Arkansas Travelers

From BR Bullpen


Team History[edit]

The Arkansas Travelers, of the Double-A Texas League and briefly in Double-A Central, have a brand that goes back to the 1950s and a nickname history that goes even farther, as the Little Rock Travelers. The Seattle Mariners farmhands play their home games at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, AR.

The entity currently operating as the Travs actually came to Little Rock proper from Tulsa, OK, in a rare franchise swap. The 1966 exchange put Double-A baseball back in Little Rock and Triple-A in Tulsa - albeit the latter was briefly. The Travs have been stable ever since, but the Triple-A franchise that went to Oklahoma moved three more times before finally finding success as the Louisville Redbirds - now Bats - in 1982. As for the Travelers, the longtime Los Angeles Angels' affiliate switched to the Mariners in 2017.

"Travelers" is among the longest-running nicknames in sports, dating to at least 1901 on a professional club and as early as 1885 in amateur ranks. Although the phrase "The Arkansas Traveler" dates to the 1840s,[1] the ball club went by "Little Rock Travelers" through 1956. The 1961 Minnesota Twins are often incorrectly cited as the first professional sports team to use a state rather than city name as its geographic identifier. That is true for MLB and probably all major American professional sports, but the 1957 Travelers were first for all American pro sports.

Organized Baseball was tumultuous in 1950s Arkansas. The decade dawned with four affiliated teams in the state - the Travs in the Southern Association, and the Cotton States League's El Dorado Oilers, Hot Springs Bathers, and Pine Bluff Judges. The figure grew to five in 1951, with the Fort Smith Indians of the Western Association - but that would be the peak. The WA folded after the 1953 season, and the CSL followed at the end of the 1955 campaign. That left only the Rock, whose vulnerability was soon proven three times: In 1956, the team moved to Alabama in mid-July. That didn't work, either; the next season, Montgomery was in the Alabama-Florida League and Little Rock was back in the Association. That was the year, perhaps cognizant of being the last Arkansas team standing, the Travs started using their state's name as their locale name. When 1958 saw only 68,000 fans attend 77 games, though, the club picked up and moved again - this time to Shreveport, LA.

That's when Ray Winder rolled up his sleeves. After joining the operation in 1915 as a ticket taker, he had risen through heading business operations and being general manager into partial ownership. He created the Arkansas Travelers Baseball Club, Inc., in which he sold shares for $5 apiece, to make it possible to buy and move the New Orleans Pelicans. Community ownership of a U.S. professional sports franchise was most famously undertaken in Green Bay, WI, in 1923 - to this day, the NFL's Packers remain the only such in a major league level - but it was unprecedented in professional baseball. The Rochester Red Wings became community-owned in the same off-season, but in both that and the Green Bay case the purchase funded saving or reviving an existing franchise. Winder was the first to establish a fan-owned entity to buy and move a team from elsewhere.

Whether or not Winder knew it at the time, though, that was no permanent solution. The Southern Association was dying, largely because it was still fighting integration 13 years after Jackie Robinson first played in the National League.

Former logo thru 2013

The circuit's end came after the 1961 season, leaving Travelers Field without a team for the third time in five years. Travs teams had played in the SA from 1901 through 1909, 1915 through the 1956 mid-season, 1957, 1960 and 1961 - winning championships in 1920, 1937, 1942, and 1951.

In 1963, Winder's corporation was awarded a new franchise in the Triple-A International League as an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. While that was a promotion, it was into a very expensive world for a market the size of Little Rock - stretching the southwest corner of a footprint that stretched all the way to eastern Canada. Triple-A was working through its own problems at the time, folding the American Association after that very campaign. Fallout included switching the Travs to the Pacific Coast League in 1964 - further increasing travel expenses by putting the team at a new southeast corner of a footprint that stretched to the Pacific Northwest and even Hawai'i.

It seems likely Winder knew Triple-A was too much - if not all along, then with the Triple-A consolidation. Arkansas would have fit well into the central U.S. circuit that had been the American Association, but both the East Coast-heavy IL and the West Coast-based PCL were a league too far. In only two more years, the 1966 franchise swap brought the St. Louis Cardinals to Little Rock as the Travs' parent club; this relationship lasted until 2000, when the Travs first joined the Angels - and the Texas League franchise that came from Oklahoma is still today's Travs. They won TL titles in 1971, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1989, 2001, and 2005.

In 1966, Travelers Field was renamed Ray Winder Field to honor Winder's work and wizardry.

Some of the most notable names to wear a Travelers uniform include Tris Speaker, Bill Dickey, Jim Bunning, Ferguson Jenkins, Keith Hernandez, Dick Allen - who, against his preference and apparently at the behest of the Phillies, was known as ""Richie""]] when he broke into the Majors in late 1963 - and J.D. Drew.

The Travs play Copa de la Diversión Hispanic engagement campaign games as Diamantes de Arkansas (Arkansas Diamonds).

