Norfolk Tides Baseball – A History

good evening everybody thank you thanks
Peggy for that that introduction been my pleasure to come before the Norfolk
Historical Society this is my fourth time. the first two times were over at
the Chrysler Museum and Tom Garrett my longtime friend who has now passed who
helped me write some of the books that we have published um we did our our
first part of the trilogy was on early baseball in Norfolk up to 1932 and then
the second part of the trilogy was where we had baseball from 1934 to 1955 the
year of the tars and then now this is our third part of the trilogy and I have
to say I’m not sure how long ago that was Peggy but it was been a quiet
it’s been a while so better late than never
let’s go ahead and go ahead and and talk about the history of the tides the last
time I was here about a year ago I’m not sure how many were here but we talked
about the Virginia Squires it was a it was a really interesting evening for me
to go ahead and rehash some memories about that great team my objective
tonight is is hopefully to repress some old memories and enlighten everybody
about the history of our local tee baseball team the Norfolk Tides I
thought it’d be more concise and meaningful if we break tonight’s lecture
down into specific segments instead of just going from the chronology from 1961
to 2017 I thought we’d first go ahead and do a little bit of a recap about
Norfolk’s baseball history the first two parts of the trilogy if you weren’t here
second we’ll do a chronological timeline of the tides from 61 to present and then
later we’re going to touch on the venues the ballparks they played at some of the
key players the play for the tides as well as the managers over the years the
front office staff and then finally the awards and the champ
ships that the tides one so first let’s go ahead and rehash a little bit about
baseball and Norfolk in the early years unofficially baseball played its first
game in Hoboken New Jersey on June 14th a.m. 1846 it paired two amateur local
teams with rules devised and implemented by Alexander Cartwright who was
considered at that time to be the father of this new game called baseball as
early as 1865 the Norfolk papers reported of games being played around
the city by several teams including a team called the Norfolk junipers some 20
years later Norfolk formed his first professional teams with such names as
the Norfolk oystermen the Norfolk lambs and the Norfolk crabs all alluding to
the nautical history of the port city as well as probably local diseases that the
sailors picked up in the late 1800s professional baseball in Norfolk proved
to be hit or miss as leagues folded and teams disbanded on a fairly regular
basis in the winter of 1899 Norfolk was admitted into the Virginia League while
it was a bona fide professional baseball league it was comprised of a small group
of regional teams from Petersburg Richmond Hampton Portsmouth and Newport
News the players were more often than not paid less than $100 a month for
their services and for the most part consisted of college players young
prospects aging veteran Norfolk whose team was known as the Mary James
recruited a Bucknell college football and baseball star named Christy
Mathewson during the summer of 1900 Mathewson pitched in 120 games for the
Norfolk team led them to the Virginia League championship before he was sold
to the New York Giants to begin his Hall of Fame career as one of the most
dominating pitchers in all of baseball and of course being in the first class
of the Hall of Fame the Virginia League folded at the end of
the 1900 season and Norfolk was without baseball until professional play resumed
in 1906 with the new Virginia League and a new
for the team the Norfolk tars a moniker that would remain with the jerseys with
the local nine up until 1955 the tar said their good years in bed but brought
a new popularity to the sport in Norfolk with many packing the stands at old
league Park from 1906 to 1928 the tars claimed the Virginia League championship
three times and after the Virginia League folded in twenty eight Norfolk
re-entered the professional ranks as a member of the Eastern League upon
entering the league the owners debated on establishing a new name for the team
but the popular choice from the fans was again the tars interestingly one of the
most popular choices that did not win approval at that time was for the team
to be called the Norfolk Tides one that would finally appear on a local baseball
jersey some 30 years later Norfolk spent two uneventful seasons with the
ill-fated Eastern League before that folded many believe that the golden
years of Norfolk baseball began with the admission of the Norfolk tourism to the
Piedmont league in 1934 and ran until the final games of the summer in 1955 so
what I want to do is recap the second part of my trilogy baseball in Norfolk
