The City of Stockton has a long, rich baseball history. Professional baseball first came to the city in 1888, when the Stockton ballclub won the independent California League’s inaugural championship. That same summer, Ernest Thayer reportedly drew the inspiration for his famous poem “Casey at the Bat” at a Stockton home game, which were played on the same site as present-day Banner Island Ballpark.
The current era in Stockton’s professional baseball history began in 1941 with the Stockton Fliers, a charter member of the California League. After a four-season hiatus during World War II from 1942-45, the franchise returned in 1946 with a new nickname: the Stockton Ports, a nod to the city's massive seaport – the biggest inland port in the state of California and the hub of transport and commerce in the San Joaquin Valley.
Upon its return in 1946, the California League also re-established itself with teams in Stockton, Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Santa Barbara and Visalia. Today, the Ports are a part of an eight-team league with teams in Modesto, San Jose, Visalia, Fresno, San Bernardino (InlandEmpire), Lake Elsinore and Rancho Cucamonga.
The Ports disbanded after the 1972 season, but returned in 1978 as the Stockton Mariners, only to change their name back to the Ports in 1979. The franchise underwent two more temporary name changes, as the Stockton Mudville Nine from 1982-84 and the Mudville Nine in 2000 and 2001 but have remained the Ports since 2002.
Despite the name changes, the Ports have enjoyed plenty of success since the franchise’s inception in 1941. The Ports have made the postseason 42 times in 70 seasons and their 11 California League Championships are tied for the most by any club (with Fresno as the Cardinals & Giants). The Ports also own the longest winning streak in league history, prevailing in 26 straight games in 1947.
During the 1980’s and early 90’s, Stockton enjoyed a particularly dominant stretch. In the 13-year stretch from 1980-92, the Ports captured four California League titles, and their 977 wins were most by any team in Minor League Baseball.
The Ports’ California League Championships have come in 1946, 1947, 1963, 1965, 1969, 1980, 1986, 1990, 1992, 2002, and 2008.
With a 3-1 win over the San Jose Giants on June 6, 2018, the Ports became the first team in California League history to reach the 5,000-win plateau. The Ports’ all-time record entering the 2021 season is 5,101-4,680.
Ports historical affiliates:
1941 Los Angeles (PCL)
1947-48 Oakland (PCL)
1949 Chicago AL
1952 St. Louis AL
1953-54 Chicago NL
1955 Oakland (PCL)
1958 St. Louis