West Virginia Power
|West Virginia Power
Founded in 1987
Charleston, West Virginia
|Current||Class A (1987–present)|
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||South Atlantic League (1987–present)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Pittsburgh Pirates (2009–present)|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (1)||1990|
|Division titles (6)||
|Nickname||West Virginia Power (2005–present)|
|Colors||Black, Gold, Yellow, White|
|Ballpark||Appalachian Power Park (2005–present)|
|Watt Powell Park (1987–2004)|
|West Virginia Baseball LLC|
The West Virginia Power is a minor league baseball team of the South Atlantic League, and is the Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They are located in Charleston, West Virginia. The team plays their home games at Appalachian Power Park; which opened in 2005 and currently seats 4,500 fans.
Before current era (1910–1983)
The history of professional baseball in Charleston, dates back to 1910, and a team known as the Charleston Statesmen of the long-forgotten Class D Virginia Valley League. In 1911, the Statesmen moved to the Class D Mountain State League, and then folded after that year. A new team, the Charleston Senators was formed in 1914 and lasted three seasons in the Class D Ohio State League. In 1931, a new Senators team joined the Class C Mid-Atlantic League as an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. This team lasted until 1943. In 1949, the Senators were reformed as a member of the Class A Central League. In 1952, the city was granted a franchise in the Triple-A American Association. At first, this team was affiliated with the Chicago White Sox, then the Detroit Tigers, and finally the Washington Senators. In 1958, the Charleston Senators won the American Association championship. The franchise ceased operations after the 1960 season.
In 1961, the city had no team, but the Triple-A International League San Juan Marlins, affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, moved to the city at mid-season due to a hurricane which destroyed their ballpark; The Marlins returned to Puerto Rico after the season. In 1962, the Charleston Indians, affiliated with the Cleveland Indians, moved to the city in the Class-A Eastern League, and in 1963 that league was elevated to Double-A. The team folded after the 1964 season.
Baseball returned to the city in 1971 with the Charleston Charlies of the International League. The Charlies played in the International League from 1971 to 1983. The team was the relocated Columbus Jets. The Charlies were affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, and finally the Cleveland Indians. The team won the league championship in 1973 and 1977. The Charlies left for Maine following the 1983 season, and, after several moves, the team today is now known as the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
Today, the Power sell nostalgic "throwback" merchandise from the Pittsburgh-affiliated era of the Charlies, which is generally considered the pinnacle of the baseball in the city.
Current era (1987–present)
In 1987, the city resumed minor league baseball after a three-year absence. The new team was first called the Charleston Wheelers, so named for the city's history of stern- and side-wheeled boats. The Wheelers began as a co-op team, with players from several Major League Baseball franchises including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and Atlanta Braves.
In 1988, the franchise became the Chicago Cubs' third full-season Class A franchise (the other two being Peoria in the Midwest League and Winston-Salem in the Carolina League). The only two players on that 1988 squad to reach the Major Leagues were SS Alex Arias and C Matt Walbeck.
In late 1993, the Wheelers were purchased from then-owner Dennis Bastien by a conglomerate of owners. The team changed its name to the Charleston Alley Cats in 1995 and switched colors from blue and white, with green trim, to grey and red, with black trim. The team was purchased in 2001 by Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers. In 1995, the team changed affiliation to the Kansas City Royals, again in 2001 to the Toronto Blue Jays, to the Milwaukee Brewers after the 2004 season, and finally joined the Pirates in 2009. Prior to the 2005 season, they adopted their current West Virginia Power name. To quote the team's announcement following their decision to change the team name:
"West Virginia is and will continue to be recognized as one of the leading energy providers for the country. The energy production from coal, natural gas, and hydro-electric sources, combined with the fact that Charleston serves as the center for the state's political and economic powers led us to the name of the team. We felt it was extremely important that the name reflect the entire region and are excited about the tremendous marketing opportunities that will go along with the name."
The Power won the 2007 SAL Northern Division title, but lost in the league championship series to the Columbus Catfish in three-straight games.
