Sports in Charleston

Charleston RiverDogs Baseball
Charleston Riverdogs The Charleston RiverDogs are a Single A Minor League Baseball Club affiliate for the New York Yankees. We provide fun, affordable entertainment in a gorgeous downtown ballpark April - August. Ticket prices range from $4-8 per ticket. There's no such thing as too much fun! Facility is also available for non-baseball events, including meetings, festivals and large group functions. A, MC, V, D.

360 Fishburne St.
Charleston, SC 29403
Phone: 843-723-7241
or 843-577-3647 (tickets)
Fax: 843-723-2641
Email: dogrus@riverdogs.com

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Team History

The City of Charleston's rich professional baseball history dates back to 1886 when the Seagulls took the field as members of the Southern League. Since then, Charleston has hosted 70 seasons of professional baseball, from the Rebels and Rainbows at College Park on Rutledge Avenue, to the present day RiverDogs at "The Joe" on the scenic banks of the Ashley River. From the deadball era of the late 1800s to the blazing base running of B.J. Upton, Charleston and professional baseball have been closely tied together.

Near the turn of the century the Sea Gulls began play at College Park. This initial 20th Century Charleston baseball team was a member of the Class C South Atlantic League. The Sea Gulls, and in 1919 just the Gulls, played from 1904-1919 in Charleston, but did not field teams during the 1910, 1912, and 1918 seasons. The 1907 team captured the South Atlantic League Championship.

In 1920 the Charleston entry in the South Atlantic League was named the Palmettos and the following season saw the nickname shortened to Pals. The Pals, now garnering a more prestigious Class B minor league designation, would become the most successful minor league team in Charleston baseball history. The 1921 team finished with an 83-64 mark and a league pennant but fell to Columbia in the championship series. The 1922 team came back with a strong 80-48 record and brought home the league playoff championship. The Pals were paced by future Hall of Fame outfielder Kiki Cuyler, pitchers George Pipgras and Joe Kiefer, and other future major leaguers who helped the 1922 team also defeat the Wilson Bugs, who were the Virginia League champions that season. Despite the on field success, the Pals left Charleston during the 1923 campaign and became the Macon (GA) Peaches. The city would be without professional baseball for the better part of 17 years.

Baseball returned to Charleston midway through the 1940 season when R.E. Lamonte brought his Class B South Atlantic League franchise to town from Spartanburg and began playing as the Rebels. The 1940 team finished at the bottom of the league with a dismal 44-106 record, the worst in Charleston pro baseball history. The 1941 team again struggled, propelling Lamonte to orchestrate a working agreement with the Nashville Vols of the Southern Association. The arrangement made an immediate impact to the performance of the Rebels.

The 1942 Rebels, managed by second baseman Cecil "Dusty" Rhodes, got hot at the end of the season and took home the league pennant. The Rebels were able to pass Macon in the standings, but fell to the Peaches in the championship playoff series.

With the country in the midst of WWII, the South Atlantic League suspended operations for three seasons beginning in 1943. Play picked back up in 1946 and the league now had a Class-B designation. The Rebels had a mediocre showing that season, but improved in 1947 and took home another league pennant with a 87-65 record in 1948. Again, however, the Rebels couldn’t find post season success and the playoff title went to Greenville. The 1949 Rebels, a White Sox farm team, were the first Charleston team to be affiliated with a major league club. The Rebels 1950 outfit was managed by famed “eephus” pitcher Rip Sewell but following a good showing in 1950 the team declined and left town following the 1953 season. Again, for a stretch of five seasons, the city was without professional baseball.

In 1959 the White Sox again brought pro baseball back to Charleston by stationing their Class-A team in the city. The team would be known as the ChaSox for the first season and the White Sox through the next two seasons. Dismal records and even bleaker attendance figures equated to a brief stay of the franchise in the city. Following the 1961 season the White Sox left town and the final multiple-season drought without pro baseball in Charleston ensued.

After eleven seasons without professional baseball the Pittsburgh Pirates fielded a farm team at College Park for the 1973 season. The team included future Yankee Willie Randolph. The Pirates played in the Western Carolinas league through the 1978 season, then they departed Charleston. The 1979 baseball season would be the last season in which Charleston would not play host to a professional, minor league baseball team.

In 1980 the Royals, a Kansas City farm team, began play at College Park. The Western Carolinas league took over the name South Atlantic League and the current stint of minor league baseball in Charleston can trace its roots to the 1980 season. That first Royals team took home a Southern Division championship, but fell to Greensboro in the playoffs. Kansas City's success at the major league level was echoed through its highly regarded farm system and the as the Royals brought back another Southern Division title in 1984, but again fell in the playoffs, this time to Asheville. Prominent Royals included pitcher David Cone and 1984 league MVP Kevin Seitzer.

For the 1985 season the Charleston club switched affiliations and became a San Diego Padres farm team. Along with the change in parent organization came a name change. The team became known as the Rainbows for the 1985 season. Future major league stars Roberto and Sandy Alomar along with Carlos Baerga each graced the field at College Park. The 1988 team took home a Southern Division title only to fall in the playoffs to Spartanburg. Following that team’s success Charleston baseball fans would endure 11 consecutive losing seasons with their team.

Amidst the losing seasons Charleston baseball officials decided to change the team’s nickname to the RiverDogs for the 1994 season. The team, a Texas Rangers affiliate from 1993-1996, continued to struggle on the field but the fans started turning out in high numbers and the club looked to find a new home in Charleston.

With considerable assistance from the City of Charleston and a partnership with the Citadel, the RiverDogs opened the 1997 season at brand new Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park on the banks of the scenic Ashley River. Along with a new, picturesque stadium came a new affiliation with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The first season at “The Joe” the team set a new single season attendance of 234,840- a record that would be eclipsed five out of the next six seasons (1998-2003) at the ballpark. The record was even broken in 2002 despite the outlandish game night promotion of “Nobody Night” when no fans were allowed in to the ball park until the game became official thus allowing the RiverDogs to set the record for lowest single game attendance- zero.

The 2003 season produced a winning team on the field, the first to finish with a winning record since the 2000 campaign, and also resulted in box office success. The RiverDogs were led by B.J. Upton, who was named Most Outstanding Major League Prospect, an award that turned out to be deserved when Upton made his Major League debut the following season with the Devil Rays. The team’s present single season attendance record of 259,007 was achieved, yet at least one game, dubbed appropriately “Silent Night” , the thousands in attendance didn’t roar with approval for the victory over Capital City- fans were encouraged to use signs to root the RiverDogs on in silence.

In 2004 postseason baseball made its first appearance in Charleston since the 1988 season, ending a span of 16 years without a playoff game. The RiverDogs earned the wildcard slot but fell were swept two games to none by Capital City. The team was led by Delmon Young, the second consecutive RiverDog to earn Most Outstanding Major League Prospect honors from the league.

The 2005 season ushered in the Yankees era in Charleston as the RiverDogs became a Class-A affiliate of the New York club. The team ran away with the first half Southern Division crown and set a club record for victories in a season with a record of 80-58. Five players and two coaches took part in the midseason All Star game and Tim Battle was named the game’s MVP. The team's success ended early in the postseason as for the second straight year the RiverDogs were swept in the first round of the playoffs, this time by eventual league champion Kannapolis.

In 2006 the RiverDogs celebrate their 10th Season of baseball action at "The Joe" and look to continue their success as a Class-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.




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