Memphis Redbirds

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Memphis Redbirds
Founded in 1998
Memphis, Tennessee
MemphisRedbirdsLogo.png MemphisRedbirdscap.PNG
Team logo Cap insignia
Class-level
Current Triple-A (1998–present)
Minor league affiliations
League Pacific Coast League (1998–present)
Conference American Conference
Division Southern Division
Major league affiliations
Current St. Louis Cardinals (1998–present)
Minor league titles
League titles (2)
  • 2000
  • 2009
Conference titles (3)
  • 2000
  • 2009
  • 2010
Division titles (4)
  • 2000
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2014
Team data
Nickname Memphis Redbirds (1998–present)
Colors Red, navy blue, white
              
Mascot Rockey the Redbird
Ballpark AutoZone Park (2000–present)
Previous parks
Tim McCarver Stadium (1998–1999)
Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
Peter B. Freund
Manager Mike Shildt
General Manager Craig Unger[1]

The Memphis Redbirds are a minor league baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. They are located in Memphis, Tennessee, and play their home games at AutoZone Park which opened in 2000 and seats 10,000.[2] The team previously played at Tim McCarver Stadium in 1998 and 1999.

They were established as a PCL expansion team in 1998. A total of 6 managers have led the club and its more than 500 players.[3] As of the completion of the 2015 season, the Redbirds have played in 2,557 regular season games and compiled a win–loss record of 1,275–1,302 (.499).[4] They won the Pacific Coast League Championship in 2000 and 2009.[5]

According to Forbes in 2013, the Redbirds were tied as the eighth-most valuable minor league franchise. The team's net worth was estimated at $29 million, with $9.5 million in annual revenue and $1 million in operating loss.[6]

Team history[edit]

The first professional baseball team in Memphis was the Memphis Reds of the League Alliance in 1877. They were followed by the Grays, Browns, Giants, Fever Germs, Lambs, Egyptians, Turtles, Chickasaws, Blues, and Chicks.[7] In 1997, Memphis was home to the Double-A Chicks of the Southern League. The Memphis Redbirds were created as an expansion team of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 1998.[8] This resulted in the Chicks relocating to nearby Jackson, where they became known the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx.[9] Initially, the Redbirds were owned as a non-profit community entity called the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation and operated by Global Spectrum, a Comcast-owned company.[10][11] While a new ballpark, AutoZone Park, was constructed for the team, they played their first two seasons (1998–99) at the city's Tim McCarver Stadium.

The Redbirds became the top minor league affiliate of the major league St. Louis Cardinals. Memphis' team name, logo, color scheme, and uniforms were all based on those of the St. Louis team. In their inaugural season, the club was managed by Gaylen Pitts. The Redbirds played their first game on the road at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska. In game one of the doubleheader, the Omaha Royals defeated the Redbirds, 3–2.[12] The team finished their first season of play with a 74–70 record, three games out of first place, leaving them second out of four teams in their division.[13] They finished the 1999 season in third place with a 74–64 record.[14]

In 2000, Memphis moved into the newly constructed AutoZone Park. In the park's first regular season game, held on April 14, the Redbirds defeated the Iowa Cubs, 14–3.[15] Memphis went on to clinch the Pacific Coast League's American Conference East Division Championship by ending the season in first place, 1312 games ahead of the second-place Oklahoma RedHawks.[16] In the American Conference Championship, the Redbirds defeated the Albuquerque Isotopes, 3–2 in the best-of-five series, and advanced to the league championship.[5] Memphis then defeated the Salt Lake Buzz, 3–1, to win the PCL Championship.[5] The Redbirds went on to face the Indianapolis Indians, league champions of the Triple-A International League, in the best-of-five Triple-A World Series. Memphis lost, three games to one.[17]

Nick Stavinoha, Redbirds outfielder/first baseman from 2007–11, is the team's all-time leader in games played (479), RBI (316), doubles (96), hits (531), and home runs (74).[18]

The team finished each of the next three seasons in fourth place—2001 (62–81),[19] 2002 (71–71),[20] and 2003 (64–79).[21] The 2002 campaign was a particularly tight race within the American Conference East Division, as the fourth-place Redbirds were a mere three games behind first-place Oklahoma.[20] Tom Spencer became manager of the Redbirds in 2013. He was replaced midseason by Danny Sheaffer. Memphis hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game at AutoZone Park in 2003.[22] Players Jason Bowers, Matt Duff, and Jason Ryan represented Memphis, as they were elected to the PCL All-Star Team.[23]