that covers those years on April 28 1934 and there’s a picture of the teams lined
up as when they’re raising the flag on opening day professional baseball
returned to Norfolk Spain field which was located between Church Street and
Monticello Avenue Norfolk’s first year in the historic
Piedmont league resulted in the championship for their manager Bill
skill shown at the top the franchise formerly the Durham Bulls and under the
ownership of the New York Yankees continued their winning ways as they
battled local rivals such as the Portsmouth Cubs the Richmond Colts and
the Newport News Dodgers as the Yankees continued to develop young talent
throughout their minor-league system many future major leaguers play for the
tars including Yogi Berra who was 17 years old at the time Phil Rizzuto bud
Matheny whitey Ford Jim coats Bill Virdon
and the rifleman Chuck Connors guitars played in several old wooden stadiums
ever located just within the city limits behind what is now the coca-cola
bottling plant my Monticello Avenue several is ballparks hosted guitars
included League Park bainfield High Rock Park tar Park and then finally at the
end Myers field with the introduction and popularity of television into the
homes in the 1950s a lot of Americans really were sidetracked with going to
the ballparks and they instead watch baseball on TV and so the attendance at
the ballpark suffered during that time during this period the tars were
dominant where the dominant team in the Piedmont league but they had difficulty
getting fans to the ballpark during that time 1955 was the final year of the
Piedmont league and the tars closed shop before the season was over in July so
they did not make it through the end of the season many of the tars played that
played for the tars were hired by the rival their cross river rival the
Portsmouth Miramax to finish out the season and then on September 22nd 1955
professional baseball in Hampton Roads ceased to exist so what I’d like to do
now is let’s go ahead and start the beginnings of the tides which began
important a lot of people don’t realize that the tides were born in Portsmouth
and not Norfolk so let’s do a little bit of history about Portsmouth baseball the
history of professional baseball in Portsmouth traces the lines of the
Norfolk teams and the two teams became classic cross river rivals during the
early years of the Virginia League until the final days of the old Piedmont
League in 55 in fact what would happen two times they would play double headers
on a Sunday and the fans would cross the across the river into Portsmouth take
the ferry across with the Norfolk players and go to the old ballpark and
then they would all get on the ferry and come back across and then played the
second half of the doubleheader in Norfolk and you can imagine there were
there were plenty of let’s say heated arguments on the way back and forth
between the fans as well as the players the driving force behind baseball in
Portsmouth also almost from its inception was Frank D Lawrence a
prominent Portsmouth banker and the outright owner of the Portsmouth
truckers the Portsmouth Cubs and finally the Portsmouth Miramax as well as
several teams that were sprinkled through North Carolina Lawrence had a
keen eye for talent would sign and develop such prominent players attack
Wilson PI trainer Eddie stanky and ace Parker and bring many X major leaguers
to come draw a clout crowds into the ballpark by letting to manage the team
such as Tony Lazzeri Jimmie Foxx and pepper Martin and by the time the decade
of the 60s arrived there was only one major ballpark remaining in the area and
that was old Portsmouth Stadium while the fate of Myers Field was sealed only
a few years after the tars stop play and the stadium was was burned and
demolished the solid concrete structure of the old ballpark in Portsmouth had
stood the test of time the stadium hosted the South Atlantic
League all-star game in 1960 and they drew a great crowd with the good turnout
in the large stadium the Sally League the South Atlantic League called Sally
Lee chose to give Miami native William McDonald a franchise in Portsmouth for
the 1961 season Marshall Fox served as the team’s first general manager and the
team was referred to in the standings as the Portsmouth Norfolk Tides when it was
announced the baseball would return to Hampton Roads the virginian-pilot ran a
contest for the readers to name the team the runaway favorite of the fans was for
the team to be called the Tidewater Mariners the Tidewater Mariners okay
the Robert Mason the editor of the paper nixed the name and instead chose the
name Tidewater tides for its alliteration and then the short spelling
when printed in the first year of tides history the team posted a dismal record
of just 66 wins 72 losses but drew a respectful 87 thousand fans to
Portsmouth net for year they were managed by former
