- Location: Alexandria, VA
- League: Carolina League 1978, 1980-1983
- Affiliation: Pittsburgh Pirates 1981-1983
- Ballpark: Four Mile Run Park
The team name of "Dukes" derives from the English Dukes of the 17th and 18th centuries who founded and ruled the Virginia colony - Baseball Team Names, 1869-2012 (2012) Rick Worth.
In their first year, the Dukes were an unaffiliated expansion team, created alongside the Kinston Eagles. This brought the Carolina League back from the brink of extinction, as it had been functioning with only four teams since 1975. The Dukes were the first team to play in the Washington, DC area since the relocation of the Washington Senators to Texas in 1972. They played their games at Four Mile Run Park, named after the small creek which separates Alexandria, VA from Arlington, VA, close to National Airport (now Reagan National Airport). The ballpark was of high school caliber, with metal stands seating around 1,500 witha few metal folding chairs standing in for box seats, and almost no facilities or concessions (the team was prohibited from selling alcohol because the park was on land belonging to an elementary school).
The team had a tough time of it in 1978, as it had to rely on unsigned players and a few cast-offs from major league organizations, making it hard to compete with the well-stocked affiliates which made up the rest of the league (apart from Kinston, which faced a similar challenge). It was also hurt by a series of rainouts, which forced the team to play some make-up triple-headers to round out its schedule. The team's best player was pitcher Ron Musselman, who was here on loan from the Seattle Mariners. The 1978 Dukes also had 23-year-old Mickey Mantle Jr. on the roster.
The New Alexandria Dukes
1980 marked a return to unaffiliated status for Alexandria, and a return to its previous name as well. The league had now expanded to eight teams, including one other independent team, the Rocky Mount Pines. At least, the management at Alexandria had had a couple of years to establish links with major league organizations, in order to receive some players on loan, which was not the case for Rocky Mount, which would have an appalling year. Still, it was another tough year, with the team's best player being pitcher John Hobbs, a holdover from the Mariners' organization.
Things started looking brighter in 1981 when the team reached an agreement with the Pittsburgh Pirates. A steady supply of major league-bound players came the Dukes' way over the next three seasons, including pitchers Jeff Zaske, Tim Burke and Scott Bailes, catcher Ruben Rodriguez, outfielders Bobby Bonilla (then known as Roberto) and Joe Orsulak, infielder Rich Renteria, and also, later Mexican League star, Nick Castaneda. In fact the Dukes finished the 1982 season with the league's second-best record, and won the split-season playoffs against the Durham Bulls to become Carolina League Champions for the only time in their brief history. By that time, however, the League was booming, with eight solid teams all backed by major league organizations, and Alexandria's makeshift stadium was starting to look amateurish. After the 1983 season, the Pirates decided to move the team to Woodbridge, VA, a few miles downstream along the Potomac River, where they became the Prince William Pirates, and still exist today under the guise of the Potomac Nationals.
At least five future major league coaches played for the Dukes: then former major league player, Dan Warthen, who was a player/pitching coach, Ron Wotus, Mike Quade, Rick Renteria and Lorenzo Bundy. In 1982, future Chicago Cubs managers Mike Quade and Rick Renteria played every inning of second base for the Dukes.
|1982||80-54||2nd||Johnny Lipon||League Champs|