Arkansas Travelers

Last updated
Arkansas Travelers
Founded in 1963
Little Rock, Arkansas
Ark Travelers.png Arkansas Travelers (cap insignia).png
Team logoCap insignia
Class-level
CurrentDouble-A (1966–present)
PreviousTriple-A (1963–1965)
Minor league affiliations
League Texas League (1966–present)
DivisionNorth Division
Previous leagues
Major league affiliations
Current Seattle Mariners (2017–present)
Previous
Minor league titles
League titles (7)
  • 1971
  • 1977
  • 1979
  • 1980
  • 1989
  • 2001
  • 2008
Division titles (1)2008
Team data
NicknameArkansas Travelers (1963–present)
ColorsRed, black, gray, white, maroon
                    
MascotsAce and Otey (2014-present)
Shelly (1996-2013)
Ballpark Dickey–Stephens Park (2007–present)
Previous parks
Ray Winder Field (1963–2006)
Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
Arkansas Travelers Baseball Inc
Manager Mitch Canham
General ManagerPaul Allen

The Arkansas Travelers, also known informally as The Travs, are a Minor League Baseball team based in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The team, which plays in the Texas League, is the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. [1]

Minor League Baseball hierarchy of professional baseball leagues affiliated with Major League Baseball

Minor League Baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball leagues in the Americas that compete at levels below Major League Baseball (MLB) and provide opportunities for player development and a way to prepare for the major leagues. All of the minor leagues are operated as independent businesses. Most are members of the umbrella organization known as Minor League Baseball (MiLB), which operates under the Commissioner of Baseball within the scope of organized baseball. Several leagues, known as independent baseball leagues, do not have any official links to Major League Baseball.

North Little Rock, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

North Little Rock is a city in Pulaski County, Arkansas, United States, across the Arkansas River from Little Rock in the central part of the state. The population was 62,304 at the 2010 census. In 2017 the estimated population was 65,911, making it the seventh-most populous city in the state. North Little Rock, along with Little Rock and Conway, anchors the six-county Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is further included in the Little Rock-North Little Rock Combined Statistical Area with 902,443 residents.

Texas League baseball league operating at Class AA level of Minor League Baseball in Texas, USA

The Texas League is a Minor League Baseball league which operates in the South Central United States. It is classified as a Double-A league. Despite the league's name, only its four South Division teams are actually based in Texas; the four North Division teams are located in surrounding states of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. The league maintains its headquarters in San Antonio.

Contents

History

The team succeeded the Double-A Little Rock Travelers of the Southern Association, which folded after the 1961 season. They returned as the Arkansas Travelers of the International League in 1963. Both versions of the name derive from the old folk song, "The Arkansas Traveler". The Travelers never took another nickname and possess the second-longest running nickname in minor league baseball history behind the Buffalo Bisons.

Double-A (baseball) Minor League Baseball competition level between Class A and Class AAA

Double-A is the second highest level of play in Minor League Baseball (MiLB) in the United States after Triple-A. There are thirty Double-A teams in three leagues at this classification: Eastern League, Southern League, and the Texas League. The modern Double-A classification was created in 1946 with the renaming of Class A1, which then contained the Texas League and the Southern Association. After the Southern Association disbanded in 1961, the Eastern League and the original South Atlantic "Sally" League were bumped up to Double-A in the 1963 minor league reorganization. The SAL changed its name to the Southern League in 1964.

The Little Rock Travelers were an American minor league baseball team located in Little Rock, Arkansas, and members of the Southern Association, which as a Class A, A1 or Double-A circuit was typically two rungs below Major League Baseball.

The Southern Association was a higher-level minor league in American organized baseball from 1901 through 1961. For most of its existence, the Southern Association was two steps below the Major Leagues; it was graded Class A (1902–1935), Class A1 (1936–1945) and Class AA (1946–1961). Although the SA was known as the Southern League through 1919, today's Double-A Southern League is not descended from the Southern Association; the modern SL came into existence in 1964 as the successor to the original South Atlantic ("Sally") League.

