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Archive for the ‘American Professional Slo-Pitch League’ Category

1978-1980 Philadelphia Athletics

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American Professional Slo-Pitch League (1978-1980)

Born: 1978
Died: 1980

Stadiums:

Team Colors:

Owner: Valentino “Butch” Piacentino, Jr.

 

The Philadelphia Athletics softball team of 1978-1980 were a men’s slo-pitch squad competing in the American Professional Slo-Pitch League.  The team revived both the name and the old elephant logo of Philadelphia’s former American League baseball franchise, which departed for Kansas City in 1954.

The APSPL was concentrated on the East Coast and Upper Midwest.  The league signed a few big-name retired Major League Baseball players, such as Norm Cash of the Detroit Caesars and Joe Pepitone of the Trenton Statesmen.  The Athletics had one of the most unusual signings in the league though.  During the 1978 season Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, All-Pro kick returner for the NFL’s Houston Oilers, appeared in 25 games for the Athletics before NFL training camp opened.   He hit .349 (lowest average on the club) with 4 home runs.

The Athletics folded after the 1980 season.

 

==Philadelphia Athletics Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1978 8/27/1978 vs. Chicago Storm ?? Ticket

 

==Downloads==

1979 American Professional Slo-Pitch League Franchise Sales Brochure

 

==In Memoriam==

Athletics team owner Butch Piacentino passed away on April 4, 2014 at age 66.

 

==Links==

Men’s Pro Softball Media Guides

Men’s Pro Softball Programs

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1979 Fort Wayne Scouts

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Fort Wayne ScoutsAmerican Professional Slo-Pitch League (1979)

Born: 1979 – APSPL expansion franchise.
Folded: Postseason 1979

Stadium: Tah-Cum-Wah Recreation Center

Team Colors: Red & White

Owner: Johnnie Walker

APSPL Championships: None

 

The Fort Wayne Scouts softball team was a One-Year Wonder in the American Professional Slo-Pitch League (1977-1980).  The club took its name from the Scout off-road vehicle, an early SUV that was manufactured by Fort Wayne’s International Harvest Company.  In the late 1970’s more than 1,400 local factory workers built 200 Scouts a day on the production lines at International Harvester’s New Haven Avenue plant.

The Scouts were organized by a guy named Johnnie Walker, who had previously worked in the APSPL as the PR Director for the league’s Philadelphia Athletics franchise.   Walker hired former Major League outfielder Jim Rivera to manage the team.  Rivera was a popular figure on the Chicago White Sox in the 1950’s but also a controversial one.  Rivera received a life sentence in prison in the 1940’s for attempted rape during a stint in the army. He was paroled after five years, thanks partly to the efforts of a minor league baseball promoter who saw him play on his prison team.

Rivera’s Scouts team was truly, historically awful.  The club went 8-56 – a .172 winning percentage – which was the worst record in the short history of the APSPL.

After the 1979 season the APSPL split in two. Ted Stepien, owner of the Cleveland franchise (and also the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA), split off and formed his own rival league known as the North American Softball League.  The Scouts fell by the wayside sometime that winter.  Whether or not this was related to the fortunes of International Harvester is unclear, but the truck giant built its final Scout vehicle in 1980.

Fort Wayne got a new men’s pro softball entry in Stepien’s league in 1980.  With International Harvester out of the picture, the team got a new major sponsor: a local lollipop company that named the club after one of its popular sucker lines: the Fort Wayne Huggie Bears.

I’m not kidding.

The Huggie Bears and the rest of the NASL folded after the 1980, bringing the pro softball era to an end in Fort Wayne.

 

Downloads

1979 American Professional Slo-Pitch League Franchise Sales Brochure

 

Links

Men’s Pro Softball Media Guides

Men’s Pro Softball Programs

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1977-1982 Cincinnati Suds

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Cincinnati SudsAmerican Professional Slo-Pitch League (1977-1980)
United Professional Softball League (1981-1982)

Born: 1977 – APSPL founding franchise
Folded: Postseason 1982

Stadiums:

Team Colors:

Owners:

APSPL Championships: None
UPSL Championships: None

 

The Cincinnati Suds softball team played in various locales in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky from 1977 until 1982.  Slo-Pitch softball had a brief moment in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when a group of enthusiasts and pro sports speculators attempted to establish a marketplace for men’s softball as a nationwide professional sport.  Three league different leagues came and went during this time, with most of the clubs being clustered in softball’s Rust Belt strongholds in the Northeast and upper Midwestern states.  Investors included Mike Ilitch, future owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers, and Ted Stepien, the future owner the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, along with a considerable number of mom & pop types.

