|Northwest Arkansas Naturals|
Founded in 2008
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Texas League (2008–present)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Kansas City Royals (2008–present)|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (1)|
|Division titles (4)|
|Nickname||Northwest Arkansas Naturals (2008–present)|
|Ballpark||Arvest Ballpark (2008–present)|
|Rich Products Corporation|
|General Manager||Justin Cole|
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are a Minor League Baseball team based in Springdale, Arkansas. The team is member of the Texas League, and serves as the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals play at Arvest Ballpark, which opened in 2008 and is located at the intersection of Gene George Boulevard and Watkins Avenue. The team relocated from Wichita, Kansas, in 2008, where they were known as the Wichita Wranglers.
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.
Springdale is the fourth-largest city in Arkansas, United States. It is located in both Washington and Benton counties in Northwest Arkansas. Located on the Springfield Plateau deep in the Ozark Mountains, Springdale has long been an important industrial city for the region. In addition to several trucking companies, the city is home to the world headquarters of Tyson Foods, the world's largest meat producing company. Originally named Shiloh, the city changed its name to Springdale when applying for a post office in 1872. The four-county Northwest Arkansas Metropolitan Statistical Area is ranked 109th in terms of population in the United States with 463,204 in 2010 according to the United States Census Bureau. The city had a population of 69,797 at the 2010 Census.
Arkansas is a state in the southern region of the United States, home to over 3 million people as of 2018. Its name is of Siouan derivation from the language of the Osage denoting their related kin, the Quapaw Indians. The state's diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta.
The Wichita Wranglers had struggled with low attendance numbers and an aging Lawrence–Dumont Stadium throughout Bob Rich Jr.'s 18-year ownership of the team. In 2006, he sought a move to Springdale, contingent on a citizen vote to approve financing for a new stadium.
Lawrence–Dumont Stadium was a baseball stadium in Wichita, Kansas, United States. It was located on the northwest corner of McLean Boulevard and Maple Street, along the west bank of the Arkansas River, in the Delano neighborhood of downtown Wichita. The stadium held 6,400 fans and was primarily used for baseball. The stadium most recently was the home field of the Wichita Wingnuts independent baseball team from 2008 until 2018, and was home to the annual National Baseball Congress World Series from 1935 until 2018.
The pro-baseball movement in Springdale had counted on the support of Ronnie Floyd, influential pastor of local megachurch First Baptist Church of Springdale. In June 2006, Floyd abruptly pulled his support after he discovered that the team would serve alcohol at games,making professional baseball a contentious and evenly split issue in Northwest Arkansas. The July vote on a measure to extend a one-cent sales tax to raise $50 million for the stadium passed by only 15 votes.
Ronald Wayne Floyd was for more than thirty years Senior Pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, otherwise widely known as the First Baptist Church of Springdale, and author of over 20 books on Christian prayer and discipleship. He is a prominent member of the Southern Baptist Convention, serving as president from 2014 to 2016. In addition to his sermons, Floyd produces a podcast and television ministry. In Dr. Floyd’s 30+ years of ministry in Northwest Arkansas, the church has baptized over 18,000 people.
A megachurch is defined by the Hartford Institute as any Protestant Christian church having 2,000 or more people in average weekend attendance. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term, first documented in 1984, as a church with an unusually large membership, especially one preaching a conservative or evangelical form of Christianity and also offering a variety of educational and social activities.
A sales tax is a tax paid to a governing body for the sales of certain goods and services. Usually laws allow the seller to collect funds for the tax from the consumer at the point of purchase. When a tax on goods or services is paid to a governing body directly by a consumer, it is usually called a use tax. Often laws provide for the exemption of certain goods or services from sales and use tax.
The team's nickname plays off the state's nickname as the "Natural State," as well as the Robert Redford film, The Natural. The Rich Family owes much of its baseball success to the film. In 1983, Bob Rich Jr. bought the Double-A Buffalo Bisons, who had suffered low attendance the previous season, for $100,000. That year, Hollywood producers approached Rich about filming scenes for The Natural at Buffalo's War Memorial Stadium. Following the release of the film, local interest in the team rose and attendance at the Bisons' games nearly tripled. Rich was then able to finance the Bisons' move to the Triple-A American Association. In something of a coincidence, the Triple-A Bisons were formerly the Wichita Aeros, meaning Rich has purchased two teams that had played previously in Wichita, Kansas.
Charles Robert Redford Jr. is a retired American actor, director, producer, and businessman. He is the founder of the Sundance Film Festival.
The Natural is a 1984 American sports film based on Bernard Malamud's 1952 novel of the same name, directed by Barry Levinson and starring Robert Redford, Glenn Close, and Robert Duvall. Like the book, the film recounts the experiences of Roy Hobbs, an individual with great "natural" baseball talent, spanning the decades of Roy's career. It was the first film produced by TriStar Pictures.
The Buffalo Bisons are a professional Minor League Baseball team based in Buffalo, New York. They play in the International League (IL) and are the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Bisons play at Sahlen Field in downtown Buffalo.
The "Naturals" name was chosen after receiving 33 percent of the votes in an online fan poll, beating the second-place choice, "Thunder Chickens," by six percent. The "Thunder Chickens" moniker was a nod to Springdale-based Tyson Foods, which is the nation's largest supplier of poultry products, and to the region's poultry industry. Every season, the team embraces the Thunder Chickens brand for a single game with matching uniforms and merchandise.
