Rochester Red Wings History
Rochester Red Wings History
by Malcolm MacMillan
- Red Wings one of six pro teams in same city since 1800s
- Musial, Ripken, Jr. among alumni
How's this for a history? Rochester's Minor League Baseball team is one of only six pro teams in any North American sport that have been playing in the same league, in the same city, since the 1800s. The Red Wings join the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals on that list. The Red Wings franchise is also one of just two pro sports teams (the other is the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats) to win at least one league championship in each decade of the 20th century.
Rochester's team has been known as the Red Wings since 1929, the same year it was first affiliated with a Major League franchise. Before that, the Red Wings were called the Tribe (1922 to 1928), the Colts (1921), the Hustlers (1908 to 1920) and the Broncos (1899 to 1907). They were affiliated with the Cardinals from 1929 to 1960 and the Orioles from 1961 to 2002. Since then, the Red Wings have been the AAA farm team for the Minnesota Twins. They've won 20 league championships dating back to 1899; their last title came back in 1997.
The Red Wings have been publicly owned since 1957, when a Rochester businessman named Morrie Silver formed Rochester Community Baseball, Inc., to buy the team after the St. Louis Cardinals tried to shut down the team. When Rochester residents were dismayed at the thought of losing their beloved team, they banded together and in 72 days, Silver's organization numbered 8,221 shareholders. Today, Silver is honored with a street name; Frontier Field is found at 1 Morrie Silver Way. He's also recognized on the outfield fence at Frontier Field.
Three numbers have been retired by the Red Wings and are displayed on the outfield fence at Frontier Field. The number 26 belongs to Joe Altobelli, a jack-of-all-trades who's often known as Rochester's Mr. Baseball. After a 166-game MLB career, Altobelli played for the Red Wings between 1963 and 1965, was a team coach in 1966, the Red Wings manager between 1971 and 1976, general manager from 1991 to 1994 and color commentator from 1998 to 2008. Luke Easter's 36 is also retired; Easter was a former Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball player known for his tape-measure home runs. After his MLB career was over, Easter played and coached for Rochester and was a fan favorite for his offense. Silver is honored with the number 8221, representing the shareholders he gathered in 1957 to save the franchise.
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