Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Atlantic Coast Football League’ Category

1963-1969 Harrisburg Capitols

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1969 Harrisburg Capitol-Colts ProgramAtlantic Coast Football League (1963-1969)

Born: 1963
Folded: Postseason 1969

Stadiums: 

Team Colors:

Owners: Mike Castiglia, et al.

ACFL Championships: None

 

The Harrisburg Capitols were a minor league football outfit in Pennsylvania’s capital city during the mid/late 1960’s. The Capitols were members of the Atlantic Coast Football League. The ACFL was a bus league with clubs clustered in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

In 1968 and 1969 the team served as a farm club for the NFL’s Baltimore Colts and went by the name “Capitol-Colts”.

After a promising 8-3-1 debut season in 1963, the Capitols were consistently awful. The team endured six straight losing seasons from 1964 until the club’s demise, including a winless 0-11 campaign in 1967 and a 1-11 mark in 1969.

Harrisburg Capitols

 

Harrisburg Colts Memorabilia

 

Links

Atlantic Coast Football League Media Guides

Atlantic Coast Football League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

December 2nd, 2017 at 4:14 am

1966-1970 Orlando Panthers

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1967 Orlando Panthers ProgramContinental Football League (1966-1969)
Atlantic Coast Football League (1970)

Born: 1966 – The Newark Bears relocate to Orlando, FL
Folded: Postseason 1970

Stadium: The Tangerine Bowl

Team Colors:

Owners:

Continental Football League Champions: 1967 & 1968

 

Text coming soon…

 

Orlando Panthers Memorabilia

 

Links

Recalling Orlando Panthers: Their Legend is Quite Major“, Brian Schmitz, The Orlando Sentinel, August 24, 1986

Continental Football League Media Guides

Continental Football League Programs

Atlantic Coast Football League Media Guides

Atlantic Coast Football League Programs

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1968-1970 Pottstown Firebirds

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Pottstown FirebirdsAtlantic Coast Football League (1968-1970)

Born: 1968
Folded: May 2, 1971 – The Firebirds merge with the Norfolk Neptunes

Stadium: Franklin Field

Team Colors: Green & White

Owner: Ed Gruber

ACFL Champions: 1969 & 1970

 

Minor league football is – and always has been – so far off the radar in this country that it’s impossible to speak of there being any iconic teams.  The sport offers nothing like the Hershey Bears hockey team or Rochester Red Wings baseball club that have entertained locals for upwards of a century. To the extent that minor and semi-pro football at least has a cult favorite team – the sport’s answer to the Durham Bulls – it’s likely the short-lived Pottstown Firebirds of the defunct Atlantic Coast Football League.

The Firebirds were a colorful and talented bunch. They played at the local high school football stadium in Pottstown, 40 miles north of Philadelphia. The team was backed by a local underwear manufacturer named Ed Gruber and took their name and team color from a loose affiliation with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. Though the club lasted only three seasons, they won two minor league titles.

The team’s 15 minutes of fame came thanks to Steve Sabol’s NFL Films. The young company documented the Firebirds’ final championship season in 1970. More than a year after the team’s demise, the documentary Pro Football Pottstown PA aired prior to the national broadcast of Super Bowl VI in January 1972. The following year, the author Jay Acton published The Forgettables, a book that chronicled the Firebirds behind the scenes during that same 1970 season. (Acton later became a serial minor league baseball investor himself).

The Firebirds dominated the Atlantic Coast Football League thanks to a fine cast of characters. Carousing quarterback James “King” Corcoran was characterized by Acton (and many others) as a sort of Joe Namath of the minor leagues. Tight end Bob Tucker went on to an 11-year NFL career. Receiver Jack Dolbin took half a decade to catch on in the NFL after leaving Pottstown, but ended up spending five seasons with the Denver Broncos in the late 1970’s.

In March 1971, Ed Gruber tried to sell the Firebirds to a group of businessmen that planned to move the team to Hershey, Pennsylvania. But the deal fell through. Gruber then decided to buy the rival Norfolk (VA) Neptunes instead in May of 1971.  He merged the two clubs, shuttering the Pottstown operation and moving the team’s best players to Virginia.

The Atlantic Coast Football League folded in 1973. The following year, the World Football League launched. The WFL hoped to take on the NFL head-to-head for top talent much as the American Football League did in the 1970’s. The league’s Philadelphia Bell franchise hired former Firebirds assistant Ron Waller as Head Coach. Waller loaded the Bell with former Firebirds, including Corcoran at quarterback and starting running back John Land.

