Carolina Mudcats (1991–2011)

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Carolina Mudcats
Founded in 1959
Zebulon, North Carolina
CarolinaMudcats.png CarolinaMudcatsCap.png
Team logo Cap insignia
Class-level
Previous AA (1991–2011)
Minor league affiliations
Division Southern Division
Previous leagues
Southern League (1991–2011)
Major league affiliations
Previous
Minor league titles
League titles 1995, 2003
Division titles 2008
Team data
Previous names
  • Carolina Mudcats (1991–2011)
  • Columbus Mudcats (1989–1990)
  • Columbus Astros (1970–1988)
  • Columbus White Sox (1969)
  • Evansville White Sox (1966–1968)
  • Lynchburg White Sox (1963–1965)
  • Savannah White Sox (1962)
  • Charleston White Sox (1959–1961)
Previous parks
Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
Steve Bryant (majority owner) and Carolina Mudcats Professional Baseball Club, Inc and Quint Studer.
General manager Joe Kremer

The Carolina Mudcats were a minor league baseball team based in Zebulon, North Carolina. They were a Double-A Southern League team from 1991 to 2011. The team played their home games at Five County Stadium.

In 2010 the franchise moved to Pensacola, Florida in a series of purchases and relocations, becoming the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Concurrently, a Carolina League franchise from Kinston, North Carolina was moved to Zebulon, taking on the Carolina Mudcats name.[1][2]

History[edit]

The origins of the first Mudcats franchise date back to 1959, when the Chicago White Sox's affiliate, the Charleston White Sox, began play in the South Atlantic League (now the Southern League). The team relocated several times, playing in Charleston, South Carolina (1959–1961), Savannah, Georgia (1962), Lynchburg, Virginia (1963-1965), and Evansville, Indiana (1966-1968), before moving to Columbus, Georgia in 1969 to play in Golden Park. The team was known as the Columbus Astros from 1970 to 1988, when it became an affiliate of the Houston Astros. Following the 1988 season, new owner Steve Bryant held a contest among season ticket holders to rename the team, and as a result, in 1989 the team became the Columbus Mudcats. In 1991, Bryant moved the club to Zebulon, North Carolina and renamed it the Carolina Mudcats.[3][4]

The Mudcats (white) play the Montgomery Biscuits in a home game on August 13, 2011

In Zebulon the Mudcats played in Five County Stadium, a 6,500-seat stadium near the convergence of five counties: Wake, Nash, Johnston, Franklin, and Wilson. It was built in 1991 and renovated in 1999. As the Carolina Mudcats, the team won three Southern League Championships in 1995, 1996 and again in 2003 as Miguel Cabrera helped the team in the first half of the season, and won the 1996 Bob Freitas Award for excellence in Minor League Baseball.

In 2010, businessman Quint Studer bought the Mudcats franchise amid a complicated series of purchases and moves in order to bring a Double-A team to Pensacola, Florida. The franchise would become the Pensacola Blue Wahoos for the 2012 season. In order to settle this purchase, Studer facilitated the relocation of the Kinston Indians of the Class-A Carolina League to Zebulon, where they took up the Mudcats name. In total, the arrangements cost Studer around $2 million.[1][2]

Straight to the majors[edit]

During the Florida Marlins years, the Marlins had elected to bring many of their top prospects up to the major leagues directly from Carolina. (This is partially due to the geographic proximity of the Mudcats compared to the Marlins' former Class AAA club in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and partially due to the Pacific Coast League's reputation as a hitter-friendly league.) Some of the players who the Marlins have brought up directly from Carolina include Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera, Jason Vargas, Scott Olsen, Logan Kensing (who was brought up directly from Class A Jupiter the previous year), Chris Resop, Josh Johnson, Yorman Bazardo, Jeremy Hermida, Chris Volstad, and Robert Andino.

Former Mudcats[edit]

Many Mudcats have reached the majors. These are some of the players that have gone on to be successful:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Top 10 Sports Stories of 2010". Pensacola News Journal. January 2, 2011. Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Carolina to Pensacola, Kinston to Zebulon in 2012". Ballpark Digest. December 16, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Mudcats celebrate 15th year in Five County" (2006). The Wilson Daily Times. Retrieved February 2007
  4. ^ Seaton, Ned (March 28, 1996). "Minor league caps; major league profits". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 28, 2012.

External links[edit]