Pitcher Dan Haren was selected for the 2004 PCL All-Star Team and was chosen as the PCL Star of the Game—the most valuable player representing the league.[22] Memphis ended the 2004 season in second place, eight games behind first-place Oklahoma, with a 73–71 record.[24] The team finished third (71–72) in 2005, 312 games behind the eventual league champion Nashville Sounds.[25] From 2006 to 2007, Memphis finished further out of first place with records of 58–86 in 2006 and 56–88 in 2007.[26][27]

P. J. Walters, Redbirds pitcher from 2008–11, is the team's all-time leader in wins (32), strikeouts (428), and games started (78).[28]

The 2008 season began a reversal of the team's fortunes. Though winding up in second place in 2008, the team, under second-year manager Chris Maloney, managed a second-place finish with their 75–67 record.[29] In 2009, the Redbirds' first-place finish (77–67) earned them the American Conference North Division title and a return to the postseason for the first time in nine seasons.[30] In the American Conference Championship, Memphis faced the Albuquerque Isotopes, sweeping them in three-straight games.[30] They continued to also defeat the Sacramento River Cats, 3–0, in the championship series to win their second PCL Championship.[30] They then competed against the International League's Durham Bulls in the Bricktown Showdown for the Triple-A Baseball Championship, but were defeated in the single game, 5–4.[31]

Having finished the 2010 season in a tie for first place with the Iowa Cubs (82–62), Memphis was awarded the American Conference North title by virtue of having won the regular season series against Iowa.[32] Memphis started the postseason by defeating the Oklahoma City RedHawks, 3–0, to win the American Conference Championship.[32] The Tacoma Rainiers then swept the Redbirds, defeating them for the PCL crown in three-straight games.[32]

The 2011, the club narrowly missed the postseason, finishing second with a 77–66 record.[33] In 2012, manager Chris Maloney, the longest-tenured skipper in team history, was hired as St. Louis' first base coach.[34] He was replaced by Ron Warner.[35] He led the Redbirds to finish in third place (57–87) and 27 games out of first.[36] The team fared better in 2013, ending up in second place (69–75), just one game behind the eventual league champion Omaha Storm Chasers.[37]

In March 2014, the Redbirds were purchased by their major league parent club, the St. Louis Cardinals.[11] The transaction also included the City of Memphis acquiring AutoZone Park and then leasing it to the team.[11] Ron Warner led his club to a first-place finish (79–64), clinching the American Conference South.[38] They were defeated in the conference series, three games to one, by Omaha, who later won the PCL title.[38] The 2015 club, under manager Mike Shildt, finished in second place (73–71), two games behind the Round Rock Express.[39]

The Cardinals sold their majority interest in the team to Peter B. Freund of Trinity Baseball Holdings in March 2016.[40][41]

Season-by-season results[edit]

Memphis Redbirds 5-Year History
Year Regular Season Postseason
Record Win % League Division GB Record Win % Result
2011 77–66 .538 4th 2nd
2012 57–87 .369 14th 3rd 26
2013 69–75 .479 11th 2nd 1
2014 79–64 .552 3rd 1st 1–3 .250 Clinched American South Division title
Lost American Conference title vs Omaha Storm Chasers, 3–1[42]
2015 73–71 .507 8th 2nd 5
5-Year Totals 355–363 .494 1–3 .250 1 Division Title

Rivals[edit]

Main article: I-40 Cup Series

Memphis' chief rivals have been those based in Nashville, Tennessee. Located approximately 200 miles (320 km) to the north east and connected to Memphis by Interstate 40, Nashville has fielded several teams which have competed in the same leagues as Memphis' teams since the late 19th century.[43] The Redbirds entered the rivalry when they joined the Pacific Coast League in 1998.[44] The Redbirds and the Nashville Sounds were division rivals in the American Conference East Division from 1998 to 2004,[44] the American Conference North Division from 2005 to 2013,[45] and the American Conference Southern Division since 2014.[46] In 2009, Memphis clinched the American Conference North Division title, finishing the season just two games ahead of Nashville which spent the majority of the season in first place.[47] Similarly, Memphis finished the 2014 season two-and-a-half games ahead of Nashville despite trailing the Sounds for most of the season.[48]

From 2012 to 2015, the two teams competed in the I-40 Cup Series, a season-long, 16-game promotional series between the clubs.[49] Whichever of the two won the most games played between them was declared the winner and got to keep the trophy cup until the next season. The losing team donated game tickets to a charity selected by the winner. The Sounds won the inaugural 2012 contest (9–7), and Memphis won the 2013 series (7–9).[49] The teams tied the 2014 and 2015 series (both 8–8), but the Redbirds retained the title in both instances.[50] After 2015, the teams discontinued the trophy cup, friendly wager, and promotional references to the Series.

