Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘One-Year Wonders’ tag

2001 Baton Rouge Blue Marlins

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Baton Rouge Blue MarlinsAll-American Association (2001)

Born: 2001 – All-American Association founding franchise.
Died: Postseason 2001 – The Blue Marlins cease operations.

Stadium: Pete Goldsby Park

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Baton Rouge Blue Marlins were a deeply obscure independent pro baseball team that played in the doomed All-American Association during the summer of 2001.  Both the ball club and the league itself  folded at the end of one season.

The All-American Association was a six-team loop with teams in Albany (GA), Montgomery (AL), Winchester (TN) and Fort Worth and Tyler (TX) besides the Baton Rouge club.  The Blue Marlins did manage to win the first and only championship of the league in 2001, defeating the Albany Alligators.

The Blue Marlins were a flop at the box office, drawing just 16,616 fans for 36 home dates at Pete Goldsby Park.

Following the 2001 season, the All-American Association split apart, with two teams folding and the Texas clubs joining the independent Central League.  Baton Rouge and Montgomery joined the new Southeastern League, with Baton Rouge changing its name to the River Bats prior to the 2002 season.

30-year old pitcher Rick Greene, who made one appearance for the Cincinnati Reds in 1999, was the only Blue Marlins player to ever appear in the Major Leagues.

 

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Written by andycrossley

September 10th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

1964-65 New York Rovers

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John McMillan New York RoversEastern Hockey League

Born: May 28, 1964 – EHL expansion franchise.
Died: 1965 – The Rovers cease operations.

Arenas:

Team Colors: Red, White & Blue

Owner: Madison Square Garden Corp.

 

This 1964-65 New York Rangers farm club in the Eastern Hockey League was the last of several versions of the New York Rovers ice hockey team.  The original Rovers started out back in 1935 as a senior amateur club in the Eastern Amateur Hockey League and played until 1952.  The club traditionally played Sunday matinees at Madison Square Garden.  The Rovers were first revived as pro team out on Long Island in 1959, but changed their name to the Long Island Ducks after two seasons in 1961.

This final incarnation of the Rovers was born in May 1964, when Madison Square Garden Corp. signed on to operate the club.  The new Rovers would revive the old tradition of playing Sunday matinees at the Garden.  On dates when the Garden wasn’t available, the Rovers played at the New York State Expositon Grounds in Syracuse.

The Rovers finished the 1964-65 EHL season with a 25-39-8 record and did not make the playoffs.  The team folded after only one season and the Rovers name has not been revived since.

 

==Links==

Reactivated Rovers of Eastern Hockey League Play Sundays at Garden“, William N. Wallace, The New York Times, May 29, 1964

Eastern Hockey League Programs

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1972-1973 Ottawa Nationals

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1972-73 Ottawa NationalsWorld Hockey Association (1972-1973)

Born: 1972 – WHA founding franchise.
Died: 1973 – The Nationals relocate to Toronto, Ontario.

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owners: Nick Trbovich & Doug Michel

 

The Ottawa Nationals were a short-lived original franchise in the defunct World Hockey Association (1972-1979).  Originally the WHA and team founder Doug Michel hoped to place the club in either Toronto or Hamilton, but the Nationals struggled to line up an arena in those cities and ultimately ended up at the Ottawa Civic Centre.

Wayne Carleton Ottawa NationalsWhile upstart franchises in Winnipeg, Philadelphia and elsewhere made headlines luring big-name players away from the NHL, the cash-poor Nationals were unable to lure big names to Ottawa.  Nevertheless, the club was competitive under Head Coach Billy Harris, finishing with a 35-39-4 record and a 1973 playoff date with the New England Whalers.  Ex-NHL journeyman Wayne Carleton was the Nats’ leading scorer with 42 goals and 49 assists.

The team was poorly supported in Ottawa and chose to move its home playoff games to Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.  The Whalers eliminated the Nationals 4 games to 1.

In May 1973,  John Bassett Jr., the son of former Toronto Maple Leafs owner John Bassett, Sr., purchased the Nationals.  Bassett was considerably wealthier than the club’s previous owners.  He moved the franchise to Varsity Arena in Toronto and re-named the team the Toronto Toros prior to the 1973-74 season.

