Good vs. Evil. Dark vs. Light. The Red LightSaber vs. The Blue Light Saber. The Empire against the Rebellion. These are the important things in life. Just as the KZoo Growlers are including their fans into a theme day, the Lancaster JetHawks are as well bringing in their fans, to see which Jersey they should don on Star Wars Night June 17. Rebel vs. Empire. They’re letting the fans decide.
As is the case with all the unique game day jerseys the Lancaster JetHawks will be auctioning them off. I would assume its for charity, as that has been the case every other time. Good jerseys for a good cause. Like the Potomac Nationals, The Toledo Mud Hens, and various other teams, the JetHawks are imploring the Star Wars Day. Really, this is becoming the norm for MiLB teams (to implore a Star Wars Day that is). Before I digress too much, this jersey is cool simply for the fact that its engaging fans to answer the age old question of the Rebellion vs. the Empire. How cool.
The Lancaster JetHawks are currently a Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Houston Astros a part of the California League. Their nickname is an homage to the surrounding aerospace industry. As well, they play their games at the Hanger. The JetHawks are the sixth incarnate of the Reno Silver Fox
The JetHawks are the sixth incarnate of the Reno Silver Fox. The Silver Fox’s inaugural year was in 1942 and they existed off and on from then until 1992. The Silver Fox first played in the Sunset League from 1947 to 1949 during which they were affiliated with the New York Giants. in 1950 and ’51 they were an independent team in the Far West League. In ’55, they joined the California League, became affiliated with the Brooklyn Dodgers in ’56 and even after the Dodgers moved to LA. In ’63 and ’64 they were affiliated with the Pirates. In ’65 they didn’t even play ball, coming back the next year as an independent team. From ’66 until ’74 they were affiliated with the Indians. In ’75, they became a Twins affiliate, a Padres affiliate in ’76. An affiliation which lasted until 1981.
The second incarnate of the Silver Fox was the Reno Padres, who existed from 1981-1988. The Silver Fox returned in ’88 and played unaffiliated until ’92 when for their last season as the Silver Fox they were affiliated with the Oakland Athletics.
The third incarnation of the Silver Fox followed the 1992 season when the team moved to Riverside California and became the Riverside Pilots affiliated with the Seattle Mariners. The Pilots had a short existence playing only from ’92-’95. The Final incarnate of the Silver Fox happened when the Pilots moved to Lancaster following the 1995 season and became the Lancaster JetHawks.
In their history, the JetHawks have won six League titles (1960, ’61, ’75, ’76, 2012, ’14) and four division titles (2004 (first-half), 2008 (first and second half), 2014 (first half).
Little fun fact: The JetHawks have had eight players hit for the cycle in their history.
On Twitter yesterday, there was Discussion between Graham Womack and Ace of MLB Stats about the Pacific Coast League (of course I interjected tidbits), this discussion came started with Johnny Frederick who played for the Portland Beavers from 1936-1940.
I managed to find the logo and uniform from the last year that Frederick played for the Beavers
Here we have Lindsey Brown, who played for the Beavers from 1940-1942. Brown, like Frederick, was a career minor leaguer posting a .216 career ERA with 2,088 hits with the Beavers. He did manage to play 48 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in ’37 batting .270.
The Beavers implored the striped design that many teams of that era used, albeit in a different manner than the usual pinstripe style. They also a P for their uniform showing that sometimes the simpler the better.
The Beavers have had several incarnates throughout their history. The first was in 1903, as a founding member of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), they were called the Portland Browns. In 1905, they were renamed to the Portland Giants after former professional baseball player Walt McCredie and former U.S. House Member Judge William Wallace McCredie purchased the team. Then again in 1906, they were renamed to the Portland Beavers after a newspaper contest was created to help rename the team. World War I saw travel restrictions enacted and the Beavers withdrew from the PCL and joined the Class-B PCL playing for just one year as the Portland Buckaroos in 1918.
The Beavers came back to the PCL in 1919 after Portland was offered an expansion franchise, playing in the PCL until after the 1972 season when principal owner Bill Cutler moved the Beavers to Spokane and Portland was given the gift of the independent team Portland Mavericks (owned by b-actor Bing Russell). If you have Netflix haven’t seen the Battered Bastards of Baseball it focuses on the Mavericks and is worth a watch.
The Beavers returned to Portland in 1978 when the PCL again expanded and added a new team to Portland(this also collapsed the Portland Mavericks) and they would stay in Portland until 1993.
Beavers owner Joe Buzas moved the Beavers to Salt Lake City, Utah once again ending Beavers baseball in Portland. The Beavers would make their final return to Portland in 2001, playing as affiliates of both the Dodgers and Padres. The Beavers stopped playing in 2010 but were revived in El Paso, Texas as the El Paso Chihuahuas a Triple-A Affiliate of the Padres.