Philadelphia Phillies whiz kid granny Hamner who made several appearances on
the mound that season as a pitcher with the Kansas City Athletics the team that
was associated with the tides during that year during this period the Sally
league was a Class A League now the minor league system for people that
don’t understand is is classified by letters so the leads within the
minor-league system that were rated to highest and closest to the Major League
caliber were classified triple-a AAA then double-a and then single a down to
B and C with D being the lowest regarding challenge and potential in
1960 two days Dave Rosenfield arrived and was named assistant general manager
to marshal Fox would chase Riddle taking on the managerial duties for the tides
the second year the franchise again failed to produce a winning record and
attendance was almost cut in half because of that the team did produce the
league MVP for the year and a young Ronnie Cox who beat out a future major
leaguer playing for the making peaches named Pete Rose the tides would have an
official working agreement with the National League st. Louis Cardinals for
that year for the 1963 season the Sally League decided to curtail travel for
their teams and eliminated all the Virginia teams in the league including
Portsmouth with the prospect of the city losing baseball again Dave Rosenfield
led a group of local investors to find money to purchase a franchise in the
Carolina League the group would be known as Tidewater professional sports and was
led by Richard Davis on may 17 1964 portsmouth stadium was rededicated Frank
T Lawrence Stadium in honor the man that put baseball in the City of Portsmouth
born in 1891 Lawrence was a local banker that organized his first professional
team the Portsmouth truckers back in 1913 and it was involved with local
baseball until the collapse of the Piedmont in 1955 his teams won numerous
championships and he was named by the sport
news as mindedly executive of the year in 1943 it wouldn’t be until 1967 that
the tides would post their first winning season record going 70 wins and 68
losses under manager Bob Wellman the team was now associated with the
Philadelphia Phillies and had such future major leaguers as Ron Allen and
Larry Hisle on the team and then following the 1968 season Richard Davis
president of Tidewater sports approached the New York Mets and convinced them to
relocate their triple-a Jacksonville franchise to Portsmouth with the deal
done the tides became members of the elite triple-a International League and
thus became that top-notch minor-league team for the up-and-coming New York Mets
the excitement emanating throughout Portsmouth that the city had NAB’s such
a high ranking minor league franchise soon fell apart when it was announced
that the tides would be moving to Norfolk for the 1970 season tied to
manager Clive McCulloch guided to 1969 tied to their first league pennant and
on September 5th 1969 the tides played their final game at Frank T Lawrence
Stadium and thus the final professional baseball game in the City of Portsmouth the new Norfolk stadium was christened
Metropolitan Park commonly known among fans as Met Park not it wasn’t met park
because of the Mets it was called Metropolitan Park even though everybody
thinks it was called met Park because of the Mets the new home was a hit with
fans with better seating up close to the action on the field and a
state-of-the-art restaurant just behind home plate known as the diamond Club for
years I would go to this ball park and see games and I always thought the
diamond club was reserved for VIPs and you were never allowed to go in there
until I found out later than anybody could go in there and eat dinner the
season marked the return of professional baseball since the tars played admired
Myers field some 15 years prior drew great crowds at Med Park beautiful
Stadium the night in 1972 the tides won their first Governor’s Cup and the
this Cup was awarded to the team that won the post season playoffs the tank
manager the manager Hank Bauer former New York Yankee guided the tides to a
third-place finish for the season and then eliminated both the Charleston
Charley’s and finally the Louisville Colonels to take the coveted trophy the
tides would repeat the feat in 1975 taking the Governor’s Cup again under
manager Joe Frazier in the late 70s found fiery and
temperamental manager Frank Verdi there he is
going after somebody on the field leading a clubhouse full of future major
leaguers including speedster Mookie Wilson but the tide struggled and
couldn’t no no do no better than a third-place finish the ATS proved to be
the best decade in tides history with the team capturing the Governor’s Cup in
1982 with manager Jack Acker at the helm and again in 1983 so back-to-back
championships for the Governor’s Cup the tides and their manager Davey Johnson
former Baltimore Oriole and later manager for the Mets and Nationals
