Durham Bulls

From BR Bullpen


Team History 1913-1943[edit]

The Durham Bulls began playing in the North Carolina State League in 1913, filling an eleven-year gap in professional baseball in the city created by the voluntary folding of the first Durham Bulls, also known as the Durham Tobacconists, after their first season in 1902. This Bulls team played their inaugural game on April 24, 1913 on the campus of Trinity College (later Duke University). The Bulls won their first match, defeating the Raleigh Capitals 7-4. The Bulls continued to play in the North Carolina State League until May 30, 1917, when the league folded due to the United States' entry into World War I. Although the season was short, the Durham Bulls were crowned the final champions of the North Carolina State League.

The Bulls returned to Durham, NC in 1920 upon the formation of the Piedmont League. In July of 1926, the Bulls moved into their first stadium independent of Trinity College, El Toro Park. The park was commissioned on July 26, 1926 by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who rode out onto the field on a real bull. The Durham Bulls continued to play in El Toro Park until 1934, when the team was forced to fold due to the Great Depression.

In 1936, the Bulls returned to El Toro Park, which had been purchased by the city of Durham, NC, rebuilt, and renamed the Durham Athletic Park. The Bulls played at the DAP until June 17, 1939 when the stadium burned to the ground. The stadium was hurriedly rebuilt with steel and concrete and on July 2, 1939 the Bulls defeated the Charlotte Hornets 11-4.

The Bulls returned to a completely rebuilt DAP in 1940 and continued to play in the Piedmont League through the 1943 season.


The Durham Bulls returned to Durham in 1945 as members of the newly formed Carolina League. The Bulls played their first Carolina League game on April 27, 1945, defeating the Burlington Bees 5-0.

On August 5, 1951, the Bulls hosted the Danville Leafs. Although the Bulls lost 5-4, this game was a significant point in team history. Percy Miller Jr. made his professional debut, becoming the first African American player in the Carolina League. The Bulls would not have African American athletes on their team until April 18, 1957, when third baseman Bubba Morton and left-handed pitcher Ted Richardson became the first African-Americans to play for the Durham Bulls. In their first game with the Bulls, Morton went hitless and Richardson took the loss to Greensboro, 4-1.

The Bulls continued to play in the Carolina League until 1968, when the team merged with the Raleigh Capitals to become the Raleigh-Durham Mets. The Mets would later fold following the 1971 season.


The Bulls returned to Durham Athletic Park on April 15, 1980. This was the first time Minor League Baseball was played in Durham since 1971. Later that season, the local CBS affiliate aired the June 22 game which was the first time a Durham Bulls game was broadcast on television. The Bulls gained national notoriety in 1987 when the major motion picture Bull Durham, which focuses on the team, was filmed on-site at the Durham Athletic Park. Following the 1987 season, Bulls management began discussion of building a 10,000-to-12,000-seat stadium in order to attract an AAA team.


In 1990, the Bulls were purchased by Jim Goodman, president of the Capitol Broadcasting Company. Mr. Goodman announced plans to move the team a newly built stadium in Triangle Central Park in eastern Durham County. On August 30, 1990, the Bulls drew a crowd of 6,202 to the Durham Athletic Park, pushing the annual attendance to 300,499 fans. This made them the first Class A team to ever reach the 300,000-fan mark.

Following the Bulls' highly publicized "last season" in the Durham Athletic Park, several delays in construction pushed back Opening Day at the new Durham Bulls Athletic Park until 1995. On September 5, 1994, the Bulls lost the last game ever at Durham Athletic Park to the Winston-Salem Warthogs in game one of the Carolina League playoffs.

April 1995 marked the Bulls' first home opener at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, opening the gates to a crowd of 10,886 fans. The Bulls continued to draw Carolina League-record crowds until August 30, 1997 when the Bulls once again lost 6-4 in 10 innings to the Winston-Salem Warthogs in the last game of their 45-season history in the Carolina League.