|Charleston Wheelers (South Atlantic League)|
|Record||Win %||Finish*||Record||Win %||Result||MLB|
|1990||77–66||.538||5th||5–0||1.000||Won North Division Championship vs Fayetteville Generals, 2–0
Won SAL Championship vs Savannah Cardinals, 3–0
|1991||92–50||.648||1st||0–3||.000||Lost SAL Championship vs Columbia Mets, 0–3||Reds|
|1992||77–64||.546||2nd||2–3||.400||Won North Division Championship vs Spartanburg Phillies, 2–0
Lost SAL Championship vs Myrtle Beach Hurricanes, 0–3
|Sub-Totals||562–554||.504||—||7–6||.636||1 SAL Championships|
|Charleston AlleyCats (South Atlantic League)|
|Record||Win %||Finish*||Record||Win %||Result||MLB|
|1997||76–62||.551||2nd||3–2||.600||Won Quarterfinal vs Cape Fear Crocs, 2–0
Lost Semifinal vs Delmarva Shorebirds, 1–2
|2004||84–56||.600||3rd||0–2||.000||Lost North Division Championship vs Capital City Bombers, 0–2||Blue Jays|
|Sub-Totals||622–765||.448||—||3–4||.429||0 SAL Championships|
|West Virginia Power (South Atlantic League)|
|Record||Win %||Finish*||Record||Win %||Result|
|2007||82–54||.603||3rd||2–4||.333||Won Northern Division Championship vs Hickory Crawdads, 2–1
Lost SAL Championship vs Columbus Catfish, 0–3
|2008||77–62||.554||6th||3–3||.500||Won Northern Division Championship vs Lake County Captains, 3–0
Lost SAL Championship vs Augusta GreenJackets, 0–3
|2013||82-58||.586||2nd||1-2||.333||Lost Northern Division Championship vs Hagerstown Suns, 1-2||Pirates|
|2015||87-52||.626||1st||1-2||.333||Lost Northern Division Championship vs Hickory Crawdads, 1-2||Pirates|
|Sub-Totals||849–807||.513||—||7–11||.389||0 SAL Championships|
|Totals||2,033–2126||.489||—||17–21||.447||1 League Championship|
|Note: * Finish denotes their position in the overall league standings.|
West Virginia Power roster
The Alley Cats and their predecessors played in Watt Powell Park in the Kanawha City neighborhood of Charleston. Seating approximately 4,500 fans, Watt Powell Park was bordered by MacCorkle Avenue on the front (north) side, 35th Street on the east, and South Park Road on the west. On the south side of the park, a ridge of hills formed a natural boundary. Fans who would otherwise have had to pay to see the games periodically watched the action from a CSX railroad line hard up against the south wall of the stadium.
The Power now plays its home games in Appalachian Power Park at the east edge of downtown Charleston, a little more than a mile across the Kanawha River from the former site of Watt Powell Park. Most of the financing for the $25 million stadium came from the state, and the city, although the ownership team put up approximately $5 million. The original cost of the ballpark was supposed to be $20 million but cost overruns put the figure at $25 million. The city's share came mostly from the sale of Watt Powell Park to the nearby University of Charleston, which immediately sold two-thirds of the land to Charleston Area Medical Center, the region's largest hospital. Originally, the new park was to be completed for the 2004 season, but politically induced delays in securing state funds forced construction to be put off for a year. The new park opened in April 2005.
Notable former players
- Jeremy Affeldt (former Alley Cats player)
- Ryan Braun – On May 24, 2007, Braun became the first former West Virginia Power player to get to the majors, and later in the year he won the National League Rookie of the Year Award after leading the league in slugging percentage. The following three years he was an NL All Star. He also has missed time due to suspensions for using steroids.
- Tony Cogan—Pitched for the Alley Cats in 2000 and made his big-league debut a year later.
- Carlos Corporán Got his first major league hit strangely off Cincinnati Reds shortstop Paul Janish.
- Robinzon Díaz (former Alley Cats player)
- Alcides Escobar – He picked up his first hit in his first career at-bat in the same game, a single against Scott Schoeneweis of the New York Mets.
- Yovani Gallardo – The former Power pitcher made his Major League debut on June 18, 2007.
- Mat Gamel – He recorded hist first career hit, a double, on September 7, 2008, off of Chris Young of the San Diego Padres.
- Jason Gilfillan – 7 Saves for the 2000 Alley Cats
- Jimmy Gobble – Went 12-10 for Alley Cats in 2000 and pitched in 247 career MLB games
- Trevor Hoffman – Played for the Wheelers in 1990. He became a pitcher because of Manager Jim Lett.
- Norris Hopper – Hit .280 for the 2000 Charleston Alley Cats
- Hernán Iribarren – Infielder/outfielder who made his debut on April 12, 2008
- Matt LaPorta – Best remembered for being the bust in the CC Sabathia trade.
- Jason LaRue (former Alley Cats player)
- Starling Marte – Outfielder who made his debut on July 26, 2012 for the Pittsburgh Pirates
- Gregory Polanco – Outfielder who made his debut on June 10, 2014 for the Pittsburgh Pirates
- Pokey Reese (former Wheelers player)
- Alex Ríos (former Alley Cats player)
- Ángel Salomé – He was called up to the majors for the first time on September 1, 2008, and made his debut two days later with a fly out as a pinch-hitter.
- Joe Thatcher – The left-handed pitcher made his Major League debut for the San Diego Padres on July 26, 2007.
- Mike Tonis—Made his pro debut with Alley Cats in 2000
- Dan Wilson (former Wheelers player)
- Six Power home runs in one inning versus the Lexington Legends (South Atlantic League record)
- Ten home runs in one game versus the Lexington Legends (Seven home runs by Power, also a SAL record)