Welcome to the silent edition of Ghosts of the Minors, adapted from the segment from The Show Before the Show Podcast that asks you to identify a historical Minor League team hidden among two phonies. Here, we skip the quiz element and speed headlong into the past for a quick
Welcome to the silent edition of Ghosts of the Minors, adapted from the segment from The Show Before the Show Podcast that asks you to identify a historical Minor League team hidden among two phonies. Here, we skip the quiz element and speed headlong into the past for a quick romp through the true story of the real Minors team.
Have you heard the one about the team named for a saltwater sport fish that made its home in a West Virginia mountain town?
It may seem improbable, incongruous or even idiotic, yet it’s indisputable: in 1961, the Charleston Marlins belly-flopped into Appalachia. The product of an ill-fated attempt to expand the International League to San Juan, the Cardinals-affiliated club was cash-shy and costly in Puerto Rico. The IL, after all, had teams as far away as Toronto. And so, our Marlins made a mid-May migration to become a big fish in a smaller pond.
Managed by former St. Louis Browns catcher Joe Schultz and featuring prospects such as Tim McCarver and Jim Beauchamp, the maritime-mascoted, mountain-moored club coasted to a second-place finish, sinking Syracuse, grounding the Columbus Jets and soiling the Jersey City Jerseys along the way.
In the first round of the Governors’ Cup playoffs, though, a team with a moniker of city-animal combination equally unrealistic in the 20th century skunked the Marlins -- maybe you’ve herd of them -- the Buffalo Bisons topped Charleston, 4 games to nil, and went on to win the whole shebang.
Even though they got along swimmingly on the field, the Marlins never did prove a good catch, as owner Bill MacDonald cast $150,000 irrecoverably into the deep that year. The team, having piled debt up to the gills, moved to Atlanta for 1962. Charleston, in turn, welcomed a Cleveland affiliate in the Eastern League.
It might have been smoother sailing for the Marlins, though, had Mother Nature not intervened during their year in West Virginia: a historic flood hit the capital town on July 17, and damage to the ballyard and the season was the least of Charleston’s problems.
“Watt Powell Park looked like a huge swimming pool,” A.L Hardman reported in The Sporting News. That might have been fine for the Fish, but not the fans.
And those are the facts -- hook, line and sinker -- on the Charleston Marlins.
Josh Jackson is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @JoshJacksonMiLB.