Rockford Cubbies
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Rockford Cubbies
Rockford Expos
19881999
Rockford, Illinois
Minor league affiliations
Previous classesClass A (1988-1999 )
Previous leagues
Major league affiliations
Previous teams
Minor league titles
None
1994
1988, 1989, 1993, 1998, 1999
Team data
Previous names
Previous parks

The Rockford Expos (1988-1992) were a minor league baseball team located in Rockford, Illinois that was Rockford's first entity in the Midwest League. The Expos were followed by the Rockford Royals (1993-1994), Rockford Cubbies (1995-1998) and Rockford Reds (1999) in the Midwest League. Rockford was an affiliate of the Montreal Expos (1988-1992), Kansas City Royals (1993-1994), Chicago Cubs (1995-1998) and Cincinnati Reds (1999).

After minor league first began in Rockford in 1871, Rockford hosted various teams in different minor leagues. The Rockford Expos were immediately preceded in Rockford by the Rockford Rox (1947-1949) of the Central Association.

In 2000, the franchise moved to Dayton, Ohio, where the franchise plays in the Midwest League today as the Dayton Dragons.

History

Minor league baseball began in Rockford, Illinois with the 1871 Rockford Forest Citys, who were one of the earliest professional teams.[1][2]

In 1947, the Rockford Rox returned minor league baseball to Rockford after a 24-year absence. The Rockford Rox joined the reformed Central Association, along with the Burlington Indians, Clinton Cubs, Hannibal Pilots, Keokuk Pirates and Moline A's. The Rox played as an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds (1947-1949). The Central Association folded after the 1949 season.[3]

34 years after the Rockford Rox last played, Rockford became home to the Rockford Expos in 1988. The Midwest League's expansion occurred in 1988 when the Rockford Expos and South Bend White Sox joined the now 14-team league.[4]

The 1988 Expos finished third in attendance (158,674), were second in the northern division in the first half (39-29) and won the division in the second half (45-27). The Expos but lost in the postseason to the Kenosha Twins.[4]

The 1989 Rockford Expos finished 34-32 in the first half, winning the second half with a 40-27 record. Managed by Mike Quade, the 1989 Expos drew 139,338 fans (6th in the MWL). In the playoffs, the Expos lost to the South Bend White Sox, 2 games to none.[5]

In 1990, the Rockford Expos finished the first half 34-34 and were last with a 22-46 second half. The team drew 140,864 fans (5th in the 14-team league).[6]

The 1991 Rockford Expos finished second in both halves with a 76-61 overall record. Attendance was 66,524, (12th in the league) as Pat Kelly and Rob Leary managed the team.[7]

The 1992 Expos finished 66-70 with attendance of 50,900 in 1992 (9th place).[8]

After the 1992 season, the Rockford franchise affiliate was agreed to eventually be transferred to the Chicago Cubs. An existing agreement with the Peoria Chiefs prevented the Cubs from leaving as a Peoria affiliate until 1994. So, Rockford, became a Kansas City Royals affiliate for the next two seasons.[9]

The newly named Rockford Royals finished 78-54 overall in 1993 under Manager Mike Jirschele. The Rockford Royals won the first-half northern division title with a 43-22 record. The Royals finished the regular season 1.0 games behind the Clinton Giants for the top Midwest League record, with attendance of 68,206. The Royals lost in the 1st round in the playoffs, two-games to zero to the South Bend White Sox.[10][11]

Rockford was dominant in 1994, capturing a first-place finish in both halves (44-25 and 45-25), while drawing 70,527. The Rockford Royals won their opening playoff series, beating the West Michigan Whitecaps two-games to zero. Rockford then lost 3 games to 1 to the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the 1994 Midwest League finals.[12][11]

As planned, Rockford became the Rockford Cubbies in 1995.[11]

The Rockford Cubbies finished 75-65 overall in 1995 under manager was Steve Roadcap. Rockford lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Beloit Brewers two-games to zero. The Cubbies drew 110,052 fans, 10th in the league.[13][14]

