Lively Tales About Dead Teams

1966-1974 Hartford Capitols

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1966 Hartford Capitols ProgramEastern Professional Basketball League (1966-1970)
Eastern Basketball Association (1970-1974)

Born: 1966
Folded: 1974

Arenas: 

  • Hartford Public High School
  • University of Hartford
  • Bloomfield High School

Team Colors:

Owners: 

  • 1966-1971: Mark Yellin, et al.
  • 1971-1974: ?

EBA Champions: 1974

 

The Hartford Capitols were a weekends-only minor league basketball squad that toiled for eight seasons from the mid-1960’s to the mid-1970’s at a variety of high school and university gymnasiums.

The Capitols featured some terrific players, despite their ramshackle facilities.  Former Duke star Art Heyman, the #1 overall pick in the 1963 NBA draft, played for Hartford during the 1966-67 season. A few years removed from his MVP performance in the 1963 NCAA tournament, Heyman earned the princely sum of $60 per game to suit up for the Capitols.

Two-sport prodigy Gene Conley, who won a World Series with the Milwaukee Braves and three NBA titles with the Boston Celtics, played for the Caps and also briefly coached the team during the 1969-70 season. Future Pro Basketball Hall-of-Famer K.C. Jones even played a handful of games for the Caps in the mid-’60’s.

The Capitols’ finest seasons were their final two. The Caps earned back-to-back trips to the Eastern Basketball Association championships series in 1973 and 1974. They lost to the Wilkes-Barre Barons in ’73, but rebounded the following spring to defeat the Allentown Jets for the 1974 EBA crown. The club folded quietly a short time thereafter.

 

Hartford Capitols Memorabilia

 

In Memoriam

Former Capitols guard/small forward Art Heyman passed away on August 27, 2012 at age 71. New York Times obituary.

Capitols founder/owner Mark Yellin died on January 2, 2017 at age 83. Hartford Courant obituary.

 

Links

Eastern Basketball Association Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

February 20th, 2017 at 10:47 pm

1989-1993 Niagara Falls Rapids

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Niagara Falls RapidsNew York-Penn League (1989-1993)

Born: January 1989 – NYPL expansion franchise
Moved: October 15, 1993 (Jamestown Jammers)

Stadium: Sal Maglie Stadium

Major League Affiliation: Detroit Tigers

Owner: Bob Rich Jr.

New York-Penn League Champions: 1993

 

The Niagara Falls Rapids were the last Major League-affiliated pro baseball team to call Niagara Falls, New York home. The Detroit Tigers short-season Class A farm club play five seasons in the New York-Penn League from 1989 to 1993. The Rapids won the league title in the final summer of play in 1993.

Rapids founder Bob Rich was an experienced and respected minor league operator who also owned the popular Class AAA Buffalo Bisons and the Class AA Wichita Wranglers. In 1991, an audit of Sal Maglie Stadium recommended $1.8 million in upgrades to bring the aging stadium into compliance with rising minor league facility standards dictated by Major League Baseball. This, combined with the Rapids’ persistent financial losses, ultimately doomed the club in the Cataract City.

Rich moved the ball club to Jamestown, New York after his 5-year lease of Sal Maglie Stadium expired in late 1993. The team moved again in 2015 to Morgantown, West Virginia where it is known today as the West Virginia Black Bears. Rich still owns the franchise as of this writing in 2017, nearly 30 years after founding the club in Niagara Falls.

 

Niagara Falls Rapids Memorabilia

 

Links

New York-Penn League Media Guides

New York-Penn League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

February 18th, 2017 at 1:23 pm

1990-1997 Binghamton Rangers

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Don BiggsAmerican Hockey League (1990-1997)

Born: 1990 – Affiliation change from Binghamton Whalers
Moved: June 8, 1997 (Hartford Wolfpack)

Arena: Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena

Team Colors:

Owners: Bob Carr, Jim McCoy and Tom Mitchell

Calder Cup Championships: None

 

The Binghamton Rangers were the top farm club of the New York Rangers for seven seasons during the 1990’s.

The 1992-93 Binghamton squad re-wrote the American Hockey League record books. Journeyman center Don Biggs (pictured top right) had the greatest offensive season in AHL history with 54 goals and 84 assists. His 138 point campaign still stands as the league record nearly a quarter century on. Despite his amazing scoring pace, Biggs never earned a call-up to New York. His NHL career was limited to 11 games with the Philadelpia Flyers during the 1989-90 season. Biggs’ greatest claim to fame was  to serve as Patrick Swayze’s skating double in the 1986 hockey flick Youngblood.

Led by Biggs, the 1992-93 Rangers posted the best regular season the AHL had ever seen with a 57-13-10 record. With 124 points, the Rangers finished a whopping 37 points ahead of the 2nd place Rochester Americans in the AHL’s Southern Division. But Rochester shocked Binghamton in the Calder Cup playoff quarterfinals, bouncing the B-Rangers in seven games. Binghamton’s regular season record held up for 17 years until the 2009-10 Hershey Bears eclipsed it with 60 regular season wins.

