Spokane Indians

From BR Bullpen


Team History[edit]

A previous Indians logo

The Spokane Indians, of the High-A Northwest League and briefly in High-A West, wear a nickname that may have started out as something else entirely. The Colorado Rockies farmhands play their home games at Avista Stadium in Spokane Valley, WA.

According to Eastern Washington University's Spokane Historical project, the 1903 Pacific Coast League Spokane baseball club was to adopt "Inlanders" after that nickname won a contest sponsored by The Spokesman-Review. Despite naming that the winner, the newspaper soon changed it - apparently unilaterally - to Indians[1]. That nickname has stuck to Spokane baseball ever since, through a variety of leagues and affiliations, while logically becoming associated with the nearby Spokane Tribe of the Spokane Reservation. Federal recognition of tribes as now practiced started in 1934; Spokane earned it in 1954.

Alternate logo

However the nickname originated, the team and the Spokane Tribe of Indians began a unique partnership in 2006. This partnership included rebranding the baseball team using Native Spokane Tribe imagery. In recent years, no Native American imagery of any kind had been used on the team's uniforms or logos. When asked by the ballclub which images should be featured as part of this new branding, the Tribe offered a list of symbols including the Spokane River, the salmon, the eagle, the horse, and the wolf. A simple eagle feather was chosen to adorn the team's ballcaps under the letter "S" and an alternate logo featuring the Tribe's language - Salish - was created along with the new main logo. In 2014, the team began wearing jerseys that read "Sp'q'n'i?" - "Spokane" in Salish. At the time, there were fewer than a dozen native speakers of that dialect, and this was the first time a Native American word had graced the front of a professional sports jersey. In 2015, it became the primary home jersey, and a gray version of the Salish jersey is now the Indians' primary road jersey in 2018. Also in 2018, the team began to place historical tribal markers at Avista Stadium honoring the Tribe and documenting its history. One of the team's mascots, Ribby the Redband Trout, is part of another collaboration with the Tribe.

"We welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with our namesake professional baseball team on this project. We view this collaboration as a significant opportunity to educate thousands of baseball fans about the language and culture of the Spokane Indians - this city's first inhabitants." - Rudy Peone, former Chairman of the Spokane Tribe on the partnership with the ballclub

Spokane and Indianapolis were the last minor league teams to use a big-league nickname that was not their parent's. Ironically, while they are both are still called "Indians" that moniker was officially vacated at the Major League level when the Cleveland Indians became the Cleveland Guardians after the 2021 season.

The Brooklyn Dodgers, in preparation for their 1958 move to Los Angeles, bought the PCL's Los Angeles Angels in 1957 and moved them to Spokane. Triple-A baseball was successful there for decades, but eventually two PCL teams moved away in 11 years.

In 1983, short-season baseball came to Spokane under the same brand but without a parent club. After two such seasons, brothers George Brett, Ken Brett, Bobby Brett and J.B. Brett bought those Indians and landed an affiliation with the San Diego Padres - setting them on another successful run.

The 2023 Spokane Indians

MLB's 2021 Minor League Reorganization raised the Tribe, and most of the Northwest League, two levels.

On June 24, 1946, the Western International League Spokane Indians were the victim of the worst sports transit accident in U.S. professional sports history. The team bus, carrying 16 players, crashed on Highway 10 in the Snoqualmie Pass on its way from Spokane to Bremerton, WA. The bus rolled into the ravine along the highway and caught fire, killing manager Mel Cole and eight players while severely injuring three others.