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Hitting Coach Pitching Coach Coach
1963 78-73 4th Frank Lucchesi
1964 95-61 1st Frank Lucchesi Lost League Finals
1965 67-79 10th Frank Lucchesi
1966 81-59 1st Vern Rapp Lost in 1st round
1967 63-77 5th Vern Rapp none
1968 82-58 1st Vern Rapp Lost League Finals
1969 66-69 6th Ray Hathaway
1970 67-67 4th Ken Boyer
1971 75-64 3rd Jack Krol League Champs
1972 65-74 6th Fred Koenig
1973 69-71 4th (t) Tom Burgess
1974 75-59 2nd Jack Krol
1975 63-72 5th Roy Majtyka
1976 59-76 7th Jack Krol
1977 63-67 4th Buzzy Keller (20-34) / Tommy Thompson (43-33) League Champs
1978 77-55 2nd Tommy Thompson Lost in 1st round
1979 76-57 1st Tommy Thompson League Champs
1980 81-55 1st Sonny Ruberto League Champs
1981 52-80 8th Gaylen Pitts
1982 68-68 5th (t) Gaylen Pitts (18-30) / Nick Leyva (50-38)
1983 69-67 3rd Nick Leyva Lost in 1st round
1984 62-74 6th Dave Bialas
1985 64-70 5th Jim Riggleman Lost in 1st round
1986 67-67 4th Jim Riggleman Mark Riggins
1987 72-63 4th Jim Riggleman
1988 67-69 5th Jim Riggleman (32-38) / Darold Knowles (0-1) /
Gaylen Pitts (35-30)
Rick Colbert
1989 79-56 1st Gaylen Pitts League Champs Chris Maloney
1990 56-80 7th (t) Dave Bialas Marty Mason
1991 49-87 8th Joe Pettini Scott Melvin Marty Mason
1992 59-73 8th Joe Pettini Marty Mason
1993 67-69 5th Joe Pettini Marty Mason
1994 68-67 4th Chris Maloney Marty Mason
1995 70-65 3rd Mike Ramsey Marty Mason
1996 67-73 7th Rick Mahler Jeff Shireman Marty Mason
1997 68-72 4th Rick Mahler Rich Folkers
1998 80-60 1st Chris Maloney Lost in 1st round Luis Meléndez Rich Folkers
1999 59-81 8th Chris Maloney Glenn Brummer Rich Folkers
2000 68-71 5th Chris Maloney Brian Rupp Dave LaPoint
2001 66-70 6th Mike Brumley League Champs Mark Budaska Mike Butcher
2002 51-89 8th Doug Sisson Tyrone Boykin Randy Kramer
2003 70-70 5th Tyrone Boykin Keith Comstock
2004 59-80 7th Tyrone Boykin Todd Takayoshi Kernan Ronan
2005 71-69 4th Tom Gamboa Lost League Finals Todd Takayoshi Keith Comstock
2006 51-87 8th Tyrone Boykin Keith Johnson Ken Patterson
2007 65-75 7th Bobby Magallanes Keith Johnson Erik Bennett
2008 62-78 6th Bobby Magallanes League Champs Eric Owens Ken Patterson
2009 61-79 7th (t) Bobby Magallanes Francisco Matos Ken Patterson
2010 55-85 8th Bobby Magallanes Francisco Matos Ken Patterson
2011 68-69 4th Bill Mosiello (39-31) / Todd Takayoshi (13-20) /
Bobby Mitchell (16-18)
Lost League Finals Francisco Matos
2012 62-78 6th Mike Micucci Francisco Matos / Nathan Haynes Trevor Wilson
2013 73-66 3rd Tim Bogar Lost League Finals Mike Hampton
2014 75-65 3rd Phillip Wellman Lost in 1st round Tom Tornincasa Pat Rice
2015 71-68 3rd Bill Richardson Lost in 1st round Tom Tornincasa Pat Rice
2016 67-73 5th Mark Parent Brent Del Chiaro Scott Budner
2017 65-75 7th Daren Brown Roy Howell Ethan Katz Eddie Menchaca
2018 71-68 4th Daren Brown Lost in 1st round Roy Howell Ethan Katz Jimmy Van Ostrand
2019 81-57 1st Mitch Canham (42-21) / Wilson & Woodworth (0-3) / Cesar Nicolas (39-33) Lost in 1st round Kyle Wilson Peter Woodworth
2020 Season cancelled
2021 64-56 4th Collin Cowgill Joe Thurston Alon Leichman, Matt Pierpont Ryan McLaughlin
2022 73-65 3rd Collin Cowgill Shawn O'Malley Sean McGrath Taylor Featherston, Geoff Jimenez
2023 73-65 2nd Mike Freeman Lost League Finals Shawn O'Malley Michael Peoples Jose Umbria, Jordan Cowan
2024 Christian Colón Michael Fransoso Michael Peoples Jose Umbria

External Links[edit]