Tyson Foods, Inc. is an American multinational corporation based in Springdale, Arkansas, that operates in the food industry. The company is the world's second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork after JBS S.A. and annually exports the largest percentage of beef out of the United States. Together with its subsidiaries, it operates major food brands, including Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Sara Lee, Ball Park, Wright Brand, Aidells, and State Fair. Tyson Foods ranked No. 80 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.
The Naturals had early success, advancing to the playoffs in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, the Naturals won the North Division title, but lost in the Texas League championship series to the Midland RockHounds. In 2010, the Naturals swept the first and second-half titles, won the North Division title for a second straight year, and avenged their loss to Midland in 2009, winning the Texas League title in a 3–1 series victory over the RockHounds.
The Midland RockHounds are a minor league baseball team based in Midland, Texas. The team, which plays in the Texas League, is the Double-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics major league club. The RockHounds play in Security Bank Ballpark, which opened in 2002 and seats 6,669 fans. The RockHounds have won seven Texas League championships: in 1975, 2005, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
On June 8, 2008, pitcher Jeff Fulchino became the first former Natural to play in Major League Baseball, throwing a scoreless inning in relief during a 6–3 Royals loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Arvest Ballpark was designed by Populous out of its Kansas City, Missouri, office. It cost $33 million to build, while the rest of the $50 million approved by Springdale voters went toward road and infrastructure improvements.The stadium seats 6,500, but additional berm areas allow a maximum capacity of about 7,800.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals roster
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.
The Las Vegas Aviators, formerly known as the Las Vegas 51s and Las Vegas Stars, are a Minor League Baseball team in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. They are located in Summerlin, Nevada, a community in Las Vegas. The Aviators play their home games at Las Vegas Ballpark, a new 10,000-seat facility. The team previously played at Cashman Field from 1983 to 2018.
Sahlen Field is a 16,600-seat baseball park in Buffalo, New York, which hosted its first regular season baseball game on April 14, 1988, as the tenants of the facility, the Buffalo Bisons, defeated the Denver Zephyrs, 1-0. HOK Sport designed the park as one of the first retro-classic ballparks. This concept featured classic and distinctive architecture, a grass, baseball-specific design and a location within the downtown core. The same firm would bring this concept to the major leagues four years later with Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The New Orleans Baby Cakes are a Minor League Baseball team in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins. They are located in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, and play their home games at the Shrine on Airline.
The Wichita Wranglers were a minor league baseball team based in Wichita, Kansas. The team, which played in the Texas League, was the Double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres from 1987 to 1994 and the Kansas City Royals from 1995 to 2007. The Wranglers played in Wichita's Lawrence–Dumont Stadium. Built in 1934 and renovated for the second time in 2001, the park held 6,400 people as of the Wranglers' last season.
War Memorial Stadium was an outdoor stadium in the northeast United States in Buffalo, New York. It hosted Minor League Baseball and professional football teams, most notably the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League (AFL), and later National Football League (NFL).
Arvest Ballpark is a stadium in Springdale, Arkansas. It is primarily used for baseball, as the home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Texas League. The ballpark has a capacity of 7,305 people and opened in 2008. Arvest Ballpark was designed by the Kansas City architecture firm Populous. Arvest Ballpark was named the 2008 Ballpark of the year by baseballparks.com
The Wichita Aeros were an American minor league baseball franchise based in Wichita, Kansas, that played in the Triple-A American Association from 1970 through 1984.
The Beaumont Golden Gators were a minor league baseball team in the double A Texas League from 1983 to 1986. Owned by insurance man Ted Moor, the team was an affiliate of the San Diego Padres for their entire tenure. Future Major League Baseball players John Kruk, Roberto Alomar, Joey Cora, Ozzie Guillén, Sandy Alomar, Jr., Shane Mack, and Benito Santiago all played at one time for the Golden Gators. The team played its home games at Vincent-Beck Stadium on the campus of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas and won the 1983 Texas League championship. Their uniforms were a gaudy gold, white, and green and the hats were of the historic pillbox variety with a white B surrounded by a golden triangle. The cities of Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange are known in local parlance as the "Golden Triangle." The oil bust in 1986 caused the local economy to falter and Moor sold the team to a group that moved them to Wichita, Kansas before the 1987 season, becoming the Wichita Pilots. The team spent 21 seasons in Wichita, being renamed to the Wichita Wranglers in 1989, before moving to Springdale, Arkansas and becoming the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Prior to their time in Beaumont the team had been the Amarillo Gold Sox.
The Wichita Wingnuts were an independent baseball team based in Wichita, Kansas, in the United States. The Wingnuts were members of the South Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.
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.
Northwest Arkansas includes Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville, the third, fourth, eighth and tenth largest cities in Arkansas. These cities are located within Benton and Washington counties; NWA also includes Madison County, Arkansas.
The Amarillo Sod Poodles, nicknamed the Soddies, are a Minor League Baseball of the Texas League based in Amarillo, Texas. They are the Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Their home games are played at Hodgetown, a new $45.5 million stadium in downtown Amarillo.
New Wichita ballpark is a baseball park under construction in downtown Wichita, Kansas, United States. It will serve as the home ballpark of the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) who plan to relocate to Wichita and adopt a new name for the 2020 season.
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