Memphis Chicks
19781997
Memphis, Tennessee
Minor league affiliations
ClassDouble-A (1978–1997)
LeagueSouthern League (1978–1997)
Major league affiliations
Team
Minor league titles
League titles (1)
  • 1990
Division titles (2)
  • 1980
  • 1990
First half titles (6)
  • 1979
  • 1980
  • 1981
  • 1990
  • 1995
  • 1996
Second half titles (1)1988
Team data
NameMemphis Chicks (1978–1997)
ColorsDark blue, black, white
     
BallparkTim McCarver Stadium (1978–1997)

The Memphis Chicks were a Minor League Baseball team that played in the Southern League from 1978 to 1997. They were located in Memphis, Tennessee, and played their home games at Tim McCarver Stadium. They served as a farm club for four Major League Baseball teams: the Montreal Expos (1978–1983), Kansas City Royals (1984–1994), San Diego Padres (1995–1996), and Seattle Mariners (1997). The Chicks were named for the Memphis Chickasaws, who were charter members of the Southern Association that played in Memphis from 1901 to 1960.

Over the course of their 20-year run, the Chicks played in 2,858 regular season games and compiled a win–loss record of 1,419–1,439. Memphis reached the postseason on seven occasions, winning seven half-season titles, two division titles, and one Southern League championship. They won their lone league title in 1990 as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The team had an overall postseason record of 15–21.

History

Prior professional baseball in Memphis

The first Memphis Chicks played in the Southern Association from 1901 to 1960.
The first Memphis Chicks played in the Southern Association from 1901 to 1960.

The first professional baseball team in Memphis was the Memphis Reds of the League Alliance in 1877.[1] A different Reds team was created as a charter member of the original Southern League in 1885.[1] The city's Southern League team was known as the Grays in 1886 and 1888, the Browns in 1887, simply Memphis in 1889, the Giants in 1892 and 1894, the Fever Germs in 1893, and the Lambs/Giants in 1895.[1]

The city's longest-operating baseball team, first known as Memphis Egyptians, was formed in 1901 as a charter member of the Southern Association.[1] From 1909 to 1911, this club was called the Turtles before receiving its best-known moniker, the Chickasaws, often shortened to Chicks, in 1912.[1] The original Chicks remained in the league through 1960, winning eight pennants, one playoff championship, and one Dixie Series title. Russwood Park, their home ballpark, was destroyed by fire in April 1960. With the cost of building a new facility too high, the team dropped out of the league after the 1960 season.[2]

After a seven-year span with no professional team, Memphis became host to the Memphis Blues, a Double-A team of the Texas League, in 1968.[1] The team played at Blues Stadium, a converted American Legion field which opened in 1963 and was located at the former Mid-South Fairgrounds. After six seasons, the Blues moved up to the Triple-A International League in 1974, but the franchise was revoked by the league due to financial problems after the 1976 season.[1][3]

Montreal Expos (1978–1983)

In 1978, a new Memphis Chicks team was created as an expansion franchise of the Double-A Southern League playing in its Western Division as an affiliate of the Montreal Expos.[4] The Expos moved their Double-A affiliation from the Québec Metros in Quebec City to Memphis because of the circuit's better climate.[5] The Chicks played their home games at Blues Stadium, which was renamed Tim McCarver Stadium in honor of Tim McCarver, a Memphis native, former Chickasaw, and major league ballplayer.[6]

The Chicks played their first game on April 15, 1978, at home against the Nashville Sounds, who also joined the league as an expansion team. After going up 1–0 in the first inning, Nashville tied the game in the third and went ahead, 2–1, in the top of the sixth. In the bottom of the inning, however, Memphis answered with three unearned runs, sealing their first win, 4–2.[7] On August 20, Mike Finlayson pitched a seven-inning no-hitter in the first game of a doubleheader against the Montgomery Rebels in Memphis.[8] The Southern League used a split-season schedule wherein the season was divided into two halves, and the division winners from each half qualified for the postseason championship playoffs.[9] Memphis placed second in both halves and finished their inaugural season with a record of 71–73.[10] Outfielder Eddie Gates was selected as the Southern League Most Valuable Player (MVP).[11]

