- Location: Spokane, WA
- League: Pacific National League 1903-1904; Northwestern League 1905-1917; Pacific Coast International League 1918, 1920; Western International League 1940-1942, 1946-1954; Northwest League 1955-1956; Pacific Coast League 1958-1971; Northwest League 1972; Pacific Coast League 1973-1982; Northwest League 1983-2019; High-A West 2021; Northwest League 2022-
- Affiliation: Oakland Oaks 1946; Brooklyn Dodgers 1947; Philadelphia Phillies 1953; Los Angeles Dodgers 1958-1972; Texas Rangers 1973-1975; Milwaukee Brewers 1976-1978; Seattle Mariners 1979-1981; California Angels 1982; San Diego Padres 1983-1994; Kansas City Royals 1995-2002; Texas Rangers 2003-2020; Colorado Rockies 2021-present
- Ballpark: Ferris Field 1940-1942, 1946-1956; Avista Stadium 1983-present
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. 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.
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.
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.
|1903||82-68||2nd||W.V. Garrett / C.H. Williams||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|
|1910||96-65||1st||Dan Dugdale||none League Champs|
|1913||70-97||6th||Harry Ostdiek / Watt Powell / Mike Lynch||none|
|1916||79-48||1st||Nick Williams||none League Champs|
|1918||9-16||--||Nick Williams||Team disbanded May 26|
|1940||84-59||1st||Eddie Leishman||Lost League Finals|
|1941||89-44||1st||Ray Jacobs||none League Champs||(Lost series to All-Star team)|
|1946||54-78||7th||Mel Cole (28-32) / Ben Geraghty (2-1) / Mel Cole (2-2) / Ben Geraghty (22-52)||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|
|1951||93-49||1st||Alan Strange||none League Champs|
|1953||75-67||5th||Don Osborn||League Champs|
|1954||30-24||--||Don Osborn||team disbanded on June 21|
|1958||68-85||7th||Goldie Holt (32-45) / Bobby Bragan (36-40)||none|
|1960||92-61||1st||Preston Gomez||none, League Champs|
|1963||98-60||1st||Danny Ozark||Lost League Finals|
|1965||57-90||11th||Bill Brenzel (3-8) / Duke Snider (6-8) / Pete Reiser (1-1) / Duke Snider (47-73)|
|1967||80-68||2nd||Roy Hartsfield||Lost League Finals|
|1968||85-60||2nd||Roy Hartsfield||Lost League Finals|
|1970||94-52||1st||Tommy Lasorda||League Champs|
|1973||81-63||2nd||Del Wilber||League Champs|
|1974||78-64||1st||Del Wilber||League Champs|
- 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.