capped off the 83 season by doing almost the unthinkable they won the triple-a
World Series by beating Portland that year so they won the Governor’s Cup in
83 as well as winning the the triple-a World Series against the Pacific coast
Portland team in 1985 the tides continued their victorious ways by
winning their third Governor’s Cup of the decade this time under the
leadership of manager Bob Shafer then for 11 years straight from 79 to 91
the tides finished each season each season with a winning record as the Mets
continued to funnel promising prospects to Tidewater before they went on to the
Big Apple to shine at the major league level at Shea Stadium in 1993 Harbor
Park opened in downtown Norfolk with the tides under new ownership headed by
Florida businessman ken young the team officially that year became the Norfolk
Tides instead of the Tidewater tides over 500,000 fans attended game
at the new ballpark and Dave Rosenfield was named the International League
executive of the year for the first fourth time in his career and then in
July 8 1998 Harbor Park was the showcase of the triple-a all-star game featuring
up-and-coming stars and prospects in the International and the Pacific Coast
League 11,000 fans filled the park to see the international league leaguers
wind 8 to 4 so in 2006 was the final year that the tides would be the
triple-a franchise for the New York Mets the span of 38 years the second longest
in triple-a baseball history in 2007 the tide signed a player development
contract with the Baltimore Orioles of the American League and soon future
Oriole prospects began to fill the roster the team kept the name tides but
then switched to the Orioles colors of orange and black and then of course 2016
the tides changed the team logo to a seahorse and anchor motif that
displeased many of the die-hard fans over the years despite the uproar over
the change the tides reported that their merchandise merchandising sales for the
team was such as jerseys hats shirts souvenirs nearly doubled from the
previous year for the current 2017 2017 season the team is celebrating its 25th
season now at Harbor Park so what I’d like to do next let’s talk a little bit
about the venues where the tides played and give you a little bit of history
about those Portsmouth main ballparks since the early 1920s were two Woods
stadiums High Street Park and swanny Stadium local banker in baseball pioneer
Frankie Lawrence built High Rock High Street Park just outside the city limits
so that he could skirt a city ordinance and does play baseball on a Sunday in
1941 the city had completed a major public works project for a new ballpark
venue named Portsmouth Stadium there’s a picture of it being built
right there and the postcard shows where it’s located there
the old buildings right to the top right is the old Wilson High School the
ballpark was loaded located in the Scotts Creek area a Portsmouth which was
basically swampland and basically what the city did is filled in the entire
area that the ballpark was going to be built with old discarded hundreds of old
discarded trucks and cars to go ahead and fill the land the project cost the
city about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and was made of
concrete and had a free-standing overhang that protected the fans seated
behind home plate up to that point a lot of the stadiums had the pillars where
you had to kind of look around to see where the see who was at bat and what
was happening on the field it also featured an outfield bleacher section
that was utilized to see fans for local football games it served as the home for
the Portsmouth Cubs and Miramax until the end of the Piedmont in 1955 when the
tides moved into the ballpark in 61 fans were greeted with programs like the one
shown here was a concession prices of the day in 1961 so you can kind of see
what everything costs at that point pretty interesting I think and you know
it’s funny Dave Rosenfield has always said that he was the one that came every
year they have a turn back the clock night where hotdogs with 25 cents that’s
where he said he got it from from his early years in Portsmouth on may 17 1964
the tides in the City of Portsmouth rededicated Portsmouth Stadium as Frank
T Lawrence stadium gives you a good shot of how the football field laid out there
and things like that while the tides made Portsmouth all many legends came to
visit and participate in exhibition games for local fans here legendary
Negro league pitcher and Hall of Famer satchel paige conducts a lesson for some
of the young tides pitchers and then in 1964 portsmouth hosted an exhibition
game between the New York Mets managed here by Casey Stengel and the Baltimore
Orioles skippered by Hank Bauer Bauer would come back
I can return to the area in 1970 and 71 to manage the tides in 1969 with the
