Erie SeaWolves History
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Erie SeaWolves History
by Malcolm MacMillan
- Team began life at the Short-Season A level
- SeaWolves are currently affiliated with Detroit Tigers
Just as Minor League players hope to work their way up the ranks, the Erie SeaWolves have also done so. The club began life as a Short-Season A franchise in the New York-Penn League, but after four years at that level, moved up to the AA Eastern League.
The SeaWolves joined the ranks of professional baseball in the 1995 season as an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team was given the nickname SeaWolves because sea wolf is a synonym with pirate, and given Erie’s close proximity to Lake Erie, the name made sense. And, as you’ll see, the team’s logo is a wolf with an eye patch and a pirate hat. The team had mixed results in its four years in the New York-Penn League. In its inaugural season, the team went 34-41, good for a third-place finish in the division. The following season was another disappointment, but the SeaWolves cruised to a division win in 1997 with a stellar 50-26 record. Despite the regular-season success, the team was swept in the opening round of the NYPL playoffs by the Pittsfield Mets. In their final year in the league, the SeaWolves flipped their 1997 record around to finish 26-50. That season proved to be the last in the NYPL for the team, which jumped to the AA Eastern League – and an affiliation with the Anaheim Angels – in 1999.
It didn’t take the SeaWolves long to settle into their new league. The team put up an 81-61 record in 1999 but failed to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. The following year, in the team’s last year of a short affiliation with the Angels, the SeaWolves went 47-94 to finish sixth in the division. The Tigers stepped in beginning in 2001, and that partnership is still in place more than a decade later. The affiliation with the Tigers has had its share of ups and downs. The SeaWolves have finished first or second in the division three times (2001, 2004 and 2007) but each time, weren’t able to escape the first round. A long list of future Major Leaguers have passed through Erie, but none are as celebrated as pitcher Justin Verlander, who won the 2011 American League MVP award.