|Quad Cities River Bandits
Founded in 1901
|Previous||Class D (1960-1962)
Class B (1946-1952; 1957-1958)
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Midwest League (1960-present)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Houston Astros (2013-present)|
|Minor league titles|
|Nickname||Quad Cities River Bandits (2008-present)|
Mississippi Valley League
Central Interstate League
|Ballpark||Modern Woodmen Park (1931-present)|
|Main Street Baseball|
|General Manager||Andrew Chesser|
The Quad Cities River Bandits are a Class A minor league baseball team, affiliated with the Houston Astros, that plays in the Midwest League. Its home games are played at Modern Woodmen Park (formerly John O'Donnell Stadium) in Davenport, Iowa, one of the Quad Cities.
Beginning in 1879, Quad City area professional baseball has a history that includes three teams. Davenport, Moline (Moline Plowboys) and Rock Island (Rock Island Islanders) all have hosted minor league baseball teams. The 1879 Davenport Brown Stockings played in the Northwestern League. Other Davenport teams (Onion Weeders, Pilgrims, Hawkeyes) played before the turn of the 20th century in various minor leagues.
In 1901, the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League or "Three-I" had the Davenport River Rats and Rock Island Islanders as charter members. This Davenport team set the foundation of the franchise that exists today. Other charter members of the Three-I League were: Terre Haute, Bloomington, Cedar Rapids, Rockford, Evansville and Decatur. The Davenport franchise changed names frequently in the early years: River Rats (1901-04), Riversides (1905), Knickerbockers (1906), Prodigals (1909-12) and Davenport Blue Sox (1913-1916). Davenport won their first Three-I Championship in 1914. 
There was a third Quad City area team was added In July, 1914, when Moline gained a franchise. The Danville Speakers relocated to Moline and the Moline Plowboys were established. The Plowboys would win Three-I Championships in 1915, 1921 and 1937.
The Plowboys were Class D affiliates of the Detroit Tigers (1922), St Louis Browns (1931-32), Chicago Cubs (1937-40) and the Philadelphia A's (1947-48). From 1920-22 the Plowboys were managed by player-manager Earle Mack, son of Connie Mack. The Rock Island Islanders were Class D affiliates of the St. Louis Browns (1932) and Cincinnati Reds (1933). In 1922, Rock Island left the Three-I to join the Mississippi Valley League (MVL), followed by Moline a year later.
Unable to sustain their teams, Rock Island's stopped play in 1937 and Moline last played in 1948. Moline played home games at Browning Field and Rock Island played at Douglas Park. In an exhibition on April 12, 1920 The Plowboys defeated the Chicago White Sox 7-1 at Browning Field. Both Douglas Park and Browning Field are still in existence today.
On May 26, 1931, Davenport began play in the newly built Municipal Stadium, nicknamed the "Muny." On the Muny field, Rock Island and Davenport played each other in the championship series in 1932 and 1933. Rock Island won the '32 series and the title in six games. Davenport rebounded to win the MVL title in 1933 (the final season of the MVL). The 1933 team was led by Ed Hall's 151 RBI and Como Cotelle's .407 average. The Davenport Blue Sox played in the Western League from 1934-1937 as a Class A affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The 1936 team continued the strong decade and claimed the Western League championship. The 1937 team was managed by player-manager John "Eagle Beak" Fitzpatrick. This is noteworthy as Fitzpatrick returned 25 years later to manage the Angels in 1962
After a nine season baseball hiatus during World War II, baseball returned to Davenport in 1946, when the Davenport Cubs rejoined the Three-I League as the Class B affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Led by future MLB players Roy Smalley and Rube Walker, the 1946 team started the new era by winning the regular season Three-I Title. The Davenport Pirates (1948-1949) were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Future MLB starsBob Purkey, Frank Thomas and future Cy Young Award Winner Vern Law were on the 1949 Pirates, who swept Evansville, 3-0, to win the Three-I championship. In 1949 Davenport drew 133,505 fans, a franchise record that would stand until 1981.
