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Rockford Expos

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39 years after Rockford, IL had last had a professional male baseball team and 34 years after the last pro baseball team in the city, Rockford became home to the Rockford Expos in 1988. The team finished third in attendance (158,674), was second in the northern division in the first half (39-29) and won the division in the second half (45-27) but lost in the postseason to the Kenosha Twins. Alan Bannister managed the team, which had its great season despite having no All-Stars or having any league leaders in a positive statistic. SS Delino DeShields (.252/~.382/.413, 59 SB, 97 R, 95 BB) came 4 walks shy of leading the league and was voted the #3 prospect by league managers. Howard Farmer (15-7, 2.51) was 6th in the league in ERA. Going on to solid major-league careers were C-DH Greg Colbrunn (.266/~.320/.369) and Mel Rojas (6-4, 2.45).

The 1989 Rockford Expos were managed by Mike Quade and drew 139,338 fans (6th in the MWL). After a 34-32 first half, they started the second half 26-23 before winning 14 of their final 18 games and sweeping the South Bend White Sox in four straight in the final week to take the title by a half a game. In the playoffs, the first-half champion White Sox got their revenge with a 2-game sweep to eliminate Rockford. The Expos again had no All-Stars. OF Terrel Hansen hit .269/~.337/.436 with 16 homers and tied for the league lead with 81 RBI. Solid pitching was provided by Chris Nabholz (13-5, 2.18, 6th in the MWL in ERA), Dan Freed (13-8, 2.29, 8th in ERA) and Rob Kerrigan (5-5, 12 Sv, 1.98). Going on to a fine career was third baseman Matt Stairs (.284/~.353/.418).

In '90, the Expos had a decent first half (34-34) but Quade's team skidded to last with a 22-46 second half. The team drew 140,864 fans (5th in the 14-team circuit). The club had no All-Stars or league leaders in positive stats, though Chris Haney (2-4, 2.21, 45 K and 6 BB in 53 IP) did provide some fine work after being promoted from the Jamestown Expos.

The 1991 Rockford Expos finished second in both halves with a 76-61 overall record. Attendance fell badly (down to 66,524, 12th in the MWL). For the fourth straight year (three of them with impressive records) the team had no All-Stars. OF Glenn Murray (.236/~.342/.359, 22 SB) led the league with 14 triples and was voted one of the top 5 prospects. Mike Mathile (9-3, 2.47) finished fourth in the league in ERA while Miguel Batista (11-5, 4.04) went on to probably the best career. Pat Kelly and Rob Leary managed the team.

Rockford's attendance fell to 50,900 in 1992 (9th place) and the team went 66-70 under Leary. The team went a fifth consecutive All-Star-free season. Kirk Rueter (11-9, 2.58) was 8th in ERA and Gabe White (14-8, 2.84) also pitched well, while Heath Haynes (3-1, 15 Sv, 78 K in 57 IP, 1.89) was a fine closer. OF Tyrone Woods, in his second season with the team, hit .291/~.350/.460, as one of the top hitters.

The franchise was sold to the Chicago Cubs, but a long-term working agreement with Peoria, IL prevented them from moving until 1994 so the Rockford Royals filled the city's MWL slot for the next two seasons.

Sources: 1989 Baseball Guide and 1989-1993 Baseball Almanacs

Contents

[edit] Year-by-Year Record

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1988 84-56 2nd Alan Bannister Lost in 1st round
1989 74-59 4th Mike Quade Lost in 1st round
1990 56-80 12th Mike Quade
1991 76-61 3rd Pat Kelly (27-21) / Rich Dubee (1-1) / Rob Leary (48-39)
1992 66-70 7th Rob Leary

[edit] Field Staff

[edit] 1988

[edit] 1989

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