tides now an important cog in the New York Mets farm system the parent club
demanded a newer and more accommodating stadium to showcase the tides so the
Mets in the City of Norfolk both contributed to the building of
Metropolitan Park which opened for the 1970 season one unexpected scenario that
I’m sure was not in the plan for the stadium was its close proximity to
Norfolk International Airport more than a few times per game if anybody
remembers this if you went to games at Met Park Jets would cross over the
stadium on their descent into Norfolk which seemed to prepare those young
tides for when they would play at Shea Stadium that was infamous for the roar
of the Jets as they flew in and out of LaGuardia so met Park was the
state-of-the-art facility in his time with seating of 6200 and a restaurant
overlooking the infield from behind home plate bands were treated to modern
facilities and seating in close proximity to the field now I just want
to this is this is a Side Story I just want to tell I’ve never told this before
and this is something of little Tidewater tides folklore that I think
you may find interesting in 1979 I was attending Old Dominion University and I
and Dave Rosenfield looked at me as a prospect okay and basically gave me a
contract for the tides and a few people they don’t know this it doesn’t show up
in the record books or anything but anyway he told me to report the first
the first day of summer since I was going to school i finished i finished my
classes and i show up at the ballpark and and one of the one of the managers
there at the ballpark told me to go down into this certain room and get my
equipment so i could go ahead and and perform my services for the team well
what they did is he took me into the big room and they gave me my equipment
which was a plastic tray and three cases of beer to sell out in the stands so my
summer of 1979 listening to Mookie Wilson on the base path and the rest of
the time I spent in the stands selling beer I mean it was it was it was a
wonderful experience to tell you the truth the only the only thing I’m really
disappointed about with that is that you know I’m selling beer at triple-a and I
was one of the best beer sellers there I sold more beer than anybody there and I
and I never got called up to che to sell beer at the big ballpark never got the
call never got my cup of coffee so the tides and their fans were both
impressed with the stadium and close relationships were established for a
generation of tides fans the players always seemed accessible for an
autograph or a quick photo for the Norfolk fans you can see that I love
this one photo of the of the kids there leaning over to get those autographs
over the years many sports legends came to entertain the fans at Met Park
including Bob Feller pictured here with former Portsmouth Cub Harry land and of
course the Clown Prince of baseball max Patton and then the Mets made their
annual visit every year to visit their triple-a franchise and they brought
along with them some players some key players Willie Mays ended his career
with the Mets and of course hall-of-famer
Tom Seaver came 1992 would be the final season for the tides of met Park shown
here is Bill Luther who was instrumental in bringing a new ballpark to the city
so in 1993 Harbor Park opened to much fanfare and accolades with its fan
friendly design and its atmosphere it seats over 12,000 fans and is nestled
along the Elizabeth River near Norfolk’s downtown and then in this year Harbor
Park will celebrate its 25th anniversary and continues to rank as one of the most
admired and beautiful minor-league facilities
in the country I was there on opening night and it was it was definitely a
magical feeling to go to that ballpark and and I remember parking I think we
went to waterside first and then walked from waterside to the ballpark and and
the the people I was with that night and you can you can see you know under when
you went under the Berkeley bridge and you could see how that whole area there
on the water you could just see it how it could be
developed with with shops and venues and things like that and still here we are
in 2017 and they and they really haven’t done anything with it I’m really
surprised about that as well I think they’re losing out on on not developing
that area to go ahead and entice more fans to come in with that so yeah it
doesn’t surprise me you know life of ballparks now you know there’s no such
thing as Fenway’s and Wrigley’s anymore you know look what Atlanta just did they
just tore down the stadium that was what less than 25 years old you know and
built another one so everything is very disposable now and it’s a great ballpark
it’s in a great location it does I think it does help downtown it does help you
know to go ahead and stimulate people coming downtown and then with the with
the tide stopping there now I think that’s helping as well but triple-a fans