Cincinnati Suds Softball

 

Of the several dozen teams formed during Slo-Pitch softball’s brief pro moment, the Cincinnati Suds were one of only two clubs (along with Kentucky Bourbons) who played for all six seasons from 1977 to 1982.  The Suds were a founding member of the first league out of the gates, the American Professional Slo-Pitch League.  After the APSPL folded in 1980, the Suds joined the United Professional Softball League and played two more seasons before that league went out of business at the end of the 1982 season.

There has been no professional softball league for men in the U.S. since 1982.

The Suds played their games at several locations, including Trechter Field on the campus of Cincinnati Technical College.

 

Downloads

1977 Cincinnati Suds Ticket Brochure

1979 American Professional Slo-Pitch League Franchise Sales Brochure

 

Links

Men’s Professional Softball Media Guides

Men’s Professional Softball Programs

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1978-1981 New England Pilgrims

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New England PilgrimsAmerican Professional Slo-Pitch League (1978-1980)
United Professional Softball League (1981)

Born: 1978 – APSPL expansion franchise
Folded: Postseason 1981

Stadium: Blake Field

Team Colors:

Owner: Carl Grande

APSPL Championships: None
UPSL Championships: None

 

Obscure men’s professional Slo-Pitch franchise that operated for four seasons out of New Haven, Connecticut.  The New England Pilgrims softball team spent their first three seasons in the American Professional Slo-Pitch League (APSPL).  In 1979, the Pilgrims earned a few wire service mentions around the country for signing 39-year old former Detroit Tigers All-Star infielder Dick McAuliffe.

In 1981 the Pilgrims joined the United Professional Softball League, a successor league to the by-then defunct APSPL.  Despite having one of the worst records (23-35) in the eight-team UPSL, the Pilgrims advanced through the playoffs to the league championship series, where they lost to the Kentucky Bourbons.

The Pilgrims went out of business after the 1981 season and the UPSL followed suit a year later.  There has been no men’s professional softball in the United States since 1982.

 

Downloads

1979 American Professional Slo-Pitch League Franchise Sales Brochure

 

Links

Men’s Professional Softball Media Guides

Men’s Professional Softball Programs

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196?-1977 Milwaukee Copper Hearth

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Milwaukee Copper HearthAmateur (196? – 1976)
American Professional Slo-Pitch League (1977)

Born: 1960’s 
Re-Branded:
1978 (Milwaukee Schlitz)

Stadium: Wilson Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: John Korinek, Sr.

APSPL Championships: None

 

Milwaukee Copper Hearth was a powerhouse amateur softball club in the Big Eight League in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the 1960’s and into the mid 1970’s.  The club took its name from its sponsor, a blue-collar tavern and wedding hall on North Teutonia Avenue, owned by John Korinek Sr.  His son, John Jr., was a player on the team and later managed the club.

Copper Hearth dominated the Milwaukee slo-pitch scene, winning seven city championships.  In 1969, Copper Hearth won the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) national open championship.

In 1977, serial sports promoter Bill Byrne, who was a front office worker in the World Football League and later started the first Women’s Professional Basketball League in the United States, decided to start a fully professional men’s slow pitch league.  Byrne’s American Professional Slo-Pitch League (APSPL) debuted in May 1977  The league featured several top amateur clubs who were willing to take on the greater expenses of professionalization, including Copper Hearth, along with a handful of clubs that were started from scratch.  APSPL franchises were clustered mostly in the traditional working class softball powerhouses of the upper Midwest, including Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.

Milwaukee was one of the best teams in the APSPL in 1977, finishing with a 39-17 record.  The Cleveland Jaybirds upset Copper Hearth in the first round of the 1977 playoffs.

After the 1977 season, Schlitz Brewing took over sponsorship of the team from John Korinek. The team was re-named “Milwaukee Schlitz” prior to the 1978 APSPL season. As the Schlitz, the team continued to compete until the end of the professional slow pitch era in 1982, winning league championships in 1979, 1980 and 1982 in a succession of leagues.

The Copper Hearth tavern closed in 1987.  Owner and softball team sponsor John Korinek, Sr. passed away in November 1996 at age 78.

 

Downloads

1977 Milwaukee Copper Hearth Roster & Player Bios

 

Links

American Professional Slo-Pitch League Media Guides

American Professional Slo-Pitch League Programs

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Written by AC

August 23rd, 2013 at 9:09 pm

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