Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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

2001-2003 New York Power

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2001 New York Power Media GuideWomen’s United Soccer Association (2001-2003)

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

Stadium: Mitchel Athletic Complex (10,102)

Team Colors: Violet, Gold & Black

Mascot: Zap

Investor-Operator: Time-Warner Cable

Founders Cup Championships: None

 

The Power were the New York entry in the Women’s United Soccer Association, the first attempt at a pro soccer league for women in the United States. The club played on Long Island at the Mitchell Athletic Complex in Uniondale.

The Power fared well in the WUSA’s debut season of 2001. U.S. National Team striker Tiffeny Milbrett led the league in scoring and took home MVP and Offensive Player-of-the-Year honors for the league. Her 16 goals established a league record that was never equalled. Other key players included Milbrett’s USWNT teammates Christie Pearce and Sara Whalen, Norwegian international defender Gro Espeseth and Chinese National Team keeper Gao Hong.  The Power finished in 3rd place with a 9-7-5 record. They lost to the eventual champion Bay Area CyberRays in the playoff semi-final.

The club fell apart during an cursed 2002 campaign. Espeseth retired. Hong and Pearce missed time with injuries. Worst of all, Whalen suffered a career-ending knee injury and nearly died from post-surgery complications. The Power crashed to a last place finish. Their 3-17-1 record was the worst in the three-year history of the WUSA. New York also finished last in the league in attendance with announced figures of 5,575 per game.

The Power hobbled into the WUSA’s third and final season in 2003. Behind the scenes, WUSA officials quietly asked senior management of the league’s Boston Breakers franchise to oversee operations of the Power front office. On the field, the club bounced back somewhat under new Head Coach Tom Sermanni, finishing 5th with a 7-9-5 record. Match attendance dipped further to a league-worst 4,249 per game.

Shortly after the conclusion of the 2003 WUSA season, the league’s cable company backers pulled their support. The Power and the rest of the WUSA went out of business on September 15, 2003.

 

New York Power Memorabilia

 

New York Power Video

2001 WUSA playoff semi-final. Power visit the Bay Area CyberRays at Spartan Stadium. August 18, 2001

 

Links

Women’s United Soccer Association Media Guides

Women’s United Soccer Association Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

March 11th, 2017 at 9:52 pm

1952-1954 Ottawa Athletics

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1954 Ottawa Athletics ProgramInternational League (1952-1954)

Born: 1952 – Affiliation change from Ottawa Giatnts
Moved: January 1955 (Columbus Jets)

Stadium: Lansdowne Park

Major League Affiliation: Philadelphia Athletics

Owner:

Governors Cup Championships: None

 

The Ottawa Athletics were the Class AAA farm club of the Philadelphia Athletics for three summers in the early 1950’s. The A’s played three losing seasons at Lansdowne Park before departing for Columbus, Ohio.

Following the A’s departure in January 1955, Ottawa went without pro baseball for 39 years until the formation of the Ottawa Lynx in 1993.

 

In Memoriam

Hal Bevan (Athletics ’54) died of a kidney infection at the age of 37 on October 5th, 1968.

Luke Easter (Athletics ’54) was shot and killed in armed robbery on March 29, 1979. Easter was 63.

 

Links

International League Media Guides

International League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

March 11th, 2017 at 4:24 am

1985-1987 Saginaw Generals

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1985 Saginaw Generals ProgramInternational Hockey League (1985-1987)

Born: July 9, 1985 – The Flint Generals relocate to Saginaw, MI
Re-Branded: 1987 (Saginaw Hawks)

Arena: Saginaw Civic Center (5,463)

Team Colors: Royal Blue & Gold

Owners: Dr. Eugene Chardoul, et al.

Turner Cup Championships: None

 

Text coming soon…

 

Saginaw Generals Memorabilia

 

Links

International Hockey League Media Guides

International Hockey League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

March 4th, 2017 at 3:29 pm

1970-1979 Niagara Falls Pirates

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1979 Niagara Falls Pirates ProgramNew York-Penn League (1970-1979)

Born: 1970
Died: 1979

Stadium: Sal Maglie Stadium

Major League Affiliation: Pittsburgh Pirates

Team Owners:

New York-Penn League Champions: 1972

 

The Niagara Falls Pirates were the short-season Class A farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates throughout the 1970’s. Future Pittsburgh regulars such as Dale Berra, Omar Moreno, Ed Ott and Rod Scurry all began their climb to the Major Leagues in Niagara Falls.

The team managed only three winning seasons out of ten. Niagara Falls’ finest hour came during the summer of 1972 when the club won the New York-Penn League pennant with a 48-22 record.

The Pirates’ final season in Niagara Falls was the summer of 1979. The NY-Penn League returned to Sal Maglie Stadium in 1982 with the arrival of the Niagara Falls White Sox.

 

Niagara Falls Pirates Memorabilia

 

Downloads

1973 Niagara Falls Pirates vs. Auburn Phillies Roster Insert

 

Links

New York-Penn League Media Guides

New York-Penn League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

March 4th, 2017 at 1:13 pm