 

==Ottawa Nationals Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
11/2/1972  vs. Los Angeles Sharks T 1-1 Program
11/20/1972 @ New England Whalers L 7-5 Program
12/4/1972 @ New England Whalers L 7-2 Program
1/9/1973 vs. Quebec Nordiques W 7-5 Program
2/2/1973 @ Chicago Cougars L 4-1 Program

 

==Links==

World Hockey Association Media Guides

World Hockey Association Programs

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Written by andycrossley

August 18th, 2014 at 2:51 am

1978-1979 Baltimore Metros

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Baltimore MetrosContinental Basketball Association (1978-1979)

Born: 1978 – The Washington Metros relocate to Baltimore, MD.
Died: January 1979 – The Metros relocate to Utica, NY in midseason.

Arena: UMBC Fieldhouse (4,000)

Team Colors:

Owner: Fred Keller

 

Doomed, totally forgotten minor league basketball effort that flamed out in Baltimore after a couple of months in early 1979.   The Baltimore Metros formed a year earlier in Washington, D.C. in the Eastern Basketball Association.  The Metros were terrible in the EBA (5 wins against 26 losses) and team owner Fred Keller moved the club to the University of Maryland Baltimore County Fieldhouse for the 1978-79 season.   The EBA also re-branded itself as the Continental Basketball Association that year.

Keller hired ABA and NBA veteran Larry Cannon to coach the team.  Cannon, the #5 overall pick in the 1969 NBA draft, got the team off to a 9-5 start.  But that wasn’t good enough for Keller, who fired him in December and took the coaching reigns himself.  By January, the club was out of money and Keller was looking to unload it.  The CBA threatened to revoke the franchise for unpaid bills.  In late January, the Metros abruptly left town and set up shop in Utica, New York, changing their name to the “Mohawk Valley Thunderbirds” in midseason.  That didn’t work out either and the Metros/Thunderbirds eventually went out of business without finishing the 1978-79 regular season.

 

==Baltimore Metros Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
10/27/1978 vs. Rochester Zeniths ?? Program Roster

 

==Links==

Continental Basketball Association Media Guides

Continental Basketball Association Programs

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Written by andycrossley

July 4th, 2014 at 1:48 am

1978 Oakland Stompers

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Oakland StompersNorth American Soccer League (1978)

Born: September 1977 – The Connecticut Bicentennials move to Oakland.
Died:
February 22, 1979 – The Stompers relocate to Edmonton, Alberta.

Stadium: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

Team Colors:

Owner: Milan Mandaric and Bill Graham

 

The Oakland Stompers were a One-Year Wonder in the North American Soccer League during the a  spring and summer of 1978.  Club founder Milan Mandaric previously started up the NASL’s other Bay Area franchise, the popular San Jose Earthquakes, in 1974.  In late 1977 he divested himself of the Earthquakes and bought the league’s struggling Connecticut Bicentennials club and moved it across the country to the Oakland Coliseum.  It was bold move considering that many at the time wondered if the Bay Area could even support its two Major League Baseball franchises.  But the NASL was riding at a peak of investor enthusiasm in 1978 amidst the belief that pro soccer would be the Sport of the 80′s.

The Stompers identity derived from Northern California’s burgeoning wine industry.  The club’s cheerleading squad was called the “Corkpoppers”.  And the team distributed a free match day supplement called Grapevine to supplement the NASL’s KICK Magazine game programs.

The Stompers, who were ultimately unsuccessful in competition, were best known for signing iconoclast goalkeeper Shep Messing to a $100,000 contract for the 1978 season, which was then the largest contract ever offered to an American-born soccer player.

Messing was the primary goalkeeper on the New York Cosmos’ Soccer Bowl championship team in 1977.  The Harvard-educated goalkeeper was an aggressive self-promoter - he infamously posed nude for Viva magazine in 1974 - but in New York he was overshadowed by the Cosmos’ menagerie of international superstars.  Messing was also a laggard in training and seemed to view leadership as synonymous with antagonizing his head coaches early in his career.  By his own later admission, Messing struggled with technical aspects of the outdoor game, such as dealing with crosses into the box, despite his tremendous reflexes and athleticism.  The Cosmos were willing to let him go (and indeed would repeat as league champions without him in 1978).

Shep Messing SkoalIn Oakland, finally, Messing was the face of the franchise and the subject of most of the club’s national media attention, including a lengthy profile by J.D. Reed in the July 10th, 1978 issue of Sports Illustrated  But Stompers’ General Manager Dick Berg ripped Messing in the article, noting that his star’s reputed appetite for publicity rare extended to team functions.

