River City Rascals
|River City Rascals|
|Founded in 1993
|Owner(s)/Operated By: Steve Malliet|
|General Manager: Dan Dial|
|Manager: Steve Brook|
|Media: St.Louis Post-Dispatch|
The River City Rascals are a professional baseball team based in O'Fallon, Missouri, in the United States. The Rascals are a member of the West Division of the Frontier League, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. From the 1999 season to the present, the Rascals have played their home games at T.R. Hughes Ballpark.
The franchise began in 1993 as one of the original six teams of the independent Frontier League in 1993 with teams from Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. The Greys played in Zanesville, Ohio, at Gant Municipal Stadium, a historic 4,000-seat multipurpose stadium built in 1940. The Greys were the first professional baseball team to play in Zanesville since 1950 and the Zanesville Indians.
The Greys won both halves of the 1993 season and defeated the Ohio Valley Redcoats in the playoffs to become the first champions of the Frontier League. Zanesville had five players hit over .300 as well as solid pitching, Kyle Shade was named Frontier League MVP and Tom Crowley was named Most Valuable Pitcher. The Greys also led the league in attendance with an average of 1,000 fans per game.
Despite a 35-28 record in the 1994 season, the team finished in third place in the North Division behind Ohio Valley and Erie Sailors. The team returned to the playoffs in 1995 after a season characterized by solid pitching and baserunning. Despite only recording 12 home runs, the Greys led the league with 137 stolen bases. Zanesville swept the Newark Buffaloes two games to none in the Division Championship Series before falling to the Johnstown Steal in the Frontier League Championship Series. Closing pitcher, Don Wolfe was named League MVP and Playoff MVP in 1995. Wolfe had a league-leading 21 saves during the 1995 season.
Zanesville pitching was again strong in the 1996 season. The Greys were led by Matt Baxter with a 9-2 record and 2.47 ERA while the bullpen was led by Terry Pearson, who recorded 20 saves and a .50 ERA and stuck out 43 batters in 36 innings while only walking eight batters for the entire season. Pitching was not enough to make the playoffs and the team finished third in the FL East Division.
Although the team had a winning record in each of the three seasons in Zanesville, the franchise fell into financial trouble. This was partially due to the Greys' market being one of the smallest in the league with a population around 25,000. The franchise was inactive during the 1997 and 1998 seasons. On Tuesday, October 27, 1998, O'Fallon Mayor Paul Renaud announced the new name of the team to be the "River City Rascals." Initial ownership of the Rascals consisted of a local group headed by Ken Wilson.
River City Rascals
The Rascals began play in 1999 in the Western Division of the Frontier League under manager Jack Clark, pitching coach Greg Mathews, and first-base coach Dick Schofield Jr., all previous Major League Baseball players. . The first game played was on Wednesday, June 2, 1999 on the road against the Cook County Cheetahs of Crestwood, Illinois. Pitcher Joey Pipes pitched a complete game in losing by a score of 1-0. The first home game was played on Tuesday, June 8, 1999 at T.R. Hughes Ballpark at the Ozzie Smith Sports Complex in front of an overflow crowd of 4,173 (3,500 seat capacity). The Rascals beat the Dubois County Dragons by a score of 6-5 by rallying from a 5-1 deficit with William Black scoring on Tim Still's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning. This was the first minor league baseball game in Missouri since 1955. Under Clark, a former St. Louis Cardinals slugger, the team led the Frontier League in home runs, however only two pitchers had ERAs under 5.00. The move of the franchise from Zanesville to O'Fallon saw a major increase in attendance. The team averaged more than 150,000 fans in 1999 and set new franchise records in 2000 and again in 2002. The Rascals were named Frontier League Organization of the Year in 1999 and 2000; and Pat Daly was named Executive of the Year in 1999 followed by Matt Jones in 2002.
Clark left after the 1999 season to join the Los Angeles Dodgers as a hitting coach. He was replaced by Neil Fiala, who led the team to a West Division title in 2000 before losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Evansville Otters. The team just missed making the playoffs again in 2001, being eliminated on the last day of the season. The season was highlighted by outfielder Mike Robertson's 30-game hitting before being signed by the Boston Red Sox organization. Fiala resigned after the 2002 season and was replaced by former major-league catcher Marc Hill. Hill resigned after underperforming in the first half of the 2003 season and was replaced midseason pitching coach Randy Martz.
Former pitcher Josh Kinney who played for the Rascals in 2001 (21 innings, 18 strikeouts, 1.71 ERA) became the first Rascal player, and second in franchise history, to make it to the Major Leagues. His contract was purchased from the Memphis Redbirds on July 2, 2006 by the St. Louis Cardinals where he appeared out of the bullpen during the 2006 regular season. His first major league pitch (July 3, 2006) was hit for a home run by Atlanta Braves left fielder Ryan Langerhans; Kinney finished the 2006 season winning a championship ring with the Cardinals as 2006 World Series Champions.
Following the 2006 season the franchise was acquired by the group PS and J Professional Baseball Club, LLC headed by Steve Malliet, an experienced minor league executive in both affiliated and independent baseball. After declining attendance and a number of seasons without a winning record Malliet hired former Cincinnati Reds farmhand Toby Rumfield as the Rascals' manager for the 2007 season. Rumfield began remaking the team, with only a few players from the 2006 remaining on the roster. The rebuilding was not immediate and the team finished with a record of 36-60. The 2007 Rascals finished last in the league in both fielding and pitching and offense suffered after the team lost first baseman Bobby Mosby in a trade to the Northern League and outfielder Phil Laurent, who was signed by the San Diego Padres. Under Rumfield, pitching improved in 2008 and closer Mike Benacka recorded 13 saves and a 0.35 ERA in 22 games before signing with Oakland Athletics half way through the season. The Rascals finished 4th in the West Division with a record of 47-49. Despite the improvement from 2006 Rumfield was replaced by Chad Parker, who previously managed the Macon Music of the South Coast League.
Parker continued the rebuilding process and focused on adding speed and strengthen pitching. Under Parker, seven players reached double figures in steals, led by OF Scott Houin with 35. Offense was led by Chad Maddox (.307) and Ryan Wehrle (.317), and in August, Frontier League all-star Ernie Banks was acquired from the Washington Wild Things and hit .353 on the season. The Rascals clinched a division title late in the regular season, marking the first time since 2000. In the first round of the playoffs the team defeated the Windy City ThunderBolts, the first playoff series win since 1995 in Zanesville. In the Frontier League Championship Series the Rascals won the first two games of the series before Lake Erie Crushers rallied with three straight wins. The Rascals ended the 2009 season with a franchise record 56 wins and Parker was named Frontier League Coach of the Year.
Parker resigned following the season and was replaced by former River City pitcher Steve Brook. Brook continued the rebuilding from Parker and the team fished second in the West Division. The team won the first round playoff series against the Southern Illinois Miners and entered the Frontier League Championship Series for the second straight season, a first in franchise history. The Rascals defeated the Traverse City Beach Bums in four games and won the franchise's second championship and first as the Rascals.
River City Rascals roster
|Active (24-man) roster||Coaches/Other|
||Frontier League Champions
|1993||FL||West||1st||35||17||.673||—||Won FLCS vs. Ohio Valley Redcoats 2-0||1993 Kyle Shade, Most Valuable Player
1993 Tom Crowley, Most Valuable Pitcher
1993 Tom Venditelli, Manager Of the Year
|1995||FL||—||3rd||37||31||.544||8.5||Won first round vs. Newark Buffaloes 2-0.
Lost FLCS vs. Johnstown Steal 2-0.
|Don Wolfe, Most Valuable Pitcher|
|River City Rascals|
|2000||FL||West||1st||46||36||.561||—||Lost in first round vs. Evansville Otters 2-0.||Ryan Bauer, Most Valuable Pitcher|
|2009||FL||West||1st||56||38||.596||—||Won in first round vs. Windy City ThunderBolts 3-0.
Lost in FLCS vs. Lake Erie Crushers 3-2.
|Chad Parker, Manager Of the Year|
|2010||FL||West||2nd||57||38||.600||6.5||Won first round vs. Southern Illinois Miners 3-2
Won FLCS vs. Traverse City Beach Bums 3-1
|2011||FL||West||1st||68||27||.716||—||Won in first round vs. Southern Illinois Miners 3-1.
Lost in FLCS vs. Joliet Slammers 3-1.
|40||34||.531||All-time Zanesville Greys record (1993–1996)|
|542||547||.498||All-time River City Rascals record (1999-2010)|
|15||9||.625||All-time franchise postseason record|
Greys/Rascals in Major League Baseball
- Justin Christian (River City 2003-04) is currently in the St.Louis Cardinals system. He played for the New York Yankees in 2008, and the San Francisco Giants in 2011-2012.
- Josh Kinney (River City 2001) is currently in the Seattle Mariners system. He pitched for St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 and 2008-2009, the Chicago White Sox in 2011, and Mariners in 2012.
- Terry Pearson (Zanesville 1995-96) pitched for the Detroit Tigers in 2002.
- Joe Thatcher (River City 2004-05) pitches for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He pitched for the San Diego Padres from 2007-2013.
- "Frontier League History". Frontier League. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
- "Gant Memorial Stadium". www.digitalballparks.com. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
- "Zanesville Greys History". Tim's Unofficial Frontier League History Pages. Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- English, Nordeka (Oct 29, 1997). "No Trouble:River City Rascals Coming to Minor League Home". St. Louis Post Dispatch. p. St. Charles sec. 1.
- Lyons, Joe (Mar 22, 1999). "Rascals Getting Down to Business". St. Louis Post Dispatch. p. St. Charles Sec. 1.
- "River City Rascals History". Tim's Unofficial Frontier League History Pages. Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- Lyons, Joe (June 8, 1999). "Rascals Head for Home after 1-3 Road Start". St. Louis Post Dispatch. p. St. Charles Sec. 6.
- Lyons, Joe (June 1999). "Rascals Win Home Debut in a Thriller". St. Louis Post Dispatch. p. Sports Sec. D1.
- Lyons, Joe (Jan 21, 1999). "Clark Returns as Manager". St. Louis Post Dispatch. p. Sports Sec. D5.
- Staff (January 4, 2000). "Clark won't return as Rascals' manager". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- Lyons, Joe (Aug. 2, 2006). "New owner is anxious to take over Rascals". St. Louis Post Dispatch. p. Metro Sec. B4.
- Staff (Oct. 4, 2006). "Rascals pick Rumfield as their new manager". St. Louis Post Dispatch. p. C11.
- Staff (September 24, 2009). "First season, first place: Lake Erie Crushers win Frontier League crown with 13-10 triumph". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- Staff (September 20, 2010). "River City Rascals win Frontier League championship". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved May 27, 2011.
|East Division||West Division|
|Evansville Otters||Gateway Grizzlies|
|Florence Freedom||Joliet Slammers|
|Frontier Greys||Normal CornBelters|
|Lake Erie Crushers||River City Rascals|
|Southern Illinois Miners||Rockford Aviators|
|Traverse City Beach Bums||Schaumburg Boomers|
|Washington Wild Things||Windy City ThunderBolts|
|Annual events: Championship|