Detroit Auto Kings
The Detroit Auto Kings were a professional softball team that played during the 1980 season in the North American Softball League (NASL), one of three professional softball leagues active in the pro softball era. The Auto Kings played at Memorial Field in Eastpointe, Michigan, (named East Detroit at that time) and took over as the Detroit professional team when the Detroit Caesars disbanded after their 1979 season. The Auto Kings roster featured five members of Detroit Caesar teams - outfielder Dan Murphy, third-baseman Gary Geister, outfielder Mike Gouin, first-baseman Cal Carmen, and pitcher Tony Mazza.
Two teams came to the newly formed NASL from the APSPL - the Cleveland Competitors, owned by Ted Stepien, league President and former owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, along with the APSPL champion Milwaukee Schlitz. Former MLB players Mudcat Grant and Joe Pepitone served as PR officials for the league. Pepitone was a former player for the Trenton franchise in the APSPL. Continuing the Caesars tradition of former Detroit Tigers turning to play professional softball, the Auto Kings featured former Detroit Tigers outfielder Mickey Stanley. The only two Auto Kings to appear in the top-ten categories were Gary Geister, who finished 5th in the NASL with 31 home-runs, while teammate Jerry Gadette finished 10th with 24. 3B/SS Mike Turk was the only Auto King to receive all-league honors in 1980.
The Auto Kings beat Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs, 4-1, in a best of seven series. They lost the NASL World Series to the Milwaukee Schlitz 5-2 in a best of nine series, and the Auto Kings franchise disbanded after the season. In 1982 a Detroit team played at Detroit's Softball City in the United Professional Softball League (UPSL), was led by former Detroit Caesar Charles Mitchell, and finished second in the league yet again to the Milwaukee Schlitz. That was the last year for professional softball in the US, as players once again returned to amateur leagues.