Ghosts of the Minors gets salty with fishy club
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.