Toledo Mud Hens

From BR Bullpen


Team History[edit]

The Toledo Mud Hens of the Triple-A International League and briefly in Triple-A East, have a famous nickname that dates to the 19th Century. The Detroit Tigers farmhands play their home games at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, OH.

Slang for the duck-like American coot that lives around Lake Erie, "Mud Hens" caught on while 19th-century Toledo blue laws had its baseball team playing its Sunday games in a swampy area frequented by the birds.

Today's Hens - once the minors' most-storied franchise, Jack Dunn's Baltimore Orioles - moved to the Toledo suburb of Maumee from Richmond, VA, in 1965. The then-New York Yankees affiliate began the fourth Toledo-Detroit affiliation in 1987 and now has the fifth longest partnership among teams without common ownership.

In the 1970s, TV's M*A*S*H turned "Mud Hens" into a household nickname by making CPL Max Klinger a big fan. Both Klinger portrayer Jamie Farr and Hens management have claimed credit for the idea. Klinger's Hens moved away during the Korean Conflict - coincidentally, a year after losing an affiliation with their current parent Tigers. The Milwaukee Brewers - bumped by their parent Boston Braves' move to Milwaukee, WI - replaced them in 1953, but as the Toledo Sox; they left after the 1955 season.


The name Mud Hens caught on as a nickname during the 1896 season. Due to the city of Toledo's Blue Laws, the team had to play its Sunday games at Bay View Park outside the city limits. Bay View Park was situated in a marsh that was heavily populated by the American coot. Coots were commonly known as Mud Hens, and the name stuck.

1902-1955: The American Association years[edit]

The Mud Hens joined Columbus, Louisville, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Paul as charter members of the minor league American Association in 1902. The American Association played at the highest level of minor league baseball, and in fact was for a time reckoned to be a major league. Competition within the AA was tough and Toledo did not fare well, winning only two pennants throughout these years. The Mud Hens did so poorly, in fact, that they finished in the bottom half of the league during 70% of these seasons. Toledo played in the American Association through the 1913 season. In 1914 team owner Charles Somers, who also owned the Cleveland Indians, moved the Mud Hens to Cleveland to keep the Federal League from locating a rival team there during his tribe's road trips. During this time, they played as the Cleveland Bearcats.

The club returned to Toledo in 1916, still in the Association but now called the Toledo Iron Men, from 1916 through 1918. The team was renamed the Toledo Mud Hens in 1919. Between 1916 and 1925, the Hens only broke .500 during the 1920 season. The club broke their slump in 1926 with the arrival of Casey Stengel. In 1927, Stengel assembled a veteran team that won the American Association pennant, and the only Junior World Series title in club history. Following the end of the Stengel era, a local businessman by the name of Waldo Shank bought the team and sold them to the Detroit Tigers.

In mid-season 1951, the Tigers sold the team. Halfway through the 1952 campaign, the team left for Charleston, WV. In 1953, the Braves moved their Milwaukee Brewers farm club to Toledo - filling the gap left by the Hens. The team was known as the Toledo Glass Sox (or Toledo Sox). The Sox won the American Association pennant in 1953. In 1956, the franchise moved to Wichita, KS, and Swayne Field was razed - except for part of one outfield wall. A remnant of the left-center field barrier, it is believed to be the first concrete wall ever erected for a U.S. baseball field. The ballpark was torn down to build Swayne Field Shopping Center, which remains on the site and so named today. The original center included what was then the largest Kroger store in the country.

Notable players during this era:

Carl "Ducky" Walinski, a local achondroplaisic teenager, was hired by the Mud Hens in 1925 at the age of 15. His duties - for 25 cents per day - included announcing games, running errands for players, cleaning and caring for uniforms, shoes, and the club house, as well as entertaining the crowds. Ducky later earned local fame by traveling from pub to pub on roller skates (often in the company of a goat) advertising Buckeye Beer. During this time, his nickname changed to "Bucky" in honor of the product he promoted.

1965-Present: The Modern Era[edit]


In 1965, the Richmond, VA franchise was purchased, and baseball returned to Toledo. The team revived the Mud Hens name, and found a new home in Ned Skeldon Stadium, a converted horse racing track on the Lucas County fair grounds. The new Mud Hens became the Triple-A franchise of the New York Yankees, and settled into the International League. In 1967, the Detroit Tigers replaced the Yankees as the parent organization, and the Mud Hens won the International League title and their first Governors' Cup.

