Las Vegas 51s

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Las Vegas 51s
Founded in 1919
Las Vegas, Nevada
LasVegas51s.png LasVegas51sCap.png
Team logo Cap insignia
Class-level
Current Triple-A (1983 – present)
Minor league affiliations
League Pacific Coast League (1983 – present)
Conference Pacific Conference
Division Southern Division
Major league affiliations
Current New York Mets (2013 – present)
Previous

Toronto Blue Jays (2009–2012)

Minor league titles
League titles 1986, 1988 (2)
Division titles 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2002, 2013 (9)
Team data
Nickname Las Vegas 51s (2001 – present)
Previous names

Las Vegas Stars (1983–2000)

  • Spokane Indians (1973–1982)
  • Portland Beavers (1919–1972)
Colors Blue, Gray
         
Ballpark Cashman Field (1983 – present)
Previous parks

Fairgrounds Recreational Park (1973–1983)

Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
Stevens Baseball Group[a]
Manager Wally Backman

The Las Vegas 51s, formerly known as the Las Vegas Stars, are a minor league baseball team. As of the 2013 baseball season, the 51s are the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets. This marks the Mets' third Triple-A affiliate change since their 37-year affiliation with the Norfolk Tides ended after the 2006 season (the New Orleans Zephyrs and Buffalo Bisons have also served as New York's AAA affiliate since 2007). The 51s were most recently the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, who have since taken the Mets' place as Buffalo's major league parent club.

They play at Cashman Field (capacity 9,334) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The team competes in the Pacific Coast League (PCL). The 51s won the PCL championship as the Stars in 1986 and 1988.

The 51s take their name from Area 51 which is located near Rachel, Nevada, about 80 miles north of Las Vegas, although the route that must be taken by car to get there takes about three hours of travel. The team logo jokingly depicts one of the grey aliens thought by UFO believers to inhabit that base.

In April 2013, the team was purchased by Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club LLC, a joint venture of Howard Hughes Corp. and Play Ball Owners Group, including investors Steve Mack, Bart Wear and Chris Kaempfer, with intentions of moving it to a new proposed stadium of $60 million, in Summerlin near the Red Rock Resort Spa and Casino. Summerlin is an affluent neighborhood in the western area of Las Vegas. Possible obstacles are the effects on property values and quality of life, in addition to potential stress on the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area ecology.[1]

Franchise history[edit]

The team's first affiliation was with the San Diego Padres from 1983 to 2000. In 2001, they became the top farm club of the Los Angeles Dodgers. That affiliation ended at the conclusion of the 2008 season, when the 51s signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays. The New York Mets became affiliated with the 51s after the Blue Jays and Buffalo Bisons, with whom the Mets had been affiliated since 2009, struck an agreement; since the 51s were the only other unaffiliated team the Mets moved their Triple-A club cross country.

On March 24, 2008, Mandalay Baseball Properties sold the 51s franchise to Stevens Baseball Group.[2] There were no plans to move the team,[3] and talks of building a new stadium have been essentially stagnant for the past seven years.[4][5] The team has sold about 5,000 tickets per game on average the last few years,[6] but far fewer fans typically attend home games.[7]

In May 2011, Stevens Baseball Group came to an agreement to sell the 51s for an undisclosed amount to Silver State Baseball Group, LLC, with ownership to be transferred by the end of July 2011. Chris Milam, head of Silver State Baseball Group, LLC plans to move the team to a new ballpark at his proposed Las Vegas National Sports Center, if the complex is built.[8]

Portland Beavers and Spokane Indians[edit]

The Las Vegas 51s originally began as the second incarnation of the Portland Beavers baseball club, who reentered the Pacific Coast League after a two-year hiatus. In 1973, the team moved to Spokane, Washington, and were renamed the Indians.

