Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘One-Year Wonders’ tag

1995 Birmingham Barracudas

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Birmingham BarracudasCanadian Football League (1995)

Born: January 11, 1995 – CFL expansion franchise
Folded: February 1996

Stadium: Legion Field

Team Colors:

Owner: Art Williams

Grey Cup Championships: None

 

The Birmingham Barracudas were the final American expansion team awarded during the Canadian Football League’s failed incursion into the United States during the mid-1990’s. The CFL arrived in America in 1993 with a single club in Sacramento, California. Expansion teams in Baltimore, Las Vegas and Shreveport, Louisiana followed a year later. For 1995, Sacramento moved to San Antonio, Las Vegas folded, and Birmingham and Memphis became the last American cities to join the CFL. Life insurance mogul Art Williams purchased the Birmingham expansion rights in January 1995. Oddly, he chose the nickname “Barracudas” for his landlocked Alabama franchise.

The Barracudas tabbed former Houston Oilers head coach Jack Pardee to run the team. Pardee was a pioneer of the Run and Shoot offense during his time with the Houston Gamblers of the USFL and later with the University of Houston and the Oilers. Two-time All-CFL quarterback Matt Dunigan signed as a free agent and led the ‘Cudas high-scoring offense.

The Barracudas debuted at 75,000-seat Legion Field on July 15, 1995 with a 51-28 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The opening day crowd of 31,185 marked a strong debut by CFL standards. Crowds stayed strong for the next two Saturday nights as well. 25,321 turned out for a 24-14 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on July 22nd and 30,729 for a 36-8 loss to the Baltimore Stallions on July 29th.

The Barracudas were high-scoring and competitive. But attendance crashed in September and October once high school football and the  Auburn and University of Alabama college schedules got under way. Barracudas executives anticipated the problem. The CFL traditionally played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Williams got an exception for the Barracudas. Birmingham would play home games at Legion Field on Saturday evenings in July and August, but would be allowed to play on Sundays once college and high school football got under way after Labor Day. It didn’t matter. On Sunday October 1, 1995 an announced crowd of just 6,317 showed up for a home win against the Shreveport Pirates. The following Sunday was no better – 6,859 for a divisional contest against the San San Antonio Texans. For all intents and purposes, the Barracudas were done in Birmingham.

The Barracudas made the Grey Cup playoffs with a 10-8 record. But Matt Dunigan broke the index finger on this throwing hand in the season’s penultimate game. He would miss the Barracudas’ November 5, 1995 playoff game against the San Antonio Texans. Kelvin Simmons, with one pro start to his name, couldn’t move the offense. The Texans blew out the Barracudas 52-9 in the Alamodome. It was last game the team would ever play.

In January 1996 Art Williams reached an agreement in principle to unloaded his CFL membership to a group from Louisiana for a reported $750,000. The group hoped to move the Barracudas to Shreveport to replace that city’s own outgoing CFL team, the Shreveport Pirates. But the Louisiana group was unable to complete the deal by the CFL’s January 31, 1996 deadline. CFL owners to disband what remained of the CFL’s American franchises in February 1996.

Art Williams purchased the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning in 1998. He lost a reported $20 million on the team in 9 months before selling it at a further loss, thus bringing his pro sports adventures to an end.

Barracudas quarterback Matt Dunigan earned election to the Canadian Football Hall-of-Fame in 1996.

 

Birmingham Barracudas Shop


End Zones & Border Wars: The Era of American Expansion in the CFL by Ed Willes

 

Birmingham Barracudas Memorabilia

 

Links

Canadian Football League Media Guides

Canadian Football League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

November 23rd, 2017 at 5:00 pm

1984 Oklahoma City Stampede

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Oklahoma City StampedeUnited Soccer League (1984)

Born: 1984 – Re-branded from Oklahoma City Slickers
Moved: December 6, 1984 (Tulsa Tornados)

Stadium: Taft Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: David Fraser

USL Championships: None

 

The Oklahoma City Stampede were a 2nd vision pro soccer franchise that operated under a handful of names in Oklahoma during the mid-1980’s.  The club originated in 1982 as an expansion called the Oklahoma City Slickers in the American Soccer League. After the ASL folded in early 1984, Slickers owner David Fraser was one of several team owners and banded together to form the new United Soccer League. As part of the shift to the USL, Fraser changed the name of the team to the Stampede.

The Stampede retained head coach Brian Harvey from the Slickers era, along with a handful of players. NASL veterans Thompson Usiyan and David Kemp provided a new scoring punch, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the USL in total points.  Jamaican-born Delroy Allen handled the bulk of the goalkeeping duties. The Stampede finished the 1984 season tied for the best record in the 9-team USL at 15-9. The Houston Dynamos eliminated the Stampede in a two-leg semi-final playoff series in August 1984.

In December 1984 club owner David Fraser announce that the club would move to Tulsa for the 1985 season. Re-named once again, Fraser’s Tulsa Tornados went out of business along with the rest of the USL in the spring of 1985.

