Founded in 1976
Charlotte, North Carolina
|Minor league affiliations|
|Southern League (1976–1992)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Chicago White Sox (1999–present)|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (4)||
|Division titles (3)||
|Nickname||Charlotte Knights (1989–present)|
|Charlotte Orioles (1976–1988)|
|Colors||Black, Gold, Silver, White
|Ballpark||BB&T Ballpark (2014–present)|
|General Manager||Dan Rajkowski|
The Charlotte Knights are a minor league baseball team in Charlotte, North Carolina. The team, which plays in the International League, is the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox of the American League. The Knights play at BB&T Ballpark located in Uptown Charlotte.
Professional baseball in Charlotte dates to 1901, with the formation of the Charlotte Hornets. They were an independent team until 1937, when the Washington Senators, now the Minnesota Twins, purchased the team. The Hornets would remain affiliated with the Senators/Twins for 35 years. In 1940, Calvin Griffith, the son of Senators owner Clark Griffith and future owner of the Senators/Twins, built a 3,200-seat park in Charlotte's Dilworth neighborhood, Calvin Griffith Park. It would be the home of Charlotte baseball for the next half-century.
After several years on the lower rungs of the minor league totem pole, the Hornets joined the Class A South Atlantic League in 1954. They had previously been members of the South Atlantic League in the 1920s while they were still independent. The South Atlantic League became a AA league in 1963 and renamed itself the Southern League in 1964. In 1972, the team renamed itself the Charlotte Twins. Minnesota dropped its affiliation after the 1972 season. Unable to link up with a new team, the Twins disbanded.
The current incarnation of Charlotte baseball began in 1976, when wrestling promoter Jim Crockett, Jr. bought the Asheville Orioles, the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and renamed them the Charlotte Orioles. Griffith Park was fixed up and renamed Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Park (popularly known as Crockett Park). The team, popularly known as the O's, won Southern League titles in 1980 and 1984. Eventual major-league superstars Eddie Murray (the O's original first baseman in 1976) and Cal Ripken (1980) played for the O's.
In March 1985, Crockett Park (mostly wood-framed) was destroyed by a massive fire after a high school baseball game. An investigation revealed that the fire was caused by arson. The Crockett family built a 3,000-seat makeshift stadium immediately afterward, which served as the O's home for three years. However, unlike its predecessor, it was completely exposed to the elements, causing a steep decline in attendance. In 1987, George Shinn, founder of the NBA Charlotte Hornets, bought the team from the Crockett family and committed to building a permanent home for the team. In 1988 the team was renamed the Knights, and Crockett Park was renamed Knights Park. The following season, 1989, the organization's 13-year affiliation with the Orioles ended when Shinn switched the team's affiliation to the Chicago Cubs.
The team moved to Knights Castle, a temporary 8,000 seat stadium located on Deerfield Drive in Fort Mill, South Carolina near the construction site of Knights Stadium. The stadium was built for the 1989 season and was demolished following the final game that year to make room for Knights Stadium.
In 1993, Charlotte acquired an International League franchise as the AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. This expansion team took the Charlotte Knights name, as well as the heritage of the old AA team. It was the first time a team from the Carolinas had played at the highest level of minor league baseball. The former AA Knights of the Southern League relocated to Nashville, Tennessee and ultimately Mobile, Alabama to become the current Mobile Bay Bears. The new AAA Knights, led by future major-league stars Jim Thome and Manny Ramírez, won the International League title in 1993. Much of the core of that team, including manager Charlie Manuel, played a role in the Indians' World Series teams of 1995 and 1997.
For the 1995–1998 seasons, the Knights were the AAA affiliate of the Florida Marlins. Before the 1998 season, Shinn sold the Knights to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver, who negotiated a AAA affiliation agreement with the Chicago White Sox, a relationship that still continues today. The Knights won another International League title in 1999 as the White Sox' top affiliate. Notable former Knights under the White Sox affiliation include pitcher Jon Garland and former third baseman Joe Crede, both of whom played on the White Sox' World Series championship team in 2005. Recently, Beaver and the White Sox extended their affiliation agreement, ensuring that professional baseball will remain in the Charlotte area for many years to come.
On October 8, 2009 the Charlotte Knights and York County agreed in principle upon a four-year lease for the team to play at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill. This agreement will add fan related upgrades to the facility.
In 2011, the Charlotte City Council and Mecklenburg County Commission approved a land-swap agreement which opened the door for the construction of a new AAA-sized stadium in downtown Charlotte. The $54-million BB&T Ballpark opened in time for the 2014 season. It is located one block from Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers. The team's attendance has sagged since the start of the new millennium, and it was hoped that bringing the Knights back to the city would increase attendance. To go along with the move, the Knights dropped the teal-and-purple scheme they had used for over two decades and adopted a black-and-silver palette that the White Sox have used since 1991, with gold as an accent color.
- Baltimore Orioles (1976–1988)
- Chicago Cubs (1989–1992)
- Cleveland Indians (1993–1994)
- Florida Marlins (1995–1998)
- Chicago White Sox (1999–present)
- Charlotte Orioles – Southern League Championship 1984
- Charlotte Knights – Governors' Cup, International League Championship 1993
- Charlotte Knights – Governors' Cup, International League Championship 1999
Charlotte Knights roster
As the O's
As the Knights
- Joe Borchard
- Jerry Brooks
- José Canseco
- Scott Carroll
- Mark Clark
- Joe Crede
- Gookie Dawkins
- Josh Fields
- Brad Fullmer
- Brian Giles
- Jimmy Gobble
- Tommy Gregg
- Charlie Haeger
- Chris Hammond
- Liván Hernández
- Paul Konerko
- Jon Link
- Kevin Millar
- Russ Morman
- Charles Nagy
- Chad Ogea
- Jake Peavy
- Scott Podsednik
- Jim Powell, Atlanta Braves broadcaster
- Manny Ramírez
- Édgar Rentería
- Aaron Rowand
- Frank Thomas
- Jim Thome
- Andrés Torres
- Dan Wright
- Dave Jageler (1995–96, 2001), Washington Nationals (2006–present)
- Jim Powell (1990–91, 1995), Minnesota Twins (1993–94), Milwaukee Brewers (1996–2008), Atlanta Braves (2009–present)
- Tony Schiavone (1982-85 as the Charlotte O's), Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling/Jim Crockett Promotions (1983-1988), WWF (1989-90), World Championship Wrestling (1990-2001), Gwinnett Braves (2009-present)
- Jimmy Williams – O's (1980)
- Grady Little – O's (1984)
- Charlie Manuel – Knights (1993)
- Sal Rende – Manager (1995–1996)
- Carlos Tosca – Manager (1997)
- Fredi González – Manager (1998)
- Tom Spencer – Knights (1999)
- Nick Leyva – Manager (2000–2001, 2005)
- Nick Capra – Manager (2002–2004)
- Manny Trillo – Manager (2005)
- Razor Shines – Manager (2006)
- Marc Bombard – Manager (2007–2008)
- Chris Chambliss – Manager (2009–2010)
- Joe McEwing – Manager (2011)
- Joel Skinner – Manager (2012–present)
- Tom Sorensen, "Out with the O's, in with the New: Team Is Knighted", The Charlotte Observer, December 9, 1987.
- Gault, Earl. Some win, some lose if Knights move to S. C. The Herald, 1988-05-22.
- Brown, Gord. DigitalBallparks.com. 31 January 2008.
- "Groundbreaking for new Knights ballpark set for September 14". August 24, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- "Knights Stadium Funding". Charlotte Business Journal.