Memphis ended the first half of the 1979 season tied for first place with Montgomery. They won the First Half Western Division title by defeating the Rebels, 2–1, in a one-game playoff.[12] They lost the best-of-three Western Division championship series to Nashville, the second half winner, two games to one.[13] The Chicks won the first half again in 1980, this time defeating the Sounds, 3–1, to advance to the finals,[13] but they lost to the Charlotte O's, 3–1.[14]

On July 6, 1981, the Chicks played host to the Southern League All-Star Game at Tim McCarver Stadium.[15] The game was originally scheduled to be played in Savannah, Georgia, against the Atlanta Braves, but was changed to Memphis against the Chicks due to the 1981 Major League Baseball strike.[16] Before an attendance of 5,366 people, a team of the Southern League's All-Stars defeated Memphis, 10–3.[15] The 1981 Chicks won a third consecutive first half title, but were swept by Nashville in the Western Division series, 3–0.[13] The teams fielded in 1982 and 1983 failed to win either half of the season and finished with under-.500 records. Through six years of affiliation with the Montreal Expos, Memphis accumulated a 444–421 record.

Kansas City Royals (1984–1994)

Matt Winters won the 1988 Southern League MVP Award.

In 1983, team owner Avron Fogelman, purchased a 49 percent interest in the Kansas City Royals.[17] Majority owner Ewing Kauffman then chose to move Kansas City's Double-A affiliation to Memphis for 1984.[18]

On July 2, 1986, Mitch McKelvey no-hit the Columbus Astros in a 16–0 Memphis win at Tim McCarver Stadium.[19] The Chicks struggled through their first four years in the Royals system, not posting their first winning record until 1987. Prior to the 1988 season, Fogelman sold the team to Craig Stein, who also owned the Double-A Reading Phillies of the Eastern League, for an undisclosed price.[20] Memphis won the second half title in 1988, but lost the division championship to the Chattanooga Lookouts, 3–1.[12] Outfielder Matt Winters was selected as the 1988 Southern League MVP.[11] The team experienced a franchise-low 59–84 (.413) record in 1989. Left fielder Harvey Pulliam was voted the MVP of the 1989 Southern League All-Star Game.[21] After the season, the team changed hands again as Stein sold the franchise to businessmen Mike Nicklous, Richard Addeo, and Alan Bernikow for over $3 million.[22] It was Nicklous' intention to purchase and relocate a Triple-A team to Memphis.[22]

The Chicks rebounded in 1990, by winning the first half of the season and beating the Birmingham Barons, 3–1, to win the Western Division title.[12] In the best-of-five finals, Memphis won their only Southern League championship by defeating the Orlando Sun Rays, 3–2.[14] First baseman Jeff Conine was voted the 1990 Southern League MVP.[11] On July 12, 1993, Memphis hosted the Double-A All-Star Game. A team of National League-affiliated All-Stars defeated a team of American League affiliates, 12–7, with 6,335 people in attendance.[23] Chicks right fielder Les Norman was selected as the game's Southern League MVP.[24] On August 8, Rodney Myers pitched a no-hitter against the Knoxville Smokies in a 3–0 Memphis win.[25] The final four years of the Kansas City affiliation were reminiscent of the first four with only one winning season in their final year of partnership in 1994. Over the 11-year affiliation, the longest in franchise history, Memphis had a 759–814 record. Through all 17 years of play, the team was 1,203–1,235.

San Diego Padres (1995–1996)

Memphis entered into a two-year affiliation with the San Diego Padres for 1995 and 1996.[26] First baseman Jason Thompson was the Southern League MVP of the 1995 Double-A All-Star Game.[27] On September 2, Robbie Beckett no-hit the Chattanooga Lookouts in the second game of a seven-inning doubleheader, which Memphis lost, 1–0.[25][28] The Chicks won the first-half title in 1995, but lost the Western Division finals to Chattanooga, 3–2.[12] The Chicks repeated as first-half champions in 1996, but were again ousted by the Lookouts, 3–1.[12] The team's 81–58 (.583) record was the highest in franchise history. First baseman Derrek Lee won the 1996 MVP Award.[11] In two seasons with the Padres, the Chicks' record was 149–132. The held a composite franchise record of 1,352–1,367.

