Quad Cities River Bandits

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Quad Cities River Bandits
Founded in 1901
Davenport, Iowa
QuadCitiesRiverBanditsLogo.PNG QC Bandits.PNG
Team logo Cap insignia
Class-level
Current Single-A (1960-present)
Previous Formerly Class B, Class D
Minor league affiliations
League Midwest League (1960-present)
Conference
Major league affiliations
Current Houston Astros (2013-present)
Previous
Minor league titles
League titles 1914, 1933, 1936, 1949, 1968, 1971, 1979, 1990, 2011, 2013
Team data
Nickname Quad Cities River Bandits (2008-present)
Previous names
  • Swing of the Quad Cities (2004-2007)
  • Quad City River Bandits (1992-2003)
  • Quad City Angels (1985-1992)
  • Quad City Cubs (1979-1984)
  • Quad City Angels (1962-1978)
  • Quad City Braves (1961)
  • Davenport Braves (1960)
  • Davenport DavSox (1957-58)
  • Davenport Tigers (1951-52)
  • Davenport Quads (1950)
  • Davenport Pirates (1948-49)
  • Davenport Cubs (1946-47)
  • Davenport Blue Sox (1929-37)
  • Davenport Blue Sox (1913-1916)
  • Davenport Prodigals (1909-12)
  • Davenport Knickerbockers (1906)
  • Davenport Riversides (1905)
  • Davenport River Rats (1901-04)
  • Davenport Pilgrims (1891)
  • Davenport Hawkeyes (1889)
  • Davenport Onion Weeders (1888)
  • Davenport Brown Stockings (1879)
Ballpark Modern Woodmen Park (2007-Present)
Previous parks
  • John O'Donnell Stadium (1971-2007)
  • Municipal Stadium (1931-1970); (Facility 1931-present)
  • Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds (1929-30)
  • Blue Sox Stadium (1909-1916)
Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
Main Street Baseball
Manager Omar Lopez
General manager Andrew Chesser

The Quad Cities River Bandits are a Class A minor league baseball team, affiliated with the Houston Astros, that plays in the Midwest League. Its home games are played at Modern Woodmen Park (formerly John O'Donnell Stadium) in Davenport, Iowa, one of the Quad Cities. The address is 209 S Gaines Street.

History[edit]

Quad City professional baseball has a rich history that includes teams in Davenport, Moline and Rock Island. Professional baseball in the Quad Cities can be traced back to the 1879 Davenport Brown Stockings, who played one season in the Northwestern League. In subsequent seasons, Davenport teams with catchy names (Onion Weeders, Pilgrims, Hawkeyes) played before the turn of the 20th century in a various leagues.[1]

Early Three-I and other Quad City franchises[edit]

With the formation of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (Three-I) in 1901, Davenport had a team that set the foundation of the franchise that exists today. The 1901 Davenport River Rats and the newly created Rock Island Islanders were charter Three-I members. Making up the rest of the 1901 Three-I were: Terre Haute, Bloomington, Cedar Rapids, Rockford, Evansville and Decatur. The Davenport team continued to change their name frequently in the early years of their Three-I play: River Rats (1901–04), Riversides (1905), Knickerbockers (1906), Prodigals (1909–12) and Davenport Blue Sox (1913–1916). Davenport won their first Three-I Championship in 1914. [1]

Moline Plowboys and Rock Island Islanders[edit]

With Rock Island and Davenport having established teams, Moline gained a franchise in July, 1914. The Danville Speakers relocated to Moline and the Moline Plowboys were established. Moline would win Three-I Championships in 1915, 1921 and 1937. The Plowboys were Class D affiliates of the Detroit Tigers (1922), St Louis Browns (1931–32), Chicago Cubs (1937–40) and the Philadelphia A's (1947–48). From 1920-22 the Plowboys were managed by player-manager Earle Mack, son of Connie Mack. The Islanders were Class D affiliates of the St. Louis Browns (1932) and Cincinnati Reds (1933). In 1922, Rock Island left the Three-I to join the Mississippi Valley League (MVL), followed by Moline a year later. Rock Island's final season was 1937, and Moline played their last game in 1948. The Moline franchise played home games at Browning Field and Rock Island played at Douglas Park.[1] In an exhibition on April 12, 1920 The Plowboys defeated the Chicago White Sox 7-1 in the first "major-league" game played at Browning.[1]

