Utica Blue Sox
|Utica Blue Sox
(1939–1950 and 1977–2001)
Utica, New York
|Minor league affiliations|
|Major league affiliations|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles||2 (1947, 1983)|
Previous baseball history
Utica's first baseball team took the field in 1878. The city fielded a team in the New York State League from 1899–1917, then was without professional baseball until 1939, except for one year, 1924, when the Utica Utes, a member of an earlier edition of the New York–Pennsylvania League, moved to Oneonta, New York, in midseason.
The first Blue Sox team
The first Blue Sox team can be traced to the Utica Braves of the Class C Canadian–American League, formed when the former Auburn Bouleys were moved to Utica by Amby McConnell and Father Harold Martin. The Utica Braves were initially a Boston Braves farm team in 1939 and kept the nickname through 1942. The Braves were also affiliated with the Detroit Tigers in 1941 and the Springfield Rifles in 1942.
In 1943, Utica moved up to the Class A Eastern League and became an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The nickname Blue Sox dates to 1944 when their parent team was unofficially called the "Philadelphia Blue Jays". The Blue Sox of the 1940s played in a ballpark in the northern part of the city called McConnell Field, which was named after the team owner and former pro player from Utica.
Many of the Blue Sox players of the 1940s later becoming the Whiz Kids of the 1950 National League champion Phillies. Future Philadelphia stars such as Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, who came to Utica as a catcher but within a month was moved to center field by his manager, Eddie Sawyer, to utilize his speed. Other include Stan Lopata and Granny Hamner all took the field for both Utica and Philadelphia during the late 1940s.
Eddie Sawyer, manager of the Blue Sox in 1945 and 1947 and later for seven more years in Philadelphia, once said, "We had great ballclubs in a bad ballpark." Ashburn recalled the peculiar way the field was laid out, with center field to the west. "The sun would set over it", he once said. "I never got a hit up there in the first five innings in 150 games, and I still hit .300."
Second Blue Sox team
The name Blue Sox was resurrected in the Short-Season A classification New York–Penn League. A NY-P franchise began in 1977 as the Utica Blue Jays. They played at Murnane Field. The Utica Blue Jays were the first affiliate in the Toronto Blue Jays, from 1977–1980. That team included Toronto's first ever draft pick, Tom Goffena. The line up also included future major leaguers Jesse Barfield, David Wells and Paul Hodgson. Toronto withdrew their affiliation after the 1980 season and the club played as an independent, under the name of the Blue Sox, from 1981 through 1983. The ownership of the team included Miles Wolff (Durham Bulls), actor/writer Brian Doyle Murray and his brother, Bill Murray. Bill Murray sang the national anthem for the Blue Sox 1981 home opener. The independent Utica Blue Sox won the NY-P championship in 1983.
The team became an affiliate with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1986–1987, the Chicago White Sox from 1988–92 and the Boston Red Sox from 1993–1995. In 1996 the team became affiliated with the Florida Marlins and were renamed the Utica Marlins. However the team was renamed the Blue Sox the very next season. Among the notable players who were once Utica Blue Sox players; Larry Walker, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzales, Andy Ashby, Jason Grimsley and Esteban Beltre.
By the end of the 2001 season, the city needed a standard level ball park and Donovan Stadium was in need of repairs in order to keep the Blue Sox team. On February 7, 2002, Cal Ripken, Jr. and the Ripken Professional Baseball Association purchased the Blue Sox and moved the club to Aberdeen, Maryland, where it became the Aberdeen IronBirds.
Acclaimed author and journalist Roger Kahn (The Boys of Summer) wrote about his year as a part owner of the team for the 1983 championship season. The book, Good Enough to Dream, was published in 1985.
- "1943 Utica Braves Statistics -- Minor Leagues | Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2015-07-22.
- York, Marty (1989-06-27). "Morganna riding the buss to success in the minor leagues". The Globe and Mail.
- Lloyd Johnson and Miles Wolff, editors. The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 1997 edition. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America.
- Utica Blue Sox on FunWhileItLasted.net
- Photographs of Donovan Stadium (Murnane Field), former home of the Utica Blue Sox of the NY-P League – Rochester Area Ballparks