Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘South Atlantic League’ tag

1992-1995 Albany Polecats

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South Atlantic League (1992-1995)

Born: 1992 – The Sumter Flyers relocate to Albany, GA.
Died: September 20, 1995 – The Polecats relocate to Salisbury, MD.

Stadium: Paul Eames Sports Complex

Team Colors:

Owner: Richard Holtzman

 

The Albany Polecats were a Class A farm club of the Montreal Expos (1992 & again in 1995) and Baltimore Orioles (1993-1994) for four seasons in the early 1990′s.   When team owner Richard Holtzman moved his Sumter (SC) Flyers ball club to Albany in late 1991 it marked the return of pro baseball to Albany after more than three decades absence, since the demise of the Albany Cardinals and the Georgia-Florida League in 1958.

Several future stars came through Albany during the Polecats era, particularly during the two seasons the club was part of the fertile Montreal Expos farm system.  Cliff Floyd and Ugueth Urbina (1992) and Vladimir Guerrero (1995) all became future Major League All-Stars.  Reliever Armando Benitez (1993) was the top product of the Orioles years and became a two-time All-Star in the Majors.

The Polecats never played especially well in Albany, posting a winning record only in the 1992 season (72-70).  Attendance was consistently disappointing and was the lowest in the South Atlantic League during the Polecats final season in 1995.  In September 1995 Richard Holtzman sold the team to a group led by Peter Kirk who were building a new ballpark in Salisbury, Maryland with the financial assistance of poultry baron Frank Perdue.  The team moved to Salisbury for the 1996 season and became known as the Delmarva Shorebirds.  The Shorebirds continue to operate today.

 

==Links==

South Atlantic League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

February 21st, 2014 at 10:25 pm

1991 Sumter Flyers

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South Atlantic League (1991)

Born: 1991 – South Atlantic League expansion franchise.
Died: November 1991 – The Flyers relocate to Albany, GA.

Stadium: Riley Park

Team Colors:

Owner: Richard Holtzman

 

The Sumter Flyers were a One-Year Wonder in the Class A South Atlantic League.  The Flyers arrived in February 1991 several months after Sumter’s previous Sally League club, the Sumter Braves, left town for Macon, Georgia.

The Flyers’ owner Richard Holtzman was a Chicago real estate investor who owned numerous  minor league baseball clubs around the country during the late 1980′s and 1990′s.  Holtzman originally wanted to place his new club in Montgomery, Alabama, but when that didn’t pan out he fell back on Sumter, South Carolina’s Riley Park for the 1991 season.   The Flyers would serve as a farm team for the Montreal Expos.

The Flyers had a record of 64-75 during their only season in Sumter.  Twelve Flyers players eventually saw time in the Major Leagues, including – remarkably – nine members of the pitching staff.  The best known of the bunch were Rondell White and Shane Andrews, Montreal’s two first round selections in the 1990 Amateur Draft.  Andrews eventually played parts of seven seasons in the Majors from 1995 to 2002, including a 25-homer season for the Expos in 1998.  White played 15 seasons (1993-2007) and was a National League All-Star selection in 2003.

The Flyers drew 45,637 fans to Riley Park in 1991 for an average attendance of 702 per game.  Holtzman and team General Manager Scott Skadan told The Sumter Item that the ball club had a bad season financially and lost money.  When a sweeter deal became available in Albany, Georgia, Holtzman pulled out of Sumter and moved the team south in November 1991.

The franchise was know as the Albany Polecats from 1992 to 1995.  In 1995, Holtzman sold the club to Peter Kirk who moved the ball club to Salisbury, Maryland where it operates to this day and is known as the Delmarva Shorebirds.

 

==In Memoriam==

Flyers pitcher Kevin Foster, who won 10 games for Sumter in 1991 and later pitched in the Majors, died on renal cancer on October 11, 2008 at age 39.

 

==Links==

South Atlantic League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

February 21st, 2014 at 4:11 pm

1987-1996 Fayetteville Generals

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South Atlantic League (1987-1996)

Born: 1987
Died: 1997 – Re-branded as the Cape Fear Crocs.