need to understand that it’s I think it’s different than being a fan of a
major league team where you get to know the players you really get established
there at the at the triple-a level players come and go you don’t they’re
they’re gone rather quickly one day they’re here the next day they’re gone
and so I think it’s hard to establish those were those type of relationships
there and I think that hurts any triple-a team is that that’s always
tough to go ahead and do so I think the tides are doing the best they can
with making the game more than just about the players but making it a great
atmosphere to come to I mean it is a great place to go eat you know the the
restaurant there has great food it’s a wonderful place to watch a game inside
and still the concourse is wonderful and the field is just beautiful it’s a great
ballpark and they’re going to continue I have a feeling they’re going to continue
to develop that and and modernize it as it goes along I don’t think they’re ever
going to need to expand that I had seen plans where they were going to bump it
to what 45,000 if they were going to get to Washington Nationals which they tried
and and failed with that and it looked wonderful it could could have worked in
that but our area would never would have supported a major league team is just
we’re a minor league city and it’s great I was telling somebody in the lobby we
are so fortunate to have a great historic minor-league team in our town
and we should be proud of that so next let’s go ahead and delve into the front
office a little bit some of the movers and shakers behind the scenes with the
tides from 1961 up until now pictured here in the left is the father of the
tides Florida businessman William McDonald and his general manager marshal
Foxx McDonald convinced the Sally league to grant in the franchise in 61 a
professional baseball returned to Portsmouth after an absence of six years
then Dave Rosenfield arrived as assistant general manager to marshal Fox
but really he was the primary force behind the tides even that first year
because marshal Fox suffered a heart attack they here and Dave had to go
ahead and take on his responsibilities at the end of the 62 season the Sally
League abandoned is Virginia teams like we said earlier and Rosenfield convinced
the local group of investors investors to purchase the franchise for the
Carolina League led by Richard Davis Tidewater professional sports would have
a handle on managing the tides from the transition from Portsmouth to Norfolk
and over the next decades in 1992 the New York myths
decided to sell the franchise the Tampa businessman can young young wisely kept
Dave Rosenfield as his general manager and was a firm backer that the team
deserved a new stadium in downtown Norfolk so if we’re going to talk about
the tides you’ve got to talk about Dave Rosen field so what could be said about
Dave Rosenfield bed he hasn’t already said about himself he would be the first
to tell you that he’s an abrupt polarizing figure he could be Kurt even
with wayward children at the ballpark in his 2012 memoir called baseball one hell
of a life Rosen field defended his lifelong direct approach with people
quote you may not like me you may like me or you may not he wrote but that’s
okay with me and this book probably won’t change your opinion of me but I
have tried to live my life with integrity and by doing what I think is
the right thing Rosen field even gained notoriety outside of the baseball world
when he was depicted as the owner of a minor league team in a 1990 episode of
The Simpsons a co-writer of the show was the former
tides play-by-play broadcaster and he wrote Rosenfield into the episode out of
respect for his former boss he was a four-time international executive of the
year and the 2004 king of baseball Rosen field was a tides general manager from
1963 until 2012 he’s a member of the International League Hall of Fame the
Hampton Roads Hall of Fame and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in August
2015 Rosen field was diagnosed with cancer and succumb to the disease in 27
2017 earlier this year despite his reputation as a grumpy old man the
success of the tides was a result of his infinite knowledge of baseball
his keen business sense his intense love of the game over the
50-plus years he spent guiding the franchise so let’s take a quick look at
some of the men that guided the tides in the dugout some of these managers would
prove themselves in Norfolk and be hired next at the major league level while
others spent their entire careers at the minor league level level as managers the
first manager for the tides in 1961 was a gentleman called Granville Wilbur
Hamner granny Hamner granny was born in Richmond he was a three-time major
league all-star with his glory years with the Philadelphia Phillies chase
riddle and Bob Wellman followed Hamner but it was former major league catcher
