in suburban Bridgeview, Illinois.

The Ravens’ top player was 28-year old Donna Lopiano, a former star with the Raybestos Brakettes, a legendary amateur team in her native state of Connecticut.  Lopiano played for the Brakettes from 1963 until 1972 before retiring to pursue a career in collegiate sports administration at the dawn of the Title IX era.  The Brakettes entered WPS in 1976 also, becoming the Connecticut Falcons franchise.  Lopiano reportedly agreed to play for Chicago rather than re-join her former teammates in the interests of creating more parity for the league.  She appeared only in weekend games for the Ravens, while holding down her job as Director of Women’s Athletics at the University of Texas during the week.

The Ravens finished their only season with a 57-63 record and then lost to the eventual champion Connecticut Falcons in the first round of the playoffs.  Following the 1976 season, six of the ten original WPS franchises went out of business, including the Ravens.  The shrunked league managed to hang on for three more summers before folding in the spring of 1980.

Donna Lopiano went on to become one of the most influential voices in women’s sports, most notably as CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation from 1992 to 2007.

 

==Links==

IWPSA Programs

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Written by andycrossley

December 21st, 2014 at 3:30 am

1978-79 Dayton Rockettes

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Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1979)

Born: 1978 – WPBL founding franchise.
Died: 1979 – The Rockettes cease operations.

Arena: Hara Arena

Team Colors: Kelly Green & Silver

Owner: Louis Deitelbaum

 

The Dayton Rockettes were one of eight original franchises in the Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981).  The WPBL, which debuted in December 1978, was the first professional basketball league for women, pre-dating the WNBA by nearly 20 years.

Even by the standards of this league, which scraped and scratched for media and fan attention without consistent success, the Rockettes were a particularly obscure franchise.  They played in the league’s smallest market in a minor league hockey arena.  The Rockettes encountered financial problems early in their maiden season and folded quietly in the spring or summer of 1979, earning a place in our One-Year Wonders file.

The Dayton Rockettes were 12-22 in their only season of existence.

FWIL is actively looking for a program or other memorabilia from this team to improve this entry.  Email andy@funwhileitlasted.net if you can help.

 

==Dayton Rockettes Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
1/4/1978 @ Chicago Hustle W 102-95 Program
4/1/1979 @ Iowa Cornets  L 115-84 Program Roster

 

==Downloads==

1978-79 Women’s Professional Basketball League Brochure

 

==Links==

Women’s Professional Basketball League Media Guides

Women’s Professional Basketball League Programs

Written by andycrossley

November 10th, 2014 at 3:04 pm

1974 Chicago Fire

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Chicago Fire Media GuideWorld Football League (1974)

Born: October 1973 – WFL founding franchise.
Died: January 1975 – The Fire ceases operations.

Stadium: Soldier Field

Team Colors:

Owner: Tom Origer

 

Chicago apartment developer Tom Origer was the first man to buy into the World Football League in October 1973, paying a reported $440,000 to acquire his Chicago Fire franchise.  It did not turn out to be a happy investment for the 41-year old builder.

The Fire featured a handful of names familiar to local football fans, including ex-Chicago Bears Virgil Carter (QB) and Jim Seymour (WR).  Rookie receiver James Scott was a breakout star.  After the demise of the WFL Scott would play seven seasons for the Bears from 1976 to 1983.  Another rookie – Chicago native Mark Kellar - was one of the league’s most productive running backs until a mid-season injury.

The Fire started out hot, winning seven of the first nine games in 1974.  The team was also a fairly popular draw, averaging 29,220 fans for 10 home dates at Soldier Field, despite competing for fans with the Bears during the WFL’s fall season.  But injuries and bad luck took their toll and the Fire lost their final 11 games to finish 7-13 in what would prove to be their only season.  Origer, fed up, forfeited the team’s final contest rather than travel to Pennsylvania to play the Philadelphia Bell on November 13, 1974.

The team muddled along in semi-existence until January 1975, when Origer laid off the Fire’s final few staff members and closed up shop.  The World Football League quickly put a new team into Chicago – the Chicago Winds – for the 1975 season.  But the Winds went belly up after only 5 games in 1975, and the league itself closed down on October 22, 1975 without managing to complete its second campaign.

 

==Chicago Fire Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
8/29/1974 vs. Birmingham Americans  L 22-8 Program
9/2/1974 @ Southern California Sun W 32-22 Program
9/7/1974 @ Birmingham Americans L 41-40 Program
9/18/1974 vs. Memphis Southmen L 25-7 Program

 

==Key Players==

  • Virgil Carter
  • James Scott
  • Jim Seymour

 

==YouTube==

Footage from the July 17, 1974 Chicago Fire at Jacksonville Sharks WFL game from the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.

 

 

==Downloads==

July 1974 Chicago Fire “Line of Fire” Newsletter

 

==Links==

World Football League Media Guides

World Football League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

October 22nd, 2014 at 1:54 am