West Michigan Whitecaps History

The BallParkGuide.com West Michigan Whitecaps History
by Malcolm MacMillan
Highlights
  • Team's history dates back to 1983 in Madison, WI
  • Team has been affiliated with Oakland and Detroit
Several former Whitecaps, including Cameron Maybin, who hit .304 with the team in 2006, are recognized on signs hanging from the ceiling of the concourse.

The West Michigan Whitecaps have been in the Grand Rapids, MI, suburb of Comstock Park since the 1994 season. Previously, the franchise had played in Madison, WI for 11 seasons (1983 to 1993) as the Madison Muskies of the Midwest League. That team, which was affiliated with the Oakland A's, included such alumni as Jose Canseco, Terry Steinbach, Walt Weiss, Scott Brosius and Tommy John.

Upon their move to Comstock Park, the Muskies became the West Michigan Whitecaps and moved into the newly built Old Kent Park, which took the name Fifth Third Ballpark in 2002. Oakland stayed on as the team's parent club for 1994, 1995 and 1996, and the Whitecaps delivered their first Midwest League title in the final year of the A's affiliation.

Prior to the 1997 season, the Detroit Tigers signed on, which made geographic sense given that Comstock Park is just 161 miles from Detroit's Comerica Park. The 'Caps had a spectacular first regular season under the Tigers umbrella, going 92-39 in 1997, but failing to get out of the first round of the playoffs. A year later, however, the team had another successful regular season but followed that success up with a league championship.

The team had its worst stretch between 1999 and 2003, when it had three losing seasons and missed out on the playoffs for the first time in its existence. Things got brighter in 2004, however, when despite finishing one game under .500, the Whitecaps won the Midwest League title and followed that success up with two more titles in 2006 and 2007. The 2006 team was led by 19-year-old Cameron Maybin, who his .304 in his first season of pro ball.

Members of the Tigers who suited up for West Michigan for one or more games include Jeremy Bonderman, Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordonez and Kenny Rogers.

Notable alumni

Brennan Boesch
Francisco Cordero
Jason Frasor
Ben Grieve
Ramon Hernandez
Brandon Inge
Jair Jurrjens
Cody Ross
Clete Thomas
Jeff Weaver
Joel Zumaya