After the 1950 "Davenport Quads" operated as an Independent team, the Davenport Tigers (1951-1952) were an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Harvey Kuenn played for the 1952 team, hitting .340 was called up to Detroit. Kuenn then won the 1953 Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award. After the 1952 season, Davenport was without a team for four seasons. In 1957, the Davenport DavSox began Three-I league play as an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox .
The DavSox moved to Lincoln, Nebraska after the 1958 season, leaving Davenport without a team for the 1959 season. As a result, local businessman Hugo "Hooks" Kohn started a drive to bring a new team to Davenport. Kohn was a local baseball enthusiast and a leading pioneer/player of "Diamond Ball", a Davenport game that eventually led to today's softball. With the Kohn heading the Quad City Baseball Fans Association, a team was secured for the 1960 season as a Milwaukee Braves affiliate, and Davenport has had a team every year since. The Quad City Baseball Fans Association would oversee operation from 1960 through 1986.
The 1960 Davenport Braves became a member of the fledgling Midwest League (MWL), a partnership that has operated uninterrupted in the subsequent decades. The 1960 team joined the Waterloo Hawks; Keokuk Cardinals; Dubuque Packers; Clinton C-Sox; Kokomo Dodgers; Quincy Giants and Decatur Commodores to form an 8-team league. The Davenport franchise has remained a continual member of the Midwest League. The creation of the Midwest League essentially ended the Three-I, which folded after the 1961 season. In its long history, the Three-I had hosted teams in 31 cities.
In 1961 the franchise permanently dropped "Davenport" and became the "Quad City" Braves. In 1962, Quad Cities became a farm team of the expansion Los Angeles (later California) Angels. The affiliate change was forced when Cedar Rapids (also a Braves affiliate) was one of six Three-I teams that joined the Midwest League in 1962 after the Three-I dissolution. Thus began a lengthy affiliation with the Angels. The Quad City Angels of 1963 and 1964 were managed by Chuck Tanner and the 1964 Angels were the first MWL team to draw more than 100,000 fans in a season. The Angels won the 1968 and 1971 MWL titles and the Quad Cities Cubs won the MWL title in 1979.
The Angels affiliation ran from 1962 through the 1992 season, minus the six-year affiliation with the Chicago Cubs (1979-84). Quad Cities was also an affiliate of the Houston Astros (1993-1998), Minnesota Twins (1999-2004), St. Louis Cardinals (2005-2012), before partnering again with Houston (2013-Present).
The modern era franchise had been called "Davenport" before permanently changing to "Quad City" in 1962. The modern franchise had used the nickname of its major-league affiliate through the 1991 season. This changed in 1992, when the team created its own nickname in a "name the team' contest. The contest winning name was: Quad City River Bandits and from 1992 through the 2003 the team kept this name. On October 20, 2003, the team was renamed the Swing of the Quad Cities; after another "name the team" contest was held. However, On December 13, 2007, returned to the Quad Cities River Bandits after voters in a third contest chose the River Bandits name over "The Swing" and four other finalists: "Channel Cats", "The Current", "River Eagles", and "Talons."
The renaming of the Bandits has proven to be one of sports' most successful rebranding campaigns - merchandise sales after the 2008 rebranding increased more than 400% (and were up an additional 34% in 2009), sponsorships jumped more than 64% in the first season, and CNBC named the team's logo one of the top eight in minor league baseball.
After success in securing a Midwest League Franchise for Davenport beginning with the 1960 season, the non-profit Quad City Baseball Fans Association continued to operate the franchise from 1960 to 1986. In 1986 Chicago businessman Harry H. Semrow purchased the team from the association for $350,000, but Semrow was forced to sell after the 1987 season due to poor health.
Richard Holtzman, another Chicago businessman who owned as many as five minor league teams, purchased the franchise from Semrow and remained as owner from 1987 until 1998.
Under Main Street Baseball's ownership, led by Dave Heller and Bob Herrfeldt, the River Bandits sparked a stunning resurgence of baseball in the Quad Cities, winning league championships in 2011 and 2013, setting new attendance records and capturing numerous awards for their innovative promotions.
