Florence Freedom

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For the previous minor league team known as the Johnstown Johnnies, see Johnstown Johnnies (1883-1961).
Florence Freedom
FlorenceFreedom.PNG Freedom cap.PNG
Team logo Cap insignia
League Frontier League (East)
Location Florence, Kentucky
Ballpark UC Health Stadium
Year founded 1994
League championships 3 (1994, 1995, 2000)
Division championships 3 (1995, 1997, 2000)
Former name(s)
  • Florence Freedom (2003–present)
  • Johnstown Johnnies (1998–2002)
  • Johnstown Steal (1995–98)
  • Erie Sailors (1994)
Colors Black, Red, White, Silver
                   
Ownership Clint Brown
Manager Fran Riordan
Media Cincinnati Enquirer, Kentucky Post
Website www.florencefreedom.com

The Florence Freedom are a professional baseball team based in the Northern Kentucky city of Florence,[1] located near the city of Cincinnati.[2] The Freedom are a member of the West Division of the Frontier League, an independent baseball league.[1] From the 2004 season to the present, the Freedom have played their home games at UC Health Stadium (formerly Champion Window Field), which is located near the Interstates 71 and 75.[3]

The Freedom franchise has won three Frontier League championships. However, these titles came when the team existed as the Erie Sailors (1994), Johnstown Steal (1995), and Johnstown Johnnies (2000). The franchise is currently tied with the Rockford RiverHawks (including years as Portsmouth and Springfield) for most total league championships, with three each.[4]

History[edit]

Before 2003, the team played at Point Stadium in Johnstown, Pennsylvania as the Johnstown Johnnies.[5] The team moved to Johnstown from Erie, Pennsylvania, where they were known as the Erie Sailors, in 1995 and was known as the Steal until the 1998 season. The team won two Frontier League championships in their time in Johnstown, one in 1995 as the Steal and one in 2000 as the Johnnies.[4] The team was sold after the 2002 season and moved to Florence, where it became known as the Freedom.[6]

2003[edit]

The Freedom played their 2003 home games at Foundation Field in Hamilton, Ohio, about 30 miles (48 km) north of Cincinnati, while the ownership group was building a new stadium (Champion Window Field) in Florence.[7] The team was managed by former major leaguer Tom Browning. The Freedom finished in last place, setting a then-league record with 61 losses. The team averaged fewer than 500 fans per game in attendance.[8]

2004[edit]

In 2004, the Freedom opened Champion Window Field in Florence. The park opened on June 18, with the Freedom losing to the Washington Wild Things 10-6 before a crowd of 4,453 fans. On July 7, after a poor start to the season, manager Tom Browning was fired. Pete Rose, Jr. took over for one game, but quit after making a decision to continue his playing career. Mike Easler was then hired and finished the season. The Freedom ended the season with a 31-65 record, finishing in last place for the second consecutive year.[8]

Ownership scandal[edit]

In July 2004, shortly after the opening of Champion Window Field, contractors began filing liens against the Freedom, accusing the team of not paying for work done on the stadium. Eventually, 33 liens totaling $4.7 million were filed. In August, Fifth Third Bank sued team part-owner Chuck Hildebrant for failing to repay multiple loans taken out to finance the stadium construction. As part of the lawsuit, it was revealed that Hildebrant had used 204 acres (0.83 km2) of land that he did not own as collateral for the loans, and that he had given the bank a forged document as proof of ownership.[9] Hildebrant was later the subject of a federal white collar crime investigation and sentenced to prison in October 2005.[10] The team was sold in November 2004 to a new ownership group led by Clint Brown, who was not associated with Hildebrant's ownership group.[11]

2005-6[edit]

In 2005, former Chillicothe Paints manager Jamie Keefe was signed as the team's new manager. Keefe led the Freedom to their first winning record (53-42). The team finished tied for second place in the Frontier League's East Division, missing out on the playoffs by a tiebreaker. Three Freedom players hit more than 20 home runs in 2005— outfielder Mike Galloway (24), designated hitter Kyle Geswein (24), and first baseman Trevor Hall (23). closer Ted Rowe tied for the league lead in saves with 17.[8]

In 2006, the Freedom had a losing record of 38-50, finishing 5th in the Frontier League East Division.[8]

2007[edit]

In 2007, the Freedom again had a sub-.500 record, going 42-54 for the season. This placed the team third in the East Division. Outfielder Reggie Watson led the league in batting average (.357) and steals (20), while also winning the Home Run Derby at the 2007 Frontier League All-Star Game, hosted by Florence. Outfielder Ryan Basham earned the Frontier League Rookie of the Year award, hitting .298 with 17 home runs on the season.[8]

2007 Frontier League All-Star game[edit]

In 2007, Champion Window Field, home of the Freedom, hosted its first Frontier League All-Star Game, with the Freedom's East Division winning 11-3. The Freedom's Reggie Watson had three runs batted in and was named the game's Most Valuable Player. The game's attendance of 4,483 set a new attendance record for Florence.[12]