Photo Courtesy of baseballprosepectus.com
Frederick, played only six seasons in the MLB, all for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1929-1934 hitting .308 with 85 home runs and 377 RBIs. Frederick then retreated to the PCL where seasons were longer, travel was shorter and the weather was warmer.
Frederick’s first season in the PCL was with the Sacremento Solons in 1935, then he moved to the Portland Beavers where he played for five more seasons, hitting over .300 in each of those seasons. In 6 years in the majors, Frederick had 954 hits, in the PCL he had nearly three times as many hits, 2467 to be exact. Before I started looking into Frederick I had no idea whom he has, or that he was such a great ball player. The other unfortunate note of Frederick is that he didn’t play ten seasons in the majors, thus disqualifying him from being in Cooperstown, which looking at how phenomenal he played (career BA over .300 in 11 seasons in the majors and minors) it’s a shame that he’ll never be there.
Many people have argued and continue to argue that baseball needs a way to draw in the millennials and younger generations. I present exhibit A as evidence that baseball is finding ways to draw in the younger crowd.
This is the Frederick Keys Rugrats Jersey, and that is a show that millennials (myself included) grew up watching. This jersey is cool and I had wished I could have watched it. It brings out so much nostalgia for me. I remember watching the Rugrats when it first started, as well as the movies which accompanied it, and the memories that go along with the Rugrats (mostly passing long car rides watching the Rugrats go to Paris). ‘
Here you can see the jersey in action.
Photo: Courtesy of nickalive.blogspot.com
The Frederick Keys are the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Orioles based out of Frederick, Maryland. Their nickname pays homage to Francis Scott Key, the Star-Spangled Banner author. The Keys play their home games at Harry Grove Stadium.
Before they were the Frederick Keys, the Frederick team was a founding member of the Blue Ridge League, from 1915 until the league collapsed at the end of the 1930 season. During that time span, the Frederick team had several different nicknames including the Hustlers, Champs, and Warriors. In addition, they won the Blue Ridge League Championship in 1915 and 1921. The Frederick team from that period produced several notable players including Chick Fullis and Rollie Hemsley. When the Blue Ridge League went under baseball wouldn’t return until 1989 with the arrival of the Keys.
Charles “Chick” Fillis was a professional baseball player for eight seasons, playing the New York Giants (’28-’32), the Philadelphia Phillies (’33-’34) and finally the St.Louis Cardinals(’34,’36) playing mostly as a center fielder.
Fillis with the NY Giants courtesy of Wikipedia
Fillis has a career Batting Average of .295, 12 home runs, and 167 RBIs. His best season came in 1933 when he led the NL in at-bats (647), singles (162), putouts (410), posting a .309 BA, 200 hits, 91 runs, 31 doubles, 18 stolen bases while helping the Cardinals win the ’34 World Series. Fillis spent three years with the Frederick team-1924, 1925, 1926.
Ralston “Rollicking Rollie” Hemsley played nineteen seasons in the MLB as a catcher, playing with the Pittsburgh Pirates (’28-’31), the Chicago Cubs (’31-’32), the Cincinnati Reds (’33, ’42), the St.Louis Browns (’33-’37), the Cleveland Indians (’38-’41), the New York Yankees (’42-’44), and the Philadelphia Phillies (’46-’47).
Hemsley with the St. Louis Browns courtesy of Wikipedia
Hemsley has a career batting average of .262 with 1,321 hits and 555 RBIs. He had 5,047 at-bats in 1321 games and hit 31 home runs, had a .311 on-base percentage and a .360 slugging percentage along with a career .978 fielding average. His best years came when he played for the Browns in ’34 and ’35 hitting .309 and .290 respectively hitting seven triples both years as well. In ’35, he made the all-star team and finished 9th in MVP voting. Two years later he found himself being traded away after violating team rules.
Specifically, it was Hemsley’s battle with alcoholism that led him to be kicked off the Browns, as well has three other teams. After his playing career, Hemsley would coach for the Philadelphia Athletics, the Washington Senators, and the minor league Columbus Red Birds.
The one constant throughout all the years Ray has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers, it has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But, baseball has marked the time.
-Terrance Mann, Field of Dreams
I think the first time I ever watched Field of Dreams was when I was about 12. I found myself most fascinated with the old uniforms which the actors wore. Yes, there was Shoeless Joe, but the old uniforms always stuck out the most to me. Research always leads to me find new minor league teams that I’ve never even heard of as well as owns that strike my curiosity.