New Riverfront Stadium - 1931[edit]

On May 26, 1931, Davenport began play in the newly built Municipal Stadium, nicknamed the "Muny." On the Muny field, Rock Island and Davenport played each other in the championship series in 1932 and 1933. Rock Island won the '32 series and the title in six games.[1] Davenport rebounded to win the MVL title in 1933 (the final season of the MVL). The 1933 team was led by Ed Hall's 151 RBI and Cosmo Cotelle's .407 average.[1] The Davenport Blue Sox played in the Western League in 1934-1937 as a Class A affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The 1936 team continued the strong decade and claimed the Western League championship. The 1937 was managed by player-manager John "Eagle Beak" Fitzpatrick, who later returned as manager in 1962[1] [2]

FEMA - 1479 - Photograph by Anita Westervelt taken on 05-05-2001 in Iowa

Post World War II Davenport franchises[edit]

After a nine season baseball hiatus, the 1946 Davenport Cubs rejoined the Three-I as the Class B affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Led by future MLB players Roy Smalley and Rube Walker, the 1946 team started the new era successfully, winning the regular season Three-I Title.[3][4] From 1948 to 1949 The Davenport Pirates were the affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Future MLB stars Bob Purkey, Cy Young Winner Vern Law and slugger Frank Thomas were on the 1949 Pirates, who swept Evansville, 3-0, to win the Three-I championship. The team also drew 133,505 fans, a Davenport franchise record that would stand until 1981.[5]

In 1950, the Davenport Quads were an independent team. In 1951 and 1952 Davenport became the Class B affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Harvey Kuenn starred for the 1952 Davenport Tigers, hitting .340 and earning a late season call up to Detroit. Kuenn then won the 1953 Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award for the Tigers.[6] Sadly, after going 54-69 in 1952, the Tigers left town and Davenport ceased play for four seasons. Then, in 1957, the Davenport DavSox began play as the Class B affiliate of the Chicago White Sox for two seasons.[7]

Midwest League era: 1960-present[edit]

When the Davenport DavSox moved to Lincoln, Nebraska after the 1958 season, local businessman Hugo "Hooks" Kohn started a drive to bring a new team to Davenport. Kohn was a leading pioneer/player of "Diamond Ball" a Davenport game that led to today's softball.[8] With the Kohn heading the Quad City Baseball fans Association, a Davenport franchise was secured for the 1960 season as a Milwaukee Braves affiliate. The Quad City Baseball Fans Association would run the Davenport franchise through 1986.[9] The Davenport Braves became a member of the fledgling Midwest League (MWL), joining Waterloo, Iowa; Keokuk, Iowa; Dubuque, Iowa; Clinton, Iowa; Kokomo, Indiana; Quincy, Illinois and Decatur, Illinois to form an 8-team league.[10] The Davenport franchise has been a member of the Midwest League ever since. The creation of the Midwest League essentially ended the Three-I, which folded after the 1961 season. In its long history, the Three-I hosted teams in 31 cities.[11]

In 1961 the franchise permanently dropped "Davenport" and became the Quad City Braves. In 1962 Quad Cities became a farm team of the expansion Los Angeles (later California) Angels. The affiliate change was forced when Cedar Rapids (also a Braves affiliate) was one of six Three-I teams that joined the Midwest League in 1962 after the Three-I dissolution. Thus began a lengthy affiliation with the Angels.[12] The Quad City Angels of 1963 and 1964 were managed by Chuck Tanner in his first managerial position. (Tanner would later lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to the World Series Championship in 1979.) The 1964 Angels were the first MWL team to draw more than 100,000 fans in a season. The franchise had other on field successes in the 1960s and '70's.: Fred Koenig managed the Angels to the 1968 MWL title; Mike Stubbins led the 1971 squad to another and Jim Napier led the Quad Cities Cubs title run in 1979.[13]

Except for a six-year affiliation with the Chicago Cubs (1979–84), the Angels affiliation ran from 1962 through the 1992 season. Quad Cities was then affiliate of the Houston Astros (1993 to 1998) and the Minnesota Twins (1999 to 2004). MLB Batting title winner Joe Mauer was a River Bandit during the Twins affiliation. In 2005 the Bandits became the Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, before partnering again with Houston for the 2013 season.[14]

A large brick stadium with many round windows on the bottom and many rectangle windows in groups of four line the top of the stadium. The words Modern Woodmen Park are displayed above the door
The River Bandits play at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport
US Navy parades the colors during opening ceremonies for the 2011 All-Star Game

During the 2013 season, Quad Cities became the first team in Minor League history to have two back-to-back first overall draft picks on their roster when the Astros drafted Carlos Correa for 2012 and Mark Appel for 2013.[15]

Modern era: changing team names[edit]

The team had always used "Davenport" until changing to "Quad City" in 1962. It had continued to use the nickname of its major-league affiliate through the 1991 season. In 1992, the team created its own nickname for the first time in a "name the team' contest. The team was the Quad City River Bandits from 1992 through the 2003. On October 20, 2003, the team was renamed the Swing of the Quad Cities; the nickname, like the previous one, was the winning entry in another "name the team" contest. However, On December 13, 2007, the team announced it would return to the "Quad Cities River Bandits" after voters in a contest (sponsored by the franchise's new owners, Dave Heller and Bob Herrfeldt of Main Street Baseball) chose the River Bandits name over "The Swing" and four other finalists: "Channel Cats," "The Current," "River Eagles," and "Talons."[16]

The renaming of the Bandits has proven to be one of sports’ most successful rebranding campaigns – merchandise sales after the 2008 rebranding increased more than 400% (and were up an additional 34% in 2009), sponsorships jumped more than 64% in the first season, and CNBC named the team’s logo one of the top eight in minor league baseball.

Ownership[edit]

After success in securing a Midwest League Franchise for Davenport beginning with the 1960 season, the non-profit Quad City Baseball Fans Association contiuned to operate the franchise from 1960 to 1986. In 1986 Chicago businessman Harry Semrow purchased the team from the association for $350,000, but Semrow was forced to sell after the 1987 season due to poor health.

Modern Woodmen Park 2

Richard Holtzman, another Chicago businessman who owned as many as five minor league teams, purchased the franchise from Semrow and remained as owner from 1987 until 1998.

In 1998, Holtzman sold the team to Seventh Inning Stretch, a company owned by Kevin Krause, a businessman out of Mason City, Iowa, and son of Kum & Go co-founder William Krause.

On December 28, 2006, Krause agreed to sell the team to Florida-based Main Street Baseball for an undisclosed price; the sale was completed on November 29, 2007.[17][18]

Under Main Street Baseball's ownership, led by Dave Heller and Bob Herrfeldt, the River Bandits sparked a stunning resurgence of baseball in the Quad Cities, winning league championships in 2011 and 2013, setting new attendance records and capturing numerous awards for their innovative promotions.[19]

Since Heller and Herrfeldt took over the Bandits, sponsorship sales, suite sales, ticket sales, and concession sales have all seen annual increases. The team's average attendance in its first year under Main Street rose by more than 56%, the largest such increase in baseball, and has climbed to nearly 3,700 fans per game. The Bandits have also led one of sports' most successful rebranding campaigns - merchandise sales after the 2008 rebranding increased more than 400% (and were up an additional 34% in 2009!), sponsorships jumped more than 64% in the first season, and CNBC named the team's logo one of the top eight in minor league baseball.

Main Street Baseball has also been a trail-blazer, having hired the Midwest League's only female general manager (Stefanie Brown) then hiring the only African-American GM in minor league baseball. The River Bandits have also consistently had more women in leadership positions than most any team in baseball. The River Bandits have also consistently had more women in leadership positions than most any team in baseball, and are the only minor league club to have won back-to-back Diversity Economic Impact Engagement (DEIE) Scholarships from major league baseball since MLB started awarding them in 2012.

The River Bandits have been voted Best Family Entertainment by the Quad-City Times for each of the past five years and were recently voted by the River Cities Reader as "The Best Place for An Inexpensive Date that Doesn't Look Like It." The team won the prestigious "Golden Bobblehead" award in 2013 for best charitable promotion in Minor League Baseball for its innovative "Photo Jersey Auction" to benefit Autism Awareness. It also won a "Veeckie Award" from ESPN in 2009 for best minor league promotion ("Tattoo Night") and the "Promotion of the Year" Award from Ballpark Digest the same year for the team's "Mega-Candy Drop," as well as a Gold Award from the U.S. Army for its community service. The team has also won repeated awards for Heller's creative TV and radio ads, which have repeatedly been recognized as among the best in the industry.[19]

Colby Rasmus (Swing of the Quad Cities, 2006)

Ballparks[edit]

Unveiled on May 26, 1931, on the banks of the Mississippi River in Davenport's LeClaire Park, Municipal Stadium was constructed entirely with local labor for $165,000, opening with a capacity of 4,000. It opened complete with light towers (first night game was June 4, 1931). To sustain a franchise, the city of Davenport had realized a new lighted stadium was needed, with a location near downtown.The stadium had been proposed by the Davenport Levee Commission and once approved, has provided a venue to anchor baseball in Davenport for the decades to follow. The 1931 stadium was nicknamed "The Muny."[3][20]

Previous to The Muny, the Davenport Blue Sox of 1929 and 1930 played home games at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, which had no lighting. Before the Fairgrounds, Davenport teams of 1909-1916 played at a park located near 3rd and Telegraph Road.[3][20]

In 1971, Municipal Stadium became John O'Donnell Stadium to honor the longtime sports editor of the Quad City Times. In 2007, stadium naming rights went to Rock Island based-Modern Woodmen of America for a reported 4.5 million dollars.[20][21]

Since then, Modern Woodmen Park has earned more accolades than any ballpark in the country. It was voted "the best minor league ballpark in America" by the readers of USA Today and 10Best.com and the Midwest League's best ballpark by Baseball America. It also earned a 5-star rating from BallparkDigest.com, was named one of the two most beautiful ballparks in minor league baseball by USA Today, one of the top 10 in the nation by Parade Magazine, and was selected "the #2 Coolest Minor League Ballpark in America" by Complex Magazine.[22]

Under Main Street Baseball's leadership, the River Bandits have added many fun new features to the ballpark, including a new outfield bar, a new picnic area, five concourse-level "loge boxes," an 80-foot long high-definition ribbon-board, a huge new 20' x 36' tall HD videoboard, a new playground, birthday room, additional office and storage space, a new concessions stand and more than a dozen new portable food carts, a Hall of Fame autographed jersey display, an unmatched collection of bobbleheads from across the country and a sponsored corn field from which the players are introduced at the game's outset.[19]

In 2011, the Bandits unveiled their new Budweiser Champions Club, a 2500 s.f. glass-enclosed multi-purpose banquet hall with glass garage doors that open and close depending on the weather. That room has helped increase wedding business by more than 500%, and is regularly sold out during the Christmas season. It was voted by BallparkDigest.com as "the best ballpark renovation under $1 million."[23]

In 2014, the Bandits are planning the addition of a brand new 110-foot tall Ferris Wheel, a 30-foot tall Drop-N-Twist, a mechanized gyroscope and an old-fashioned carousel to go along with a dual 300-foot long zip line, six bounce houses and a 25-foot tall rock climbing wall! Also coming in 2014 are three new themed areas, including a 1,500 s.f. deck featuring a firepit to keep fans warm during April and May, 51 new swivel-chair seats adjacent to the field, and 18 new extra-wide seats adjacent to the visitor's dugout, as well as four new padded seats set aside for veterans and active-duty military. In 2015, the team will continue to improve the ballpark with a huge 10,000 s.f. expansion of the third-base concourse.[19]

The ballpark hosted Midwest League All-Star Games in 1964, 1968, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1990, 2006 and 2011.

Other events were held at the stadium through the years. Some of note:

In 2004, The Quad City River Bandits and City of Davenport jointly produced a massive renovation to Modern Woodman Park, the first major renovations to the facility since 1989. The entire structure and field of the original 1931 stadium were redone. Only the exterior facade of the old stadium remained, with playing field, concessions, concourses, level loge boxes, and seating areas being reconstructed, essentially creating a new ballpark within the shell of the old park. The park even features a corn field beside left-field, from which the players are introduced.[20] The team also unveiled a $347,000 HD video board shortly before the Bandits hosted the 2011 Midwest League All-Star Game.[27] The renamed and remodeled Modern Woodmen Park was selected the Midwest Leagues best ballpark by Baseball America and earned a five-star rating from BallparkDigest.com.[21]

The stadium survived major Mississippi River floods in 1965, 1969, 1993 and 2001, which breached the facility. Pictures of the flooded stadium are plentiful in the news media. The Great Flood of 1993 was especially damaging to the facility. To combat recurring and costly toll of flooding, the 2004 stadium renovations incorporated a raised the playing field, a burm in the outfield and put metal structures in place for portable flood walls to be inserted outside the stadium. The new protections secured the facility during Mississippi River Floods in 2008, 2011 and 2013. Before the 2004 renovations, the team was regularly forced to move home games to local facilities or other MWL venues (mostly Clinton, Iowa)during years of flooding. For example, the team played several games at North Scott High School and Brady Street Stadium in 1993 and several games at Black Hawk College during the 2001 flood.[20]

Prior to renovations in the late 1980s, numerous high school and college football events were regularly played in the stadium. St. Ambrose University and Davenport Assumption High School used the venue for home football games for a number of years. The first football game in the Muny was hosted by St. Ambrose in September, 1931. The old bleachers along left field/3rd base line had a football press box for a number of years. The last football game played at O'Donnell was in 1986, and demolition of the football stands began in 1987.[3][20]

The team's home attendance record of 260,471 was set in 1994.[28]

In 2004, Author Tim Rask released a book titled Baseball at Davenport's John O'Donnell Stadium.[29]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable Major League Baseball players/managers/media from the history of the Davenport franchise include:[30]

All 20th Century Team[edit]

In 2000, fans selected the All 20th Century Team, which was voted on and results announced at the season's end.[3]

Roster[edit]

Quad Cities River Bandits roster
Players Coaches/Other

Pitchers

  • 13 Tyler Brunnemann
  • 35 Patrick Christensen
  • 19 Chris Cotton
  • 29 Kent Emanuel
  • 28 Michael Feliz
  • 18 Evan Grills
  • 20 Jandel Gustave
  • 12 Adrian Houser
  • 17 Chris Lee
  • 41 Albert Minnis
  • 16 Zach Morton
  • 31 Gonzalo Sanudo
  • 30 Andrew Thurman
  • 37 Andrew Walter

Catchers

  •  9 Brett Booth
  • 10 Brian Holberton
  • 14 Jobduan Morales

Infielders

  •  6 Austin Elkins
  • 27 Conrad Gregor
  •  2 Jack Mayfield
  • 36 Chase McDonald
  •  3 Chan Moon
  • 21 Tyler White

Outfielders

  • 26 Jon Kemmer
  •  1 Tanner Mathis
  •  8 Brett Phillips
  • 15 James Ramsay

Manager

  • 22 Omar Lopez

Coaches


Injury icon 2.svg 7-day disabled list
* On Houston Astros 40-man roster
∞ Reserve list
§ Suspended list
‡ Restricted list
# Rehab assignment
Roster updated April 3, 2014
Transactions
More MiLB rosters
Houston Astros minor league players

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Minor League Baseball History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  2. ^ John Fitzpatrick Minor League Statistics & History - Baseball-Reference.com
  3. ^ a b c d e f Rask, Tim; Baseball at John O'Donnell Stadium (2004) Arcadia Publishing;ISBN0-7385-3247-9
  4. ^ "1946 Davenport Cubs Statistics - Minor Leagues". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  5. ^ "pre-1960s | MiLB.com About | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". Milb.com. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  6. ^ "1952 Davenport Tigers Statistics - Minor Leagues". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  7. ^ "1959 Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  8. ^ A field of history
  9. ^ Q-C reaches 50 years in the Midwest League
  10. ^ 1960 Midwest League Statistics - Baseball-Reference.com
  11. ^ Era comes to close for Q-C minor league baseball
  12. ^ name="books.google.com">http://books.google.com/books?id=eTFA9XC7D4UC&pg=PA63&lpg=PA63&dq=quad+city+baseball+fans+association&source=bl&ots=HQ4x2AbKWG&sig=5cxzXezcfICO2JU6D5Hxdn1-w2E&hl=en&sa=X&ei=GHnYUIC0KcH0qAHslYDoAg&ved=0CHEQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=quad%20city%20baseball%20fans%20association&f=false
  13. ^ 1971 Quad Cities Angels Statistics - Minor Leagues - Baseball-Reference.com
  14. ^ Dinda, Joel. "Davenport, Iowa, in the Midwest League". Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  15. ^ Bierl, Matt (July 31, 2013). "Vasquez, Borchering lift Bandits to walk off win". Quad Cities River Bandits. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  16. ^ Quad Cities River Bandits (press release) (2007-12-13). "The Fans Have Spoken: 'River Bandits' Returns to the Quad Cities". 
  17. ^ Batterson, Steve (2006-12-29). "Florida Group Buys Swing of Q-C". Quad-City Times. 
  18. ^ Swing of the Quad Cities (press release) (2007-11-29). "It's official: Main Street Iowa completes purchase of Swing". 
  19. ^ a b c d http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?ymd=20071220&content_id=41529816&sid=t565&vkey=team4
  20. ^ a b c d e f "Jewel of the Quad Cities". Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  21. ^ a b Main Street Communications | Baseball
  22. ^ http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?ymd=20091008&content_id=7396404&sid=t565&vkey=team4
  23. ^ http://ballparkdigest.com/201311186812/awards/news/2013-ballpark-renovations-under-1m-centennial-field-modern-woodmen-park
  24. ^ Johnny Cash Live Performances
  25. ^ john o'donnell stadium [Classic Rock Concerts]
  26. ^ Flashback: Michael Nunn vs. James Toney | The Boxing Magazine.com
  27. ^ Batterson, Steve (17 March 2011). "Bandits adding HD video board at ballpark". Quad City Times. 
  28. ^ "Davenport's Modern Woodmen Park". MWLguide.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  29. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=eTFA9XC7D4UC&pg=PA63&lpg=PA63&dq=quad+city+baseball+fans+association&source=bl&ots=HQ4x2AbKWG&sig=5cxzXezcfICO2JU6D5Hxdn1-w2E&hl=en&sa=X&ei=GHnYUIC0KcH0qAHslYDoAg&ved=0CHEQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=quad%20city%20baseball%20fans%20association&f=false
  30. ^ Swing of the Quad Cities. "From the QCA to the Big Leagues". 2005 Souvenir Program. pp. 51–52. 

External links[edit]