2008[edit]

In 2008, the team finished with a 47-49 record, missing a playoff spot by four games. For the first time, the Freedom attracted over 100,000 fans to Champion Window Field, with a total of 106,707 fans for the year.[8]

Uniform changes[edit]

In early 2008, the Freedom changed their primary colors from red, white, and blue to black, red, and silver.[13]

2009[edit]

In 2009, the Freedom opened against the Midwest Sliders of Ypsilanti at home on May 20.[14] Florence opened 2009 with two major changes— FieldTurf instead of a natural grass surface[15] and a new coaching staff. Toby Rumfield became the new field manager, and Freedom alumni Greg Stone, the Freedom's all-time hit leader, as hitting coach and Bill Browett as pitching coach.[16]

Seasons[edit]

Erie Sailors (Frontier League)
Year W-L PCT Place Postseason
1994[17] 42-25 .627 2nd in FL East Won 1st Round Playoff vs. Ohio Valley 2-0.
Won Frontier League Championship vs. Lancaster Scouts 2-0.
Total 42-25 .627
Playoffs 4-0 1.000 1 Playoff Appearance. 1 Championship
Johnstown Steal/Johnnies (Frontier League)
1995[18] 46-23 .667 1st in FL Won 1st Round Playoff vs. Richmond Roosters 2-0.
Won Frontier League Championship vs. Zanesville Greys 2-0.
1996[18] 41-33 .554 2nd in FL East Lost 1st Round Playoff vs. Chillicothe Paints 2-1.
1997[18] 47-33 .588 1st in FL East Lost 1st Round Playoff vs. Canton Crocodiles 2-0.
1998[18] 34-43 .442 3rd in FL East
1999[18] 43-41 .512 3rd in FL East Lost 1st Round Playoff vs. London Werewolves 2-0.
2000[18] 48-36 .571 1st in FL East Won 1st Round Playoff vs. London Werewolves 2-0.
Won Frontier League Championship vs. Evansville Otters 3-1.
2001[18] 44-40 .524 4th in FL East
2002[18] 30-54 .357 6th in FL East
Total 333-303 .524
Playoffs 8-9 .471 3 Division Titles. 5 Playoff Appearances. 2 Championships
Florence Freedom (Frontier League)
2003[8] 27-61 .307 6th in FL East
2004[8] 31-65 .323 6th in FL East
2005[8] 53-42 .558 3rd in FL East
2006[8] 38-56 .404 5th in FL East
2007[8] 42-54 .438 3rd in FL East
2008[8] 47-49 .490 4th in FL East
2009[8] 49-47 .510 3rd in FL East
2010[8] 38-58 .396 5th in FL East
2011[8] 39-57 .406 6th in FL East
2012[19] 57-39 .594 2nd in FL East Won 1st Round Playoff vs. Gateway Grizzlies 3-2.
Lost Frontier League Championship vs. Southern Illinois Miners 3-1.
Florence 387-475 .449 1 Playoff Appearance

Current roster[edit]

Florence Freedom roster
Active (24-man) roster Coaches/Other

Pitchers

  • 25 Brad Allen
  • 17 Chris Cummins
  • 19 Daniel DeSimone
  • 41 Peter Gehle
  • 31 Casey Henn
  • 40 Ed Kohout
  • 37 Adam Krebs
  •  3 Pete Levitt
  • 35 Jorge Marban
  • 30 Dave Middendorf
  •  4 Edgar Valle
  • 23 Chuck Weaver



 

Catchers

  •  9 Gaby Juarbe
  •  7 Joe Staley

Infielders

  • 15 Sam Eberle
  •  2 Niko Gallego
  •  6 Ryan Henley
  • 27 Rob Kelly
  • 10 Jacob Tanis
  • 12 Bobby Joe Tannehill

Outfielders

  • 33 Kyle Bluestein
  • 21 Cole Miles
  • 22 Buddy Sosnoskie
  • 32 Nick Stein
 

Manager

  • 20 Fran Riordan

Coaches

  • 26 Dave Carrillo (Bench Coach)
  • 34 Chris Homer (Pitching Coach)

Injury icon 2.svg Disabled list
‡ Inactive list
§ Suspended list

Roster updated May 18, 2014
Transactions

Alumni[edit]

Below is a list of Freedom alumni who have gone on to play MLB-affiliated baseball. The alumni are sorted by peak level of baseball in which they have participated after playing for Florence. In total, 20 Freedom alumni have signed professional contracts after playing for Florence, with one making the major leagues.[20]

As of January 1, 2010:

MLB[edit]

Player Year w/ FLO Current/Most recent team Active
Chris Jakubauskas[21] 2003 Columbus Clippers (AAA) Yes
Corey Thurman[22] 2005 York Revolution (Ind.) Yes
Steve Delabar[23] 2008 Toronto Blue Jays Yes