In 1996 the Cubbies finished 70-65 overall and drew fans 102,479 (11th). They defeated the Beloit Brewers two-games to one in the playoffs, but fell to the West Michigan WhiteCaps two-games to zero in the semifinals.[15]

The 1997 Rockford Cubbies finished 66-66 overall under manager Rubén Amaro and missed the playoffs. The team drew 86,716 (11th).[13][16]

In 1997, the Rockford franchise was sold to Sherrie Myers. The plan was announced to eventually move the franchise to Dayton, Ohio. This move of the franchise eventually took place in 2000.[13]

The last year for the Rockford Cubbies was 1998. Rockford finished last in the first half in the central division at 32-39. The Cubbies then won the second half at 39-29. In the playoffs, the Rockford Cubbies beat the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (2-1) and the Fort Wayne Wizards (2-0) to advance to the Midwest League Finals. The Cubbies lost 3 games to 1 in the finals against the West Michigan Whitecaps. They drew 75,600 (11th).[13][17]

The Rockford Reds played 1999 as a Cincinnati Reds affiliate in Rockford's final Midwest League season. The Rockford Reds finished 45-24 in the first half to capture the Central Division first half crown. The Reds finished 31-39 in the second half of the season for an overall record of 76-63. The Rockford Reds played the franchises final games in losing in the first round of the postseason to two-games to zero the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.[18]

After the 1999 season, Rockford moved to Dayton, Ohio as planned and became today's Dayton Dragons of the Midwest League.[19]

The ballparks

In 1947-1949, the Rockford Rox played at Blackhawk Park. The ballpark was located within the park, located at 101 15th Avenue, Rockford, Illinois, 61101.[20][21]

Built in 1988, the Rockford Midwest League teams played at Marinelli Field. Still in use today, Marinelli Field is located at 101 15th Avenue, Rockford, Illinois.[22][23]

Notable alumni

Year-by-year record (1988-1999)

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1988 84-56 2nd Alan Bannister Lost in 1st Round
1989 74-59 4th Mike Quade Lost in 1st Round
1990 56-80 12th Mike Quade none
1991 76-61 2nd Pat Kelly (27-21)/Rich Dubee (1-1)/Rob Leary (48-39) none
1992 66-70 7th Rob Leary none
1993 78-64 2nd Mike Jirschele Lost in 1st Round
1994 89-50 1st John Mizerock Lost in League Finals
1995 75-65 5th Steve Roadcap Lost in 1st Round
1996 70-65 5th Steve Roadcap Lost in 2nd Round
1997 66-66 9th Rubén Amaro none
1998 71-68 7th Rubén Amaro Lost League Finals
1999 76-63 4th Mike Rojas Lost in 1st Round

References

  1. ^ "Rockford Forest Citys - BR Bullpen". www.baseball-reference.com.
  2. ^ "1871 Rockford Forest Citys Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com.
  3. ^ "Central Association - BR Bullpen". www.baseball-reference.com.
  4. ^ a b "1988 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  5. ^ "1989 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  6. ^ "1990 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  7. ^ "1991 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  8. ^ "1992 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  9. ^ "Rockford Expos - BR Bullpen". www.baseball-reference.com.
  10. ^ "1993 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  11. ^ a b c "Rockford Royals - BR Bullpen". www.baseball-reference.com.
  12. ^ "1994 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  13. ^ a b c d "Rockford Cubbies - BR Bullpen". www.baseball-reference.com.
  14. ^ "1995 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  15. ^ "1996 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  16. ^ "1997 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  17. ^ "1998 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  18. ^ "1999 Midwest League Season | MWLguide.com". www.mwlguide.com.
  19. ^ "Rockford Reds - BR Bullpen". www.baseball-reference.com.
  20. ^ "Blackhawk Park". Rockford Park District.
  21. ^ "15th Avenue Park in Rockford, IL history and teams on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.
  22. ^ "Marinelli Field - BR Bullpen". www.baseball-reference.com.
  23. ^ "Marinelli Stadium in Rockford, IL history and teams on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.

See also

Rockford Expos players
Rockford Forest Citys (minor league) players
Rockford Cubbies players
Rockford Royals players
Rockford Reds players
Rockford Rox players


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