This curiosity led to, most recently, the Columbus Red Birds. A St. Louis Cardinals Double-A/Triple-A affiliate in Columbus, Ohio (not to be confused with the Columbus Red Birds out of Columbus, GA) who wore the hat below during their 1933 Season.
As can you see the Red Birds wore the basic Cardinal design from that era (which makes sense given that they were an affiliate of St. Louis) which is a cool design. I find the retro designs (like this one) to be better than most of the logos that are worn today in the MLB (but, I am just a man with an opinion).
The Red Birds were an incarnation of Columbus’s first minor league ball team the Columbus Senators, who were founded in 1888 and joined the American Association in 1902. The Red Birds played in the American Association from 1931 through 1954. The Red Birds produced a number of MLB greats including Enos Slaughter and Billy Southworth. Slaughter batted .382 with 245 hits in ’37 as well as leading the Red Birds to pennant titles in ’33, ’34, ’37, ’41-’43 and ’50. While Southworth was the manager in ’32 for the Red Birds.
The best year for the Red Birds came in 193 as they plowed through the rest of the American Association to win the pennant while compiling a 101-51 record. The Red Birds had eight batters that year to go over the .300 mark. Burgess Whitehead, (.346/1 HR/120 H/49 RBI) Benny Borgmann(.340/2 HR/128 H/29 RBI), Nick Cullop (.313/12 HR/161 H/143 RBI), Jack Rothrock (.347/11 HR/173 H/94 RBI), Gordon Slade (.353/5 HR/55 H/30 RBI), Charley Wilson (.356/7 HR/62 H/46 RBI) and Andy High (.340/o HR/18 H/0 RBI).
The Red Birds were also led by ace Paul Dean who compiled a 22-7 record while posting 3.15 ERA with 222 Ks. Bill Lee wasn’t very far behind in that compiling a 21-9 record with a 3.79 ERA with 141 Ks.
Enos Slaughter is by far the most notable alumni of the Columbus Red Birds. Slaughter played 19 MLB seasons with four different teams during that time. The Cardinals from ’38-’42, the Yankees in ’54 and ’55, the KC Athletics in ’55 and ’56, and finally the Milwaukee Braves in ’59. He is most known for his time with the St. Louis Cardinals, specifically, he’s known for scoring the winning run in Game 7 of the ’46 World Series. As a major leaguer, he compiled a .300 batting average with 2,383 hits, 169 home runs and 1,304 RBIs. In 1985 he was elected to the MLB Hall of Fame, below is a picture of him in ’48.
Photo: Courtesy of Wikepedia.com
Flint, Michigan is a place that many people generally don’t associate as having a strong baseball history. However, there was once a point in time when Flint was once a big hub for minor league teams. According to baseball-reference.com, there were six different minor league teams in Flint from 1889-1951(the Flint Flyers 1889-1890, Flint Vehicles 1906-1915 & 1921-1925, Flint Halligans 1919-1920, Flint Gems 1940, and the Flint Arrows 1941, 1948-1951). The last incarnate of minor league baseball in Flint was the Flint Arrows. Below you can see how their uniform looked in 1941:
Photo: Courtesy of baseball-birthdays.net
The Flint Arrows uniform is simplistic, and it features this cool looking F. You can’t really see the F on the uniform but it look exactly like it does on the cap. I personally like the Flint Arrows uniform, the uniforms of today can get fancy and outlandish (don’t get me wrong some of them are REALLY cool) but this uniform is the old style baseball that I love more than anything, I really wish I could have seen this uniform in action.
The Flint Arrows played in Flint in 1941, and then again from ’48-’51. The ’41 Arrows were a Class-C affiliate of the Cleveland Indians in the Michigan State League while the ’48-’51 Arrows were affiliated with the Detroit Tigers playing in the Class-A Central League. The Arrows played their games in Atwood Stadium, which is now used by Kettering University for Football, Lacrosse and Soccer. The most successful year for the Arrows came in 1950 when the win the Central League and posted a record of 80-53, led along the way by Edwin Little with 17 home runs.
Here’s a picture of JFK speaking at Atwood in 1960:
Photo: Courtesy of Wkipedia.com
The photo above features Gene Woodling who was an outfielder for the Arrows. In 92 games with the Arrows, he posted a .394 BA in 386 at-bats while compiling 152 hits, 30 doubles, 5 triples, and 7 homers. In 17 major league seasons, he played with the Orioles, the Indians, the now defunct Washingon Senators and the Mets posting a career line of .284/.431/.817 with 1585 hits, 257 doubles, 63 triples, and 147 homers.
Flint isn’t the kind of place you’d associate with minor league baseball, but as it turns out the city has a rich history of it and pretty cool uniforms to go along with them.
There has only been one unique MiLB jersey I’ve ever seen in action. Seeing that jersey has what started a journey that led me to start this blog. Specifically, it is the GhostBusters Jersey from the Toledo Mud Huns
I went to school just down the road from Toledo, Ohio (where the Mud Hens play their games at Fifth Third Field) and being an avid baseball fan I attended more than one Mud Hens game. In part due to the University, I attended held events to Mud Hens Games. Anyway, I was fortunate enough to see the Mud Hens Ghostbusters jerseys in action when the Mud Hens took on the Charlotte Knights. Here is a quick promo from the Mud Hens Instagram:
How cool is this!?!?!? Having themed nights is one way that MiLB totally outdoes MLB. MLB has special promotion nights, and there are some instances they were different jerseys (Negro League Appreciation weekend in Detroit, Cerveza night in Milwaukee) but in no way does an MLB team come anywhere close to doing something like this, which I LOVE. If more MLB teams did nights like this it’d be awesome and really seeing this jersey in action is what inspired me to dive deeper into MiLB jerseys and caps and the history around them.
Baseball in Toledo has a storied history dating back to the 1880s, but the current incarnate of the Mud Hens begins in 1965. In 1965, they joined the International League and have been in the IL’s West League ever since being affiliated with the Yankees(’65-’66), the Tigers (’67-’73), the Phillies (’74-’75), the Indians (’76-’77), the Twins (’78-’86) and since 1987 they’ve been affiliated with the Tigers who are just sixty miles north of them. The Mud Hens name has been used by teams since 1896. Prior to their most recent incarnate the Mud Hens played in the American Association
The Mud Hens name has been used by teams since 1896. Prior to their most recent incarnate the Mud Hens played in the American Association, from 1902-1913 and from 1916-1955. Hall of Famer Casey Stengel managed the Mud Hens for a period of time, even leading them to a pennant in 1927. Their next dance with success wouldn’t come until 1968 when they’d win the IL Championship followed by winning it again in ’05 and ’06.
Billy Beane, who gained notoriety for his Moneyball approach with the Athletics spent some time playing for the Mud Hens. However, the most notable alumni of the Mud Hens is Jim Thorpe, who played his last season of baseball with the Mud Hens hitting .358 in 113 games, along with 181 hits, 36 doubles, 13 triples, and 9 home runs.
This post is something a little different from the overall theme of the blog. Generally, I stick to MiLB caps/jerseys/logos but its Black History Month so for this post I’m going to focus on a Negro League Cap.
Like many things in American history, Major League Baseball has its blemishes. One of the more prominent blemishes is the fact that for a major portion of its history minorities weren’t accepted into the MLB. Out of this blemish, though, came the Negro Leagues, something that the MLB salutes each year (baseball greats such as Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron both played in the Negro League). The Negro League was born out of racism and the Jim Crow laws yet today, years after its existence, it retains aficionados, tributes, is in popular memory and has a salute by each year by thousands.Out of something that was created, for all intents and purposes, badly-something good took its place.
In many cases, the players (and teams) of the Negro League were better than their white counterparts. The baseball diamond knows no prejudice, stats and talent don’t care about skin color. One of those dominant cases was the Chicago American Giants, who wore the hat pictured below during the 1927 season.
The Chicago American Giants were a Chicago-based Negro League team. From 1911 to the mid-1930s the Giants were the most dominant team in the NNL (Negro National League). The American Giants won League titles in 1920, 1+21, 1922, 1926, and 1927. As well they won the NNL World Series in 1926 and 1927. During this time they were owned and managed by Andrew “Rube” Foster (who also played for the team during this time span). Rube Foster was inducted into the baseball hall of fame in 1981, had a career ERA of 2.44 and career batting average of .250.
Originally they were Leland’s American Giants (only for 1910), the Leland Giants were a formation of the Chicago Unions and Chicago Columbia Giants. When Fosters health began to fail his protege Dave Malarcher took over the team and then following the demise of the NNL the American Giants joined the NSL (the Negro Southern League) and became Cole’s American Giants where the team wouldn’t enjoy as much success but would still win a series of pennants in the mid 30s.
By the 40s, the team was on the declined and saw its demise happen in 1952. The White Sox have paid homage to the American Giants on several occasions including July 1, 2007 (at KC), July 26, 2008 (against Detroit) and July 16, 2011 at Detroit who are hosting their 13th annual Negro League Weekend this year in what is becoming an annual tradition in Detroit to pay tribute to the Negro League.
Lastly, here is a replica jersey of the Chicago American Giants: