Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1989-1991 San Jose Jammers

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1989-90 San Jose Jammers ProgramContinental Basketball Association (1989-1991)

Born: June 2, 1989 – CBA expansion franchise.
Moved: 1991 (Bakersfield Jammers)

Arena: San Jose State Recreation Center

Team Colors:

Owner: Dominic Cortese

CBA Championships: None

 

Short-lived Bay Area minor league basketball outfit in the Continental Basketball Association (1946-2009).  The San Jose Jammers were formed in the spring of 1989 as part of an ill-fated California expansion effort by the CBA.  The CBA, at the time, was the Official Developmental League of the NBA.  Both the Jammers and their expansion partner, the Santa Barbara Islanders, would be out of business within two years.

The Jammers were owned by California State Assemblyman Dominic Cortese.  After two seasons in San Jose, Cortese moved the franchise to Bakersfield.  In Bakersfield, Cortese would declare the team bankrupt just 23 games into the 1991-92 CBA season, causing the team to told.

The Jammers’ biggest name player was probably Pearl Washington, the former Syracuse star and #1 draft pick of the New Jersey Nets in 1986. Washington never found success in the NBA and turned up in San Jose in 1989, 30 pounds overweight and a shadow of the player who terrorized the Big East just four years earlier.

 

==Links==

Continental Basketball Associations Media Guides

Continental Basketball Associations Programs

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2001-2003 San Jose CyberRays

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2003 San Jose Cyberrays Media GuideWomen’s United Soccer Association (2001-2003)

Born: 2000 – WUSA founding franchise
Folded: September 15, 2003

Stadium: Spartan Stadium (16,000)

Team Colors: Dark Purple, Light Purple, Orange & Black

Investor/Operators: John Hendricks & Amos Hostetter

Founders Cup Champions: 2001

 

In the relatively short history and small sample size of women’s professional team sports in North America, I’d hand the Weirdest Name prize to the Bay Area CyberRays of the Women’s United Soccer Association.  After their debut season, in the summer of 2001, WUSA officials came to realize it was an appallingly stupid name and they changed it … to the San Jose CyberRays.

But anyway, back to that first season.  The team was actually pretty damn good under the direction of former Stanford coach Ian Sawyers.  The big star was the 1999 U.S. World Cup hero Brandi Chastain, but the offense was powered by a pair of standout Brazilians: midfielder Sissi (10 assists) and forward Katia (7 goals).  Australian Julie Murray was the team’s leading scorer with 9 tallies.

CyberRays advanced to the 2001 Founders Cup final and won the first WUSA championship by defeating the Atlanta Beat on penalty kicks before 21,078 fans at Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts on August 25, 2001.  Murray scored in regulation and converted the final PK to earn Player of the Match honors in her final pro match before retirement.

The CyberRays were unable to recapture their first season form and missed the WUSA playoffs in 2002 and 2003.  (Maybe it’s bad mojo to change your name, however slightly, immediately after winning the championship.)

The CyberRays were somewhat of an orphan club from inception.  The team was jointly operated in the centrally-owned WUSA by cable TV barons Amos Hostetter and John Hendricks.  Both men lived on the Eastern seaboard and were more actively engaged with the WUSA franchises they operated in their local communities – Hostetter with his Boston Breakers and Hendricks with the league’s flagship Washington Freedom franchise.  According to Sports Business Journal the pair were actively seeking to unload the CyberRays to local investors in 2003, but couldn’t find any takers.  One rumored scenario had the club moving to Los Angeles for the 2004 season under the management of Anschutz Entertainment Group, owners of the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.  But instead the entire WUSA went out of business on September 15th, 2003, rendering the matter moot.

Women’s pro soccer returned to the Bay Area with the formation of FC Gold Pride of Women’s Professional Soccer in 2009.  Like the CyberRays, F.C. Gold Pride also won a league championship.  But they too were short-lived and folded after just two seasons.

 

San Jose CyberRays Memorabilia

 

San Jose CyberRays Video

60-second radio spot promoting what turned out to be the final CyberRays game ever played, August 10, 2003.

 

Links

Women’s United Soccer Association Media Guides

Women’s United Soccer Association Programs

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1977-1981 San Jose Missions

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San Jose MIssionsPacific Coast League (1977-1978)
California League (1979-1981)

Born: October 1976 – The Sacramento Solons relocate to San Jose, CA.
Affiliation Change:
1982 (San Jose Expos)

Stadium: San Jose Municipal Stadium

Team Colors:

  • 1977: Green & Gold

Owners:

 

The San Jose Missions baseball teams of 1977 to 1981 were actual two separate franchises, but we’ve consolidated them into one FWiL entry for simplicity’s sake.