“Shep is only interested in his own promotion,” Berg told Reed.  “Every time we have a ticket-selling banquet or a shopping-center promotion set up for him, he threatens to put himself on the injured list.  Chewing tobacco on network television doesn’t put fans in the seats.”

The Stompers made their debut at Oakland Coliseum on April 2, 1978 to an impressive crowd of 32,104.  Messing reportedly rejected Berg’s request to enter the stadium riding atop an elephant.  The big crowd was somewhat misleading as the Stompers were playing their Bay Area rivals, the San Jose Earthquakes.  The Associated Press noted that half of the big crowd appeared to be rooting for San Jose.  The club would never see a home crowd anywhere near that size again.  Eight of the Stompers remaining fourteen home matches at the Coliseum drew fewer than 10,000 fans.

Messing was fantastic in the Stompers’ debut.  Late in the match he stopped a penalty kick from the ‘Quakes Ilija Mitic, the NASL’s all-time leading scorer at the time, to preserve a 0-0 tie.  The NASL didn’t have ties in 1978 though, so after an uneventful 15-minute overtime period, the game was decided by the “Shootout”, which featured five players from each club attempting to score during a timed, undefended breakaway.  Messing turned away four of five shooters from the Quakes.  Rookie Andy Atuegbu, a college standout from the University of San Francisco, and Polish import Franz Smuda found the net for the Stompers in the Shootout to give the hosts a 1-0 opening day triumph.

After a 9-9 start the Stompers wilted through the back end of the 1978 campaign, finishing 12-18 and out of playoff contention.  In late March 1979, on the eve of what would have been the Stompers’ sophomore season, owner Milan Mandaric sold the team to Peter Pocklington, the owner of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team.  Pocklington moved the club to Edmonton and renamed it the Edmonton Drillers.  The Drillers played four seasons before folding in 1982.  The NASL went out of business after the 1984 season.

Mandaric owned several other unsuccessful American soccer clubs in the 1980s’ and 1990′s, mostly in the indoor leagues.  In the 2000′s, he turned his attention to Europe, where he enjoyed much greater success in ownership stints with Portsmouth, Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday in England.

Former Stompers defender Franz Smuda later became manager of the Polish National Team from 2009 to 2012.

 

==1978 Oakland Stompers Results==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
4/2/1978 vs. San Jose Earthquakes W 1-0 (SO)
4/8/1978 @ Portland Timbers L 1-0 Program
4/16/1978 @ Chicago Sting W 2-1
4/21/1978 vs. Chicago Sting W 2-1
4/30/1978 @ Los Angeles Aztecs W 2-1
5/6/1978 @ Tulsa Roughnecks L 3-0 Roster
5/10/1978 vs. Los Angeles Aztecs L 2-1 (SO)
5/14/1978 vs. California Surf L 5-2
5/17/1978 vs. Memphis Rogues W 1-0 (SO)
5/20/1978 @ Philadelphia Fury  L 3-1
5/27/1978 vs. New England Tea Men  W 1-0
5/31/1978 vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers W 21-
6/4/1978 @ Houston Hurricane W 1-0
6/7/1978 @ Tampa Bay Rowdies L 1-0
6/10/1978 @ Fort Lauderdale Strikers L 2-0
6/14/1978 vs. Houston Hurricane L 3-2
6/19/1978 vs. Minnesota Kicks W 1-0
6/24/1978 vs. Philadelphia Fury L 1-0
6/28/1978 @ Detroit Express W 4-3
6/30/1978 @ Toronto Metros-Croatia L 8-2
7/4/1978 vs. Portland Timbers L 1-0
7/8/1978 @ Seattle Sounders L 1-0
7/10/1978 vs. San Diego Sockers W 1-0
7/14/1978 @ San Diego Sockers L 3-0
7/17/1978 @ Vancouver Whitecaps L 2-1
7/21/1978 vs. New York Cosmos L 5-1
7/26/1978 @ California Surf W 2-1 Program Roster
7/30/1978 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps L 6-2
8/2/1978 vs. Seattle Sounders L 2-1 (SO)
8/5/1978 @ San Jose Earthquakes L 2-1

 

==Video==

Shep Messing pimps Skoal Tobacco circa 1978:

 

==Links==

Support Your Local Keeper!” J.D. Reed, Sports Illustrated, July 10, 1978

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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