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Bellingham Giants

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In 1995 the Bellingham Giants replaced the Bellingham Mariners as the Bellingham, WA representative in the Northwest League. They had a strong first season; while they drew the fewest fans in the league (54,104) they won 20 of 25 at one point and finished 43-33, the best record in the northern division. NWL Manager of the Year Glenn Tufts' squad then took both games in the postseason from the Boise Hawks to seal the title. The team led the league with a 3.05 ERA. 2B Jon Watson (.299/~.355/.364) made the All-Star team, while 3B Deivi Cruz hit .296/~.351/.413. Between them was future pitcher/then-shortstop Joe Nathan, who hit .232/~.317/.345. OF Julio Morales led the league with 18 doubles and stole 26 bases in 35 tries. Russ Ortiz (2-0, 11 Sv, 0.52) allowed just 19 hits in 34 innings while striking out 55 batters. The other top hurlers were Joe Fontenot (0-3, 1.93) and Darin Blood (6-3, 2.54). Yorvit Torrealba hit just .155/~.178/.197.

Ozzie Virgil Jr. and Shane Turner managed Bellingham in 1996 and the team finished 39-36, a half-game behind the Yakima Bears, who beat Bellingham in the final game of the year to take the northern division title. SS Mike Caruso stole 24 bases (to lead the league) and was named the top prospect in a poll of managers; he hit .292/~.326/.359 and led shortstops with 38 errors. Torrealba improved to .267. 2B Tony Zuniga also made the All-Star team after a .299/~.379/.371 season. Three of the four All-Star pitchers in the NWL came from the Giants - Mick Pageler (2-0, 12 Sv, 1.57, 55 K in 34 IP), Brandon Leese (5-6, 3.25, 90 K in 80 IP) and Ken Vining (4-2, 2.09, 69 K in 60 IP).

The Giants did not return in 1997 after again posting the lowest attendance (48,417, almost 30,000 less than the next team). The team moved to Keizer, Oregon and became the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

[edit] Year-by-Year Record

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1995 43-33 2nd Glenn Tufts Lost League Finals
1996 39-36 4th Ozzie Virgil Sr (20-18) / Shane Turner (19-18)
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