clyde mccullough that brought the tide to their first league pennant in 1969
when the tides moved to met park in 1970 former New York Yankee great Hank Bauer
guided the team to their first Governor’s Cup in 1972 other prominent
managers during that era included other former major leaguers including John
Antonelli and Joe Frazier by the late 70s Frank Verdi was a fan favorite
favorite and took the helm of the ties for four years before John and Jack acre
came on board and brought the tides another Governor’s Cup the following
year 1983 former Baltimore Orioles second baseman Davey Johnson did the
nearly impossible by leading the tides to another Governor’s Cup and having his
team crowned the champions of the toefl a World Series Davey would go on to
manage the Mets and was their manager in 1986 when they won the World Series over
the Boston Red Sox he would go on to manage the reds the Orioles the Dodgers
and the Nationals before his retirement in 2013 following Davey Johnson was Bob
Shafer who would lead the tides to their final Governor’s Cup trophy in 1985 the
group of managers shown here are the leaders of the tides during the Harbor
Park era Clint Hurdle a former tides player managed for the first three years
of the new ballpark at the major league level he’s managed the Colorado Rockies
and he’s currently the manager the Pittsburgh Pirates John Gibbons
another former tides player served as manager of the tides from 1999 to 2001
and is currently the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays both Bobby Valentine
and Rick Dempsey spent time with the tides Valentine would go on to manage in
the majors and in Japan and Dempsey would serve as coach with the Orioles
before becoming one of their main broadcasters as at the beginning of the
2017 season Ron Johnson began its fifth season as the manager of the ties the
most seasons at the helm for any type of manager in the history of the franchise
so we’ve taken care of the managers the front office the venue’s some timeline
let’s go ahead and look at some key players the early stars on the diamond
for the tides included Ronnie Cox the Sally League MVP for 62 Sal Bettencourt
and Martin Beltran all sluggers that are engulfed star honors in the league but
in 1964 edy Stroud emerged as the tides first major star a speedster on this
basis Stroud was known by his nickname the creeper for his deceptive move off
first base and was selected the MVP of the Carolina League that same season
rudy Mae was one of the most dominant pitchers in the league striking out 187
batters winning 13 games both Stroud and May found success in the major leagues
after their Tides years in 1967 the tides were franchised to the
Philadelphia Phillies and the team began to send many of their prospects to
Tidewater such as Ron Allen and Larry Hisle hi Sylvain del 23 homers and
batted 302 for the tides earning all-star status and would go on to a
14-year major league career when the Mets took over the franchise in 1969 the
organization was loaded with future major leaguers and prospects the plate
for the tides John Matlack pitched here from 1969 to 1971 and would later be
named National League Rookie of the Year in 1972 Kent
singleton war tides uniform in 1970 was called up to the Mets mid season while
batting 388 and would play at the major league level for 15 years mostly with
the Baltimore Orioles and art shamsky had already made a name for himself with
the Mets in 68 and 69 and found himself with the tides in 69 during the short
rehab stay the young talent of the future Betts was built for speed and no
two players on the tides exemplified the excellence of base running more than
John Milner and Mookie Wilson in 1971 Milner was playing outfield for the
tides and hit 19 home runs 27 doubles 87 RBIs and stole 13 bases while batting
290 moki on the other hand first donna tides jersey in 1979 and immediately
became a fan favorite with his astute base running skills defensive play and
quick bad he holds the all-time tee the tied season record with 14 triples and
50 stolen bases both accomplished in 1980
other popular tides included marvel win during the 1982 and 83 seasons and Jose
Oquendo in 1982 and 84 in the middle is one of tidewaters most liked players of
all time was Greg Jefferies Jefferies was named minor league Player of the
Year in both 86 and 87 for the Jackson Mets and at the age of 19 was called up
to New York he hit impressively in six games batting 500 but with the
big-league clubs outfield stocked with such Superstars as
Darryl Strawberry Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra Jefferies had to settle
for his spot with the tides so at the beginning of the 88 season he went ahead
and suited up for the ties during that time he urged his call-up to the Mets at
the end of the year transitioning to third base for the Mets and batted in
the press of 321 for the remainder of the season