Affiliations

After the end of the Southern Association in 1961, the Travelers were given the opportunity to move up becoming the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A affiliate for first the International League (1963) and then the Pacific Coast League (1964 to 1965). However, in 1966 the Travelers moved down to the Texas League as the St. Louis Cardinals' Double-A affiliate through 2000. This marked the most successful period for the Travelers as they won the Texas League championship in 1971, 1977, 1979, 1980, and 1989. After serving 35 years as a Cardinals' affiliate, the Travelers became the Los Angeles Angels' Double-A affiliate in 2001; this ended the second-longest active affiliation at the time. The Travelers remained with the Angels through 2016, winning the Texas League championship in 2001 and 2008. [2] In 2017, the Travelers entered into a new Player Development Contract, becoming the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners; this move marked just the second time in the last half century that the Travelers swapped major league teams. The 2018 season marked the Arkansas Travelers' 53rd season as a part of the Texas League, making them the longest tenured active member of the league. [3]

Philadelphia Phillies Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

The Philadelphia Phillies are an American professional baseball team based in Philadelphia. The Phillies compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) East division. Since 2004, the team's home has been Citizens Bank Park, located in South Philadelphia.

Triple-A (baseball) Minor League Baseball competition level representing highest level of play

Triple-A or Class AAA is the highest level of play in Minor League Baseball in the United States and Mexico. Before 2008, Triple-A leagues also fielded teams in Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the Triple-A International League (IL) and Pacific Coast League (PCL), with 14 teams in the IL and 16 in the PCL. The MLB-independent Mexican League fields 16 teams. Triple-A teams are typically located in large metropolitan areas that do not have Major League Baseball teams, such as San Antonio; Austin; Columbus; and Indianapolis.

International League Minor League Baseball league of AAA teams operating in the eastern United States

The International League (IL) is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in the eastern United States and is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio. Like the Pacific Coast League and the Mexican League, it plays at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.

Fields

Ray Winder Field

Ray Winder Field RayWinderField.JPG
Ray Winder Field

From 1932 to 2006, the Travelers played at Ray Winder Field. Bill Valentine, a former American League umpire and chosen as general manager for the Travelers from 1976 to 2007, began to promote the historic nature of Ray Winder Field. The ballpark gained recognition as one of the oldest still active parks in minor league baseball, and fans traveled to Little Rock to experience the nostalgia and sample the baseball history represented by Ray Winder Field. However, after nearly three-quarters of a century, the field was showing signs of age and after a successful special election in 2005, the team moved to a new stadium at the start of the 2007 season and the field was demolished in 2012. In 1991, the field saw the largest crowd to watch a baseball game in Arkansas history as Ray Winder played host to about 12,000 people; the crowd had come from all over to see Fernando Valenzuela's rehabilitation start. [4]

Ray Winder Field

Ray Winder Field was a baseball park in Little Rock, Arkansas. The ballpark sat with home plate in roughly the north-northwest corner of the property. The former boundaries of the park were Interstate 630 ; Jonesboro Drive ; South Monroe Street ; buildings on driveway extended from Ray Winder Drive ; buildings bordering South Palm Street. The field was in operation for around 74 years.

Bill Valentine American baseball player

William Terry Valentine, Jr. was a professional baseball umpire who worked in the American League from 1963 to 1968. Valentine was an umpire in the 1965 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. In his career, he umpired 947 Major League games.

Fernando Valenzuela Mexican baseball player

Fernando Valenzuela Anguamea is a Mexican former professional baseball pitcher. Valenzuela played seventeen Major League Baseball (MLB) seasons, from 1980 to 1991 and 1993 to 1997. While he played for six MLB teams, he is best remembered for his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Valenzuela batted and threw left-handed. His career highlights include a win-loss record of 173–153, with an earned run average (ERA) of 3.54. Valenzuela was notable for his unorthodox windup and for being one of a small number of pitchers who threw a screwball regularly. Never a particularly hard thrower, the Dodgers felt he needed another pitch; he was taught the screwball in 1979 by teammate Bobby Castillo.

Dickey–Stephens Park

Dickey-Stephens Park Dickey-Stephens Stadium.jpg
Dickey–Stephens Park

Dickey–Stephens Park, the new stadium in North Little Rock, Arkansas, hosted the first Travelers game against the Frisco RoughRiders on April 12, 2007. It is primarily used for baseball and is the home field of the Arkansas Travelers minor league baseball team. It holds at least 7,000 people. It was built through a partnership between the Travs, Little Rock financier Warren Stephens and the city of North Little Rock. After donating an 11-acre (45,000 m2) plot of land east of the Broadway Bridge, Mr. Stephens named the ballpark in honor of two pairs of baseball-loving brothers; Stephens Inc. Founders Jack and Witt Stephens, and Hall of Fame Catcher Bill Dickey and his brother Skeeter, also a former Major League ballplayer. Both Dickey brothers worked for Stephens Inc. following their baseball careers. Bill, who caught for the 1925 Little Rock Travelers, also managed the club for one season following a 17-year Hall-of-Fame career with the New York Yankees that included seven World Series titles.

