Memphis Redbirds
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Memphis Redbirds
Memphis Redbirds
Founded in 1998
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis Redbirds.PNGMemphis Redbirds cap.PNG
Team logoCap insignia
Class-level
CurrentTriple-A (1998-present)
Minor league affiliations
LeaguePacific Coast League (1998-present)
ConferenceAmerican Conference
DivisionNorthern Division
Major league affiliations
CurrentSt. Louis Cardinals (1998-present)
Minor league titles
2018
  • 2000
  • 2009
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2000
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2000
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2014
  • 2017
  • 2018
Team data
NicknameMemphis Redbirds (1998-present)
ColorsRed, navy blue, yellow, white[1]
                   
MascotRockey the Redbird
BallparkAutoZone Park (2000-present)
Previous parks
Tim McCarver Stadium (1998-1999)
Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
Peter B. Freund
ManagerVacant
General ManagerCraig Unger[2]
MediaMiLB.TV and WHBQ 650 AM

The Memphis Redbirds are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. They are located in Memphis, Tennessee, and play their home games at AutoZone Park which opened in 2000 and seats 10,000.[3] The team previously played at Tim McCarver Stadium in 1998 and 1999.

They were established as a PCL expansion team in 1998. A total of 7 managers have led the club and its more than 500 players.[4] As of the completion of the 2018 season, the Redbirds have played in 3,000 regular season games and compiled a win-loss record of 1,514-1,486 (.505).[5] They won the Pacific Coast League championship in 2000, 2009, 2017, and 2018.[6] The Redbirds won the Triple-A National Championship Game in 2018.

Team history

The first professional baseball team in Memphis was the Memphis Reds of the League Alliance in 1877. They were followed by the Grays, Browns, Giants, Fever Germs, Lambs, Egyptians, Turtles, Chickasaws, Blues, and Chicks.[7] In 1997, Memphis was home to the Double-A Chicks of the Southern League. The Memphis Redbirds were created as an expansion team of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 1998.[8] This resulted in the Chicks relocating to nearby Jackson, where they became known the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx.[9] Initially, the Redbirds were owned as a non-profit community entity called the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation which operated the Redbirds until 2009 when management was turned over to Global Spectrum, a Comcast-owned company.[10][11] While a new ballpark, AutoZone Park, was constructed for the team, they played their first two seasons (1998-99) at the city's Tim McCarver Stadium.

The Redbirds became the top minor league affiliate of the major league St. Louis Cardinals. Memphis' team name, logo, color scheme, and uniforms were all based on those of the St. Louis team. In their inaugural season, the club was managed by Gaylen Pitts. The Redbirds played their first game on the road at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska. In game one of the doubleheader, the Omaha Royals defeated the Redbirds, 3-2.[12] The team finished their first season of play with a 74-70 record, three games out of first place, leaving them second out of four teams in their division.[13] They finished the 1999 season in third place with a 74-64 record.[14]

In 2000, Memphis moved into the newly constructed AutoZone Park. In the park's first regular season game, held on April 14, the Redbirds defeated the Iowa Cubs, 14-3.[15] Memphis went on to clinch the Pacific Coast League's American Conference East Division championship by ending the season in first place, 13​ games ahead of the second-place Oklahoma RedHawks.[16] In the American Conference Championship, the Redbirds defeated the Albuquerque Isotopes, 3-2 in the best-of-five series, and advanced to the league championship.[6] Memphis then defeated the Salt Lake Buzz, 3-1, to win the PCL championship.[6] The Redbirds went on to face the Indianapolis Indians, league champions of the Triple-A International League, in the best-of-five Triple-A World Series. Memphis lost, three games to one.[17]

Nick Stavinoha, Redbirds outfielder/first baseman from 2007-11, is the team's all-time leader in games played (479), RBI (316), doubles (96), hits (531), and home runs (74).[18]

The team finished each of the next three seasons in fourth place--2001 (62-81),[19] 2002 (71-71),[20] and 2003 (64-79).[21] The 2002 campaign was a particularly tight race within the American Conference East Division, as the fourth-place Redbirds were a mere three games behind first-place Oklahoma.[20]Tom Spencer became manager of the Redbirds in 2013. He was replaced midseason by Danny Sheaffer. Memphis hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game at AutoZone Park in 2003.[22] Players Jason Bowers, Matt Duff, and Jason Ryan represented Memphis, as they were elected to the PCL All-Star Team.[23]

Pitcher Dan Haren was selected for the 2004 PCL All-Star Team and was chosen as the PCL Star of the Game--the most valuable player representing the league.[22] Memphis ended the 2004 season in second place, eight games behind first-place Oklahoma, with a 73-71 record.[24] The team finished third (71-72) in 2005, 3​ games behind the eventual league champion Nashville Sounds.[25] From 2006 to 2007, Memphis finished further out of first place with records of 58-86 in 2006 and 56-88 in 2007.[26][27]

