Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Cow Palace’ tag

1974-1978 Golden Gaters

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Frew McMillan Golden GatersWorld Team Tennis (1974-1978)

Born: 1973 – WTT founding franchise
Folded: March 1979

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owners:

WTT Championships: None

 

The Golden Gaters tennis team was the Bay Area franchise in the co-ed World Team Tennis league of the mid-1970’s.  Of the league’s original 16 franchises that debuted in 1974, the Golden Gaters were one of just two that remained standing in its original city when the league played its final season in 1978. (The Los Angeles Strings were the other).

The league considered the Golden Gaters to be its “San Francisco” franchise, but the team played nearly all of its matches in blue-collar Oakland.  The exception came in 1975, when the Gaters played a handful of playoff dates at the Cow Palace in Daly City.

World Team Tennis packaged tennis as a co-ed team sport played in major hockey arenas across the United States.  Each contest consisted of five matches: a single set of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.  Each game won equated to a point and cumulative team points determined the winner.  The league also dispensed with the stuffy decorum expected on the pro tour.  Loud cheering, rock music and cornball promotions were welcomed in World Team Tennis, often to the shock and befuddlement of the European tour pros who filled the league’s rosters.

The importance of the doubles game to WTT’s scoring system meant that the league attracted a lot of doubles specialists.  South African star Frew McMillan, a doubles champion at Wimbledon, the French Open and the U.S. Open, served as the Golden Gaters player-coach for all five seasons of play.  McMillan would earn WTT Coach-of-the-Year honors in 1975. He was also named the league’s Male Most Valuable Player in 1977 and 1978.

Dutch stars Tom Okker and Betty Stove joined the Gaters in 1975 and helped the team to the first of two straight appearances in the WTT Championship Series.  The Golden Gaters lost in the finals to the Pittsburgh Triangles in 1975 and to the New York Sets in 1976.

Following the 1978 season, the league suffered a crisis of confidence among its investors. Consequently, eight of the ten franchises folded in October and November of 1978.  The Golden Gaters and the Phoenix Racquets hoped to soldier on.  But with just two active clubs remaining, World Team Tennis bowed to reality and shut its doors in March 1979.

World Team Tennis re-booted on a more modest scale in 1981 and returned to Oakland.  But neither the Oakland Breakers (1981-1982) nor the Oakland Aces (1985-1986) managed to rekindle any enthusiasm for the Team Tennis concept. Both clubs evaporated after just a handful of dates at the Coliseum Arena.

 

Golden Gaters Memorabilia

 

Links

World Team Tennis Media Guides

World Team Tennis Programs

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1961-1962 San Francisco Saints

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Gene Brown San Francisco SaintsAmerican Basketball League (1961-1962)

Born: 1961 – ABL founding franchise
Moved: 1962 (Oakland Oaks)

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owner: George McKeon

 

The San Francisco Saints were a One-Year Wonder in Abe Saperstein’s upstart American Basketball League that briefly attempted to challenge the NBA in the early 1960’s.

The Saints finished 38-38 in their only season of play and lost to the eventual champion Cleveland Pipers (owned by George Steinbrenner!) in the playoff quarterfinal.  6′ 8″ center Jim Francis out of Dartmouth was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 19.1 PPG.

In July 1962, owner George McKeon announced that the Saints would not return to the league.  The franchise was relocated across the Bay to Oakland as the Oakland Oaks for the 1962-63 season.  The ABL’s sophomore campaign was cut short due to financial difficulties and the league folded on December 31, 1962.

 

==1961-62 San Francisco Saints Results==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
11/1/1961 vs. Kansas City Steers W 100-88 Program
11/3/1961 vs. Kansas City Steers L 83-77 Program
11/9/1961 vs. Cleveland Pipers L 103-100 Program
11/10/1961 vs. Cleveland Pipers L 97-88 Program
11/17/1961 @ Chicago Majors L 94-91 (OT) Program
2/20/1962 vs. Chicago Majors W 119-116 Program
2/22/1962 vs. Chicago Majors L 118-102 Program

 

==Links==

American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs

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1980-1981 San Francisco Fog

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San Francisco FogMajor Indoor Soccer League (1980-1981)

Born: May 28, 1980 – Detroit Lightning relocate to San Francisco, CA.
Moved: May 5, 1981 (Kansas City Comets)

Arena: The Cow Palace (12,600)

Team Colors: Fog Gray & Rocket Red

Owner: Dr. David Schoenstadt

MISL Championships: None

 

A short-lived entry in the original Major Indoor Soccer League.  The MISL arrived in San Francisco in May 1980 after Dr. David Schoenstadt purchased and relocated the league’s Detroit Lightning franchise.  Starting in November 1980, the newly renamed San Francisco Fog would play out of the Cow Palace in Daly City.

The finished with the worst record (11-29) in the 12-team MISL  under the direction of player-coach Johnny Moore.  Moore, a former member of the NASL’s San Jose Earthquakes, was the Fog’s best player, earning an honorable mention selection to the league All-Star team.

Beyond the losing, the 1980-81 season was also a debacle for owner David Schoenstadt.  The Fog had the league’s worst attendance at around 2,500 per game announced and lost over a million dollars, according to The Associated Press.  In May 1981, Schoenstadt moved the club once again, this time to Kansas City’s Kemper Arena.

As the Kansas City Comets, the club thrived during the early 1980’s.  At the peak of the Comets’ popularity in 1984, the club averaged nearly 16,000 fans per match and helped drive the NBA’s Kansas City Kings franchise out of town.  Schoenstadt sold the club in 1987, and it subsequently fell on hard times, as did the rest of the MISL, in the late 1980’s.   The Comets went out of business in 1991.