 

Oklahoma City Stampede Memorabilia

 

Links

United Soccer League Media Guides

United Soccer League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

November 22nd, 2017 at 8:59 pm

2001 San Francisco Demons

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San Francisco DemonsXFL (2001)

Born: 2000 – XFL founding franchise.
Folded: May 10, 2001

Stadium: Pacific Bell Park

Team Colors:

Owner: XFL

XFL Championships: None

 

The San Francisco Demons were a popular but fleeting pro football entry that played at Pac Bell Park in the winter and spring of 2001. The Demons were one of eight franchises in the XFL, a $100 million joint venture between NBC and World Wrestling Entertainment.

The Demons posted a 5-5 record, good for 2nd place in the league. Former Cal quarterback Mike Pawlawski handled the signal calling and finished second in the XFL in passing yards and first in completion percentage. After dispatching the Orlando Rage in the playoff-semi-finals, the Demons advanced to the XFL’s “Million Dollar Game” championship game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. They were blown out 38-6 by the Los Angeles Xtreme.

The XFL folded three weeks later.  Although the league is largely a punch line today, the Demons attracted a decent following at Pac Bell Park in 2001. The franchise led the XFL in attendance with an announced average of 35,005 for five home dates.

 

 

San Francisco Demons Shop

ESPN Films 30 For 30: This Is The XFL

 

Demons Video

The Demons take on the Los Angeles Xtreme in the XFL’s “Million Dollar Game”, which was both the league’s only title game and the last game of its brief history.

Links

XFL Media Guides

XFL Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

November 8th, 2017 at 4:20 am

1991-92 Music City Jammers

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Music City JammersGlobal Basketball Association (1991-1992)

Born: 1991 – GBA founding franchise
Moved: 1992 (Jackson Jammers)

Arena: Nashville Municipal Auditorium

Team Colors:

Owner: Larry Schmittou, et al.

GBA Champions: 1992

 

The Music City Jammers were a Nashville-based minor league basketball outfit that lasted for just one season in the early 1990’s. The club was part of the Global Basketball Association, an all-but-forgotten loop with teams in the Southeast and Midwest. The managing partner of the Jammers was Larry Schmittou, long-time owner of Nashville’s popular Nashville Sounds minor league baseball club.

Schmittou wasn’t able to translate his magic touch from the baseball diamond to Nashville’s leaky Municipal Auditorium. A January 1992 profile of the Jammers in The Tennessean reported that the Jammers averaged fewer than 400 paid tickets per game through the team’s first 11 home dates.

On the court, the Jammers were mediocre. The team finished the regular season in 4th place in their division and barely earned the GBA’s eighth and final playoff spot. In fact, Music City’s record of 24-40 was second worst in the league. But the Jammers got hot at the right time. They eliminated the Huntsville Lasers in the first round and dispatched the Mid-Michigan Great Lakers in the semis. To cap it off, the Jammers knocked off the Greensboro City Gaters in the finals to claim the Global Basketball Association’s first (and only) championship.

Low attendance in Nashville forced Larry Schmittou to move the Jammers to Jackson, Tennessee.  The re-named Jackson Jammers returned to defend their title in November of 1992. But the Global Basketball Association came apart one month into its second season and folded on December 19, 1992.

Links

Global Basketball Association Pocket Schedules

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Written by Drew Crossley

May 29th, 2017 at 11:02 pm

1978-79 Tucson Gunners

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Tucson GunnersWestern Basketball Association (1978-79)

Born: 1978 – WBA expansion franchise
Folded: 1979

Arena: Tucson Community Center

Team Colors:

Owners: Davis Burk, et al.

WBA Champions: 1979

 

The Tucson Gunners were a One-Year Wonder in the minor-league Western Basketball Association. The Gunners, like the rest of the league, operated for just one season during the winter of 1978-79. The WBA stretched from Tucson in the south up through California, Utah and Nevada to Montana and Washington in the north. The league attracted a number of out-of-work pros who lost jobs with the closure of the American Basketball Association in 1976, along with training camp cuts from the NBA.

The Gunners shared winter dates at the Tucson Community Center with the Tucson Rustlers hockey team. Like the Gunners, the Rustlers would also fold after just one season.

The Gunners were managed by former Detroit Pistons head coach Herb Brown. Brown assembled the best squad in the league. The Gunners topped the standings with a 32-16 regular season record. Top players included former ABA regular Al Smith and rookie guard Gerald Henderson. Henderson was a 3rd round draft pick of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs in 1978 who failed to stick in training camp.

The Gunners met the Reno Bighorns in the WBA championship series in late March 1979. The series came down to a deciding game 7 in Tucson on April 2, 1979. Smith and Henderson combined for 45 points as Tucson vanquished Reno 104-90.

It proved to be the team’s final contest. The Gunners folded a few months later, along with the other six WBA clubs. Gerald Henderson used his showcase in Tucson to make the Boston Celtics in 1979. He would go on to win 3 NBA titles over the course of a 13-year NBA career before retiring in 1992.

 

Links

Taking a Gamble on the Future“, Curry Kirkpatrick, Sports Illustrated, February 12, 1979

Western Basketball Association Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

March 22nd, 2017 at 2:01 am

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