6/8/2020 - Phillies Minor League History - The Helena Phillies
Time Period - 1978 to 1983
Venues : Kindrick Legion Field
City : Helena, MT
Franchise History :
The Phillies joined the rookie level Pioneer League in 1978 and brought pro baseball back to Helena after a 64 year absence, the Helena Senators previously played in the Treasure State but disbanded in 1914. The Phillies affiliated in Helena thru the 1983 season.
In 1984 the Helena Gold Sox were born and played as an independent team in the Pioneer League and won the championship with unaffiliated players - many were players previously released by affiliated organizations.
In 1985 the Milwaukee Brewers affiliated with Helena ( they rebranded the team name to the Helena Brewers in 1987 ) and stayed thru the 2000 season ... they then moved their team to Provo, Utah and became the Provo Angels. The Brewers returned to Helena in 2003 when the Medicine Hat Blue Jays club moved there ... they played as the Helena Brewers thru the 2018 season. The Brewers moved the franchise to Colorado Springs, CO becoming the Rocky Mountain Vibes before the 2019 season.
The Stadium the Phillies played in : Kindrick Legion Field
The stadium was built in 1932 and holds 2,100 people. The stadium opened that year on August 24th after costing a whopping $1,500 to build ( equivalent to $ 28,000 in present dollars ). It was built to serve American Legion baseball and supported three teams. Initially it was called Legion Park and later was renamed Memorial Park Field. In the mid 1970’s the field was renamed in honor of Ace Kindrick who was a long time supporter of American Legion Baseball in the Helena area.
It’s located at 1300 N. Ewing Street in Helena and field dimensions are 335 to left field, 400 to center and 325 to right field.
The fiel is still used by American Legion baseball teams in Helena and is also being considered as a home for a collegiate team in the summer Expedition League.
The ballpark has a classic covered grandstand and a scenic view of Mt. Helena.
The Seasons :
Pioneer League ... Manager: Larry Rojas ... 30-38, 6th place ... Attendance: 25,463.
18 year old Ryne Sandberg made his professional debut, he posted a .311 batting average in 190 AB’s. 18 year old outfielder George Bell also made his pro debut, he also posted a .311 batting average in 106 AB’s. 21 year old outfielder Bob Dernier played in 53 games and hit .301 in 186 AB’s. Two future big league MVP’s ( Sandberg - NL - 1984 & Bell - AL - 1987 ) and a Hall of Famer ( Sandberg ) on the club.
Pioneer League ... Manager: Roly De Armas ... 43-26, 1st place - South Division... Attendance: 23,005 - lost in playoffs 2 games to 0 to Lethbridge Dodgers
17 year old RHP Roy Smith went 5-0 in five starts with a 2.50 ERA ... he would go on to pitch 8 seasons in the big leagues with the Indians and Twins.
21 year old OF Joe Bruno won the league batting title with a .385 batting average in 291 AB’s, he also stole 32 bases which was third in the loop. Joe advanced to the AAA level of play before retiring after the 1986 season ... he finished his career in the Mexican League.
19 year old OF Willie Darkis led the league with 20 home runs and also in RBIs with 83. He also plateaued at the AAA level and finished his career in the Mexican League - his final pro season was in 1988.
Pioneer League ... Manager: Roly De Armas ... 32-38, 3rd place - South Division... Attendance: 18,888
18 year old Darren Daulton made his pro debut playing in 37 games.
Pioneer League ... Manager: Roly De Armas ... 29-41, 4th place - South Division... Attendance: 25,143.
18 year old outfielder Jim Olander led the club in hitting with a .324 batting average in 222 AB’s. He would later play in 12 games for the 1991 Milwaukee Brewers ... the extent of his big league career.
22 year old RHP Charlie Hudson made his pro debut ... he would go on to pitch in seven big league seasons beginning in 1983 pitching for the Phillies, Yankees and Tigers
Pioneer League ... Manager: Ronald Smith ... 30-38, 4th place - South Division ... Attendance: 14,910.
18 year old RHP Lance McCullers made his pro debut ... he would later pitch in seven big league seasons beginning in 1985 with the Padres, he also pitched with the Yankees, Tigers and Rangers.
Pioneer League ... Manager: PJ Carey ... 16-54, 4th place - South Division ... Attendance: 10,694.
18 year first baseman Ricky Jordan made his pro debut ... he hit .296 in 247 AB’s with 5 home runs and 33 RBIs ... a future member of the infamous 1993 Phillies
20 year old outfielder Dion Lowe had an outstanding first pro season posting a .340 batting average in 194 AB’s with 13 doubles and 16 stolen bases. It was his best season, Dion was out of baseball after the 1985 season, his highest level reached was A ball in Clearwater. Dion was a key member of the 1975 Lakewood, NJ Little League World Series Championship team.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball