• Steve Potter

7/13/2020 : Phillies Minor League History - Spartanburg


Time Period - 1963 to 1994


Venue : Duncan Park


City : Spartanburg, SC


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Franchise History :


Spartanburg Minor League baseball dates back to the Spartanburg Spartans who played from 1907 to 1929 and 1938 to 1940. The 1938-1939 teams affiliated with the Cleveland Indians. In 1946 the Spartanburg Peaches formed as an affiliate of the St. Louis Browns. The Peaches affiliated with the Cleveland Indians from 1947 to 1955.


In 1963 the Spartanburg Phillies were born as an A level member of the Western Carolinas League, then switching to the South Atlantic League concurrent with the league’s 1980 name change. The Spartanburg franchise also changed it’s name to the Traders for the 1980 season, the Spinners in 1983 and the Suns in 1984 before reverting back to the Phillies name in 1986.


“The Phillies club won Western Carolina League titles in 1966 and 1967.  The 1966 team featured a middle infield combo of Larry Bowa and Denny Doyle, had a 91-35 record and was ranked # 78 in the top 100 minor league teams of all time as selected by the National Association in 2001. In 1966, the Spartanburg Phils rattled off a 25-game winning streak between July 17th and August 12th.  20 of the 25 games were complete games by Phillies starters. The bullpen contributed just 17 1⁄3 innings during the entire 25-game run!


Off the field, Pat Williams, a young protégé of maverick promoter Bill Veeck, promoted the Spartanburg clubs of the 1960’s.  Williams ran constant promotions and local fans responded.  In 1966, Spartanburg re-wrote the single season Class A attendance record. Williams – a young man in his mid-20’s during his time in Spartanburg – would go on to become one of the mostly highly respected chief executives in the NBA, as General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s.” - Funwhileitlasted.net


The Phillies won Western Carolinas League crowns in 1972, 1973 and 1975. In 1988 they won the South Atlantic League championship.


The club moved to Kannapolis, NC following the 1994 season.


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The Stadium the Phillies teams played in :


Duncan Park :


Location: W. Park Drive at Caulder Avenue.

Capacity: 4,500 (1939); 4,000 (1950); 3,500 (1995); 2,945 (1971)

Dimensions (Left, Center, Right): 321-390-320 (1939); 319-376-319


Duncan Park is currently the home of the Spartanburg High School baseball team and the Post 28 American Legion Baseball team. The ballpark opened in 1926 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.


“Perhaps the stadium’s best-known team was the Spartanburg Phillies, a Class A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies that played there from 1963-94. The stadium also served as a venue for Wofford College and the University of South Carolina Upstate prior to the early 2000s, and hosted collegiate summer league teams in the 2000s.

And while various community events, pageants and celebrations have been held at stadium, none have quite matched the decisive game of the 1936 American Legion World Series, when a record-setting crowd of 21,000 fans filled the ballpark to watch Post 28 win.


The city of Spartanburg owns the stadium and has made significant improvements through a partnership with the Spartanburg School District. The renovated seating includes several of the 582 green wooden seats that came from Philadelphia’s Shibe Park, known later as Connie Mack Stadium. The seats were installed in Duncan Park Stadium in 1971.” - Goupstate.com


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The Seasons :


The Sixties :


1963


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Lew Kahn ... 66-58 , 3rd place ... Attendance: 94,012.


19 year old first baseman Gene Stone hit .284 with 7 home runs in 197 AB’s in his first season of pro baseball ... he would play 6 seasons including appearing in 18 big league games in 1969 with the Phillies


1964


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Dick Teed ... 47-80 , 8th place ... Attendance: 46,115.


18 year old LHP Mike Jackson pitched in 8 games ( 25 IP ) in his first pro season, also spending time with Bakersfield ( 4 games ) ... he would pitch in 23 big league games from 1970 to 1973 with the Phillies, Cardinals, Royals and Indians

1965


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Moose Johnson ... 54-68 , 7th place ... Attendance: 114,796.


