• Steve Potter

The Arkansas Travelers


Time Period - 1963 to 1965


Venue : Ray Winder Field


City : Little Rock, Arkansas


.....................................


Travelers Franchise History :


In 1963 The Phillies moved their AAA level International League Affiliation from Buffalo, NY where they had spent the previous four seasons to Little Rock, Arkansas. The franchise name “Travelers” was resurrected from the Little Rock Travelers which had long been a AA level franchise in the Southern Association. The Southern Association ( founded 1901 ) disbanded after the 1961 season. The longest Little Rock Southern Association stint occurred from 1915 to 1958 with a one year hiatus followed by two more seasons from 1960 to 1961. The original Travelers franchise moved to Shreveport, Louisiana in 1959 however the name was revived for the 1960 season when the New Orleans Pelicans franchise moved over to Little Rock. The Arkansas Travelers name originated with the Phillies franchise in 1963 and remains the name of the team to date.


Little Rock had previous affiliations with the Orioles, KC Athletics, Boston Braves, White Sox , Boston Red Sox and Pirates however it also operated as an independent team and has a long baseball history dating as far back as 1887 fielding teams in five other leagues besides the Southern Association.


The name Travelers derives from a folk song called “The Arkansas Traveler”.


After the Phillies discontinued their affiliation with the franchise the Travelers moved to the Texas League and were a Double A affiliate of the St Louis Cardinals from 1966 to 2000. After a 35 year run with the Cardinals the Angels took over the affiliation in 2001, the Travelers were an LA affiliate thru the 2016 season. Since 2017 they’ve affiliated with the Seattle Mariners - the franchise has been a Texas League member for 54 seasons.


..................................


The Stadium the Phillies played in :


The ballpark was constructed in 1931 and named Traveler Field, it’s address was 400 Broadway Street, Little Rock, AK. Seating capacity was 6,032 with field dimensions being 330 to left field, 345 to right field and 390 to center.


While the Phillies played there it remained Traveler Field however in 1966 it was renamed Ray Winder Field after Raymond Winder who was involved with the Travelers franchise for 60 years. Winder started as a ticket seller in 1915 and moved to part owner in 1944 ... he helped in a public stock drive to pursue the bankrupt New Orleans franchise in 1960 and bring pro baseball back to Little Rock after the original team had moved to Louisiana.


The field was demolished in 2012 after sitting basically idle following the 2006 season. The Travelers franchise moved to a new stadium for the 2007 season. Ray Winder Field was sold to the University of Arkansas and was razed with the site cleared for a parking lot. The scoreboard was left standing and still remains ... folks stop by to take photos of the last remaining on site piece of the stadium’s history.


....................................


The Seasons :


1963


International League, Southern Division . . . Manager: Frank Lucchesi . . . 78-73, third place . . . Attendance: 141,287.

Fourth and final minor league season for Richie Allen (believe he went by Richie then) . . . 21-year-old outfielder had a huge season . . . Led league with 12 triples, 33 home runs, 97 RBI, 299 total bases . . . Batted .289 in 544 ABs, 93 runs scored, 19 doubles . . . That was despite enduring tremendous racial hatred and being forced to live apart from his teammates in a segregated town. I admire Mr. Allen even more for what he went thru, pretty remarkable that he was able to focus on the game and become the player that he did.

Other notable players included RHP Ferguson Jenkins, 20; INF Danny Cater, 23 and SS Lee Elia, 25, 1B/OF John Herrnstein, 25 . . . LHP Bill Smith, 29 finished second in the league with 210 IP . . . RHP John Boozer, 24, fourth in ERA (1.76) ( 51 IP )

Major Leaguers :


Allen, Herrnstein, Cater, Boozer, RHP Gary Kroll all played in the majors with the Phillies in 1964 ... 26 of the 32 players on the roster that season previously or eventually played in the major leagues.


1964 :


Pacific Coast League, Eastern Division . . . Manager: Frank Lucchesi . . . 95-61, first place . . . Attendance: 132,170.


The club advanced to the Championship Series where they lost 4 games to 3 against the San Diego Padres.


The team had five pitchers post double digit wins ( 30 year old RHP Bobby Locke, RHP Harry Oliver, 28, RHP Len Clendenin, 21 & RHP Gary Kroll, 22 with 11 each & RHP Joel Gibson, 24 with 10 ). RHP John Boozer, 25, posted a 2.08 ERA in 13 games ( 8 complete games ) tallying an 8-1 record in 95 IP.


Four hitters hit more than 20 home runs - 22 year old 1B Costen Shockley - 36, 26 year old 2B Norm Gigon - 30, 22 year old OF Adolfo Phillips - 29, 23 year old OF Billy Sorrel - 22 and 21 year old OF Alex Johnson - 21.


Shockley led the league in Home Runs and RBIs ( 112 ) while Johnson was sixth in batting average ( .316 - 351 AB’s ), sixth in OPS (.952 ) and fourth in slugging percentage (590). Phillips was seventh in OPS (.949 ) and fifth in slugging percentage (.566 ).


Other notable players included RHP Dallas Green, 29 , 23 year old Catcher Pat Corrales and INF Lee Elia, 26.


Major Leaguers :


24 of the 32 players on the roster that season previously or eventually played in the major leagues ... Fergie Jenkins became a Hall of Famer while Green, Corrales and Lee Elia both played and became major league managers including stints with the Phillies.


1965 :


Pacific Coast League, Eastern Division . . . Manager: Frank Lucchesi . . . 67-79, fifth place . . . Attendance: 77,570.


30 year old RHP Dallas Green recorded a 12-7 record with a 3.66 ERA in 23 starts and threw 172 innings which included 12 complete games. 22 year old RHP Ferguson Jenkins went 8-6 in 32 games ( 10 starts ) with a 2.95 ERA in 122 IP. 19 year old RHP Rick Wise was 8-16 in 30 games ( 28 starts ) with an ERA of 4.45 in 194 IP. 22 year old LHP Grant Jackson threw 155 innings in 32 games posting a 9-11 record with a 3.95 ERA in 155 IP.


23 year old OF Adolfo Phillips returned to hit .285 in 295 AB’s with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs.


Major Leaguers :


19 of the 31 players on the roster that season previously or eventually played in the major leagues ... 24 year old Catcher Pat Corrales played 28 games for Arkansas and 63 in the show with the Phillies in the 1965 season. Fergie Jenkins made his big league debut as well appearing in seven games.


...................................


The Phillies moved on to San Diego for the 1966 season ... the three years at Little Rock weren’t kind ones for the players and coaches who were minorities but they persevered, it’s admirable how they did so.


Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

©2020 by Phillies - A Fan’s View. Proudly created with Wix.com