P. J. Walters, Redbirds pitcher from 2008-11, is the team's all-time leader in wins (32), strikeouts (428), and games started (78).[28]

The 2008 season began a reversal of the team's fortunes. Though winding up in second place in 2008, the team, under second-year manager Chris Maloney, managed a second-place finish with their 75-67 record.[29] In 2009, the Redbirds' first-place finish (77-67) earned them the American Conference North Division title and a return to the postseason for the first time in nine seasons.[30] In the American Conference championship, Memphis faced the Albuquerque Isotopes, sweeping them in three-straight games.[30] They continued to also defeat the Sacramento River Cats, 3-0, in the championship series to win their second PCL championship.[30] They then competed against the International League's Durham Bulls in the Bricktown Showdown for the Triple-A National Championship, but were defeated in the single game, 5-4.[31]

Having finished the 2010 season in a tie for first place with the Iowa Cubs (82-62), Memphis was awarded the American Conference North title by virtue of having won the regular season series against Iowa.[32] Memphis started the postseason by defeating the Oklahoma City RedHawks, 3-0, to win the American Conference championship.[32] The Tacoma Rainiers then swept the Redbirds, defeating them for the PCL crown in three-straight games.[32]

The 2011, the club narrowly missed the postseason, finishing second with a 77-66 record.[33] In 2012, manager Chris Maloney, the longest-tenured skipper in team history, was hired as St. Louis' first base coach.[34] He was replaced by Ron Warner.[35] He led the Redbirds to finish in third place (57-87) and 27 games out of first.[36] The team fared better in 2013, ending up in second place (69-75), just one game behind the eventual league champion Omaha Storm Chasers.[37] Also in 2013, Forbes ranked the Redbirds as the eighth-most valuable minor league franchise (tied with the Toledo Mud Hens and Louisville Bats). The team's net worth was estimated at $29 million, with $9.5 million in annual revenue and $1 million in operating loss.[38]

In March 2014, the Redbirds were purchased by their major league parent club, the St. Louis Cardinals.[11] The transaction also included the City of Memphis acquiring AutoZone Park and then leasing it to the team.[11] Ron Warner led his club to a first-place finish (79-64), clinching the American Conference South.[39] They were defeated in the conference series, three games to one, by Omaha, who later won the PCL title.[39] The 2015 club, under manager Mike Shildt, finished in second place (73-71), two games behind the Round Rock Express.[40]

The Cardinals sold their majority interest in the team to Peter B. Freund of Trinity Baseball Holdings in March 2016.[41][42] Memphis ended the 2016 season in fourth place with a 65-77 record.[43]

Prior to the 2017 season, the Redbirds unveiled new logos and uniforms. The primary logo is designed to look like a neon sign, such as those seen on nearby Beale Street, consisting of the team name and a redesigned image of team mascot, Rockey the Redbird. A secondary logo uses similar neon tubing to form a "M" in the shape of a music note to honor the city's blues and rock 'n' roll heritage.[44] Led by PCL Manager of the Year Stubby Clapp,[45] the 2017 Redbirds clinched the division title with a 91-50 record.[46] They went on to defeat the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, 3-2, to win the American Conference championship.[47] In the PCL finals, the Redbirds defeated the El Paso Chihuahuas, 3-2, to win their third PCL championship.[47] Memphis lost the Triple-A National Championship Game, 5-3, against the International League's Durham Bulls, whom they also faced in 2009.[48]

Stubby Clapp won the PCL Manager of the Year Award again in 2018.[49] Right-hander Dakota Hudson won the PCL Pitcher of the Year Award, a first for Redbirds pitchers.[50] The team once again finished with the league's best record, winning the 2018 American Southern Division title with a 83-57 record.[51] They defeated the Oklahoma City Dodgers, three games to one, to win the American Conference championship.[52] The Redbirds won their second PCL championship in as many years by beating the Fresno Grizzlies, 3-1.[52] They went on to win the 2018 Triple-A National Championship against the Durham Bulls, 14-4. First baseman Alex Mejia was named the game's MVP.[53]

Season-by-season results

Memphis Redbirds 5-Year History
Year Regular season Postseason
Record Win % League Division GB Record Win % Result
2014 79-64 .552 3rd 1st -- 1-3 .250 Clinched American South Division title
Lost American Conference title vs Omaha Storm Chasers, 3-1[54]
2015 73-71 .507 8th 2nd 5 -- -- --
2016 65-77 .458 14th 4th 18 -- -- --
2017 91-50 .645 1st 1st -- 6-5 .545 Clinched American South Division title
Won American Conference title vs Colorado Springs Sky Sox, 3-2
Won PCL championship vs El Paso Chihuahuas, 3-2
[47]
Lost Triple-A National Championship vs. Durham Bulls, 5-3[48]
2018 83-57 .593 1st 1st -- 7-2 .778 Clinched American South Division title
Won American Conference title vs Oklahoma City Dodgers, 3-1
Won PCL championship vs Fresno Grizzlies, 3-1