Since Heller and Herrfeldt took over the Bandits, sponsorship sales, suite sales, ticket sales, and concession sales have all seen annual increases. The team's average attendance in its first year under Main Street rose by more than 56%, the largest such increase in baseball, and has climbed to nearly 3,700 fans per game. The Bandits have also led one of sports' most successful rebranding campaigns - merchandise sales after the 2008 rebranding increased more than 400% (and were up an additional 34% in 2009!), sponsorships jumped more than 64% in the first season, and CNBC named the team's logo one of the top eight in minor league baseball.
Main Street Baseball has also been a trail-blazer, having hired the Midwest League's only female general manager (Stefanie Brown) then hiring the only African-American GM in minor league baseball. The River Bandits have also consistently had more women in leadership positions than most any team in baseball, and are the only minor league club to have won back-to-back Diversity Economic Impact Engagement (DEIE) Scholarships from major league baseball since MLB started awarding them in 2012.
The River Bandits have been voted Best Family Entertainment by the Quad-City Times for each of the past five years and were recently voted by the River Cities Reader as "The Best Place for An Inexpensive Date that Doesn't Look Like It." The team won the prestigious "Golden Bobblehead" award in 2013 for best charitable promotion in Minor League Baseball for its innovative "Photo Jersey Auction" to benefit Autism Awareness. It also won a "Veeckie Award" from ESPN in 2009 for best minor league promotion ("Tattoo Night") and the "Promotion of the Year" Award from Ballpark Digest the same year for the team's "Mega-Candy Drop", as well as a Gold Award from the U.S. Army for its community service. The team has also won repeated awards for Heller's creative TV and radio ads, which have repeatedly been recognized as among the best in the industry.
The Davenport teams of 1909-1916 first played at a park located near 3rd and Telegraph Road. Subsequently, the Davenport Blue Sox of 1929 and 1930 played home games without lights at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds. The city of Davenport realized a new lighted stadium was needed, with a riverfront location near downtown. Subsequently the Davenport Levee Commission proposed and a new, lighted, brick stadium was proposed.
On May 26, 1931, with a site on the banks of the Mississippi River, the resulting new facility was unveiled. Constructed entirely with local labor for a total construction cost $165,000, the new Municipal Stadium opened complete with light towers (first night game was June 4, 1931) and a grandstand facing the Mississippi River. Municipal Stadium was fondly nicknamed "The Muny." Later, in 1971, Municipal Stadium was officially renamed John O'Donnell Stadium in honor of the longtime sports editor of the Quad-City Times.
Many events have been held at the Stadium through the years. Some of historical note:
Sitting on the banks of the river, the stadium has survived many floods, including major Mississippi River floods of 1965, 1969, 1993 and 2001, all of which breached the facility. Pictures of the flooded stadium are plentiful in the news media. The Great Flood of 1993 was especially damaging to the facility.
Designed to combat the recurring and costly toll of flooding, a huge project was undertaken in 2004 to completely modernize and protect the facility. The project was a joint effort of The River Bandits and the City of Davenport . The result was a massive redesign of the field and grounds at Modern Woodmen Park. The entire structure and field of the original 1931 stadium were redone. Only the exterior façade of the old stadium remained, with concessions, concourses, level loge boxes, and seating areas being reconstructed. The improvements essentially created a new ballpark within the shell of the old park. Other 2004 renovations included a raised playing field; a slight shift of the playing field to better face the river; removal of the drive behind the outfield fence; the addition of a berm in the outfield and the addition of exterior brick/metal columns, put in place for decoration and also to hold portable flood walls to be inserted outside the stadium. The new protections secured and protected the facility during other major Mississippi River floods in 2008, 2011 and 2013. Before the 2004 renovations, flooding created financial and logistical problems, as the team was regularly forced to move "home" games to local facilities or other MWL venues (mostly Clinton, Iowa). The team played also several games at North Scott High School and Brady Street Stadium in 1993 and several games at Moline's Black Hawk College during the 2001 flood.
