Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Pacific Coast League’ Category

1962-1997 Oklahoma City 89ers

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Oklahoma City 89ersAmerican Association (1962 & 1969-1997)
Pacific Coast League (1963-1968)

Born: 1962
Re-Branded: 1998 (Oklahoma RedHawks)

Stadium: All Sports Stadium

Major League Affiliations:

  • 1962-1964: Houston Colt .45s
  • 1965-1972: Houston Astros
  • 1973-1975: Cleveland Indians
  • 1976-1982: Philadelphia Phillies
  • 1983-1998: Texas Rangers

Owners:

American Association Champions: 1992 & 1996
Pacific Coast League Champions: 1963 & 1965

 

The “89ers” (1962-1997) is the best known appellation of Oklahoma City’s long-running Class AAA minor league baseball team. The team’s name derives from the Land Rush of 1899, the same frenzied appropriation and settlement of former Native American lands that inspired the University of Oklahoma’s “Sooners” nickname.

The team began play in 1962 as the top farm club of Major League Baseball’s Houston Colt .45s expansion franchise. The 89ers essentially took the spot of the Houston Buffs in the Class AAA American Association after the Buffs were displaced by the Colt .45s. The American Association disbanded after the 89ers debut season in 1962. The 89ers shifted to the Pacific Coast League in 1963 and won their first championship that summer, defeating the Spokane Indians in a seven-game series.

The 89ers would win another PCL championship in 1965. Major League’s baseball’s 1969 expansion round brought about a need for more Class AAA farm clubs. So the American Association was resuscitated and Oklahoma City moved back to the Midwest-based league.

The ball club fell on hard times during the mid-1970’s. The 89ers’ long-time affiliation with Houston ended in 1973. The lowly Cleveland Indians replaced Houston as the 89ers’ parent club from 1973 to 1975. Ownership changed hands four times between 1971 and 1978 as crowds dwindled at All Sports Stadium.

Oklahoma City 89ersA key moment in the club’s resurgence occurred in 1976. A new owner (Harry Valentine) and new parent club (Philadelphia Phillies) arrived on the scene that summer. Valentine gave the team’s advertising account to a local woman named Patty Cox of the Cox Advertising Agency. Cox’s firm created the 89ers’ ubiqituous “Goodtime Baseball” ad campaigns of the late 1970’s. The following summer, Valentine promoted Cox to General Manager, making her the first female GM in Class AAA ball. When Valentine decided to unload the club in 1978, Patty Cox put together a local ownership group to keep the team in OKC. Cox and her husband Bing Hampton would operate the 89ers for the next decade. Crowds grew from 172,996 in 1978 to 364,247 in 1985.

Cox and Hampton helped to engineer the team’s revival without the benefit of much winning. After winning the Pacific Coast League title in 1965, the 89ers endured a nearly 30-year drought before winning their next title in 1992. But, of course, some terrific ballplayers passed through town in the interim. J.R. Richard won 10 games for the 1972 89ers. Future Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg played the entire summer in OKC in 1981. Ruben Sierra came through as a 20-year old phenom in the Texas Rangers system in 1986. Sierra returned to town 14 summers later, by which time the 89ers had become the RedHawks, to launch an improbable late career comeback with the Rangers.

After the 1989 season, Jeffrey Loria bought the 89ers from Bing Hampton and Patty Cox Hampton for a figure variously reported as $3.8 or $4.6 million. It was 49-year old New York art dealer’s first baseball investment. He would later go on to own the Montreal Expos and Florida/Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball and infuriate baseball fans in two countries. Loria sold the 89ers for $8 million in 1993.

1997 marked the end of an era for Oklahoma City baseball in many ways. The American Association folded at the end of that season. The 89ers moved back to the Pacific Coast League and were re-branded as the Oklahoma RedHawks for the 1998 season. The ball club also moved out of 35-year old All Sports Stadium and into the new $34 million Bricktown Ballpark.

The former 89ers franchise still plays in OKC today. The team has been known as the Oklahoma City Dodgers since 2015.

 

Oklahoma City 89ers Shop


Baseball in Oklahoma City by Bob Burke

Oklahoma City 89ers Memorabilia

 

89ers Video

The 89ers defeat the Indianapolis Indians to claim the 1996 American Association crown. September 14, 1996.

 

In Memoriam

Field manager Grady Hatton (89ers ’63-’65) died of natural causes at age 90 on April 11, 2013.

Manager Jim Bunning (89ers ’76) was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996 and the U.S. Senate representing Kentucky in 1999. He passed away on May 26, 2017 at the age of 85.

Outfielder Danny Walton (89ers ’68-’69) was named The Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year in 1969. He passed away on August 9, 2017 at age 70.

 

Links

American Association Media Guides

American Association Programs

Pacific Coast League Media Guides

Pacific Coast League Programs

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1972-1977 Tacoma Twins

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Tacoma TwinsPacific Coast League (1972-1977)

Born: 1972 – Affiliation change from Tacoma Cubs
Affiliation Change: 1978 (Tacoma Yankees)

Stadium: Cheney Stadium

Major League Affiliation: Minnesota Twins

Owners: Tacoma Baseball, Inc.

Pacific Coast League Championships: None

 

The Tacoma Twins were the top farm club of the Minnesota Twins for six seasons in the mid-1970’s.

The Tacoma teams of the Twins era produced many future Major Leaguers, but few of much renown. The best of the bunch were catcher Rick Dempsey (Twins ’72) and outfield Lyman Bostock (Twins ’74’-75).  Dempsey played 24 seasons in the majors and earned Most Valuable Player honors for the 1983 World Series as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. Bostock seemed destined for stardom until his shocking and senseless murder in September 1978.