Stadium: J.P. Riddle Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Charles Padgett et al.

 

The Fayetteville Generals were a Class A farm club of the Detroit Tigers in the South Atlantic League from 1987 through 1996.  When the club was formed it marked the return of pro baseball to the North Carolina city after a 31-year absence.

Notable future Major Leaguers who spent time in Fayetteville during the Generals era included Milt Cuyler and future All-Stars Travis Fryman and Jose Lima.

Tragedy came to Fayetteville in May 1990 when 19-year old Ronaldo Romero, pitching for the Gastonia Rangers, collapsed from a heart seizure in the visitor’s dugout after pitching two innings of a game against the Generals.  He was pronounced dead at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center a short time later.

Although J.P. Riddle Stadium was a new construction project in 1987, the minor league baseball industry was undergoing massive growth in the late 80′s and by the mid-1990′s the ballpark was consider non-compliant with the minimum standards for a Class A farm team.  In September 1995, team owner Charles Padgett informed the County Facilities Committee that the Generals had lost money in all nine seasons of operation.

The Generals era came to an end in 1997, when the Detroit Tigers left town and the Padgett family struck a new affiliation agreement with the Montreal Expos.  At the same time, the ball club was re-branded as the Cape Fear Crocs.  In June of 1999 the Padgetts sold the team for $3 million and the new owners announced plans to move the franchise to Lakewood Township, New Jersey in 2001.  The Crocs played out the 1999 season and one last lame duck summer in 2000 and then left town.  The franchise still exists today as the Lakewood Captains.

Pro baseball never returned to Fayetteville and the city no longer has a suitable facility, but J.P. Riddle Stadium now hosts the Fayetteville Swampdogs of the collegiate Coastal Plains League.

 

==In Memoriam==

Ex-Generals pitcher Jose Lima (1991) died of a heart attack on May 23, 2010 at age 37.

 

==Links==

South Atlantic League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

January 8th, 2014 at 2:10 am

1987-1992 Myrtle Beach Blue Jays / Myrtle Beach Hurricanes

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South Atlantic League (1987-1990)

Born: October 1986 – Florence (SC) Blue Jays relocate to Myrtle Beach.
Died: 1991 – Re-branded as Myrtle Beach Hurricanes.

Stadium: Coastal Carolina Stadium (3,500)

Team Colors:

Owner: Winston Blenckstone

 

This Class A farm club of the Toronto Blue Jays marked the first time that minor league baseball came to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Or, at least, near Myrtle Beach.  The Blue Jays played on the campus of Coastal Carolina University about 12 miles away from the Grand Strand.

The club was owned by Baltimore oxygen salesman Winston Blenckstone, who purchased the Sally League’s unloved Florence (SC) Blue Jays for $200,000 in October of 1986 and moved the club to Myrtle Beach.

The Blue Jays home debut on April 8, 1987 against the Savannah Cardinals drew a standing room-only crowd of 4,030, but attendance quickly settled in at less than a thousand a night.  Myrtle Beach’s attendance was among the worst in the South Atlantic League, just as it had been in Florence previously.  By April 1989, Blenckstone was frustrated and threatening to move his ball club if city leaders wouldn’t commit to a $2 million new stadium.  Blenckstone ultimately hung in for four more summers.  He re-branded the team as the Myrtle Beach Hurricanes in 1991, but that did nothing to change the club’s box office fortunes.  In late 1992, with stadium negotiations going nowhere, Blenckstone pulled up stakes and moved the franchise to Hagerstown, Maryland.