20 year old RHP Barry Lersch made his pro debut by pitching in 24 starts and posting a 2.85 ERA in 161 IP. He would pitch in 169 major league games over 6 seasons ( 1969 to 1974 ) with the Phillies ( 5 yrs ) and Cardinals


1966

Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Bob Wellman ... 91-35 , 1st place ... Attendance: 173,010 . League Champions


20 year old Shortstop Larry Bowa hit .312 in 429 AB’s - he stole 24 bases ... 22 year old Second Baseman Denny Doyle hit .308 in 497 AB’s - he swiped 28 bases ... 19 year old Outfielder Gilberto Torres led the league in hitting with a .365 average in 378 AB’s ... 21 year old RHP John Penn went 15-4 in 24 starts with a 2.21 ERA in 179 IP ... he tossed 14 complete games ... Torres and Penn never played in the big leagues


The starting pitching staff threw 54 complete games including 15 shutouts ... 20 of the complete games came during a 25 game winning streak between July 17th and August 12th

1967


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Dick Teed ... 80-43 , 1st place ... Attendance: 141,680. League Champions


20 year old LHP Ken Reynolds went 13-9 in 24 starts with a 2.89 ERA in 168 IP ... he pitched in 103 big league games over 6 seasons ( 1970 to 1976 ) with the Phillies, Expos, Cardinals and Padres


23 year old First Baseman Ken Huebner won the batting title with a .354 batting average in 302 AB’s ... he played 8 minor league seasons and retired after the 1972 campaign


19 year old Third Baseman John Vukovich played in 74 games in his second pro season ... he would play in 10 major league seasons from 1970 to 1981 with the Phillies, Brewers and Reds and also coached and managed in the show

1968


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Bobby Malamus ... 71-54, 2nd place ... Attendance: 112,789 . Lost to Greenwood Braves 2 games to 1 in playoffs


20 year old John Vukovich hit .313 in 37 games before moving to Tidewater to finish the season ...

1969


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Bobby Malamus ... 58-65, 5th place ... Attendance: 32,735

21 year old Outfielder Richard Giallella won the league batting title with a .358 batting average in 193 AB’s in his first pro season ... he played 6 minor league seasons and hit .301 ( 399 AB’s ) in his final season at Reading in 1974


18 year old infielder Manny Trillo ( played 2B, SS & 3B ) hit .280 in 275 AB’s ... he’d play in 17 major league seasons ( 1973 to 1989 ) with the A’s, Cubs, Phillies, Indians, Expos, Giants, Cubs and Reds ... we will always remember him as the rifle armed second baseman of the 1980 WS Champion Phillies


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The Seventies :


1970


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Howie Bedell ... 64-64 , 3rd place ... Attendance: 29,743.


22 year old 1B/3B George Hodge led the league in Total Bases ( 217 ) and was second in batting average ( .357 in 403 AB’s ) ... he played three seasons in the minor leagues and one season in Mexico before ending his pro playing career


1971


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Bob Wellman ... 78-47 , 2nd place ... Attendance: 46,277.


24 year old 1B/OF Lloyd Hutchinson led the league in home runs ( 25 ), Total Bases ( 240 ) , Slugging ( .614 ) and OPS ( 1.042 ) while posting a .335 batting average in 114 AB’s ... he would play a total of 4 Minor League seasons before leaving baseball after the 1972 campaign playing his final season in 1972 with Reading


1972


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Bob Wellman ... 89-43 , 1st place ... Attendance: 57,4321. League Champions : Defeated Greenville Rangers 2 games to 1 in Championship Series


23 year old Outfielder Jerry Martin hit .316 in 513 AB’s with 30 doubles, 6 triples, 12 home runs and 112 RBIs ( led league ) with 21 stolen bases ... he also led the loop in Total Bases with 240 ... he’d play in 11 major league seasons with the Phillies, Cubs, Giants, Royals and Mets from 1974 to 1984


22 year old RHP Terry Periman went 11-3 with a 1.99 ERA in 27 games ( 16 starts - 8 CG, 122 IP ) ... he was out of baseball after the 1973 season after a three year minor league stint


21 year old LHP Chuck Kniffin went 13-1 in 18 games ( 17 starts ) with a 2.11 ERA in 132 IP - he tossed 11 complete games ... Kniffin was in his third consecutive year at Spartanburg ... he’d pitch in 10 Minor League seasons reaching the AAA level with Oklahoma City his final three years before leaving the game after the 1978 campaign


The team starting staff tossed 48 complete games including 13 by 20 year old RHP Don Kreke who went 15-7 in 27 starts ( 198 IP ) ... he was in his second pro season ... he left the pro game after completing his 6th minor league season in 1976

1973


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Howie Bedell ... 67-61 , 3rd place ... Attendance: 40,189. League Champions : Defeated Gastonia Rangers 2 games to 0 in Championship Series


19 year old LHP Tommy Underwood went 13-6 with a 2.10 ERA ( tops in the league for starting pitchers ) in 26 games ( 193 IP) ... he would pitch in 11 Major League seasons ( 1974 to 1984 ) with the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Yankees, A’s and Orioles


The starting pitching staff had four hurlers post double digit wins and complete games ... the staff had 54 complete games ... 24 year old LHP Dave Fanning was 14-8 with 14 complete games in 25 starts ( 176 IP ) ... he played only one more season in a three year minor league career


1974


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Howie Bedell ... 49-84 , 6th place ... Attendance: 34,752.


19 year old LHP Willie Hernandez went 11-11 in 26 starts ( 190 IP ) with a 2.75 ERA in his first pro season ... he would go on to pitch in 13 major league seasons ( 1977 to 1989 ) with the Phillies, Cubs and Tigers and would win the 1984 American League and Cy Young Awards with the 1984 Tigers when he posted a 9-3 record with 31 saves and a 1.95 ERA in 80 games ( 140.1 IP ) for the WS Champion Detroit Tigers


22 year old RHP Warren Brusstar also made his pro debut by appearing in 22 games and posting a 1.93 ERA in 42 IP ... He’d go on to pitch in 9 big league seasons from 1977 to 1985 with the Phillies, White Sox and Cubs including winning a WS ring with the 1980 Phillies


1975


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Lee Elia ... 81-59 , 1st place ... Attendance: 27,336. League Champions


19 year old Outfielder Lonnie Smith led the league in hitting with a .323 batting average in 465 AB’s with 23 doubles, 4 triples, 7 home runs and 56 stolen bases ... he’d play in 17 major league seasons ( 1978 to 1994 ) with the Phillies, Royals, Cardinals, Braves, Pirates and Orioles and won three WS rings


22 year old First Baseman Gary Begnaud led the league with 25 home runs, 100 RBIs and 251 Total Bases ... he played a total of five years in the minor leagues before leaving after the 1979 season


1976


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Lee Elia ... 59-80 , 4th place ... Attendance: 32,008.


17 year old LHP Carlos Arroyo posted a 2.65 ERA in 37 games ( 102 IP ) in his second year as a pro ... he’d play 7 minor league seasons before becoming a coach ... has served the Phillies organization since 1983


19 year old RHP Dickie Noles tossed 137 innings in 24 games ... he would go on to pitch in 11 major league seasons with the Phillies, Cubs, Rangers, Indians, Tigers and Orioles and was a key member of the 1980 WS Champion Phillies squad ... he’s

been the Phillies Employee Assistance Professional since 1986

1977


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Mike Compton ... 67-73 , 4th place ... Attendance: 27,381.


18 year old RHP Marty Bystrom made his pro debut going 13-11 with a 3.38 ERA in 27 games ( 184 IP ) ... he’d pitch in 6 major league seasons from 1980 to 1985 with the Phillies and Yankees ... was another key member of the 1980 WS Champion Phillies when he went 5-0 in 6 late season games with a 1.50 ERA in 36 IP


1978


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Ron Clark ... 73-67 , 4th place ... Attendance: 26,721.