Perhaps the Tacoma Twins best player, by Class AAA standards, was hard-hitting first baseman Randy Bass (Twins ’75-’77). Over the course of three summers in Tacoma, Bass slugged 64 home runs. Bass’ Major League career never really took off. But he became the most feared hitter in Japan after signing with the Hanshin Tigers of Central League in 1983. Bass won back-to-back Japanese Triple Crowns in 1985 and 1986.

During the summer of 1976, the Twins local ownership group flirted with professional soccer. Tacoma Baseball, Inc. partnered with future Washington governor Booth Gardner to form the Tacoma Tides of the American Soccer League. The Tides shared Cheney Stadium with the Twins during the bicentennial summer, but folded after only one season of play.

The Twins era in Tacoma came to an end in 1978 with a parent club shift to the New York Yankees.

 

Tacoma Twins Memorabilia

 

In Memoriam

Outfielder Lyman Bostock (Twins ’74-’75) was shot to death in a case of mistaken identity in his hometown of Gary, Indiana on September 23, 1978 at the age of 27.

 

Links

Pacific Coast League Media Guides

Pacific Coast League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

August 14th, 2017 at 7:51 pm

1969-1997 Tucson Toros

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Tucson TorosPacific Coast League (1969-1997)

Born: 1969
Re-Branded: 1998 (Tucson Sidewinders)

Stadium: Hi Corbett Field

Major League Affiliations:

  • 1969-1972: Chicago White Sox
  • 1973-1976: Oakland A’s
  • 1977-1979: Texas Rangers
  • 1980-1996: Houston Astros
  • 1997: Milwaukee Brewers

Owners:

PCL Champions: 1991 & 1993

 

Text coming soon…

 

Tucson Toros Memorabilia

 

Links

Pacific Coast League Media Guides

Pacific Coast League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

June 13th, 2017 at 2:45 am

Phoenix Giants Programs

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1984 Phoenix Giants ProgramPacific Coast League (1966-1985)

Born: 1966 – The Tacoma Giants relocate to Phoenix
Re-Branded: 1986 (Phoenix Firebirds)

Stadium: Phoenix Municipal Stadium

Team Colors:

Owners: 

  • 1966-1973: San Francisco Giants
  • 1973-1977: John Ashby, Dan Walker, Ethan Blackaby, et al.
  • ????-1985: Martin Stone, et al.

PCL Champions: 1977

 

The Phoenix Giants were the long-time top farm club of the National League’s San Francisco Giants. (This edition of the Giants followed an earlier Phoenix Giants entry in the Pacific Coast League in 1958-1959).

Giants prospects roasted in the Phoenix heat during the summer months. In a 2014 retrospective on the team, catcher Bob Brenly (Phoenix ’80-’81) told Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic that he routinely lost eight to ten pounds in water weight at each home game.

The Giants won their lone Pacific Coast League crown during the 1977 season.

Following the 1985 season, the franchise was re-branded as the Phoenix Firebirds. The Firebirds remained an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants for another twelve seasons through 1997 until minor league baseball was displaced by the Arizona Diamondbacks Major League expansion team. The former Phoenix Giants/Firebirds franchise moved to Tucson in 1998.

 

Phoenix Giants Programs 1966-1985

 

==Links==

Before Chase Field, Phoenix heat didn’t stop baseball“, Scott Bordow, azcentral sports, July 12, 2014

Pacific Coast League Media Guides

Pacific Coast League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

May 2nd, 2016 at 1:18 am

June 5, 1969 – Vancouver Mounties vs. Montreal Expos

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Vancouver Mounties ProgramVancouver Mounties vs. Montreal Expos
June 5, 1969
Capilano Stadium
Attendance: 5,906

Pacific Coast League Programs

 

This attractive, landscape-style program comes from a June 1969 exhibition contest between the Montreal Expos and the Vancouver Mounties of the Pacific Coast League.

In-season exhibitions between Major League teams and their farm clubs are sadly a thing of the past, although the practice was commonplace as late as the 1980’s.  In fact, this game was one of three such contests played on this night alone in 1969: the Atlanta Braves also played their Richmond Braves affiliate and the Minnesota Twins took on the Denver Bears of the American Association.

This was an interesting match-up because one team was on the way in and the other on the way out.  Montreal was two months deep into their expansion season in the National and man, were they ever terrible.  The Expos rode an 18-game losing streak into Vancouver’s Capilano Stadium.  One could presume that the Expos pitching staff was rather banged up from such a luckless run.  Rather than burn a pitcher from the Major League roster, Montreal flew in a 22-year old right-hander named John Glass from their Class A farm team in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Don Hahn Montreal ExposThe Mounties, meanwhile, were at the end of a 13-year run in the city of Vancouver.  The 1969 Mounties had the unenviable duty of serving as a farm club to two different sad-sack, last-place Major League expansion clubs – the Expos and the Seattle Pilots.  At the end of the 1969 season, the Mounties would leave Vancouver to move to Salt Lake City.

The game drew a near-capacity crowd of 5,906 to Capilano Stadium (better known today as Nat Bailey Stadium).  The Mounties got to John Glass for a four-run outburst in the fourth inning.  The Mounties’ big hit was a two-run double off the bat of Don Hahn, a 20-year old Expos prospect who had been the starting center fielder for Montreal in the franchise’s first Major League game two months earlier.  The Mounties held on for a 5-3 win.

The loss was the Expos’ 19th in a row.  For John Glass, the young Class A pitcher who started for Montreal, the exhibition was as close as he would get to the Major Leagues during an eight-year minor league career that ended in 1974.

 

==Links==

More Major League vs. Minor League Baseball Exhibitions

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