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Northwest Arkansas Naturals
Founded in 1976
Springdale, Arkansas
NWARnaturals.PNG
Team Logo
Naturals cap.PNG
Cap Insignia
Class-level
  • Double-A (1987-present)
Minor league affiliations
Major league affiliations
Name
  • Northwest Arkansas Naturals (2008-present)
  • Wichita Wranglers (1989-2007)
    Wichita Pilots (1987-1988)
    Beaumont Golden Gators (1983-1986)
    Amarillo Gold Sox (1976-1982)
Ballpark
Minor league titles
League titles 1987, 1992, 1999
Division titles 1987, 1989, 1992, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006
Owner(s)/Operated by: Rich Products Corporation
Manager: Brian Poldberg
General Manager: Eric Edelstein

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are a Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team based in Springdale, Arkansas. The team is member of the Texas League, and serves as the Double-A affiliate to the Kansas City Royals. They relocated to Springdale from Wichita, Kansas in 2008. They were previously known as the Wichita Wranglers. The team also had previous incarnations as the Amarillo Gold Sox and Beaumont Golden Gators.

The Naturals play at Arvest Ballpark. The facility is located at the intersection of 56th Street and Watkins, and was completed in early 2008.

Contents

Origin

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, Arkansas, contingent on a citizen vote to approve financing for a new stadium.

The pro-baseball movement in Springdale had counted on the support of the Rev. 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[1], 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[2].

After the Naturals and University of Arkansas officials could not come to terms to allow the team to play the 2007 season at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Wranglers played a lame duck season in Wichita. The Wranglers finished last in the Texas League in attendance, attracting a total of 113,368 spectators, or about 1620 per game[3].

Team name

The team's nickname plays off the state's nickname as the "Natural State," as well as the Robert Redford film, The Natural. The name was chosen after receiving 33 percent of the votes in an online fan poll, beating second-place choice "Thunder Chickens" by six percent[4]

The Rich Family owes much of its baseball success to the Redford film. In 1983, Bob Rich, Jr. bought the Class AA Buffalo Bisons, who had suffered miserable attendance the previous season, for a mere $100,000. That year, Hollywood producers approached Rich about filming scenes of The Natural at Buffalo's War Memorial Stadium. With the success 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' lucrative move to the Class AAA American Association[5].

Play as the Naturals

The Naturals share an intrastate rivalry with the North Little Rock-based Arkansas Travelers. The winner of the season series between the two teams earns the Car Mart Diamond Series Cup. The Naturals captured the cup in 2008, winning the season series 18-14.

The two teams met in the first round of the 2008 Texas League playoffs, as the Travelers won the first-half title in the North Division and the Naturals won the second-half title. Arkansas swept the series 3-0 to advance to the final.[6]

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 at Yankee Stadium. Carlos Rosa, another former Natural, has also pitched in relief for the Royals.

Royals owner and former Wal-Mart CEO David Glass lives in nearby Bella Vista, Arkansas[7].

Stadium

Arvest Ballpark was designed by HOK Sport of Kansas City, Missouri. It cost $33 million to build, while the rest of the $50 million approved by Springdale voters will go toward road and infrastructure improvements[8]. The stadium seats 6,500, but additional berm areas allow a maximum capacity of about 7,800.

Roster

Northwest Arkansas Naturals roster
Players Coaches/Other
Pitchers
Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Manager

Coaches

  • 41 Terry Bradshaw (hitting)
  • 34 Larry Carter (pitching)
  •    Chris DeLucia (trainer)

† Disabled list
* On Kansas City Royals 40-man roster
∞ Reserve list
§ Suspended list
‡ Restricted list
# Rehab assignment
Roster updated 2009-11-14
Transactions

References

External links

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