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Notes
1903 82-68 2nd W.V. Garrett / C.H. Williams none
1904 73-57 2nd Charlie Reilly none
1905 20-19 3rd Charlie Reilly none PNL ended play June 20
27-20 (41-58 overall) 4th G.G. Howlett / Ed Hutchinson / Charles McIntyre none Victoria (NWL) moved to Spokane July 11
1906 37-50 4th Bill Hurley none
1907 68-76 5th E.E. Quinn none
1908 72-75 4th E.E. Quinn none
1909 100-66 2nd Robert Brown none
1910 96-65 1st Dan Dugdale none League Champs
1911 96-71 2nd Joseph Cohen none
1912 95-72 2nd Harry Ostdiek none
1913 70-97 6th Harry Ostdiek / Watt Powell / Mike Lynch none
1914 84-68 3rd Mike Lynch none
1915 81-74 3rd Bob Wicker
1916 79-48 1st Nick Williams none League Champs
1917 36-41 4th Nick Williams none
1918 9-16 -- Nick Williams Team disbanded May 26
1920 56-58 5th Cliff Blankenship none
1940 84-59 1st Eddie Leishman Lost League Finals
1941 89-44 1st Ray Jacobs none League Champs (Lost series to All-Star team)
1942 58-83 4th Ray Jacobs none
1946 54-78 7th Mel Cole (28-32) / Ben Geraghty (2-1) / Mel Cole (2-2) / Ben Geraghty (22-52) none
1947 87-67 2nd Ben Geraghty none
1948 102-64 1st Buddy Ryan (57-52) / Dolph Camilli (45-12) none League Champs
1949 78-71 3rd Jim Brillheart Lost in 1st round
1950 63-85 7th Alan Strange none
1951 93-49 1st Alan Strange none League Champs
1952 91-64 2nd Don Osborn none
1953 75-67 5th Don Osborn League Champs
1954 30-24 -- Don Osborn team disbanded on June 21
1955 47-80 7th Eddie Lake
1956 56-77 7th Joe Rossi none
1958 68-85 7th Goldie Holt (32-45) / Bobby Bragan (36-40) none
1959 77-77 5th Bobby Bragan none
1960 92-61 1st Preston Gomez none, League Champs
1961 68-86 7th Preston Gomez none
1962 58-96 8th Preston Gomez none
1963 98-60 1st Danny Ozark Lost League Finals
1964 85-73 5th Danny Ozark
1965 57-90 11th Bill Brenzel (3-8) / Duke Snider (6-8) / Pete Reiser (1-1) / Duke Snider (47-73)
1966 75-73 7th Roy Hartsfield
1967 80-68 2nd Roy Hartsfield Lost League Finals
1968 85-60 2nd Roy Hartsfield Lost League Finals
1969 71-73 2nd Tommy Lasorda
1970 94-52 1st Tommy Lasorda League Champs
1971 92-56 3rd Tommy Lasorda
1972 42-36 2nd Bill Berrier
1973 81-63 2nd Del Wilber League Champs
1974 78-64 1st Del Wilber League Champs
1975 64-78 7th Del Wilber
1976 65-78 7th Frank Howard
1977 75-69 4th John Felske
1978 64-75 8th John Felske
Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Hitting Coach Pitching Coach Coach
1979 68-79 9th Rene Lachemann Bill Plummer
1980 60-80 8th Rene Lachemann Joe Coleman
1981 56-84 10th Rene Lachemann (11-9) / Ken Pape (45-75) Joe Coleman
1982 78-65 3rd Moose Stubing Lost League Finals
1983 23-46 8th Ed Olsen
1984 35-39 6th (t) Jack Maloof Steve Luebber
1985 33-41 6th (t) Jack Maloof
1986 39-35 5th Rob Picciolo
1987 54-22 1st Rob Picciolo League Champs
1988 42-34 3rd (t) Steve Lubratich League Champs Ty Waller
1989 41-34 1st Bruce Bochy League Champs
1990 49-27 2nd Gene Glynn League Champs
1991 24-52 8th Gene Glynn Bruce Tanner
1992 32-44 8th Ed Romero Barry Moss
1993 35-41 6th (t) Tim Flannery Barry Moss
1994 30-46 7th Ty Waller Dave Smith
1995 36-40 6th Al Pedrique
1996 37-39 5th Bob Herold Jeff Garber Rickey Keeton
1997 45-31 2nd Jeff Garber Steve Crawford
1998 47-29 1st (t) Jeff Garber Steve Balboni Rick Mahler
1999 44-32 1st Kevin Long League Champs Joe Szekely
2000 38-38 5th Tom Poquette
2001 22-54 8th Tom Poquette
2002 29-47 7th Tom Poquette
2003 50-26 1st Darryl Kennedy League Champs David Chavarria
2004 41-35 3rd (t) Darryl Kennedy David Chavarria
2005 37-39 4th Greg Riddoch League Champs Jim Nettles Glenn Abbott Mark Whiten
2006 26-50 8th Mike Micucci Jim Nettles Danny Clark
2007 33-42 7th Tim Hulett Keith Comstock
2008 51-25 1st Tim Hulett League Champs Mike Anderson
2009 37-39 4th Tim Hulett Josue Perez Justin Thompson
2010 43-33 2nd (t) Tim Hulett Lost League Finals Josue Perez Justin Thompson Brian Dayett
2011 35-41 6th Tim Hulett Josue Perez Brian Dayett
2012 28-48 8th Tim Hulett Oscar Bernard Ryan O'Malley
2013 38-38 5th Tim Hulett Bobby Rose Oscar Marin
2014 40-36 4th Tim Hulett Lost in 1st round Rick Down Jose Jaimes Salomón Manríquez
2015 34-42 6th(t) Tim Hulett Rick Down Jose Jaimes Chase Lambin
2016 32-43 7th Tim Hulett Lost in 1st round Kenny Hook Joey Seaver Jared Goedert
2017 39-37 4th (t) Matt Hagen Lost in 1st round Chase Lambin Joey Seaver
2018 38-38 3rd (t) Kenny Holmberg Lost League Finals Jared Goedert Jonathan Armold Carlos Maldonado
2019 45-31 3rd Kenny Hook Lost in 1st round Salomon Manriquez Henderson Lugo
2020 Season cancelled
2021 67-49 2nd Scott Little Lost League Finals Zach Osborne Ryan Kibler Fred Ocasio
2022 64-66 3rd Scott Little Zach Osborne Ryan Kibler Julio Campos
2023 Robinson Cancel Zach Osborne Ryan Kibler Joe Mikulik

Further Reading[edit]

  • Beth Mary Bollinger: Until The End Of The Ninth, Rooftop Publishing, 2007 (a novel based on the true story of the 1946 bus crash and its aftermath).
  • Jim Price: "Devastating crash reverberates 60 years later", in Mark Armour, ed.: Rain Check: Baseball in the Pacific Northwest, Society for American Baseball Research, Cleveland, OH, 2006, pp. 92-94.
  • Jim Price: "Stars leapt to bigs through Spokane", in Mark Armour, ed.: Rain Check: Baseball in the Pacific Northwest, Society for American Baseball Research, Cleveland, OH, 2006, pp. 84-91.

Related Sites[edit]