Founded in 1897
Asheville, North Carolina
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||High-A East (2021-present)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Minor league titles|
|Ballpark||McCormick Field (1924-present)|
|Mike DeWine and family|
|General Manager||Larry Hawkins|
Asheville teams have played under the Tourists moniker in different leagues and classifications for over a century, with the earliest dating to 1897. The current team had played continuously in what is now known as the South Atlantic League since 1976. Starting in 2021, the team will play in the High-A East league as an affiliate of the Houston Astros. They have won three South Atlantic league championships, first in 1984 and most recently in 2014. Previous Tourists teams won a total of four additional championships.
The Tourists play home games at McCormick Field. The park opened in 1924, renovated in 1959, and renovated again for the 1992 season. McCormick Field seats 4,000 fans, and is notable for the scoreboard which reads "Visitors" in the guest slot and "Tourists" in the home slot.
Professional baseball in Asheville, North Carolina, dates to 1897, when the Asheville Moonshiners took the field. It has been played continuously for nearly every year since 1909, with early teams such as the Redbirds (1909) and the Mountaineers (1910-1914). The "Tourists" name dates to 1915, when local sportswriters began referring to the Mountaineers team as the Tourists.
The original Tourists brought Asheville its first ever professional sports championship in 1915. They continued playing in the Class-D North Carolina State League until 1917, when the league suspended operations due to World War I. In 1924 the "Asheville Skylanders" started play in the South Atlantic League; however, they soon adopted the Tourists nickname. They played in the South Atlantic League until 1930, when they jumped to the Piedmont League, where they played for two seasons before folding. In 1934 the Columbia Sandlappers moved to Asheville, taking up the Tourists name. This incarnation won the 1939 Piedmont League championship; however the league suspended operations in 1942, due to the outset of World War II.
In 1946 a new Tourists franchise started up in the Tri-State League. During the 1940s they shared McCormick Field with the Asheville Blues, an independent Negro leagues team. They folded along with their league in 1955. In 1959 a new South Atlantic League (later the Southern League) franchise came to town. McCormick Field was renovated. The team initially wanted a new name, and organized a fan vote to pick. However, fans voted overwhelmingly to keep the Tourists nickname. The team won two league titles, in 1961 and 1968. In 1968, the Tourists won the Southern League championship under manager Sparky Anderson, who went on to manage the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers during his 26 years in Major League Baseball.
In 1972 Asheville became affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles MLB team. As part of Baltimore's "Oriole Way" system, the Asheville team was rebranded the Asheville Orioles, adopting the logo and colors of their affiliate. The team had four successive winning seasons, but after the 1975 season the Orioles relocated their Double-A franchise to Charlotte, North Carolina, as the Charlotte Orioles.
McCormick Field would not be unoccupied for the 1976 season, however. Shortly after the AA franchise moved to Charlotte, their place was taken by an expansion team in the Western Carolinas League (which now became the now-defunct South Atlantic League). Like many teams before it, it assumed the Tourists nickname. The team has remained in Asheville continuously since, winning the 1984 league championship. They are currently a farm team of the Houston Astros (1982-93, 2021-), with whom they have been affiliated since 2021. They were previously affiliated with the Texas Rangers (1976-81) and the Colorado Rockies (1994-2020). The team has subsequently won two additional league titles in 2012 and 2014.
The Tourists played a minor role in the 1988 film Bull Durham. In the film Kevin Costner's character, Crash Davis, finishes his baseball career with the Tourists after being cut from the Durham Bulls, and with them breaks the all-time minor league home run record. The Tourists' fan store features "Crash Davis" jerseys and paraphernalia in remembrance of its cameo in filmography.
On January 5, 2010 it was reported by the Asheville Citizen-Times that Palace Sports and Entertainment have sold the Asheville Tourists to former U.S. Senator and current Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine and his family. It was reported that Brian DeWine, son of Mike, would be the team president. The team is owned by DeWine Seeds-Silver Dollar Baseball. Governor DeWine has a 32% stake in the team but does not play a role in management. In 2020 the team received a $189,500 Paycheck Protection Program loan during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baseball Hall of Fame alumni
|1915||74-46||1st||Jack Corbett||League Champs|
|1917||12-16||-||Ernest "Doc" Ferris||none|
|Team disbanded 1917-1923|
|1925||66-63||5th||Bob Higgins / Larry Gardner||none|
|1929||84-62||2nd||Mike Kennedy||Lost League Finals|
|1931||66-67||4th||Ray Kennedy / Bobby Hipps|
|1932||35-33||-||Joe Guyon||Team disbanded July 7|
|Team disbanded 1933|
|1934||34-59 (55-78 overall)||5th||Bill Laval / Possum Whitted||Columbia moved to Asheville June 7|
|1935||75-62||1st||Billy Southworth||Lost League Finals|
|1937||89-50||1st||Hal Anderson||Lost in 1st round|
|1939||89-55||1st||Hal Anderson||League Champs|
|1940||75-60||2nd||Tommy West||Lost in 1st round|
|Team disbanded 1943-1946|
|1946||83-57||2nd||Bill Sayles||Lost in 1st round|
|1948||95-51||1st||Clay Bryant||Lost in 1st round|
|1949||76-71||3rd||Ed Head||Lost in 1st round|
|1950||83-62||2nd||Clay Bryant||Lost League Finals|
|1951||85-55||2nd||Ray Hathaway||Lost League Finals|
|1952||65-75||5th||Bill Hart / George Tesnow|
|1953||83-67||2nd||Ray Hathaway||Lost in 1st round|
|1954||86-54||1st||Ray Hathaway||Lost League Finals|
|Team disbanded 1956-1958|
|1961||87-50||1st||Ray Hathaway||none League Champs|
|1962||70-70||4th||Ray Hathaway||Lost in 1st round|
|1964||52-86||8th||Ray Hathaway (28-53) / Bob Clear (24-33)||none|
|1968||86-54||1st||Sparky Anderson||none League Champs|
|1971||90-51||2nd||Larry Sherry||Lost League Finals|
|Team known as Asheville Orioles 1972-1975|
|1976||76-62||1st||Wayne Terwilliger||Lost League Finals|
|1983||64-80||9th (t)||Tom Spencer|
|1984||73-70||5th||Tom Spencer||League Champs|
|1986||90-50||2nd||Ken Bolek||Lost League Finals|
|1987||91-48||1st||Keith Bodie||Lost League Finals|
|1988||65-75||9th||Gary Tuck / Jim Coveney|
|1995||76-63||5th||Bill McGuire||Lost in 1st round|
|1996||84-52||1st||P. J. Carey||Lost in 2nd round|
|2000||66-69||8th (t)||Joe Mikulik|
|2009||68-70||7th||Joe Mikulik||Lost in 1st round|
|2012||88-52||1st||Joe Mikulik||League Champs|
|2014||89-49||1st||Fred Ocasio||League Champs|
|2015||72-67||2nd||Warren Schaeffer||Lost League Finals|