Las Vegas 51s: Wikis

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Baseball current event.svg For current information on this topic, see 2009 Las Vegas 51s season.
Las Vegas 51s
Founded in 1983
Las Vegas, Nevada
LasVegas51s.png
Team Logo
LasVegas51sCap.png
Cap Insignia
Class-level
Minor league affiliations
Major league affiliations
Name
  • Las Vegas 51's (2001–Present)
  • Las Vegas Stars (1983–2000)
  • Spokane Indians (1973–1982)
  • Portland Beavers (1919–1972)
Ballpark
Minor league titles
League titles 1986, 1988 (2)
Division titles 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2002 (8)
Owner(s)/Operated by: Stevens Baseball Group
Manager: Dan Rohn
General Manager: Don Logan

The Las Vegas 51s, formerly known as the Las Vegas Stars, are a minor league baseball team. They are the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. They play at Cashman Field (capacity 9,334) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The team competes in the Pacific Coast League (PCL). The 51s won the PCL championship as the Stars in 1986 and 1988.

The 51s take their name from Area 51 which is located in the desert about 80 miles north of Las Vegas, although the route that must be taken by car to get there takes about three hours of travel. The team logo jokingly depicts one of the grey aliens thought by UFO believers to inhabit that base.

The team's first affiliation was with the San Diego Padres from 1983 to 2000. In 2001, they became the top farm club of the Los Angeles Dodgers. That affiliation ended at the conclusion of the 2008 season, when the 51s signed on with the Blue Jays.

On March 24, 2008, Mandalay Baseball Properties sold the 51s franchise to Stevens Baseball Group.[1] There were no plans to move the team,[2] and talks of building a new stadium have been essentially stagnant for the past seven years.[3][4] The team has sold about 5,000 tickets per game on average the last few years,[5] but far fewer fans typically attend home games.[6]

The new owners announced in March 2008 that they intended to change the team's name for the 2009 season, potentially opening the process to a public vote.[7]

Contents

Franchise history

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Portland Beavers and Spokane Indians

The Las Vegas 51s originally began as the second incarnation of the Portland Beavers baseball club, who reentered the Pacific Coast League after a two-year hiatus. In 1973, the team would move to Spokane, Washington and were renamed the Indians.

Baseball returns to Las Vegas

The franchise would once again move in 1983, becoming the Las Vegas Stars. The Stars became the first professional sports team to play in Las Vegas since the Las Vegas Wranglers baseball club who played from 1947-52 and 1957-58. The Stars inaugural season was quite successful, posting an 83-60 record and winning the first half championship for the Southern Division leading to a playoff berth, eventually losing to the Albuquerque Dukes. The following season, the Stars posted another successful campaign going 71-65 and winning their second division championship (first half), but ultimately lost in the league semifinals to the Hawaii Islanders. After a dismal '85 campaign, the Stars returned to their winning ways posting an 80-62 record and winning the second half of the Southern Division. In the league semifinals, the Stars defeated the Phoenix Firebirds 3 to 2 and went on to win their first PCL Championship, defeating the Vancouver Canadians in five games. The Stars would win their second PCL Championship two years later, once again defeating Vancouver, this time in 4 games.

After winning shares of five division titles and two league championships in their first six years, the Stars would hit a huge skid, only posting a .500 or better record four times and winning shares of only two division championships in the remaining twelve years. The Stars were unable to advance past the first round of the playoffs in both seasons that they qualified.

Intergalactic baseball

In 2001, after 18 years as the San Diego Padres top affiliate, the two teams parted ways. The Stars would soon find a new affiliate with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had just seen their triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Dukes, move to Portland, Oregon to become the fourth incarnation of the Beavers (eventually agreeing to a PDC with San Diego). As part of the new relationship, the Stars decided to rebrand their entire operation, including renaming the team the Las Vegas 51s as a reference to Area 51, a military base located north-northwest of Las Vegas and believed to house UFOs and other "alien" technology. The team would release logos featuring a grey alien head and introducing a mascot reminiscent of the Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks. The whole identity package was blasted as ridiculous by many PCL franchises and many fans, but the team's trademark Dodger blue home cap with grey alien head emblem proved to be a success as it has been one of the highest selling caps in the minor leagues, since 2001.