AAA[edit]

Player Year w/ FLO Current/Most recent team Active
Daniel Touchet[24] 2005 Joliet Jackhammers (Ind.) No
Michael DeMark[25] 2006 San Antonio Missions (AA) Yes

AA[edit]

Player Year w/ FLO Current/Most recent team Active
Elvys Quezada[26] 2008 Binghamton Mets No
Yosandy Ibanez[27] 2008 York Revolution Yes
Erold Andrus[28] 2010 San Francisco Giants org. Yes

A-Advanced[edit]

The following Freedom alumni have advanced as far as Class A-Advanced: Jason Tuttle (Freedom 2003),[29] Kevin Rival (2004),[30] Tim Turner (2004),[31] Mike Galloway (2005),[32] Heath Castle (2006),[33] Johnny Washington (2008)[34]

A[edit]

The following Freedom alumni have advanced as far as Class A: James Morrison (Freedom 2004),[35] Steven Pickerell (2005, 2009),[36] Joel Posey (2004-5),[37] Conor McGeehan (2006),[38] Tyler Evans (2007),[39] Neall French (2008)[40]

Short Season A[edit]

The following Freedom alumni have advanced as far as Short-Season A Class:

Rookie-Advanced[edit]

The following Freedom alumni have advanced as far as Rookie-Advanced Class: J.D. Foust (Freedom 2004)[41]

Rookie[edit]

The following Freedom alumni have advanced as far as Rookie Class: Reggie Watson (Freedom 2006-7),[42] Preston Vancil (Freedom 2010)[43]

  • Bold denotes alumnus's still being active in professional baseball.

Records[edit]

Below is a list of Frontier League individual records set by Freedom players as of the end of the 2009 season.[44]

Individual game[edit]

  • Runs batted in - 9 by Garth McKinney on August 11, 2008 (three-way tie)
  • Hits - 6 by Matt Cooksey (2006), Nick Salotti (2007), and Garth McKinney (2008) (seven-way tie)
  • No-hitter - Preston Vancil on July 26, 2009

Single season[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Frontier League Teams at frontierleague.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  2. ^ Quality Inn & Suites at roadsideamerica.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  3. ^ Champion Window Field at ballparkreviews.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  4. ^ a b Frontier League History at frontierleague.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  5. ^ Point Stadium at digitalballparks.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. [ Archived] 12/31/09
  6. ^ Point Stadium - Slide 20 at digitalballparks.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  7. ^ Foundation Field at mysite.verizon.net, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Florence Freedom at flhistory.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  9. ^ Family suing Freedom owner - 'Cincinnati Enquirer', Sept. 14, 2004 Archived 12/31/09
  10. ^ October 24, 2005 at fraudblogger.com Archived 12/31/09
  11. ^ Florence Freedom has a deal - Cincinnati Enquirer, Nov. 3, 2004 Archived 12/31/09
  12. ^ South pounds North at archives.record-eagle.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  13. ^ Freedom Introduce New Logo, Colors and Uniforms for 2008 at oursportscentral.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  14. ^ Sliders Spoil Freedom's Opening Day at florencefreedom.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  15. ^ Freedom Host First Game on New Turf Sunday at oursportscentral.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  16. ^ New Coaching Staff At Florence at frontierleague.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  17. ^ 1994 Frontier League at flhistory.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h Johnstown Steal / Johnnies at flhistory.com, URL accessed December 31, 2009. Archived 12/31/09
  19. ^ http://florence.bbstats.pointstreak.com/standings.html?leagueid=200&seasonid=11475
  20. ^ Freedom Affiliated Players at florencefreedom.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010.
  21. ^ Chris Jakubauskas at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  22. ^ Corey Thurman at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  23. ^ Delabar, Steve at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed July 7, 2013. Archived 7/7/13
  24. ^ Daniel Touchet at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  25. ^ Michael DeMark at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  26. ^ Elvys Quezada at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  27. ^ Yosandy Ibanez at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  28. ^ Erold Andrus at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed May 8, 2010. Archived 5/8/10
  29. ^ Jason Tuttle at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  30. ^ Kevin Rival at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  31. ^ Tim Turner at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  32. ^ Mike Galloway at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  33. ^ Heath Castle at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  34. ^ Johnny Washington at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  35. ^ James Morrison at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  36. ^ Steven Pickerell at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  37. ^ Joel Posey at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  38. ^ Conor McGeehan at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  39. ^ Tyler Evans at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  40. ^ Neall French at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  41. ^ Justin Foust at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  42. ^ Reggie Watson at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 1/1/10
  43. ^ Preston Vancil at baseball-reference.com, URL accessed January 1, 2010. Archived 5/8/10
  44. ^ League Records at frontierleague.com, URL accessed January 1, 2009. Archived 1/1/10

External links[edit]