In 1997 the New York Rangers purchased the AHL franchise from local ownership and moved the club to Hartford, Connecticut. Binghamton hockey fans were saddled with a far inferior product for the next five winters as the B.C. Icemen of the lowel-level United Hockey League moved in to Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. But the AHL returned in 2002 with the formation of the Binghamton Senators. The B-Sens would finally win the city’s first Calder Cup championship in 2011.

 

Binghamton Rangers Memorabilia

 

Binghamton Rangers Video

January 4, 1996 international exhibition contest against Yaroslavl Torpedo of Russia at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.

 

Links

American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs

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1978-1981 Chicago Hustle

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Chicago HustleWomen’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981)

Born: June 18, 1978 – WPBL founding franchise
Folded: Postseason 1981

Arena: Alumni Hall (5,300)

Team Colors:

Owners: Sherwin Fischer, Lawrence Cooper & John Geraty

WPBL Championships: None

 

The Chicago Hustle were the finest operation in the Women’s Professional Basketball League, the first attempt to start a nationwide pro sports league for women. Bill Byrne, a former front office worker for the Chicago Fire of the World Football League, cooked up the idea for the league in late 1977. Byrne began selling franchises for $50,000 each and reached out to an enthusiastic but cash-poor Chicago sports promoter named John Geraty. Geraty, in turn, recruited the team’s financial backers, attorney Larry Cooper and personnel firm owner Sherwin Fischer, and the group purchased the WBL’s fourth franchise in June 1978. Long-time Cubs and White Sox PR exec Chuck Shriver signed on as General Manager and brought a level of promotional sophistication that would prove sorely lacking in the rest of the 9-team league.

Center Sue Digitale, forwards Liz Galloway and Debra Waddy-Rossow and guards Rita Easterling and Janie Fincher formed the starting five during the Hustle’s first season in the winter of 1978-79. The team played an aggressive, fast-breaking style under former DePaul women’s coach Doug Bruno. The 5′ 6″ Easterling, described by The Chicago Tribune’s Bill Jauss as “a combination of Jerry Sloan and Norm Van Lier” won league MVP honors. Chuck Shriver landed a TV contract with cable superstation WGN. The team passed out free Dr. Peppers to the 2,000+ regulars at DePaul’s Alumni Hall whenever the Hustle scored over 110 points at home. The Hustle triggered the promotion nearly a dozen times that first winter.

Liz Galloway – Forward (1978-1980)

“We had WGN television coverage. My family was able to watch all the way back in Texas. Great local coverage in The Sun-Times and The Tribune. We were treated like the other male sports teams. I met Ernie Banks and Walter Payton. Iowa had a great following too, but we had the best fans hands down! They gave us nicknames and wore shirts to support us, traveled to games all over the league.

More coming soon….

 

Chicago Hustle Memorabilia

 

Downloads

1981 Chicago Hustle Public Stock Offering

1979-80 Chicago Hustle Advertising Rate Card & Contract

1978-79 Women’s Professional Basketball League Brochure

 

Links

Women’s Professional Basketball League Media Guides

Women’s Professional Basketball League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

January 30th, 2017 at 8:48 pm

1962-1963 Santa Barbara Rancheros

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1963 Santa Barbara Rancheros ProgramCalifornia League (1962-1963)

Born: 1962
Re-Branded: 1964 (Santa Barbara Dodgers)

Stadium: Laguna Park

Major League Affiliations:

  • 1962: New York Mets
  • 1963: Los Angeles Dodgers

Team Colors:

Owner:

California League Championships: None

 

The Santa Barbara Rancheros formed in 1962 as part of an expansion of the Class C California League from six to eight clubs.

During the summer of 1962 the Rancheros were affiliated with Major League Baseball’s New York Mets expansion franchise. Only one player from the 1962 Rancheros – 18-year old outfielder Paul Blair – went on to play in the Majors.

Minor League Baseball revised its classification system in 1963. The “Class C” level was done away with and the California League took on the Class A designation it still holds today. The Los Angeles Dodgers replaced the Mets as the Rancheros’ parent club in 1963. The Dodgers’ top prospect in Santa Barbara was outfielder Wes Parker, who went onto to a 9-year Major League career with L.A. from 1964 until 1972.

The Dodgers re-branded their Santa Barbara farm club as the Santa Barbara Dodgers for the 1964 season. Some California newspaper continued referring to the team as the “Rancheros” in press accounts that summer. The Santa Barbara Dodgers played until 1967. The team moved to Bakersfield in 1968. Pro baseball has not returned to Santa Barbara since the Dodgers’ departure.

 

Links

California League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

January 23rd, 2017 at 10:03 pm