Baseball returns to Las Vegas[edit]

Las Vegas Stars cap logo

The franchise moved once again in 1983, becoming the Las Vegas Stars. The Stars became the first professional sports team to play in Las Vegas since the Las Vegas Wranglers baseball club who played from 1947–52 and 1957–58. The Stars inaugural season was quite successful, posting an 83–60 record and winning the first half championship for the Southern Division leading to a playoff berth, eventually losing to the Albuquerque Dukes. The following season, the Stars posted another successful campaign going 71–65 and winning their second division championship (first half), but ultimately losing in the league semifinals to the Hawaii Islanders. After a dismal '85 campaign, the Stars returned to their winning ways posting an 80–62 record and winning the second half of the Southern Division. In the league semifinals, the Stars defeated the Phoenix Firebirds 3 to 2 and went on to win their first PCL Championship, defeating the Vancouver Canadians in five games. The Stars won their second PCL Championship two years later, once again defeating Vancouver, this time in four games.

After winning shares of five division titles and two league championships in their first six years, the Stars hit a huge skid, posting a .500 or better record four times and winning shares of only two division championships in the following 12 years. The Stars were unable to advance past the first round of the playoffs in both seasons that they qualified.

Intergalactic baseball[edit]

In 2001, after 18 years as the San Diego Padres top affiliate, the two teams parted ways. The Stars then affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose Triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Dukes, moved to Portland, Oregon to become the fourth incarnation of the Beavers. The Stars decided to rebrand their entire operation, renaming the team the 51s as a reference to Area 51, a military base located north-northwest of Las Vegas legendary for rumors of its housing UFOs and other extraterrestrial technology. The team adopted a logo featuring a grey alien head and introduced a mascot, Cosmo.

Even with a new affiliate, a new name and a new look, the 51s did not improve on the field. The 51s have posted only four winning seasons since the name change. Their only division title came in 2002 as the team posted the best record in the league at 85–59, but they lost to the eventual PCL champion Edmonton Trappers three games to one.

During their eight years together, the Dodgers and the 51s had a very rocky relationship. The Dodgers were not pleased with Cashman Field, which barely met the standards for Class AAA baseball. It had no weight room or indoor batting cages, and it was decrepit compared to other stadiums in the league. Citing the inadequacies of Cashman Field and lack of planning for a replacement, Los Angeles decided not to renew their player development contract (PDC) with Las Vegas after the 2008 season, opting to re-affiliate with Albuquerque.[9]

Toronto Blue Jays and Sale to Stevens Baseball group[edit]

Following the departure of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 51s signed a two-year PDC contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, marking the first time that the 51s have been affiliated with an American League club. This ended Toronto’s 30-year affiliation with the Syracuse Chiefs based in upstate New York.[10]

Before the 2008 season, Mandalay Baseball Properties sold the team to Stevens Baseball Group.[11] The new president, Derek Stevens, stated that he planned to keep the team in Las Vegas but that he wanted to change the team’s name in time for the 2009 season. Due to the length of time it took to secure a new PDC, the team missed the deadline set by Minor League Baseball for name and logo changes. Since then, the 51s have not made any public attempts at changing the team’s name.[12]

Following the 2010 season, the Toronto Blue Jays signed a two-year contract extension with the Las Vegas 51s, stating that the team was pleased to continue their relationship with the organization.[13]

Sale to Silver State Baseball, LLC[edit]

A month into the 2011 season, Stevens Baseball Group agreed to sell the 51s to Silver State Baseball, LLC, headed by Texas entrepreneur Chris Milam. The deal, which is subject to league approval, would include moving the 51s from Cashman Field to a new ballpark off the Las Vegas Strip that would be a part of Milam's proposed Las Vegas National Sports Center. The complex would also include a 17,500-seat arena and a 36,000 seat stadium behind the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino and would cover an area between Russell Road and Hacienda Avenue and bordered by Polaris Avenue and Interstate 15. Approval of the sale by the league and transfer of ownership should occur by the end of July 2011.[8][14][15]

On September 17, 2012, the 51s signed a Player Development Contract with the New York Mets for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.[16]

Media[edit]

The Las Vegas 51s are covered by Las Vegas' two daily newspapers, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Las Vegas Sun. Every 51s game is broadcast by KBAD 920-AM, the local Fox Sports Radio affiliate, with Russ Langer returning for his tenth season as the broadcast's play-by-play man. Several prominent sports radio and television personalities made the start as broadcaster for the Stars and 51s, most notably ESPN's Colin Cowherd.

