Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Independent Baseball’ tag

2002-2003 Berkshire Black Bears

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Berkshire Black BearsNorthern League (2002-2003)

Born: October 2001 – The Massachusetts Mad Dogs relocate to Pittsfield, MA
Moved: December 2003 (New Haven County Cutters)

Stadium: Wahconah Park

Major League Affiliation: Independent

Owner: Jonathan Fleisig

Northern League Championships: None

 

The Berkshire Black Bears were an abortive effort to establish independent professional baseball at historic Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  The Northern League club arrived in Pittsfield close on the heels of the departing Pittsfield Astros of the Major League-affiliated New York-Penn League.

Former Boston Red Sox slugger George “Boomer” Scott managed the Black Bears in the first season in 2002. Scott had a history in Pittsfield. As a 21-year old prospect in 1965, he won the Eastern League triple crown in 1965 with the Pittsfield Red Sox. His managerial tenure would not be as successful. The Black Bears finished in last place with a 24-65 record in 2002. Scott was dismissed at the end of the season.

The team improved only marginally in 2003 under new field manager Darren Bush. The Black Bears 41-51 record left them outside the playoffs once again.

The Black Bears moved to New Haven, Connecticut in December 2003. The franchise eventually folded once and for all in October 2007 after four seasons in Connecticut.

 

Berkshire Black Bears Shop

Foul Ball: My Fight to Save an Old Ballpark by Jim Bouton

 

Downloads

May 2002 Black Bear News Program Insert

 

Links

Northern League Media Guides

Northern League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

January 4th, 2018 at 2:32 pm

1995-2002 Adirondack Lumberjacks

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Adirondack LumberjacksNortheast League (1995-1998)
Northern League (1999-2002)

Born: 1995 – Northeast League founding franchise
Moved: October 2002 (Bangor Lumberjacks)

Stadium: East Field Stadium

Major League Affiliation: Independent

Team Colors: 

  • Hunter Green & Deep Burgundy (1995)
  • Hunter Green & Black (1999)

Owners: 

Northeast League Champions: 1995
Northern League Champions: 2000

 

The Adirondack Lumberjacks were an independent baseball team based out of Glens Falls, New York from 1995 until 2002. Glens Falls hosted Class AA minor league farm clubs of the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers from 1980 until 1988, plus a Class A St. Louis Cardinals farm team in 1993. But by the mid-1990’s the city’s East Field no longer met modern standards for affiliated Minor League Baseball. Glens Falls was a classic example of a community left behind by the minor league stadium boom of the 1990’s. Like many such communities, it turned to independent ball to fill the void.

The ‘Jacks were founding members of the Northeast League, which included ball clubs from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New England States. In 1999, the Northeast League entered into a merger with the Northern League, an indy circuit in the Upper Midwest. From 1999 through 2002, the former Northeast League clubs played as “Northern League East” and met with Northern League Central’s best team for the overall league championship.

Adirondack Lumberjacks LogoAdirondack defeated the Albany-Colonie Diamonds Dogs to win the first championship of the Northeast League in 1995. In 2000, the Lumberjacks swept the Duluth-Superior Dukes in three games to win the Northern League title. A crowd of 3,182 turned out to East Field to watch the decisive game on September 18, 2000.

One of the key figures in the Lumberjacks era was pitcher-manager Les Lancaster. Lancaster pitched in the Majors from 1987 until 1993, primarily as a reliever for the Chicago Cubs. He appeared in the 1989 NLCS with Chicago. He arrived in Glens Falls in 1998 as 36-year old player-pitching coach. By the end of the year, he was appointed the team’s manager. He was a regular in Adirondack’s starting rotation in 1999, but devoted himself mostly to managing in 2000. During the 2000 championship series against Duluth-Superior, Lancaster activated himself to the roster and pitched a shutout in Game 2.

In late 2002, the team was sold to new ownership and moved to Bangor, Maine. Owner Charles Jacey cited the small size of the Glens Falls market (approx. 60,000 people) as the decisive factor in giving up on the team. The Bangor Lumberjacks played two more seasons and then went out of business in April 2005. Professional baseball has never returned to Glens Falls since the departure of the Lumberjacks.

 

Adirondack Lumberjacks Memorabilia

 

Downloads

June 17, 1995 Adirondack Lumberjacks vs. Yonkers Hoot Owls Game Notes

 

Links

Northeast League Media Guides

Northeast League Programs

Northern League Media Guides

Northern League Programs

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2005 Mesa Miners

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Mesa MinersGolden Baseball League (2005)

Born: 2005 – Golden Baseball League founding franchise
Folded: November 22, 2005

Stadium: Hohokam Park

Major League Affiliation: Independent

Owner: Golden Baseball League

Golden League Championships: None

 

The Mesa Miners were an independent professional baseball team that played for just one season in the now-defunct Golden Baseball League (2005-2010).