Won Triple-A National Championship vs. Durham Bulls, 14-4
5-Year Totals 391-319 .551 -- -- -- 14-10 .583 1 Class Title, 3 Division Titles, 2 Conference Title, 2 League Titles

Rivals

Memphis' chief rivals have been those based in Nashville, Tennessee. Located approximately 200 miles (320 km) to the north east and connected to Memphis by Interstate 40, Nashville has fielded several teams which have competed in the same leagues as Memphis' teams since the late 19th century.[55] The Redbirds entered the rivalry when they joined the Pacific Coast League in 1998.[56] The Redbirds and the Nashville Sounds were division rivals in the American Conference East Division from 1998 to 2004,[56] the American Conference North Division from 2005 to 2013,[57] the American Conference Southern Division from 2014 to 2018,[58] and back to the American Conference Northern Division from 2019.[59] In 2009, Memphis clinched the American Conference North Division title, finishing the season just two games ahead of Nashville which spent the majority of the season in first place.[60] Similarly, Memphis finished the 2014 season two-and-a-half games ahead of Nashville despite trailing the Sounds for most of the season.[61]

From 2012 to 2015, the two teams competed in the I-40 Cup Series, a season-long, 16-game promotional series between the clubs.[62] Whichever of the two won the most games played between them was declared the winner and got to keep the trophy cup until the next season. The losing team donated game tickets to a charity selected by the winner. The Sounds won the inaugural 2012 contest (9-7), and Memphis won the 2013 series (7-9).[62] The teams tied the 2014 and 2015 series (both 8-8), but the Redbirds retained the title in both instances.[63] After 2015, the teams discontinued the trophy cup, friendly wager, and promotional references to the Series.

As of the completion of the 2018 series, Memphis leads the all-time series against Nashville with a record of 920-895.[64] This record encompasses all 94 years of competition in the original Southern League, Southern Association, Southern League, and Pacific Coast League. Nashville, however, leads the 21-year PCL series with a record of 177-156.[65]

Ballparks

Memphis' AutoZone Park

Tim McCarver Stadium (1998-1999)

The Redbirds played their first two seasons at Tim McCarver Stadium while a new, permanent stadium was being constructed downtown. The stadium was built in 1963 for use as an American Legion field. When the Texas League's Memphis Blues came to town in 1968, it became their home ballpark. It was later used by the Memphis Chicks until 1997. The stadium, with a 8,800 person capacity, was demolished in 2005.

AutoZone Park (2000-present)

The Redbirds' current home ballpark is AutoZone Park, which opened on April 1, 2000, originally seated 16,000 and was later downsized in 2015 to the current seating capacity of 10,000 people. The reduced seating due to $6,000,000 in renovations allowed for picnic tables, seating in grassy areas, and the elimination of the popular left field bluff seating. It was constructed in downtown Memphis at a cost of $80.5 million.[66] It was built to Major League Baseball standards, but with the absence of outfield seats or food vendors far down the foul lines. The first game played at the park was an exhibition between Memphis and St. Louis. A standing-room-only crowd witnessed the big league club defeat their Triple-A affiliate, 10-6.[15]

Uniforms

Jack Flaherty pitching in the Redbirds' road uniform (2018)

The Redbirds' current home jerseys are white with the word "Memphis" written across the chest in red and white characters surrounded by navy blue and neon yellow which resemble a neon sign. The team's primary logo is sewn on the right sleeve, and the St. Louis Cardinals' overlapping "STL" logo is located on the left sleeve. The home cap is solid red with the face of team mascot, Rockey the Redbird, on the front. Road jerseys, though made of gray material, are identical.[67]

An alternate jersey is a power blue pullover v-neck reminiscent of those worn by St. Louis in the 1980s. Striped bands of red, white, and blue adorn the neck and sleeve openings. The front features an image of Rockey the Redbird looking over his shoulder, ball in hand, as if waiting to pitch the ball, on the left chest (this is an homage to a classic St. Louis Cardinals logo, used in the 1950s, sometimes known as the "Dirty Bird").[67] The primary Memphis logo is displayed on the left sleeve, and the STL lettering is displayed on the right. An alternate cap is navy blue with a red bill and the music note styled "M" on the front.[67]