Fog Video

The Fog host the Philadelphia Fever at the Cow Palace during the 1980-81 season.

In Memoriam

Fog owner Dr. David Schoenstadt died of cancer in December 1991.

 

Links

Major Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs

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Written by AC

February 8th, 2013 at 9:43 pm

November 21, 1963 – San Francisco Seals vs. Los Angeles Blades

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San Francisco Seals vs. Los Angeles Blades
November 21, 1963
The Cow Palace
Western Hockey League Programs
46 pages

This is a really sharp program from the old San Francisco Seals of the Western Hockey League, who played in The Cow Palace from 1961 to 1967.  The hockey club adopted the name of San Francisco’s long-time minor league baseball team, also known as the San Francisco Seals, who played in the Pacific Coast League from 1903 to 1957.  The baseball Seals were forced out of town when Major League Baseball’s New York Giants moved west in 1958.  A similar fate awaited the hockey Seals.

Cover boy Garry “Duke” Edmundson had an unusual career.  He debuted in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens at the young age of 19, playing a single regular season tilt plus two playoff games during the 1951-52 season.  But he spent the rest of the decade kicking around in the minors and didn’t return to the NHL until the age of 27.  After forty games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the winter of 1959-60, he more or less squandered the second chance by showing up at training camp 40 pounds overweight in 1960, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame.  He played out his final pro seasons back in the minors with the Seals.

This particular game was the back end of a home-and-home set with the Los Angeles Blades.  The Blades beat the Seals 4-0 the previous night before 8,654 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena before the action shifted north to San Francisco.  This game was a higher scoring affair, with the Blades knocking off the Seals 7-6 at the Cow Palace.  President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas the next day and the Western League joined with most (but not all) professional leagues and cancelled games for weekend of 11/24-11/25  as the nation mourned.

The Seals play in San Francisco until 1967 when the National Hockey League expanded to California.  The arrival of the NHL in Oakland and Los Angeles spelled the end of both the Seals  and the Blades in the Western League.  The Oakland NHL expansion franchise carried on the Seals nickname, first as the California Seals and later as the Oakland Seals and California Golden Seals.  The NHL left the Cow Palace behind and played across the Bay at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

 

 

1977-1979 San Francisco Shamrocks

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San Francisco ShamrocksPacific Hockey League (1977-1979)

Born: 1977 – PHL founding franchise
Folded: January 3, 1979

Arena: The Cow Palace

Team Colors:

Owners: Jerry Saperstein & Dennis Murphy

PHL Champions: 1978

 

The Pacific Hockey League was a short-lived attempt to form an independent, low-budget minor league loop in Arizona, California and Washington state in the late 1970’s.  According to Scott Surgent’s Complete Historical and Statistical Reference to the World Hockey Association, the idea for the PHL took root at the 1977 World Hockey Association All-Star Game thanks to serial sports entrepreneur Dennis Murphy (a founder of the WHA, American Basketball Association and Roller Hockey International among other start-ups) and former WHA executive Walt Marlow.

The WHA was locked in an expensive and losing battle with the NHL for markets and free agents.  It was also about to enter a contraction phase. Four clubs would drop out at the end of the 1976-77 season.  The PHL concept gained momentum when the San Diego Mariners club withdrew from the WHA in the spring of 1977. The move left San Diego Sports Arena owner Peter Graham without a winter tenant.

Graham agreed to back a revived, low-budget version of the Mariners in the PHL.  Dennis Murphy and former Harlem Globetrotters owner Jerry Saperstein (son of Abe) took the San Francisco franchise, which would play at the 12,000-seat Cow Palace in Daly City. Long Beach, California took a franchise (the Sharks – also reviving an old WHA name and logo).  Finally, less than two weeks before opening night, another WHA casualty – the Phoenix Roadrunners – jumped from the Central Hockey League to the PHL to round out the first season line-up with four clubs.

The Pacific Hockey League debuted on Christmas Day, 1977.  The league had no shortage of available players. Besides the contraction of the WHA, two rough-and-tumble minor leagues – the North American Hockey League and the Southern Hockey League – went out of business in 1977. There was a glut of refugee skaters looking for work.

Murphy & Saperstein’s San Francisco Shamrocks featured a core of ex-WHA players. 35-year old player/head coach Wayne Rivers was a 50-goal scorer for the San Diego Mariners three years earlier.  Other WHA vets included Bill Evo, Paul Hoganson, Keith Kokkola and Randy Wyrozub.  The rest of the roster was rounded out primarily by castaways from the defunct North American and Southern leagues.

The Shamrocks won the first (and only) PHL championship in the spring of 1978.  The club wobbled into its sophomore season in November 1978 low on funds.  Shamrocks players weren’t paid for much of the second season. Murphy soon fell behind on rent to the Cow Palace.  A last ditch effort to sell the club to David Peterson, owner of the Golden Gaters franchise of World Team Tennis (another Murphy creation) fell through.  The Shamrocks disbanded in mid-season in January 1979. The Pacific League followed the Shamrocks into oblivion several months later.

Chris Collins, who was a 17-year old equipment manager for the Shamrocks during the 1977-78 season, curates a profanely entertaining tribute page to the team on Facebook.

 

San Francisco Shamrocks Memorabilia

 

Links

Pacific Hockey League Programs

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Written by AC

June 21st, 2012 at 2:26 pm

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