Seattle Mariners (1997)

Ryan Franklin pitched two no-hitters for the Chicks in 1997.
Ryan Franklin pitched two no-hitters for the Chicks in 1997.

The Chicks entered into a one-year agreement to partner with the Seattle Mariners in 1997 while plans were underway to relocate the team.[29] Memphis' pitchers tossed two no-hitters in their final season. The first occurred on April 14 when Ryan Franklin, Scott Simmons, and David Holdridge combined to no-hit the Lookouts in a 4–0 win.[30] One week later, in his next start on April 21, Franklin pitched a solo seven-inning no-hit game on the road against the Carolina Mudcats in the first game of a doubleheader, a 6–0 win.[31] On September 1, the Chicks played their final game on the road at Chattanooga's Engel Stadium, a 3–0 Memphis win.[32] In their final season, the Chicks compiled a 67–72 record and missed out on winning either half of the season. Over their 20-year run in Memphis, the team had a composite record of 1,419–1,439.

With the 1998 arrival of the Memphis Redbirds, a Triple-A Pacific Coast League expansion team,[1] the Southern League Chicks franchise moved to Jackson and became the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in 1998.[32]

Season-by-season results

The Chicks' best season record occurred in 1996, when they finished 81–58 (.583) as an affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Their lowest season record was 59–84 (.413) in 1989 as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. Of the four Major League Baseball teams with which Memphis was affiliated, the Chicks experienced their best record with the Padres from 1995 to 1996. The team had a composite regular season record of 149–132 (.530). They reached the postseason in both years. Conversely, the team's lowest record was with the Seattle Mariners in 1997. The Chicks compiled a 67–72 (.482) record and failed to reach the postseason.

Table key
League The team's final position in the league standings
Division The team's final position in the divisional standings
GB Games behind the team that finished in first place in the division that season
League champions League champions
Division champions Division champions
* Postseason berth
Season-by-season results
Season Division Regular season Postseason MLB affiliate Ref.
Record Win % League Division GB Record Win % Result
1978 Western 71–73 .493 5th 2nd 17 Montreal Expos [33]
1979
*
Western 82–62 .569 4th 2nd 1 1–2 .333 Won First Half Western Division title[n 1]
Lost Western Division title vs. Nashville Sounds, 2–1[12]
Montreal Expos [34]
1980
Division champions *
Western 83–61 .576 2nd 2nd 14+12 4–4 .500 Won First Half Western Division title
Won Western Division title vs. Nashville Sounds, 3–1

