Butte Copper Kings
From BR Bullpen
- Location: Butte, MT
- League: Pioneer League 1978-1985, 1987-2000
- Affiliation: Co-op 1978; Milwaukee Brewers 1979-1981; Kansas City Royals 1982-1983; Seattle Mariners 1984; Co-op 1985, 1987; Texas Rangers 1988-1992; Co-op 1993-1995; Tampa Bay Devil Rays 1996; Anaheim Angels 1997-2000
The Butte Copper Kings played in the Pioneer League from 1978 to 1985 and 1987 to 2000. Butte and Pocatello were out of the league in 1986. Under the leadership of manager Kenneth Richardson, they won their only league title in 1981, defeating the Calgary Expos to capture the championship. That season, outfielder Eric Payton led the league with a .403 batting average and 65 RBIs, and shortstop and future big leaguer Ernest Riles made the league's All-Star team. The next year, Cecil Fielder played for the club, leading the league with 20 homers. The Copper Kings suspended operations in 1986 but resumed play the following year. Skipper Bump Wills led the team to the postseason again in 1988 and 1989, but they were defeated by the Great Falls Dodgers both years.
The 1985 Copper Kings were operated largely as an independent team, with 23 of the players never appearing in a major league organization. However, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Seattle Mariners each sent at least 3 players and a handful of other teams sent a plyer.
The 1994 Copper Kings had only 4 players from the Indians and 1 player from the Chicago White Sox.