The Miners played at 10,500-seat Hohokam Park, spring training home of the Chicago Cubs. The team had the second best record (51-39) in the eight-team Golden League in 2005. They advanced to the league championship series and lost to the San Diego Surf Dawgs.

Mesa’s most experienced player was 32-year old catcher/first baseman Marcus Jensen. Jensen played 145 Major League games with various clubs between 1996 and 2001.

The Golden Baseball League operated in a single-entity structure during its debut season in 2005. The league owned all franchises directly. On November 22, 2005 the Golden League contracted both of its central Arizona franchises, the Miners and the Surprise Fightin’ Falcons, after a single season of play. David Kaval, the Golden League’s co-founder and CEO, cited the Miners’ unfavorable concessions contract at Hohokam Park as a key factor in the team’s demise. Mesa also finished last in the Golden League in attendance in 2005 with just 915 fans per game.

 

Mesa Miners Memorabilia

 

Links

Golden Baseball League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

December 28th, 2017 at 2:46 pm

1977-1981 Salem Senators

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Salem Senators ProgramNorthwest League (1977-1981)

Born: 1977 – Northwest League expansion franchise
Affiliation Change: 1982 (Salem Angels)

Stadiums:

Owners:

 

The Salem Senators were an independent franchise (i.e. no Major League parent club) in the short-season Class A Northwest League.  The Senators were a brand revival of Salem’s earlier Senators team, which played in the city from 1940 until 1960. Stockton, California businessman Carl Thompson founded the team in 1977.  Thompson and his wife Noreen owned several low-level minor league clubs in California and the Pacific Northwest during the 1970’s, typically running the clubs as independents, which allowed Thompson to appoint himself field manager.

The Thompsons’ operation was a ramshackle effort to put it mildly.  The Sens’ shared a Little League field during their first season. Carl Thompson threatened to cancel a 1977 game over a dispute with the local Parrish Little League over who would pay $75 for liability insurance at Holland Youth Park. The game only proceeded after Northwest League Commissioner Bob Richmond forked over the seventy-five bucks himself.  The Sens’ rarely drew more than a couple hundred fans a night.

Carl Thompson ran out of money midway through the Sens’ second season in the summer of 1978.  He released a number of players, including the Northwest League batting leader, and made noises about folding the team mid-summer. He was soon forced to sell by the Northwest League. A local group led by mobile home dealer Ben Yates stepped up and backstopped the Sens through the end of the season.

The Sens muddled along as an independent operation for five seasons through the summer of 1981. In 1982 the California Angels became Salem’s parent club and re-branded the ball club as the Salem Angels.

Only two Senators players ever advanced to the Major Leagues.  Catcher Darryl Cias (Sens ’78) had a cup of coffee with the Oakland A’s in 1983. Infielder Sap Randall (Sens ’81) got into four games for the White Sox in 1988.

 

==Links==

Northwest League Programs

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1999-2010 Schaumburg Flyers

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Schaumburg FlyersNorthern League (1999-2010)

Born: 1999 – The Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks relocate to Schaumburg, IL.
Folded: March 2011

Stadium: Alexian Field

Major League Affiliation: Independent

Owners: Richard Ehrenreich, et al.

Northern League Championships: None

 

The Schaumburg Flyers were a minor league baseball team that played in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois from 1999 until 2010.  The Flyers competed in the Northern League, an “independent” circuit whose members had no affiliation with Major League Baseball parent clubs.

7,600-seat Alexian Field was constructed at a cost of approximately $20 million to lure the club from Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1999.  Popular former White Sox slugger Ron Kittle was the Flyers’ field manager for the first three seasons of the team’s existence from 1999 through 2001.

Team owner Rich Ehrenreich began to fall behind on lease payments for Alexian Field in 2007.  By the end of the 2010 Northern League season, the team’s accumulated debt and penalties exceeded $900,000.  Efforts to sell the team to poorly vetted buyers fell through in 2010 and led to litigation.  Meanwhile, the Northern League folded after the 2010 season. The Flyers announced plans to play on in a dubious sounding enterprise known as the North American League. Before the Flyers could join the new league, the city evicted the team from Alexian Field over unpaid bills. The Flyers went out of business in March 2011.

After a summer without baseball in 2011, the Flyers were replaced by the Schaumburg Boomers of the independent Frontier League in 2012.

 

Links

Northern League Media Guides

Northern League Programs

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Written by AC

November 21st, 2014 at 8:57 pm

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