1974 through 1977 were split between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cleveland Indians. In 1978, the Minnesota Twins took over as the Mud Hen's parent organization. They were featured on M*A*S*H, a popular TV series in the 1970s. Corporal Maxwell Klinger, played by Jamie Farr (both Klinger and Farr are from Toledo), wore a Mud Hens jersey or cap in many episodes, and the team was a frequent topic of conversation for the character. The success of the series brought the Toledo Mud Hens to international fame, and the Mud Hens made the playoffs three of nine seasons with the Twins. In 1987, the Mud Hens and Tigers reunited. The Hens remained at the bottom of the International league throughout the rest of their life at Ned Skeldon Stadium.

First pitch at a Mud Hens game in July, 2011

In 2002, a new stadium, Fifth Third Field was built in downtown Toledo. The stadium was named best minor league ball park in America by Newsweek that year, and the Mud Hens finished at the top of their division. Things only got better for the Mud Hens with the introduction of Larry Parrish as manager. In 2005 and 2006, the Toledo Mud Hens won back-to -back Governors' Cups. The Hens continue to break minor league attendance records as the most famous team in Minor League Baseball.

Notable Players from this era:


Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Notes
1896 47-16 1st Charles Strobel none
1897 83-43 1st Charles Strobel none League Champs
1898 84-68 2nd Charles Strobel none
1899 82-58 4th Charles Strobel none
1900 81-58 3rd Charles Strobel none
1901 77-60 3rd Charles Strobel none
1902 42-98 8th Charles Strobel none
1903 48-91 8th Doc Reisling none
1904 42-109 8th Herman Long / John Burns / Billy Clingman none
1905 60-91 7th Michael J. Finn / Edward Grillo none
1906 79-69 4th Edward Grillo none
1907 88-65 2nd Bill Armour none
1908 81-72 4th Bill Armour none
1909 80-86 6th Fred Abbott / Ralph Seybold none
1910 91-75 2nd James Holmes / Harry Hinchman none
1911 78-86 6th Harry Hinchman none
1912 98-66 2nd Topsy Hartsel none
1913 69-98 6th Topsy Hartsel (47-58) / Herman Bronkie (22-40) none
1914 53-93 8th Topsy Hartsel
1919 59-91 7th Rollie Zeider (22-47) / Roger Bresnahan (37-44) none
1920 87-79 3rd Roger Bresnahan none
1921 80-88 7th Bill Clymer (31-39) / Fred Luderus (49-49) none
1922 65-101 7th Fred Luderus (3-19) / Roger Bresnahan (0-2) / Al Wickland (15-3) / Possum Whitted (47-77) none
1923 54-114 8th Possum Whitted (33-63) / Bill Terry (21-51) none
1924 82-83 5th Jimmy Burke none
1925 77-90 6th Jimmy Burke none
1926 87-77 4th Casey Stengel none
1927 101-67 1st Casey Stengel none League Champs
1928 79-88 6th Casey Stengel none
1929 67-100 8th Casey Stengel none
1930 88-66 3rd Casey Stengel none
1931 68-100 8th Casey Stengel none
1932 87-80 4th Bibb Falk none
1933 70-83 5th (t) Steve O'Neill
1934 68-84 6th Steve O'Neill
1935 64-86 7th Fred Haney
1936 59-92 8th Fred Haney
1937 89-65 2nd Fred Haney Lost in 1st round
1938 79-74 5th Fred Haney
1939 47-107 8th Myles Thomas
1940 59-90 7th Zack Taylor
1941 82-72 5th Zack Taylor (27-25) / Fred Haney (55-47)
1942 78-73 4th Fred Haney Lost League Finals
1943 76-76 4th Jack Fournier Lost in 1st round
1944 95-58 2nd Ollie Marquardt Lost in 1st round
1945 69-84 6th Ollie Marquardt
1946 69-84 6th Don Gutteridge (33-54) / George DeTore (36-30)
1947 61-92 8th Frank Snyder
1948 61-91 7th George DeTore
1949 64-90 8th Eddie Mayo
1950 65-87 7th Eddie Mayo
1951 70-82 6th Jack Tighe