A number of notable Toronto prospects came through Myrtle Beach during the Blue Jays/Hurricanes era, including future American League Cy Young Award winner Pat Hentgen and first baseman Chris Weinke, who never made the Major Leagues but went on to win the Heisman Trophy eight years later as a 28-year old quarterback at Florida State

 

==Key Players==

  • Derek Bell
  • Carlos Delgado
  • Pat Hentgen
  • Mike Timlin
  • Chris Weinke

 

==Links==

South Atlantic League Programs

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1985-1993 Charleston Rainbows

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South Atlantic League (1985-1993)

Born: August 1984 – Charleston Royals re-brand as the Charleston Rainbows
Died: Postseason 1993 – Rainbows re-brand as the Charleston RiverDogs

Stadium: College Park

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Charleston (SC) Rainbows were a Class A farm club in the South Atlantic League (1980-Present) from 1985 to 1993.  The team was previously named for its Major League parent club and known as the Charleston Royals (1980-1984).  In December 1983, owner Ernie Passailaigue travelled to the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville and returned convinced that the best operators in the minor leagues were turning towards distinctive local identities and merchandising for their ball clubs, rather than mimicking the brand of whichever Major League club happened to sponsor them in a particular year.  In August 1984, he announced the name change to the Charleston Rainbows, named for Charleston’s “Rainbow Row” of historic homes on East Bay Street.  One month later in September 1984 came a new working agreement with the San Diego Padres, who would be the Rainbows parent club for most of the next decade.

In the Rainbows first season in 1985, Charleston baseball fans enjoyed a full summer of watching two of the Padres’ top teenage prospects: the brothers Roberto and Sandy Alomar.  Sandy was 19 and Roberto just 17 at the time.  Sandy Alomar went on to win the American League Rookie-of-the-Year award in 1990 with Cleveland and played parts of 20 seasons in the Majors.  Brother Roberto debuted at age 20 in 1988 and played 17 seasons, earning election to the Hall-of-Fame in 2011.

In 1986, the Rainbows established what was then a Charleston pro baseball attendance record of 131,696 fans.  Under the Passailaigue’s, the club depended heavily on so-called “Buyout” nights, where local companies purchased all of the seats in the park at steeply discounted rates and distributed the tickets in the community, often at no charge.  This once-widespread marketing strategy pumps up announced attendance, but many operators believe it also conditions local fans to sit back and wait for free tickets to inevitably come available.

During the winter of 1987-88, the Passailaigue’s sold the Rainbows to another pair of brothers, Larry & Stuart Revo, for a reported $600,000 price tag.  The Revos already controlled two other minor league clubs, the Class AA Pittsfield (MA) Cubs of the Eastern League and the Class A Kinston (NC) Indians of the Carolina League.  The Revos limited partners in their baseball investments included the actor Bill Murray.  One of the Revos’ immediate changes was to reduce ticket prices, but also to cut back on the buyout night strategy to try to establish price integrity for Rainbows tickets.

The Rainbows – who were usually terrible – fielded a terrific team in 1988, finishing with the best record in the Sally League at 85-53.  The Rainbows were swept by the Spartanburg Phillies in the league championship series.  But attendance dropped to 56,909 fans, partly in response to the Revos’ tighter controls on the supply of free tickets.  Attendance wouldn’t get back over the 100,000 mark until the 1990′s.

After two years of ownership, the Revo brothers sold the Rainbows to New York investment banker Marv Goldklang in October 1989 in a deal reported at $800,000.  In 1992, the affiliation between the Rainbows and the San Diego Padres ended after eight seasons.  The Texas Rangers took on the affiliation for the summer of 1993, which would be the Rainbows final summer.  Prior to the 1994 season, the Rainbows re-branded as the Charleston RiverDogs.  College Park closed after the 1996 season, replaced by the modern Joseph P. Riley Jr. Ballpark in 1997.  As of this writing in 2013, the RiverDogs continue to thrive under long-time owner Marv Goldklang and his Goldklang Group.

 

==Key Players==

  • Roberto Alomar (1985)
  • Sandy Alomar Jr. (1985)
  • Carlos Baerga (1986-1987)
  • Jose Valentin (1988)

 

==Downloads==

Charleston Rainbows Sources

 

==Links==

South Atlantic League Programs

Minor League Baseball Franchise Sales Tracker

 

 

 

Written by andycrossley

February 24th, 2013 at 4:23 pm