6/21/2020 - Phillies Minor League History - The Tulsa Oilers
Time Period - 1957 to 1958
Venue : Texas League Park
City : Tulsa, OK
Franchise History :
Professional baseball came to Tulsa in the form of the Oilers franchise in 1905 as an independent team in the Missouri Valley League. The club would play independently in multiple leagues until becoming a co-op partner with the St. Louis Browns from 1927 until 1929 in the Western League. The Pittsburgh Pirates entered into an affiliation agreement for the 1932 and 1933 seasons.
The Oilers joined the Texas League in 1933, a year later when their Pirates agreement ended they became independent until 1940 when the club became a franchise of the Chicago Cubs.
The team played in the AA level Texas League thru the 1965 season ( the Texas League didn’t play during the 1943 to 1945 war years ). They moved to the AAA level Pacific Coast League from 1966 to 1968 and were in the AAA level American Association from 1969 to 1976.
Affiliations over that time period included the following :
Chicago Cubs - 1940 to 1942, 1946 to 1947 and 1956
Cincinnati Reds - 1948 to 1954
Cleveland Indians - 1955
Philadelphia Phillies - 1957 to 1958
St. Louis Cardinals - 1959 to 1976
After the 1976 season team owner A. Ray Smith moved the club to New Orleans where they played as the Pelicans for one season before moving to Springfield, IL and then again to Louisville, KY in 1982 where the club remains in play as the Louisville Bats - currently the AAA franchise of the Cincinnati Reds in the International League.
The Lafayette Drillers filled the Oilers void in Tulsa by moving there for the 1977 season. They remain as a long standing member of the AA level Texas League - currently affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Stadium the Phillies teams played in :
Texas League Park was built in 1934 on the Tulsa County Fairgrounds as a replacement for Fairgrounds Field. Originally it held 4,000 spectators but capacity had been increased to 7,000 by the time the Phillies franchise played there.
Dimensions were 350 to left and right field and 380 to center field.
The stadium was renovated in 1961 shortly after A Ray Smith bought the Oilers franchise. He renamed the stadium Oiler Park. It remained as the home of the Oilers until Smith moved the club following the 1976 season.
In 1977 the Tulsa Drillers moved into the stadium and it became Driller Park. During a spring exhibition game the grandstand collapsed ... aluminum bleachers were put back in it’s place. The Drillers played at the site thru the 1980 season after which the stadium was demolished. The Drillers moved into a newly built ball park named Drillers Stadium to begin the 1981 season.
The Seasons :
Texas League (AA) ... Manager : Al Widmar ... 75-79 , 4th place ... Attendance: 127,465.
26 year old outfielder Jim Frey was selected as the league’s Player of the Year after leading the loop in hits (198), runs (102), doubles (50), triples (11), stolen bases (21) and total bases (298). He was third in batting average (.336 in 589 AB’s ). Frey played 14 seasons in the minor leagues before retiring after the 1963 season. He later was in the major leagues as a coach with the Baltimore Orioles (1970 to 1979), as Manager of the Kansas City Royals (1980 to 1981 ), coach with the New York Mets ( 1982 to 1983 ) and as Manager of the Chicago Cubs ( 1984 to 1986 ) before becoming the General Manager of the Cubs from 1984 to 1991. After leaving Major League Baseball Mr. Frey most recently served as Vice Chairman of the Independent Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League ... he passed away on April 12, 2020 reportedly from complications associated with the Coronavirus.
Texas League (AA) ... Manager : Al Widmar & Jim Fanning ... 71-81, 7th place ... Attendance: 110,759.
32 year old outfielder Harry Fisher hit .328 in 341 AB’s with 19 home runs and 65 RBIs in the next to last year of his playing career ... he also pitched in seven games. Fisher had reached the major leagues as a pitcher in 1951 and 1952 with the Pirates, his major league career consisted of 18 games ... 8 as a pitcher and 10 with pinch hitting appearances.
33 year old Player-Manager Al Widmar pitched in 11 games ( 37 IP ) after pitching 192 innings ( 35 games ) the year before in the same capacity. Widmar had pitched in parts of five big league seasons from 1947 to 1952 with the Red Sox, Browns and White Sox. He also was a professional basketball player in the original American Basketball League during the 1940’s. Later in his baseball career he became a major league pitching coach with the Phillies ( 1962-1964, 1968-1969), Brewers ( 1973-1974 ) and Blue Jays ( 1980-1989 ). He also served as a Minor League Director ( Brewers 1974-1977 ) and as Special Assignment Scout and Special Assistant to the General Manager for the Blue Jays from 1990 to 2000.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
Happy Fathers Day!
Ballpark Photos from digitalballparks web site ... notice the netting ... even back in the day it was there in some parks 👍