1952 46-107 8th Rollie Hemsley -- Moved to Charleston June 23
1953 90-64 1st Tommy Holmes (9-16) / George Selkirk (81-48) (May 16) Lost League Finals
1954 74-80 6th George Selkirk
1955 81-73 5th George Selkirk
Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Hitting Coach Pitching Coach Coach
1965 68-78 7th Frank Verdi
1966 71-75 6th Loren Babe
1967 73-66 3rd Jack Tighe League Champs
1968 83-64 1st Jack Tighe Lost in 1st round
1969 68-72 6th Jack Tighe
1970 51-89 8th Frank Carswell
1971 60-80 7th Mike Roarke
1972 75-69 5th Johnny Lipon
1973 65-81 7th Johnny Lipon (41-57) / Cot Deal (24-24)
1974 70-74 5th Jim Bunning
1975 62-78 7th Jim Bunning
1976 55-85 8th Joe Sparks
1977 56-84 8th Jack Cassini
1978 74-66 3rd Cal Ermer Lost in 1st round
1979 63-76 7th Cal Ermer
1980 77-63 2nd Cal Ermer Lost League Finals
1981 53-87 8th Cal Ermer
1982 60-80 7th Cal Ermer
1983 68-72 5th Cal Ermer
1984 74-63 3rd Cal Ermer Lost in 1st round Jim Shellenback
1985 71-68 6th Cal Ermer Jim Shellenback
1986 62-77 6th Charlie Manuel
1987 70-70 5th Leon Roberts Gene Roof John Hiller
1988 58-84 8th Pat Corrales Gene Roof
1989 69-76 6th John Wockenfuss Ivan DeJesus
1990 58-86 8th John Wockenfuss (10-14) / Tom Gamboa (48-72) Aurelio Rodriguez Jeff Jones
1991 74-70 5th Joe Sparks Mark Wagner Ralph Treuel
1992 64-80 6th Joe Sparks Kevin Bradshaw Ralph Treuel
1993 65-77 7th Joe Sparks Bruce Fields Jeff Jones
1994 63-79 9th Joe Sparks (7-17) / Larry Parrish (56-62) Bruce Fields Jeff Jones
1995 71-71 6th Tom Runnells Skeeter Barnes Rick Adair
1996 70-72 5th (t) Tom Runnells Skeeter Barnes Brian Allard
1997 68-73 7th Glenn Ezell (33-24) / Gene Roof (35-49) Brad Komminsk Jeff Jones
1998 52-89 14th Gene Roof Jeff Jones
1999 57-87 14th Gene Roof Skeeter Barnes Dan Warthen
2000 55-86 12th Dave Anderson (26-38) / Glenn Ezell (29-48) Mark Meleski Jeff Jones
2001 65-79 12th Bruce Fields Leon Durham Jeff Jones
2002 81-63 4th Bruce Fields Lost in 1st round Leon Durham Jeff Jones
2003 65-78 11th Larry Parrish Leon Durham Jeff Jones
2004 65-78 14th Larry Parrish Leon Durham Jeff Jones
2005 89-55 1st Larry Parrish League Champs Leon Durham Jeff Jones
2006 76-66 5th Larry Parrish League Champs Leon Durham Jeff Jones
2007 82-61 2nd Mike Rojas Lost in 1st Round Leon Durham Britt Burns
2008 75-69 4th Larry Parrish Leon Durham A.J. Sager
2009 73-70 6th Larry Parrish Leon Durham A.J. Sager
2010 70-73 9th Larry Parrish Leon Durham A.J. Sager
2011 67-77 11th Phil Nevin Leon Durham A.J. Sager
2012 60-84 13th Phil Nevin Leon Durham A.J. Sager
2013 61-83 13th Phil Nevin Leon Durham A.J. Sager
2014 69-74 8th Larry Parrish Leon Durham Al Nipper
2015 61-83 13th Larry Parrish Leon Durham Mike Maroth
2016 68-76 8th Lloyd McClendon Leon Durham Jeff Pico Basilio Cabrera
2017 70-71 8th Mike Rojas Brian Harper Jeff Pico Basilio Cabrera
2018 73-66 4th Doug Mientkiewicz Lost in 1st round Brian Harper Jeff Pico, Mike Alvarez Basilio Cabrera
2019 66-74 9th (t) Doug Mientkiewicz Mike Hessman Juan Nieves Basilio Cabrera
2020 Season cancelled
2021 69-51 4th (t) Tom Prince 5-5 Mike Hessman / Jeff Branson Doug Bochtler C.J. Wamsley
2022 87-63 2nd Lloyd McClendon Adam Melhuse Doug Bochtler Tony Cappucilli
2023 Anthony Iapoce Mike Hessman Doug Bochtler Tony Cappucilli, Ollie Kadey


Further Reading[edit]

  • Ralph E. Lin Weber: The Toledo Basbell Guide of the Mud Hens, Baseball Research Bureau, Rossford, OH, 1944.
  • John A. Husman: Baseball In Toledo, Arcadia Publishing, 2003

Related Sites[edit]