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Charleston Rainbows

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In 1985 the Charleston Royals of the South Atlantic League switched affiliations to the San Diego Padres. The Charleston, SC club became known as the Charleston Rainbows. The club did a fine job their first year, going 78-61 and finishing in third place in the SAL. The offensive leaders were 1B Brad Pounders (.265/~.357/.421), 3B Randy Byers (.319/~.358/.461, 94 RBI, a league-high 22 GWRBI and 9 triples to tie for the league lead) and OF Brent Gjesdal (.268/~.372/.468) while the club featured a couple of brothers bound for more success than that trio - 2B Roberto Alomar (.293/~.364/.330, 36 SB) and C Sandy Alomar Jr. (.207/~.272/.253). The team's strength, though, was its pitching, as they led the league with a 3.40 ERA. Mike Costello (16-8, 2.61) led the SAL in innings (200), complete games (9), shutouts (4, tied for the lead) and was fourth in ERA and second in wins; he was the team's sole All-Star. Helping him out were Joe Bitker (9-3, 2.59, the other SAL pitcher with 4 shutouts), Rusty Ford (7-6, 2.67, a league-high 24 saves) and Marlon Hubbard (6-2, 1.69, mostly in relief).

The Rainbows fell to 61-72 their second season. Big names included 2B-SS Carlos Baerga (.270/~.317/.384), OF Roberto Clemente Jr. (.229/~.308/.257) and Greg W. Harris (13-7, 2.63, second in the SAL in ERA and the only All-Star).

Confusion was created in the SAL in 1987 when Charleston, WV was added to create a two-Charleston league. The clubs were separated by two games that year as the Rainbows went 68-71, edging their new competition barely. They were 6th in the expanded 12-team circuit. C/1B Mike Basso (.252/~.374/.369) topped the SAL with 83 walks while Baerga made the All-Star team after a .305/~.353/.406 campaign with 26 stolen bases. Ricky Bones allowed the most hits (183) in the SAL but had a decent year overall, going 12-5 with a 3.65 ERA.

In 1988 the Rainbows were bright, posting a team ERA of 2.48 to set a new SAL club record and fielding .969, tying the record there. They went 85-53 and won the second-half title and had the best overall record, but fell in the playoffs. Jack Krol's club featured one All-Stars - 1B Guillermo Velasquez hit .287/~.330/.415. SS Jose Valentin was voted as the 9th-best prospect in the circuit despite a .232/~.303/.322 season. Finishing second through fourth in the league in ERA were Omar Olivares (13-6, 2.23), Rafael Valdez (11-4, 2.25) and Todd Hansen (13-11, 2.25). Also contributing to the record-low ERA were Doug Brocail (8-6, 2.69), Mike Myers (15-4, 2.51), Darrin Reichle (10-3, 2.84), Saul Soltero (5-3, 9 Sv, 1.32) and Jay Estrada (7-5, 12 Sv, 2.26). In the month of May, Reichle threw 2 no-hitters within 3 weeks and was awarded the TOPPS minor league player of the month. He no-hit the Charleston Wheelers on May 14 and the Fayetteville Generals 16 days later (a 1-0 win); his three shutouts tied him for second in the league.

Charleston fell in 1989 but again made the playoffs with a second-half southern division title. Overall they went 72-68, 5th in the SAL, and again were eliminated in the opening playoff round. The other Pedro Martinez led the league in ERA (14-8, 1.97), was named Most Outstanding Pitcher in the SAL and voted the 6th-best prospect in the league.

A double misfortune struck the Rainbows in 1990. Not only did they finish last in both halves in their third year under Krol (their 46-96 record was worst in the league and included an 18-game losing streak) but the Charleston, WV club took the SAL title, winning one before the older Rainbows had. The club had by far the worst ERA (4.43, almost 2 points higher than 2 years earlier) and also scored the fewest runs; overall they were outscored 762-473. The only player from the squad to have a significant major league career was Tim Worrell (5-8, 4.64).

Former Minor League Manager of the Year Dave Trembley took over in 1991 and the quality of prospects improved. The team finished 69-72, 7th in the 14-team SAL. In one game the team was without Trembley and seven starters due to food poisoning a few hours after eating at GM Kevin Carpenter's parents' home. OF Ray McDavid (.247/~.397/.398, 60 SB, a league-high 106 walks) led the offense while Jeff Brown (13-8, 2.45) was the top pitcher.

Trembley's team was back in the cellar a year later, at 55-85. Again they were last in pitching (4.34, 713 runs allowed), offense (.227, 478 runs scored) and now also in defense (.954, 244 errors). One reminder of the glory days was Soltero (2-2, 2.76), a star reliever on the 1988 team and in his final pro season. Rich Loiselle (4-8, 3.71) and Homer Bush (.234/~.261/.289) had two of the top careers of any of the players from this horrible team, though neither showed much promise in 1992.

In 1993 the Rainbows ended their long association with the Padres and switched over to the Texas Rangers. They were 65-77 that season, good for 9th in the 14-team league. They were without an All-Star for the fourth consecutive season. The team had no future major-league impact players on the roster and no one led the SAL in any major statistic.

After years of losing, the team switched its name in 1994 to the Charleston RiverDogs.

[edit] Year-by-Year Record

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1985 78-61 3rd Jim Skaalen
1986 63-69 6th Pat Kelly
1987 68-71 7th Tony Torchia
1988 85-53 1st Jack Krol Lost League Finals
1989 72-68 5th Jack Krol Lost in 1st round
1990 46-96 12th Jack Krol
1991 69-72 7th Dave Trembley
1992 55-85 14th Dave Trembley
1993 65-77 9th Walt Williams
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