Lost SL championship vs. Charlotte O's, 3–1[12]
Montreal Expos [35]
1981
*
Western 77–66 .538 3rd 2nd 4 0–3 .000 Won First Half Western Division title
Lost Western Division title vs. Nashville Sounds, 3–0[12]
Montreal Expos [36]
1982 Western 70–74 .486 6th (tie) 3rd (tie) 7 Montreal Expos [37]
1983 Western 61–85 .418 10th 5th 30+12 Montreal Expos [38]
1984 Western 71–75 .486 7th 2nd 2+12 Kansas City Royals [39]
1985 Western 65–79 .451 9th 4th 14+12 Kansas City Royals [40]
1986 Western 69–75 .479 9th 4th 10+12 Kansas City Royals [41]
1987 Western 72–71 .503 4th 2nd 1+12 Kansas City Royals [42]
1988
*
Western 79–64 .552 3rd 2nd 2 1–3 .250 Won Second Half Western Division title
Lost Western Division title vs. Chattanooga Lookouts, 3–1[12]
Kansas City Royals [43]
1989 Western 59–84 .413 10th 5th 29 Kansas City Royals [44]
1990
League champions Division champions *
Western 73–71 .507 5th 3rd 6 6–3 .667 Won First Half Western Division title
Won Western Division title vs. Birmingham Barons, 3–1
Won SL championship vs. Orlando SunRays, 3–2
[12]
Kansas City Royals [45]
1991 Western 61–83 .424 9th (tie) 4th (tie) 16+12 Kansas City Royals [46]
1992 Western 71–73 .493 4th 3rd 19+12 Kansas City Royals [47]
1993 Western 63–77 .450 9th 5th 14 Kansas City Royals [48]
1994 Western 75–62 .547 2nd 2nd 5+12 Kansas City Royals [49]
1995
*
Western 68–74 .479 7th 4th 14+12 2–3 .400 Won First Half Western Division title
Lost Western Division title vs. Chattanooga Lookouts, 3–2[12]
San Diego Padres [50]
1996
*
Western 81–58 .583 1st 1st 1–3 .250 Won First Half Western Division title
Lost Western Division title vs. Chattanooga Lookouts, 3–1[12]
San Diego Padres [51]
1997 Western 67–72 .482 7th 5th 10 Seattle Mariners [52]
Totals 1,419–1,439 .497 15–21 .417
  1. ^ The Chicks finished the 1979 first half tied for first place with the Montgomery Rebels. The Chicks defeated the Rebels in a one-game playoff, 2–1, to win the first half title.[12]
Franchise totals by affiliation
Affiliation Regular season Postseason
Record Win % Appearances Record Win %
Montreal Expos (1978–1983) 444–421 .513 3 5–9 .357
Kansas City Royals (1984–1994) 759–814 .483 2 7–6 .538
San Diego Padres (1995–1996) 149–132 .530 2 3–6 .333
Seattle Mariners (1997) 67–72 .482
Totals 1,419–1,439 .497 7 15–21 .417

Achievements

Award winners

Six people associated with the Chicks, four players and two executives, won Southern League year-end awards.

Award Recipient Season Ref.
Most Valuable Player Eddie Gates 1978 [11]
Most Valuable Player Matt Winters 1988 [11]
Most Valuable Player Jeff Conine 1990 [11]
Most Valuable Player Derrek Lee 1996 [11]
Executive of the Year Art Clarkson 1979 [11]
Executive of the Year Allie Prescott 1981 [11]

All-Star Game MVPs

Three players won Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards for their contributions in an All-Star Game.

Award Player Position Ref.
1989 Southern League All-Star Game MVP Harvey Pulliam Left fielder [21]
1993 Double-A All-Star Game MVP Les Norman Right fielder [24]
1995 Double-A All-Star Game MVP Jason Thompson First baseman [27]

Postseason All-Stars

Of the 27 Chicks who were selected for the Southern League Postseason All-Star Team, only Phil Hiatt (1992 and 1994), Bryan Little (1991 at two positions), Dan Rohrmeier (1996 at two positions), and Matt Winters (1987 and 1988) were selected twice.

Season Player Position Ref.
1978 Ray Crowley Designated hitter [53]
1978 Eddie Gates Outfielder [53]
1979 Dave Hostetler Designated hitter [53]
1979 Tim Raines Second baseman [53]
1980 Pat Rooney Outfielder [53]
1981 Tom Gorman Left-handed pitcher [53]
1981 Bryan Little Shortstop [53]
1981 Bryan Little Best hustler [53]
1982 Mike Fuentes Outfielder [53]
1983 Rene Gonzales Utility [53]
1983 Razor Shines Best hustler [53]
1984 Bill Pecota Third baseman [53]
1986 Gary Thurman Outfielder [53]
1987 Matt Winters Outfielder [53]
1988 Matt Winters Designated hitter [53]
1989 Bob Hamelin Designated hitter [53]
1989 Harvey Pulliam Outfielder [53]
1990 Sean Berry Third baseman [53]
1990 Jeff Conine First baseman [53]
1990 Brian McRae Outfielder [53]
1990 Bobby Moore Outfielder [53]
1991 Kevin Koslofski Outfielder [53]
1992 Phil Hiatt Third baseman [53]
1993 Les Norman Outfielder [53]
1993 Joe Randa Third baseman [53]
1994 Phil Hiatt Outfielder [53]
1996 Derrek Lee First baseman [53]
1996 Heath Murray Left-handed pitcher [53]
1996 Dan Rohrmeier Outfielder [53]
1996 Dan Rohrmeier Designated hitter [53]
1997 Ken Cloude Right-handed pitcher [53]