The original Missions of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League arrived in the fall of 1976.  The club was the former Sacramento Solons (1974-1976) of the PCL, who had a nice following in the state capital but didn’t have a regulation baseball stadium.  The Solons played at Hughes Stadium,  a 22,000-seat football stadium with a left field wall only 250 feet away from home plate.  (In 1974 the Solons had two right-handed hitters belt over 50 home runs).  Solons owner Bob Piccinini made arrangements to lease his club to Joe Gagliardi, a part-owner of the Class A San Jose Bees (1962-1976) of the California League who dreamed of bringing triple-A baseball to the Bay Area.   Once the deal was struck in October 1976 the Bees cleared out to make room for the Pacific Coast League club, now re-named the San Jose Missions.

San Jose MissionsThe Missions were an Oakland A’s farm club in 1977 and a Seattle Mariners affiliate in 1978.  Despite the organizational shift, Rene Lachemann managed the team for both seasons, both of which saw the Missions finish in last place.

At the end of the 1978 season Piccinini unloaded the Missions for a reported $175,000 to a truck driver from Utah named Dennis Job.  The Pacific Coast League franchise moved to Ogden, Utah for the 1979 season and became an Oakland farm club once again, nicknamed the Ogden A’s.

The single-A California League, which had a long relationship with San Jose dating back to the 1940’s, quickly stepped into the breach and put a new team into San Jose’s Municipal Stadium for the 1979 season.   The new ballclub retained the “Missions” name and a parent club relationship with the Seattle Mariners.  Key players that played for the Missions during the California League/Mariners era included Bud Black (1979 & 1980), Dave Henderson (1979) and the #1 overall pick in the 1979 amateur draft, Al Chambers (1980), who turned out to be a colossal bust.

Seattle withdrew its affiliation after the 1980 season, forcing the Missions to play their final season in 1981 without the benefit of prospects from a Major League organization.  Following the 1981 season the Montreal Expos took over San Jose’s California League affiliation and the ball club was re-branded as the San Jose Expos for the 1982 campaign.

As of 2014, billionaire Save Mart grocery baron and former Missions owner Bob Piccinini is part of the ownership group of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

 

Links

Pacific Coast League Media Guides

Pacific Coast League Programs

California League Programs

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1994-1999 San Jose Rhinos

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Roller Hockey International (1994-1997)

Born: 1994 – RHI expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1999 – RHI ceases operations.

Arena: San Jose Arena (17,190)

Team Colors: Purple, Gold, Black & White

Owner: Rich Shillington

Murphy Cup Champions: 1995

 

The San Jose Rhinos were a Roller Hockey International franchise that played out of the San Jose Arena during the mid-to-late 1990’s.  During their second season in the summer of 1995, the Rhinos won the Murphy Cup championship of RHI by defeating the Montreal Roadrunners in the championship game.

After years of declining membership, RHI collapsed in the fall of 1997 due to internal financial disputes between the remaining owners and league CEO Larry King.  The 1998 season was cancelled and the league appeared to be dead.  Improbably, the league returned for a comeback season in 1999 and the Rhinos came out of cold storage to play one final season.  But nobody paid much attention and Roller Hockey International faded quietly into history before another season could be staged.

 

==YouTube==

San Jose Rhinos vs. Vancouver Voodoo at San Jose Arena. July 29, 1994.

 

==Links==

Roller Hockey International Media Guides

Roller Hockey International Programs

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Written by AC

February 5th, 2014 at 12:32 am

1996-1998 San Jose Lasers

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American Basketball League (1996-1998)

Born: February 1996 – ABL founding franchise.
Died: December 22, 1998 – The ABL ceases operations in mid-season.

Arenas:

Team Colors: Green, Black, Silver & White

Investor/Operator: Joe Lacob

 

The San Jose Lasers were a franchise in the women’s American Basketball League, which debuted in October 1996 and briefly competed against the NBA-backed Women’s National Basketball Association.

The Lasers split their home games between the San Jose Event Center, where they held the majority of their games, and occasional dates at the larger San Jose Arena.  The Lasers averaged 3,181 fans per game in 1996-97, but picked up considerably the next season to 4,773.  The Lasers drew 4,447 through seven home dates in 1998-99 before the ABL abruptly shut down and declared bankruptcy on December 22, 1998 midway through the league’s third season.

On the court, the Lasers posted losing records during both full ABL seasons, but still managed to sneak into the playoffs both years.  Their best performance was in the 1997-98 campaign, when they advanced to the playoff semi-finals before losing to the eventual champions, the Columbus Quest.

The ABL was a single-entity organization with league ownership of franchises and player contracts.  Similar to Major League Soccer, the ABL did allow investors to purchase operating rights to individual franchises, although few teams found such investors.  The Lasers were an exception.  Venture capitalists Joe Lacob of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers made an equity investment in the ABL in the spring of 1997 and later purchased operating rights to the Lasers shortly before the team’s second season got under way.

Following the demise of the ABL, Lacob became a minority partner in the Boston Celtics in 2006.  In 2010, a Lacob-led group acquired ownership of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors for $450 million.

 

==San Jose Lasers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1997-98

1997-98  10/17/1997 Long Beach Stingrays L 98-91 Program

 

 

==YouTube==

Montage from the Lasers 1996-97 inaugural season:

 

==Links==

American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs

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