As of the completion of the 2015 series, Memphis leads the all-time series against Nashville with a record of 897–872 (.507).[51] This record encompasses all 91 years of competition in the original Southern League, Southern Association, Southern League, and Pacific Coast League. Nashville, however, leads the all-time 18-year PCL series with a record of 154–132 (.538).[49]

Ballparks[edit]

Memphis' AutoZone Park

Tim McCarver Stadium (1998–1999)[edit]

Main article: Tim McCarver Stadium

The Redbirds played their first two seasons at Tim McCarver Stadium while a new, permanent stadium was being constructed downtown. The stadium was built in 1963 for use as an American Legion field. When the Texas League's Memphis Blues came to town in 1968, it became their home ballpark. It was later used by the Memphis Chicks until 1997. The stadium, with a 8,800 person capacity, was demolished in 2005.

AutoZone Park (2000–present)[edit]

Main article: AutoZone Park

The Redbirds' current home ballpark is AutoZone Park, which opened on April 1, 2000, and seats 10,000 people. It was constructed in downtown Memphis at a cost of $80.5 million.[52] It was built to Major League Baseball standards, but with the absence of outfield seats or food vendors far down the foul lines. The first game played at the park was an exhibition between Memphis and St. Louis. A standing-room-only crowd witnessed the big league club defeat their Triple-A affiliate, 10–6.[15]

Uniforms[edit]

Zach Petrick pitching in the Redbirds' road uniform

Memphis' current uniforms are quite similar to those of the St. Louis Cardinals. Home uniforms consist of white jerseys with the team's primary logo sewn across the chest: the word "Memphis" in red letters surrounded by navy blue set against a yellow baseball bat on which two red cardinals are perched. The player's number is displayed on the front left below the Memphis wordmark in red block characters bordered by navy blue. The upper left sleeve has a circular navy blue patch with the St. Louis Cardinals' overlapping "STL" logo on the center in red letters bordered by white. The player's last name is sewn on the back in red block characters surrounded by navy blue, and his number is displayed below his name in the same font and colors. White pants are worn with red belts and predominately red shoes. Some players wear higher pants paired with red socks with white and navy blue stripes. The home cap is solid red with a white "M" bordered by navy blue on the center.[53]

Road uniforms are identical to those worn for home games with only a few exceptions: jerseys and pants are made from gray material, the St. Louis patch is absent from the sleeve, and the cap is navy blue with a red button and a red "M" with white border.[54]

Mascot[edit]

The Memphis Redbirds' mascot is an anthropomorphic cardinal named Rockey the Redbird. He is bright red with black eyebrows and feathers around the face and a yellow beak and legs. He wears the same style jerseys as the team bearing the number .05. He made his debut in the Redbirds' inaugural 1998 season.[55]

Roster[edit]

Memphis Redbirds roster
Players Coaches/Other

Pitchers

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Manager

Coaches




Injury icon 2.svg 7-day disabled list
* On St. Louis Cardinals 40-man roster
# Rehab assignment
∞ Reserve list
‡ Restricted list
§ Suspended list
† Temporary inactive list
Roster updated July 23, 2016
Transactions
More MiLB rosters
St. Louis Cardinals minor league players

Managers[edit]

Over the course of 18 seasons, the Memphis Redbirds have employed 6 managers. The duties of the team manager include team strategy and leadership on and off the field.[56] Two managers have guided the team to win the Pacific Coast League Championship: Gaylen Pitts (2000) and Chris Maloney (2009).[57] Maloney is the longest-tenured manager in team history, having managed the team for 717 games from 2007 to 2011.

Memphis Redbirds Managerial Record
# Manager Years Regular Season Postseason Ref
Games Wins Losses Win % Appearances Wins Losses Win %
1 Gaylen Pitts 1998–2002 711 364 347 .512 1 7 6 .538 [58]
2 Tom Spencer 2003 64 22 42 .344 [59]
3 Danny Sheaffer 2003–2006 510 244 266 .478 [60]
4 Chris Maloney 2007–2011 717 367 350 .512 2 9 4 .692 [61]
5 Ron Warner 2012–2014 431 205 226 .476 1 1 3 .250 [62]
6 Mike Shildt 2015–present 144 73 71 .507 [63]
Totals 1998–2015 2,577 1,275 1,302 .495 4 17 13 .567

References[edit]

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External links[edit]