The new park has incorporated modern and creative features. Including a corn field beside left-field, from which the players are introduced. The team also unveiled a $347,000 HD video board shortly before the Bandits hosted the 2011 Midwest League All-Star Game. The renamed and remodeled Modern Woodmen Park was selected the Midwest Leagues best ballpark by Baseball America and earned a five-star rating from BallparkDigest.com.
In 2004, Author Tim Rask released a book titled Baseball at Davenport's John O'Donnell Stadium.
Since then, Modern Woodmen Park has earned more accolades than any minor league ballpark in the country. It was voted "the best minor league ballpark in America" by the readers of USA Today and 10Best.com and the Midwest League's best ballpark by Baseball America. It also earned a 5-star rating from BallparkDigest.com, was named one of the two most beautiful ballparks in minor league baseball by USA Today, one of the top 10 in the nation by Parade Magazine, and was selected "the #2 Coolest Minor League Ballpark in America" by Complex Magazine.
Under Main Street Baseball's leadership, the River Bandits have added many fun new features to the ballpark, including a new outfield bar, a new picnic area, five concourse-level "loge boxes", an 80-foot long high-definition ribbon-board, a huge new 20' x 36' tall HD videoboard, a new playground, birthday room, additional office and storage space, a new concessions stand and more than a dozen new portable food carts, a Hall of Fame autographed jersey display, an unmatched collection of bobbleheads from across the country and a sponsored corn field from which the players are introduced at the game's outset.
In 2011, the Bandits unveiled their new Budweiser Champions Club, a 2500 s.f. glass-enclosed multi-purpose banquet hall with glass garage doors that open and close depending on the weather. That room has helped increase wedding business by more than 500%, and is regularly sold out during the Christmas season. It was voted by BallparkDigest.com as "the best ballpark renovation under $1 million."
In 2014, added a 110-foot tall Ferris Wheel to the landscape of the stadium, with the Ferris Wheel located behind the left-field wall. Also, a 30-foot tall Drop-N-Twist, a mechanized gyroscope and an old-fashioned carousel to go along with a dual 300-foot long zip line, six bounce houses and a 25-foot tall rock climbing wall are in play! Also added in 2014 were three new themed areas, including a 1,500 s.f. deck featuring a firepit to keep fans warm during April and May, 51 new swivel-chair seats adjacent to the field, and 18 new extra-wide seats adjacent to the visitor's dugout, as well as four new padded seats set aside for veterans and active-duty military.
In 2015, the franchise continued to improve the ballpark with a 10,000 s.f. expansion of the third-base concourse.
||Number of innings in a game that was shorter or longer than 9 innings|
||Indicates a perfect game|
|July 2, 1961||Ribant, DennisDennis Ribant*||1-0||Clinton C-Sox|
|May 6, 1966||Geishert, VernVern Geishert||7-0||Fox Cities Foxes|
|May 4, 1971||Monge, SidSid Monge||6-0||Cedar Rapids Cardinals|
|August 21, 1974||Lamar Wright||2-0 (7)||Danville Warriors|
|May 20, 1975||Dorsey, JimJim Dorsey||4-0 (7)||Clinton Pilots|
|May 31, 1976||Don Mraz||3-0 (7)||Wisconsin Rapids Twins|
|July 26, 1976||Botting, RalphRalph Botting||3-0 (7)||Wausau Mets|
|July 9, 1977||T. Joel Crisler||1-0 (7) (G2)||Wisconsin Rapids Twins|
|May 19, 2000||Tim Sturdy||1-0 (7)||Cedar Rapids Kernels|
|August 12, 2001||Wolfe, BrianBrian Wolfe||2-0||Dayton Dragons|
|May 19, 2009||Hector Cardenas (5 IP)
Kevin Thomas (2 IP)
|3-0 (7)||Beloit Snappers|
Baseball Hall of Fame alumni
Award Winning alumni
Other Notable alumni
In 2000, the Franchise All 20th Century Team was selected by fan vote.