19 year old RHP Scott Munninghoff went 17-7 with a 2.30 ERA in 26 starts ( 180 IP ) tossing 8 complete games ... he’d pitch in 4 big league games during the 1980 season with the Phillies totaling 6 IP in his major league career


1979


Western Carolina League (A ) ... Manager : Bill Dancy ... 73-66 , 3rd place ... Attendance: 28,960. Lost to Greenwood Braves 3 games to 1 in playoffs


19 year old Outfielder George Bell hit 24 doubles, 15 triples ( led league ) , 22 home runs and 102 RBIs ( led league ) hitting .305 in 491 AB’s with a league leading 270 total bases ... he’d play in 12 major league seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs and White Sox from 1981 to 1993 and won the AL MVP Award in 1987 when he hit 47 home runs with 134 RBIs while posting a .308 BA in 610 AB’s ... the Blue Jays took him from the Phillies in the 1981 Rule V Draft


19 year old Shortstop Ryne Sandberg had 21 doubles and 21 stolen bases in 138 games ... he went on to a Hall of Fame 16 year MLB career with the Phillies and Cubs ( 15 seasons ) winning the NL MVP Award in 1984 as a second baseman ... he won 9 gold gloves at the position, was a 10 time All Star and a 7 time Silver Slugger Award winner


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The Eighties :


1980


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Tom Harmon ... 73-65 , 2nd place ... Attendance: 35,480. Lost to Charleston Royals 2 games to 1 in playoffs


21 year old 2B/OF Steve Jeltz made his pro debut by playing in 31 games posting a .290 batting average in 190 AB’s ... he’d play in 8 major league seasons primarily as a shortstop with the Phillies and Royals from 1983 to 1990 playing in 727 big league games


1981 - Played as “The Traders”


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Tom Harmon ... 71-70 , 3rd place ... Attendance: 43,404.


20 year old Outfielder Jeff Stone stole 123 bases in 134 games ... he would play in 8 major league seasons ( 1983 to 1990 ) with the Phillies, Orioles, Rangers and Red Sox appearing in 372 games ... Jeff stole 75 bags in the show and 525 in 13 Minor League seasons

19 year old Catcher Darren Daulton & 20 year old Juan Samuel were in the second years of their pro careers ... both spent the season at Spartanburg


1982- Played as “The Traders”


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Managers : Tony Taylor & PJ Carey ... 69-71 , 3rd place ... Attendance: 40,288.


20 year old infielder Rick Schu played in 125 games in his second pro season and hit 12 home runs while driving in 60 runs ... he played in 9 major league seasons ( 1984 to 1996 ) with the Phillies, Orioles, Tigers, Angels and Expos and two seasons in Japan with Nippon


1983 - Played as “The Spinners”


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Roly DeArmas ... 72-71 , 3rd place ... Attendance: 57,331.


19 year old Outfielder Keith Hughes finished 5th in the league in hitting with a .329 average in 484 AB’s ... he went on to play in 93 big league games in parts of four seasons from 1987 to 1993 with the Phillies, Yankees, Orioles, Mets and Reds


20 year old Outfielder Chris James led the league in Total Bases ( 257 ) and RBIs ( 121 ) ... he played 55 games at third base ... James played in 10 big league seasons over the time period of 1986 to 1995 with the Phillies, Padres, Indians, Giants, Astros, Rangers, Royals and Red Sox


1984 - Played as “The Suns”


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Jay Ward ... 70-70 , 3rd place ... Attendance: 40,223.


19 year old First Baseman Ricky Jordan hit .292 in 490 AB’s with 10 home runs and 76 RBIs ... he would play in 8 major league seasons between 1988 and 1996 with the Phillies ( 7 years ) and Mariners


1985 - Played as “The Suns”


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Roly DeArmas ... 66-70 , 4th place ... Attendance: 48,742.


