Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1999-2002 Mississippi Fire Dogs

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Mississippi Fire DogsIndoor Professional Football League (1999-2000)
National Indoor Football League (2001-2002)

Born: 1999
Died: Postseason 2002 – The Fire Dogs cease operations

Arena: Mississippi Coast Coliseum

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Mississippi Fire Dogs were an obscure indoor football outfit that played four seasons in the Gulf Coast city of Biloxi from 1999 through 2002.  Starting in the late 1990’s, a rash of low-budget knockoffs of the pioneering Arena Football League sprang up around the country.  These leagues – often derisively referred to as “ankle biters” by diehard AFL fans – typically set up shop in small Midwestern and Southern cities with underutilized civic centers.  And they typically didn’t last very long.

In this sense, the Fire Dogs were a pretty typical ankle-biter entry.  The franchise started out in 1999 in the Indoor Professional Football League (1999-2001), which featured teams in the Deep South and Pacific Northwest.  After two seasons, the Fire Dogs ditched the struggling IPFL for the equally anonymous National Indoor Football League (2001-2007).

There were a couple of intriguing names associated with the Fire Dogs. During the team’s first two seasons in the IPFL, the General Manager, Head Coach and starting quarterback was former NFL quarterback John Fourcade.

The other “celebrity” associated with the Fire Dogs was Irving Favre, father of Green Bay Packers All-Pro quarterback Brett Favre.  The elder Favre was a minority owner in the club.  He also succeeded Fourcade as Head Coach when the franchise jumped to the National Indoor Football League in 2001.

The Fire Dogs won two league titles during their short life-span, conquering the IPFL (under Fourcade) in 2000 and the NIFL (under Favre) in 2001.  The team went out of business following the 2002 season.

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Written by AC

August 10th, 2014 at 2:43 am

1946-1951 Trois-Rivieres Royals

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Trois-Rivieres Royals ProgramCanadian-American League (1946-1950)
Provincial League (1951)

Born: 1946
Died: 1951

Stadium: Le Stade Municipal de Trois-Rivieres (5,982)

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Trois-Rivieres Royals were a Quebec-based farm club of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1946-1950 in the Class C Canadian-American league.  The Can-Am League included clubs from Massachusetts, New York, Ontario and Quebec.

The Royals were preceded in town by the Trois Rivieres Renards (1941-1942), also of the Can-Am League.  Like most of North American minor league baseball, the league went dark from 1943 to 1945 at the height of World War II.  When baseball returned in the summer of 1946, the Renards had become the Royals.

After the 1950 season, the Dodgers pulled out of town and the Trois-Rivieres moved to the Class C Provincial League.  In 1951, the Royals played as an independent team (no Major League parent club).  The Royals era came to a close in 1952 when the New York Yankees sponsored the ball club, which changed its name to the Trois Rivieres Yankees (1952-1953).

 

==Links==

Canadian-American League Programs

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April 6, 1968 – Allentown Jets vs. Wilmington Blue Bombers

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Allentown Jets vs. Wilmington Blue Bombers
April 6, 1968
Louis E. Dieruff High School
Attendance: ?

Eastern Basketball Association Programs
32 pages

 

Deciding Game 3 of the 1968 Eastern Basketball Association (1946-1978) semi-final playoff series between the Allentown (PA) Jets and the Wilmington Blue Bombers from Delaware.   The Jets bested the Bombers 132-111 to advance to the championship series, where they would ultimately knock off the Wilkes-Barre (PA) Barons to win the 1968 league crown.

Although confined to high school gyms Pennsylvania and a few neighboring states, the EBA was the country’s top minor league, playing just one notch below the NBA and the fledgling American Basketball Association.  The EBA helped guys like Mike Riordan make it to the NBA.  Riordan spent the winter of 1967-68 in Allentown with the Jets as a rookie out of Providence College.  A few months later Riordan earned a roster spot with the New York Knicks and spent the next decade in the NBA, winning a championship with New York in 1970.

More often though, the EBA was a destination for players on their way down from the NBA.  Jets captain Andy Johnson, posed on the evening’s game program, was one such player.  Johnson had a strange career.  He was drafted into the Korean War after college at the University of Portland.  After the war, he spent some time with the Harlem Globetrotters before finally making it to the NBA with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1958.  He spent four seasons in the league, before being shipped off to the Philadelphia Tapers of the short-lived American Basketball League in 1962 on the eve of his fifth campaign.  After the ABL folded, Johnson never got another shot at the NBA and played out the remaining half dozen years of his pro career as a fan favorite in Allentown, earning $75 a night.

As the NBA’s fortunes surged in the late 1980’s, efforts were made to broaden the league’s pension system to take care of aging players from the league’s pioneer days.  The cut off for a pension was five seasons, which brought the tangled path of Andy Johnson’s career to the attention of New York Times writer George VecseyJohnson was a year short.  Military veterans who went directly to the NBA out of the service were apparently credited with time served towards their pension.  But because Johnson went first to the Globetrotters, his two years in the service were not counted.  Nor was the season he played in the American Basketball League after an odd transaction that Johnson characterized as a “loan” from the NBA’s Chicago Packers to the ABL’s Philadelphia Tapers.

Andy Johnson passed away in 2002.  His son Mark Johnson published a biography of his father entitled Basketball Slave: The Andy Johnson Story in 2010:

 

==Links==

www.basketballslave.com

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2003 Bisbee-Douglas Copper Kings

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Arizona-Mexico League (2003)

Born: 2002 – Arizona-Mexico League founding franchise.
Died: June 17, 2003 – The Arizona-Mexico League folds in midseason.

Stadium: Copper King Stadium (1,800)

Team Colors:

Owners: John Guy, Mark Hebard, Rick Johnston & David Skinner

 

These guys knew how to have fun, so it’s unfortunate that the obscure Arizona-Mexico League of Professional Baseball Clubs lasted for only three weeks before folding in the spring of 2003.  Run by minor league historians John Guy and David Skinner, the Bisbee-Douglas Copper Kings were a revival of  an old Class C ball club of the same name that existed from 1949-1958.

The Copper Kings gained some national attention when they hosted “Ted Williams Frozen Popsicle Night” on June 2, 2003 to riff on the revelation that the remains of the Splendid Splinter were locked inside a cryogenics facility in Scottsdale, Arizona.  They auctioned off a contract on e-Bay that was won by an aide to the Governor of Maryland.  They also employed an official team psychic:

“Why not let the fans know how this game is going to turn out, so they can spend more time socializing, visiting the concession stand and checking out team souvenirs?” President John Guy reasoned in a team press release.

On the field, the Copper Kings employed former National League base stealing champion (1993) Chuck Carr.  The rest of the roster, however, was beyond obscure.

Unfortunately, the four-team Arizona-Mexico League ran out of cash after a couple of weeks and folded, thus depriving the world  of “Shoeless Joe Jackson Séance Night” and “Outdraw the Montreal Expos Night”, both planned for later in the summer.

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1977-1980 Buffalo Blazers

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National Soccer League (1977-1980?)

Born: 1977
Died: 1980?

Stadium: War Memorial Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Anthony Bodami

 

This soccer program from the obscure, semi-pro Buffalo Blazers showed up in the post box office box earlier this week.  The Blazers were members of the National Soccer League, which played for nearly seven decades in Eastern Canada from the late 1920’s until 1997.  Every so often, a team from an American border city like Buffalo or Detroit would sneak in for a couple of seasons, as was the case with the Blazers during the late 1970’s.

NSL teams were usually organized along ethnic lines at the time.  Some of the Blazers’ competitors of the era were named Toronto Croatia, Hamilton Italo-Canadians and Serbian White Eagles.  The Blazers didn’t wear their ethnic affiliation on their sleeves quite so much, but they were more or less an Italian-American club, at least judging by the advertisers and investors listed in the 1978 program pictured above right.  Team owner/President Anthony Bodami, Jr. was a local contractor.

There isn’t much information about the National Soccer League available online, and this program was certainly no help either, as it fails to provide so much as a list of the players’ names.  Soccer historian Dave Littererhas compiled the most thorough information on the National Soccer League and his (incomplete) record seem to indicate that the Blazers existed from 1977 to 1980, although perhaps they took the 1979 season off.  It’s not really clear.

The Blazers played at the Rockpile, aka the old War Memorial Stadium, which was also home to the city’s minor league baseball team, the Buffalo Bisons.

 

==Links==

David Litterer’s Canadian National Soccer League history page

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Written by AC

September 19th, 2013 at 6:35 pm

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