Dickey–Stephens Park home venue of the Arkansas Travelers

Dickey–Stephens Park is a baseball park in North Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. The ballpark is primarily used for baseball and serves as the home for the Arkansas Travelers of the Texas League. The capacity of the ballpark is 7,200 which includes 5,800 fixed seats capacity for 1,500 on the berms. It opened in 2007 as a replacement for Ray Winder Field in Little Rock, Arkansas. The ballpark is named after four local Arkansas brothers: Baseball Hall of Famer Bill Dickey, former Major League Baseball catcher George Dickey, and businessmen Jackson T. Stephens and W. R. Stephens.

The Frisco RoughRiders(often shortened to 'Riders) are a Minor League Baseball team of the Texas League and the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. They are located in Frisco, Texas, and are named for the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment during the Spanish–American War, headed by future American President Theodore Roosevelt, nicknamed "The Rough Riders" by the American press. They play their home games at Dr Pepper Ballpark which opened in 2003 and seats 10,316 people.

2004 Jerseys and caps

In 2004 the team introduced new road jerseys and alternate caps that paid homage to the Travs' home city. The jerseys had "Little RockL written across the chest. Travelers’ jerseys have either featured "Arkansas" or "Travelers" ever since the 1950s.

Nostalgia is in these days and the retro look has become stylish, We were the Little Rock Travelers for years and after all this time we thought we lost the identification with Little Rock. Some people actually didn’t know we’re from Little Rock. The LR logo has had success on our replica caps and we thought that the time to make this change was right now."

Bill Valentine

Roster

Arkansas Travelers roster
PlayersCoaches/Other

Pitchers

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Catchers

  • 10 Joe DeCarlo
  •  5 Joseph Odom

Infielders

  • -- Jordan Cowan
  • 44 Joey Curletta
  • 16 Chris Mariscal
  •  2 Yonathan Mendoza
  •  1 Donnie Walton

Outfielders

Designated hitters

  •  9 Dario Pizzano

Manager

Coaches

  • -- Kyle Wilson (hitting)
  • -- Peter Woodworth (pitching)


Injury icon 2.svg 7-day injured list
* On Seattle Mariners 40-man roster
# Rehab assignment
∞ Reserve list
‡ Restricted list
§ Suspended list
† Temporary inactive list
Roster updated January 17, 2019
Transactions
→ More rosters: MiLB    Texas League
Seattle Mariners minor league players

General Managers

Ray Winder

In Ray Winder, was the general manager for Little Rock Travelers when it became defunct in 1961, but continued as general manager for the Arkansas Travelers until 1976. Winder had worked as a ticket taker in 1915 before rising to general manager. More than once, he almost single-handedly kept baseball in Little Rock. In 1960, at the last minute, he used his relationships with major league teams to sign enough players for the Travelers to field a team—it had looked as if the team would not make or would have to move to another town. During his 50-plus years with the team, he saw the Travelers sink to the bottom of the league only to rise three times to the league championship.

Bill Valentine

Bill Valentine Bill Valentine 2007.jpg
Bill Valentine

In 1976, Bill Valentine, a former American League umpire, was chosen as general manager for the Travelers. [5] Valentine would remain general manager until in 2007 after 31 years and would remain executive vice president for two more seasons, before retiring in March 2009. [5] Valentine worked as an announcer for the Arkansas Travelers for eight years. [5] In his first season as general manager, the team saw a 34% increase in attendance, due in part to Valentine's stunts including giving away tens of thousands of tickets to kids, hoping they would bring their parents to the game with them, and holding midget wrestling and amateur boxing at the stadium. [5] [6] The Travelers' attendance continued to increase over the years, and also saw on-field success, winning five league titles while Valentine was GM. Valentine has been inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Officials Association Hall of Fame, the Texas League Hall of Fame, and the North Little Rock Boys Club Hall of Fame. [6]

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References

  1. "Mariners, Travs announce PDC agreement". The Arkansas Travelers. MiLB.com. September 20, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  2. "Arkansas Travelers [Baseball Team] - Encyclopedia of Arkansas". www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  3. "About The Travs | Arkansas Travelers Content". Arkansas Travelers. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  4. "About The Travs | Arkansas Travelers Content". Arkansas Travelers. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Bill Valentine Retires From Arkansas Travelers". milb.com. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  6. 1 2 Bill Valentine at the SABR Baseball Biography Project , by Mark Armour, Retrieved 9 June 2012.