Although saddled with a new affiliate, a new name, and a new look, the 51s did not improve on the field. The 51s have posted only three winning seasons in the nine years of their existence. Their only division title came in 2002 as the team posted the best record in the league at 85-59, but would lose to the eventual PCL champions, the Edmonton Trappers three games to one.

During their eight years together, the Dodgers and the 51s had a very rocky relationship. The Dodgers were not pleased with Cashman Field as it had no weight room, no indoor batting cages, and was decrepit compared to other stadiums in the league. Citing the inadequacies of Cashman Field and lack of planning for a replacement, Los Angeles decided to not renew the PDC with Las Vegas after the 2008 season, instead opting to return to Albuquerque, signing for two years.

Future

Following the Dodgers refusal, the 51s eventually signed a two-year PDC with the Toronto Blue Jays, marking the first time that the 51s had affiliated with an American League club. The affiliation is not expected to extend past 2010, due to the large travel distance between Las Vegas and Toronto, Ontario.

Before the 2008 season, Mandalay Baseball Properties sold the 51s to Stevens Baseball Group. SBG president Derek Stevens stated that he plans to keep the team in the Las Vegas area and was to change the team's name and identity in time for the 2009 season. However, the team decided to postpone the makeover until after the 2009 season, due to the length of time it took to secure a new PDC, leading the team to miss the deadlines set by Minor League Baseball.

Following the 2009 Season, there has been no talk to rename the team.

Media

The Las Vegas 51s are covered by Las Vegas' two daily newspapers, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Las Vegas Sun. Every 51s game is broadcast by KBAD 920-AM, the local Fox Sports Radio affiliate, with Russ Langer returning for his tenth season as the broadcast's play-by-play man. Several prominent sports radio and television personalities made the start as broadcaster for the Stars and 51s, most notably ESPN's Colin Cowherd.

List of Broadcasters

  • Bob Blum (1985-2005)
  • Dick Calvert (1983)
  • Colin Cowherd (1987-88)
  • Joe Hawk (1983)
  • Ken Korach (1989-95)
  • Russ Langer (2000-present)
  • Tim Neverett (1996-2003, 2005-06)
  • Paul Olden (1984-87)
  • Jerry Reuss (1994-95, 2005-06)
  • Jon Sandler (1993-99)
  • Dom Valentino (1983-85, 1987-89)
  • Rich Waltz (1990-92)

Season-by-season record

This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the 51s. For the full season-by-season history, see Las Vegas 51s seasons.

Records accurate as of end of the 2009 PCL season

Season W L Win% GB Finish Playoffs
2005 57 86 .399 22.5 4th, South Did Not Qualify
2006 67 77 .465 24 3rd, South Did Not Qualify
2007 67 77 .465 17 4th, South Did Not Qualify
2008 74 69 .517 8.5 2nd, South Did Not Qualify
2009 71 73 .493 15.5 4th, South Did Not Qualify

Players

Current roster

Las Vegas 51s roster
Players Coaches/Other
Pitchers
Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Manager

Coaches

† Disabled list
* On Toronto Blue Jays 40-man roster
∞ Reserve list
§ Suspended list
‡ Restricted list
# Rehab assignment
Roster updated December 11, 2009
Transactions

Notable alumni

References

  1. ^ Gemma, Jim. "Stevens Baseball Group - New Owner of Las Vegas 51s." Las Vegas 51s. 24 March 2008. Retrieved on 28 March 2008.
  2. ^ Gemma, Jim. "Mandalay Baseball Transacts More Business - Sells Las Vegas 51s Franchise." Las Vegas 51s. 31 October 2007. Retrieved on 27 September 2008.
  3. ^ Anderson, Mark. "Logan lobbies for new stadium. Las Vegas Review-Journal. 11 July 2001. Retrieved on 27 September 2008.
  4. ^ Iole, Kevin. "Dodgers threaten to quit 51s." Las Vegas Review-Journal. 2 July 2003. Retrieved on 27 September 2008.
  5. ^ "Las Vegas 51s: About." Las Vegas 51s. Retrieved on 27 September 2008.
  6. ^ Las Vegas Sun.
  7. ^ Dewey, Todd. "51s' new owners plan to change team name in '09." Las Vegas Review-Journal. 24 March 2008. Retrieved on 28 April 2008.

External links


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