 

Pottstown Firebirds Shop


Firebirds Retro T-Shirt by Throwback Max

The Forgettables: A Minor League Odyssey by Jay Acton

 

Pottstown Firebirds Memorabilia

 

Pottstown Firebirds Video

NFL Films ‘ Pro Football Pottstown PA chronicled the Firebirds’ third and final season in the fall of 1970. The one-hour film aired nationwide prior to the broadcast of Super Bowl VI in January 1972.

Links

Legendary football Firebirds back in Pottstown for reunion“, Rosemarie Ross, The Delaware County Daily Times, November 30, 2010

Atlantic Coast Football League Media Guides

Atlantic Coast Football League Programs

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1963-1964 Springfield Acorns

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Springfield Acorns ProgramAtlantic Coast Football League (1963-1964)

Born: 1963
Moved: Marc 1965 (Norfolk Neptunes)

Stadium: Pynchon Park

Team Colors:

Owners: Acorn Sports Association (James Dunn, et al.)

ACFL Championships: None

 

The Springfield Acorns were a short-lived pro football team in Western Massachusetts during the early 1960’s. The Acorns competed in the Atlantic Coast Football League, a minor league loop that featured teams from Maine to Georgia.  The team played out of Pynchon Park, Springfield’s 8,500-seat minor league baseball stadium.

The Acorns were notable for their quarterbacks.  In 1963, a rookie signal caller out of the University of Pittsburgh named James Traficant took over the starting job at midseason.  Traficant (12 TDs vs. 5 INTs) and his teammates played just well enough to win the ACFL’s Northern Division with a 7-5 record.  That earned the Acorns a chance to host the ACFL championship game on November 24th, 1963 against the 11-1 Newark Bears.  Newark limited the Acorns to one early rushing touchdown en route to a lop-sided 23-6 victory.

Traficant departed after the 1963 season and was replaced under center by Dan Henning, a rookie from the College of William and Mary.  Henning would go on to become and NFL head coach with the Atlanta Falcons (1983-1986) and San Diego Chargers (1989-1991). He later returned to Massachusetts as Head Coach of Boston College from 1994 to 1996.

Traficant, meanwhile, grew up to be an absurdly-toupéed U.S. Congressman from the 17th District of Ohio. Prosecuted twice for racketeering, Traficant’s colorful 17-year run in the House of Representatives ended in 2002 with a 7-year federal prison sentence.

In February 1965, several members of the ACFL split away to form the more ambitious Continental Football League.  The Acorns were one of the defector clubs, but team officials were simultaneously trying to unload the franchise to out of town investors. In March 1965 the Acorns were sold to Virginia investors who moved the team and renamed it the Norfolk Neptunes.  The Neptunes played on in Virginia for seven more seasons before going out of business in 1971.

 

==Springfield Acorns Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other

1963

1963 9/28/1963 vs. Ansonia Black Knights ?? Program
1963 11/24/1963 vs. Newark Bears L 23-6 Program

==Links==

Atlantic Coast Football League Media Guides

Atlantic Coast Football League Programs

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Written by AC

November 8th, 2015 at 8:21 pm

1967-1968 Westchester Bulls

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Westchester Bulls ProgramAtlantic Coast Football League (1967-1968)

Born: 1967 – The Scranton Miners relocate to Westchester, NY.
Moved: 1969 (Long Island Bulls)

Stadium: Memorial Stadium

Team Colors:

Owners:

ACFL Championships: None

 

The Westchester Bulls were a minor league farm club of the NFL’s New York Giants for two seasons in the late 1960’s.  The Bulls played their home games out of Memorial Stadium in Mt. Vernon, New York.

The 1967 Bulls won their first nine games en route to a 10-2 record in the Atlantic Coast Football League.  Late season call-ups to New York for halfback Randy Minniear and defensive back Bob Post sapped the Bulls of their momentum.  The Bulls lost to the Virginia Sailors 20-14 in the league’s championship game in Mt. Vernon on November 25th, 1967.

Following the 1967 season, Roy Boe bought the club for $50,000 from the team’s original owner, Cosmo Iacavazzi.  The Bulls were the first sports investment for Boe, who would later own the New York Nets of the ABA and become the founding owner of the NHL’s New York Islanders. In 1969, Boe moved the team out of Westchester and over to Hofstra Stadium on Long Island where the franchise became known as the Long Island Bulls.

The Long Island Bulls played two more seasons before folding after the 1970 season. The ACFL went out of business in 1973.

 

==Westchester Bulls Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other

1967

1967 9/2/1967 vs. Lowell Giants W 26-14 Program
1967 11/25/1967 vs. Virginia Sailors L 20-14 Program

1968

1968 10/5/1968 @ Hartford Knights L 41-7 Program

 

==Links==

Atlantic Coast Football League Media Guides

Atlantic Coast Football League Programs

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Written by AC

November 7th, 2015 at 1:33 pm

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