additional fan favorites and future New York Met Major Leaguers Terry blocker
Steve Springer and Reggie Dobie and then during the
decade of the 80s as sluggers for the tides include Clint Hurdle Darryl
Strawberry and Kevin Mitchell hurdle knocked over 20 homers during both 83
and 84 seasons and Kevin Mitchell excelled with the ties in 84 and 85
before and going on to a stellar major-league career with the Mets and
the Giants 21 year-old Darryl Strawberry suited up for the tides in 1983 for 16
games and batted 333 before being called up by the Mets he would serve 17 years
in the majors while being named to the all-star team at the major league level
eight times and earned Rookie of the Year honors the New York Mets have
always been known for their premier pictures over the years and in the 1980s
a bumper crop of up-and-coming hurlers made an answer themselves with the tides
future major leaguers Doug Sisk and Sid Fernandez appeared with the tides in the
mid 80s before being called up to New York current MLB TV analysts round
darling pits for the tides in 82 and 83 and 110 games on the mound while Jesse
Orosco appeared with tidewater for three seasons before entering the major
leagues where he would play for 24 seasons and set an all-time major league
record for pitching appearances with 1252 games two of the most heralded
pitchers to come through tidewater where Mike Scott and doc Gooden Scott Scott
spent four season with the ties beginning in 1977 and finally made it to
the Mets but was traded early in his career to the Houston Astros where he
developed his unique split fingered fastball where he earned national league
siyoung award in 1986 Gooden impressed the Mets in 1983 when he won 19 games
with the Lynchburg Mets and skipped over both double-a and triple-a to go
directly to the New York club in 1984 doc returned the pitch for the tides in
1987 during a rehab stay and hurled in three games winning each scheme with an
e ra of 2.0 then Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter finished up his career with
the tides in 1989 during a five-game REE have stopped in July before he completed
his career with the Mets in September and then from 1993 until 2016 the tights
had an impressive array of future major leaguers that are widely known to most
baseball fans including current Nationals catcher Matt Wieters Jose
Reyes David Wright Angel Pagan Jake Arrieta Zach Britton and Chris Tillman
so last but not least let’s go ahead and revisit some of the accomplishments that
the tides did over their years and I’ve touched on some of these but let’s just
review this because it’s pretty impressive
since their inception in 1961 the tides won the coveted triple-a World Series in
1983 five Governor’s Cup signifying they were champions of the International
League and they won the division pennant eight times in addition to the
championships longtime general manager Dave Rosenfield was honored with the
International League executive of the Year award for time awarded the
Presidents Trophy for most complete franchise in 1993 won Baseball America’s
triple-a Bob Prieto’s award in 1994 and was named in 2004 the king of baseball
where minor league baseball salutes a veteran from the world of professional
baseball for longtime dedication and service to the game here manager chase
riddle holding a trophy holds a sally league envy tree MVP trophy that was won
by Ronnie Cox who at the time of this photograph was called up to the Atlantic
crackers Sal Benton Court holds the watch that he was awarded in that year
and 62 as the most popular player voted by the Portsmouth fans in 1980
outfielder Mookie Wilson was awarded the trophy signifying that he was the most
popular Tidewater tag for that year and in this photo Portsmouth mayor and
president of the tides dick Davis presents the first of five Governor’s
Cup trophies won by the Tidewater franchise to the players on the field in
1975 dick Davis is again on and to present the Governor’s Cup trophy
to manager Davey Johnson in 83 and then the tides boards of directors pose with
the triple a World Series trophy won by the tides that same year and then
finally Bob Shafer celebrates with his team as the tide to capture their last
Governor’s Cup in 1985 so there you have it the players the coaches the venue’s
the accomplishments the movers and the Shakers that made the tides one of the
most successful and storied franchises in the history of the minor leagues so
it’s been since 1961 and I perceive this franchise being here a long long time you

1 thought on “Norfolk Tides Baseball – A History

  1. The 'undeveloped land' on Water Street next to Harbor Park is where numerous major utilities travel. It's estimated to cost $100 Million to relocate those utilities. Its the 'Horse and cart' argument, who should pay for the utility move.

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