The Gastonia Rangers were a class A minor league baseball team located in Gastonia, North Carolina. The team played first as the Rangers in the Western Carolinas League (1973-1974), then later in the same league renamed as the South Atlantic League (1987-1992), and were affiliated with the Texas Rangers. Their home stadium was Sims Legion Park. After the 1992 season, the team moved to another North Carolina city, Hickory, and have been known as the Hickory Crawdads ever since.
Charlotte Hornets and Charlotte Knights owner George Shinn purchased the Gastonia franchise from Jack Farnsworth prior to the 1989 season. In doing so, it allowed Shinn the freedom to move the Charlotte Knights to Fort Mill, SC without the move being challenged by the Gastonia franchise under Minor League Baseball's 35-mile territorial right rule. Once Shinn was able to acquire a Class AAA expansion franchise to play in Fort Mill, he no longer needed to control the interests of the Gastonia franchise and sold the team to Donald Beaver.
"Donald C. Beaver is Owner/President of the New Orleans Zephyrs. He is also the owner and President of the Class-A South Atlantic League Hickory (NC) Crawdads and owner of the Class AAA International League Charlotte Knights. He has ownership in the Pittsburgh Pirates and is on their board of directors.
Beaver received his Bachelor of Science degree from Appalachian State University in 1962 and followed it up with a Masters of Business Administration in 1964. He embarked on a career as a hospital administrator and in 1975 he founded the Brian Center Corporation, where he served as CEO until 1995.
While he achieved success as a nursing home pioneer, Beaver never forgot his love of baseball. He was thrust into the spotlight at an early age as a pitcher in the 1952 Little League World Series. 40 years later he purchased the Gastonia Rangers from George Shinn and relocated the franchise to Hickory, and since then several clubs have been added. In 2000, he was inducted into the Little League World Series Hall of Fame."
This is the last known statistical link of the Gastonia Rangers baseball club. In their last season, they went 66-70 (.485), 12 games back in the SAL's Northern Division. While Gastonia, NC no longer has a team in the South Atlantic League it has since 2002 has been home to the Gastonia Grizzlies of the collegiate Coastal Plain League.
Fred Nichols - 1974 Pat McKernan - 1973
The Gastonia Rangers (as well as the future Gastonia Grizzlies) played at Sims Legion Park.
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