Windy City ThunderBolts
|Windy City ThunderBolts|
|League||Frontier League (1999–present) (West)|
|League championships||1998, 2007, 2008|
|Division championships||2007, 2008, 2010|
|Colors||Blue, Black, White
|General Manager||Mike Lucas|
|Media||WXAV, Chicago Southtown Star|
The Windy City ThunderBolts are a professional baseball team based in the Chicago suburb of Crestwood, Illinois, in the United States. The ThunderBolts are a member of the Frontier League, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. From the 1999 season to the present, the ThunderBolts have played their home games at Standard Bank Stadium.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (March 2014)|
The franchise known as the Windy City ThunderBolts started as the Will County Claws in 1995 and called their home at Lewis University’s Brennan Field in Romeoville. The Claws played in the struggling North Central League which started in 1994 with six teams, but only fielded four in 1995. The North Central League folded 18 games into its second season with the Claws finishing at 8–10. In 1996, the franchise would find a new league and a new name. The Will County Cheetahs joined the new four-team Heartland League.
In the winter of 1997, the Cheetahs and the city of Crestwood, Illinois, made a deal for Crestwood to build and own a brand new, state-of-the-art ballpark for the Cheetahs. Despite the high hopes for baseball in Crestwood for the 1998 season, it was quickly obvious that because of construction delays, the new park would not be ready. The Cheetahs needed a home field and with Romeoville not an option, neighboring Midlothian would be the solution to the Cheetahs’ home field problem as they would play their 1998 season at tiny Howie Minas Field. In Midlothian, the Cheetahs would have one of their best seasons finishing in 2nd place with a 37–29 record in the first half and earn a playoff spot for the first time in franchise history. In the Heartland League Championship, the Cheetahs would sweep the heavily favored Tennessee Tomahawks 2 games to 0 to gain the franchises first title.
However, things for the Heartland League were anything but great. The league started the 1998 season with six teams and finished with only four teams. The Cheetahs would win the last ever Heartland League Championship as the league folded after three seasons.
In 1999, the Cheetahs joined the stable Frontier League and has been a member of the league ever since. The team known as the Cook County Cheetahs prior to the 2004 season changed their name to the current Windy City ThunderBolts. An ownership change instigated the name change.
Over five years after the San Diego Padres bought the rights to Cheetahs' pitcher Chris Oxspring in 2000 he became the first player in franchise history to play in Major League Baseball. He played in five games for the Padres in 2005.
On August 26, 2007, the ThunderBolts won their first Central Division title. On September 17, 2007, they defeated the Washington Wild Things to win the Frontier League championship, three games to two. In 2008, they repeated a Division Title as the West Division Champions and Frontier League champions, defeating the Kalamazoo Kings three games to none in the championship series. (Note: After heavy rains flooded Homer Stryker Field the entire 2008 Championship series was played at the Thunderbolts Standard Bank Stadium.) They thus became only the second Frontier League team to win back-to-back titles, joining the 2001–02 Richmond Roosters.
On August 28, 2012, Tyson Corley threw the second no-hitter in ThunderBolts history. Isaac Hess threw the first on August 5, 2008.
Pitcher Andrew Werner became the third player in club history to make it to the majors when he started for the San Diego Padres in 2012.
|Will County Claws (North Central League)|
|Will County Cheetahs (Heartland League)|
|Cook County Cheetahs (Heartland League)|
|1998||37–29||.560||2nd||Heartland League Championship Series: Defeated the Tennessee Tomahawks 2–0.|
|Cook County Cheetahs (Frontier League)|
|1999||41–43||.488||3rd in FL West|
|2000||38–46||.452||3rd in FL West|
|2001||28–53||.346||6th in FL West|
|2002||40–44||.476||3rd in FL West|
|2003||42–48||.467||5th in FL West|
|Windy City Thunderbolts (Frontier League)|
|2004||37–57||.394||5th in FL West|
|2005||39–57||.406||5th in FL West|
|2006||41–54||.427||4th in FL West|
|2007||68–28||.708||1st in FL Central||Frontier League Division Series: Defeated the Rockford Riverhawks 3–0.
Frontier League Championship Series: Defeated the Washington Wild Things 3–2.
|2008||60–36||.625||1st in FL West||Frontier League Division Series: Defeated the Southern Illinois Miners 3–1.
Frontier League Championship Series: Defeated the Kalamazoo Kings 3–0.
|2009||56–40||.583||2nd in FL West||Frontier League Division Series: Lost vs. River City Rascals 0–3.|
|2010||56–38||.596||1st in FL East||Frontier League Division Series: Lost vs. Traverse City Beach Bums 1–3.|
|2011||48–48||.500||4th in FL East|
|2012||54–42||.563||2nd in FL West|
|2013||50–46||.521||3rd in FL West|
|Playoffs||15–8||.652||3 Division Title. 5 Playoff Appearance. 3 Championships.|