On April 9, 1998, the Durham Bulls began their first season as the AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, losing 6-1 to the Norfolk Tides. The team continued to grow in popularity, setting a single-game attendance record of 10,916 on July 23, 2001. The Bulls have drawn crowds of over 505,000 in a single season.

On June 13, 2002, third baseman Andy Sheets hit the first inside the park home run in Bulls history. That season the Bulls would go on to claim their first International League title, beating the Buffalo Bisons to win the Governors' Cup. In 2003, the Bulls defeated the Pawtucket Red Sox to become the first team to win the cup in two consecutive seasons.

The Bulls continue to grow in popularity and in 2006, drew over 11,000 fans to a single game.


Bull rounds third

Notable Durham Bulls Alumni[edit]

  • Joe Morgan - Hall of Fame (#18 is retired by the Bulls)

Significant Events[edit]

Championships and Honors[edit]

The team stands for the National Anthem before a game in 2009

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1902 23-39 5th Otis Stocksdale none
1913 65-49 2nd James Kelly none
1914 70-50 3rd James "King" Kelly none
1915 69-52 2nd James Kelly none
1916 62-51 3rd Richard Hoffman / Frank Manush none
1917 24-12 1st Frank Manush League ceased operations May 30
1920 53-65 6th Frank Manush
1921 57-64 5th Frank Manush
1922 69-58 2nd Lee Gooch League Champs
1923 48-74 6th Lee Gooch
1924 74-46 1st Bill Pierre none League Champs
1925 68-58 2nd Art Bourg League Champs
1926 73-71 3rd Art Bourg (25-42) / Lew McCarty (48-29) Lost League Finals
1927 48-95 6th Lew McCarty (25-31) / Barney Cleveland (10-17) / George "Possum" Whitted (13-47)
1928 40-91 6th George "Possum" Whitted
1929 85-51 1st George "Possum" Whitted Lost League Finals
1930 71-68 2nd George "Possum" Whitted League Champs
1931 56-72 5th George "Possum" Whitted
1932 56-77 6th George "Possum" Whitted
1933 65-76 5th Bobby Murray (28-44) / Bill Skiff (37-32) none
1936 79-63 2nd Johnny Gooch Lost League Finals
1937 68-69 5th Paul O'Malley
1938 64-71 6th Bill Hughes
1939 75-65 2nd Oscar Roettger Lost in 1st round
1940 73-62 4th Oscar Roettger League Champs
1941 84-53 1st Bruno Betzel League Champs
1942 65-70 5th Bruno Betzel
1943 44-86 6th Bruno Betzel
1945 59-77 7th Floyd Patterson
1946 80-62 3rd Floyd Patterson Lost League Finals
1947 70-71 4th Willie Duke Lost League Finals
1948 63-79 6th Willie Duke
1949 70-72 6th Ace Parker
1950 73-79 6th Ace Parker
1951 84-56 1st Ace Parker Lost in 1st round
1952 76-59 2nd Ace Parker Lost League Finals
1953 64-75 7th Marv Owen
1954 70-68 4th Charlie Metro Lost in 1st round
1955 69-69 4th Frank Skaff Lost in 1st round
1956 84-69 2nd Johnny Pesky Lost in 1st round
1957 79-61 1st Bob Mavis League Champs
1958 58-79 8th Chuck Kress
1959 70-60 3rd Frank Skaff Lost in 1st round
1960 57-78 6th Stubby Overmire
1961 65-73 5th Al Lakeman none
1962 89-51 1st Lou Fitzgerald Lost League Finals
1963 78-65 2nd Billy Goodman Lost in 1st round
1964 54-82 10th Billy Goodman (50-78) / Walt Matthews (4-4)