Memphis' uniforms from 1998 to 2016 were quite similar to those of the St. Louis Cardinals. Home uniforms consisted of white jerseys with the team's primary logo sewn across the chest: the word "Memphis" in red letters surrounded by navy blue set against a yellow baseball bat on which two red cardinals were perched. The player's number was displayed on the front left below the Memphis wordmark in red block characters bordered by navy blue. The upper left sleeve had a circular navy blue patch with the St. Louis Cardinals' overlapping "STL" logo on the center in red letters bordered by white. The player's last name was sewn on the back in red block characters surrounded by navy blue, and his number was displayed below his name in the same font and colors. White pants were worn with red belts and predominately red shoes. Some players wore higher pants paired with red socks with white and navy blue stripes. The home cap was solid red with a white "M" bordered by navy blue on the center.[68] Road uniforms were identical to those worn for home games with only a few exceptions: jerseys and pants were made from gray material, the St. Louis patch was absent from the sleeve, and the cap was navy blue with a red button and a red "M" with white border.[69]

Television and radio

All Memphis Redbirds games are televised live on MiLB.TV.[70] All games are also broadcast on radio by WHBQ 87.7 FM and 560 AM.[71] Steve Selby has been the team's lead broadcaster since 2000.[71] Past broadcast commentators have included Tom Stocker, David Kelly, Charlie Lea, and Reggie Williams. Beginning in 2018, a select number of games are also broadcast on KTRS 550 AM in St. Louis, allowing Cardinals fans to keep tabs on up-and-coming players as well as promoting the Redbirds and Memphis tourism to the St. Louis market.[72]

Mascot

The Memphis Redbirds' mascot is an anthropomorphic cardinal named Rockey the Redbird. He is bright red with black eyebrows and feathers around the face and a yellow beak and legs. He wears the same style jerseys as the team bearing the number 901, which is Memphis' telephone area code. He made his debut in the Redbirds' inaugural 1998 season.[73]

Roster

Achievements

Awards

Two individuals have won league awards in recognition of their performance while with the Redbirds. Stubby Clapp won the PCL Manager of the Year Award in 2017 and 2018.[74]Dakota Hudson was selected for the PCL Pitcher of the Year Award in 2018.[74]

Thirty-three players have been selected for the midseason Triple-A All-Star Game.[75] Of those players, only Brandon Dickson (2010 and 2012) and Ryan Sherriff (2016 and 2017) have been selected twice while playing for Memphis.[75] Two players have been chosen as the All-Star Game's MVP: Dan Haren (2004) and Michael Wacha (2013).[76]

Retired numbers

The Memphis Redbirds have not honored any of their players by retiring their uniform numbers. However, the St. Louis Cardinals' retired numbers are also retired throughout the Cardinals' minor league organization. When a number is retired, only the player with the retired number can wear that number if he returns to that team as a player or coach. This ensures that the number will be associated with one player of particular importance to the team. The following numbers are, therefore, also retired by Memphis:[77]

Ozzie
Smith

SS
Retired 1996
Red
Schoendienst

2B, Mgr, Coach
Retired 1996
Stan
Musial

OF, 1B, GM
Retired 1963
Enos
Slaughter

RF
Retired 1996
Tony
La Russa

Mgr
Retired 2012
Ken
Boyer

3B, Mgr, Coach
Retired 1984
Dizzy
Dean

SP
Retired 1974
Lou
Brock

LF, Coach
Retired 1979
Whitey
Herzog

Mgr, GM
Retired 2010
Bruce
Sutter

RP
Retired 2006
Jackie
Robinson

2B
Retired by MLB 1997
Bob
Gibson

SP, Coach
Retired 1975
Gussie
Busch

Owner
Retired 1984

Managers

Stubby Clapp, Redbirds manager from 2017 to 2018

Over the course of 21 seasons, the Memphis Redbirds have employed 7 managers. The duties of the team manager include team strategy and leadership on and off the field.[78] Three managers have guided the team to win the Pacific Coast League championship: Gaylen Pitts (2000), Chris Maloney (2009), and Stubby Clapp (2017 and 2018).[79] Clapp also led Memphis to the Triple-A championship in 2018. Maloney is the longest-tenured manager in team history, having managed the team for 717 games from 2007 to 2011.

Memphis Redbirds Managerial Record
# Manager Years Regular season Postseason Ref
Games Wins Losses Win % Appearances Wins Losses Win %
1 Gaylen Pitts 1998-2002 711 364 347 .512 1 7 6 .538 [80]
2 Tom Spencer 2003 64 22 42 .344 -- -- -- -- [81]
3 Danny Sheaffer 2003-2006 510 244 266 .478 -- -- -- -- [82]
4 Chris Maloney 2007-2011 717 367 350 .512 2 9 4 .692 [83]
5 Ron Warner 2012-2014 431 205 226 .476 1 1 3 .250 [84]
6 Mike Shildt 2015-2016 286 138 148 .483 -- -- -- -- [85]
7 Stubby Clapp 2017-2018 281 174 107 .619 2 13 6 .684 [86]
Totals 1998-2018 3,000 1,514 1,486 .505 6 30 19 .612 --

References

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External links


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