Broadcasters[edit]

  • Bob Blum (1985–2005)
  • Dick Calvert (1983)
  • Colin Cowherd (1987–88)
  • Joe Hawk (1983)
  • Ken Korach (1989–95)
  • Russ Langer (2000–present)
  • Tim Neverett (1996–2003, 2005–06)
  • Paul Olden (1984–87)
  • Jerry Reuss (1994–95, 2005–06)
  • Jon Sandler (1993–99)
  • Dom Valentino (1983–85, 1987–89)
  • Rich Waltz (1990–92)

Season-by-season record[edit]

This is a partial list of the last eight seasons completed by the 51s.

Records accurate as of end of the 2013 PCL season

Season Affiliate Conference Division Regular Season Postseason Awards
Finish[a] Wins Losses Win% GB
2006 LAD Pacific South 3rd 67 77 .465 24
2007 LAD Pacific South 4th 67 77 .465 17
2008 LAD Pacific South 2nd 74 69 .517 9
2009 TOR Pacific South T-3rd 71 73 .493 15.5 Randy Ruiz (MVP)
2010 TOR Pacific South 4th 66 78 .458 13 J.P. Arencibia (MVP)
2011 TOR Pacific South 2nd 71 73 .493 17 David Cooper (Batting Champion)
2012 TOR Pacific South 2nd 79 64 .552 6.5
2013 NYM Pacific South 1st 81 63 .563 0

Players[edit]

Current roster[edit]

Las Vegas 51s roster
Players Coaches/Other

Pitchers

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Manager

Coaches


Injury icon 2.svg 7-day disabled list
* On New York Mets 40-man roster
∞ Reserve list
§ Suspended list
‡ Restricted list
# Rehab assignment
Roster updated August 19, 2014
Transactions
More MiLB rosters
New York Mets minor league players

Notable alumni[edit]

Individual awards and accomplishments[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/may/20/some-pacific-coast-league-stadiums-will-be-tough-p/
  2. ^ Gemma, Jim. "Stevens Baseball Group – New Owner of Las Vegas 51s." Las Vegas 51s. March 24, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2008.
  3. ^ Gemma, Jim. "Mandalay Baseball Transacts More Business – Sells Las Vegas 51s Franchise." Las Vegas 51s. October 31, 2007. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  4. ^ Anderson, Mark. "Logan lobbies for new stadium. Las Vegas Review-Journal. July 11, 2001. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  5. ^ Iole, Kevin. "Dodgers threaten to quit 51s." Las Vegas Review-Journal. July 2, 2003. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  6. ^ "Las Vegas 51s: About." Las Vegas 51s. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  7. ^ Las Vegas Sun.
  8. ^ a b Ralston, Joe. "Texan closer to bringing arena complex to Las Vegas, signs contract for 51s". Las Vegas Sun. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  9. ^ Dewey, Todd (September 19, 2008). "Bye, bye, Blue". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  10. ^ Dewey, Todd (September 21, 2008). "Las Vegas, Toronto birds of a feather". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  11. ^ Dewey, Todd (October 31, 2007). "Purchase of 51s pending". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  12. ^ Dewey, Todd (March 24, 2008). "51s' new owner plans to change team name in '09". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  13. ^ Carp, Steve (March 24, 2008). "Blue Jays, 51s extend affiliation". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  14. ^ Staff report "Las Vegas 51s reach agreement on team sale". Las Vegas Review-Journal. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  15. ^ Haney, Lee and Gemma, Jim "Las Vegas National Sports Center Acquires Las Vegas 51s". Las Vegas 51s. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  16. ^ Harrington, Mike. Bisons, Blue Jays start talking affiliation deal. The Buffalo News. Retrieved September 17, 2012.

External links[edit]