1965 83-60 2nd Dave Philley Lost League Finals
1966 62-76 9th Chuck Churn
1967 74-64 2nd (t) Clyde McCullough League Champs
Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Hitting Coach Pitching Coach Coach
1980 84-56 2nd Al Gallagher Lost League Finals
1981 70-68 4th (t) Al Gallagher
1982 80-56 3rd Bobby Dews Lost League Finals Bruce Dal Canton
1983 59-78 6th Brian Snitker Leo Mazzone
1984 68-72 5th Brian Snitker Lost League Finals Sonny Jackson Leo Mazzone/Jim Bibby
1985 66-74 5th Harry Bright Bob Porter Mudcat Grant
1986 72-68 3rd (t) Buddy Bailey Larry Jaster
1987 65-75 7th Brian Snitker Randy Ingle Bill Slack
1988 82-58 2nd Buddy Bailey (30-13) / Grady Little (52-45) Joe Pignatano
1989 84-54 1st Grady Little Lost League Finals Inocencio Guerrero Larry Jaster
1990 71-68 4th Grady Little Larry Jaster
1991 79-58 3rd Grady Little Phillip Wellman Larry Jaster Gil Garrido
1992 70-70 3rd Leon Roberts George Threadgill Matt West
1993 69-69 5th Leon Roberts Tack Wilson Matt West
1994 66-70 5th Matt West Rick Albert Bill Slack
1995 63-76 7th Matt West Rick Albert
1996 73-66 4th Randy Ingle Lost in 1st round Max Venable Bruce Dal Canton
1997 63-76 6th Paul Runge Wallace Johnson Bill Slack
1998 80-64 3rd Bill Evers Lost League Finals Pete Filson
1999 83-60 2nd Bill Evers Lost League Finals Steve Henderson / Max Oliveras Pete Filson
2000 81-62 4th Bill Evers Lost in 1st round Joe Coleman
2001 74-70 5th Bill Evers Max Oliveras Joe Coleman
2002 80-64 5th Bill Evers League Champs Richie Hebner Joe Coleman
2003 73-67 4th Bill Evers League Champs Richie Hebner Joe Coleman
2004 77-67 4th Bill Evers Lost in 1st round Richie Hebner Joe Coleman
2005 65-79 12th Bill Evers Richie Hebner Joe Coleman
2006 64-78 11th John Tamargo Richie Hebner Joe Coleman
2007 80-63 3rd Charlie Montoyo Lost League Finals Gary Gaetti Xavier Hernandez
2008 74-70 5th (t) Charlie Montoyo Lost League Finals Gary Gaetti Xavier Hernandez
2009 83-61 2nd Charlie Montoyo League Champs Dave Myers Xavier Hernandez
2010 88-55 1st Charlie Montoyo Lost League Finals Dave Myers Xavier Hernandez
2011 80-62 3rd Charlie Montoyo Lost in 1st round Dave Myers Neil Allen
2012 66-78 11th Charlie Montoyo Dave Myers Neil Allen
2013 87-57 1st Charlie Montoyo League Champs Dave Myers Neil Allen
2014 75-69 6th Charlie Montoyo Lost League Finals Dave Myers Neil Allen
2015 74-70 7th(t) Jared Sandberg Dave Myers Kyle Snyder
2016 64-80 12th Jared Sandberg Ozzie Timmons Kyle Snyder
2017 86-56 2nd Jared Sandberg League Champs Ozzie Timmons Kyle Snyder Craig Albernaz Rafael Valenzuela
2018 79-60 2nd Jared Sandberg League Champs Rick Knapp Dan DeMent Ben Johnson
2019 75-64 4th (t) Brady Williams Lost League Finals Rick Knapp Dan DeMent Quinton McCracken
2020 Season cancelled
2021 Brady Williams Kyle Wilson Rick Knapp Reinaldo Ruiz, Alberto Bastardo

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ron Morris: No Bull: The real story of the rebirth of a team and a city, Baseball America, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2017. ISBN 978-1932391664

External Link[edit]

Durham Bulls Baseball Club