19 year old LHP Mike Miller went 15-7 in 25 games ( 161.2 IP ) with a 2.67 ERA ... he’d play 4 minor league seasons ( 1984 to 1987 ) pitching in 94 games ( 486.2 IP )


1986


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Roly DeArmas ... 40-95 , 5th place ... Attendance: 18,833.


23 year old Short Stop Rick Parker hit .296 in 62 games ( 233 AB’s ) before being promoted to Clearwater where he played in 63 games to finish the season


1987


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Ramon Aviles ... 66-74 , 3rd place ... Attendance: 36,286.


19 year old LHP Chuck McElroy went 14-4 in 24 games ( 21 starts ) tossing 130.1 IP ... he went on to pitch in 13 major league seasons from 1989 to 2001 with the Phillies, Cubs, Reds, Angels, White Sox, Rockies, Mets, Orioles and Padres appearing in 654 games ( 739.1 IP )


1988


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Mel Roberts ... 69-69 , 2nd place ... Attendance: 61,108. League Champions : Defeated Greensboro Hornets 2 games to 0 in playoffs & defeated Charleston Rainbows 3 games to 0 in the Championship Series


19 year old LHP Andy Carter went 11-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 25 games ( 156.2 IP ) ... he would pitch in 24 big league games over two seasons ( 1994 & 1995 ) with the Phillies


1989


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Mel Roberts ... 62-79, 5th place ... Attendance: 94,120.


23 year old Second Baseman Mickey Morandini led the league in hitting with a .338 batting average in 231 AB’s ... he would play in 11 major league seasons from 1990 to 2000 with the Phillies, Cubs and Blue Jays appearing in 1,298 games ... Mickey is now a Fan Ambassador with the Phillies and the “Commish” of Phillies Phantasy Camp


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The Nineties :


1990


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Rick Colbert ... 63-78, 5th place ... Attendance: 45,104.


Four players on the roster would play in the Major Leagues : OF Tom Marsh and Pitchers Paul Fletcher, Donnie Elliott and Bob Wells


1991


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Mel Roberts ... 70-70, 3rd place ... Attendance: 54,489.


19 year old Catcher Mike Lieberthal hit .305 in 72 games ( 243 AB’s ) ... he became a Phillies Wall of Famer by playing 14 major league seasons ( 13 with Phillies, 1 with the Dodgers ) from 1994 to 2007 appearing in 1,212 games


21 year old Shortstop Kevin Stocker made his pro debut by playing in 70 games ... he went on to play in 8 major league seasons with the Phillies, Rays and Angels


1992


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Roy Majtyka ... 70-68, 5th place ... Attendance: 47,274. Lost to Charleston Wheelers 2 games to 0.


22 year old RHP Rickey Bottalico posted a 2.41 ERA in 42 games ( 119.2 IP - 118 K’s ) with 13 saves ... he would go on to pitch in 12 major league seasons from 1994 to 2005 with the Phillies, Cardinals, Royals, Diamondbacks, Mets and Brewers appearing in 562 games and recording 116 saves including 34 each year with the 1996 and 1997 Phillies


1993


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Roy Majtyka ... 62-80, 5th place ... Attendance: 53,975.


21 year old Catcher Gary Bennett appeared in 42 games ... he would go on to play in 13 big league seasons from 1995 to 2008 with the Phillies, Mets, Rockies, Padres, Brewers, Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers appearing in 587 games ( 1,876 Plate Appearances )


1994


South Atlantic League (A ) ... Manager : Roy Majtyka ... 67-72, 4th place ... Attendance: 58,138.


19 year old Third Baseman Scott Rolen hit .294 in 513 AB’s in his second pro season ... he would go on to play in 17 major league seasons with the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds and hit 316 home runs posting a .281 batting average in 2,038 games ( 7,398 AB’s )


Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️


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