Hall of Famers

Four people associated with the Chicks, three players and one manager, have been inducted in the Southern League Hall of Fame.[54]

Year Name Position Chicks career Ref.
2015 Razor Shines First baseman 1981–1983 [55]
2016 Bo Jackson Outfielder 1986 [56]
2018 Terry Francona Outfielder 1980–1981 [57]
2019 Sal Rende Manager 1988 [58]

Managers

The Chicks were led by 15 managers over 20 years of competition in 2,858 regular season games in which they compiled a win–loss record of 2,858–1,419 (.497). Their teams qualified for the postseason on 7 occasions and had a postseason record of 15–21 (.417). Jeff Cox won 193 games from 1989 to 1991, placing him first on the all-time wins list for Chicks managers. Having managed the team for 431 games over three seasons, he was also the longest-tenured manager in team history. Cox's .448 winning percentage, however, was the lowest over a full season or more by a Chicks manager. The manager with the highest winning percentage over a full season or more was Ed Romero (1996), with .583.[10]

No. Manager Season(s) Regular season Postseason Ref(s).
Games Wins Losses Win % Appearances Wins Losses Win %
1 Felipe Alou 1978 144 71 73 .493 [59]
2 Billy Gardner 1979 144 82 62 .569 1 1 2 .333 [60]
3 Larry Bearnarth 1980–1981 287 160 127 .557 2 4 7 .364 [61]
4 Rick Renick 1982–1983 291 132 159 .454 [62]
5 Rick Mathews 1984 146 71 75 .486 [63]
6 Tommy Jones 1985–1986 288 134 154 .465 [64]
7 Bob Schaefer 1987 143 72 71 .503 [65]
8 Sal Rende 1988 143 79 64 .552 1 1 3 .250 [66]
9 Jeff Cox 1989–1991 431 193 238 .448 1 6 3 .667 [67]
10 Brian Poldberg 1992 144 71 73 .493 [68]
11 Tom Poquette 1993 140 63 77 .450 [69]
12 Ron Johnson 1994 137 75 62 .547 [70]
13 Jerry Royster 1995 142 68 74 .479 1 2 3 .400 [71]
14 Ed Romero 1996 139 81 58 .583 1 1 3 .250 [72]
15 Dave Brundage 1997 139 67 72 .482 [73]
Totals 15 managers 20 seasons 2,858 1,419 1,439 .497 7 15 21 .417

See also

References

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  3. ^ "Memphis Without Pro Baseball, Seeks Texas League Franchise". Johnson City Press. Johnson City. November 9, 1976. p. 14 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "1978 Southern League Statistics". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
  5. ^ Rollins, Glenn (September 16, 1977). "Southern Directors Vote In 2 Teams". The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte. p. 1B – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Stadium Named For McCarver". Gettysburg Times. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. October 21, 1977. p. 14. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  7. ^ Hanna, Jeff (April 16, 1978). "Sounds Silenced, 4–2". The Tennessean. Nashville. p. 1-D – via Newspapers.com.
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  13. ^ a b c "Postseason History" (PDF). 2018 Nashville Sounds Media Guide. Minor League Baseball. 2018. pp. 178–179. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 3, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
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  16. ^ McCarthy, Larry (July 5, 1981). "Orlando Nearly Had the 'Stars'". The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando. p. 4-C – via Newspapers.com.
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  28. ^ "Southern League Standings". The Jackson Sun. Jackson. September 3, 1995. p. 2C – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ "Chicks Sign Deal with Mariners". The Jackson Sun. Jackson. October 20, 1996. p. 1C – via Newspapers.com.
  30. ^ "Three Chicks Pitchers Throw No-Hit Victory". The Jackson Sun. Jackson. April 15, 1997. p. 1C – via Newspapers.com.
  31. ^ "Franklin No-Hits Carolina". The Jackson Sun. Jackson. April 22, 1997. p. 1C – via Newspapers.com.
  32. ^ a b "Memphis Wins Season Finale". The Jackson Sun. Jackson. September 2, 1997. p. 2C – via Newspapers.com.
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