Founded in 1890
|Current||Short-Season A (1972, 1983–present)|
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Northwest League (1983–present)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Previous||Kansas City Royals (1995–2002)
San Diego Padres
California Angels (1982)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia Phillies (1953)
Brooklyn Dodgers (1947)
|Minor league titles|
|League titles||1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2008|
|Division titles||1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010|
|Nickname||Spokane Indians (1903-1920, 1940–present)|
|Colors||Navy, Red, Light Blue, Beige|
|Brett Sports & Entertainment|
|General manager||Chris Duffle|
The Spokane Indians are a minor league baseball team located in Spokane, Washington, United States. They are a Short-Season A classification team in the Northwest League and have been a farm team of the Texas Rangers since 2003. The Indians play home games at Avista Stadium, which opened in 1958 and seats 7,202 fans.
Spokane was home of one of the charter teams of the Northwest League in 1955, but the team folded in 1956. Between 1958 and 1971, the Indians were a Triple-A Pacific Coast League baseball club affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers, before the club was moved to Albuquerque in 1971, and later Portland. The 1970 team, managed by Tommy Lasorda, won 94 of 146 games and swept the Hawaii Islanders in the PCL playoffs.
On July 7, 1963, Spokane pitcher Bob Radovich threw a no-hitter against the Hawaii Islanders that ended on a bizarre note. With two out in the ninth inning, an Islander player drew a walk. Stan Palys came in to run for the batter. The next batter hit a grounder to first and Palys danced up and down till the ball hit him in the leg. Under baseball rules, Palys would have been called out but a base hit would have been recorded for the batter. Pacific Coast League President Dewey Soriano, who was in attendance that night, notified the press box that final out was to be credited to the first baseman and that Palys' conduct constituted "unsportsmanlike play". (Apparently, no base hit was credited on this play.)
The Indians won the 2005 Northwest League championship despite having a record of 37-39 during the regular season, becoming only the second team in NWL history (the Salem Angels of 1982 were the first) to win the championship crown with a losing regular season record.
In 2008 the Indians captured the Northwest League Title with a thrilling 3-1 series victory over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. After dropping game one, the Indians rallied to capture game two by a score of 11-10 in 10 innings. In game three, the Indians fell behind 10-2 before rallying for nine unanswered runs winning by an 11-10 margin once again. The Indians won the 2008 title in game four by securing a 6-5 victory in 10 innings.
History before 1956
Spokane's minor league history dates to 1892, when it fielded a team in the Pacific Northwest League. The nickname Indians dates to 1903, when Spokane joined the Pacific National League - a predecessor to the PCL and, at Class A, an elite minor league of the period, equivalent to Triple A today. The Indians lasted only two seasons at that higher level before dropping to the Class B Northwestern League, which folded during World War I.
In 1937, Spokane became a charter member of the Class B Western International League, the predecessor of the Northwest League, which played from 1937 through 1942 and 1946 through 1954.
The 1946 Spokane bus tragedy
On June 24, 1946, the WIL Indians were victims of the worst transit accident in the history of American professional sport. The team was on its way to Bremerton by bus to play the Bluejackets. On a rain-slicked Snoqualmie Pass Highway (then U.S. Route 10) in the Cascade Mountains, the bus driver swerved to avoid an oncoming car and the Indians' vehicle veered off the road and down an embankment, then crashed and burst into flames. Nine men died — six of them instantly — and seven were injured. The dead were catcher/manager Mel Cole, pitchers Bob Kinnaman and George Lyden, catcher Chris Hartje, infielders Fred Martinez, Vic Picetti and George Risk, and outfielders Bob James and Bob Paterson. Despite a severe head wound, infielder Ben Geraghty was able to struggle back up the mountainside to signal for help. Injured survivors also included pitchers Pete Barisoff, Gus Hallbourg and Dick Powers, catcher Irv Konopka, outfielder Levi McCormack, and bus driver Glen Berg.
One player from the 1946 team, future major league infielder Jack "Lucky" Lohrke, missed the tragedy because his contract was sold to the PCL San Diego Padres on June 24 and he departed the ill-fated bus during a late lunch stop in Ellensburg, not long before the accident, thus helping to earn his nickname. (Lohrke averted tragedy earlier when he was bumped from a military transport plane which later crashed.) Two Indians' pitchers, Milt Cadinha and Joe Faria, were making the trip to Bremerton by automobile and were not aboard the team bus when it crashed.
The Indians, relying on players loaned from other teams, managed to finish the season and placed seventh in the league. A special charity, the Spokane Baseball Benefit Association, donated $114,800 to the injured survivors and dependents of the nine players who died.
Beth Bollinger of Spokane wrote a novel titled Until the End of the Ninth, which is based on the true story of the 1946 bus crash and its aftermath.
- Carlos Beltrán, current All Star major league outfielder for the New York Yankees.
- Joey Cora, former MLB All Star second baseman.
- Neftalí Feliz, current MLB All Star relief pitcher for the Texas Rangers.
- Brad Gulden, former major league catcher with six MLB teams, most notably with the New York Yankees in 1979.
- Ian Kinsler, current MLB All Star second baseman for the Detroit Tigers.
- Chris Davis, current MLB All Star first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles. In 2013 led MLB in Home Runs with 53, and added 42 doubles, 138 RBI's, and ended with a .286 avg.
Spokane Indians roster
Logos and uniforms
In the 2006 offseason, the Indians began a process to redesign their logo and uniforms. As per tradition, they began by avoiding the use of any American Indian imagery, but early in the process of redesign, the Spokane Nation contacted the team about officially supporting the team. In the process, the tribe gave permission to the team to adopt subtle and tasteful imagery, in order to pay homage to the team's history and new connection with the tribe. The cooperation, called "historic" by the team, included the creation of a secondary logo written in Salish, the traditional language of the tribe. The team's colors are red, navy blue light blue, and beige.
- May, Danny (July 8, 1963). "No-hitter highlights pair of wins by tribe". Spokesman-Review. p. 8.
- "8 Spokane baseball players dead in crash of their bus". Spokane Daily Chronicle. June 25, 1946. p. 1.
- "Hartje, driver still in danger". Spokane Daily Chronicle. June 26, 1946. p. 1.
- "WIL resumes play, Tigers move up". Eugene Register-Guard. June 27, 1946. p. 12.
- J. G. Taylor Spink, ed., 1947 Baseball Guide and Record Book. St. Louis, MO: The Sporting News, 1947, p. 207
- Colford, Ann M. (September 23, 2006). "Spokane Indians baseball team bus crash kills nine on Snoqualmie Pass on June 24, 1946". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- Spokane Indians official site, Minor League Baseball.com
- Official website
- Until the End of the Ninth
- The Last Survivor - Interview with Gus Hallbourg about the 1946 bus crash