Portal:Sports/Selected article/October 2007

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Photo credit: Kinston eagle

The Kinston Indians are a minor league baseball team in Kinston, North Carolina. The team, a High-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, plays in the Carolina League. Professional baseball in Kinston dates back to 1908 when they fielded a team in the Eastern Carolina League. Kinston adopted the name "Indians" at the start of their relationship with Cleveland, in 1987. They are currently one of the oldest and most successful franchises in their circuit.

Baseball has been popular in Kinston since the late nineteenth century, and it fielded many excellent amateur clubs. Despite this, the small city was unable to sustain a viable professional team until the mid-1920's. Earlier attempts included an aborted campaign in the Class D Eastern Carolina League in 1908 and an "outlaw league" team in 1921 and 1922. The latter was notable for being managed by former major league pitcher George Suggs and College Football Hall of Fame member Ira Rodgers. Due to the efforts of the city's business leaders, former local amateur star Elisha Lewis, and George Suggs, the town secured a team in the Virginia League for the 1925 season.

This Class B team played in a newly renovated stadium designed by Suggs known as West End Park. Named the "Eagles", the squad had very little success against the rest of the league. Despite their lack of wins, the team was successful enough at the gate that they proved the town was capable of sustaining a professional team. Kinston stayed three years in the Virginia League and then moved on to a newly reformed Eastern Carolina League. This later affiliation would collapse along with the stock market in 1929. Among the members of these 1920's Eagles teams was a young catcher named Rick Ferrell who would have a long playing career and even longer front office career in the major leagues. In 1984, he became the only former Kinston player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Another player, Frank Armstrong, eventually decided that baseball was not for him. He gave up baseball for a career in the armed services and became one of the most decorated generals in the history of the Air Force.